Loads of recipes require covering the contents of a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap, whether to shelter its contents for refrigerator storage, to keep them from drying out at room temperature, or to transport them from one place to another. Plastic wrap works fine in a pinch, but it has numerous drawbacks. One, it’s finicky to get the pan tightly covered, at least without using enough to cocoon the pan completely, which is wasteful. Two, the plastic wrap will touch the top of the food unless you go to great lengths to lift it up off of the pan, also a finicky business. (There are numerous instances where some clearance between the cover and the food is essential, such as when the pan contains bread dough or a cake with a layer of carefully applied frosting.) Three, you can’t really stack anything on top of the pan without compressing its contents, which means it will take up more real estate in the fridge (or in transport). Finally, plastic wrap is disposable and unrecyclable—I don’t know about you, but I try to avoid using it wherever possible, especially in large quantities.
Fortunately, there’s a better way: Nordic Ware sheet pan lids. The hard plastic, snap-on lid keeps foods protected from both exposure to the elements and compression from above. The lid fits snugly enough to shield from drafts (or anything else, for that matter), something I’ve tested extensively by using them to hold bread doughs and balls of pizza dough for cold proofing.
Bread doughs are notoriously quick to dry out when exposed to air, and Nordic Ware lids prevent this entirely. (That said, the lid isn’t 100% airtight or waterproof, so it’s not going to keep liquids from leaking out should you tip the pan, but it’s tight enough to do the job in just about any other instance.) The lid is also the same shape and size as the pan, so it can be nested into or under the pan when not in use. And it’s very sturdy, which means you can comfortably stack multiple sets of pans atop one another, or set the pan beneath a stack of other items without fear of breaking it or compressing the food.
While I (as a bread baker) mainly use these lidded pans to hold dough for proofing bread, pizza, and flatbread dough balls in the fridge, once you have one, other uses become obvious: Covering marinating meats, transporting a sheet of brownies, sheet cake, or pan pizza to a party (or storing it on the counter for later consumption), or freezing a single a layer of berries before transfer to a storage bag.
Nordic Ware also makes quarter sheet pans with lids, which I love because they are more conveniently sized for fridge storage (and more portable). They also make two deeper pans that take the same lids, a sheet cake pan with a lid that’s twice as deep as a half sheet (two-and-a-half inches versus 1-inch), and a 9- x 13-inch cake pan with a lid, a 2.5-inch deep version of a quarter sheet. I often use these deeper ones for proofing bread doughs, because they provide ample room for the dough to expand as it proofs. (They are obviously also great for holding any other foods in need of extra real estate.)
The lids and the pans are also sold individually, should you need to buy one or the other to complete a set. One important thing to note: Unless you already own Nordic Ware sheet or cake pans, you’ll probably want to buy these as sets to be sure the lid and the pan fit together snugly. Baking sheets, even ones that stack together neatly, are differently shaped, and the lids won’t necessarily fit on any old pan (they match on a few, but not all, of my other baking sheets). If you have stacks of sheet pans already, it might be a hassle to invest in new ones in order to acquire matching lids, but they are reasonably priced. And the good news is that Nordic sheets pans themselves are excellent in their own right. They are solidly constructed, which means they don’t warp during use, even at high oven temperatures, heat evenly, and are built to last for years of use. (They nabbed our top recommendation when we tested seven half-sheet pans.)
What sizes do sheet pan lids come in?
The Nordic Ware sheet pan lids come in two sizes: a 9- by 13-inch model that fits on quarter sheet pans, and a 13- by 18-inch model that covers a half sheet.
Can you clean sheet pan lids in the dishwasher?
No, you cannot clean these lids in the dishwasher. Nordic Ware recommends hand-washing these lids only.
Why We’re the Experts
- Andrew Janjigian is a Serious Eats contributor and a former long-time test cook at America’s Test Kitchen.
- Andrew’s been teaching baking and pizza classes for more than 10 years. He’s authored many Serious Eats reviews and recipes, including an evaluation of the Le Creuset bread oven and a comparison of baking steels and stones.