Many baking recipes call for lining a pan with parchment paper, but parchment paper isn’t the only thing that you can use to line a pan. Silpats are non-stick baking sheets made of a blend of food-safe silicone and a fiberglass mesh. They’re incredible versatile because nothing sticks to them, they can be used thousands of times and they work at a very wide temperature range. Parchment paper, by contrast, can only be used a limited number of times and may start to smoulder at very high temperatures. To use a Silpat, simply place it on your baking sheet without greasing and place your cookie dough directly on top of the mat, then bake. Because they add a degree of insulation to a pan, using one of these silicone mats often results in more evenly baked cookies and cakes, especially if your oven (or pan) tends to have hot spots in it. Silpats have many fans, but the insulation they add can mean that a familiar recipe may take an extra minute or two bake fully compared to the same recipe made on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
Silpats, and other silicone pan liners, aren’t just for baking cookies. These non-stick sheets have many other kitchen uses. They’re wonderful for rolling out pastry dough, kneading bread dough and working with especially sticky foods, such as hot sugar or candies. The mats clean with water (or a mild soap), so they’re as easy to care for as they are to use, and you’ll definitely find quite a few uses for one if you have one in your kitchen.