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I roast vegetables all the time, so I like to think I have the process pretty much perfected—turn on the oven so it warms up, peel and cut the veggies, spray some olive oil on a baking sheet, arrange the veggies on top, and pop it on the oven. But according to some experts, there's one important step I'm missing.

Preheating the baking tray.

It's a tiny change that apparently can make a world of difference when it comes to how your food is cooked. Below is exactly what you need to know (like most importantly, when you should do it) and our kitchen and cooking writer's tips for using your baking tray better.

Why you should preheat your baking tray

The Argus: Warmer baking tray = faster cooking. Credit: Mark Hatfield/Getty ImagesWarmer baking tray = faster cooking. Credit: Mark Hatfield/Getty Images

Blame it on your oven, our kitchen and cooking writer, Valerie Li, says. ‘Every oven is different and has hot spots, which are areas that heat up faster than others’, she explains. ‘To prevent the hot spots from unevenly cooking your food, you should always preheat the pan or baking tray’.

Another perk? Preheating your baking tray can also cut down on your total cook time, Valerie notes, as the dish will already be hot. That means that your food will start cooking as soon as you put it onto the baking tray, instead of having to wait for the oven to heat up the tray before it starts cooking your food.

How to preheat a baking tray It's as simple as it sounds—toss the tray in the oven as soon as you turn the oven on to give it a chance to heat up. Keep in mind that where you put the tray in the oven also matters. Heat is highest at the bottom of the oven so your baking tray will heat up quicker if you place it on the bottom rack as opposed to the top rack.

Make sure you're using a high-quality tray, too, for the best cooking results. Of all the baking trays we've tested, we liked this Nordic Ware one the best because it has incredibly even heat distribution and is the perfect weight and size (lightweight enough that it's easy to handle yet large enough that it can hold over a dozen biscuits!).

When to preheat your baking tray (and when not to)

The Argus: Bakers beware. Credit: Tako Burito/Getty ImagesBakers beware. Credit: Tako Burito/Getty Images

Preheating a baking tray is best for when you're roasting vegetables or meat, as you want that high heat and crispy texture. But it isn't a good method for every type of cooking. After all, there are exceptions to every rule, including this one.

While preheating your baking tray for veggies or meat is a great idea, doing it for baked goods, on the other hand, is not. ‘Baking typically requires exact time and temperature for all ingredients to work, so preheating is not recommended’, Valerie warns.

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