Sheet Pan

Sheet Pan Chicken and Cauliflower Bake

April 28, 2021
59 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Nearly three years ago Molly Wizenberg wrote a blog post on Parmesan-roasted cauliflower, a recipe she discovered from Bon Appétit one that, as the magazine promised, would become her go-to. The process is simple: Toss a head of cauliflower florets, a few unpeeled garlic cloves, and a sliced onion with olive oil, salt and a few thyme sprigs. Roast in a hot oven, and after 30 minutes, when everything—the florets, the onions, the garlic—begins caramelizing, sprinkle it with Parmesan and cook until the cheese melts, forming what Molly describes as “lacy, frico-like webs and shards.”

Molly offers a few ideas on how to serve the cauliflower, including tossing it with pasta or spooning it into bowls and topping with a fried egg. She also notes you could just eat it, and “call it a meal,” the title of her post. For years, I called it a side dish, and rarely strayed from the recipe. But since discovering the beauty of the sheet pan supper, I used the recipe as a jumping-off point, adding spices to change the flavor, and chicken to make it a more complete meal.

The seasonings in my recent variation evoke shawarma, a Middle Eastern street food typically prepared on a vertical rotisserie with lamb or chicken, which cooks for hours. Everything comes together in about the same amount of time as the original recipe, the only additional work being making a spice mix and buying chicken. It’s simple: First, rub the cauliflower and onions with a mix of toasted cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Roast for 30 minutes, then add boneless, skinless chicken thighs (rubbed in the same spice mix) to the sheet pan, and cook for 10 minutes more. By the end, just as in the original recipe, the cauliflower and onions caramelize, becoming meltingly tender and irresistibly sweet. As the chicken thighs cook, moreover, they release their juices, which seep into the vegetables, making them even tastier.

Serve this mix of smoky, spicy chicken and vegetables with naan and a lemony yogurt sauce, and call it a meal—a new go-to sheet pan meal.

A Few Tips:

- If you have a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, toasting whole cumin and coriander seeds will impart better flavor—fresher, smokier, earthier—than pre-ground. Toast the seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat until they turn light brown and smell fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Grind in a mortar and pestle with the smoked paprika and cayenne. This step requires just a few more minutes of time and effort, but the scent and flavor are worth it. I also like the visual appeal as well as the texture of the partially crushed seeds coating the vegetables and meat.

- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts could be substituted for the thighs. To use boneless breasts instead of thighs, check them after 8 minutes—depending on their size, they may take more or less time than the thighs.

- This could certainly be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken—the spiced onions and cauliflower are irresistible on their own. You could use a mix of cauliflower, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, or any of your favorite roasting vegetables.

- Some sort of sauce is essential. A cooling Greek yogurt sauce, whose tang so nicely complements the sweet vegetables, works particularly well here, but you could also use a tahini sauce or an herby sauce with a good amount of acidity. To make a simple yogurt sauce: Stir together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon to taste. Another delicious sauce option is this: Yogurt-Tahini Sauce.

Note: This is not traditional shawarma, which is typically made with chicken or lamb and cooked on a vertical rotisserie for hours, then sliced thinly.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Rosti Pebble Margrethe Nested Mixing Bowl Set
- Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets
- Five Two Double-Sided Bamboo Cutting BoardAlexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Sheet Pan Chicken and Cauliflower Bake
  • Neutral oil, for greasing
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2.5 lbs pre trimming), cut into florets, large florets halved or quartered if necessary (see photo above as a reference)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds or ground cumin, see notes above
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds or ground coriander, see notes
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 1.5 lbs.
  • Lemon wedges, flatbread, and yogurt sauce (see notes) for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and position a rack in the center. Rub a sheet pan with about a teaspoon of neutral oil. Place cauliflower florets and onion on top. Season all over with a teaspoon of kosher salt and pepper to taste, and 3 tablespoons of the oil.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, and cayenne. (If using whole seeds, see notes above.) Pour half (about 1 tablespoon and a scant teaspoon) of this mixture over the cauliflower. Use your hands to toss the cauliflower and onions evenly with the oil and spice mix. Transfer pan to the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once after about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place chicken thighs in a large bowl. Season all over with salt (at least another teaspoon). Add the remaining spice mix, remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and minced garlic. Toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature while vegetables roast.
  4. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Toss everything around. Nestle the thighs around the vegetables. Return pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes—if thighs are large, they may need 5 more minutes or so. Cut into one to check. Remove pan from the oven and let everything rest on the sheet pan for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, stir together the yogurt sauce (see notes), warm up some bread, cut the lemons, etc. When chicken has rested, transfer it to a platter to cut or cut directly on the sheet pan, taking care not to ruin your pan. The chicken should be in 1- to 2-inch cubes or so—about the same size as the cauliflower. Return chicken to sheet pan or to a serving platter along with the cauliflower. Toss everything together. Taste. Adjust with more salt and pepper if necessary and squeeze a lemon over everything, if desired. To serve, spread flatbread with yogurt sauce, nestle chicken and cauliflower inside, and eat taco-style. Alternatively, serve the flatbread on the side and eat with a knife and fork. Serve lemon wedges on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Liz Crawford
    Liz Crawford
  • Naomi
  • Anne Horrocks O'Connor
    Anne Horrocks O'Connor
  • Cookie15
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.

121 Reviews

Cookie15 February 19, 2024
Doubled this for a group. it was very simple to prepare and everyone loved it. We served with warm naan. The tahini sauce is a must. My only issue wasn't with the taste but the presentation. It looks terrible. Like yellow brown goop. Not unlike as pictured with the recipe. Good for foodies who aren't esthetically sensitive.
zoe B. December 31, 2023
Made this last night for dinner. It was excellent! A few things--could use less olive oil--it was delicious, but the cauliflower especially was swimming in oil. Also, line your pan with tin foil--had to soak the sheet all day to get it clean.
Elle December 5, 2023
Love love love this recipe. Even though I hate when people do this, I don’t care for chicken thighs so I use breasts and it still comes out great. I also add turmeric to punch up the color, and garnish with cilantro.
Liz C. April 10, 2023
I absolutely loved this and surprisingly so did my family who are not usually enthusiastic about chicken or cauliflower. I think this is my favourite sheet pan recipe of all time and I've made a lot of them. Everything was cooked to perfection using the timing in the recipe. I added sweet potato as another reviewer suggested and it was fantastic. I had cumin seeds but only ground coriander. I used boneless skinless chicken legs because they're cheaper and just as good as thighs. We topped it with plain yoghurt because I didn't feel like chopping more garlic and it was really good. My son said, "We should have more stuff with yoghurt on it." :) Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe!
Liz C. April 10, 2023
Forgot to add: I served it with warm naan (the frozen ones). The sauce that forms on your plate with the yoghurt is so yummy sopped up with naan. Our plates were clean!
Elle December 5, 2023
I do that too!
kate January 4, 2023
Everyone liked this, even my selective eater. I added carrots for some extra veggies. Not a fan of the recommended Yogurt-Tahini sauce, the consistency along with the added honey just tasted like weird pancake batter. Made my usual tahini/olive oil/lemon juice and that was better for us. Will definitely make again.
mj82 August 15, 2022
Absolutely loved this recipe! Passed it on to family, that loved it too. To make it a one pan dish, I added baby potatoes and baby carrots. Omitted garlic & reduced onions as I have an intolerance & it was still brilliant 🤩 The Yoghurt Tahini sauce was so good too.

Looking forward to trying it with other veg
DebK April 13, 2022
This recipe was FABULOUS! I used chicken breasts (about 3 pounds) and cut them to about the size of chicken tenderloins. I doubled the onions and seasonings. Most of my spices are from Penzey's and I did end up adding a little of their Maharajah Curry powder and Garam Malsala to the recipe's spice mixture. I was worried about cooking the cauliflower and onion before the chicken, but it just works. For the Tahini sauce, I didn't have any Tahini paste, so I used the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of Sesame oil (all doubled because I had so much) and it worked! We scooped it all into pitas. I cannot thank you enough for such a wonderful recipe. This will be in our regular rotation, and I'm so glad to have discovered you!!!
Elle March 4, 2022
My family and I love this recipe, and so
does everyone I share it with! I always make the simple yogurt sauce, serve it with flatbread, and garnish with cilantro. You must try it!
Ro R. December 29, 2021
It's good - a 4.5. I'd serve it to guests. 15 min initial cook then 15 min with chicken is perfect. Used the toasted seeds for spices and added a little powdered too. We ate it with quinoa; I think the flatbread with the yogurt would take this over the top. Very, very easy recipe, which is lovely, and super healthy. Will give it a try with smoked tofu next time, but suspect it won't be quite as good. Thank you for this recipe.☺️
allisonjoe March 1, 2021
Loved it! The spice rub for cauliflower and chicken was great and spicy. Used chicken breasts, cut in pot smaller filets for quicker cooking.
allisonjoe March 1, 2021
^into smaller filets!
zesteedaveed November 3, 2020
My family has been using this recipe since it came out. We LOVE it! It's super easy. I also brought it to college with me. There, I would make it for friends or put it in containers for the week (meal prep style). I like to add diced sweet potatoes to contrast the spice. We've also made it a few times with tofu instead of chicken. It works just as well!
pattiebrown52 November 3, 2020
Love the idea of sweet potatoes as an addition. I have added carrots before and it was a great addition.
pattiebrown52 September 24, 2020
This recipe is a keeper! Made this for dinner tonight with chicken tenders, yellow cauliflower and onions. Served with white rice. After reading through the reviews, I followed the suggestion of mixing everything together and used a baking dish instead of a sheet pan. Didn't have the ingredients to make tahini yogurt sauce so served it with some homemade leftover ranch dip which was surprisingly good with it. Only thing I would do next time is use two onions instead of one and hope to be able to have the ingredients to make the tahini yogurt sauce to go with it.
pattiebrown52 September 24, 2020
This recipe is a keeper! Made this for dinner tonight with chicken tenders, yellow cauliflower and onions. Served with white rice. After reading through the reviews, I followed the suggestion of mixing everything together and used a baking dish instead of a sheet pan. Didn't have the ingredients to make tahini yogurt sauce so served it with some homemade leftover ranch dip which was surprisingly good with it. Only thing I would do next time is use two onions instead of one and hope to be able to have the ingredients to make the tahini yogurt sauce to go with it.
Samantha September 2, 2020
So easy and delicious! I used a baking dish as others recommended, which made it super easy to give everything a stir about 10 minutes in (my thighs needed about 15-17 minutes total). I added some red pepper flakes, but otherwise followed the recipe and served with crusty bread. Don't skip the squeeze of lemon at the end or the yogurt sauce--that tang shouldn't be missed.
Naomi July 12, 2020
I absolutely loved this. I was worried about using pre-ground spices but there wasn't a mealy texture. I followed the recipe as exactingly as I could but my cauliflower was only half the size I needed so I supplemented baby carrots for the remaining half, and I don't have smoked paprika so I used 1 tsp regular paprika and 1 tsp turmeric. The half a large walla walla onion I had was superb, so sweet and it soaked up so much of the flavor. I used 6 chicken thighs of varying sizes so I tacked on an extra 5 minutes, then flipped them for another 5. Altogether the chicken cooked for 20 minutes, on top of the 30 minutes the veggies cooked alone. It was perfect. I served this with saffron rice cooked with cumin seeds and will definitely do this again. So easy and delicious!
Rita June 30, 2020
I’d really only been looking for a quick passable weeknight dinner, and this ended up being really delicious. It’s flavorful and comes together quickly, and I love that you don’t have to chop up raw meat (my least favorite prep). I didn’t have flatbread or plain yogurt on hand, so with lemon wedges on the side, this ended up being filling for hard-shell tacos.
June April 19, 2020
Very good. Made with bone-in drumsticks, used ground spices, cut back on cayenne, and added four small potatoes. Served with the yogurt sauce and whole wheat pitas. My cauliflower was just over two pounds, smaller than specified, but I didn't have room on my sheet pan for more than about half. Likely partially due to adding potatoes but I wonder if my pan is full size because everything was squished together more than should be. I know cooking times have already been thoroughly discussed, and I'd already planned to cook the chicken more than ten minutes, but the time for the cauliflower was, to me, too long. Thanks for the recipe!
Marion April 15, 2020
Not good. Will not make it again
Brad H. May 17, 2020
Care to expand on this?
Anne H. April 14, 2020
This recipe was great and my family loved it. Will definitely make again. Substituted chicken breasts for thighs, cut the them into smaller pieces, and cooked the chicken with the cauliflower. Also substituted red chili powder for cayenne for a bit more heat.
Beth February 18, 2020
Wow this was so good! So much better than I expected and EASY!