How to Build a Sheet Pan Meal

Learn how to make a sheet pan meal with almost any ingredient and have it taste absolutely amazing, each and every time. Sheet pan dinners save time and make clean up a breeze!

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The other day I shared a super easy Thai Chile Chicken Sheet Pan Meal and the feedback on Instagram was insane.

People were loving the simplicity of a sheet pan meal, so I thought it would be a great idea to teach you how to make a sheet pan dinner.

You can literally make almost anything into a sheet pan meal. They are the BEST idea for dinners on those crazy hectic weeknights when you don’t have anything prepared and you’re short on time.

They also make great additions to your weekly meal prep because there is very little hands on time once you slide that pan into the oven, which lets you prepare other things in the meantime.

Tips for building perfect Sheet Pan Dinners:

Choose ingredients that cook at roughly the same time or temperature

Veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, and beets all take a little longer to cook than say green beans or mushrooms. Try sticking with things that will take around the same amount of time.

Give dense veggies a head start

Of course, if you really want those longer cooking ingredients, start by roasting those for 15-20 minutes before adding in your quicker cooking ones. This will help prevent anything from being too under cooked or over cooked.

Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper

To make clean up even quicker and easier place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper down on your sheet pan. You’ll still most likely have to clean the pan, but it will be much easier. Just make sure that you oil the aluminum foil and veggies before cooking.

When in doubt, add in onions and garlic

There is a reason onions and garlic are in most dishes — they provide tons of amazing flavor. Want to add a little boost to your dish, roughly chop some onions and smash a few garlic cloves. Add them onto you sheet pan and let the flavors seep into your meal. You can eat them if you wish, or if thats not your thing, just toss them to the side when you are ready to serve.

Don’t forget the flavor!

Before cooking try adding a little white wine, or top with slices of fresh lemon or citrus. Garnish at the end with fresh basil or parsley or drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar or a simple vinaigrette. You can even add some crunch by sprinkling on some nuts just a few minutes before your meal is finished or right after. Get creative!

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A Few More Tips to Consider when making Sheet Pan Meals:

You can use more than one sheet pan

Just because it’s a sheet pan meal does NOT mean you need to shove absolutely everything onto one sheet pan. In fact, if you want your veggies to caramelize, or any of your protein to brown, you’ll want to leave some room for all of your ingredients to breathe instead of over crowding them which will cause them to steam. You can even double or triple a recipe to boost up your meal prepping efforts.

Use aluminum foil to create “dividers”

If you have something like chicken that has a marinade or sauce that you don’t want to run onto your veggies, or if you want to cook multiple flavors of marinades on the same type of protein, you can create dividers with aluminum foil to keep things separated. For example, say you have 3 different types of marinades you want on chicken thighs, this trick would be perfect to cook them all at once — it doesn’t just have to be about creating full meals.

Create “steam pouches”

Steam pouches are great for things like fish packets, but you can also utilize steam pouches in your sheet pan meals too. Maybe you want to steam your fish, but you want the dry heat of the oven to caramelize your veggies. Some great options to steam in pouches are baked regular or sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, roasted garlic, or fish or shellfish.

Use wire racks

And just the opposite of steam pouches are wire racks. Use these to raise up certain ingredients that you want to get a little crispier. Think of things like crispy panko-breaded healthy chicken fingers or a crusted piece of salmon. Using a rack will allow air to flow underneath your ingredients.

Lastly, Go Ahead and Ditch the Recipes

Along with simplicity, one of the most appealing things about sheet pan meals is that there is really no need for a recipe. You can get as creative as you want or keep things as simple as necessary. Of course going off of a recipe like the Thai Chile Chicken Sheet Pan Meal is great, but you can always just wing it and make it up as you go, or just roast up some simple veggies and chicken. The choice is yours, babe!

How To Save Even More Time And Prep Sheet Pan Meals Ahead:

Another added bonus about sheet pan dinners is that they can be partially or fully assembled ahead of time. This can really make that dinner time rush even smoother.

  • Over the weekend or on your meal prep day, wash, peel, and cut your vegetables. This is one of my favorite meal prep tips for sheet pan meals or not since these steps are usually what takes the longest while preparing a meal.
  • If your meal requires a sauce or dressing, make it the night before.
  • Marinate or season your protein of choice the night before, then put it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. This saves time and really lets all the flavors soak in.
  • And for super busy nights, you can even assemble the entire sheet pan meal the night before or morning of, wrap it up, and store in the fridge. Then once you get home from a busy night, heat up the oven and slide the pan right into a hot oven.

So what do you say girl, are you ready to start popping those sheet pans into your oven?

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