Looking for better ways to roast chicken, we found a simple method that sped up the process, gave us a quick sauce and allowed for endless variations—all on one pan.

Roasting on a rimmed baking sheet rather than in a deep roasting pan allows for better air circulation, accelerating cooking and boosting browning. It’s a strategy cooks in the U.K. use often for one-pan dinners—better known as traybakes.

The traybake is the epitome of efficiency. Toss a mix of meat and vegetables in oil and seasonings, transfer to a pan and roast. In an hour or less, dinner is served.

At Milk Street, we loved the ease of the traybake. But we wanted a roast chicken recipe so simple it would work with any seasonings, so we narrowed our focus to the meat.

We started with bone-in, skin-on chicken parts to keep the time in the oven to about 40 minutes. That also solved the whole-chicken problem of the legs taking longer to cook than the breasts. If the quicker-cooking breasts reached 160°F before the thighs and drumsticks hit 175°F, we simply removed them and continued cooking the dark meat.

For seasoning, we used ground coriander and ginger, plus a bit of sugar to balance the flavors and brown the skin. Cooking at 450°F gave us crisp skin without drying out the meat. It also produced a light fond on the sheet pan—another opportunity to build flavor.

We used water to deglaze the fond, creating the base for a quick sauce finished with lemon, olive oil and fresh cilantro. It was a good start, but to give body, we added 10 cloves of garlic to the baking sheet before roasting. As the meat cooker, the garlic caramelized and softened. We mashed the cloves into a paste and mixed them into the sauce right on the pan.

The result was delicious, but best of all, the method was incredibly flexible, working with any seasoning, including za’atar and a jerk-inspired spice blend.

Roasted garlic pan sauce, in two minutes

Roasted garlic pan sauce, in two minutes

Mash the garlic

Mash the roasted garlic cloves (and habanero, if using for jerk chicken) to a paste on the baking sheet, mixing it with any liquid on the pan.

Deglaze the pan

Pour 1/3 cup water onto the hot baking sheet, then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Pour the mixture into a small bowl.

Finish the sauce

Whisk acid, oil and fresh herbs into the mixture to finish the garlicky pan sauce. We like either lemon or lime and cilantro, oregano or scallions.