SHEET PAN DINNER FORMULA
Follow one of these two recipe formulas for a family-friendly weeknight meal that serves four. One is for meat and one is for seafood, and each recipe formula has three variations. Using the examples here or what you have on hand, simply toss everything together in a resealable bag, pour in oil and spices, shake and pour onto one foil lined, sprayed baking pan. Then let your oven do the work!
How to Make the Best Sheet Pan Dinners
This oven-baked spin on one-pot-cooking is that it’s supposed to make for simple prep, no-fuss cooking, and speedy clean-up. And all that’s true — by keeping these 6 simple tips in mind:
1. Use the Right Kind of Pan
The right baking sheet to use for sheet pan dinners is called a half-sheet pan. It’s made of heavy-gauge metal, measures 18 by 13 inches, and has a 1-inch rim all the way around. It’s sturdy enough to take high oven heat — and sometimes broiler heat if your recipe calls for it. The size allows for ingredients to be spread out so you don’t crowd the pan. (Crowded pans make for mushy meals because the ingredients steam instead of roast.) And the rim is low enough for heat to move across the ingredients to give them a crisp, brown, caramelized finish. Jellyroll pans may look the same, but they’re generally smaller and flimsier than half-sheet pans. The good news is half-sheet pans are not expensive and they’re the kind of multi-taskers that you’ll use again and again for a whole lot more than sheet pan dinners.
2. Line the Pan for Easy Clean-Up
You’ll see lots of blog photos of sheet pan dinners where the pan is all crusty with baked-on bits. (See the photo at top, for example.) But let’s get real. You’re not interested in scrubbing pans. The solution? Line the pan with heavy-duty foil or parchment paper (not waxed paper). You might have to do a little light washing later, but a well-lined pan cleans up in a jiffy.
3. Give Dense or Whole Vegetables a Head Start
Sturdy vegetables like potatoes and carrots take much longer to cook than softer vegetables like green beans, asparagus, and tomatoes. Depending on what else you’re adding to the pan, you should roast the denser vegetables for 30 minutes or more before adding the other vegetables to the pan. In this recipe for Greek Lemon Chicken and Potato Bake, small whole potatoes cook along with bone-in chicken leg quarters for 45 minutes, then the green beans are added 15 minutes before the pan comes out of the oven. If you cut the denser vegetables into small pieces, they’ll need a shorter head start.
4. Oil Up the Ingredients
To ensure that vegetables don’t dry out while they’re cooking, make sure you completely coat them with oil. The best way to do this is to put them into a large bowl and add the oil and any other seasonings in your recipe. Then stir with a spoon or with your hands to cover everything thoroughly. A smart move is to do the dense vegetables first and get them started in the oven (see tip #3), then use what’s in the bowl to coat the softer vegetables that will be added to the pan later.
5. Know When to Rack
Most sheet pan dinners can be baked right on the pan with no rack needed. After all, that’s how you get those tasty caramelized surfaces. But, let’s say you want to bake breaded chicken or fish along with vegetables. To keep that crisp coating from getting soggy from the veg, use a wire rack to raise the breaded ingredients above the moisture in the pan. Use the same approach when you’re roasting a cut of beef or pork so the juices baste the ingredients while the meats gets gloriously browned. Everyone wins.
6. Add Flavor Boosters
Try seasoning blends: jerk seasoning, Old Bay, za’atar, Chinese five-spice powder, garam masala, or Italian seasoning.
- Use spicy chiles: fresh jalapeños or serranos, canned chipotles, crushed red pepper, dried cayenne, or ancho powder.
- Add sauces and drizzles: wasabi sour cream, herbed aioli, maple syrup, olive oil, or balsamic vinegar.
- Toss in some nuts: pecans, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, or walnuts.
- Squeeze on or zest some citrus: lemon, grapefruit, lime, or orange.
- Sprinkle on fresh aromatics: cilantro, parsley, oregano basil, green onion, or thyme before serving.
7. Basic Sheet Pan Formula:
- 2 Pound Boneless Meat
- 1 Pound Prepped Starchy Vegetables
- 2 Cups Prepped Nonstarchy Vegetables
- 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
- ¼ To ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ To ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ Cup Prepared Sauce Or Relish
- Fresh Herb or Garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange meat and vegetables in a single layer on a foil-lined 10×15-inch baking pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast until vegetables are tender and meat is desired doneness (145°F for medium-rare beef, 145°F for pork, 175°F for chicken), 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with sauce or relish and sprinkle with herb (if using).
NOTE: Be sure to follow directions for meat thickness and vegetable sizes. Cutting vegetables too big or small, or using thinner or thicker cuts of meat, could result in underdone or overcooked pieces.
Sample Recipe below:
Greek Lemon Chicken and Vegetables
4 Pounds Skin-On, Bone-In Chicken Thighs
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
½ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
½ Cup Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Quartered
⅔ Cup Chicken Broth, Plus Splash To Deglaze Pan
Chopped Fresh Oregano For Garnish
Step 1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly oil a large roasting pan.
Step 2 Place chicken pieces in large resealable bag. Season with salt, oregano, pepper, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Place potatoes in bowl with the chicken; stir together until chicken and potatoes are evenly coated with marinade.
Step 3 Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, to prepared roasting pan, reserving marinade. Distribute potato pieces among chicken thighs. Drizzle with 2/3 cup chicken broth. Spoon remainder of marinade over chicken and potatoes.
Step 4 Place in preheated oven. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Toss chicken and potatoes, keeping chicken skin side up; continue baking until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Transfer chicken to serving platter and tent to keep warm.
Step 5 Set oven to broil or highest heat setting. Toss potatoes once again in pan juices. Place pan under broiler and broil until potatoes are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Transfer potatoes to serving platter with chicken.
Step 6 Place roasting pan on stove over medium heat. Add a splash of broth and stir up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain; spoon juices over chicken and potatoes. Top with chopped oregano.