I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn moreHave you ever wondered which kitchen utensils are the most useful? Or the most useless? Quite frankly I don’t think any kitchen tool is useless, or else they won’t get made or sold. I mean, who will pay for something that has no use, right? If you’ll say that the cooling rack is not as useful as the skillet, then you would be wrong. An often-overlooked kitchen essential is a cooling rack. It is especially important if you love to bake. The cooling rack helps you cool down piping hot food from the stove, grill, or oven.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is a Cooling Rack?
- 2 Top 10 Best Cooling Racks
- 2.1 Best cooling rack and tray set: Ultra Cuisine Wire
- 2.2 Best budget cooling rack: Bellemain
- 2.3 Best cooling rack with folding legs: Wilton Excelle Elite
- 2.4 Best cooling rack for cookies: Checkered Chef
- 2.5 Best cooling rack for bread: Spring Chef
- 2.6 Best Rust-Free Rack: Goson Bakeware Cooling Rack
- 2.7 Best cooling rack for a bakery: Fox Run 4698 Stackable Set
- 2.8 Best stainless steel cooling rack: Linden Sweden Metal Baker’s
- 2.9 Best cooling rack for baking at home: Betty Crocker Nifty non-stick
- 2.10 Best Large Rack: Nordic Ware Extra Large Cooling Rack
- 3 How to Choose the Best Cooling Rack?
- 4 How To Clean a Cooling Rack
- 5 Cooling Rack FAQs
- 5.1 Is a cooling rack necessary?
- 5.2 Can you use a cooling rack to cook food?
- 5.3 Is it safe to put a cooling rack in the oven?
- 5.4 What can I use instead of a cooling rack?
- 5.5 Can you put a Wilton cooling rack in the oven?
- 5.6 How long do cookies need to cool on a rack?
- 5.7 How do you transfer cookies to cooling rack?
- 5.8 Why do you cool cakes on a wire rack?
- 5.9 Can you put a cooling rack in the dishwasher?
- 6 Cooling Rack Uses
- 7 Conclusion
What is a Cooling Rack?A cooling rack or wire rack is a kitchen utensil that is used to place foods that are freshly cooked, whether baked, grilled, fried, or anything that’s piping hot scooped out of a frying pan, and allowed to cool down before it is served. Cooling racks are often made of food-grade stainless steel wires that are woven (mechanically) into less than an inch multiple square-sized meshes, crisscrossing horizontally and vertically in order to let food be cooled easily, yet the spaces between the tiny bars are small enough so that food will not fall through and won’t get soggy due to moisture retention. The most common cooling racks are single layer racks; however, there are multi-layered racks with 2-3 stackable tiers that can cool a batch of cookies, bread, cakes, or several pies at the same time. Cooling racks come in all shapes and sizes – some are round, others are square, rectangular, or oval-shaped; there are even collapsible racks. Roasting racks can also be used as a cooling rack.
Top Reasons Why You Need a Cooling Rack
- It’s handy for bakers.
Top 10 Best Cooling RacksOkay, so you’ve just mastered the recipes that you want to try at home, but you have no idea which cooling rack to use. Not to worry because we’ve compiled 10 of the best cooling racks for you. It’s the next logical step to take when you want to cook baked goods and pastries or baker’s confectionary, you will need to prepare the right tools for the job. And the obvious choice would be to include a cooling rack to your kitchen. With a plethora of options available, you may be a bit confused about your choices. Unless you have a trained eye for these things, you may not know that each cooling rack possesses unique benefits and qualities. The rack height, cooling space, grid pattern, and what material it’s made of are just among the things that you’ll need to consider before you purchase one. Already feeling overwhelmed by this? Don’t be, because if you keep reading, you’ll find that there is a lot of useful information for you to find and purchase the best cooling racks that will fulfill your kitchen and baking needs. You will be surprised at the amount of detailing that goes into designing these products.
Best cooling rack and tray set: Ultra Cuisine Wire
- Attentive design detail gives this cooling rack great advantage in terms of air circulation for best results in baking and cooling.
- With 3 strong crossbars, the cooling rack is well supported and has a good balance.
- The crisscrossing stainless steel bars create a grid pattern that’s tight, which prevents food from sagging or slip through the holes.
- Perfect for half sheet pans in the oven baking.
- Made from 100% 304-grade heavy-duty stainless steel material.
- Oven and dishwasher safe, resistant to flaking and rusting
- Made from high-quality stainless steel the rack is built to last
- A tiny wire grid ensures no sagging or food falling through
- You get a free recipe eBook when you purchase this cooling rack
- Multipurpose tool and easy to use
- Sometimes difficult to clean due to food getting stuck in the tight gauges
Best budget cooling rack: Bellemain
- Has 40% more crisscrossing bars that help hold more food in place while cooling them
- The wire grid is made of 10-gauge iron bars able to support heavy dishes
- The rack is made of commercial-grade premium materials
- Perfect for half-sheet pans
- Sturdy and thick 10-gauge bars that make up the wire grid of the cooling rack
- Has a Teflon non-stick finish
- Oven and dishwasher safe
- Anti-snag wire mesh design for easy cooking, baking, grilling, and cleaning
- Some users have reported that the product tends to rust slightly after long time use
Best cooling rack with folding legs: Wilton Excelle Elite
- This cooling rack has a non-stick scratch-resistant coating finish
- Built with 40% more crisscrossing wire grid
- High-quality materials finish ensures durability and dependability
- Suitable for heavy-duty applications as this rack is made with 10-gauge iron with 6 legs support
- Cleaning is effortless as this rack is dishwasher safe
- The non-stick feature lets you slide or pop the food easily
- Ideal for bakers who struggle with extra space in their bakery
- Made from high-quality durable materials
- The cooling of the baked goods becomes inefficient despite the 3-inch clearance space between the tiers (apparently heat is being circulated between them instead of being dissipated into the air).
- In some cases, the cookies may slip through the wire grid despite it being spaced at 3/4-inch apart
- A multipurpose rack that can be used for many things including baking and cooling food
- Its dimensions are 17 x 12 inches which perfectly fits any 18 x 13 inches standard half-sheet pans
- Perfectly spaced grids for preventing cookies from slipping through the gaps
- Does not contain any synthetic coatings or artificially treated
- Built with perfect stability as it is made from solid stainless steel
- Guaranteed no twisting or warping as it is made with high-quality materials
- Durable cooling rack owing to unique strengthening cross bar design
- Resistant to rust and corrosion
- Uneven and wide spacing causes food to sag or falls through
Best cooling rack for bread: Spring Chef
- A considerable amount of time and effort was placed on the designing of the rack height, size, and wire grid
- The Spring Chef cooling rack will never bend out of shape under any circumstances
- Safe to use in the oven and the dishwasher
- Comes with a lifetime warranty and money-back guarantee
- Made from high-quality materials and efficient design features
- Easy to clean
- Broil, bake, roast, dry or cool foods on the rack safely
- Doesn’t chip and is scratch-resistant
- Warp and rust-resistant
- The rack sits lower in the half-sheet tray compared to other cooling racks and has widely-spaced crisscrossing bars
- Poor air circulation causes a longer time to cool down the food
Best Rust-Free Rack: Goson Bakeware Cooling Rack
- Can work with oven pans, broiler pans, baking pans, cookie sheets, and baking mat
- The square cross wire pattern measures 1/2-inch that ensures proper ventilation and prevents food from sagging or falling through
- Able to support heavy loads of food as the rack is supported by 4 wielded feet
- Oven and dishwasher safe
- The rack’s cross wire patterns provide even heat distribution
- Durable and safe to use
- Crafted from 100% stainless steel
- Perfect for baking cakes, cookies, bread, and muffins
- The manufacturer offers a 30 days return option as well as a 90 days warranty coverage for any damages
- Rust builds up over time despite being made of stainless steel
Best cooling rack for a bakery: Fox Run 4698 Stackable Set
- Durable even though made from lightweight chrome steel
- High elevation for perfectly crispy meat even on the undersides as well as uniform cooling
- Its foldable stands (legs) can be easily attached to the other racks, thus it’s easily stacked on top of each other to form a 3-layered cooling rack
- Saves space yet you can cook 3 times more food with it
- Lightweight but tough
- The 3-stackable racks are space-saving and efficient
- Cool several baked goods at a time
- A multipurpose design you can bake, cook and grill with this rack aside from cooling foods
- The screw-on collar is a weak part of the design
Best stainless steel cooling rack: Linden Sweden Metal Baker’s
- The unique and adjustable cooling rack design makes it versatile
- No need to assemble it
- Lightweight and compact design
- Powder-coated stainless steel gives the rack exceptional quality
- Able to withstand high temperatures
- Designed to survive high temperatures in the oven and other cooking devices
- Ideal for kitchens with limited space
- Very accommodating customer service
- No setup required
- Uniform cooling
- Small and rounded baking pans may not fit well with this rack
- Hard to lock baking pans in place as the locking mechanism is stiff and difficult to manage
- Sharp bottom rack corners
Also read: these are the best copper skillets around
Best cooling rack for baking at home: Betty Crocker Nifty non-stick
- Three-tier cooling rack
- Easy storage with its mesh design
- Additional support arm for heavy baked items
- Easy to clean as it has a non-stick coating
- Saves counter space
- The rack doesn’t wobble owing to the sturdy design
- Great for kitchens that do not have too much space
- Foldable and easy to store when not in use
- The instruction manual does not explain how to use the rack clearly, thus making it also difficult for users to work with it
Best Large Rack: Nordic Ware Extra Large Cooling Rack
- Ideal for larger baked goods
- The engineering of the rack makes it strong enough to handle even a large whole turkey
- Quick cooling
- The wire grid prevents food items from sogging or falling through
- Although has a large surface it’s easy to store
- Sports a non-stick coating finish
- Does not chip or warp
- Uniform cooling
- Not safe for oven use
- Not dishwasher safe, manual washing is required to avoid damaging the non-stick coating
How to Choose the Best Cooling Rack?
MaterialIf it’s your first time buying a cooling rack, then make sure that you check which material it is made out of. Choose racks that are made from top-quality commercial grade stainless steel, because non-stainless steel racks are prone to rust (except for ceramic coated non-stick racks) and you don’t want rust to come into contact with your food. Some cooling racks are made of wood and coated with chrome. It’s up to you to select the material of your choice. Metal wire racks are more durable over time.
CoatingUsually, cooling racks have a non-stick coating which is called Teflon. Teflon is actually polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and it’s a great coating for wire racks because it ensures the food doesn’t stick to the rack. However, more recently, bakers are looking for other coating alternatives that are safer than Teflon since it is a chemical.
SizeBefore you buy a cooling rack check the dimension of your oven. Write that down and ask the store clerk to give you a cooling rack that is less than the size of your oven, so that it will fit without any inconvenience.
Oven SafeOne last thing, make sure that the cooling rack is built to withstand the temperatures in your oven. The brand and model of the cooling rack indicates whether or not their product is oven safe, so it shouldn’t be difficult to look for it in the product details.
How To Clean a Cooling RackOne of the most asked questions is how to clean a cooling rack? They must be cleaned just like the other kitchen utensils in your home. Especially if you use the wire rack in the oven to cook, you need to give it a thorough clean. Some cooling racks are dishwasher safe but read the product description to be sure. Here’s the easy way to clean: First, squirt some dish soap into a deep rimmed baking sheet. Make sure it can fit your rack and it’s tall enough to submerge the rack in. Place the rack into the baking sheet and fill it with water. Now, let the cooling rack soak for half an hour, or until all the food particles and grease is loose. Then remove the rack and scrub it with a sponge or brush until it looks clean. Make sure to scrub in the direction in which the wires run. That means crosswise on the top and lengthwise on the bottom side.
How do you get the rust off a cooling rack?A rusty cooling rack is a danger for your health. It is also unpleasant to cook with. Imagine rust pieces seeping into your baked goods. But don’t worry, if your racks are looking a bit rusty, you can clean them in no time. First, pour a few drops of dish soap into a bowl filled with warm water and stir. Use a non-abrasive scouring pad or brush and dip it into the soap water. Now, rub your racks with this soapy water gently in a circular motion. Keep dipping into the soapy water and keep rubbing until the rust comes off.
Cooling Rack FAQsAlthough the cooling rack seems like a simple kitchen utensil, many people are confused with regards to using cooling racks properly. In the next section, we’ll explain what other uses a cooling rack has and you’ll see why it’s so versatile. But first, we’ll discuss some of the most important information about these racks.
Is a cooling rack necessary?Yes, a cooling rack is necessary if you want to be efficient in the kitchen. Who wants to waste time waiting for food to cool down? It can take over half an hour for cookies to cool down, for example. But, a wire rack allows the air to circulate under your baked goods which cools them down much quicker. So, as you can see, it helps when baking, especially batches of goodies. Essentially, the cooling rack accelerates the cooling process, meaning you no longer need to wait around. And finally, this handy kitchen tool ensures you don’t burn or ruin your countertops with hot food and bakeware.
Can you use a cooling rack to cook food?Technically, yes, you can use the cooling rack to heat up or cook food. It is sometimes used as a baking tray or pan. When you cook meat and vegetables directly on a cooling rack, it basically works just like a big roasting rack. It allows the hot air to circulate around the meat and veggies evenly. But beware, you can only use an oven-safe cooling rack to cook on. Even then, you risk damaging the rack, so it’s best to use it for its intended purposes…to cool down your food.
Is it safe to put a cooling rack in the oven?You can only put the cooling rack in the oven if the rack is specially designed as “oven-safe”. If it is, then place the wire rack straight on top of a sheet pan. That way you can make delicious meals in the oven. A cooling rack is used just like a roasting rack.
What can I use instead of a cooling rack?We advise that you buy a cooling rack to use as its the safest way to ensure you don’t burn countertops. However, there are two viable substitutes but you must be careful when using the. First, you can turn a muffin tin upside down and place your hot cookware on top. Second, you can use upside-down cardboard egg trays for the same purpose. But, note that this is not sturdy and stable, and your food can fall and even burn you.
Can you put a Wilton cooling rack in the oven?It’s best to check on the manufacturer’s website to see which of their racks are oven-safe. But as a general rule, the black-coated cooling racks are NOT oven-safe, so don’t use them in the oven. Their chrome-plated grids are usually oven-safe and you can use them to cook and bake in the oven at a temperature of up to 450 degrees.
There is no specific amount of time to cool cookies. But, let them cool for at least 10 minutes before you transfer them.
When you take the cookies out of the oven, let them sit for a minute in the baking tray. Then, take a small spatula and transfer them to the cooling rack individually. Be careful not to break and damage them as they can be fragile while hot. It’s best to use a spatula because it keeps the cookies intact when they’re warm. If you want to transfer a cake, invert the cooling rack and put it on top of the cake pan. Flip your rack and the pan and the cake will transfer.
Why do you cool cakes on a wire rack?The best way to cool a cake is on a wire rack because the design of the rack allows air to circulate all around the cake. This means that your baked good (cake) cools down a lot faster than if you leave it on the baking tray, trivet, or on the countertop. Also, the cooling rack ensures the food doesn’t become soggy due to condensation.
Can you put a cooling rack in the dishwasher?If the product’s packaging doesn’t state that the cooling rack is not dishwasher safe, then you can probably throw it into the dishwasher. You need to be careful though about where in the dishwasher you place it to ensure it gets clean. Note that most chrome-plated cooling racks are NOT dishwasher safe and they will RUST if placed there.
Cooling Rack UsesIt’s not unusual for humans to display their resourcefulness and ingenuity whenever the need for it arises, and that statement has never been truer with how people use the cooling rack other than its intended purpose. Apparently, cooling racks are not just for cooling hot foods anymore. From cooking bacon to making a piece of art you can hang in your office, there is no end to the creative uses for the cooling rack. Now step away from the kitchen for a moment, because we’re going to explore how this kitchen utensil is being used for various purposes.
Cook BaconYou often cook your bacon in the frying pan, but have you ever tried cooking it on the cooling rack over the stove, a charcoal grill, or in the oven? The results are crispier and juicier bacon strips as heat is evenly distributed, therefore the bacon cooks better! Note: if you decide to cook bacon on a cooling rack, make sure to avoid non-stick materials on this kitchen tool, especially if you’re going to use the oven.
Create a Message BoardIf you keep missing out on your to-do list in your physical diary planner or the virtual one in your phone, then you can use the cooling rack to hang important upcoming events that warrant your attention. Things you will need:
- A to-do list (which I’m sure you have)
- Clothespins or clip magnets
- A Memo pad to write your daily/weekly/monthly schedules
Make Chunky GuacamoleGuacamole is an avocado-based dip, spread, or salad that was invented by the ancient Aztecs of South America. It is mostly eaten with potato chips, but you can also eat it with tacos, unsweetened biscuits, or bread. Guacamole is normally made by mashing together avocados in a small mixing bowl; however, you can just use the cooling rack to push the peeled avocados through and achieve the same results. Here’s a YouTube video on how it’s done:
Chop Hard-Boiled EggsYou can also chop dozens of hard-boiled eggs by using the cooling rack just like how you can mush avocados for your guacamole. Just follow the instructions on this video and you should be able to make your egg salad recipe in no time: Drain Dishes The cooling rack can also be used as a tool for drying newly washed dishes. In fact, most of the sailors who own a small sailing yacht and travel the world have a cooling rack set up beside their kitchen sink in the boat galley specifically to dry dishes. This is a cheap, easy, and quick way to dry your dishes and have them ready for the next meal.
Jewelry OrganizersAnother way you can use the cooling rack is by turning it into your jewelry organizer. Normally people put their jewelry (and everything else) in their cabinet drawers because it’s safe and convenient. Of course, it’s the right thing to do, in fact, some people even have their own 5-inch thick metal safe to put their precious possessions in, but unless you own a $50,000 jewelry collection, then you can put them on display on your cooling rack that’s hanging on the wall. Not only will you appreciate their aesthetics, but you can easily pick any jewelry you want to wear in an instant.
Hanging ArtIf your house, apartment, condo unit, or office needs more aesthetics, then you don’t need to hire a professional interior designer to improve the overall look of your target location. Behold the hanging art of A Beautiful Mess website! They call it the DIY Oversized Fabric Chandelier and it looks classy and will look beautiful in your office or kitchen table. Your family, friends, guests, and clients won’t even notice that it is made out of a cooling rack and some fancy fabrics.
Lid OrganizerSince they invented plastic food containers it had become a modern kitchen necessity and almost every home in America has a drawer full of Tupperware (and other brands) items. But while the drawer keeps most of the plastic food containers in place, the lid that secures the food in the container can make a mess and will never stay organized. You can use a plate holder and place the cooling rack on top of it, then turn into a makeshift lid organizer of sorts. It’s a cool way to declutter your kitchen cabinet and make everything look nice and clean.
Shoe Rack DryerNix the water puddles that are inherent with snowy and rainy weather. Dry shoes by resting them on metal cooling racks inside a large plastic tray in the mudroom or entry room. Using a cooling rack to dry your shoes after a snowy or rainy day is just genius. No more soggy shoes for you!
Spice OrganizerIf you live the minimalist lifestyle, which is a new trend that many people find helpful especially for those who make a meager income, then you may want to know how to turn a cooling rack into your very own spice organizer. Alkanet, basil, cumin, fennel, and many other spices are those little things that we often take for granted and yet are quite important in our lives – and you’ll need a space to place them. Using a simple tool like pliers, you can transform a cooling rack into the perfect storage solution for your spice cabinet. Now you can have all the spices and herbs you need and save precious space in your home or apartment altogether.
Scarf OrganizerThe scarf is good for when the weather is chill or slightly colder than usual and it’s also great fashion wear that enhances your overall looks. But sometimes your closet may not have enough room in it to hang your scarves. Again you can use the cooling rack to hang them and make it a rather aesthetically pleasing scarf organizer.
Fabric OrganizerYou can also use the cooling rack to hang your handkerchief, hijab, and other fabrics that you use occasionally. They serve a similar purpose with the scarf organizer – save space, organize things, and add aesthetics to the surroundings.
Sunglass StorageToo often people use their cabinet drawers to put everything in including their eyeglasses and sunglasses. But did you know that the cooling rack can also become your glass/sunglass storage neatly tucked on the wall? You’ll easily be plucking out your favorite glasses or sunglasses every time the occasion calls for it.
Homemade Craft DisplayDo you love making arts & crafts even if they’re for your own personal enjoyment and you’re no longer making them for school projects? Well, you can place them on a cooling rack and hang them on the wall for people to see. What you’ll get is praises and compliments from your guests and you may just give yourself a pat on your shoulder and enjoy it seeing it on your wall too!
ConclusionNow that you’ve looked at all the cooling rack options, there’s no doubt that you’re convinced that you need one for your kitchen. After all, these racks are extremely handy for all kinds of uses. Plus, if you use a cooling rack, you won’t run into the trouble of soggy baked goods. Condensation and steam make your cookies taste mushy and nobody wants that. So, the next time you bake, use a cooling tray to make your food ready to eat in a jiffy.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.