One-Pan Wonders: From Pantry to Plate in 30 Minutes or Less

Updated on September 22, 2018
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

We've All Been There

Last week in my Monday Question-and-Answer series, I received a request from Rochelle. She said that she loves to cook, but sometimes needs a quick fix meal that doesn't take a lot of time (or dirties a lot of dishes).

I know exactly what she means. I love to cook too (as you well know), but sometimes reality has to overrule the desires of the heart.

Here are a few recipes that I believe will fit the bill. Just add a tossed salad and you'll have a balanced complete meal for a family of 4 in 30 minutes or less. I reviewed these carefully; any dish that required cooking pasta or rice in a separate pot, unusual or hard-to-find ingredients, or went over the 30-minute mark were disqualified.

Recipes In This Article

One-Pot Chicken or Beef

  • Chili Macaroni Casserole (25 min.)
  • One-Pot Beef Mushroom Stroganoff (30 min.)
  • Spanish Chicken and Rice (30 min.)
  • One Pan Spicy Sausage Pasta (25 min.)
  • Easy Skillet Lasagna (30 min.)
  • One Pot Creamy Tuna and Shells (30 min.)

One-Pot Vegetarian

  • Shakshuka (25 min.)
  • One Pot Mushroom-Spinach-Artichoke Pasta (25 min.)
  • One Pan Mexican Quinoa (25 min.)
  • Kale and Feta One-Pot Pasta (25 min.)
  • One Pan Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi (20 min.)

Sheet Pan Recipes

  • Baked Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables (30 min.)
  • Roasted Lemon-Butter-Garlic Shrimp (15 min.)
  • One Pan Greek Chicken Veggies (20 min.)
  • One Pan Barbecue Smoked Sausage Dinner (20 min.)
  • Chili-Lime Salmon (15 min.)
  • Sheet Pan Chicken and Black Bean Nachos (30 min.)
  • Petite Meatloaf Dinner (30 min.)

One-Pot Chicken/Beef

Chili-Macaroni Casserole

To make this chili-macaroni skillet, ground beef (or turkey or chicken) is sauteed and then beans, macaroni, broth, tomato, and spices are added. It all simmers together until the pasta is cooked. I made something very similar to this when my kids were growing up, but I already had on hand home-made chili. Chili-Mac-N-Cheese was their favorite meal (actually, it still is).

One thing I like to add to this is crushed tortilla chips. You probably have some in your pantry. Not actually "crushed", but the remnants at the bottom of the bag that no one wants (because they aren't big enough to 'dip a chip'). Toss those in too. They'll add a little more taste and texture.

One Pot Beef-Mushroom Stroganoff

There's no need to buy Helper-In-A-Box when you have this recipe. In just 30 minutes you will have a comforting stroganoff for your family of 4, and everything simmers together in one pot.

Hamburger stroganoff is another one of those meals that was easy to put together when we picked up the kids at daycare, dashed home, and everyone was starving. It's total comfort food, and making it this way (instead of 'from the box') is a healthier way to go. No preservatives or additives. Just your own ingredients.

Spanish Chicken and Rice

From start to finish this Spanish chicken and rice dish takes only 30 minutes. If you have some leftover rotisserie chicken (or leftover diced turkey), you can make it in just 25 minutes.

I have not tried this recipe yet, but my family loves Spanish rice. And a good friend saw this and suggested that by adding a bit of cooked sausage or some seafood (shrimp?) this could almost be like paella.

One Pan Spicy Sausage Pasta

Kevin and Amanda's spicy sausage pasta is flavorful and creamy. Their recipe is adapted from one published by America's Test Kitchen and less than 25 minutes from start to finish. (Be sure to check out the amazing step-by-step photographs.)

Easy Skillet Lasagna

Yes, I know that this isn't "authentic" lasagna. Don't shoot the messenger. I love to make layered lasagna in a deep dish with simmered-for-hours sauces, but sometimes there just isn't time. That's when this easy skillet lasagna by House of Yumm comes in handy.

The Carb Diva family has tried this dish. True, this isn't "lasagna for company." No lovely layers, no separately cooked pasta, no long-simmered sauce, but seriously folks, do you really need all of that fuss? This tastes like lasagna.

One Pot Creamy Tuna and Shells

This recipe is not Tuna-Helper-in-a-Box, and it's not your mom's tuna casserole with cream of mushroom soup. It's rich and creamy, cook in one pot, and ready in under 30 minutes.

I haven't tried this dish yet, but it is certainly in the rotation. I think the one thing that most people hate about the "traditional" tuna casserole is the cream-of-clump soup. This dish guides you through making your own sauce, and the pasta simmers within. No separate pot, draining, folding in the ingredients. It all happens like magic!

One-Pot Vegetarian


There are several versions of this dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. In Mexico it's Huevos Rancheros; in Italy, it's Eggs in Purgatory. And in North Africa (and most of the Middle East) Shakshuka.

J. Kenji López-Alt gives us his amazing recipe and demonstration in the following video. If you have never heard of Kenji, please allow me to boast about him.

He is the chief culinary consultant of Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award–nominated column The Food Lab, in which he unravels the science of home cooking. A restaurant-trained chef and former editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine. He knows food.

One Pot Mushroom-Spinach-Artichoke Pasta

Who could believe that something that looks this creamy and delicious could actually be cooked in one pot? Chungah is one of my favorite food bloggers. Once you try this dish, I think she will be your favorite too.

Chungah is another cook on whom I rely for carefully executed foods. Her flavors, techniques, and products are spot-on. My only regret is that she is not my next door neighbor. I would LOVE to be in her kitchen. I have not cooked this dish (yet), but I am confident that it is stellar.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This vegan one-pot meal is crammed full of protein. Quinoa and black beans make this dish hearty and healthy. The corn adds color and a hint of sweetness. Red onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes provide a rainbow of color.

In the Carb Diva family we've lately been on a quinoa "thing". It's just so good for you! A total protein that is easy to find, easy to fix, and adaptable to just about any flavor profile. It's a perfect platform for just about any ethnic taste.

Kale and Feta One-Pot Pasta

This kale and feta one-pot pasta was created by Katerina Petrovska for her blog Diethood. Yes, she makes kale taste good.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 to 8 cups packed fresh kale leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4-1/2 cups water
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 package (12-ounces) Fettuccine Pasta
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2- cup crumbled feta cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a stockpot.
  2. Add kale leaves and salt; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; add water, halved tomatoes, pasta, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cook over high heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 13 to 15 minutes, or until pasta is thoroughly cooked and water reduced. Stir occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and let stand 2 minutes.
  7. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  8. Stir in crumbled feta cheese.
  9. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  10. Serve immediately.

One Pan Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi

Gnocchi is usually served with red sauce or browned butter and sage. Here's a different spin with a rich, creamy mushroom sauce and, believe it or not, you don't have to cook the gnocchi in a separate pan. Ten minutes of prep time, 20 minutes cooking, and dinner is ready!

My family enjoyed this dish recently and it was wonderful! But I have a few suggestions to offer:

  • I'm not sure what is meant by Italian seasoning. I used 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (leaves, not ground)
  • One full cup of whipping cream is luxurious but is too laden with guilt for me to be able to enjoy. I used 1/2 cup whipping cream plus 1/2 cup half-and-half.
  • And I omitted the Dijon mustard.

Sheet Pan Meals

Sheet Pan Baked Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables

I went to one of my favorite food websites, CookingLight, for ideas on sheet-pan cooking. They have a wonderful meal of tilapia and vegetables, all roasted on a sheet pan and ready in 30 minutes.

If you don't like fish because it tastes "fishy" you might want to give tilapia a try. It is mild in taste, inexpensive and easy to find at your local grocery store.

Roasted Lemon-Butter-Garlic Shrimp

I'm pretty sure that Jen of CarlsbadCravings is my spirit animal. Here's what she says in the introduction to her food blog: "Some people escape in dreams of sandy beaches and sunny skies, I escape in dreams of mangoes, chipotle peppers, and bacon."

Her lemon-shrimp with asparagus is so quick to fix it could be a weeknight meal but is pretty enough to serve for company.

One Pan Greek Chicken Veggies

This sheet pan meal of chicken and veggies is a rainbow of color. Just whip up some tzatziki sauce (the recipe is posted on the link) and use to fill pita pockets or (like me) simply serve on top of a bed of arugula. It's a satisfying, low-fat, budget-conscious meal, perfect for a warm summer evening.

One Pan Barbecue Smoked Sausage Dinner

Dee is a mom of 5, wife, food photographer, chief cook, and the creator of the food blog MeatloafAndMelodrama. She has found the perfect foil for getting even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy dinner—her secret weapon is barbecue sauce, and she uses it in this one pan dinner of kielbasa, potatoes, and broccoli. Yes, she can even get her little ones to eat their broccoli.

The best potato to use in this dish is the Yukon gold. It roasts up crispy on the outside and buttery-tender on the inside.

Chili-Lime Salmon

Karina is the author of CafeDelites and in her 'about me' says that she likes to create waistline-friendly recipes that are full of flavor. Life is too short for bland and boring.

I agree, and her sheet pan salmon with colorful, crunchy bell peppers certainly delivers on both flavor and low calorie. If you can, purchase wild Pacific salmon rather than Atlantic farmed salmon. It is more flavorful and higher in Omega-3's.

Sheet Pan Chicken and Black Bean Nachos

I've yet to meet the person who doesn't love nachos, but you don't have to go to the neighborhood pub to get them. Maegan (TheBakerMama) makes a sheet-pan of nachos large enough for a crowd (or a couple of teenagers).

My family has enjoyed this recipe several times. If you want to add some meat you could add some leftover rotisserie chicken, beef from a roast, or even pulled pork. Go crazy. Remember, nachos isn't a recipe. It's a "concept". Use what you have, pull out the leftovers from the frig, and have a good time. (And, everything's better with cheese, right?).

Petite Meatloaf Dinner

Cooking Light has been in business since 1987. Sadly, I learned just today that they will soon disappear from newsstands. Theirs is the one cooking periodical that never disappoints—the one in which page after page after page is folded or marked with a sticky note so that I will go back and try the recipe.

I'll miss their beautiful photographs, the excellent writing of experienced cooks, and wonderful, healthy yet tasty recipes such as this one for individual meatloaves baked on a sheet pan with carrots and green beans. Each meatloaf is perfect for one serving, and the veggies come out tender-crisp, caramelized, and full of flavor.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Lum


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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Shauna, that sounds wonderful. Anything that helps us to eat healthily and doesn't require hours over the stove every night is a good thing in my book. I hope you enjoy them.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        Once again, I've printed off several of these recipes. I can't wait to try them! Since I pretty much cook for myself, these one pan or one sheet recipes are ideal. I can have yummy, healthy dinners with enough left over for lunch through the week and not spend hours in the kitchen.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        5 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Peg, what a small world. My daughter and I are making the chili mac for tonight's dinner.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Oh my, these photos are making me so hungry. I love one-pan dishes and will be trying several of these that you shared here. Chili mac is my favorite of the moment, but the tilapia sounds delightful, too. Who am I kidding? They all are mouth-watering.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish, "easy-peasy, lemon squeezy" is my motto. As I said in the intro, I love to cook, but sometimes a gal has to do what a gals got to do. I hope some of these help you with the chaos.

        Thanks my friend!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        8 months ago from USA

        I’m ready to try that gnocchi recipe! Great ideas here, Linda. Convenience is the name of the game these days for me with lots of volunteering activities at my daughter’s school taking up so much time. Thank you for this!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Rochelle, invite me over and I'll eat any of these. Mom didn't raise a picky eater. Two important keys to success of the sheet pan recipes is (1) yes, the ingredients need to cook at the same time and (2) cut the elements the same size--big chunks of carrot and small chunks of carrot won't get done at the same time. Thanks so much for commenting.

        By the way, if there is any other topic you'd like me to address please let me know.

      • Rochelle Frank profile image

        Rochelle Frank 

        8 months ago from California Gold Country

        These all look delicious to me, though my husband is not a fan of "everything mixed together". The sheet pan recipes are intriguing, looks like thee key here is choosing the right ingredients that have the same cooking time.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Thanks Shizette. I hope you find something here that you will enjoy.

      • profile image


        8 months ago

        looks delicious!!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Mary, that's great to hear! I would love to know which one(s) you try. I don't mind spending time in the kitchen when we are in the midst of winter (i.e. NOW), but when the garden calls to me, I'll want to have these at the ready.

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        8 months ago from Brazil

        You must be a mind reader, I've been looking for recipes to get me out of the kitchen sooner. I can see me trying several of these.


      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        8 months ago from Ohio

        That looks so good! :)

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Love ya Linda Diva.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Kari, I've got my eye on that pan of gnocchi. Thanks so much for your kind words and support.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Brian, you just taught me something. I've never heard of the Kevo diet. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find some of these recipes useful.

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        8 months ago from Ohio

        Mmmm, I can't decide which to try first! Thanks for all these luscious recipes. :)

      • B. Leekley profile image

        Brian Leekley 

        8 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

        My wife is on an energy from fats instead of carbs kevo diet, and she is getting me somewhat used to that way of eating. A few of the recipes in this hub look like they could be adapted, such as by leaving out potatoes, or may be kevo as is. I'm saving them for future exploration.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Good morning Haley. If you try any of these I'd appreciate feedback. I always try to find recipes that will be easy to achieve, with simple ingredients and not too many steps.

      • Haleykieser profile image

        Haley Kieser 

        8 months ago from Arizona

        These look delicious!!!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, I love paella, but haven't made it in ages. That sounds awfully good on a cold winter day. Now, you're thinking like a cook and not just someone making food. Good for you!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        8 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Oh Bill you old softy! So glad to hear from you. And, I am SOOO ready for Spring.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Too very cool. I will go after the Lasagna and make a Paella with the Spanish rice dish - no peas thank you. Once again it is a culinary home run, Muchas Gracias me amiga.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        8 months ago from Olympia, WA

        You must be wearing me down with persistence. I would eat almost all of these recipes.

        Snow coming...gotta run! Have a great Tuesday!


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