Your kitchen cupboards are probably full of various cooking utensils and equipment. Cooling racks and baking racks are found in most people’s homes. However, you may not know which one you have or even the difference between them.
The two racks look pretty similar and serve a similar function. You may wonder what the difference between a cooling and baking rack is and whether the two can be used interchangeably.
Fortunately for you, we have researched and figured out the difference and how you can use them.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The links below may be affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
Cooling racks are specially designed to provide ventilation for baked goods. They can be used in the oven if they are not coated with a non-stick material that isn’t oven safe.
Make sure it’s made of stainless steel or aluminum. Baking racks are usually sturdy stainless steel or aluminum and can be used as cooling racks if necessary.
What are Cooling Racks?
After whipping up some delicious baked goods, you will need somewhere to set them down while they cool. However, if you place them on something without ventilation, the heat will cause condensation on the bottom, creating moisture and sogginess.
Cooling racks solve this problem. The cooling racks are made of a thin, webbed wire that provides air circulation.
They allow your food to cool down faster and allow even air distribution to the hot pastry or cake.
Check out the link below to purchase a cooling rack:
What are baking racks?
Baking racks are made to speed up the baking process in the kitchen. Baking racks come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Their primary function is to give your pastries somewhere to sit while in the oven.
They are comprised of a durable thin layer of wires that you put on top of a baking sheet and place the food on top.
The baking rack ensures uniform heat distribution and air flow during the cooking process. Proper heat distribution is crucial when making something delicate that requires even baking and coloration.
Baking racks are made to be used in the oven and, as such, must be heatproof and resilient to warping and deforming when exposed to high temperatures.
Follow the link below to buy a baking rack:
What is the difference between a cooling rack vs. a baking rack?
As we have established, cooling racks are designed to allow airflow to cool down your bakes faster. Cooling racks must be made of a specific material suitable for the oven.
Many cooling racks are made from iron, with a thin chrome coating, while others are made of a non-stick material. In both scenarios, they are not suitable for use in the oven.
Baking racks are made of stainless steel or aluminum and are heat resistant and safe to use in hot ovens. They are durable and will not rust or flake through repeated exposure to heat.
Can I use a Baking Rack as a Cooling Rack?
Cooling down a baked good isn’t very dangerous or wild. Thus, you will not damage the baked good or the rack if you use a baking rack for cooling.
However, you will need to transfer the baked item from the hot oven rack to a fresh, cold one if you want to use a baking rack for cooling.
Can I use a Cooling Rack as a Baking Rack?
The answer very much depends on what your cooling rack is made from. Most cooling racks will say on the label whether or not they are heat safe.
You need to ensure the cooling rack is not made from a non-stick material but instead stainless steel or aluminum. The non-stick coating makes cooling racks easy to clean and dangerous if exposed to high heat.
In addition, non-stick coatings can melt off if exposed to high heat, damaging the rack and potentially poising your food.
The cooling rack may also not fit very snuggly into your oven slats or onto a dip pan; in this case, it will not be suitable to use the cooling rack as a baking rack.
Additionally, ensure that the cooling rack has a criss-cross grid pattern, not a parallel stip pattern. The parallel stips encourage baked goods to sag between the wires, making them cook unevenly and deformed.
If your cooling rack meets the specifications for use in the oven, then you can use it. Double-check with the manufacturer’s guidelines if you’re unsure, or invest in a baking rack.
Uses of a Cooling Rack
If you have an oven-safe cooking rack, your options for its use are far more varied, and you can use it in some of the following methods that involve heat.
However, if your cooling rack has a non-stick coating, stick to methods that do not involve heat.
- Cooking bacon. Cooling racks act much the same in the oven as a baking rack and are great for allowing food to drip and drain. Preheat the oven to around 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place the cooling rack with bacon on top inside. Ensure you set the cooling rack on a sheet pan to catch the drips. This will make your bacon crispy and delicious.
- Dehydrating. If you have a dry or dehydrated function in your oven, you can oven-dry some fruits. You can place the fruit on the cooling rack and in an oven on top of a sheet pan. Homemade sundried tomatoes, here we come!
- Glazing cakes. Of course, you can use the cooling rack to cool baked goods, but you can also leave them there and glaze away. The gaps in the tray allow the drips to fall through.
- Thawing frozen goods. You can either thaw food in a container in water or simply let the food sit on a cooling rack on top of an oven tray.
- Smoking meat. You can put your cooling rack in the smoker for your meat to sit on for a few minutes while it develops a smokey, delicious taste.
- Basting meat. You can place your meat on the cooling rack and baste away without oil pooling at the bottom and getting your meat too saturated.
What if I am Baking Something and Don’t Have a Cooling Rack?
So you’ve convinced yourself that home-cooked, warm chocolate chip cookies are worth making. The store-bought stuff just isn’t the same. So you build up expectations for yourself to enjoy some warm cookies, but you realize you don’t have a cooling rack.
The tummy grumbles win, and you decide to bake them anyway, so here are some alternatives you can use instead of a cooling rack:
- An extra, cool baking rack that you didn’t just use for baking.
- A pizza stone.
- A few paper towels or some brown baking paper places on your countertop.
- A wooden chopping board.
- A clean BBQ grill lined with baking paper (you don’t want to infuse your cookies with the taste of charr and beef).
- A wire rack.
Okay, that last option might seem like a cop-out because cooling racks are wire racks. But I’m talking about the wire rack inside your oven to separate off compartments.
If you have more than one, remove one of them before preheating the oven. Then, clean the rack, and prepare it for the baked goods.
Finally, you can line it with parchment paper, set it aside on the counter, and use it to cool your baked goods.
Cooling and baking racks appear to be similar, but they serve different purposes. If you’re smart, invest in a stainless steel, non-coated, or aluminum cooling rack to use it interchangeably in the kitchen.
Cooking racks are often coated with a non-stick material that isn’t heat resistant and therefore is not suitable for use in the oven. In contrast, baking racks can almost always be used as cooling racks.
Just make sure you’re using a cold baking rack if you’re using it as a substitute, and consider lining it with baking parchment.
Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API