Sheet-Pan Chicken & Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

November 18, 2020
19 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Megan Hedgpeth.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This ultra-cozy, ultra-satisfying dinner proves that roast chicken and gratin are not only possible on a weeknight, they’re possible all on one sheet pan! The key is using a quick-cooking vegetable for the gratin (shaved cauliflower!) and staggering when the ingredients go in the oven. Start by quickly marinating bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs in a yogurt-mustard marinade spiced with paprika, then giving them a jump start in the hot oven. Next, assemble your cauliflower gratin directly on the hot pan around the thighs—complete with a crispy-crunchy-cheesy topping that’s arguably a gratin’s best part. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, and the gratin is golden (slide the sheet pan under the broiler if you want to crisp-up the chicken even more).

Using this recipe as a template, pretty much everything is customizable. Swap shaved broccoli or Brussels sprouts for the cauliflower. Use chicken drumsticks in place of the thighs, or boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (just reduce the cooking time in Step 3 to about 8 to 10 minutes). Let your spice cabinet guide the way: sumac, za’atar, ras el hanout, or garam masala would all be lovely fill-ins for the paprika.

Lastly, a tip for streamlining prep: Use the slicing blade of your food processor to shave the cauliflower or whatever vegetable you’re using, and the grater blade for shredding the cheese. No need to clean the bowl of the food processor in between! —EmilyC

What You'll Need
  • For the chicken:
  • 6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on (about 2.5 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons plain full-fat yogurt (Greek or regular)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • For the gratin:
  • 1 large cauliflower (about 2 pounds), stems and core removed, and florets very thinly sliced (see Author Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère or aged cheddar, divided (see Author Notes)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a bowl large enough to toss the chicken, mix mustard, yogurt, olive oil, paprika, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper until smooth. Toss the chicken in the marinade until evenly coated, rubbing a little of the marinade under the skin. (Make-ahead tip: The marinated chicken can be refrigerated for about 12 hours.)
  3. Transfer the chicken thighs, skin-side up, to a sheet pan (no parchment or oil is needed). Roast for 15 minutes. (Set a timer!)
  4. Meanwhile, prep the cauliflower gratin: Toss shaved cauliflower with paprika, 2 teaspoons olive oil, lemon zest, salt, Aleppo pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese.
  5. In a small bowl, combine panko with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, thyme, and several grinds of black pepper. Evenly drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil over the panko mixture (otherwise it’ll clump) and toss together until well mixed.
  6. Take the sheet pan out of the oven when the timer goes off, and remove chicken to a large plate. Add the cauliflower to the sheet pan and toss in the rendered chicken fat until evenly coated; distribute in a single, even layer. Return the chicken thighs (and any accumulated juices on the plate) to the sheet pan, nestling them amongst or on top of the cauliflower. Sprinkle panko mixture evenly over the cauliflower.
  7. Roast for 15 minutes longer, or until chicken is cooked through (165°F in the thickest part) and crumbs are golden.
  8. Optional but recommended: Slide the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to deepen the browning and crisping-up of the chicken skin and crumb topping; watch closely, it won’t take long!
  9. Serve warm, with lemon wedges on the side. I like serving this with a simple green salad on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cena
  • Darlene
  • EmilyC
  • Jessamin

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

13 Reviews

Jessamin November 22, 2022
This recipe has been languishing in my bookmarks and I wish I'd gotten to it sooner because, sheesh, this was good. Made it exactly as written. Don't skip the lemon zest here, it's really needed. Super comforting on a cold fall night.
Shelley C. March 6, 2021
This was a successful dinner--easy, one pan, and really tasty with great leftovers. Next time we make it, I will rub some of the marinade under the skin of the thighs so that the flavor is more noticeable (we remove the skin before eating). We used Trader Joe's Cheddar-Gruyere blend cheese since we had it on hand, which gave us the flavor of both.
EmilyC March 7, 2021
Hi Shelley -- so glad this was a hit! Good tip about rubbing the marinade under the skin (I'll add a note to that effect -- I usually do that too) and I love that TJ cheddar-gruyere blend. Good call to use it here! Thanks for your note.
Cena February 2, 2021
Moved to the top of my busy-mom dinner list! Everyone ate it and was so easy! I even cheated and marinated the chicken in bottled creamy Caesar dressing. It was still fabulous.
EmilyC February 3, 2021
Wonderful! So glad everyone liked it. Thanks for your note, Cena!
Carol January 23, 2021
This is my second time making this recipe. It is so good that I have given the recipe to my friends.An easy meal and great for family meals and company too. I prepped the three stages in advance ....the chicken with marinade, the cauliflower with it’s fixings and the topping. When ready to cook later in the day....a simple matter of putting it together, but it looks like I worked hard.a must try dish
EmilyC January 27, 2021
Hi Carol -- so happy to hear that you've made this twice, and very smart to prep in three stages! Thanks for your note!
Darlene December 18, 2020
Despite asking if I could sub sour cream, I went with yogurt in the marinade which I spiced with half paprika and half sumac. My cauliflower head was small so I added thinly sliced Brussels Sprouts. The one pan prep is a nice bonus. Easy and delicious!
EmilyC December 18, 2020
Love the idea of mixing cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and sumac is always so good! Really glad you tried and liked this, Darlene! Thanks for your note.
Mary December 9, 2020
L.O.V.E.D it! We don't like dark meat so I used boneless, skinless chicken breast, reducing the cooking time as recommended. The cauliflower was so good. Squeeze of lemon was the perfect topper. Easy and tasty - thank you for the 'sheet pan' ideas!
EmilyC December 10, 2020
Mary -- thanks so much for trying this and circling back! So glad you liked it!
Christina P. December 8, 2020
ZOMG, this was so delicious! Got rave reviews from my whole family (except for my son who is a cauliflower hater...but even he said that the cauliflower was “less disgusting than plain cauliflower “).
EmilyC December 8, 2020
Wonderful, so glad you and your family liked it! And as a mom to two kids who for a long time refused to eat cauliflower, I especially love that note about your son! : )