Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Sheet Pan Meals

I’ve heard about this “Sheet pan meal” phenomenon…what’s the deal?

Just like you can make a meal in one pot on the stove, you can also make a meal on one sheet pan in your oven! Many of the same concepts we have talked about in the last few weeks apply to sheet pan meals – that the flavors are more intense because everything cooks together, that timing is important so that things don’t end up mushy, etc. Bottom line, I am a huge fan of sheet pan meals because they are super easy and delicious. You can literally put everything on a pan, put it in the oven, walk away, and half an hour later you have dinner!!

You talk a lot about timing – with a sheet pan meal how do you make sure everything gets cooked to the correct doneness?

Great question – and is a common complaint of sheet pan meals if the recipes aren’t written well or some thought doesn’t go into your method. Think about it…a chicken thigh takes 30-40 minutes to cook. If you’re putting whole potatoes on the tray you would end up with over-cooked chicken. Or, if you’re putting tiny brussels sprouts on the tray, the sprouts will be mush. There are two ways to make sheet pan meals come out just perfect:

1. You can cut your ingredients to a size where the cooking times will correspond to one another. Example – a fist sized whole gold potato would take longer than a chicken thigh to cook. A quartered potato will cook at about the same time.

2. You can add things to the sheet pan at intervals based on how long they cook. Example – If your chicken thighs take 40 minutes and your asparagus takes 15, then add the asparagus 15 minutes before the chicken is done.

Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Gold Potatoes, Asparagus, and Leeks