Move over sweet stuff: There’s more to using your sheet pan than everything sugar and spice.
You may typically grab your sheet pan only when it is time to bake cookies, but the same hard-working pan also can help with the dinnertime dance.
Back-to-school time means quick dinners are back on the table. Yes, some families turn to a skillet as a familiar path to speedy meals. Others rely on a pot or slow cooker. But the sheet pan can also earn you an A-plus as delicious possibilities roast or bake to perfection. The flavor of roasted meats and vegetables trumps the take-out box every time.
It’s so easy: Plop the food on the pan, slide the pan into the oven and set the timer. You are free to toss the salad, help with homework or handle the interruptions that seem to always derail dinner for a busy family. No need to stir the pot or tend to the food in the skillet.
One pan clean-up: Clean-up is a dream, especially when you line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. When everything bakes in one pan you don’t have to face stacks of pots and pans to wash at the end of a busy day.
Delicious results: This is the true pay off, for roasting browns the meat and vegetables and that maximizes flavor and appearance. That browning isn’t just scrumptious-looking — it adds flavor. The dry heat and evaporation intensify the flavor, and the crisp, browned crust will taste a little sweeter.
With very little work, dinner will be reminiscent of magazine covers and Instagram photos — and proudly take center stage on the plate. Go ahead and share those mouthwatering results on Facebook or Snapchat for all to enjoy.
Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss are Kansas City-based professional home economists and the authors of several cookbooks featuring small appliances, including the slow cooker. They developed the recipes for this story.
Tips for sheet pan perfection
What is a sheet pan?
You may think of it as a jelly roll pan, and while they look similar, a sheet pan is larger and sturdier so it can withstand the high temperatures used for roasting. This large, flat pan has sides about 1-inch deep. The term comes from the commercial kitchen, but home kitchens often use “half sheet pans” (also just known as sheet pans) that are about 18-by-13-by-1-inch.
The large size lets you combine all of the meat and vegetables on the menu in one pan, while the narrow sides capture any liquid but ensure even browning. Avoid using rimless baking or cookie sheets as juices may drip, and pans with thermal or air insulation on the bottom will adversely affect the roasting time.
1. Line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper so clean-up is easier.
2. Preheat the oven.
3. Select foods that cook in similar times. If some of the foods cook differently, use size to your benefit. Cut foods that take longer to cook a little smaller, while quick-cooking items can be cut larger. However, cut like foods in uniform pieces so they cook evenly.
You can also stagger when you add the food. Place the food with the longest cooking time on one end of the pan and roast it for a few minutes. Then carefully add another food that will roast in a shorter amount of time.
4. Food is often lightly coated with oil or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray before roasting. Bake uncovered. Occasionally, recipes will suggest stirring the food or turning it once while roasting.
5. Keep the oven door closed and avoid the temptation to check the cooking progress frequently.
Prep note: To streamline last minute prep, marinate the meat overnight or blend up the seasonings or sauces the night before. Dinner time hassles vanish.
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt or salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound skirt steak, cut into thin slices across the grain
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
8 flour tortillas
Garnishes, as desired:
Shredded Mexican cheese or queso fresco
Chopped fresh cilantro
Combine olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, seasoned salt, pepper and sugar. Blend well and remove 3 tablespoons to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate the reserved marinade. Place the remaining marinade in a zip-top bag and add beef. Seal bag and massage to distribute marinade evenly throughout.
Refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours. (Note: The longer the marinating time, the better the flavor.)
When ready to prepare meal, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-by-1-inch sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Place onion and sliced peppers in a zip-top bag. Add reserved marinade, seal bag and massage to distribute. Place vegetables on one half of the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly into one layer on half the pan.
Using tongs, remove meat from marinade and place on other side of sheet pan. Spread the meat into an even layer. Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat is cooked to desired doneness.
During the last 5 minutes of baking, wrap the tortillas tightly in aluminum foil and place on the rack below the sheet pan.
Serve the warm steak and vegetables in the warm tortillas. Top with desired garnishes.
Tip: If skirt steak is not available, substitute flank steak.
Per serving: 781 calories (34 percent from fat), 30 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 58 milligrams cholesterol, 92 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 998 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber.
Hasselback Pizza Potatoes
Hasselback potatoes are a Swedish invention and a great way to get the best of all worlds: a crispy exterior with a creamy interior. They’re also known as accordion potatoes.
Video tip: See how we use chopsticks as a guide to avoid slicing all the way through the potato. Go to KansasCity.com/chowtown
Preparation tips: Potato sizes vary, so the amount of pepperoni may vary, too. You may not need to use the entire package and can save extra for another use.
If you are in a pinch for time, omit sausage and use only pepperoni.
Makes 4 servings
4 medium russet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cold butter, sliced into slivers
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (3.5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1/4 pound Italian or regular sausage, browned and finely crumbled
1 cup marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
Additional heated marinara, if desired to serve along with potato
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-by-1-inch sheet pan with nonstick aluminum foil or line the pan with aluminum foil then spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Cut a thin slice off of the long side of each potato so that the potato will rest on the sheet pan without moving. Using a sharp knife, make thin vertical slices crosswise down the entire potato, cutting almost to the bottom of the potato, but not quite cutting through the bottom. Slices should be approximately 1/2 -inch apart. (You can use a pair of chopsticks positioned on either side of the potato to help keep the knife from cutting all the way through.)
Drizzle olive oil evenly over potatoes, rubbing to cover the surface. Place butter slivers evenly between the potatoes slices as best you can. Place potatoes on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour or until tender. Check tenderness with the tip of a paring knife.
Remove potatoes from the oven. Carefully and evenly place pepperoni slices into the slices on the potatoes. (Note: Each slice does not need a pepperoni slice, distribute slices evenly.) Divide sausage between potatoes and press some crumbles between the slices. Spoon any remaining sausage evenly on top.
Spoon marinara sauce evenly over potatoes. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup Italian cheese on each potato. Continue to bake, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is heated through.
Serve with additional sauce, if desired.
Per serving: 588 calories (74 percent from fat), 48 grams total fat (19 grams saturated), 90 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 1,215 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Honey-Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Carrots
Preparation tip: When eating chicken, do you prefer dark meat or white meat? Either chicken breasts or thighs work well for this dish and taste great.
Makes 4 servings
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each) or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-by-1-inch sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Place the carrots in a zip-top bag. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal bag and massage to distribute oil evenly over the carrots. Pour carrots into a single layer evenly over the entire prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Place chicken pieces in the zip-top bag. Add cornstarch, seal bag and shake to coat chicken evenly. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; seal bag and massage to distribute oil evenly over chicken. Add seasonings; seal bag and shake to distribute seasonings evenly over the chicken.
Carefully stir the carrots; move carrots to one end of the pan. Arrange chicken on the other end of the pan. Roast, uncovered, 20 minutes or until chicken is almost done and meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees. Stir together honey and vinegar. Drizzle about a third of honey mixture over carrots and stir to coat evenly. Brush remaining honey mixture over chicken. Return to the oven and roast, uncovered, 5 minutes or until carrots are tender and chicken is done and meat thermometer registers 165 degrees.
Per serving: 275 calories (27 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 23 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 100 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Roasted Pork Tenderloin With Potatoes and Green Beans
Variations: Substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts for pork tenderloin. Cut the breasts crosswise into 2-inch pieces and flatten slightly as directed. Proceed as recipe directs, roasting until meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 165 degrees.
Substitute fresh green beans, trimmed for frozen.
Makes 4 servings
1 pound pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen whole green beans
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced lengthwise, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 medium, sweet yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Slice pork tenderloin crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Turn the pieces cut side up and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand until pieces are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.
Place pork in a zip-top bag. Add cornstarch, salt and pepper; seal bag and shake to distribute cornstarch evenly over meat.
In a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and garlic.
Measure and remove 2 tablespoons of mixture to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate the reserved marinade. Pour remaining olive oil-lemon juice mixture over pork. Seal bag and massage to distribute marinade evenly over meat. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line an 18-by-13-by-1-inch sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Place green beans, potatoes and onions in a zip-top bag. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal bag and massage to distribute oil and seasonings evenly over vegetables. Spread vegetables in a single layer evenly over the prepared pan.
Roast, uncovered, 20 minutes. Carefully stir the vegetables; move vegetables to one end of the baking sheet. Drain meat and pat dry. Arrange meat in a single layer, cut-side up on the other end of the baking sheet. Roast, uncovered, 15 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 145 degrees for medium doneness. Sprinkle pork with Parmesan cheese during the last 1 to 2 minutes of roasting.
Remove from oven, tent meat with aluminum foil and allow to rest 3 to 5 minutes.
Arrange meat and vegetables on serving platter. Drizzle vegetables with reserved lemon juice mixture.
Per serving: 328 calories (43 percent from fat), 16 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 63 milligrams cholesterol, 14 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 373 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.