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21+ satisfying and nutritious tray bakes for busy nights

21+ satisfying and nutritious tray bakes for busy nights

We love tray bakes. Who doesn’t love tray bakes? They are dead-easy to make, taste bloody amazing and there’s not a great deal of washing up to deal with. Go the bake!

It’s exactly the right time of year to get tray bakes going too. It’s cold, we’re all stupidly busy and we all need a little comfort right now. Comfort doesn’t have to mean unhealthy stuff, though. These tray bakes all prove that nutritious, wholesome food is simple to prepare and very satisfying. They’re also pretty happy being served up year-round. Every season is a good season for fast midweek dinners, right?

Most of these tray bakes can be prepped in the morning (or even the night before), kept in the fridge, and popped into the oven when you get in late in the evening. Then the oven does the work, while you hang out with the fam. Gotta love that.

Let me know which one of these lovely tray bakes is your favourite. Personally, we can’t go past the sticky chicken, the vegies with haloumi or the sausage and apple bake. We make them a lot this time of year.

21 tray bakes for busy nights

1. Oven-roasted meatballs with kale pesto

Tray bakes to save you time: Meatballs

Source: Delicious

Blimey, these meatballs are good. So good, in fact, they make me use words like ‘blimey’. I mean, who says that?! This recipe is a bit of a cheat as you use store-bought kale pesto (what on earth?), but basil pesto works really well too.

2. Mediterranean vegetables with haloumi

Tray bakes to make you smile - vegetables and haloumi

Source: David Frenkiel | SBS Food

I work for SBS Food as part of my day job… I know, it’s a dream! I get to spend my days devouring food like this vegetable and haloumi bake with my eyes. Luckily, I also get to cook the recipes and devour it all for real, too. This is one of our favourite tray bakes for sure.

3. Baked lemon chicken

Quality tray bakes to make life easy - baked lemon chicken

Source: Olive magazine

When I made this baked lemon chicken it didn’t look half as good as the picture here, but it tasted so good.

4. Spiced roast pumpkin with garlic yoghurt

Tray bakes to make life easy - spiced pumpkin

Source:  William Meppem | Good Food

Neil Perry’s vegetarian wonder is unbelievably delicious. Hit it now while pumpkin is in season. You simply can’t beat a good pumpkin for a flavour bomb.

5. Pork with honey mustard nut butter

Tray bakes that make life easy - pork mustard bake

Source: Guy Bailey | Taste

You can get this creamy pork bake most of the way ready, then finish it off in the evening. That’s the beauty of tray bakes, right there!

6. Sausage and apple bake

Tray bakes are great, like this sausage and apple tray bake

Source: Al Richardson | Taste

This sausage and apple bake is a top 10 family fave. It has a unique flavour (think fennel, leeks and apple cider) that I remember my kids being a big “hmmmm, what’s this?” about when I first put this on the table years ago. They scoffed the lot that first night and are still scoffing to this day.

This bake is included here too: 25 family dinners we make again and again


7. Miso butter snapper with broccolini

Tray bakes to save you time: Snapper

Source: Delicious

We’re not great fish eaters, but this recipe is the kind that might change that. I’ve made it twice, to great acclaim. The first time I used salmon, as there wasn’t any snapper or other firm white fish available. It was yum. The second time, same issue, but this time I used good-ol’ flake. Both times, the dish was delish. I’ll try to find some snapper one of these days!

8. Vegie tray extra everything

Tray bakes for midweek meals - Vegies

Source: Green Kitchen Stories

I love the family at Green Kitchen Stories. Their Green Kitchen At Home cook book is one of my very favourites. The vegie tray is on my list to make this winter. I will probably leave out the brussels sprouts. You can definitely have too much everything.

9. Shakshuka

Shakshuka is one of the perfect tray bakes

Source: Issy Croker | The Guardian

If a good shakshuka recipe isn’t in your repertoire, add this one immediately. It makes a satisfying breakfast too.

Make it easy on yourself: A super-simple meal planning strategy


10. Chicken meatballs with coconut rice

Tray bakes that are delightful: chicken meatballs

Source: Katrina Meynink | Good Food

Big, bold Korean flavours baked in the one pan; this dish is a winner. I just love meatballs too – they are cheap and comforting.

11. Potato hash with tomato, capsicum and kale

Tray bakes: this one has beautifully cooked eggs

Source: Rachel Phipps | BBC Food

This divine veggie dish isn’t quite ‘set and forget’, but how much do you love an oven-baked egg? Keep an eye on the timer so the eggs stay a little bit runny. Then you pierce them on the plate to add extra flavour to the vegetables.

12. Chicken, chorizo and olive bake

Tray bakes for midweek meals: Chicken and chorizo

Source: Rob Palmer | Taste

Throw this bake together in a jiffy. We found the olive flavour a bit overpowering (even with the chorizo), so the next time I made it, I added about a third less olives. Perfect.

13. Salmon and broccoli

Tray Bakes: Salmon

Source: Craig Wall | Taste

Salmon and broccoli are two things all of my kids will eat. So this tray bake is winning already. I often cook recipes from Taste, simply because they always work and they are always good.

14. Sticky Chinese chicken bake

Awesome tray bakes - sticky chicken

Source: Mumlyfe

I called this sticky chicken bake our ‘new family favourite’ when I first shared the recipe. It remains so. Just too quick and easy. If you’ve got room in the pan, throw in some chunks of sweet potato and carrot to bake alongside.

Here’s another easy dinner we like a lot: Oyakodon


15. Greek lamb meatball, feta and tomato bake

Greek lamb tray bake

Source: Olive Magazine

This lamb meatball recipe is one of those tray bakes where you can make most of it the night before to chill in the fridge. Finish the rest when you get in of an evening, let the oven do the work.

16. Crunchy, cheesy chicken

Tray bakes kids love: Crunchy chickenSource: Kidgredients

Kidgredients recipes always turn out just right. The cheesy, crunchy crumb on this chicken is to-die-for. The kids have a piece on a sambo for lunch the next day. Another beauty of tray bakes – there is often leftovers for lunch boxes or the thermos!

17. One-pan Spanish roast beef

Tray bakes to try: Spanish Roast

Source: Vanessa Levis | Taste

I’ve never made this Spanish beef roast, but man, do I want to! I was thinking, “You can’t have a tray bakes list without finding a one-pan roast”, and this came up in the search. The minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it.

Just as speedy: 21 dinners to make with a roast chook


18. Smoky meatball pasta bake

When it comes to tray bakes, you can't beat a pasta bake.

Source: Nicky Corbishley | Kitchen Sanctuary

I’ve got two pasta bakes in a row here, but this one comes first because it has smoked paprika in it. I love the stuff. The ingredient list seems long, but it’s actually pretty easy to pull this one together.

19. Tuna pasta bake

Jamie Oliver tuna pasta bake

Source: Jamie Oliver

There was always going to be a Jamie Oliver recipe in here somewhere. We eat a lot of his food (most notably from his Comfort Food cook book – it’s wonderful). This is a lovely tuna bake that you can prepare well in advance.

20. Lamb chops and vegetables

Great tray bakes to try: lamb chop

Source: That Sugar Movement

Lamb chops cooked like this mean we can have a midweek roast. I made this just this week and it was really good!

21. Pumpkin curry

Tray bakes that are healthy: Pumpkin curry

Source: Stacey Clare | Mumtastic

The fabulous Stacey Clare made this recipe when I was managing editor at Mumtastic – so we’re going back a couple of years. I think I had it in the oven even before I published it. It’s utterly delicious and bound to be full of good nutrition if Stacey makes it!

22. Mediterranean chicken

Mediterranean chicken

Source: Mumlyfe

This is flat-out delicious and packed with goodness. You will not make this lemony, olivey chicken dish one once!!

You know what, I really feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of all our fave (and soon to be fave) tray bakes. I think I may need to keep going. Stand by for “tray bakes 2”, coming soon! 😂

Add your favourite tray bakes to our list via comments!

Feature image by Alan Benson

21 Quick tray bakes for busy nights - let your oven do all the work

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