Sheet pan dinners are weeknight superstars. Here's how to assemble healthy, no-fuss meals
For seasoned cooks and kitchen novices, cookbook author and nutritionist Robin Miller takes it back to basics with great, family-friendly recipes worth making over and over again.
Although it sounds too good to be true, with sheet pan cooking, you can build, cook and serve an entire meal — from the main course to the side dishes — in one fell swoop. Not only is preparation easy, when ingredients have a chance to cook together, commingling and evolving as they roast, the result is layer upon layer of flavor in every bite.
There’s no need for fancy equipment here. A large sturdy sheet pan is best, but if you have smaller pans and need to use two for a complete meal, that works too. The beauty of sheet pan cooking is that the sides are low (versus a casserole dish or roasting pan), so all edges of the food on the pan are exposed to direct heat, which leads to great browning.
Though a sheet pan dinner can be made with almost any combination of meats, veggies and spices, in the example I offer below, tender chicken is seasoned with fresh lemon, garlic, rosemary and a hint of Dijon and then roasted alongside potatoes and bell peppers.
As the meal cooks, the flavorful marinade and savory juices from the chicken enhance the taste of the vegetables as they caramelize to perfection. The meal is fresh and light, and although it’s made with very few ingredients, flavors soar. That’s the beauty of sheet pan cooking.
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Can you cook chicken and vegetables on the same sheet pan?
Roasting meats and vegetables on a sheet pan ensures that every piece of food, from the outer edge to the moist middle, cooks perfectly. And the intense heat of the oven browns everything beautifully, without requiring constant stirring and attention from you. Why is browning important? Because “brown” means “flavor”.
There are no rules when it comes to which meats and veggies to use, just know this: whatever you’ve been roasting separately can probably be combined to create a complete meal. The trick is making sure the foods you partner will finish cooking at the same time.
To guarantee success every time, cut all ingredients into uniform sizes and shapes (when possible). If you’re working with whole chicken breasts, pork chops, or steaks, they will likely need a head start on cooking.
For example, if you’re cooking pork chops and asparagus, the chops may need a five to 10 minute head start (the asparagus should be added when there’s about 10 minutes remaining). Chicken and potatoes can start cooking together, while bell peppers should be added to the sheet pan during the last five to 10 minutes of cooking.
Following a simple chart of roasting times, you can plan your pan in stages, from the longest cooking time to the shortest, though in many cases, you can pile everything on the sheet pan and let the oven do the rest.
What are the roasting times for sheet pan cooking?
Cooking time depends on the size of the food. Chicken breasts, steaks and pork chops will take longer than smaller, thinner vegetables, but when roasting in a preheated 400 F oven the below times are a good starting point.
Chicken breasts and thighs: 20 to 35 minutes, depending on size and bone-in or boneless (a meat thermometer should reach 165 degrees).
Steaks, burgers and meatballs: 15 to 25 minutes, depending on size and desired level of doneness.
Pork chops: 15 to 25 minutes, depending on thickness (a meat thermometer should reach 145 degrees).
Fish fillets, shrimp and scallops: 8 to 15 minutes.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots: 30 to 45 minutes.
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts: 15 to 25 minutes.
Zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes: 10 to 20 minutes.
Asparagus, green beans, snow peas: 10 to 20 minutes.
Recipe: Sheet pan lemon rosemary chicken
This recipe is endlessly adaptable, so feel free to use what you have on hand. If you want to use boneless chicken breasts or thighs, reduce the cooking time by about five to eight minutes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating the potatoes and peppers
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ½ pounds skinless chicken thighs, or 1-pound bone-in skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pound small red potatoes, scrubbed clean and halved
- 2 bell peppers, any color, seeded cut into 2-inch pieces, or 4-6 mini peppers, halved and seeded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- In a shallow dish or zip-top bag, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, rosemary and garlic. Add the chicken and turn to coat, working the marinade into the chicken with your hands. (At this point, you can refrigerate the chicken for up to 24 hours if you aren't ready to cook yet.)
- Arrange the chicken on the prepared pan in a single layer. Toss the potatoes with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and arrange them around the chicken in a single layer. Season the chicken and potatoes with salt and black pepper. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Toss the bell peppers with a little olive oil. Carefully remove the sheet pan and arrange peppers them alongside the chicken and potatoes. Return to oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (a meat thermometer should register 165 degrees), the potatoes are tender and the peppers are slightly charred.
- Remove sheet pan from the oven and top the chicken and vegetables with fresh parsley (if using). Plate or serve directly from the sheet pan.
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