Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
A warm plate of lightly caramelized chicken and vegetables – how good does that sound? This Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal is super flavorful, and you can cook an entire balanced meal on just one sheet pan.
Sheet Pan Meal Prep- Quick and Easy Clean-Up!
When it’s my turn to cook dinner for my family of four, I love making a sheet pan meal. I also love rotating a sheet pan meal into some of my weekly meal preps when I am cooking for just myself. Either way, this is an easy way to cook up a bunch of food with minimal clean-up afterwards.
Here is my key recommendation for making your next sheet pan meal a success: Prepare your vegetables and marinade ahead of time so you are ready to put together a quick meal later in the week. If you normally meal prep on the weekends for the busy week ahead, you can definitely add this task into your usual meal prep activities. You can even follow the whole recipe and cook a big batch on your meal prep day. Then, you can reheat leftovers for the following days. This may work a little better for smaller families or people living on their own.
No matter how you choose to meal prep (or not), you will absolutely love this Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal!
Creating the Perfect Sheet Pan Meal
Sheet pan meals are an excellent way to prepare a big meal using minimal dishes. Less dishes means these sheet pan meals will take a lot less time than the usual meal prep.
Step 1: Select a protein.
Choosing the protein that you want to cook first will help you determine the rest of the ingredients that you want to serve on the side.
If you eat meat, marinated chicken breast and lean cuts of beef are two good protein options. If you prefer plant-based eating, you can cook tofu with your other ingredients. Just remember, having adequate seasoning (via a marinade or rub) is very important to ensure that your food tastes as good as it is nutritious.
Step 2: Pick a starch.
Having a starch with your sheet pan meal is essential to keep you feeling full after you eat. Starches are complex carbohydrates, so they take a little longer for your body to break down than other simple carbohydrates. Eating these starches in combination with protein and fat causes your body to slow its digestion process.
Think of things like potatoes, brown rice, and oatmeal. All of these foods will fill you up and keep you from feeling hungry for a few hours.
Step 3: Choose your vegetables.
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (a.k.a. SAD) often focuses on the protein and starch components. But we are missing out on so many beneficial nutrients!
I love adding a few different types of vegetables in my sheet pan meals because they (1) add color, (2) add flavor, and (3) add many vitamins and minerals to my diet.
Sometimes I skip out on my vegetables because I don’t have the time to prepare them. If you also struggle with this, try using frozen vegetables. Defrost these veggies in the microwave for a few minutes, and then throw them on the sheet pan with any seasonings you like. The sheet pan is a great way to cook a lot of vegetables in a relatively short amount of time.
Choosing a Protein
Still looking for some help in deciding which protein to cook tonight?
Here’s 3 things to think about when choosing a protein for your sheet pan meal:
- What is the season/weather like? Are you escaping the heat or drinking hot tea with a warm blanket? This may sound a little out there, but I often consider the weather because it will influence whether I want something fresh and light, or rich and warm.
- Are there specific nutrients you want to focus on? Many people are told by doctors to get more iron in their diets. Animal-based proteins contain good amounts of iron that are absorbed better by the body than the iron in plant-based proteins. However, animal-based proteins are also higher in saturated fat. If you do have specific nutrients you are concerned about, a dietitian can help you figure out which foods may be the best for you to cook with.
- Will this protein satisfy your palate and the palates of those you are eating with? This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. If your food doesn’t taste good, then you won’t want to eat it, and it will go to waste. So choose the ingredients that you will love!
Salmon Sheet Pan Meal: For Those Hot Summer Days
I really enjoy cooking up some fish on a hot summer day. Salmon sheet pan meals can be the perfect meal for when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. Also, salmon is rich in heart healthy omega-3s – an added bonus!
Tofu Sheet Pan Meal: Cooking with Plant-Based Proteins
Let’s say you follow a plant-based diet. Tofu may be your best friend. You can definitely use tofu as the protein for your sheet pan meal.
The key to cooking tofu is draining it before you add any marinades. Press the tofu between some towels for 10-20 minutes, and then place the tofu pieces in a marinade. This will allow the tofu to absorb that flavorful liquid. Otherwise, it will probably be pretty boring.
Chicken Sheet Pan Meal: My Family’s Favorite Protein
Cooking for the whole family can be tricky when each family member has different tastes. In my family, chicken is the most liked protein among all of us.
Personally, I love chicken because it is a lean protein, which means it is better for my heart. But, any type of protein can be part of a healthy diet when you rotate different foods as your main sources of proteins. In other words, practice adding variety to your weekly meals.
Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
TOTAL TIME: 45 min Prep: 10 min Cook: 35 min
- Prepare the chicken by placing it in a gallon-sized plastic bag with ½ cup of marinade. Place bag in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 2 hours.
- Prepare the vegetables. Dice the sweet potato into 1-inch cubes. Chop the red onion in half, and then cut each half into quarters. Slice the carrots into ½-inch thick pieces.
- Place the vegetables in a large bowl or plastic bag and pour the second ½ cup of marinade over the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate for at least one half hour.
- While vegetables are marinating, preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Once ready to bake your sheet pan meal, line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Spread all the vegetables across the sheet pan in one even layer. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste over the top of the vegetables. Then, place the marinated chicken breasts evenly spaced on top of the vegetables.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. You will know your sheet pan meal is ready once the chicken is no longer pink and is at least 165ºF in its thickest part.
- Serve a big scoop of vegetables alongside ¼ of the chicken breasts for each person, and enjoy!
Want to make this delicious, nutritious recipe at home?
Click below to download a recipe card for this Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal recipe.