Sheet Pan Dinners For The Nights You Don't Feel Like Cooking

Look, we get it. Sometimes, any amount of cooking feels like way too much, especially after a busy or stressful day. Sometimes, the drawer of takeout menus (or your Seamless app) simply won't stop calling your name. But if on those nights you can muster even enough energy to dump a few ingredients onto a sheet pan and then place it in the oven, then there's hope yet for a wonderfully, delicious, and most of all easy homecooked meal. 

A sheet pan dinner is like the culinary equivalent of a little black dress in your recipe arsenal. It might look fancy and creative, but in reality, there's nothing easier to assemble and show off. These recipes see all of the elements of the meal assembled on one pan, though it's key that the oven does the rest of the work. While it bakes, seasonings and cooking juices of each of the individual ingredients mix and mingle on the pan, so all you really need, if anything, is some crusty bread to sop up any sauce made through the process. 

From sheet pan chicken or beef to nachos, fajitas, and everything in between, these recipes are sure to conquer your heart and your tastebuds alike. Better yet, they're perfectly suited for those nights you just don't feel like cooking.

Sheet pan surf and turf to make weeknights feel special

Surf and turf first rose to popularity in the 1960s, when pairing steak and lobster felt totally exotic and out of the ordinary for many diners. And while several decades later, a meal like surf and turf is no longer nearly as surprising, it's certainly still delicious. This recipe for sheet pan surf and turf dirties almost no dishes and manages to unite not only the steak and shrimp that form the cornerstones of the dish, but also asparagus and sweet potatoes that lend extra fiber, nutrients, and, of course, added flavor.

Speaking of which, this dish really kicks things up a notch with both steak seasoning and Cajun seasoning, bringing loads of flavor to the finished dish. The result is an easy, delicious, and downright beautiful sheet pan dinner that's sure to impress your dinner guests or your family.

One-pan nachos perfect for a party

A sheet pan may well be the perfect tool upon which to assemble nachos. Consider the fact that, with the pan's large, thin surface that provides plenty of space for everything to mingle, you will never end up with an unadorned chip! 

In this recipe for sheet pan nachos, the corn tortilla chips are topped with veggies, chiles, olives, seasoned beef, and two kinds of cheese before taking a trip through the oven. They emerge crispy and gooey, making the perfect appetizer to serve to a crowd. Finish things off with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole for dipping — you even can add the bowls straight to the sheet pan for some restaurant-style visual appeal — and your party will be off to a phenomenal start.

Sheet pan chicken fajitas in 30 minutes or less

If you're craving Mexican food on a night when you're too frazzled to spend much time making dinner, don't order out — just dig into these sheet pan chicken fajitas instead! This recipe combines chicken breasts with sweet bell peppers and onions, all sliced into thin, even strips for quick and easy cooking. Seasoned with spices and baked in the oven, they emerge caramelized and ready to pile onto cooked white rice or fold into warmed tortillas. 

If you have even five minutes of extra time, homemade guacamole makes the perfect finishing touch. If not, a squeeze of lime will do nicely, too. Depending on your inclination and energy, you can also dress these fajitas up or down as the mood strikes you.

Simple, delicious sheet pan chicken and veggies

You have to admit that chicken breasts are pretty plain in flavor at the outset, but don't for a minute think that they're boring! In reality, chicken breasts are the ideal canvas on which to work in order to create some seriously delightful seasoning magic. 

In this sheet pan chicken recipe, chicken breasts are seasoned with oregano, garlic, and onion and tossed with broccoli and carrots for added color and nutritional value. Drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, the combo of meat and two veggies emerges perfectly cooked after just 25 minutes in the oven. Top this chicken with pomegranate fruits (also known as arils), lemon zest, or a combo of the two for a special finishing flourish and bright pop of color.

Mustard and chicken are the perfect sheet pan pair

For a slightly different play on a chicken sheet pan dinner, this one-pan recipe for mustard chicken veggie bake pairs chicken with sweet potatoes, bacon, and a homemade honey mustard sauce. The honey caramelizes just slightly in the oven, giving the chicken a beautiful golden hue. Meanwhile, the sweetness of the sauce is the ideal foil for a secret seasoning ingredient with real savory, salty power: bacon. 

That's right! Diced turkey bacon joins the veggies in this dish, lending saltiness, smokiness, and just the right amount of fat to help it all crisp up and caramelize in the oven. The resulting dish is nutrient-dense, delicious, and ready to eat in just half an hour. What more could you ask for?

Oven-baked ribs for no-fuss fun

Barbecue ribs are usually made on the grill, but with this sheet pan rib recipe, you can replicate almost all of the rich flavor of smoked ribs in your oven without ever having to manage charcoal or firing up a gas grill. To make it, spare ribs (also known as St. Louis-style ribs) are rubbed with a spicy dry rub and then slow-cooked in the oven to tender perfection. Basted with a sweet barbecue sauce, the ribs emerge richly flavored and fall-apart tender. No one will ever guess you made them on a sheet pan!

While you can certainly make your own spice rub and sauce for this recipe, it's even easier when you opt for the high-quality store-bought stuff, which will cut the active time of the recipe down to barely five minutes.

Buffalo wings without chicken or a fryer

Buffalo wings without chicken or a deep fryer? Yep, it's possible with this vegan Buffalo wing recipe, where cauliflower florets stand in for the more traditional Buffalo chicken wings. Not only are they naturally plant-based, but they're also naturally boneless too!

To make this sheet pan dinner, cauliflower florets are tossed in a seasoned batter, which can easily be made gluten-free if you prefer by opting for almond flour. Baked until crisp, these "wings" are then drizzled with spicy Buffalo sauce. Serve them with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping, or simply enjoy them all on their own, as the buttery Buffalo sauce is more than delicious enough!