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How to pick the best sheet pan without breaking the bank

Have you seen those beautiful pics of one-pan dinners on Instagram or Pinterest? Most of them use a sheet pan. It’s a popular shortcut to get a meal on the table for several people while using the least amount of cookware for easy cleanup.

Have you seen those beautiful pics of one-pan dinners on Instagram or Pinterest?

Most of them use a sheet pan. It’s a popular shortcut to get a meal on the table for several people while using the least amount of cookware for easy cleanup.

But to get the best results, it all starts with a good sheet.

Consumer Reports just tested a number of sheet pans to find out which ones cook the best -- and clean up the easiest.

Sheet pans, actually called “half sheet pans” because home versions are smaller than those used in commercial kitchens, measure about 13 by 18-inches, with low sides. They may look similar, but Consumer Reports expert testing found some important differences between them.

CR bought and tested 19 pans in their lab, both coated and uncoated pans.

They roasted chicken and vegetables on each pan, measuring cooking speed. And a sticky mix of pumpkin and cream cheese was baked on to see how easy the pans were to clean.

Then they tested durability by scouring the surfaces with steel wool to replicate wear over time.

“In general, uncoated cook a little more evenly. They’re more durable, but they’re harder to clean,” said Consumer Reports tester Bernie Dietrick.

You can pay as much as $150 for an uncoated pan that testers found isn’t even easy to clean.

But a $27 pan from Nordic Ware is a top performer. It heats evenly, and aced CR’s durability test.

“We found that coated pans heat up and cook faster, and they are much easier to clean,” Deitrick said.

The Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Non Stick Non Corrugated Half Sheet for $33 heats up quickly and is the easiest to clean.

Consumer Reports’ Best Buy coated pan is from Walmart. The Mainstays Gold Nonstick Aluminized Half Sheet Pan got high marks overall. And at just $8, it gives you money left over to double up on dinner and invite some friends.

And here’s a tip to keep your pans in shape. Coated sheet pans are steel underneath, and they can have a raw edge that is prone to rust. So dry them completely in the oven while it’s still warm.