Readers' 22 All-Time Favorite Real Simple Recipes

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana
Photo: Christopher Baker

Here are the dishes most bookmarked, dog-eared, clipped, shared, and enjoyed—from once-a-week slow-cooker chicken to special-occasion chocolate cake. Simply put, they're keepers.

01 of 22

Chicken and Vegetable Potpie

Chicken and Vegetable Potpie served on a green dish and placed on a dark green background
Roland Bello

Use low-fat milk, olive oil, and double the vegetables to give this rustic, down-home comfort food a healthy revamp. To save time on prep without sacrificing the crisp golden-brown pastry exterior, use store-bought piecrust. Just unroll it, lay it over a filled oven-safe dish, vent, and bake.

Get the recipe: Chicken and Vegetable Potpie

02 of 22

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Grilled Shrimp Tacos in a baking dish
Roland Bello

Thread shrimp onto pre-soaked wooden skewers, brush with a finger-licking garlic butter, and grill alongside lime wedges. Before serving, toss the tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds on each side to add a smoky char. Serve the tacos with cumin-spiced sour cream, shredded cabbage, and tomatillo salsa.

Get the recipe: Grilled Shrimp Tacos

03 of 22

Salted Oatmeal Cookies With Dark Chocolate

Salted Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate on orange and magenta linens
Roland Bello

Pillowy oatmeal cookies are stuffed with coarsely chopped dark chocolate chunks and then sprinkled with flaky sea salt (like Maldon), so each bite is the perfect mouthful of salty and sweet. If you need to make the cookies ahead of time, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to five days.

Get the recipe: Salted Oatmeal Cookies With Dark Chocolate

04 of 22

Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Roland Bello

You don't have to cook all day to create a high-quality version of this classic Italian sauce. Simply sauté the ingredients together, then transfer to your slow cooker to let the flavors deepen and to tenderize the meat. When it's time to eat, just add pasta.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce

05 of 22

Saucy Baked Chicken Legs With Olives and Tomatoes

Saucy Baked Chicken Legs with Olives and Tomatoes
Roland Bello

With skin that crisps beautifully and meat that stays juicy, chicken legs are an inexpensive cut that's ideal for roasting. And this delicious Mediterranean-inspired meal couldn't be any easier: Simply toss all of the ingredients in an oven-safe casserole dish and bake. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Get the recipe: Saucy Baked Chicken Legs With Olives and Tomatoes.

06 of 22

Salmon Burgers

Salmon Burgers
Roland Bello

This tasty fish burger only sounds fancy—it's no different than whipping ground beef into patties. Combine finely chopped salmon with binders—like egg whites, mustard, and breadcrumbs—and seasonings—like dill and salt—and form into patties. For an easy upgrade, swap traditional potato buns for brioche.

Get the recipe: Salmon Burgers

07 of 22

Basil Spaghetti With Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes
Roland Bello

If the kids love spaghetti, wait until they try this: Instead of the usual marinara sauce, broil thick slices of tomato topped with Parmesan and mozzarella until melted and golden (this is a great way to perk up out of season tomatoes, too). Serve the cheesy tomatoes atop a pasta drizzled with a homemade garlic pepper oil and studded with basil.

Get the recipe: Basil Spaghetti With Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

08 of 22

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup
Roland Bello

This south-of-the-border soup gets it's bold, fresh flavor from a homemade chicken broth. It's not as hard as it sounds: Just combine two whole chickens, carrots, onion, salt, and water, then simmer for about an hour. Shred the chicken, add rice, and serve with fresh avocados, cilantro, and lime juice.

Get the recipe: Mexican Chicken Soup

09 of 22

Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine

Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine
Roland Bello

Thanks to the slow cooker, this Moroccan meal is a cinch to prepare at home. There's no stovetop prep required—just toss the lamb, apricots, olives, vegetables, and spices into your slow cooker. The slow, all-day simmer ensures the dish is both fragrant and flavorful. Whip up a quick batch of couscous when you're ready to eat.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine

10 of 22

Deep-Dish Sausage, Ricotta, and Onion Pizza With Tangy Romaine

Deep-Dish Sausage, Ricotta, and Onion Pizza with Tangy Romaine
Roland Bello

You don't need any special kitchen equipment to make this deep-dish Chicago-style pizza—just a 9-inch cake pan. Place store-bought pizza dough (find it in the refrigerator section or ask your local pizza parlor if they sell dough to go) in the pan, then top with layers of mozzarella, marinara, onion, and browned sausage for a crowd-pleasing meal.

Get the recipe: Deep-Dish Sausage, Ricotta, and Onion Pizza With Tangy Romaine

11 of 22

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
Roland Bello

A good foray into Indian food, this tomato-based dish is light on the warm spices but still has distinct ethnic flair. Sprinkle garam masala (an aromatic blend of spices like cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom) into a basic tomato sauce. Adding the raw chicken to the sauce helps ensure the chicken soaks up all those delicious flavors while it cooks.

Get the recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala

12 of 22

Mustardy Kale Salad With Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple

Mustardy Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple
Roland Bello

Packed with protein and fiber, this hearty main course salad is a nutritional powerhouse. Combine the kale, roasted sweet potato, chopped apple, and almonds in a large bowl and drizzle with a tangy mustard vinaigrette. Once dressed, massage the kale with clean hands to make the salad more palatable.

Get the recipe: Mustardy Kale Salad With Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple

13 of 22

Cedar-Plank Salmon

Cedar-Plank Salmon
Roland Bello

This seafood main is impressive, yet low-effort—the cedar board (available at gourmet food stores) does most of the work for you! Coat a quality cut of salmon with a simple rub of brown sugar, thyme, and cayenne before grilling. The result is a slightly smoky, perfectly flaky fish dinner. Nobody will miss the burgers and dogs.

Get the recipe: Cedar-Plank Salmon

14 of 22

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Roland Bello

For serious chocolate lovers only! This rich, dense, and supremely moist cake is packed with two sticks of butter, heavy cream, sour cream, sugar, and a double dose of chocolate. For a pretty presentation, dust the top with confectioners' sugar and serve with lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream.

Get the recipe: Flourless Chocolate Cake

15 of 22

Bourbon Apple Cake

Bourbon Apple Cake
Charles Masters

Made with instant grits (yes, grits!) and spiked with bourbon, this fruit-laden cake has a double dose of Southern flavor. It takes just 15 minutes of hands-on prep time, making it a great choice for the busy host who needs a delicious, foolproof, and quick recipe.

Get the recipe: Bourbon Apple Cake

16 of 22

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Garlic Green Beans
Christopher Baker

The only thing better than a one-dish dinner is a well-rounded one-dish dinner. In this easy recipe, chicken breasts bake atop a bed of quartered potatoes and green beans. A light dressing of lemon, garlic, and olive oil lend bold, bright flavor to the entire dish.

Get the recipe: Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

17 of 22

Maple-Roasted Chicken With Sweet Potatoes

Maple-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
Sang An

At the grocery store, you can save a little bit of money by purchasing a whole chicken instead of the breasts. This recipe utilizes the whole bird and cooks in one dish, making cleanup a breeze. Simply cut the poultry into eight pieces, toss with a maple syrup glaze, and bake.

Get the recipe: Maple-Roasted Chicken With Sweet Potatoes

18 of 22

Turkey Sloppy Joes With Coleslaw

Turkey sloppy joes with coleslaw served on a plate.
Raymond Hom

Tomato sauce, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, and Worcestershire create a rich, savory sauce with plenty of tang. Pair these oversized and incredibly flavorful sandwiches with a crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw to complete the meal. And be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand!

Get the recipe: Turkey Sloppy Joes With Coleslaw

19 of 22

Tilapia Tacos With Cucumber Relish

Tilapia Tacos with Cucumber Relish
Charles Masters

Skip the local Mexican joint and prepare this fresher, healthier version of the classic at home. Grilling the fish rather than frying it adds bold taste without all the fat. Wrap the cooked tilapia in soft corn tortillas, top each of the tacos with a crunchy radish and cucumber relish, and serve with your favorite accompaniments (cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges are a must!).

Get the recipe: Tilapia Tacos With Cucumber Relish

20 of 22

Espresso Brownies

Espresso Brownies
Charles Masters

Perk up a batch of decadent fudge brownies with a secret ingredient: espresso. Just two tablespoons of the morning pick-me-up intensifies the already rich chocolate flavor. No espresso on hand? Substitute extra-strong brewed coffee or one rounded teaspoon of instant espresso powder with two tablespoons of water.

Get the recipe: Espresso Brownies

21 of 22

Molasses-Ginger Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Molasses-Ginger Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
Marcus Nilsson

This no-fuss frozen dessert has just two store-bought ingredients—chewy ginger or molasses cookies and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream—to make dessert quick and easy work. All you have to do is sandwich the slightly softened ice cream between two cookies. No mixer, no baking time—just 10 minutes.

Get the recipe: Molasses-Ginger Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

22 of 22

Kale Smoothie With Pineapple and Banana

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana
Christopher Baker

Don't let the name of this smoothie fool you—thanks to coconut milk, banana, and pineapple, you'd never even know you were getting a healthy dose of greens (kale or spinach both work well). Freeze the fruit before giving the ingredients a whir in the blender to create an icier beverage.

Get the recipe: Kale Smoothie With Pineapple and Banana

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