roasted chicken drumsticks roasted chicken drumsticks One-pan dinners yield a real meal with super-easy prep. (Photo: Liliya Kandrashevich / Shutterstock)

Why I love sheet pan dinners – and you should, too

These one-pan meal recipes are a lifesaver for busy home chefs searching for easy dinner ideas.

Years ago I attended an engagement dinner party and brought along two huge sheet pans of dessert pastries. A friend commented on how clean and new my pans looked. You’d think I’d be pleased, but for a true home chef, worn out and dated pans are a sign of pride. I’ve come a long way since then, and I can now boast that my sheet pans are showing their age – and I couldn’t be happier.

The discovery of sheet pan dinners is a game changer when you’re wondering what to make for dinner. You can literally take any protein, mix it up with a vegetable and some sauce or seasonings, and voila – dinner is in the oven.

Sarah's maple-glazed chicken with carrots and oranges, fresh from the sheet pan. Sarah's maple-glazed chicken with carrots and oranges, fresh from the sheet pan. (Photo: Sarah Berkowitz)

There’s something so simple and heart-warming about all the food laid out on a huge pan, ripe for the picking, that once you start cooking this way you can easily become addicted. There’s also the fact that you’re not washing multiple pots, pans, and serving pieces. One sheet pan, one spatula, and you’re done. Parchment paper is optional, but highly recommended.

My first shot at one pan cooking was a vegan dinner using tofu cubes and high cruciferous vegetables. For my omnivore eaters, I created the Italian Breaded Chicken with Onion Rings, giving chefs the option to add more vegetables to the pan for a complete meal. The vegetarians enjoyed Roasted Root Vegetables, a dish that rarely makes it the table (most of it gets eaten right off the tray, hot out of the oven!).

rosemary flavored roasted beets, potatoes, butternut squash and red onion The combination of beets, potatoes, butternut squash and red onion complements perfectly with rosemary. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Once I tried a few of my own, I searched the web for one pan dinners featuring Israeli ingredients, and found a slew of mouth-watering Mediterranean dinner ideas. Bon Appetit’s Baked Snapper with Harissa, New Potatoes, and Spring Onions is a fabulous looking dish, perfect for the pescatarians, or their savory and sticky Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Kalamata Olives.

vegan sheet pan dinner Five minutes prep time, half hour in the oven, and done. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

For a universally loved dinner idea, try Taste of Home’s Sweet & Tangy Salmon with Green Beans, or Roasted Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower. Food Network’s No-Fry Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan sounded like a great way to lighten up on a comfort food dinner, and their Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas would be great wrapped in a soft laffa or pita bread.

Chicken on a bed of onions Chicken on a bed of onions. (Photo: Paul Cowan/Shutterstock)

Sheet pan meals are not limited to dinner, some of the most intriguing recipes I’ve seen are for dessert. Check out these these sumptuous Pistachio Brownie Toffee Bars, Pecan Pie Bars, and Blueberry Zucchini Squares. If you’re ready to have a whole lot of fun, try this technique for 8 Desserts in 1 Pan, and be ready for a total dessert takeover!

Homemade energy bars in a pan Homemade energy bars. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

If you’re ready to open up a whole new world of cooking, give some of these sheet pan dinner recipes a try – and let me know how it goes. I’ll be waiting to hear from you, and how your life is forever changed!

Want more cooking tips from Sarah? Listen to our podcast interview with her.

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Why I love sheet pan dinners – and you should, too
These one-pan meal recipes are a lifesaver for busy home chefs searching for easy dinner ideas.