Sheet-pan roasting is perfectly suited to summer cooking.

The technique is faster than fussing with the grill, and the food cooks quickly, before the kitchen becomes too hot. Cooked this way, chicken cuts emerge golden and tender and are as delicious served cold as they are warm.

The key is to get the sheet pan rocket hot and to space the chicken pieces far enough apart so they don't touch. This ensures they won't steam and allows them to develop a tasty crust. (Please do not use skinless cuts, as they'll turn dry and rubbery. The skin protects the meat and that layer of fat beneath it bastes and keeps the chicken moist.)

Dark meat cuts — legs and thighs — are best. They taste richer and are less likely to overcook. If you decide to serve them cold, remember that the flavor of the spices will fade and be less pronounced than when the chicken is served warm. Use a blend of bold, fragrant dry spices; fresh herbs should be added after cooking because they tend to burn.

Today's recipe calls for a simple curry seasoning. It's best applied the night before or a few hours ahead so the flavors are absorbed into the skin. A dry rub is far less messy than a wet marinade, yet just as effective. You might also try a Cajun or barbecue spice blend for variation. The chicken can be roasted a day or two in advance, then kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It's great with a tangy cilantro lime yogurt dip that can also be whisked together a day or two before.

Elegant and simple, cold chicken is easy-to-serve finger food that's picnic-perfect for hazy, lazy summer fun.

Sheet Pan Chicken

Serves 4 and easily doubled.

Note: This is equally good served warm, room temperature or cold with a tangy lime-yogurt dipping sauce. You can make both the chicken and the sauce a day or two ahead, then keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

• 2 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil

• 2 tbsp. curry spice rub (see recipe)


Bush the chicken with the oil and then generously coat with the curry spice rub. Place on a plate and cover; refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a layer of parchment paper over a sheet pan. Place the chicken thighs on the parchment paper. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, the juices run clear and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees on a digital thermometer. Remove the sheet pan from oven. If serving the chicken cold, allow it to cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Curry Spice Rub

Makes 1/2 cup.

Note: Keep this in a covered jar in a cool, dry cupboard. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 tbsp. curry powder

• 1 tbsp. coarse salt

• 2 tsp. crushed red pepper

• 2 tsp. ground coriander

• 1 tsp. turmeric

• 1 tsp. ground ginger


Put all the ingredients into a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously until completely blended.

Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce

Makes 1/2 cup.

Note: From Beth Dooley.

• 1/2 c. whole milk yogurt

• 1 to 2 tsp. fresh lime juice, to taste

• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

• Pinch of salt, or to taste


Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days.

Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at