Dinner time meets easy cooking and clean up…you can’t go wrong with a sheet pan! This post will help kick your healthy sheet pan dinners up a notch with 6 tasty recipes & tips for best results.
I don’t always have the time to whip up a complex and nuanced meal for dinner. Yes, I may be a chef but I don’t spend ALL my time in the kitchen! So when days are busier than I anticipate, sheet pan dinners come to the rescue.
Seriously! I used to stress out about what to cook in a pinch until I discovered the wonders of the sheet pan. Yes, I wish someone told me about this years ago (it would have saved me thousands of fast food calories). Rather than turning to Chinese takeout when you’re pressed for time, consider one of these recipes. They’re easy, quick and healthy!
What Is A Healthy Sheet Pan Dinner?
Healthy sheet pan dinners are along the same concept as a one-pot meal. But, we use a pan! What’s the appeal? Well, they make for a super convenient meal. Not only do sheet pan dinners save time, but they also make clean-up WAY easier.
Because of this, I’ll usually make these meals during weekend meal prep or mid week (when things get really busy). All you need to do is place your ingredients on the sheet pan, add some spices for flavor, some fat…and leave in the oven until ready.
Classic sheet pan dinners were all about tossing some protein and veggies together, but after some experimenting in the kitchen, I’ll show you creative ways to elevate your one-pan-wonders!
Is A Sheet Pan The Same As A Cookie Sheet?
While both are flat, sheet pans and cookie sheets are not the same. With a different design and different purpose, cookie sheets have one raised side (which is often slanted outward), and three-flat edges. You can see how it becomes problematic if using a cookie sheet for healthy sheet pan meals…because the juices will trickle off the flat edges. So, just make sure you use a real deal sheet pan for these recipes.
What Is The Purpose Of A Sheet Pan?
With rolled edges, sheet pans allow you to cook a variety of ingredients in the oven. It’s the popular choice for roasting meats and vegetables alike. Made from aluminum or stainless steel, they are designed for maximum airflow and browning capacity. Sheet pans come in three popular sizes…
- Full Sheet (26 x 18): A full sheet pan is usually 26 x 18 inches with sides that are around 1 inch high. Most of the time they don’t fit in home ovens and are often used in restaurants and bakeries.
- Half Sheet (18″ x 13″): Now these on the other hand are exactly half the size of the full version. If you’re planning on adding sheet-pan dinners to your weekly menu, this is the perfect pan for the job!
- Quarter size (13″ x 9″): For smaller or personal size meals, you can use a quarter size sheet pan.
How Do I Make Sure I Don’t Burn My Veggies Before My Meat Is Cooked?
There’s some strategy involved when choosing your protein and veggies for your healthy sheet pan dinners. In that…you gotta make sure that you pair proteins and vegetables that have similar cook times.
Let’s say you want to cook some green beans and sheet pan steak for dinner. It sounds like a great combo BUT they do have uneven cook times. So in this case, you’ll add the ingredients in stages. Simply pop in the green beans when your meat just about done. Or if you’re cooking potatoes with chicken, it can be the other way around; potatoes first and then the chicken.
Some of my favorite veggies for busy weeknights saved by a sheet pan meal are brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Proteins can include fish, shrimp, chicken thighs and beef.
What Can I Use Instead Of A Sheet Pan?
Just because you don’t have a sheet pan, doesn’t mean you can’t have a sheet pan dinner. Try using a large cast iron pan, casserole dish, or a broiler pan. Now, college students – listen up! You do have the option of using handy dandy aluminum foil. Be sure to roll the edges up slightly so you don’t smoke up the kitchen.
6 Delicious Sheet Pan Dinner Ideas
With tons of veggies (like fabulous bell peppers) combined with sausage, mixed with olive oil and herbs…this is one flavorful and balanced meal that you simply cannot beat when it comes to convenience. No fuss and extra tasty!
This delicious fish dish (try saying that 3 times fast!) combines baked sea bass with zucchini and the addition of freshly squeezed lemon. It’s made with easy to find, healthy ingredients and is a healthy sheet pan meal with very little clean up required!
This teriyaki salmon recipe uses a clean 10-ingredient teriyaki sauce and is baked in a sheet pan along with some veggies for a hearty dinner. Garnished with green onion and served with brown rice, I highly recommend this one for meal prep!
When you want to add savory veggies to your dinner, this easy parmesan cauliflower fits the bill quite nicely. Not only is it super tasty with the amazing aroma of garlic, but it’s also low carb and rich in vitamin C, K, protein, fiber and other nutrients.
Nothing says it’s the weekend like some nachos! This combo has a very good YTPT ratio (Yumminess To Preparation Time) and is predicted to make your Friday night dinner extra special. All kinds of goodness on a baking sheet.
My family’s favorite sheet pan recipe! This healthy breaded shrimp is super easy to make — and it’s done without frying or using breadcrumbs. PLUS they’re gluten-free, paleo, keto, and certified clean eating. It’s an amazing weeknight dinner.
How Do I Make My Healthy Sheet Pan Dinners?
All the sheet pan recipes above can be made by following these general steps:
- Use the right pan: Now that you have a better idea of the different types of pans, you can pick one that fits well not only in your oven but also the recipe. The ingredients should spread out evenly, so don’t crowd the pan!
- Line the pan: Trust me when I tell you that lining your plan will make clean-up MUCH easier. To avoid scrubbing off oven baked crusty bits, line your pan with foil or parchment paper.
- Add oil: To avoid drying out your ingredients, coat them with some oil. Make sure that you choose one that has the right smoke point (you can read about this in my blog post on Avocado Oil vs Coconut Oil). I find it helpful to mix the oil and the ingredients in a bowl first. But drizzling them once they’re in the pan can work, too.
- Give the ingredients that cook longer a head start: As mentioned earlier, it’s best to bake those that have longer cook time first. For dense veggies like potatoes and carrots, cut them up into smaller pieces for a quicker cook time.
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