The Cooking Shortcut Giada De Laurentiis Can Always Get Behind

We all love a good cooking shortcut to make our favorite dishes faster and easier. Whether it's a way to speed up complex processes, or a simplified version of a classic recipe, anything that makes dinner less labor-intensive on a busy weeknight is a win. And Giada De Laurentiis is no exception.

The Italian chef, cookbook author, and television personality knows how to knock up a great classic lasagna. But it's also time-consuming, involves several stages of prep, and requires different components to make up the finished dish, which includes 24 separate ingredients for just the two sauces.

De Laurentiis' game-changing recipe for crispy lasagna cooked on a sheet pan, however, was a viral sensation — and with good reason. Taking just 10 minutes of prep time, the sheet pan method doesn't involve any time-consuming layering, and can also be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated until you're ready to cook it. Plus, if you're a fan of crispy lasagna edges, it's a match made in heaven since you get some in every single bite. But De Laurentiis uses sheet pans for more than just lasagna. Whether it's crispy parmesan potatoes or roasted broccoli for a salad, De Laurentiis knows that a sheet pan can be the perfect shortcut for busy weeknights.

Sheet pans make short work of pasta

Sheet pan recipes are nothing new, of course. They're quick and simple — and make clean-up so much easier. But there's no doubt that Giada De Laurentiis' sheet pan lasagna technique has especially excited the public imagination. 

De Laurentiis's recipe features the classic elements of the Italian dish, including ricotta cheese, spinach, spicy Italian sausage, onion, marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan. She uses cut-up sheets of lasagna, which she boils for four minutes in salted water, and prepares the meat sauce separately, then mixes it all together in a bowl with mozzarella and parmesan before spreading it all out on a prepared sheet pan. Then she dollops a mixture of ricotta and spinach across the pan, tops it with more cheese, and bakes it for half an hour until golden and bubbling.

Tons of pasta dishes can be made that much easier with a sheet pan. Similar to De Laurentiis' lasagna method, making mac and cheese on a sheet pan and topping it with bread crumbs ensures every layer is crispy and crunchy. Make life even easier by using leftovers at the same time — grab some roast chicken from last night's dinner, and mix it with some al dente pasta, kale, and sliced tomatoes. Next, toss everything with some sour cream, Dijon, and cheese, and then bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about six minutes. 

Think like Giada De Laurentiis and experiment

Giada De Laurentiis' sheet pan lasagna recipe went viral, but it's not the first time she has shared some inspirational tips for quick, easy, sheet pan meals. Her sheet pan parmesan shrimp and veggies with fresh lemon zest takes 10 minutes to assemble, 25 minutes in the oven and uses the same bowl to prep the shrimp that she used for the vegetables, cutting down on washing up. Her sheet pan sausages and peppers dish, meanwhile, is an Italian-American classic that is ready in under 30 minutes — and involves only one dish to clean.

Another top tip for a speedy weeknight dinner is to roast bread with sheet pan chicken dinners for a delicious way to use up leftover bread, which soaks up all the juices from the meat and aromatics. 

Quick and easy, the key to keeping a sheet pan supper as simple as possible is to choose ingredients that cook at the same temperature and take the same amount of time — whether that's meat, fish, potatoes, or vegetables. The options are endless — unlike the washing up, which is an absolute breeze.