The Failproof Way To Clean Burnt Juices From A Sheet Pan

Sheet pans come in handy on days when you don't feel like cooking, but still want to tuck into a delicious, homemade meal. Roasted vegetables and proteins are an absolute breeze if you just toss them with oil and seasonings and throw them on a baking tray, and you can even use sheet pans to make a variety of tasty sides, too, such as a crispy, crunchy sheet pan mac and cheese

These handy pans feature a raised outer rim, which makes them perfect for containing all of the juices that seep out of savory dishes, so your oven never has to get dirty. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the baking tray itself. When your pans get covered in stuck-on stains from meat and vegetable juices, the good news is that you can easily clean them away with hot water, dish soap, and a little elbow grease. 

The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, shared this cleaning technique in her 2018 cookbook "Cook Like a Pro," so you know it's a foolproof way to get your favorite sheet pan looking as good as new. You simply fill up the sheet with the hottest water your faucet can provide, mix in some dish soap, let the pan have a nice soak, and then wipe away the stubborn grease with ease.

How long to soak your sheet pan

To get your sheet pan squeaky clean, Ina Garten recommends letting the tray soak overnight. This will help to loosen all the gunk, making it easier to scrub the burnt-on juices away with a sponge or dish brush. Of course, if the pan only has minor grease stains, you can fill it with soapy water and then let it soak for just 30 minutes or so before giving it a good scrub. Once you're done scrubbing, just rinse and dry it off, and it's ready to go back in the oven for more roasting at any time.

It's important to note that any drastic temperature changes, such as running hot water over a room-temperature sheet pan, can actually cause the material to warp and bend. So you should only fill the pan with very hot water if it's still warm from the oven, and make sure not to burn yourself in the process. 

Now, you may be tempted to skip the scrubbing in favor of just tossing the baking sheet in the dishwasher. But doing so may tarnish certain pans, specifically those that use aluminum, due to the incredibly high heat in a dishwasher and the corrosive chemicals found in common dishwasher detergents.

Opt for baking soda for tougher stains

If you've managed to slough away the stuck-on juices and leftover food remnants on your pan, but are still seeing some pesky stains, fret not. For countless kitchen tools and appliances, the best ingredient for all-natural cleaning is baking soda — and sheet pans are no exception. Unlike the brute force of a dishwasher, this cleaning method works well on non-stick, aluminum, and aluminized steel sheet pans for a tarnish-clearing yet gentle job. 

You can make an effective cleaning paste using baking soda and hot water, which you'll want to spread all over the inside of the tray. Let the mixture sit for about half an hour, then scrub away the grease stains before rinsing the paste away. Whether you opt for the Barefoot Contessa's hot, soapy water cleaning method or this baking soda concoction, thoroughly drying the pan after you've rinsed it is important. This is especially true if you have a stainless steel pan, which can be more prone to water stains. So, grab a clean towel and dry carefully for a spotless tray that's ready for more roasting.