Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus (Paleo, Gluten Free)

This umami-packed, Asian-inspired Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus dinner from Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Tanous’s cookbook, Food Between Friends, is sure to become your new go-to weeknight supper!

An overhead shot of a sheet pan chicken and asparagus dinner with fresh cilantro on top. There is a red banner at the bottom that reads paleo, gluten-free, grain-free.

As an avid cookbook collector, I was excited to add Jesse and Julie’s insanely fun new collection of recipes to my bookshelf. Food Between Friends is packed with fresh California fare with Southwestern-inspired twists. These dishes are perfect to share with your loved ones—especially as more people start gathering together again.

A hardcover copy of Food Between Friends cookbook is next to a Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus and a bowl of cauliflower rice.

Like most of the cookbooks I own and cherish, this one isn’t paleo, but there are many recipes that are easily adaptable to be gluten-free and grain-free. One of my favorite recipes from Jesse and Julie’s cookbook is the Chicken & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner. The straightforward recipe title may not scream excitement, but when our family tasted it, all of us were wowed. We couldn’t stop raving about it!

A side view of sheet pan chicken and asparagus right topped with cilantro and sesame seeds on a wooden tabletop.

This one-pan chicken dinner is super simple to throw together and cooks in minutes under the broiler. The marinade is so dang good—tangy, sweet, savory, creamy, and packed with umami!

In the headnote for this recipe, Jesse writes that if he’s ever on a cooking competition show, this will be the marinade he makes, and it’ll be what crowns him the winner. I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I was so delighted that Jesse and Julie gave me the go-ahead to share my paleo version of their fab recipe with you!

Ingredients

I substituted a few items to make the recipe paleo-friendly, but these alternative ingredients won’t change the fantastic flavors of this sheet pan supper!

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • Asparagus: use thicker stalks so they cook in the same amount of time as the chicken thighs
  • Coconut aminos
  • Fish Sauce
  • Honey: if desired, you can substitute 100% fruit jam to make this recipe Whole30-compatible
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger: use ground ginger if you’re going to marinate the chicken overnight
  • Orange juice
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Zest and juice from one lime
  • Arrowroot powder: this helps thicken the sauce and is a paleo-friendly alternative to corn starch
  • Coconut milk
  • Toasted sesame seeds: an optional garnish that also adds some crunch
  • Fresh cilantro: an optional garnish; use sliced scallions if you hate cilantro!

What do you serve with it?

If you want to keep your meal paleo, you can serve this sheet pan meal with cauliflower rice or cooked spiralized vegetables. It also pairs perfectly with white rice, which is how my sons like to eat with this winner of a chicken dinner.

A hand is sprinkling fresh cilantro on a sheet pan filled with chicken and asparagus.

Can you make this ahead?

Yes! You can marinate the chicken for up to two days, with one caveat: use ground ginger in place of fresh ginger. As I discovered in developing my Wonton Meatballs recipes, fresh ginger contains a powerful enzyme called zingibain that breaks down protein. You don’t need to worry if you’re marinating the chicken for just a few hours, but anything longer and you run the risk that your protein will end up mushy.

Cooked leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Can you sub out the protein and veggies?

Definitely! Note that the high heat from the broiler will cook things quickly, so pair proteins and vegetables that will cook in the same amount of time. Also, because you’re cooking using the direct heat from the broiler, it’s important to choose items that can tolerate a flash of heat and finish quickly. Keep your eye on the food as it cooks so it doesn’t get overcooked. Some great ideas for alternative protein-and-vegetable pairings include shrimp and sugar snap peas, sliced sirloin and asparagus, and chicken and baby broccoli.

How to make sheet pan chicken and asparagus:

Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces.

An Asian woman in a gray apron and red and black shirt is cutting boneless, skinless chicken thighs into uniform pieces.

Sprinkle on kosher salt and black pepper and toss well.

Two hands are tossing raw chicken cubes with salt and pepper on a plastic cutting board.

Time to make the marinade! In a large bowl, whisk together coconut aminos, fish sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, orange juice, sesame oil, avocado oil, lime zest and juice, arrowroot powder, and coconut milk.

Overhead shot of someone in a gray apron whisking a brown sauce in a clear glass bowl.

Drop in the chicken pieces and toss to coat with the marinade. Marinate the chicken at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

A closeup shot of large glass bowl filled with chicken cubes being tossed in a marinade with a pair of metal tongs

Arrange an oven rack 6 inches from the heat source and turn the broiler on high.

An Asian woman with braids is rearranging her oven rack to be 6 inches from the broiler.

Lightly grease a sheet pan with some avocado oil. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken onto the sheet pan in a single layer on one side of the pan.

A person is using a pair of tongs to arrange marinated chicken cubes in a single layer on one side of a rimmed sheet pan

Place the asparagus on the other side of the pan. Sprinkle kosher salt and black pepper on the asparagus.

An Asian woman is adding freshly ground black pepper from a pepper mill onto some asparagus on a sheet pan.

Pour the marinade all over the chicken and asparagus.

Pouring marinade from a large glass bowl onto a sheet pan filled with cubed chicken and asparagus

Pop the tray under the broiler and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring at the halfway point.

An open oven where someone is using a red silicone spatula to stir sheet pan chicken and asparagus at the halfway point.

The sheet pan is ready when the chicken is cooked through, the asparagus is nicely browned, and the sauce has thickened slightly.

An overhead shot of sheet pan chicken and asparagus ready to be removed from the oven. The chicken and asparagus are browned all over and the sauce is slightly thickened.

Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro if desired, and serve with cauliflower rice.

An overhead shot of sheet pan chicken and asparagus on a wooden table, next to bowls of cauliflower rice, plates, and forks.

Love this recipe? Grab a copy of Food Between Friends and start cooking!

Want more Sheet Pan Dinners? Check out these tasty one-pan meals:


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013) and Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017)!


Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus (Paleo, Gluten Free)

This umami-packed, Asian-inspired Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus dinner from Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Tanous’s cookbook, Food Between Friends, is sure to become your new go-to weeknight supper!

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time15 mins

Marinating time20 mins

Course: Dinner

Cuisine: Asian

Keyword: gluten-free, grain-free, nom nom paleo, nomnompaleo, paleo, Sheet Pan

Servings: 4

Calories: 448kcal

Author: Michelle Tam

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt divided
  • ¾ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey or ¼ cup jam sweetened with 100% fruit juice (for Whole30)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger or ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil and more for greasing the sheet pan
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 pound asparagus tough ends trimmed, spears cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds optional garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves optional garnish

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces.
  • Sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper on the chicken and toss well to distribute seasoning.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together coconut aminos, fish sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, orange juice, sesame oil, avocado oi, lime zest and juice, coconut milk, and arrowroot powder.
  • Drop in the chicken pieces and toss to coat with the marinade. Marinate the chicken at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. You can marinate up to two days in advance in the fridge, but use ground ginger in place of fresh.
  • Heat the broiler on high and arrange a rack 6 inches from the heat source.
  • Lightly grease a sheet pan with some avocado oil. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken onto the sheet pan in a single layer on one side of the pan.
  • Place the asparagus on the other side of the pan. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper on the asparagus.
  • Pour the marinade all over the chicken and asparagus.
  • Pop the tray under the broiler and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring at the halfway point. The sheet pan is ready when the chicken is cooked through, the asparagus is nicely browned, and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro if desired and serve with cauliflower rice.

Notes

Adapted slightly with permission from Food Between Friends by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Tanous, copyright © 2021. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 18g | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 17g

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