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An expert breaks it down.

Parchment and silicon and grease, oh my!

Baking a good batch of cookies is complicated enough without having to worry about the right way to line your pans. Some recipes call for parchment paper, and others require grease and flour, while some call for nothing at all. It’s enough to make your head spin!

For most home bakers, liners are a godsend. They’re easier and less messy than greasing and flouring, plus they make sliding your cookies off of the pan and onto a cooling rack a breeze. But which liner is right for you?

Luckily, Alice Medrich, a James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning baker and author of ten cookbooks, recently addressed our most pressing liner woes on Food52. Medrich broke liners (or lack thereof) and their uses down into four easy to remember categories.

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  1. Bare, Ungreased Pans: As long as your pans are in good shape, Medrich says that bare sheets are ideal for chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. You can also bake shortbread or butter cookies on ungreased pans—as long as the dough is not chocolate.
  2. Parchment Liners: These are excellent for almost every cookie except tuiles and lace cookies.
  3. Foil Liners (Dull-Side Up): Medrich recommends foil, sometimes very lightly but thoroughly greased, for lace cookies and tuiles and any thin cookie that you want to be very caramelized throughout.
  4. Silicone Mats: These fancy options work well for very thin fragile wafers, tuiles, and lace cookies. Keep in mind that silicon lengthens baking times, which may cause chocolaty doughs and batters to burn.