Sheet pans are nothing new—they’ve been a staple in restaurant and home kitchens for decades—so you probably already know how handy they are for everything from toasting nuts to baking cookies. But did you know that you can cook practically a whole meal on one sheet pan?
The newest riff on one-pot cooking, sheet pan meals areas delicious as they are simple. In broad strokes, a sheet pan meal comes together like this: Line your sheet pan with parchment or foil, throw your meat and vegetables on the pan, toss with a spice blend or sauce, and pop the whole thing in the oven. Then kick back and relax.
Meanwhile, inside the oven, the sheet pan’s large surface area and shallow sides allow for maximum heat circulation, so the meat (or fish or chicken) quickly cooks up tender and juicy while the vegetables develop lots of nice, roasty brown edges. Along the way, you’ll need to do little more than give the pan a spin or flip the meat (or add it, if the vegetables needed a head start).
The recipes associated with this article show how versatile this simple technique can be, from speedy weeknight meals to impressive dinner party fare. Still not convinced? Then here’s one last thing you should know: Since the sheet pan is lined with parchment or foil, cleanup is going to be a breeze, too.
A True Workhorse
Also known as a “half-sheet” or “rimmed baking sheet,” a sheet pan is a flat, 18×13-inch metal pan with a 1-inch rim around the sides. Because they’re so incredibly useful, you should have at least two (if not three) in your kitchen. I prefer aluminum or stainless-steel pans without a nonstick coating, since they hold up well under high heat and last for ages without the worry that the coating will degrade.
Don’t confuse a jelly roll pan with a sheet pan. A jelly roll pan is the same shape as a sheet pan, but it’s smaller and less sturdy with a tendency to warp at high heat. Be sure to get your hands on an actual sheet pan for the recipes here. They’re easy to find at kitchen and restaurant supply stores.