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6 Reasons Why We Never, Ever Want to Be Without a Sheet Pan

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Of all the pans in my kitchen, I use my sheet pan the most. Not because I’m always roasting vegetables (though, now that you put it that way, I guess I am), but because it’s endlessly, boundlessly versatile, from maximizing your oven space to ensuring crispy crusts.

While most recipes speak to a half sheet—roughly 18 by 13 inches—you can also buy a quarter (half that size) and a full (twice that size). This allows you to tailor recipes to your crowd, or lack thereof. If there’s anything cuter than a quarter sheet pan meal, just for me, I don’t know it, and I don’t want to.

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets

From $26
Nordic Ware Gold Nonstick Baking Sheet Sets

Nordic Ware Gold Nonstick Baking Sheet Sets

From $38

Here are six of our favorite ways to put these workhorses, well, to work:

1. Make your proteins and sides work together.

I love cooking after getting home from work. But I don’t love doing dishes after cooking after getting home from work. Sheet pan suppers, which cook all components—on one dish! in the oven!—ask next to nothing of you. My favorite method: Start with the vegetables, then layer the meat on top. This way, the meat bastes everything with its rendering fat.

Nigella Lawson’s Chicken and Pea Traybake

Nigella Lawson’s Chicken and Pea Traybake by Genius Recipes

Sheet Pan Pork Chops & Vegetables with Parsley Vinaigrette

Sheet Pan Pork Chops & Vegetables with Parsley Vinaigrette by Food52

2. Find a new way to salad.

Who said salads have to be raw? Lately, some of our favorite recipes put lettuce on the back burner—you know, figuratively—and let other vegetables have their moment in the sun. This is a wonderful way to show off seasonal produce, like eggplant or, fast-forward to colder months, butternut squash.

Yes, Salads Can Be Cozy Comfort Food. Ask Your Sheet Pan.

Yes, Salads Can Be Cozy Comfort Food. Ask Your Sheet Pan. by EmilyC

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Warm Eggplant & Mint Salad

Warm Eggplant & Mint Salad by Eric Kim

3. Capitalize on crispy and crunchy.

Casseroles usually live in baking dishes, which average around a couple inches in depth. Translating these ooey-gooey recipes—from mac and cheese to oniony green beans—to a shallow sheet pan maximizes all that crispy, crunchy, golden-brown goodness, which, if you ask me, is the best part.

Tots & Cheese

Tots & Cheese by Emma Laperruque

Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese

Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese by Amanda Hesser

4. Make a giant—like, really giant—sandwich.

Sheet pan bread is the best thing since sliced bread, am I right or am I right? Instead of having to assemble sandwich after sandwich after sandwich, you assemble one big guy, then cut into squares or rectangles. Closed variations are great for picnics. Open-faced, for at-home gatherings.

Pumpernickel Focaccia with Lox & Schmear

Pumpernickel Focaccia with Lox & Schmear by Emma Laperruque

Slab Muffuletta

Slab Muffuletta by Emma Laperruque

SEE HOW TO MAKE FOCACCIA (IT'S EASY!)

5. Simplify brunch: Less stress. More mimosas!

Scrambling one or two eggs for myself is one of my favorite need-food-now meals. Cooking eggs—and all their fixings—for more people is more complicated. But it doesn’t have to be! Alexandra Stafford's crowd-friendly bacon and egg sandwiches use a sheet pan three (yes, three!) different ways. Or, make an Americana breakfast to share with your sweetie.

Sheet Pan Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches with Overnight Focaccia

Sheet Pan Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches with Overnig... by Alexandra Stafford

Sheet Pan American Breakfast

Sheet Pan American Breakfast by Ali Slagle

6. Upgrade desserts from individual to large format.

Every summer, we come back to shortcakes, filled with syrupy fruit and dolloped with cream, and s’mores, melty with chocolate and charred with marshmallows. This summer, we found a way to streamline both. Can you guess it? Can you? Okay: It’s a sheet pan. Turn to both of these for the least fussy backyard BBQ.

Slab Shortcake with Roasted Rhubarb

Slab Shortcake with Roasted Rhubarb by Erin McDowell

Sheet Pan S'mores

Sheet Pan S'mores by Food52

What’s your favorite way to use your sheet pan? Tell us in the comments below!

Tags: The Shop, Tips & Techniques