Everything you need to know about sheet pan dinners, from choosing the right pan to prepping ingredients to tips and tricks to recipes. We help set you up for one-pan-in-the-oven cooking!
We have all of your sheet pan dinner questions answered in this friendly guide, along with recipes to get you going on those nights when you want to keep the work to a minimum.
Choosing the right pan
To make a one-pan meal that serves 4, you’ll need a 43 x 30 cm (17- x 12-in.) baking sheet that’s 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. Choose one made of thick, sturdy metal — it won’t warp in the oven and the ingredients won’t burn easily. A good-quality stainless-steel baking sheet is a smart investment that will last. Black steel pans also help veggies brown evenly and develop delicious caramelized edges. Aluminum baking sheets are affordable and heat quickly, but they can react with acidic foods, causing ingredients to discolour and take on a metallic taste. Non-stick finishes don’t tolerate high-temperature roasting, so they’re not recommended for making sheet pan suppers.
Lining the pan
Cleanup is a breeze when you line the baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Parchment paper is naturally non-stick, so you don’t need to add any extra fat to light-tasting quick-cooking sheet pan dinners like Roasted Cod with Capers, Olives & Tomatoes. Press the paper into the pan, making a crease at each of the bottom edges. Press any overhang up and fold it back over the pan edges; that way, it won’t curl over the food. Make sure the paper goes all the way into the corners, where cooking juices collect. Foil is the right choice when you’re roasting at temperatures of 425°F (220°C) or higher. Unless it’s labelled non-stick, foil needs greasing, and — surprise! — it makes no difference if the shiny side is up or down. Cover the baking sheet completely, including the sides and corners, to catch any mess.
What to cook
Choose meats that cook through in the time it takes to roast the vegetables — think chicken pieces, sausages, and meatballs. Our Tomato, Chorizo & Chicken Thigh Sheet Pan Dinner combines two of those ingredients deliciously: The chicken thighs cook up juicy and tender, while the potatoes soak up the flavours of the sausage, olives, and olive oil. You can easily swap chicken breast chunks for thighs in sheet pan dinner recipes, or use skinless chicken if you prefer a little less fat in the finished dish. Root vegetables aren’t your only option, either — fruit and greens work, too. Our Sausage, Squash & Crispy Kale Sheet Pan Dinner combines savoury sausages, sweet caramelized apple wedges, tender acorn squash, and crunchy kale for a dish that’s packed with contrasting flavours and textures. Bonus: It takes only 20 minutes of roasting before it’s on the table!
To ensure that vegetables cook through evenly and at the same rate, cut them into uniform chunks or slices. Don’t worry about precision; a rough chop is good. The same goes for meats; similarly sized pieces will all be done at the same time. To create those delicious caramelized flavours, preheat the baking sheet before adding the ingredients. And don’t overcrowd the pan. Giving everything a bit of space and making sure it’s spread out in a single layer guarantees crisp edges. If you can roast it, you can substitute it in your favourite sheet pan recipes. Our handy guide to roasting vegetables, fruit and nuts has everything you need to produce delicious results.
Quick prep and make-ahead tips
For nights when you need to get the kids to soccer practice or you have to work late, these dinners are a good choice. Using a mix of fresh and prepared ingredients can help you put a home-cooked meal on the table in 15 minutes or less. Our Meatball Sub Sheet Pan Dinner combines fresh sweet peppers, basil and mozzarella with prepared pasta sauce and fully cooked meatballs to make a yummy last-minute supper. Using simple ingredients and seasonings further cuts down on prep time.
Nourishing and flavourful meals like Mustard-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Radishes & Snow Peas require little more work than heating the oven.
Choosing quick-cooking ingredients, such as cubed chicken and fish fillets, also helps you get dinner ready in record time. A kid-pleasing recipe like our Ancient-Grain Chicken Chunks & Roast Broccoli Sheet Pan Dinner is even faster to make if you chop the broccoli the night before. Just cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook.