This hack will transform the way you cook.
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Credit: Photo: Jamie Vespa

We typically associate cooling racks with baking desserts because they’re the perfect place to let our favorite treats drop in temperature before we dive in for the first bite. But there’s a brilliant use for cooling racks that you probably didn’t even know was possible.

You can place your oven-safe wire cooling rack directly on top of a sheet pan for perfectly cooked dishes, similar to how you’d use a roasting rack. Purchase a cooling rack that’s large, flat, and can comfortably fit onto a sheet pan, like this stainless steel cooling rack.

This trick is especially useful (and delicious!) for dishes that give off a lot of liquid as they cook such as turkey, chicken, and fish. The skin will get extra crispy as it cooks, without getting soggy from floating in excess oil. For best results, place your oven-safe metal cooling rack onto a rimmed baking sheet and spray the rack with oil, like we do in our Pickle-Brined Tofu recipe. In dishes like this, the baking sheet allows for all sides of the food to be cooked evenly, to collect pan drippings for a sauce, and to get a crispier texture without the breading sticking to the pan.

You can also use the cooling rack to separate two different elements to your dish, like we do in this recipe for Spicy Chicken Thighs with Summer Squash. Place a flat veggie, like summer squash, on the bottom of the sheet pan and top with the cooling rack. Place a marinated protein on the cooling rack. While the protein cooks, the drippings from the top dish will help flavor the veggies below it.

This technique will give you room in your oven for additional trays and help cut down on dishes — two big wins in our book.