The 10 Best Baking Mats
Better Than Parchment Paper And Aluminum Foil
In fact, I keep a roll or two of each in my kitchen at all times.
Is there anything more disappointing than whipping up a perfect batch of cookies, only to have them stick to your baking sheet? All the hard work you put into mixing up the ingredients just so, the buildup of anticipation while they're in the oven, that delicious aroma wafting through every room of your house...and then, the letdown. Not only is the entire bottom layer of your homemade treats baked onto the tray, and therefore lost to the cookie gods, but now you're going to have to scrub like your life depends on it to get that tray clean.
If this description inspires a visceral reaction for you, then maybe it's time to invest in a silicone baking mat. They are far superior to parchment paper and aluminum foil in nearly every way. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against parchment paper. Or aluminum foil. In fact, I keep a roll or two of each in my kitchen at all times. But baking mats are not only more versatile, they're also reusable, which is a major selling point if you care about sustainability. And if you're watching your weight, there's another upside — they greatly reduce or eliminate altogether the need to use grease, oils, and nonstick sprays.
Some of the more reputable varieties can be used 2,000 or more times before they even start to show signs of wear. Parchment paper, on the other hand, can only be used a few times before it's too greasy or burnt for another turn in the oven. Plus, since they have a bit more heft, baking mats won't allow air bubbles to form underneath your baked goods, and the corners won't turn up and burn like parchment paper tends to do.
A good baking mat also provides a buffer between your tasty treats and the cookie sheet, which helps to prevent burning and promotes more even browning. That means you can use your old, beaten up baking sheet that you paid $5 for in college and it will perform like a much more respectable version of its pitiful self.
Not Just For Baking
There's a reason that silicone has become more and more popular in kitchen utensils over the last few decades. It's resistant to both hot and cold temperatures, it's extremely nonstick, it comes in a huge variety of vibrant colors, and it will never break like glass or ceramic. But perhaps its most impressive quality is its versatility.
But perhaps its most impressive quality is its versatility.
Sure, one of these baking mats will help you turn out a perfect batch of cookies, but they're good for much more than baking sweet treats. They also come in handy when you're roasting vegetables or cooking delicate proteins, like flaky fish, that have a tendency to stick to the pan.
Silicone mats are great for rolling out pie crusts or kneading dough for a loaf of bread or a batch of biscuits. Not only do they cut down on the amount of flour you need to use to prevent sticking, they also help to contain the mess and keep your counters clean. Plus, they're excellent for catching stray sprinkles, icing, and drips of melted chocolate when you're decorating. And for those who like to experiment with homemade candies, a silicone mat is great for particularly sticky recipes, or those that require high heat.
If you like to freeze fruits, vegetables, herbs, or balls of cookie dough for later, the best way to do so is to lay them out separately on a cookie sheet so that they freeze in individual portions. This way, you can simply grab as much as you need without having to thaw out the whole package. A baking mat comes in handy in this scenario to line your cookie sheet and prevent foods from sticking as they chill. Then, all you have to do is pop them into a freezer bag for storage.
How To Choose the Best Baking Mat For You
Your perfect baking mat will largely depend on your individual needs and cooking habits. If you just want something to provide a nonstick barrier between your food and the pan, just about any option will work. But if you're looking for something a bit more specific, there are plenty of options out there.
Some models are embedded with fiberglass or nylon fiber mesh, which helps to conduct heat evenly and reduces the likelihood of burnt bottoms.
Some models are embedded with fiberglass or nylon fiber mesh, which helps to conduct heat evenly and reduces the likelihood of burnt bottoms. However, if you go with one of these, make sure to never use a knife or cookie cutter directly on it — you don't want to break or expose the mesh layer. Plus, cuts and scratches on the surface can damage the nonstick finish.
If you like for all of your baked goods to be uniform in size, there are a lot of baking mats that have handy guides built right in. Some have rulers around the edges, and others have circles of varying sizes to help you roll out the right size pizza or pie crust. Some even have helpful measurement conversion charts, so you won't have to wash the flour off your hands to look up how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon.
Size is a major factor when deciding which baking mat to go with. Many brands are available in several different sizes, from full and half sheets to jelly roll pans, and some even come in a special size that's made to fit in the toaster oven. And if you just can't make up your mind, there are also multi-packs available with a variety of sizes included.
Many baking mats can withstand temperatures of up to 475°F, but be sure to check before choosing one so you know that it will be able to handle everything you plan to use it for. There are even models made to stand up to the high heat of cooking on the grill. Most options are technically dishwasher-safe, but they usually last longer if you wash them by hand. Since they're nonstick, they tend to be pretty easy to clean with very little scrubbing required.