The Everyday Home: It's a sheet pan revival!

Sonya McDaniel, extension educator, FCS/CED
OSU Extension Center

Everyone has their favorite tried and true cooking method and one of mine has become the “sheet pan” meal. It’s not a completely new concept and doesn't requires a new technology or appliance, but great recipes are everywhere, and sheet pan meals hit all my “markers” for a great addition to our weekly meal plans.

• Most items can be pre-prepped – chopped, measured, etc.

• Everything goes on one pan – Not a lot to clean up

• Includes protein and a great variety of vegetables. It's either a no carbohydrate meal or leads itself to a great lower carbohydrate side option like quinoa or whole grain rice.

• Full of flavor! Due to the roasting cooking method and the spice blends or marinades called for in most recipes.

But all my sheet pan meals have started to take a toll on my sheet pans! It may be tempting to just throw them out and start over. Not so fast, since a high-quality sheet pan can be expensive and make better sheet pan meals, lets try a few techniques to pull them back into shape.

Baking Soda: A no-scrub solution is one of the easiest and best ways to clean baking sheets. First, pour boiling water onto the pan and add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Once the solution stops bubbling, allow it to sit for an hour before wiping away the burned-on debris. Wash with your regular dish soap. Still have a few stubborn scorch marks? Try adding a few drops of dish soap along with your baking soda and water.

Baking Soda and Vinegar: For extra tough messes, use baking soda and vinegar to clean baking sheets. Baking soda is a great lifter, and vinegar is a natural acid to cut through grease. Fill your kitchen sink with hot water and pour in equal parts baking soda and vinegar (approximately a half cup each). Place the cookie sheet in the sink and let it soak for 30-60 minutes. Next, scrub with the abrasive side of a basic kitchen sponge. After you’ve cleaned off the baked-on residue, wash the pan with mild dish soap and dry.

Elbow Grease and Abrasive Tool: This is NOT the method to use for any non-stick sheet pans. Use a commercial scouring pad or sponge or a rolled-up piece of aluminum foil to scrub away burnt-on stains. A granulated detergent like Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami combined with abrasive scrubbing is no match for an old sheet pan.

Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide isn’t reserved for the medicine cabinet. Keep a bottle in your cleaning caddy and break it out to clean cookie sheets along with baking soda. Sprinkle a scorched pan with baking soda and pour hydrogen peroxide over it, followed by another layer of baking soda. Let the mixture sit on the pan for up to two hours. Wipe the mixture off with a sponge. If needed, repeat the process for tough stains. Once finished, rinse the baking sheet well and wash it with mild dish soap. Follow this precaution: Peroxide can have a bleaching effect and is not a food-grade product. If you choose to use it, first test the peroxide on an inconspicuous spot. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and wash the sheet pan after you complete the stain treatment. There are plenty of ways to clean baking sheets without hydrogen peroxide, so start with one of the above methods first.

Self-Cleaning Oven: As a last attempt, place your ruined baking sheets in the oven and turn on the self-cleaning cycle. Be sure to follow the oven manufacturer’s instructions for using the self-cleaning feature. Once the cycle is complete and your sheet pans have cooled, wash with mild soap and dry. This is not a good method for non-stick pans, and you need to make sure your pan is made of materials that can withstand extremely high temperatures.

This time of year is a great time to take care of those inside deep cleaning tasks. Plus, it might inspire you to try out some new meal ideas with great taste and easy clean up!

Source: Better Homes and Gardens, January 2021