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One-tray family dinner recipes to rescue you from Christmas chaos

Say goodbye to kitchen chaos and hello to stress-free, simple suppers. From a baked risotto to a chickpea and paneer curry, these one-pan dinner recipes save on the washing up and the stress, says Hannah Twiggs

Wednesday 20 December 2023 06:30 GMT
You can’t get a much simpler way to cook tasty, nourishing meals from a range of cuisines than one-pot recipes
You can’t get a much simpler way to cook tasty, nourishing meals from a range of cuisines than one-pot recipes (Sorted Food)

As the festive season draws to a climax, the chaos of Christmas preparations can leave even the most seasoned cooks feeling overwhelmed.

Enter Sorted, a YouTube channel founded by university friends Benjamin Ebbrell, Michael Huttlestone, Jamie Spafford and Barry Taylor, who have tapped into the wisdom of their 2.8 million-strong audience to uncover the ultimate kitchen hack.

After surveying the masses, they unveiled the top eight food hacks, with one clear winner: one-tray bakes.

The internet’s top food hacks

1. One-tray bakes – the easiest way to cook dinner! Everything in one dish/tray, one timer, absorption hack for dishes like rice, and no other washing up

2. Ice cube tray flavour bombs – using ice cube trays to freeze flavoursome ingredients like butters, herbs and stocks not only helps to reduce waste, but makes adding a pop of flavour to your cooking easier than ever.

3. Scissors for cutting – this simple way to chop herbs, vegetables and even pizza is very popular in Korean cooking.

4. Microwaving potatoes for mash – this makes the process much quicker, plus it means no peeling or waiting for the water to boil.

5. Bench scraper – from cleaning work surfaces, scraping flour, cutting dough and moving veg and herbs from chopping board to pan, this multi-tasking tool is useful in lots of different scenarios.

6. Shredding chicken with a hand blender – much quicker, less mess. Need I say more?

7. Spatchcocking chicken – This helps the chicken to taste better and it takes less time to cook.

8. Bi-Carb – Add to speed up the cooking of onions or to create crispier roast potatoes.

These kitchen hacks set the stage for stress-free cooking, but let’s focus on the star of the show: one-tray bakes. “They are ideal for midweek meals – you simply mix together all your ingredients in one tray, put it in the oven to bake and sit back,” says Ebbrell. “Plus, you only have one tray to wash up at the end – you can’t get a much simpler way to cook tasty, nourishing meals that suit a range of cuisines.”

Embrace the simplicity, savour the flavours and let these one-tray recipes rescue you from the Christmas kitchen chaos.

One-tray pancetta and roast tomato risotto

Minimal efforts meets maximum flavour in this one-tray risotto (Sorted Food)

A hearty dish with juicy pancetta and sweet cherry tomatoes cooked together with rice, finished with a dollop of creme fraiche and cheese.

Serves: 2


140g diced pancetta

200g cherry tomatoes

200g arborio rice

150g crème fraîche

50g hard Italian cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 210C and put a kettle on to boil.

2. Tip 140g of pancetta into a medium roasting tray. Halve 200g of cherry tomatoes and chuck them in too. Spread everything out into one even layer and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden in places.

3. Tip 200g of rice into the tray and give everything a good mix.

4. Tip 800ml of hot water from the kettle into the tray and give everything another good mix, scraping up any stuck bits of pancetta and tomato from the bottom of the tray as you stir to ensure they are incorporated – this will amp up the flavour!

5. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper, then slide the tray back into the oven. Cook for a further 20-22 minutes, making sure to give everything a stir every 5 minutes, until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid and the grains are soft and plump. Nearly all the liquid should have been absorbed and the grains should be soft and plump. Grab the tray from the oven.

6. Once the rice is ready, dollop in 150g of crème fraîche and finely grate in 40g of the cheese. Fold everything together and season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary.

7. Divide the risotto between serving bowls and grate over the remaining 10g of cheese. Tuck in!

One-tray Greek-style chicken orzo with feta

This Greek-style chicken orzo bake brings together bold flavours in one tray (Sorted Food)

This recipe works best in a 20cm x 20cm baking dish.

Serves: 2


5 spring onions

1 red bell pepper

2 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp olive oil

200g orzo

1 chicken stock cube

100g feta

15g fresh mint


1. Preheat the oven to 210C, then fill a kettle with water and put it on to boil – we will need this later.

2. Chop the veg. Remove the roots from 5 spring onions and cut them crossways at 1cm intervals. Deseed 1 pepper and cut it into bite-sized chunks.

3. Cut up the meat. Cut 2 chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks.

4. Assemble. Add the veg and chicken to a baking dish. Add 1 tbsp of paprika, 1 tsp of chilli flakes, 1 tsp of oregano and ½ tsp of cinnamon. Drizzle over 2 tbsp of the olive oil, season with a generous pinch of salt and rub everything together. Spread the meat and veg out to 1 even layer. Give your hands a good wash, then get on with the rest of the dish.

5. Add the orzo. Sprinkle 200g of orzo over the top of the meat and veg, then crumble over 1 stock cube.

6. Add the water. Add 500ml of boiling water from the kettle, season with a pinch of salt and give everything a quick mix.

7. Cover and bake. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes, until the orzo is nearly soft. Crack on with a bit of washing up while you wait.

8. Bake again. Once the orzo is nearly soft, remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed and the orzo is soft but still has a slight bite.

9. Serve. Give everything a good mix in the tray, crumble over 100g of feta, rip over the leaves from 15g of mint and serve.

One-tray chickpea and paneer curry

A curry that’s effortless, flavourful and stress-free (Sorted)

Get a curry from fridge-to-fork with minimal effort – cook chunks of paneer in a rich, spiced tomato sauce with chickpeas in this traybake take.

Serves: 2


400g tinned chopped tomatoes

400g tinned chickpeas

1 tsp caster sugar

1½ tbsp curry powder

225g paneer

15g fresh coriander

250g microwave brown rice


1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Assemble the sauce. Tip one 400g tin of tomatoes into a large roasting tray with one undrained 400g tin of chickpeas, 1 tsp of sugar and 1½ tbsp of curry powder. Season with a generous pinch of salt, then give everything a good mix.

3. Prep the paneer. Cut one 225g block of paneer into 9-12 even-sized cubes.

4. Add the paneer. Lay the paneer on top of the other ingredients in the tray.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the paneer is golden and the sauce has reduced by half.

6. Finely chop 15g of coriander.

7. Cook the rice. Once the curry has around 2 minutes to go, microwave the rice as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

8. Mix it up. Fold ¾ of the coriander through the curry – we will use the rest for garnish. Season again with salt.

9. Serve. Divide the rice and curry between bowls – scatter over the remaining coriander and serve.

Sausage, puy lentil and leek traybake

A one-tray wonder that transforms ordinary ingredients into an extraordinary feast (Sorted Food)

Serves: 2


2 large leeks (approx 300g each)

1 granny smith apple

250g microwave puy lentils

½ chicken stock cube

2 cloves garlic

6 pork sausages

40g unsalted butter

2 tbsp dijon mustard


1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Fill a kettle with water and put it on to boil.

2. Prep the leeks and apple. Cut 2 leeks in half lengthways and wash them under running water. Slice at 1 cm intervals crossways. Coarsely grate 1 apple around its core onto the same board.

3. Assemble. Tip one 250g pouch of lentils into a medium roasting tray. Add the leeks and apple, crumble over ½ a stock cube and add 100ml of water from the kettle.

4. Mix it up. Grate over 2 peeled cloves of garlic, season with a pinch of salt and mix everything on the tray.

5. Add the sausages. Lay the sausages on top of everything and scatter over small knobs from 40g of butter.

6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the sausages are golden brown.

7. Serve. Divide the traybake between plates and finish with 2 tbsp of mustard.

Chef’s tip: If you can’t find a pouch of cooked Puy lentils, feel free to use a drained tin of green lentils for this recipe.

Find out more about Sorted and their nifty meal-planning app Sidekick at

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