What is a half-sheet pan?

Updated February 21, 2017

Professional baking pans come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Rectangular sheet-cake pans come in full-, half- and quarter-sheet sizes with standardised dimensions. Used for baking cakes, the shape and size of the pan influences cooking time and the texture of the finished product. In the food-service industry, volume is used to calculate the number of servings and serving sizes for a cake baked in a particular pan.

Sheet-Cake Pans

Sheet-cake pans, sometimes called jellyroll pans, are typically rectangular in shape. The sides of the pan are perpendicular to the base and typically 1 to 1 1/2 inches in height. They are most often constructed of steel or aluminium with rounded internal corners to facilitate easy release of the baked products.

Sheet-Cake Pan Sizes

Professional sheet-cake pan dimensions and volumes are standardised for convenience. With minor variations in dimensions, like-sized pans, produced by different manufacturers, can be used interchangeably. Full-sheet pans typically measure 18 by 26 inches. Half-sheet pans measure 18 by 13 inches and quarter-sheet pans measure 9 by 13 inches. The heights of sheet-cake pans vary but are typically 1 to 1 1/2 inches (inside dimension).

Cake-Pan Features

Thick-walled aluminium or steel sheet-cake pans are widely used in commercial bakeries. Both metals, with sufficient thickness, transmit and distribute heat to the cake batter evenly. Even heat transmission and distribution is necessary to bake a cake that rises and cooks evenly. Anodised or other non-stick finishes may be applied to the pans during manufacturing to prevent baked goods from sticking to the pan.

Pan Substitution

Cake recipes typically indicate the pan shape and size required for optimal baking results. To some degree, a different shape or size pan may be used with satisfactory results as long as the ratio of volume to area of the pans are similar. For example, the volume-to-area ratio of a half-sheet pan is approximately 1.5:1. An 18-inch-diameter round cake pan, with slightly larger volume but the same volume-to-area ratio, is a satisfactory substitute for the half-sheet rectangular pan.

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About the Author

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.