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Simple. Speedy. Smart. These are the words the sheet pan supper genre evokes. For weeknight warriors, the 18 x 13-inch humble pan has become a reliable pal—not something to be stashed in a heap below the oven, long forgotten 'til a batch of chocolate chip cookies demands its presence.
But beyond facility, fans of sheet pan suppers laud their flavor: The vegetables and starches sop up the juices of the meat, saturating them with umami richness. And of course, the various textures: the crisp skins and the myriad caramelized edges, the effect of unencumbered circulating hot air. Somehow, the final dish tastes of so much more than the sum of its parts.
Here’s one more plus to add to the tally of positives: the fluidity of the work flow and the easy rhythm inherent to many sheet pan supper assemblies. Take, for example, this roast chicken and cabbage dinner: In the time it takes for the oven to heat up, the sauce can be stirred together and the dish wholly assembled; as the pan of meat and vegetables cooks away, the table can be set, any dishes washed, and the kitchen mostly cleaned; and while dinner is consumed, you can leave the single pan to soak in the sink, making the minimal post-dinner cleanup that much easier. Synergy. Satisfaction. Seamlessness.
But wait, there’s more! Another virtue of the sheet pan supper is its adaptability; it can easily be tailored to your tastes and preferences. Chicken, ever amenable to countless seasonings and flavorings, is particularly well-suited for sheet pan cooking. It can be left whole or spatchcocked, cut into pieces, roasted with bones in and skins on, or without either.
Depending on what cut you choose, you’ll use different temperatures and employ different techniques. With some basic time and temperature knowledge, as well as some fundamental sheet pan cookery rules, you can craft away, using various spice rubs, aromatics, pastes, and sauces depending on what flavor profile you are looking to achieve.
- Stagger the timing. Rarely can you heap chicken and vegetables onto a pan and then walk away (although sometimes you can). Getting your timing down may take some trial and error. Generally, when using bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, cook the chicken alone first, then add the vegetables. When using boneless, skinless meat, you may (depending on your choice of vegetables) need to roast the vegetables alone before adding the chicken.
- When using a combination of vegetables, cut them roughly the same size. This will ensure that they all cook as evenly as possible. The entry of various vegetables, too, may need to be staggered. Potatoes, parsnips, and carrots, for example, will cook at similar rates, whereas leeks or onions may cook faster.
- Experiment. Take parts of recipes you like and combine them with others. If you don’t like cabbage, try roasting broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts instead. Want to bulk it up? Try chickpeas, cubed bread, white beans, or starchier vegetables such as potatoes and winter squash.
- Don’t be afraid to use the broiler. A final pass under the broiler will crisp up skins and give some appealing color to anything in need of a little browning.
Don't feel like experimenting, or want to test out a few tried-and-true options first? Follow any of the sheet pan chicken dinner recipes and you'll be on your to success.
If you do want to experiment, on the other hand, here's a handy guide for how long to cook each cut of chicken—all of are wonderful roasted on sheet pans.
- Whole chicken: 425°F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
- Spatchcocked: 450°F for 30 minutes; 425°F for 15 minutes
- Legs (bone-in, skin-on whole, thighs, drumsticks): 425°F for 35 to 40 minutes
- Breasts (bone-in, skin-on): 450°F for 30 minutes
- Thighs (boneless, skinless): 425°F for 30 to 45 minutes
- Breasts (boneless, skinless): Broil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side
When considering which vegetables to include in your sheet pan supper, think about which vegetables you’ve enjoyed roasted. For me, roasted wedges of cabbage with nothing more than olive oil and salt were a revelation—sweet caramelized edges, meltingly tender interiors. I love using other members of the crucifer family (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) for the same reason. That said, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash, parsnips, and carrots crisp and brown beautifully as well. Use what you like and, as always, for the best flavor, use in-season vegetables. Here are a few options that work especially well in sheet pan suppers:
- Brussels sprouts
- Corn off the cob
- Eggplant cubes
- Summer squash
- Sweet potato
- Delicata squash
- Broccoli rabe
- Butternut squash
Feeding your family delicious food doesn't need to be stressful or time-consuming. In partnership with Just BARE Chicken, producers of all-natural, humane-certified chicken, we're excited to share more creative, easy ways to cook with chicken, from marinades to roasts.
The Dynamite Chicken cookbook is here! Get ready for 60 brand-new ways to love your favorite bird. Inside this clever collection by Food52 and chef Tyler Kord, you'll find everything from lightning-quick weeknight dinners to the coziest of comfort foods.Order Now