Why you’ll love it
This Italian chicken tray bake combines juicy chicken thighs, pillowy soft gnocchi, capsicum (peppers), and Tuscan seasoning to create a one pan wonder! Ready in just 25 minutes, this dinner is loaded with flavour! I can’t put into words how delicious this is but I’ll try;
- Features soft and fluffy oven baked gnocchi.
- Juicy and tender chicken that’s been baked to perfection.
- The sun-dried tomato dressing takes the entire dish to a whole other level.
- Cleanup is a breeze if you use aluminium foil!
- The whole lot — including the dressing and sauce — is incredibly easy to make.
I’m always looking for ways to make weeknight dinners quickly and efficiently, and this chicken tray bake ticks all those boxes. Simply prep the ingredients, then arrange them all on one single sheet pan. Shake together your homemade dressing while it bakes and voila! This hearty and wholesome dinner is served.
While it’s served on a bed of rocket (arugula), you can dress that up and turn it into this asparagus, rocket, and Parmesan salad.
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Ingredients you’ll need
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Chicken: I used skinless boneless chicken thighs to make this one tray bake. You could also use chicken breast, but thighs tend to be juicier.
- Gnocchi: I prefer to work with refrigerated gnocchi as I think the texture is best. If you’re feeling really ambitious, consider making them yourself. Also, I’ve only tested the type made with potatoes, and not the ricotta variety. If you want to make this Italian chicken tray bake gluten free, make sure to use gluten-free gnocchi.
- Capsicum: You may know capsicum as bell peppers — I love to use red and yellow, more for colour than anything, but use whatever you can find or like. Green capsicum is more bitter than the red or yellow varieties.
- Seasonings: Reach for Tuscan seasoning (or simply Italian), mild or sweet paprika, and freshly cracked black pepper for your chicken thigh tray bake.
- Oil: To help the seasonings adhere to the other ingredients.
- Rocket: Also called arugula, this is used for serving.
- Basil Pesto & Ricotta: Come together to form a ricotta pesto sauce. Sometimes I always make my basil pesto from scratch since it takes just minutes and tastes so good but you can use store-bought. Do what works best for you.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Boasting an intensely complex tomato flavour. If you get the ones in oil, that oil itself is loaded with flavour too and perfect to use in this.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Also for the dressing. It’s rich, sweet, tangy and fruity.
- Sugar: Just a pinch to balance out the umami in the dressing.
If you want even more or different variety of veggies, you can add some cherry tomatoes to the tray too. Wonderful and juicy, they’re almost a dressing in themselves. You can add some drained canned artichokes too. Consider throwing some olives on too either during the bake or at the end to serve.
How to make Italian chicken tray bake (step-by-step)
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Recipe prep: Preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F) and line a large baking sheet with foil — if you do this well, you may not even have to wash the sheet after. Winning! Cut the chicken and capsicums into 2-inch pieces.
- Arrange your sheet: Place the chopped chicken on one side of your baking sheet, with the gnocchi and capsicums on the other (photo 1).
- Bake: Drizzle with oil, add your seasonings, and spread everything into an even layer (photo 2). Bake in the oven for 18 minutes.
- Make the ricotta pesto sauce: While your chicken traybake cooks, add the pesto and ricotta cheese to a bowl (photo 3). Mix with a spoon until well-combined (photo 4). The pesto ricotta gets used like a dip. Yum!
- Make the dressing: Chop the sun-dried tomatoes finely and place them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the oil, vinegar, sugar, and black pepper (photo 5). Screw the lid on and shake vigorously to combine. It’s so seriously simple!
- Broil / Grill: When the 18 minutes is up, pull your Italian chicken tray bake out of the oven. Heat the overhead grill / broiler and place the tray under it for another few minutes or until golden brown.
- Assemble and serve: Add your ricotta pesto to your serving plates, then add the rocket. Top with a hearty helping of oven baked gnocchi, capsicum, and tray baked chicken with a drizzle of dressing and enjoy!
If you love this idea of baking a full dinner on one pan, try my Oven Baked Pork Chops with Potatoes too.
Tips and tricks
- Don’t skip the grilling / broiling step: Not only does it give the chicken thighs a chance to rest first (redistributing the juices to keep the chicken moist), but it will also give the entire chicken tray bake a wonderful golden colour.
- Use your favourite pesto: I love basil pesto for this one tray bake as it highlights the other Italian flavours. That said, you can use sun-dried tomato pesto (going nicely with the punchy sun dried tomato dressing), or I also have a homemade celery leaf pesto that you could try.
- Pay attention as everything cooks: All ovens are different, which means that you’ll have to keep a watchful eye over this meal as it bakes. If you notice that the chicken and gnocchi brown too quickly or take longer to cook, you may need to adjust the cooking time.
While I always recommend using fresh, refrigerated gnocchi for the best texture and taste, you can use frozen gnocchi as a substitute. If working from frozen, there’s no need to thaw them before adding to the baking sheet.
As mentioned, you can use Italian seasoning instead. Or, create your own blend by combining rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder and salt.
This dish comes together quickly as is, and is best served fresh. However, if you want to save a bit of time you can prep and cut the chicken and capsicums a few hours before you plan to bake. Just be sure to store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge in the meantime.
I wouldn’t suggest it. Freezing and thawing will change the texture of the gnocchi — not in a good way.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days in an airtight container. It actually reheats really well in the microwave for a couple of minutes or in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for 10-15 minutes, or until hot through.
Did you try this Italian chicken tray bake recipe?
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THE TRAY BAKE
- 2 tablespoons oil (notes 1)
- 500 g skinless boneless chicken thighs (or breast, thigh is juicier) (1.1lb)
- 500 g refrigerated gnocchi (1.1lb)
- 2 tablespoons Tuscan seasoning (or Italian seasoning) (notes 1 & 2)
- ½ teaspoon paprika (mild or sweet)
- 1 large red capsicum (red pepper)
- 1 large yellow capsicum (yellow pepper)
- 2 cups Rocket (arugula) to serve fresh
RICOTTA PESTO & SUNDRIED TOMATO DRESSING
- 1 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
- ½ cup smooth ricotta
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes (in oil if possible, drained)
- 2 tablespoons sundried tomato oil (or olive oil) (notes 1)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (notes 1)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Large sheet pan or two smaller metal best
- Mason jar or similar
- Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan forced) / 425F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminium foil and a layer of baking paper (this makes clean up a breeze).
- Cut the chicken thighs into 4-5 pieces each (each about 2 inches or so). Cut both capsicums into 2 inch pieces.
- Place the chicken onto one side of the baking sheet and the gnocchi and chopped capsicum onto the other half.
- Drizzle the oil and scatter the Tuscan seasoning evenly over everything. Scatter the paprika just over the chicken. Toss each side separately, to coat evenly, then make sure everything is in a single layer.
- Roast for 18 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if making the pesto from scratch, do that then add the ricotta to the food processor to combine. If using store-bought pesto, simply mix the pesto and ricotta together in a bowl.
- Very finely chop the sundried tomatoes and add to a jar that has a tight fitting lid. Add the sundried tomato oil (or olive oil if you don’t have that), vinegar, sugar and pepper. Screw the lid on and shake well to combine.
- Remove the baking tray from the oven after the 18 minutes is up and cover with foil to keep it warm. Turn the oven to broiler / overhead grill mode on high. Once heated, discard the top layer of foil and add the tray back to the oven and cook for 2 minutes until golden on top.
- Divide the ricotta pesto between 4 plates and spread out a little.
- Add the rocket to the plates. Top with the chicken, gnocchi and capsicum. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- Make sure to use a seasoning mix, not a herb mix. Tuscan seasoning or Italian seasoning should contain salt as well as herbs. Dried Italian herbs don’t generally contain salt.
- If you don’t have one large baing sheet, you can use two smaller ones.
- If you don’t have metal baking trays and need to use ceramic or glass, preheat them in the oven first for 5-10 minutes. Mix the ingredients in a bowl separately, then add the ingredients to the hot dishes.
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