Sheet pan meals are a combination of protein and vegetables roasted together in the oven to make a quick and easy meal. While there are hundreds of delicious sheet pan recipes to choose from, creating your own is simple and a great way to use up leftover ingredients. Here are some tips to help you create your own sheet pan meal.
What Makes a Great Sheet Pan Meal?
Choosing a Protein
Most meals start by choosing a protein. Plan to cook 1/4 to 3/4 pounds per person. Here are suggested cooking times for some of the most popular proteins. Remember that all ovens and therefore cook times will vary. It is best to check your food’s temperature using a meat thermometer throughout the cooking process.
Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure all of the juices that come from the chicken run clear and not pink.
|Cut of Chicken||Cooking Time at 400 degrees|
|Chicken Breast Bone-In||30 to 40 Minutes|
|Chicken Breast Boneless||20 to 30 Minutes|
|Chicken Thigh Bone-In||30 to 45 Minutes|
|Chicken Thigh Boneless||25 to 40 Minutes|
|Chicken Drumstick||30 to 40 Minutes|
|Turkey Breast Bone-In||40 to 50 Minutes|
|Turkey Breast Boneless||25 to 35 Minutes|
Whole cust of pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Followed by a three minute rest time. Ground pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
|Cut of Pork||Cooking Time at 400 degrees|
|Pork Chop Bone-In 1-inch Thick||25 to 35 Minutes|
|Pork Chop Boneless 1-inch Thick||20 to 30 Minutes|
|Pork Tenderloin||45 to 60 Minutes|
|Pork Sausage Links||20 – 35 Minutes|
Beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Not all cuts of beef are well suited to sheet pan meals.
|Cut of Beef||Cooking Time at 400 degrees|
|Flank Steak Seared on Both Sides||8 to 12 Minutes|
Seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork.
|Seafood||Cooking Time at 400 degrees|
|Shrimp||5 to 8 Minutes|
|Salmon Fillet 1-inch Thick||8 to 12 Minutes|
|White Fish (Cod, Tilapia, Hake, or Halibut) 1-inch Thick||8 to 12 Minutes|
|Tuna Steak 1-inch Thick||8 to 12 Minutes|
Before cooking tofu should be dried to make sure it becomes crispy. Lay pieces out on a kitchen towel for 10 to 30 minutes.
|Vegetable Protein||Cooking Time at 400 degrees|
|Tofu 1/2-inch Rectangles or 1-inch Cubes||30 to 45 Minutes|
Once you have selected a protein it is time to choose the vegetables. The easiest way to choose the vegetables is to look for ones with similar cooking times as your protein choice. Make sure to cut the vegetables down to a consistent size to ensure even cooking. Coat your vegetables with oil and seasoning and do not crowd the sheet pan to ensure even browning. To make vegetable selection easy refer to the list below of vegetables and their cooking times.
|Vegetable 1/2-inch pieces unless specified||Cooking Time at 400 degrees|
|Asparagus, whole||8 to 15 Minutes|
|Beets||25 to 40 Minutes|
|Broccoli||10 to 15 Minutes|
|Brussels Sprouts||20 to 30 Minutes|
|Butternut Squash||25 to 40 Minutes|
|Cauliflower||25 to 45 Minutes|
|Carrots||30 to 45 Minutes|
|Cherry tomatoes, whole||25 to 50 Minutes|
|Chickpeas, canned||40 to 55 Minutes|
|Eggplant||25 to 45 Minutes|
|Leeks||20 to 35 Minutes|
|Peppers (red, green, orange)||30 to 45 Minutes|
|Potatoes||25 to 35 Minutes|
|Sweet Potatoes||30 to 40 Minutes|
|Zucchini||40 to 55 Minutes|
Tips for Better Sheet Pan Meals
- Use a Commercial-Grade Half Sheet Pan: When roasting your dinner you don’t want to crowd your ingredients. The standard size for a half sheet pan is 13″ X 18″ which will allow the heat to circulate around all of the ingredients creating a delicious caramelization rather than steaming the ingredients into a soggy mess. Look for a heavy pan that is at least 18 gauge. Remember the higher the gauge the thinner the pan so a 13 gauge pan would be even better.
- Line Your Sheet Pan for Easy Clean-Up: I love to cook but I hate cleaning up. Which is why I typically line my sheet pans with foil or parchment paper. That way nothing sticks to the pan requiring me to scrub it later.
- Choose Proteins and Vegetables with Similar Cooking Times: Different proteins and vegetables have different cooking times. Nothing is worse than burning green beans while you wait for chicken thighs to cook or drying out fish while you wait for sweet potatoes to become tender. To create the simplest and easiest sheet pan meal choose ingredients with the same cooking time.
- Seasoning: Often for simplicity’s sake I will use the same seasoning on every ingredient. I simply add all of my ingredients to a large bowl and toss with olive oil and my seasoning. But you could also season each ingredient separately to create different flavors.
- Add Ingredients in Stages: Ok, so you really want to eat green beans and chicken thighs for dinner. There is a way to work around the differences in cooking times. Add the ingredients to the sheet pan in stages. Start by adding ingredients with longer cooking times first, then as they are nearing completion add your additional ingredients. For our chicken and green bean example, roast the chicken thighs at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then add the green beans and roast for an additional 20 minutes.
- Use a Wire Rack: Earlier I mentioned that you want to maximize airflow especially when you want your ingredients to become crispy. Try adding a wire rack to your sheet pan. This is especially great for cooking breaded chicken or fish. To ensure a crispy coating, scatter your vegetables on the sheet pan and then place a wire rack on top where you will place your protein keeping it away from the moisture below.
- Know When to Keep Ingredients Separate: If you are cooking items like roasted vegetables that should be tossed halfway through cooking along with fish fillets for example. Keep the items separate. This way you can easily flip your vegetables without disturbing the fish. You can either use to opposite ends of on sheet pan or just use two smaller sheet pans.
- Use the Broiler: If you want a little extra crispiness to your sheet pan meal turn the broiler on for the last couple of minutes. But pay close attention broilers can take food from crispy deliciousness to a burnt mess quickly.
- Add Raw Ingredients or Sauces at the End: Give your meal a flavor boost by adding fresh herbs, sliced radishes, baby arugula, or a quick sauce after cooking.
Looking for some great sheet pan recipes? Check out this post: Quick and Easy Sheet Pan Meals