Straight to the Point
Our favorite wire cooling rack is Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Half Sheet Baking and Cooling Rack. It’s made of thick, sturdy wire, and it fit easily into our favorite half sheet pan with minimal shifting. Cookies cooled without misshaping and spatulas slid across the rack without snagging. Best of all, it’s easy to clean up, something that can’t be said for many cooling racks.
A versatile cooling rack is a beautiful thing. Almost all cooling racks can be used to cool cookies, bread loaves, and other baked goods, but there’s also a wider world of kitchen tasks where they can make a big difference.
For example, a good rack can elevate food in the oven, allowing heat to circulate for more even cooking. This is useful for dishes like oven-fried chicken wings, a spatchcocked bird, or a crown roast of lamb. After deep-frying, a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet can prevent things from going soggy. And wire racks can be used for glazing cakes or loaves, to rest meat, and to dry brine chicken, steak, turkey, pork shoulder, or prime rib.
To find the best cooling racks, we tested eight models to see which are worth a spot in your kitchen, focusing on ones that claimed to fit half sheet pans.
The Winner, at a Glance
The Best Wire Cooling Rack: Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Half Sheet Baking and Cooling Rack
The Mrs. Anderson’s cooling rack hit the sweet spot in terms of size: it fit snugly inside our favorite baking sheets with minimal shifting. Cookies cooled quickly without warping or sagging and though there are no center legs or supports in this cooling rack, the thick wire frame around the edges ensured it only had minimal bend when weighed down overnight. And this lack of a center support also made the rack easier to clean, a big win in our books. It’s oven-safe up to 500°F.
- Fit Test: We placed each cooling rack inside our favorite half sheet pans, the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Half Sheet and the Chicago Metallic Commercial II Half Sheet, to see how well it fit and if it shifted at all when we tilted the pan.
- Cookies Test: We baked batches of chocolate chip cookies, let them cool for two minutes on the baking pan, and then moved them to each wire rack to see how long it took for each batch to come to room temperature. We also checked to see if the cookies cooled at the same rate, and if there were wire indents on their undersides. After cooling, we used a silicone slotted turner and metal fish spatula to move the cookies off the rack, evaluating how easy it was to do so. We then washed each wire rack by hand.
- Durability Test: To check durability, we placed 17 pounds of weight (in the forms of bags of rice, flour, and sugar—to simulate a turkey being dry-brined) on top of each cooling rack for 12 hours to see if the racks bent or warped.
What We Learned
Opt for a Grid
Cooling racks are either made with wires that run in one direction, or built with wires in both directions, forming a grid. We found racks with grids did a better job of cooling delicate cookies without causing any indentations, sagging or misshaping.
The one wire cooling rack that we tested with wires that ran in one direction left impressions on the underside of the cookie, as the warm cookie slumped between the slots. It was also tougher to remove the cookies: spatulas too easily got caught in the wide slats.
Grid Size Didn't Impact Cooling, But it Did Affect Cleanup
We thought that grid size might make a difference in how fast the cookies cooled. This was not the case. All of the cookies cooled at roughly the same speed, coming from a warm oven to room temperature in about 18 to 20 minutes.
However, we found grid size did matter during clean up. The smaller the grid, the harder it was to clean the racks. Cooling racks with more wires and smaller grid patterns trapped food debris more readily and soap clung to the grid, forming a film that took extra rinsing remove. Larger grids also had this effect but less so, making them easier to clean and rinse.
Wire Racks Can Be Too Big, Too Small, Too Tall, and Just Right
The size of the wire rack mattered in terms of versatility, but not as much for cooling cookies. All the cooling racks were roughly the same size, give or take 3/8 of an inch, and fit the same number of cookies.
But these small size differences did impact how each fit in a half sheet pan. Smaller wire racks shifted and moved back and forth, scratching the pan as the legs scraped against the metal. And larger wire racks didn’t fit in the pan properly, awkwardly hitting the sides or corner of the pan and tilting to create uneven surfaces. Our favorite wire rack fit snugly in the pan, with just a minimal, 1/4-inch shift when we tilted the pan left and right.
Finally, the height of the wire rack was also important. Most wire racks are 3/4-inches tall, which is ideal for fitting within a half sheet pan's 1-inch walls. But a couple of the wire racks we tested were an inch tall, which had them sitting flush to the top of the baking sheet. If you were using a rack set in a half sheet pan for, say, cooling cookies, a tilt of the wrist could send the cookies sliding off the too-tall rack and onto the floor.
Center Support Wasn't As Important As We Thought
Initially we thought that center support in the form of legs or extra wires would make for a better cooling rack—figuring it would prevent any sagging or warping when heavy items were placed onto it.
But after testing, we found that as long as the cooling rack had a thicker outer frame edge made of heavy gauge wire, and the internal grid was made from heavy-duty wire as well, center support wasn’t necessary. Our favorite rack did not have a center support and still functioned fine, with minimal sagging when weighed down for 12 hours. Once the weight was removed, it snapped back to its original shape, with no damage.
An added unforeseen bonus we noticed with racks that didn’t have the center support was that they were easier to clean. The more wires and legs attached to the cooling rack, the more places there were for food debris to cling.
The Criteria: What We Look for in a Wire Cooling Rack
When shopping for a cooling rack, look for one that has a grid and not just wires that run in one direction. The grid will help support delicate baked goods, like fresh-from-the-oven cookies, so they don’t sag as they cool. It will also make it easier to slide a spatula across the rack.
A thicker frame around the edges of the rack makes for a stable rack, even when laden with heavy things, like a turkey. You should check to make sure the wire rack fits snuggly in a half sheet pan and avoid small racks that slide around the pan, as well as larger or too-tall racks that don’t properly fit or create a less-stable surface.
Finally, choose a cooling rack that is oven-safe. We recommend uncoated wire racks since non-stick wire racks have a coating that eventually wears off, shortening the lifespan of the rack. They often have a lower oven-safe temperature as well, making them less versatile.
The Best Wire Cooling Rack: Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Half Sheet Baking and Cooling Rack
What we liked: Mrs. Anderson’s cooling rack is the ideal rack. The outside frame is made from a thick and durable wire. Cookies cooled evenly and spatulas slid effortlessly over it—no snagging. The grid was evenly-spaced which prevented cookies from sagging, but didn't have too tight of a pattern to make cleanup more difficult. This rack is also rated for use up to 500°F, making it great for cooking as well. It fit snugly in both of our favorite half sheet pans, too.
The bottom support only had four legs, with no center support, but the rack still held up after 17 pounds of weight were placed on it for 12 hours, with minimal bending.
Finally, this was the cheapest wire rack we tested, making it an excellent product at a great price.
What we didn’t like: We also wish we knew for sure if it was broiler-safe, though we suspect it is at least when used with a low broiler, since it's oven-safe to 500°F.
- Material: Chrome-plated stainless steel
- Oven-safe: Yes, up to 500°F
- Broiler-safe: Unknown
- Number of support bars: Two
- Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe; hand-washing is recommend
- Checkered Chef Cooling Rack: This wire rack arrived slightly bent upward in the center. It also was just a little too large to fit into our half sheet pans, with the edges hitting the sides of the pan and the feet not touching the bottom of the pan completely.
- Ultra Cuisine Wire Rack for Baking Sheet: This wire rack was 1-inch tall, hovering just at the top edge of the half sheet pan. It also was smaller in size and shifted nearly an inch back and forth on all sides.
- Kitchenatics Half Sheet Stainless Steel Roasting and Cooling Rack: This wire rack was also 1-inch tall and flush to the top of the half sheet pan. It fit more snuggly in the pan, with only a 1/2-inch shift but the wire grid was smaller, making it more difficult to clean.
- Spring Chef Cooling Rack: This wire rack was too large to properly fit into a half sheet pan. The corners touched the edges of the pan, making it impossible for the legs to rest on the pan's bottom.
- HiWare Cooling Racks for Baking: This wire cooling rack was also slightly too large to fit in the half sheet pan. The wire gauge was also slightly thinner, buckling more when weighed down. It did snap back up after the weight was removed, but we questioned if the thinner wire would hold up after long term use.
- P&P Chef Cooling Rack: This wire rack only had vertical wires and it buckled under weight. The cookies we cooled on it showed vertical line indentions underneath. It also was too small and shifted a lot in the half sheet pan.
- PriorityChef Stainless Steel Cooling Rack: This was a good choice for a cooling rack and had a nicely spaced wire grid and sturdy construction. But it was just too small and slid around in the half sheet pan.
Can wire cooling racks be used in the oven?
Not all cooling racks can be used in the oven and we recommend checking the manufacturer's care instructions to be safe. Our favorite cooling rack, from Mrs. Anderson's, is oven-safe up to 500°F.
What's the difference between a cooling rack and a baking rack?
Cooling racks may or may not be designed to be used in the oven, while baking racks are meant to be used in the oven. (Some cooling racks have a non-stick coating that might not be oven-safe.)
What size cooling rack should I get?
The best cooling racks are ones that fit into a standard 18 x 13-inch half sheet pan. If you have quarter or eighth sheet pans, you can buy cooling racks to fit those sizes as well. (Our favorite cooling rack is available in a quarter sheet size, too.)