Dietitian Meal Hacks: Sheet Pan Dinners
- The Pan Matters. Look for an 18- x 13-inch heavy duty pan with at least 1-inch sides. The high sides will contain the food better and is easier to grip when removing from the oven.
- Add Ingredients in Stages. Foods of varying sizes and densities will take different lengths of time to cook in the oven. Start cooking your animal proteins first (if they’re large cuts), then remove the pan from the oven and add hearty vegetables. Place the pan back in the oven and when the hearty vegetables are nearly fork-tender, remove and add any delicate veggies. This helps avoid over-cooking, so every bite is tender!
- Position it. Place animal proteins in the center of your sheet pan. By placing these ingredients in the center, they’ll absorb the most heat and cook evenly. Scatter your vegetables on the sides of pan making sure not to overlap.
- Aim for Even Sizes. The more uniform vegetables are in shape and size, the more evenly they’ll cook. This goes the same for meat cuts, aim to have similar thickness so everything cooks perfectly.
- Preheat the… Pan! Bet you weren’t expecting that tip. Place your heavy duty pan in the oven as the oven preheats. This creates a hot surface for the food to sizzle and create that yummy, browned crust.
- Keep Moisture Out. Water is the enemy here. Excess water can cause your oven to work harder to evaporate moisture before it can brown and cook the food. Make sure to pat animal proteins dry and use minimal liquids when roasting your vegetables.
- Don’t Overcrowd. There should be enough room on your pan that no ingredients are overlapping, apart from herbs. Allowing room for ingredients allows air to circulate within the oven for even cooking and reduces prolonged cook times. If the food is packed too tightly, any moisture that’s released won’t evaporate leaving you with soggy, sad results.
- Test it! It’s hard to tell by eye when meats are done if you’re not a professional. Our recommendation is to use a meat thermometer! This is the simplest way to know if your animal protein is cooked to a safe internal temp!
Looking for a yummy new Sheet Pan Dinner to try out these tips and tricks? Click here to see our Easy Sheet Pan Salmon Recipe. If you're looking for healthy meal plans on those days when you can't cook at home, choose Nutrition for Longevity!