The sheet pan dinner is the efficient home cook’s best friend. Combine all of the components of your meal on the same pan to roast, mixing your proteins, vegetables, and seasonings of choice, and you’ll have an all-in-one, set-it-and-forget-it dinner with minimal cleanup at the end. The possibilities are endless.
A new cookbook by Cathy Erway, a James Beard Award-winning food writer, pays tribute to this humble home kitchen workhouse by bringing it together with another: chicken.
America’s most popular protein gets new life in “Sheet Pan Chicken,” a collection of 50 globally-inspired, one-pan roast chicken recipes—coming at a time when fresh kitchen inspiration is especially welcome.
Erway makes the case that sheet pan chicken dinners maximize not only efficiency and versatility, but also deliciousness. When chicken and vegetables are roasted together, the ingredients not only transform individually—concentrating in flavor, browning across the surface, and caramelizing and crisping on the bottom—but also undergo a “metamorphosis into a higher dimension of flavor together,” she writes, as the rendered juices and fats from the chicken seep into everything else on the pan.
(In a genius recipe for warm chicken salad, Erway stretches those precious flavor-boosters further still: After roasting skin-on chicken breasts with rings of delicata squash, she scrapes off left-behind pan drippings and stuck-on browned bits to mix into a rich, schmaltzy vinaigrette.)
Many of the recipes are rooted in Erway’s favorite chicken dishes and flavor combos from around the world, adapted to the sheet pan with a few creative liberties.
Her Taiwanese mother’s soy sauce chicken stew, for instance, is remixed into a pan of soy sauce-marinated chicken roasted into crisp-skinned, umami-packed “flavor bombs,” alongside baby bok choy and sweet chunks of pineapple.
Chicken paprikash, the classic paprika-laced, sour cream-enriched Central European stew, translates to chicken rubbed with sweet paprika, roasted with sweet potatoes and crisped kale leaves, and served with a sour cream-based sauce on the side. French mustard chicken, Japanese chicken katsu, and even Nashville-style hot chicken all get sheet pan makeovers, too.
In other words, chicken never has to be boring. Here are three winning recipes from Erway’s book to try.
Sheet Pan Tips
Erway recommends owning at least one 18 by 13-inch half sheet pan, “to maximize the space for your ingredients and help ensure there’s enough room for them to bake and bubble to a perfect crisp.” A second pan is helpful for managing overflow—better to divide your ingredients between two pans than crowd them together, which encourages steaming instead of crisping.
Look for a heavy-duty “commercial-grade” or “double-thick” aluminum pan, with a rolled edge about an inch in height, and optionally a corrugated or fluted texture for extra strength. These sturdier pans offer the best protection against warping in the oven. Erway cautions against rimless baking sheets, which won’t be able to catch those precious cooking juices, and “insulated” options, which promote softer (read: not crispy-friendly) cooking on the bottom.
Plus, a bonus equipment recommendation: Erway finds a thin, flexible fish spatula “indispensable for lifting pretty much anything off a sheet pan,” as it’s excellent at cleanly pulling away browned, stuck-to-the-pan pieces still intact—leaving no crispy bit behind.