Looking for an all-in-one cooking method with simple prep and cleanup? I introduce to you, the sheet pan meal. Sheet pan meals are go-tos for roasting meats, vegetables, and entire meals. They save time, don’t require expensive equipment or fancy ingredients, and still allow for deep flavor profiles and creativity while cooking. You can also prep in bulk to have a nice, balanced lunch the next day or feed multiple people. Although we love recipes, here is a simple formula for you to curate your own sheet pan meal.
Step 1: Choose a Protein
Whether you choose poultry, beef, pork, fish, or tofu, start with 4-6 ounces per serving.
Dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat, and bone-in chicken takes longer than boneless.
|Cut of chicken, skin-on||Approximate cooking time at 400 degrees|
|Whole chicken breast, bone-in||30-40 minutes|
|Whole chicken breast, boneless||20-30 minutes|
|Whole chicken thighs, bone-in||30-45 minutes|
|Whole chicken thighs, boneless||25-40 minutes|
Pork and Beef:
|Cut of pork||Approximate cooking time at 400 degrees|
|Pork chops, whole, bone-in, 1-inch thick||25-35 minutes|
|Pork chops, cut into 1-inch thick pieces||20-40 minutes|
|Pork tenderloin, whole||45-60 minutes|
|Pork sausage, whole||20-35 minutes|
Cuts of beef are best suited to either searing on the grill or under a broiler or in the most environment of the braising pot. However, one exception is ground beef. Place seasoned ground meat on an oiled sheet pan, drizzle with more oil, and run under the broiler.
|Fish, 1-inch thick filets, skin-on||Approximate cooking time at 400 degrees|
|Whitefish (cod, tilapia, hake, halibut)||8-12 minutes|
Shrimp can take from 2 minutes up to 15 minutes under the broiler. In a 400-degree oven, peeled shrimp will take 5 to 8 minutes.
Tofu, sliced into ½-inch thick rectangles or 1-inch cubes, will cook for 30 to 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Make sure to dry tofu and tempeh out so they can crisp and brown (lay pieces out on a kitchen towel for 10 to 30 minutes).
Step 2: Choose Vegetables
Just as you did with your protein, coat your vegetables with an oil or fat and any herbs or spices of your choosing. Make sure you cut vegetables consistently and give them plenty of space on the pan to encourage browning. Dense vegetables (e.g., potatoes, radishes, winter squashes) take the longest to cook, approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on oven temperature and chunk size. Vegetables with a higher moisture content can take less time, approximately 10 to 45 minutes. If you’re looking to carmelize vegetables with a very high moisture content (e.g., zucchini and tomatoes), it can take longer because the moisture must evaporate before browning can occur. Roasting at a high temperature, 425 to 450 degrees, can speed up the cooking process. Leafy vegetables (e.g., kale, broccoli rabe, bok choy, chard) will cook fastest, approximately 3 to 10 minutes.
Step 3: Build Flavor
Olive oil is the classic choice, however other options are coconut oil or avocado oil.
Herbs and Spices
Herb options include thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay leaves, tarragon, and sage. Dried herbs and herb mixes are a great addition to a marinade, paste, or rub. Avoid soft herbs such as basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, and mint, which can brown at high heat (instead, use as garnishes). Spice options include chile flakes, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and cinnamon sticks. Use ground spices and spice blends in marinades, pastes, or rubs.
Garlic cloves, blanched lemons, and chiles can be added and will brown while roasting. Also, adding fresh soft herbs, squeezes of citrus or drizzles of vinegar, yogurt, vinaigrettes, grated or crumbled cheeses, salsas, sauces, chutneys, relishes, quick-pickled onions or shallots, chile pastes, and hot sauces will increase vibrancy of the dish.
Recommended Sheet Pan Meals
Does making your own seem too complicated? We got you. Here are a few tried and true sheet pan meals that we are confident you’ll enjoy:
Hope this sparks some cooking inspiration for you (& makes you hungry!). Happy Cooking!