I've been trying new recipes lately, and I often see instructions along the lines of:

  • Put ingredients in sheet pan
  • Drizzle oil over ingredients
  • Add seasonings to ingredients
  • Toss to coat

I understand the purpose of this is to evenly coat the stuff in the pan with oil and seasonings, but I don't understand how to physically do it. If I try lifting the pan to literally "toss" the contents, they all go flying out. I've tried stirring instead, but the pan is too shallow for that to be effective. I've started putting everything in a bowl or bag first and mixing it there, but that's clearly not what was intended.

I tried doing a Google search, but it mostly told me that "toss" means "mix" without giving a good technique on how to do this in a sheet pan. What am I missing? How do I quickly and easily "toss to coat" food in a sheet pan?

  • 4
    This sounds like one of those few cases where I get an extra bowl dirty, and mix the seasoning, oil and whatever I'm coating before I spread it out on the tray. It also seems to reduce the amount of the pan that turns orange from baked on oil
    – Joe
    Mar 1, 2017 at 22:19
  • 2
    @Joe It seems to me that it's much easier to wash a bowl than toss in a shallow pan, but I've never seen instructions suggest it. Maybe recipe designers have a bigger aversion to doing dishes than I do.
    – Kat
    Mar 1, 2017 at 22:51
  • I've seen at least one recipe that called for it ... or at least, I think it did ... it was basically onion, peppers & root vegetables cut up then tossed in oil, vinegar and herbs. Maybe the bowl was so you could mix the oil & vinegar first. But it's only a few seconds to clean so long as you don't leave it 'til the next day.
    – Joe
    Mar 1, 2017 at 23:43
  • I'm starting to suspect that wumpus has the right answer, in that this is more a "language" question than I realized -- it's tossing like a salad, not tossing like sautéing / wok cooking.
    – Joe
    May 28, 2020 at 14:52

3 Answers 3


You use your hands. Or, if you're not a fan of getting your fingers oily, use a pair of tongs.

Drizzle oil over the ingredients and then pick them up with your hands and move them around to rub over each other and get evenly coated.

If you're happier with the results when using a bag or a bowl, there's nothing wrong with that. The only downside is that you're getting another dish dirty and you're losing a small amount of the ingredients that would otherwise be coating your sheet pan. If you keep using a bowl or bag, I recommend possibly rubbing a thin layer of oil on the pan as you're not "tossing" the ingredients directly in the pan.

  • I have tried tongs to stir stuff around, but they don't "rub over each other", they just push the other ingredients around. I've also tried picking up items individually and stirring them around that way, which coats more effectively, but it's very tedious. I will try using my hands tonight and see if that works better.
    – Kat
    Mar 1, 2017 at 20:37
  • 2
    Yes, tongs are possible but they're not as easy to use as hands are just so much more maneuverable.... you can use tongs more easily in a bowl situation with reasonably small items but when you're trying to avoid getting another thing dirty, it's good to use the pan you're cooking in... though there's really no reason you couldn't toss in a bowl... it's just another dirty dish and a bit of lost ingredients.
    – Catija
    Mar 1, 2017 at 20:42
  • Hands are definitely much easier. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it myself!
    – Kat
    Mar 2, 2017 at 19:30

I just put all the ingredients in a ziplock or plastic bag, add seasoning, shake it up to mix, then drizzle oil into the bag, and shake it up again to mix all together. Then pour everything onto a sheet pan, and spread out the ingredients. If there is extra oil/seasoning left in the bag, you can pour it over the ingredients in the pan. I think it can cut down the amount of oil and seasoning, but I usually just sprinkle on more seasoning. I have never had any problems with cutting back on the oil. As long as everything is well coated, it cooks well, and I don't get extra oil pooling on the sheet pan. You don't have anything extra to wash; just throw out the plastic bag.


I often use a pair of spatulas (spatulae?) and lightly toss the ingredients until coated. This is similar to tossing a salad.

  • I find it helps to have something really wide, like a wok shovel or even a bench scraper. (although hold it down low on the handle if it's something like a wok shovel)
    – Joe
    May 28, 2020 at 14:48

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