If you haven’t heard of sheet pan dinners before, prepare for your life to get a whole lot easier (and if you have, well prepare to get inspired through all the seasons). Sheet pan meals are meals made (you guessed it) on ONE sheet pan. Roast proteins and veggies together in a warm oven, usually with a great sauce, and boom, dinner on the table in minutes.
Yes, every sheet pan meal is a little different, but here is a general formula you can follow when working to prepare a full meal in your oven.
- One Rimmed, Oiled Baking Sheet: Preferably a large one that is 13 x 18 inches in size.
- 1½ Pounds Protein: This can be anything, but the most popular options are salmon, chicken breast or thighs, sausages, tofu, and firm legumes (nuts, seeds, or chickpeas).
- 1 Pound Starchy Vegetables: You want to add things that will really bulk your meal (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, and other root vegetables).
- 2 Cups Prepared Other Vegetables: Fill in with lighter, non-starchy veggies like peppers, onion, cabbage, bok choy, kale, broccoli, eggplant, and zucchini.
- Finish with Some Seasoning and/or a Sauce: A drizzle of oil plus salt and pepper will do just fine, or play with spices and vinaigrette style flavorings. Aim for 1 tablespoon per pound of vegetable used. We also love dipping sauces (home made or store bought) like creamy dressings, BBQ sauce, teriyaki etc.
What does this look like seasonally? We break down some key recipe components for spring, summer, and fall below.
The best thing to remember is that with sheet pans you don’t need to really follow a recipe. If you are doing meal planning (or not) for the week, you can easily look at your CSA box, left over veggies that need to get used up, or the leftover chicken in the fridge. As with sauces, we recommend you find some that you love and then embrace the sheet pan experimenting with lots of combos.
Spring sheet pan meals
Thought you couldn’t roast your greens? Think again.
Bok choy, spinach, cabbage, and kale all wilt down wonderfully when roasted in the oven. The trick to roasting greens is to add them to the pan last (after other items are mostly finished cooking). Most proteins and starchy vegetables will take 40-45 minutes to cook while leafy greens only take 10-15 minutes. Cabbages and bok choy are a little more dense so give them 20 minutes.
Spring meal inspiration:
- Glazed salmon + bok choy + asparagus + hoisin sauce
- Chicken thighs + spinach + shiitake mushrooms + spring onions + chive dressing
- Crispy tofu + snap peas + hot & sour soy sauce + served over rice
- Kielbasa + Napa cabbage + fresh onion + dill + served with white beans + and a red wine dijon vinaigrette
- Breaded, cubed chicken breast + quartered romaine/gem lettuce + seasoned bread cubes + served with parmesan & Caesar dressing
Summer sheet pan meals
Just like all cooking in summer, sheet pan meals in the height of summer couldn’t be easier. Zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes all cook up in a hurry and pair easily with chicken, steak, sausage, salmon, and tofu. As with most things, this is a great season to experiment, play, and explore the bounty.
Summer meal inspiration:
- Chicken thighs + new potatoes + kale + lemon + rosemary
- Pork loin + carrot coins + green beans + teriyaki glaze
- Chicken breast + cherry tomatoes + diced bell peppers + red onion + feta + oil & lemon
- Steak strips + sweet pepper strips + onion + fajita seasoning
- Sausages + potatoes + bell pepper strips + onion + paprika + thyme
Fall/Winter sheet pan meals
Fall and winter is THE original season for sheet pan meals. When the produce gets super starchy (think potatoes, winter squash, carrots. beets and other root veggies), whipping up hearty sheet pan meals is a breeze. Keep it classic (like meatloaf roasted alongside cubed sweet potatoes and broccoli) or get a little more adventurous with a spinach salad where all the toppings are roasted in the oven first. This is the best season to explore new roots. Just get roasting.
Fall/winter meal inspiration:
- Meatloaf + BBQ sauce + cubed sweet potatoes + broccoli
- Smoked sausage + butternut squash + poblano peppers + red onion + served over spinach with apple cider vinaigrette
- Chicken drumsticks + cabbage + leeks + spicy sesame oil dressing
- Pork chops + potato wedges + Brussels sprouts + Italian dressing + breadcrumbs
- Chicken thighs + shallot + mixed root vegetables (carrots, turnips, celeriac, rutabaga) + balsamic vinaigrette
4 simple rules for sheet pan dinners
- Focus on sheet pan meals that actually make your life easier.
Just because you can cook something on a sheet pan doesn’t necessarily mean that you should (or need to). The entire point of sheet pan dinners is to make your life easier. Usually that means giving you a lot of hands off cooking time and reducing the number of items you need to clean at the end of the process. Any recipe or meal that asks you to meticulously watch the oven, still uses lots of other pots, pans, and bowls, or leaves a sticky hard to clean mess on your sheet pan is one to be avoided.
- It doesn’t have to all fit on one pan
Yes, sure, part of the allure of a sheet pan meal is that your whole dinner can fit snuggly (and beautifully) onto one pan, but don’t box yourself in. A sheet pan meal can fit onto as many sheet pans as you own, want to wash, and fit inside your oven. The main benefit of using more than one pan is that you don’t need to worry as much about the timing of things because various items with various ideal lengths of cooking time aren’t sharing one pan. Also, using more pans gives your food more room and the key to good browning is allowing your food some room to breathe.
- Understand basic roasting temperatures and times
If you want a nice char/crust on whatever you’re making, you can’t do any better than an oven preheated to 400-450 degrees F. Beyond that, it’s important to keep in mind how long different vegetables take to cook. Starchy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beets take 30-45 minutes. Sweeter starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and winter squash char a little more quickly so only need 20-30 minutes. Soft vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and tomatoes take 15-25 minutes while thin vegetables (like asparagus and green beans) and greens (like kale and quartered heads of lettuce) take 10-15 minutes.
- Don’t worry about finding or following a recipe every time (but also don’t worry if you need them to start; we’ve provided a few recipes below)
One of the major benefits of a sheet pan meal is convenience. And I think we all know that following a recipe isn’t always convenient (especially when it leads to an extra trip to the grocery store). Follow a couple recipes early on to get comfortable with the process, keep your pantry and freezer stocked with sheet pan essentials (oils, vinegars, chicken, sausage, tofu) and then get comfortable winging it with produce you have on hand.
For those who need a few recipes to start, here are some of our favorites
Sheet-Pan Miso Chicken With Radishes and Lime
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons white miso paste
- 1 pound trimmed radishes, halved, if large
- 1 lime, cut in half
- 2 scallions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
- Black or white sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place one rack in the middle of the oven and another about 6 inches from the broiler.
- On a large baking sheet, drizzle the chicken all over with 1 tablespoon oil, then season all over with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, mash together the ghee and miso until combined. Lift up the skin on one chicken thigh, carefully creating a space between the skin and meat, and place about 1/2 teaspoon miso-ghee mixture inside. Close the pocket, then lightly press on top of the skin to spread it around. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs, adding 1/2 teaspoon miso-ghee mixture to each. Massage another 1 1/2 teaspoons mixture all over the chicken, leaving about 1 teaspoon miso-ghee mixture remaining in the bowl.
- Arrange the chicken skin-side up, evenly spaced apart, and roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes.
- In the same mixing bowl, toss the radishes with the remaining miso-ghee mixture and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- After the chicken has roasted for 15 minutes, scatter the radishes around the chicken and cook until radishes are tender and lightly browned and chicken is cooked through (the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh should reach 165 degrees), another 10 to 15 minutes.
- If the chicken skin is not as browned as you’d like, broil on the rack near the broiler until the skin is crispy and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Squeeze the lime juice over chicken and radishes, then garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds, if using. Divide among plates and serve.
Sheet-Pan Salmon and Broccoli With Sesame and Ginger
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes
- 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets, thick stems discarded
- 2 scallions, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch segments, plus thinly sliced scallions for garnish
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the salmon
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
- ½ lime, for serving
- Sesame seeds, for serving
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons sesame oil with the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and garlic until smooth. Set the glaze aside.
- Place the broccoli florets and 1 1/2-inch scallion segments on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, toss well and roast for 5 minutes.
- While the broccoli and scallions roast, place the salmon fillets on a plate and pat dry with paper towels. Brush all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Toss the broccoli and scallions and move to the edges of the pan, clearing spaces in the center for the salmon fillets. Place the salmon fillets, evenly spaced, on the center of the pan. Brush the fillets generously with the glaze.
- Return the pan to the oven and roast until the salmon is cooked through but still slightly rare in the center, about 12 minutes.
- Squeeze the lime over the broccoli and sprinkle with salt. Scatter the sliced scallions and sesame seeds over the salmon, and serve hot.
Sheet-Pan Sausage With Peppers and Tomatoes
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound fresh sausage, such as sweet or hot Italian sausage
- 1 pound sweet or mild peppers, such as mini sweet peppers, bell or Cubanelle, seeded and sliced into 2-inch strips if large
- 1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Heat the broiler with a rack 6 inches from heat source. Score the sausages in a few places on both sides, making sure not to cut all the way through. In a shallow baking dish or baking sheet, toss the sausages with the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, shallots and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer.
- Broil until the sausage is cooked through and the peppers and tomatoes are nicely charred, 10 to 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and ingredients as needed so everything gets under the broiler. If everything is charring too quickly, cover the pan with foil. Serve immediately.
The recipes we shared above are from the NY Times Cooking section. They have an amazing number of sheet pan dinner recipes and though their recipes are only accessible through a paid subscription, at $40 a year, we find this to be an incredibly worthwhile resource for CSA members and folks who like to cook a lot.
Want to learn more about sheet pan meals and the tips and tricks of roasting veggies? Here’s a couple of our favorite resources.
New York Times: How to Make a Sheet-Pan Dinner
Fountain Avenue Kitchen: How to Roast Any Vegetable
Serious Eats: How to Make a Sheet-Pan Dinner With No Recipe