When you’re short on time and need to get dinner on the table quickly, sheet pan meals are a no-fuss option for tasty meals with minimal equipment (and little cleanup as a sweet bonus). Sheet pan meals are gaining ground in home kitchens for their ease and simplicity as well as the delicious caramelization that happens in the oven that piles on the flavour.
A sheet pan dinner is a complete meal cooked on your baking sheet. Essentially, it’s similar to a one-pot meal – except it’s spilled out on a sheet pan instead of in a pot!
Best Equipment for Sheet Pan Meals
Obviously, you’ll need a sheet pan to make sheet pan meals. But what kind is best? As sheet pan recipes usually require higher-heat cooking, we recommend using safe and healthy cookware (you can check out our full guide here).
When it comes to sheet pans, we prefer:
- Stainless steel material
- Pans with raised edges, which helps prevent your food from flying out of the pan if you need to stir the mixture while it’s cooking, and prevents warping
We never use non-stick sheet pans, as non-stick linings are harmful to our health and can easily scratch with wear and tear, meaning its chemicals can leach into your food.
Sheet Pan Hack: If you have an older sheet pan and you’re unsure what it’s made of, or one that you know is made of detrimental materials and don’t have the funds for a new one, here’s what to do: throw a sheet of parchment paper over it (and we find good parchment can be reused several times for less waste).
How Many Sheet Pans Do I Need?
It depends on how much you adore sheet pan meals! One large sheet pan is likely sufficient if you’re cooking for one to three people; otherwise, two is a good number to have on hand.
What Size of Sheet Pan is The Best?
We prefer larger-sized pans because with sheet pan recipes, you’re doing a full meal deal: you’ll use the space, especially if you want full caramelization on what you’re roasting. Overcrowding on your sheet pan will lead to steaming as opposed to roasting, which may be okay for some recipes but not all.
We adore our standard 12 x 18-inch sheet pans. They work well for sheet pan meals, and you can use them for gluten-free cookies, gluten-free crackers, kale chips, seasoned nuts and seeds, and healthy French fries.
You may want to go smaller or bigger; if you go larger, just measure your oven first to ensure they fit!
Other Handy Equipment for Sheet Pan Meals
Aside from your sheet pan, some helpful tools for sheet pan meals include:
- A large metal or wooden spoon for stirring
- Tongs or a spatula for flipping
- If cooking meat, a thermometer for checking temperatures
- A good scrubber for cleaning the pan later!
Sheet Pan Alternatives
If you don’t have sheet pans and aren’t ready to invest in one, there are a few alternatives you may have around!
- Roasting Pan: You may have only used this for holiday dinners; dust it off and use it for sheet pan meals! Roasting pans have high sides, which cuts down on sputtering oil and grease spraying all over the oven.
- Cast Iron: Great for heat reduction and retention, and very easy to use. You’ll want to use a large cast iron pan for sheet pan meals. Grab our guide to cast iron here.
- Glass: Large, shallow and rectangular glass dishes replicate the sheet pan – and many have lids you can secure on top for storing leftovers in the fridge.
Essential Components of Sheet Pan Meals
Our go-to requirements for sheet pans meals are similar to recipe-free dinner bowls. To create a balanced meal, opt for:
- A good source of protein (whether animal-based or plant-based protein)
- A nourishing fat for blood sugar balance and satiety
- Loads of veggies, for their fibre, vitamin and mineral content, and of course flavour
- A marinade or sauce to bring it all together (check out our guide to sauces and our favourite homemade seasoning blends for loads of ideas)
- Optional: fresh or crunchy toppings for texture
Best Cooking Oil for Sheet Pan Meals
Fats and oils have numerous benefits for our nervous system, digestive tract, hormones, joints, skin, muscle tissue and energy levels. Certain fats are incredibly susceptible to heat, light and air – this means we need to be mindful of which oils we use for high-heat cooking such as sheet pan meals.
Our go-to oils for sheet pan meals are:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
Want to know more? See which oils are great for high-heat, medium-heat, low-heat and no-heat cooking here.
Meal Prep and Menu Planning for Sheet Pan Dinners
Another reason we adore sheet pan dinners: they’re fantastic for meal prep and menu planning! When a sheet pan dinner is on our menu plan, we like chopping and prepping its component parts in advance. That way, all you need to do is toss everything onto your sheet pan and it’s ready to go!
Items we usually prep for sheet meals are:
- Sauces or marinades
- Animal proteins, or tofu or tempeh, if they need marinating beforehand
- Soaking and cooking beans (learn how to cook them well here)
20 Best Sheet Pan Meals
These sheet pan recipes are incredibly versatile! Switch up the proteins and veggies for endless variations and seasonality.
Sweet and Sour Salmon with Bok Choy
Salmon and other types of fish are a great protein for sheet pan dinners because it cooks fast. In less than 20 minutes, this dinner is done!
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
This recipe is chock-full of tasty spices and can be served in tortillas or lettuce wraps.
Cauliflower Gnocchi Sheet Pan Meal
Pan-frying or boiling your gnocchi is out, baking them on a sheet pan is IN. You have to try this – the gnocchi develops a crispy exterior yet is still soft inside.
A fancy-style dinner has never been so easy with this 7-ingredient sheet pan recipe.
Vegetarian Sheet Pan Tacos
Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetables
A Paleo, Whole 30-compliant meal that has a spice blend recipe you’ll probably want to double or triple for future meals.
Vegan Frittata on a Sheet Pan
Sheet pan meals aren’t just for dinner – you can make breakfast versions, too! This vegan adaptation is loaded with veggies and is great for meal prep or a crowd.
Southwestern Fingerling Nachos with Avocado Cream
How ’bout a sheet pan meal you can basically eat with your hands?
Sheet Pan Faux Honey Mustard Chicken
This recipe is ‘faux’ honey mustard because the sauce has dates for natural sweetness, making this a Whole 30 meal.
Herbed Potato, Asparagus and Chickpea Vegan Sheet Pan Dinner
If asparagus isn’t in season, swap in your favourite vegetable!
Brussels Sprouts Tempeh Sheet Pan Hash
If you haven’t joined the tempeh train yet, the marinade in this sheet pan recipe will convince you to hop on.
AIP Beef and Broccoli with Mushrooms
You will never regret adding mushrooms to your sheet pan meals.
Tahini Herb Crusted Salmon Sheet Pan Meal
Tahini is an underrated marinade ingredient, but we love it to bits! (You can also learn to make your own tahini here.)
Garlic Cauliflower Steaks and Balsamic Veggies
You already need to use the oven to make cauliflower steaks, so why not throw a bunch of veggies on the pan and make it a full meal?
Harvest Sheet Pan Breakfast Bake
Baked Mexican Cauliflower Rice
This sheet pan recipe has vegan and Paleo options. You will love how the rice gets extra crispy.
Roasted Balsamic Rosemary Chicken and Squash
You can use any kind of squash (or even pumpkin) in this recipe – it’s a great way to try squash varieties that are new to you.
Paleo Chicken Nugget and Cauliflower Tray Bake
Skip the pan-frying and make chicken nuggets on a sheet pan instead. As you might imagine, this one is very kid-friendly!
Sheet Pan Fried Rice
If you prefer crispy and crunchy fried rice, then this is your recipe.
AIP Burger and Fries Sheet Pan Dinner
Vegan Dijon Rosemary Sheet Pan Dinner
Pure comfort food on a pan!
There is much to love about sheet pan meals. Which recipe will you try first?