This maple mustard chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and caramelized pecans is a snap. Make everything on one sheet pan and dinner is ready in no time!
Do I have your attention with “sheet pan” at the beginning of this recipe? I know I always stop to look whenever I see it because let’s be honest, cleaning up just 1 baking sheet for dinner is pretty much the best thing ever.
Also, is there anything better than a crispy golden brown chicken thigh when it comes to dinner?
*This post is sponsored by the American Pecan Council. All content and opinions are my own.
Ok, so I’m not wishing summer away with this recipe. I need that to be clear.
I know you see things like sweet potatoes and cinnamon in a recipe and think “fall” but let it be known my fruit bowl is still filled with peaches, there are tomatoes sitting on my window sill and we’re still buying a monster sized watermelon every week as “dessert”.
Can we all just agree to savor summers bounty while it’s here? Please? (looking at you, PSL pushers).
In brainstorming what I wanted to use these gorgeous American Pecans in these are just the flavors that came to mind, it’s not an attempt to usher in fall prematurely. I’m also on a major maple kick after visiting Woodstock, VT last month using it in everything I possibly can.
Speaking of pecans, let’s talk about them a little.
In my house there’s a container filled with them all year round (store shelled pecans in an airtight container in the fridge to preserve their flavor!) but I think lots of people only think of them as a holiday nut. Hopefully I can change your mind on that!
A cool little fact to start: pecans are the only native major tree nut indigenous to the United States, harvested in over a dozen southern states. Kinda makes sense now why pecan pie is so synonymous with a slice of Americana, right? They’re also super nutritious and versatile.
My goal with this sheet pan maple mustard chicken is to show off that versatility in an easy dinner dish that’s packed with sweet savory flavors that complement the pecan perfectly as everything roasts and melds together.
Ulysses is king of throwing them on salads and growing up, my dad was king of eating them straight out of the bag/container. While both of those are totally acceptable pecan eating options, I’m much more down for that toasted, almost candied-like flavor they get when tossed with the simple maple mustard dressing in this sheet pan dinner.
As they roast, they take on a deeper toasted flavor with hints of that cinnamon and nutmeg but still stand their savory ground thanks to the dijon mustard.
There’s just enough maple syrup to create an irresistible sticky sweet coating on everything in the sheet pan, not just the pecans.
I also really love the texture they bring to this dish. That crunch in contrast to the moist chicken and tender sweet potatoes is exactly what you need to balance each bite.
From a nutritional standpoint, pecans bring primarily “good” monounsaturated fats to the meal (compared to other tree nuts they’re among one of the lowest in carbs nuts which I love because that obviously means I can eat more potatoes), provide plant protein and 3g of dietary fiber per serving*. I bet you’re surprised all that is hidden behind their sweet flavor and buttery texture, almost seems to good to be true, right?
*Serving size = 1 ounce or about 19 halves
They’re a pretty impressive little nut!
When I do sheet pan dinners like these Cornish game hens or this Mediterranean roasted lamb, there’s usually a vegetable to round out the meal. With this sheet pan maple mustard chicken dinner though, I thought a simple salad would be best as it’s already pretty balanced across the major macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats.
My recommendation is a simple caesar salad (maybe this kale caesar) – easy to prepare easy to prepare while the sheet pan dinner does its thing in the oven.
- 4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 cup (4 ounces) raw pecan halves
- 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), cut into wedges/thick slices
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- freshly chopped herbs for serving (parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400°F convection roast if you have that setting. Otherwise, 425°F.
Place the trimmed chicken thighs skin side up on a clean surface and season liberally to taste with salt and pepper then transfer to a large bowl.
Add the pecans and sweet potatoes to the bowl with the chicken.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, mustard, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pour the mixture into the large bowl with the chicken. Gently toss everything together until the chicken, sweet potatoes and pecans are all evenly coated.
Spread out onto a foil lined baking sheet in an even single layer.
Roast for about 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked, flipping the sweet potatoes and pecans 1-2 times during cooking to ensure even browning and caramelization. If you want a deep golden brown skin on the chicken, finish under the broiler for about 1 minute watching carefully so it doesn't burn!
Remove from oven, garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
*I used this crinkle cut knife for the sweet potatoes.
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