If cooking healthy meals at home is on your bucket list, then we have good news! Prepare to meet the sheet pan, a simple, easy, fast way to cook delicious food.
What Is a Sheet Pan Meal?
The sheet pan meal isn’t so much a recipe as a formula. It’s basically a one-pot meal, except instead of a slow-cooking CrockPot, you use a simple sheet pan. These pans are typically made of aluminum and have raised sides to keep everything in one place. If you don’t own a sheet pan, you can pick one up at Target for less than $10.
The basic idea is that you’ll roast meat and protein in the same pan, making the process of cooking a delicious and healthy meal so much easier.
Unlike a casserole, which cooks layers of ingredients in a deep dish (and often involves topping said dish with lots of cheese), these meals put the emphasis on a single, beautifully cooked medley of ingredients.
Achieving Success with a Sheet Pan
The first rule of sheet pan cooking is not to crowd the pan. Try to ensure that the ingredients are on a single layer without too much overlapping. If you cram too much in the pan, you won’t get the best texture.
Another pro tip? If you’re cooking with lean meats like chicken breast (or preparing a vegetarian meal), don’t skimp on the fat. Adding oil or fat to the pan helps keep everything crisp and tasty.
Also, you can usually use fresh or frozen vegetables. Frozen gets a bad rap–possibly because it calls to mind memories of mushy, bland veggies. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, frozen vegetables can be easier, faster, and cheaper than fresh while also retaining more nutrients.
One word of warning about cook times, however. Make sure that ingredients with similar cook times go in together. For example, root veggies need to cook longer than a delicate fish, while tomatoes should be thrown in during the last few minutes to avoid turning them into mush.
Finally, don’t be afraid to finish the cook with a blast from your oven’s broiler. Even 30 seconds of high heat from the broiler can take your sheet pan meal from “meh” to golden-brown goodness. Just watch it carefully to make sure you don’t burn the food.
Sheet Pan Meal Inspiration
You can cook pretty much any combination of vegetables and protein in a sheet pan. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Meal #1: Cabbage, carrots, apples, and turnips, plus pork chops. Season with cinnamon and maple syrup. Cook for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Meal #2: Green beans, bell peppers, scallions, and eggplant, plus cubed firm tofu. Season with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. Cook for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.
Meal #3: Onions, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers, plus sausage. Season with garlic and rosemary. Cook for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
Meal #4: Mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, and scallions, plus salmon fillets. Season with lemon and fresh thyme. Cook for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.