Why buy a cooling rack?
Cooling racks are incredibly multifunctional tools that you need if you’re a chef or baker. They allow you to let foods rest with proper ventilation after removing them from the oven. They’re necessary for homemade cakes, cookies, pastries, etc. On the flip side, when cooking, a cooling rack keeps your foods elevated in the pan so that they’re not sitting in drippings. This is especially essential if you’re frying foods and don’t want any of the breading to get soggy.
What should you consider when shopping for a cooling rack?
- Materials: You want a cooling rack that’s made of sturdy material. Typically this will be food-grade stainless steel.
- Size: Consider what kinds of foods you intend on making. If you’re baking cookies or a large volume of foods, you’ll want larger cooling racks that can accommodate more items. However, also consider the size of your oven—or even your air fryer if you have a large toaster-oven-like one. If you’re shopping for a dual-purpose rack that can also work for roasting, you’ll want something that can fit in a roasting pan or baking sheet.
- Quantity: While not a requirement, many times, cooling racks are sold in sets. At a minimum, this would be two racks, but you can find larger sets as well.
- Maintenance: Most cooling racks can easily be cleaned in a dishwasher. But you should always double-check that a rack is dishwasher safe before doing so.
Are cooling racks essential?
This is going to depend on how much time you spend in the kitchen and what you typically make. While you don’t desperately need a cooling rack, they are extremely handy and could be considered essential when making most baked goods. They allow food to cool faster and more fully, keep food from overcooking in its pan, and lift some foods (like meats) from their drippings to get the right texture.
Checkered Chef Set of 2 Stainless Steel Cooling Rack
An economical simple solution with two oven-safe cooling racks.
Pros: If you’re just getting started on your baking journey, a good set of cooling racks is a smart investment. This two-pack of stainless steel, oven-safe cooling racks is the perfect option. Available in two sizes, this set features a grid format which ensures that items like cookies and treats are less likely to slide through the slats. They’re dishwasher safe for your convenience.
Cons: The biggest concern we noted with this pick was that there might be some sharp edges. So, you might want to do a quick check, especially before letting little hands work as your assistant baker.
Bottom Line: This simple set of cooling racks is a great solution for beginning bakers or anyone that needs to supplement their current collection. But some rough edges might make this a bit concerning for some.
Ultra Cuisine Oven-Safe Set of 2 Stainless Steel Cooling Racks
Customization is the name of this set with a range of sizes and quantities to fit your baking needs.
Pros: If you’re shopping for a customizable solution that works for a variety of cooking needs, you can’t go wrong with this solution from Ultra Cuisine. Along with quarter and half sheets, there’s also the jelly roll pan size. You can also choose between a two-piece or single-sheet option. And again, you’ll get food-grade stainless steel that’s dishwasher safe for a long-lasting product.
Cons: We did note that some reviewers complained about the dimensions being a bit too small when using these racks for roasting or cooking. Specifically, there were issues with large gaps between the sides of the pan and the racks.
Bottom Line: If you like options, there are a variety of selections you can make for size and quantity. However, be aware that for cooking, these might not be the perfect fit for all of your pans.
Wilton Excelle Elite 3-Tier Cooling Rack for Cookies
A smart solution for serious bakers that like to work in batches.
Pros: When it’s time for the annual bake sale and you need to crank out batches of cookies or pastries, this three-tier cooling rack set from Wilton is a must-have. With a non-stick surface and an adjustable design, this is the must-have option that avid bakers need in their life. Since it’s tiered, you won’t have to take up as much counter space to cool all your baked goods.
Cons: While accommodating, this pick must be hand-washed, which might be a turn-off for some people.
Bottom Line: When it’s time to get serious in the kitchen for your baking projects, this large-capacity cooling rack set is the way to go.
Nordic Ware Half Sheet Oven-Safe 2-Piece Cooling Rack Set
A great starter solution for a budding cook or baker.
Pros: If you’re just building your kitchenware collection, then this is a great starter pick. It’s a cooling rack with an accompanying baking sheet featuring a 1-inch depth. This allows you to use it for both baking and cooking.
Cons: While a nice starter pick, some people may not want to use aluminum when stainless steel tends to be the standard option for cooling racks.
Bottom Line: Outfit your kitchen with this two-piece set or cooling racks that let you bake and cook like a pro.
Nordic Ware Round Cooling Grid
Get creative in the kitchen with customized and stylish copper-plated cooling racks.
Pros: Traditional rectangular baking racks are nice, but sometimes they’re not ideal when you’re baking items that are irregularly shaped, such as cakes or pizzas. If you want a round one, check out this copper-plated 13-inch cooling rack with countertop appeal and good functionality.
Cons: Some reviewers noted that this product may bend easily.
Bottom Line: Whether you’re trying to bake circular items like cakes and pies or want something with a bit of visual appeal, this cooling rack is a smart investment.
In our opinion, cooling racks are a must-have as they make baking and cooking convenient. Since there are so many available, you shouldn’t have a problem finding some that work great for your kitchen.