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A cooling rack is one of those kitchen tools that people don't always consider a necessity, but once they own one, you wonder why it took them so long. Many are versatile and can pass from high-heat ovens to cool shelves ensuring roasted veggies aren't oil-soaked, but crispy, and fresh-baked cookies are gooey on the inside with a satisfying crunch on the outside. A cooling rack affords air circulation; it elevates your food from becoming a soggy mess on the pan and allows steam to escape, preventing food from getting limp.
There are a number of choices on the market when it comes to cooling racks, from nonstick coated to oven safe. Most have grids to keep your food secure and not slipping through the cracks, but ladder styles are out there if you're looking to roast meat and want fewer crosshatch impressions. Some models are constructed with even heating convection materials, while others offer lifetime rust resistance. Whatever rack you choose, it will be a welcome addition to your kitchen arsenal, guaranteeing crispy fried chicken and loaves of bread that maintain their crackle-crust outside and pillowy inside.
Here are the best cooling racks.
Best Overall: Checkered Chef Cooling Rack
No coating to leech
Wide grid can allow food slippage
The Checkered Chef Cooling Rack pulls all the stops if you're looking for a high-quality rack that's versatile enough to tackle oven tasks as well as cooling jobs. The solid stainless steel construction ensures no rust is flaking off into food, and the central rod and crossbars keep it from warping or bending in the oven. It's tough enough to even segue over to your grill and fits comfortably in a standard half-sheet baking pan.
This model is dishwasher safe, and there are no exterior coatings to worry about chipping. Its wide grid design is the right choice for monster peanut butter cookies and delicate cakes. It's oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, too, so no need to transfer baked goods—just cook them right on the rack, and then put it on the counter to cool.
Oven Safe: Yes | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.5 inches
Best for Cookies: Ultra Cuisine Quarter-Sheet Cooling Rack
Tight wire grid
Food can stick in tight gauges
The tight grid design and slightly longer 0.8-inch legs make this the choice for any cookies in your repertoire. The longer legs afford better air circulation, and the tight grids keep even the smallest cookies secures. This option is oven safe up to 575 degrees, fits easily into a standard quarter-size sheet pan, and will keep hand-cut fries from getting soggy. The 100 percent stainless steel construction is rust resistant, unlike chrome-coated counterparts.
The no-snag edges and elevated profile are enviable qualities, but it's also dishwasher safe and super stable with crossbar supports. Whether you're looking for a cookie rack or something more, Ultra Cuisine’s Quarter-Sheet Cooling Rack is a durable, versatile choice.
Oven Safe: Yes | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 8.5 x 12 inches
Best Budget: Goson Kitchen Stainless Steel Cooling and Baking Rack, Set of 2
Includes two racks
This budget-friendly model actually comes with two racks at the same price as other individual racks. The chrome-plated stainless steel is durable and oven safe up to 575 degrees. The best part of this design is the spacing on the grid—each hatch is a half inch apart, and the elevation is 0.75 of an inch for maximum air circulation with little food slippage.
The smaller size still fits comfortably in sheet pans for your roasting, baking, and broiling needs. There are six feet welded to the rack for maximum stability, and it's dishwasher safe. The chrome coating on this model may rust over time, but at this price point, it's easily replaceable. Plus, this rack fits in most standard toaster ovens, which ups its versatility.
Oven Safe: Yes | Material: Chrome-plated stainless steel | Dimensions: 10 x 8 inches
Best Round: Nordic Ware 13-Inch Round Cooling Grid
Can double as serveware
Tight grid to prevent food slippage
Hand wash only
This elegant cooling rack is a great choice if you want a piece that not only serves its kitchen function of cooling pastries, but can also easily double as serveware on your dining table. The copper-coated steel interior has a tight grid design that works well for bundt cakes, pizza, and pies, as well as many other small-batch pastries. It's heavy duty in construction and quite stable for all levels of weight.
This option is strictly meant as a cooling rack, so that means no oven use, and it must be hand washed. On the bright side, it's lovely, and the round design is perfectly suited for cakes.
Oven Safe: No | Material: Copper-plated steel | Dimensions: 13-inch diameter
Best for Bread: Spring Chef Cooling Rack
Easy to clean
High heat tolerance
Large gaps between wires
Lower profile in sheet pans
The Spring Chef Cooling Rack is made from durable 100 percent heavy-gauge stainless steel with no nonstick coatings to be worried about. Stainless steel is known to be rust resistant, durable, and food safe. This model withstands oven temperatures up to 575 degrees—just right for crispy baked chicken wings or crusty sourdough boules. The company guarantees this product is warp- and bend-proof and backs that with a lifetime warranty.
A rack of many hats, the Spring Chef model not only serves your roasting and baking needs, but is also a great choice if you're decorating pastries. The grid is supported by crossbars for maximum stability, and the half-sheet size offers lots of room. The only potential issue with this model is the shorter profile of the rack. It's only a half inch tall, which makes for less free airflow and causes it to sit lower on a standard baking sheet. On the flipside, it's dishwasher safe, and the lower profile allows you to get closer for more precise decorating jobs, like piping gingerbread people.
Oven Safe: Yes | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 12 x 17 inches
Best Multi-Tier: Wilton Ultra Bake Pro 3-Tier Cooling Rack
Ceramic nonstick coating
Collapses for easy storage
Limited height between racks
Large gaps between wires
Wilton is a well-respected brand in the baking industry. The company is known for quality products designed to facilitate baking tasks and last a long time. This tiered model adds to its legacy with a collapsible design and nonstick ceramic coating. There's abundant room on the three tiers for multiple batches of cranberry orange scones and hazelnut shortbread to cool while maintaining their texture. Best yet, because of the tiered design, it does not occupy a lot of counter space.
The grid on this model is quite large, which is great for bigger baked goods, but may allow smaller crumbs to slip through. At this price point, it's still a smart choice for someone who likes to bake batches of pies or cakes. All three tiers are also dishwasher safe. Use them as single racks or stack them. They're not meant for the oven, though, so keep in mind it's only intended to be a cooling rack.
Oven Safe: No | Materials: Steel with ceramic nonstick coating | Dimensions: 15.9 x 9.9 inches per tier
Best With Sheet Pan: Nordic Ware Rimmed Half Sheet With Nonstick Grid
Superior heat conductivity
Does not warp or bend
There's a secret in commercial kitchens about aluminum: It provides ultimate heat conduction and never rusts. Not only is this Nordic Ware model crafted with durable aluminum, but it also comes with a rimmed baking sheet. The special thing about a rimmed baking sheet is its versatility. It's the pan to make a sheet of Coca-Cola cake in, and shortbread cookies never cooked more evenly. Add in the oven-safe rack and you now have the ultimate tool for roasting parsnip fries, crisping bacon, or letting your fried chicken rest without sitting in grease.
This also makes a great choice for baking gooey on the inside, crispy on the outside white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. The pan does not warp or bend in the oven, the aluminum construction guarantees even heating, and you have the rack to cool your cookies on when they exit the oven. The half-sheet size is roomy, and the galvanized steel rim adds extra depth to the pan while ensuring it keeps its shape.
Oven Safe: Yes, up to 400 degrees | Material: Aluminum | Dimensions: 12 x 17 inches
The Checkered Chef Cooling Rack (view at Amazon) is our top choice because of its rust resistance, ease of cleanup, and durable design. If you're looking for a pan/sheet combo, go for the Nordic Ware Rimmed Half Sheet With Nonstick Grid (view at Amazon). The sturdy aluminum construction is rimmed for more versatility and maximizes even heat conduction.
What to Look for in a Cooling Rack
Cooling racks come in a wide variety of materials from stainless steel to aluminum to chrome-coated to wood. The best racks are made of commercial-quality materials, which ensures they don’t bend or warp and are durable for a long time. Stainless steel holds the promise of rust resistance, a good quality since nobody wants bits of rust in their food. Aluminum is the choice of most professional cooks and bakers for its even heat conductivity, but is often Teflon-coated.
Wooden cooling racks can usually be found in bakeries holding the day's bake of bread. Beyond those some models are wooden in construction and then plated with chrome, iron, or steel to make them nonstick-friendly. Again, with coatings, be sure to check the manufacturer's label about heat resistance and care.
Most racks have a nonstick coating, but not all coatings are created equal. The most common variety is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. It's a very durable choice and ensures food will not stick to your rack, but there are some issues with this material. Teflon is a chemical, and there are concerns that cooking at high heat temperatures may release chemicals into your food. According to a 2012 study, Teflon exposed to temperatures above 500 degrees can cause “Teflon Flu.” That said, it's the superior surface coating to prevent sticking, so if your rack is purely for cooling or low-heat cooking, Teflon is a safe choice.
Beyond Teflon, some bakeware is coated with ceramic, which can withstand much higher heat and still maintain good stick resistance. Other racks have a silicone coating, usually black, that also allows food to lift easily, but these are generally not oven safe and have been known to flake as they age.
Ovens are no longer one-size-fits-all. With the array of choices in ovens on the market, standard-size is not necessarily relevant. With that in mind, be sure to measure the interior of your oven before purchasing a rack, especially if you plan to use it for roasting and baking. The other consideration with ovens is the pans you plan to use it with. Check your sheet pan sizes, so you don’t purchase a rack that doesn't fit your purpose.
Another consideration is the area of size for what you'll be using the rack for. If this is your tool to cool large batches of cookies or breads, a bigger model is in order. If you only cook small batches, you may be able to get away with a more diminutive model and save precious cabinet space.
To get maximum versatility when purchasing a cooling rack, look for the oven-safe rating. Then, you can use your rack as a cooling, baking, and roasting tool.
There are only two options when it comes to cooling rack design: grid or ladder. Ladder styles have bars that run horizontally only. Grid styles have bars running in both directions, creating a hatch-style look.
Both models provide air circulation, keeping foods from getting soggy, but grid styles have a clear advantage. With just bars running horizontally, food can easily fall through the cracks. A grid alleviates this issue. But, when choosing your cooling rack, also be cognizant of the size of the grid. If you purchase one with large openings, you will have the same issue of food escaping through the cracks, like with the ladder design.
Why use a cooling rack?
The better question is: Why not? Cooling racks have so many uses in the kitchen, whether you're a novice cook or a seasoned chef. They ensure your food does not continue to steam on the baking sheet. They also provide much-needed air circulation for better texture—no mushy chicken wings. The air circulation immediately halts the cooking process, so say goodbye to overdone pastries and loaves of bread.
Cooling racks that are oven safe open up a whole new slew of cooking possibilities, like the best bacon ever. If you want really tasty, not-greasy, crisp bacon, try cooking it on a rack over a sheet pan. The heat gets evenly distributed and the bacon cooks more uniformly. Be sure to check what your rack is coated with, if anything, before you put it in the oven to avoid chemical seepage or toxins being released.
Can you put a cooling rack in the oven?
It depends on the model. Some are specifically designed to be oven safe. If it is, the wire rack can double as your roasting rack. Just set it right in your sheet pan. Be sure to check your manufacturer’s packaging, as some models are only oven safe up until a certain temperature.
How do you transfer cookies to a cooling rack?
The key to making a good transfer is to let your cookies sit for a minute on the baking sheet. This allows everything to settle before you slide them off with your spatula. Be sure to choose a spatula larger than the cookie, so you don’t break any fragile, fresh-from-the-oven goodies.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who owns three of the cooling racks on this list. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she has baked thousands of pastries, roasted her weight in veggies, and knows the importance of good air circulation in keeping food golden-crisp. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.