If you hate doing dishes but love simple weeknight meals with a ton of flavor, this Sheet Pan Spiced Roast Chicken, Cauliflower & Grapes is a mouthful, but will see you right this week!
It honestly took me a while to come around to the whole sheet pan dinner thing, because I’m a wee bit of a control freak in the kitchen. I’d usually rather manage an extra pan or two if it means that everything gets cooked the way I like it.
But this sheet pan spiced roast chicken recipe has the best of both worlds. Everything gets cooked just-so – the cauliflower is charred at the edges but not soggy in the middle, the chicken is tender and juicy and the pops of lightly sweet & caramelized grapes might be my new favorite thing.
And yet… it’s all done in one pan. So what’s the sorcery going on with this sheet pan spiced roast chicken, then? (And, yes, it really does all fit onto one sheet pan! You’ll want one like this, they’re my inexpensive favorite.)
There are a couple of little tricks and tweaks that make this work. First, the cauliflower and grapes get a headstart in a blistering 450F oven, which gives them time to practically candy themselves in their fragrant seasoning blend of garlic, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. Secondly, the boneless skinless chicken thighs get snipped in half, so that the smaller-than-usual pieces cook in a mere 10 minutes.
It might seem like there’s a cauliflower overload going on, but those sneaky vegetables do cook down a fair bit in a hot oven, which is the other advantage of giving them an early intro to the heat. After their first 15 minute visit, the cauliflower florets cook down enough that the chicken thigh pieces will fit onto the tray just fine, even though that would not have been possible earlier!
This sheet pan spiced roast chicken was also a surprise sleeper hit in my house. I love me some heavily seasoned & spiced dishes, but my husband isn’t usually so keen. He’s also not usually fond of fruit mixed with meat… and yet he raved about this dish and loved the roasted grapes. Go figure!
I think I may be on the road to becoming a sheet pan dinner convert. What are your favorite sheet pan recipes for a speedy weeknight dinner?
- 2 small heads of cauliflower, about 3 lbs / 1.3 kg total, to yield about 2 lbs / 900 g florets
- 2 cups / 300 g medium red or black grapes
- 4 tbsp / 60 ml avocado oil or olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp / 9 g granulated garlic
- 2 tsp / 1 g dried cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp / 2 g ground ginger
- 1 tsp / 2 g ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp / 7 g salt, divided
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, to total 1 ½ lbs / 680 g
- Small handful of fresh mint leaves, to garnish
- Lemon wedges, to garnish
- CHOP: Preheat the oven to 450F and set out a half sheet pan, no need to line it with parchment or foil. Chop the cauliflower into florets, cutting those in half or even quarters if they are especially large, so that you have evenly bite-sized pieces. Pick over the grapes and make sure none have parts of their stems left attached.
- SEASON: Use a teaspoon or so of the oil to grease the surface of the baking sheet, then pile on the chopped cauliflower and whole grapes. Drizzle the sheet pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Mix together the garlic, cilantro, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon in a small bowl until combined. Sprinkle the cauliflower and grapes with about half of the seasoning blend and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Toss or stir everything together until the cauliflower and grapes are evenly coated in the seasoning blend and oil. (I’ll admit, I usually wear gloves for this one, because turmeric stains everything!)
- ROAST: Place the sheet pan in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 15 minutes. While the cauliflower and grapes are roasting, prep & marinate the chicken.
- MARINADE: Use kitchen shears to cut the chicken thighs in half through the middle, so that each thigh makes 2 even sized pieces. Trim off any large pieces of fat, skin or any odd bits of membrane that might still be attached. Combine the rest of the oil, the leftover seasoning blend and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt in a bowl, then add the chicken and stir to coat evenly in the marinade.
- FINISH: Remove the sheet pan from the oven and use a spatula to flip and turn over the cauliflower florets. Nestle the marinated chicken in among the roasted cauliflower and grapes, then return the sheet pan to the oven and cook until the chicken is done and the edges of the cauliflower are just beginning to char, about 10 minutes. (No, it doesn't sound like enough time, but remember that your chicken pieces are only 3 oz / 85 g a piece & going into a pretty hot oven, so they'll cook up quicker than you think.)
- GARNISH: Roughly tear or chop the mint leaves and scatter them over the chicken, along with a squeeze of fresh lemon just before serving.
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