14 Sheet Pan Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

Are you a fancy kitchen gadget type, or do you have to rifle through cupboards and improvise with limited supplies? Either way, one piece of cookware you've probably got at hand is a sheet pan. It's not as deep as a roasting tray, so you may mainly use it as a flat surface under another dish when you cook. Or perhaps it's only popped under another baked dish to catch any spills before they hit your oven.

Have you ever used it to cook anything on its own? If not, then that could be because you're not realizing its real value. Add a wire rack on top and you can make grease-free sheet pan fried chicken, for starters. Did you know that when it comes to cooking well-known dishes for a crowd, the sheet pan can be your best culinary friend? Check out some interesting sheet pan hacks you'll wish you knew sooner.

1. Make fried eggs in the oven

Sheet pan-fried eggs are a genius idea if you're cooking breakfast for a hungry bunch. They free up space on the stove for frying bacon and links or making French toast. And there's no hot fat spitting up as you try to splash it over the egg whites — so that they are cooked while the yolks are still soft — before you serve them sunny-side up. Grease a sheet pan and put it in a preheated oven. Crack twelve eggs in a bowl or jug that's got a spout. Take the tray out and gently pour the eggs in, without breaking the yolks. Season and bake for five minutes at 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve slices of egg with a couple of yolks per person. Preheating the oiled pan before adding the eggs is a vital step. It ensures that they won't overcook and undercook in different places. You want the whites to set and the yolks to still be runny. 

You can also make a frittata-style brunch dish by whisking eggs and milk. Add Italian seasoning and whatever veggies you like. Mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and green onions are delicious. Sprinkle on grated cheese and bake in the oven. Serve squares of the egg on breakfast muffins. For extra taste, cook chopped-up bacon on a sheet pan before adding the beaten eggs and milk. The eggs cook in the fat from the bacon, and you get salty, crunchy bits in the mix, too. 

2. Bake and serve nachos

Out of the many sheet pan hacks you'll wish you knew sooner, sheet pan chicken nachos rate pretty highly. Nachos are a simple yet outrageously moreish dig-in, free-for-all sharing dish. Being able to cook and serve this Mexican snack in one flat dish creates the perfect layout for scooping up a little bit of everything on a tortilla chip. Put foil down on your sheet pan and there's no extra cleaning time, either. Cover with tortilla chips. You know that often store-bought rotisserie chicken tastes better than homemade, so shred it and scatter it over the chips. Add black beans and shredded cheese. Heat so that the cheese melts and the meat is hot. Top with salsa ingredients – diced tomatoes, red onion, and jalapeño slices – and sour cream  Finish with cilantro and serve in the pan. 

Another option is to cook ground meat with taco seasoning and add it to chips on a sheet pan with shredded cheese on top. On a separate tray, make a cheesy dip with diced tomatoes with chili, a Southwest corn mix, queso blanco, and a spicy queso dip. Bake in the oven, pour onto the loaded tortilla chips, and serve. For a no-bake recipe, add chips to your sheet pan and little dip bowls spaced out for sour cream, guac, salsa, and cheese. Add fried ground meat, cheese sauce, and toppings such as jalapeños, corn, olives, and tomatoes. 

3. Make one pancake for a hot stack

Even for a leisurely weekend brunch, flipping pancakes is a chore. And the more you flip, the colder the first ones get. Make mornings easier with sheet pan pancakes. Spray a baking tray with non-stick spray, add pancake batter, and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Pick up the sheet pan and tilt it in different directions to evenly distribute the batter before baking. Giving it a little bang settles the mixture and gets rid of air bubbles. Scatter blueberries on top of the batter so they are visible when baked. Dust with powdered sugar to serve, and if your sheet pancake isn't too thick, you can serve a whole stack of squares with butter, berries, and maple syrup.

To take this to the next level: Add chocolate chips on top of the batter in a quarter area of the pan, with blueberries in another. Add banana slices across the third quarter and finally raspberries dotted on the last one. Scatter a seed mix on top of the whole of the surface to add crunch. Combine a sheet pan pancake with fried eggs. Crack eggs onto the sheet pan and cover each one or a couple together with an ovenproof bowl. Pour the batter around these and bake. 

4. Layer tortillas to make a quesadilla

You're going to love this sheet pan quesadilla hack so much that it's going to become a go-to recipe. It's the ultimate crowd-pleasing Mexican dish to share and it's beyond easy to prep. Grease a sheet pan and overlap six tortillas. The ends should be hanging out beyond the pan. Add a tortilla in the middle. Cover the bottom with shredded cheese and top with salsa, beans, black olives, and green chilis. Fold the tortillas over and add three more across the top. Bake the parcel and serve slices with a dollop of sour cream. 

There are variations on this theme, so create a customized giant quesadilla. For example, lay down eight flour tortillas and add three more along the center. Fill with refried beans, fried ground meat with taco seasoning, canned green chilis, and different types of shredded cheese. Fold in the tortillas at the sheet pan ends, and add two more tortillas. Fold the remaining ones in and over and brush with melted butter. Weigh down with another sheet pan to bake, removing this for the last five minutes of cooking time to brown the top. Cut with a pizza wheel and serve the quesadilla rectangles with sour cream and guacamole on top, and a salsa dip on the side. 

5. Serve salad in a sheet pan

The best ideas are often the simplest. And it doesn't get any more basic than serving salad on a sheet pan. When serving salad in a bowl, most of the toppings are either scooped off in the first couple of servings or they will fall to languish in the dressing at the bottom. This is where a sheet pan comes in. Lay out the salad on the tray so that everything is evenly distributed and use tongs to serve. Why not try this with a pomegranate chicken salad so that each serving includes meat, crumbles of feta cheese, and fruit seeds?

If you love a simple Caesar salad, serving it on a sheet pan will stop the croutons from turning mushy under dressing-laden lettuce leaves and grated Parmesan. By the way, you can also drizzle any dressing or vinaigrette to the salad on the sheet pan, as it's easier to toss this way. Another plus is that everyone can reach a sheet pan in the middle of the table or at a buffet, and it looks pretty. What about roasting vegetables to make a hot sheet pan salad and adding lettuce, then serving it with a creamy dressing? 

6. Make sliders the easy way

Sliders are supposed to be easy-style cooking for a crowd rather than a high-end culinary experience. However, unless you've got a diner-sized griddle, you might appreciate one of the best sheet pan hacks. Have you guessed it yet? That's right, sheet pan sliders. To make burgers, add raw ground beef to a sheet pan and season. Use your hands to mix in ground bacon and press the mixture down so that it covers the sheet pan in an even layer. Add a final flourish of black pepper and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Top with individual slices of cheese, covering all of the meat. Cut into squares so that each burger has a slice of the now-melted cheese on top. 

You can add more flavor and change the consistency of the slider, too. Before adding ground beef to a sheet pan, mix in egg, bread crumbs, garlic, and barbecue sauce, and a little salt. Press it down on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan and bake in the oven. Add cheese slices and pop the tray back in the heat for a couple more minutes. Slice and serve on little buns for a bite-sized party snack.

7. Create a whole meal on one sheet pan

Avoid being left with a pile of skillets, saucepans, and baking trays after cooking a delicious dish. Save time, washing up, and energy with an all-in-one sheet pan meal. They look wonderful too, with vibrant colors, and are perfect for easy dinners to share. Even better, you can create your own recipes depending on whatever you've got in the fridge. Cover the ingredients with oil and season, and remember to cut whatever is going to take the longest to cook into smaller pieces so everything is ready at the same time. 

Looking for inspiration? What about a sheet-pan Italian sausage dinner? Coat bell peppers and onions in olive oil, then season with oregano, basil, onion powder, and garlic powder. Add to a sheet pan and pour canned fire-roasted tomatoes over the top. Next, add the uncooked sausages. Cook for 45 minutes at 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and turn the links over once. Sheet-pan chicken and kale is also an incredible meal. Bake bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs with baby potatoes and red bell pepper in a garlic, lemon, and Italian herb marinade. Add the greenery for the last five minutes so it crisps up. For a special dinner, try an easy sheet pan surf and turf recipe with tail-on shrimp, New York strip steaks, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. Who knew sheet-pan meals could be gourmet, too?

8. Save time making meatloaf

The key to how you usually cook meatloaf is in the name. You bake this all-American classic in a loaf tin or a deep ovenproof dish and serve it in slices with sides like mashed potato. However, because the ground beef is densely packed in, it takes around an hour to cook. With a simple hack, you can take a cooking shortcut and rustle up dinner in around half the time. Guess what you need to start with? You got it, a sheet pan. 

Make sheet-pan meatloaf by using lean ground beef. The result won't be greasy and it won't shrink down as much, either. Bake with a topping of ketchup, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar, and serve meatloaf squares as you like. It's great with salad on the side, too. Try making meatloaf with beef and a veggie mixture so that the ingredients caramelize. Instead of creating a flat layer, you can fashion a raised loaf, without the tin, directly on the tray. To stop the sauce from dripping off, make an indentation on the top and pour it in here. Brush it on the sides of the meatloaf, too. Form a sheet-pan loaf with a classic meatloaf recipe with a twist. Add Parmesan, salsa, and pesto into the meaty mix for a different flavor. Cover with tomato ketchup and pesto sauce. 

9. Bang the sheet pan when making cookies

There's something so rewarding about the simple act of baking homemade cookies. If you love a cookie that's lovely and crisp on the edges and softer in the middle, then you need a simple hack. When the dough is baking, lift a corner of the sheet pan a few inches and let it bang back down. Repeat this step several times so that the middles drop down and create textured circles throughout. You can also bang the sheet pan on the counter before baking. Either way, to create a crisper cookie edge, use white sugar in place of brown and melted butter rather than oil. For a chewier cookie, use brown sugar and add extra egg yolks for a richer, looser dough. 

Banging a sheet pan with cookie dough will move the mixture to create a rippled effect and that soft and chewy texture, with some crunchy edges, too. If you're baking chocolate chip cookies, add a few flakes of sea salt on top when they come out of the oven for salted choccy yumminess. 

10. Bake a slab pie for a crowd

There are so many delicious savory pie recipes to choose from, and plenty of sweet ones, too. Deep fillings can be wonderful, but one pie isn't going to give that many servings. To create more, turn a traditional pie into a thinner pie that you can dish out in squares. Turn a round pie into a rectangular slab pie instead. Use a sheet pan to create a pie with pastry underneath, like a tart or a flan.

You can add a crust on top too, and you might need around three times the amount of dough you would make for a regular pie — if you are using a half-sheet pan, for example. You'll also need around double the amount of filling. Bake the bottom crust blind if you want it crispy like the top, and cover the pie with foil if it's browning on top but not cooked yet. After it's been in the oven for half an hour, keep an eye on it, as the baking time will vary. 

11. Roast veggies in a preheated sheet pan

Make cleaning up easier by lining a sheet pan with throwaway parchment paper or foil for roasted vegetables. A great hack for even roasting, so the veggies caramelize beautifully, is to heat your sheet pan beforehand. Leave it in there for around ten minutes. You want the veg to cook as soon as they hit the tray. If there isn't enough immediate heat then they could start to release more steam and turn a little mushy. This is a must-do for vegetables with a lot of moisture in them such as potatoes and onions. 

Prep your veg by tossing it in olive oil and seasonings while the sheet pan is heating up. When you add them to the sheet pan you should hear the sound of them hitting the heat. Because they are cooking on all sides rather than touching a cool sheet pan, the veg will roast evenly. And there's no need to turn the veg over halfway through cooking. They will also crisp up rather than dry out as they cook all the way through until they are tender. 

12. Bake bacon twists

A collection of sheet pan hacks you'll wish you knew sooner has to include one with bacon, right? Hold each end of a slice of bacon and stretch it out.  Twist it around to create a corkscrew effect and do this fairly tightly. Repeat with other slices and lay the bacon twists down on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment paper. If the twists don't keep their shape, you may need to twist them around a little more. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. The twists make great crispy party snacks served with a dip. 

Experiment with different seasonings to create spicy, herby, smoky twists, or keep these plain for breakfast. When adding bacon twists to your sheet pan, don't leave too much space between them. That way they will keep their shape. You can also cook the twists on a wire rack over a lined sheet pan without turning them over.

13. Bake flat and crispy bacon

Love crispy bacon slices, as opposed to twists? Want to cook more than a skillet at the same time? Grab that lined sheet pan again, add slices (making sure they don't overlap), and bake them in the oven. To make sure the bacon stays flat, and frazzles everywhere, add foil or parchment paper not only under the slices, but on top of them. Then add a second sheet pan on top to press the bacon down. By lining under and above the bacon, there's less cleanup of either of the sheet pans, too. 

Elevate the taste of bacon cooked in the oven with a crispy brown sugar bacon recipe. Use thin slices and bake in the sheet pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes so that they start to color and crisp up. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of each slice and set back in the oven. This time, turn the grill setting on full power rather than the oven. The sugar will caramelize in a minute, literally. 

14. Start the day with sheet pan French toast

There are some fabulous tips to make French toast even more fabulous. If you're cooking for a full table at brunch, then aside from tasting good, you need a cooking hack, too. Forget a skillet that limits how much you can make. Make up the French toast mixture and dunk bread slices in it so that they are completely coated. Heat a sheet pan in the oven with some oil and add the eggy bread. Sprinkle on a little sugar and bake. Flip the pieces halfway through.

You can also simply add the egg-soaked slices to a greased sheet pan. And if you're making French toast with thick slices from challah, then this method means you can cook a lot more at once. Make brioche French toast for a sweet-tasting dish by whisking eggs and whole milk together. Instead of frying, add to your sheet pan and finish with a cinnamon-sugar mix.