Is there anything a baking sheet can’t do? This everyday kitchen tool is a dinnertime all-star, cooking entire meals to a perfect doneness with little effort and almost no cleanup. Here at Plated, we’re using sheet pans to cook everything from gently steamed fish to caramelized vegetables, quesadillas, and grilled cheese (that’s right, no messy flip in the skillet!). While this method is definitely easy, there are a few tips and tricks to remember to get perfect results every time. Follow these 6 tips and tricks to become a sheet pan pro.
Items cut to the same size, shape, and thickness will cook more evenly when roasted. If you plan to roast for a while (say, when roasting bone-in chicken thighs), keep vegetables on the larger side. For faster cooking, cut everything smaller. This way you won’t have a mix of underdone and overdone items on the same pan.
Work in Stages
Hearty vegetables (like winter squash and potatoes) will take longer to cook than more delicate items (like fish, sliced onions, or nuts). Instead of adding everything at once, give the hearty veg a head start in the oven, then add other components when the veg is just softened. After removing from the oven, stir in greens like spinach (the heat from the pan will wilt it perfectly).
Keep Everything Dry
Moisture is the enemy of sheet pan dinners, since it prevents delicious browning and slows down cooking. Pat vegetables dry with paper towels after cutting them, and pat chicken, steaks, and fish as dry as possible. If you notice a lot of liquid on the baking sheet before you’re done cooking, carefully pour off the excess and continue roasting.
If the items are packed onto the baking sheet, they’ll create steam, which will keep foods from getting deliciously browned and crispy. Arrange everything in a single layer and space apart as much as possible. If it feels too crowded, grab a second sheet and divide the load (cleanup will still be easy).
Add More Vegetables
Fresh vegetables cook down and lose volume in the oven, so be sure to compensate by roasting more than you think you’ll need per serving (just be sure not to overcrowd the pan!).
Consider the Papillote
This French technique involves sealing a protein (usually fish) in a parchment or foil packet with aromatics and roasting. The packet traps steam, gently cooking the fish and keeping it moist while infusing it with great flavor. It also leaves the sheet pan perfectly clean once removed, so you can roast another item alongside or simply discard the foil when you’re done.