You might think the oven is all about low and slow braises or roasting big pieces of meat, we're here to tell you to reconsider.

Whether you're all about easy weeknight meals made entirely on one sheet pan or you love to optimize your appliances so that they work efficiently for you, the good old oven has the potential to get the dinner job done just as fast—if not faster—than the stovetop. Here are some of our favorite methods to make a range of fast and fabulous dinners in the oven.

Use the Broiler for Speed

The broiler element of your oven heats up almost immediately and will cook food fast, especially when compared to roasting or baking. This makes broiling a great option for a time-strapped cook, as well as for summer days where you don't want your heat-generating appliances on blast for too long. Word to the wise: Not everything is made to broil, so stick to quick-cooking ingredients like the ones in this recipe for Broiled Spicy Pork and Pineapple.

Sneak a Skillet Into the Oven

Not all skillet recipes are destined for the stovetop, though many benefit from the combination of the stovetop and oven for fast food that is at its most flavorful (like a Pan-Seared Steak that can get that delectable crust forming on the stove, and then be finished in the oven so it cooks evenly and to perfection). Recipes that exclusively use the oven take advantage of the heat-retaining properties of a cast-iron skillet to make quick work out of food favorites like these Skillet Chili Nachos. The best part about these nachos—besides the melty cheese—is that it looks fantastic set out on the table for sharing.

sausages cabbage vegetables on baking sheet
Credit: Justin Walker

Sheet Pan Dinners Still Reign Supreme

A good sheet pan, also known as a baking sheet, is the workhorse of any productive kitchen. From baking a batch of cookies to roasting a whole chicken, this humble hunk of metal will make you great meals for years on end. Our favorite way to use a baking sheet is for making complete dinners all in one go. Whether you're looking for a creative way to make classics like Beef-and-Broccoli Stir Fry and Chicken Fajitas even easier or for standard sheet pan fare, like our Roasted Squash with Sausages, you'll be a sheet pan dinner convert after one go.

Convection Oven 101

Have you ever wondered exactly what your oven does to itself when you press the button that says convection? When an oven comes with a convection option, it means that it is installed with fans that will circulate hot air throughout the oven when activated. This creates a drier environment for the food so it cooks and browns faster than the regular setting. There's a slight learning curve, mostly having to do with the food being done sooner, which is why we wrote this quick guide for it here. Once you've got the hang of cooking convection, you'll likely never go back to regular roasting again.


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