A Chicken and Cabbage Sheet Pan Supper You Can (Practically) Set and Forget

October 21, 2016

A sheet pan supper suggests a lot: dinner on a single pan, vegetables cooked with proteins, side dishes with entrées, a complete meal requiring minimal fuss and clean-up. It’s the convenience of a crock pot in a fraction of the time.

If you’ve made a sheet pan supper, however, you likely know the salient difference: You can’t, or rarely can you, simply “set it and forget it.” The art of a sheet pan supper lies in assessing your ingredients, then employing tricks to ensure the cooking does right by each. You may need to stagger the entrance and exit of the various elements or cover the pan with foil to create steam or adjust the oven rack to achieve more or less browning.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

In this chicken and cabbage sheet pan supper, however, the tricks are minimal. First, chicken thighs, tossed in a sesame-soy dressing, roast alone, which allows the hot air, unimpeded by vegetables, to circulate freely and encourages the browning process to being. After 10 minutes, on goes the cabbage, tossed in the same dressing. It’s nestled around and underneath the chicken to fit. About 20 minutes later, when the chicken finishes cooking, off it goes to rest, while the cabbage continues on alone. With its surfaces fully exposed to the heat, the cabbage’s edges crisp and caramelize while any juices pooling nearby reduce and concentrate.

Look at all that caramelization! Photo by Alexandra Stafford

In about 40 minutes, dinner is ready. The result: juicy, crispy-skinned chicken and sweet, tender cabbage, flavored by not only the spicy dressing, but also the flavorful drippings of the chicken. It’s an unexpected and unsung boon of this one-pan wonder of a supper.  

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Now, here are a few tips for sheet pan supper success:

  • A quick online search will show that classics likes paella, saltimbocca, and chicken parmesan can all become sheet pan meals. Which is to say, you can create your own mash-ups, too! The dressing for this one—coconut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha—was borrowed from this Baked Tofu with Coconut Kale and could work with other vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash) and proteins (steak, fish, pork, tempeh). When considering dressings, use a flavorful oil such as olive or coconut and something sharp to balance it, like soy sauce, vinegar, lemon, lime, or orange juice. Countless spices could be added to the dressing, but be careful of sweeteners—even a small amount of honey or brown sugar will encourage browning and may even burn before everything finishes cooking.

  • Before beginning, assess the ingredients and consider how long it will take to cook each. Use these times to plan which will enter and exit the sheet pan first. Cut vegetables into similarly sized pieces to help them all cook at the same rate.

  • For easy clean-up, you could line your pan with parchment or foil. Rubbing the pan with a 1/2 teaspoon of neutral oil works nearly as well.

  • Use your broiler. If, at the end, everything is cooked through but not browned to your liking, set the sheet pan under the broiler briefly, watching closely to prevent burning.

Alexandra Stafford is a writer, photographer, and occasional stationery designer based in upstate New York, where she is writing a cookbook. You can read more of her work on her blog.

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Top Comment:
“Yeah, a crock can't crisp un chicken - but be sure to save up all your bones in a plastic freezer bucket, (and maybe veg trimmings too) and when ya got a load big enough to fill your crock pot, simmer away! Sometimes I get too much broth, so I use it instead of water, to cook rice...that's the only way my husband wants his rice any more; guess I spoiled him...”
— tamater S.

What's your ideal "set it and forget it" meal? Tell us in the comments below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Alexandra Stafford
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    Michelle Gallavan-Orris
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.


Author Comment
Alexandra S. October 13, 2017
I typically use Diamond Kosher brand, but I don't think it really will make a difference here. Good luck!
Ellen S. October 12, 2017
Just today I learned there are different versions of kosher salt. Never knew it, but I'm wondering which one do you recommend for this recipe?
Joan T. March 31, 2017
Absolutely delicious!! We loved the caramelized cabbage. Unique, easy, quick will be in our nightly rotation.
bemelodious March 20, 2017
Would this work with red cabbage?
Michelle G. March 13, 2017
can I make this with boneless chicken?
Author Comment
Alexandra S. March 13, 2017
I think you can — you just may need to experiment with when you add it to the sheet pan or remove it from the sheet pan. This is forgiving!
Laura N. March 11, 2017
I made this with cabbage, Brussel sprouts and hunks of onion. It really kicked it up a notch!
tamater S. March 1, 2017
Yeah, a crock can't crisp un chicken - but be sure to save up all your bones in a plastic freezer bucket, (and maybe veg trimmings too) and when ya got a load big enough to fill your crock pot, simmer away! Sometimes I get too much broth, so I use it instead of water, to cook rice...that's the only way my husband wants his rice any more; guess I spoiled him...
tamater S. March 1, 2017
P.S.: I just noticed you've got a new cookbook out. As you might guess from my tips above, I'm a thrifty one. That's why I'm kind of curious to check your book out; My friends say I know every thrifty cooking tip known to woman. Naturally, I must see if I really do know all you can do with
Bread Toast Crumbs & 'what-all' else! :-)
Author Comment
Alexandra S. March 2, 2017
I get so lazy and end up using water in place of stock and then when I taste something made with stock, I wonder why I don't have vats on hand! It can really make all the difference.

And Yes to thriftiness! The Crumbs chapter of the book was my favorite part to work on because I discovered all of these uses for day-old bread that so many cuisines have been celebrating for so many years — the Italian and Spanish cuisines in particular had so many great uses in soups and sauces.

I would love to hear more of your thrifty tips! I hate wasting food. We have a free-standing freezer, which helps, but something things get lost in there, too :)
tamater S. March 20, 2017
Oh, I wish I had the time to get into it now. Suffice to say it's in my genes; it's the program running in the background 24/7. I've been told I should write the book on it, but when you do everything from scratch, who has time to write the book? 'Sit-down Time' I spend @ 52 is the portion not spent staring at the walls! ;-)
Fresh T. October 23, 2016
Yep! I'll be trying this soon. I'll let you know how it goes. :) Thanks Ali.