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The Best Jelly Roll Pan Substitute | What To Use?

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For those with any experience in a kitchen, you have almost certainly discovered that you must occasionally substitute one ingredient for another. Sometimes you even need to substitute for a pot or pan that is called for in a recipe, especially items that most kitchens do not have; like the topic of this article.

The best option as a substitute for a jelly roll pan is a half-sheet pan that is about the same height as a jelly roll pan but is a little wider and longer. Extra care should be taken, however, as this extra width and length will make the cake a little thinner which could result in a jelly roll cake that would tend to crack or burn.

Even though the half sheet pan is the closest in size to a jelly roll pan, there are some other options for use as a substitute for a jelly roll pan, and this article will discuss those options as well. They include cookie sheets and 13 x 9” baking pans.

Jelly Roll Pan Substitutes

There are several pans that are found in most kitchens that can be used as a substitute for a jelly roll pan. But, even though there are substitutes, we have to admit that in order to make the perfect jelly roll cake, a jelly roll pan is much easier to use in order to produce that perfect jelly roll cake with the perfect thickness. The substitutes can be used only if some adjustments are made to the process.

Here is a list of the best substitutes:

  • A quarter-sheet pan which is approximately 9” x 13” x 1” is very similar to a small jelly roll pan and should be one of the two best options when substituting for a jelly roll pan.
  • A half-sheet pan is approximately 18” x 13” x 1” and is a perfect substitute for a jelly roll pan. It is also the largest sheet pan that will fit in a standard oven.
  • Even though a cookie sheet is considered to be one of the best substitutes for a jelly roll pan, the lip or sides on a cookie sheet is normally lower, so the amount of batter used to make a jelly roll cake must be reduced by approximately one third to avoid the batter running over the edge of the cookie sheet when the cake is baking. This will make a thinner jelly roll cake which must be watched closely when baking to avoid burning the cake. Also, the thinner cake may not want to roll as well and is more likely to crack when rolling.
  • My list of substitutes for a jelly roll pan must include a 13” x 9” baking pan (Amazon Example). Even though the baking pan has high sides and it may be a little more difficult to turn the cake out of the pan, the cake can be made the same size as the jelly roll cake made in a jelly roll pan by just using the same amount of batter that you would use in a 13” x 9” jelly roll pan. It should be a simple thing to substitute this pan, which is a standard size that is found in most kitchens, for a jelly roll pan and get the same results.

Using a Jelly Roll Pan vs. a Half Sheet Pan

While a half-sheet pan which is 18” x 13 x 1” is larger than the standard size jelly roll pan, it is the same size as a larger jelly roll pan and should be just as easy to work with when making a large jelly roll cake. 

Using a Jelly Roll Pan vs. a Cookie Sheet

The primary difference in making a jelly roll cake on a cookie sheet instead of a jelly roll pan is in the fact that the cookie sheet is not as deep as a jelly roll pan and will make a thinner cake which will be more likely to burn when cooking and will be more likely to crack or break when rolling the cake.

Just be sure that the cookie sheet that you are using is the type that does have a lip, even though it is a lower lip or side than a jelly roll pan. Naturally, the type of cookie sheet that is flat and has no lip cannot be considered for this substitution.

What Size Are Jelly Roll Pans?

Even though the standard size jelly roll pan is 10 x 15 inches, there are a number of different sizes from which to choose. There is a 12 x 17 inch, a larger pan which measures 18 x 13 inches, and there is a smaller pan that measures 12.25 x 9 inches. There are even sets of 2 or 3 different sizes that are available that provide you with options when making your jelly rolls.

What these jelly roll pans all have in common is that they all have a lip or sides that is approximately 1 inch in height. Some even have a 1.25 inch lip. A cookie sheet, however, is either flat with no raised sides while most have a short lip or sides that may measure up to ¾ inch in height.

What Are the Dimensions of a Jelly Roll Pan?

There are a variety of different sizes of jelly roll pans, but the standard size is 10.5” x 15.5” x 1”. The dimensions of additional sizes of jelly roll pans that are available are as follows:

Note: I put Amazon links to example pans for your convenience.

Jelly Roll Pan Uses

While a jelly roll pan is designed specifically for making a very thin layer cake that can be iced, frosted, or spread with jam or jelly and rolled to form a jelly roll cake, the jelly roll pan can be put into service in a number of different ways for a number of different uses.

The jelly roll pan can also be used:

  • As a cookie sheet for baking a large batch of cookies.
  • As a baking pan for roasting vegetables.
  • To cook a pizza if you don’t have a pizza pan.
  • For toasting nuts.
  • For making thin bar cookies or brownies.
  • For baking rolls.
  • For baking biscuits (if you don’t have any cast iron).
  • For freezing fruits and vegetables, which will be transferred to freezer bags when frozen.

As you can see, a jelly roll pan, like a cookie sheet or any other baking pan, can be quite versatile and can serve multiple purposes in the kitchen.

What Exactly Is a Jelly Roll Pan?

A swiss roll in a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with a deep lip

A jelly roll pan is a baking pan with a standard size of 10 x 15 inches with a depth of 1”. These pans are designed to make a thin sheet cake that can be spread with jam or jelly, iced, or covered with any number of types of frosting or filling and rolled to form a rolled cake, a filled cake, or a jelly roll cake. 

It is unclear where this type of dessert originated and how it came to the U.S., but most believe the first jelly roll or filled cake was made in one of the Eastern European countries, and the recipe brought to the U.S. by some of the early European settlers. The first known recipe in the United States, however, was published in 1852 in Utica, New York, and called for a sponge cake to be baked and smeared with jelly, rolled, and wrapped in a cloth.

This rolled “jelly roll cake” is different from the “jelly cakes” my mother and my grandmother made all the way back into the early 1900s. I remember seeing my mother bake 5 or 6 thin round, made-from-scratch yellow cake layers and stack them one on top of the other with some type of jam or jelly spread on top and between all the layers. My mother would mix up the cake batter by hand using this spoon because she didn’t have a mixer of any kind and would use an entire pint of jam or jelly to frost one cake.

Etha Bryant's Spoon (Anne James' Mother)
This spoon got many decades of use

Final Thoughts

Even though there are a number of different pans you can use as a substitute for a jelly roll pan, just be sure the pan that you use is not so large that the cake will be so thin that it will either burn or be too brown and that it will not roll easily without breaking. The other thing to watch for is that the pan has a high enough lip so that the cake can be thick enough to cook just right and will roll easily.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss The Best Cast Iron Skillet Size (Based on Your Needs).

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