Why are sheet-pan dinners a thing? It’s not just because of the one-pan cleanup—the prep and assembly are also super easy, making these one-dish wonders an awesome time saver for busy cooks.
The premise: These simple, fast and healthy combine all the components of one meal on one big sheet pan (also called a jelly roll pan), and they all roast together at high heat and are done at the same time.
It’s a brilliant idea that’s made the rounds on social media, but some sheet pan dinners can still require a bit of work or prep time, especially if you’re whisking up a sauce or marinade from scratch.
So here are a few ideas to make a sheet pan dinner even easier (if that’s possible!) plus a few simple recipe combos to get you started.
Sheet Pan Dinner Time Savers
1. Keep pre-made sauces and marinades on hand. This is one of the number one sheet pan shortcuts! The sauce (which usually goes on the protein) will pull your dish together and blend flavors as the items cook, so opt for a few to store-bought options keep in your fridge, such as:
- basil pesto
- Honey-mustard sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Barbecue/dipping sauce
- Peanut sauce
- coconut curry simmer sauce
Don’t have any on hand? Olive oil and lemon with mustard, or melted butter and garlic are great in a pinch.
2. Use the right pan. You want a baking sheet, with four raised sides (not a cookie sheet, which has one or two flat sides so cookies can slide off easily) so that ingredients can be stirred around a bit and you won’t lose juices or sauce.
3. Line your pan. A piece of baking parchment or aluminum foil will catch baked-on sauce and make your one-pan dish duty even faster. Don’t have any foil or parchment? A quick swipe of olive oil will keep things from sticking.
4. Opt for baby or pre-cut veggies. When your ingredients are already bite-sized, you can cut out a step of slicing and dicing. Think ingredients such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fingerling/baby potatoes
- Pre-cut broccoli florets
- Pre-cut fresh green beans
5. But don’t go frozen. Frozen veggies aren’t the best choice for sheet pan dinners, as the extra moisture can make things steamy and mushy instead of crisp and caramelized.
Super Easy Sheet Pan Combos
We can’t even call these recipes—just easy-peasy combinations to toss, bake, and serve. Here are some of the easiest combos around, using common ingredients you probably have on hand.
Simply line a sheet pan, toss veggies in a bit of butter or olive oil, and add marinade/sauce to your protein and bake at 400°F until your protein is done, stirring as needed to prevent sticking or burning.
- Salmon + pesto + cherry tomatoes + green beans.
- Chicken thighs + teriyaki sauce + broccoli florets + diced sweet potato
- Shrimp + garlic butter + sliced zucchini (you can serve with cooked pasta)
- Chicken thighs + honey mustard + Brussels sprouts
- Pork chops + honey mustard + apples + diced sweet potato