Sheet Pan Brown Sugar Chicken Dinner — An EASY sheet pan meal that’s ready in 30 minutes and loaded with layers of flavors from the spice rub, which features a mixture of chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, and more!
Table of Contents
- Juicy Brown Sugar Chicken Breasts and Sweet Potatoes
- Ingredients for Sheet Pan Brown Sugar Chicken
- How to Make Sheet Pan Brown Sugar Chicken
- Recipe FAQs
- What to Serve with Brown Sugar Baked Chicken
- Spiced Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes Recipe
- More Sheet Pan Chicken Dinners:
Juicy Brown Sugar Chicken Breasts and Sweet Potatoes
I love sheet pan dinners because they’re easy, tasty, and ready in no time. This easy sheet pan recipe takes advantage of one of my favorite fall ingredients: sweet potatoes.
However, I eat sweet potatoes year round and I love them prepared in any way.
Here they become lightly caramelized thanks to the brown sugar marinade from the chicken that runs off and clings to the sweet potatoes. They are literally finger-lickin’ good!
The brown sugar chicken is tender, juicy, moist, easy, ready in a half hour from start to finish, and best of all, made on one sheet pan. Cleanup is as easy as tossing away a sheet of foil.
Chunky wedges of red onions roast alongside the sweet potatoes and chicken for an extra layer of flavor. They too become caramelized from the chicken marinade that runs off and coats them.
Between all the spices and the brown sugar in the marinade, the range and layers of flavors is off the hook!
Ingredients for Sheet Pan Brown Sugar Chicken
For this easy brown sugar baked chicken dinner, you only need a few common pantry staples:
- Sweet potatoes
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Brown sugar
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Cayenne pepper, optional but recommended
- Fresh parsley or cilantro, optional for garnishing
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Sheet Pan Brown Sugar Chicken
Making baked chicken breast with brown sugar dry rub is quick and easy. Full instructions are provided in the recipe card below, but here’s an overview of the cooking process:
- Prep the sweet potatoes: Begin by cutting the sweet potatoes small enough so that they are done at the same time the whole chicken breasts are ready. I recommend 1-inch pieces and give them an 8 to 10 minute head start in the oven before you add the chicken and red onions to the sheet pan.
- Prep the chicken: Drizzle the chicken and red onions with olive oil, seasonly both generously with salt and pepper, and then add the chili powder and brown sugar-based dry rub to both sides of the chicken breasts.
- Finish baking: Bake this one pan easy sheet pan meal for about 20 minutes.
- Rest: After baking, make sure to let the chicken rest for five to ten minutes so that the natural juices stay in the chicken and don’t run out when you slice into it.
How to Ensure the Chicken Breasts Cook Evenly
For this recipe you will need to pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness. The reason for pounding is that chicken breasts are thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges. If you don’t pound them, the edges will become dry and can burn before the center is cooked through. Additionally, the pounding helps to tenderize the protein.
Yes, you can make the brown sugar baked chicken with thighs instead of breasts. Just note that the cook time will differ, so use your best judgement.
Yes, of course! The spicy-sweet brown sugar chicken pairs nicely with lots of different veggies. Again, keep in mind that different vegetables will have different bake times.
Definitely! You can pair the chicken and sweet potatoes with any pre-made or homemade seasoning blend you like. I used a brown sugar chicken dry rub, but use whatever you like.
You don’t need to pound it overly thin, just make sure it’s of uniform thickness. I keep the chicken in the plastic bag it comes in from the butcher and then pound it with an empty wine bottle from the night before since I don’t have a meat pounding tool.
I am all about being resourceful and the less kitchen equipment I need to have in my small kitchen, the better! Try a rolling pin, heavy frying pan, heavy duty ice cream scoop, or even a can of beans that you first wrap in a plastic baggie.
What to Serve with Brown Sugar Baked Chicken
This sheet pan recipe is a meal in itself, but if desired you can pair your serving with a fresh side such as:
- Vanilla fruit salad
- Mediterranean chopped salad
- Apple spinach salad
- Superfoods salad
- Classic house salad
- Fall harvest salad
- Herby garlic rolls
Pin This Recipe
Spiced Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
- ⅓ to ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 to 2 teaspoons paprika or smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
Chicken & Potatoes:
- 1.5 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch chunks
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided; or as needed
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1.50 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, 4 large breasts
- 1 large or extra-large red onion, cut into thick chunks or wedges
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro finely minced, for garnishing; optional and to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F (use convection if you have it) and line a baking sheet with foil (optional but highly recommended, see Notes below) for easier cleanup.
- To the baking sheet, add the sweet potatoes, evenly drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil or as desired, evenly season with salt and pepper, and roast for 8 to 10 minutes.
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make the spice rub by combining the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, optional cayenne, and stir to combine; set aside.
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness. I use an empty wine bottle, but a meat pounder or tenderizing tool, a rolling pin, or a heavy frying pan all work. The chicken doesn’t need to be pounded ‘thin’, but it needs to be of pounded to a uniform thickness so it all cooks through at the same time.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven with the sweet potatoes, flip them, add the chicken, red onions, and evenly drizzle them with 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as desired (I use more for better flavor and to keep everything extra moist).
- Evenly season the chicken and red onions with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Evenly spoon the dry spice rub over the chicken on both sides. I add a bit more to the side that’s facing up than the side that’s on the bottom in contact with the baking sheet. You may not need every last drop of it, but I add a very thick coating, especially to the side of the chicken that’s facing up.
- Bake for about 18 to 22 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165F) and done and sweet potatoes are fork tender. Tip – Keep an eye in the last few minutes of roasting because the brown sugar in the spice rub will have a tendency to burn in the final moments. Once it’s starts getting dark, it’s almost a guarantee the chicken is done.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing into it (cover with foil if desired to keep it warmer). Resting the chicken really helps lock in the juices and moisture so don’t skip this step.
- Optionally garnish with fresh herbs before slicing and serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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Originally posted November 16, 2020 and reposted with updated text October 27, 2023.