18 Dinner Ideas for Two That Work For Any Occasion

From Japanese dishes to healthy recipes, we've got you covered.

Neapolitan-Style Margherita Pizza
Photo: GREG DUPREE

Cooking for two sounds romantic, but it can be a challenge. Not only do you have to decide what the two of you want to share, but many meals are portioned for larger groups or put together from various components that are just too much for a pair. These recipes are ideal for two adults dining together, and may yield just a few leftovers, so you can enjoy the deliciousness one more time.

Whether you're planning a date night, roommate dinner or just cooking for someone you love, these dinner ideas for two prove that two cooks in the kitchen can be a very good thing.

Italian Dinner Ideas for Two

When you think of Italian dinners for two, pasta certainly comes to mind, but there's more to this popular cuisine than a bowl of noodles.

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Italian Fish Stew

Fast Italian Fish Stew
Caitlin Bensel

This quick stew recipe topped with halibut serves four, but it's easy to cut all ingredients in half! Or, just make four servings for simple leftovers for two more dinners.

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Cacio e Pepe

cacio-e-pepe-recipe
Vladislav Chusov/Getty Images

The perfect pasta recipe for two, once you master this peppery, cheesy spaghetti recipe, you've found a new Italian staple. Make sure your pasta is al dente and you're ready to eat as soon as you're done mixing all the ingredients together, because cacio e pepe tastes best when it's fresh.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Add More Protein to Your Favorite Pasta Dish—and Recipes to Get You Started

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Neapolitan Style Margherita Pizza

neapolitan-pizza-0519foo
Do you remember that scene in the movie Eat, Pray, Love, when Julia Roberts takes her first bite of pizza? She almost passes out from the bliss of tasting a slice. It’s that level of delicious that we’re going for here, with this classic rendition of the famous Naples pie. There are just a few toppings: crushed tomatoes, olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves, which means quality counts even more than normal. Cue Italian music and la bella vita can be yours. And there's no need for a pizza stone or any other fancy pizza equipment to replicate a restaurant Neopolitan-style pizza right in your own kitchen. The combo of the dough, the technique, and the high heat of the oven will yield incredible results.Get the recipeNeapolitan Pizza. Greg DuPree

Making personal pizzas side by side is the perfect Italian-inflected at-home night for a duo of cooks. Get creative with toppings or stick with the classic mozzarella and basil.

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Tortellini with Broccoli Pesto

Tortellini With Broccoli Pesto
Serve cheese tortellini with a quick and easy sauce made from broccoli, parsley, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan.Get the recipe for Tortellini With Broccoli Pesto. Gentl & Hyers

Like most hearty Italian dishes, this big batch of tortellini will serve more than two people, so reserve some pesto to use in another batch of tortellini or with other pasta. You can also make it all and enjoy the rest cold as a pasta salad the next day.

Healthy Dinner Ideas for Two

Fill your body with nutritious superfoods such as quinoa and sunflower seeds, courtesy of these healthy dinner ideas for two.

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Nicoise-Inspired Summer Salad

Nicoise Inspired Summer Salad
Caitlin Bensel

This composed salad looks beautiful, and is as simple as laying out prepped ingredients on a plate. Swap in any type of cured fish you like for protein, or make this healthy salad vegetarian using seitan instead.

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Skillet Quinoa with Olives and Crispy Tofu

Skillet Quinoa with Olives and Tofu
Victor Protasio

A one-pot meal that's packed with flavor and nutrients, this unexpected combo of olives and crisp tofu is a total winner. If you don't want to share, we don't blame you!

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Superfood Lentil Salad

Superfood Lentil Salad Recipe
Victor Protasio

Quick charred zucchini and a sunflower seed vinaigrette are just two powerhouses that give this salad depth, texture, and of course, plenty of healthy benefits.

RELATED: 10 Superfoods You Can Keep in the Freezer—and How to Cook With Them

Easy Dinner Ideas for Two

Who doesn't love an easy meal? The below dinner ideas for two each require 30 minutes or less of hands-on work, but are filled with bold flavors and varying textures.

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Peanut Butter Ramen

Peanut Butter Ramen Recipe
Antonis Achilleos

Easy enough to make from pantry staples, these instant noodles with peanut sauce are super easy to whip up and fully open to interpretation. Add protein or fresh veggies, make them spicy, or add some crunch on top.

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Lobster Tails With Cilantro Butter

Lobster Tails With Cilantro Butter
This recipe works with both fresh and frozen lobster. Get the recipe. Con Poulos

It's just butter and two lobster tails for each person with this easy yet decadent dinner for two. Add some rolls to dip the butter into and you're golden.

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Slow Cooker Coq au Vin

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

Bold and rich in flavor, this slowly braised chicken comes together slowly but easily for a special dinner for two, plus leftovers that will taste even better after being reheated in the sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles, or a baguette.

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Cheesy Chicken Nachos

Homemade nachos recipes - Cheesy Chicken Nachos
Greg DuPree

Fill a sheet pan with chips and the toppings of your choice and voila, dinner for two! Have some fun and eat them right off the tray, or be a little more proper and plate your nachos. Your call.

Vegetarian Dinner Ideas for Two

Don't eat meat? We've got you (and your plus-one) covered with these meat-free meals that taste delicious.

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Cheese Soufflé

Cheese Souffle
Beth Galton

Whip up a decadent and fluffy soufflé for two that's as impressive as it is tasty. Dig in with two spoons for a special night.

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Grilled Halloumi Salad

Grilled Halloumi Salad
There are a few reasons why this delicious grilled halloumi cheese salad is going to become your summer dinner fave. First, it’s easy to throw together after work, and still manages to be super filling. Second, it hits all the right flavor notes, from briny olives to spicy garlic and cool, crunchy cucumbers. But, the most important reason to make this salad is to eat grilled halloumi, a firm cheese that can stand the heat of a grill or grill pan. The taste is salty like feta, but you can cut into the planks of crispy, melty cheese with a knife and fork like you would tofu or a portobello mushroom. Get the recipe: Grilled Halloumi Salad. Greg DuPree

Grilled cheese takes on a whole new meaning when it's the cheese that hits the heat. This salad full of protein makes for the perfect meal and is even good leftover too.

RELATED: 12 Easy Summer Salad Recipes That Use The Season's Best Ingredients

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Egg Salad Toast With Fresh Herbs and Capers

Egg Salad Toast
These open-faced egg toast beauties are much more than your average egg salad sandwich—the flavors, textures, and even look are elegant and original. Folded into the egg salad mixture is a mustardy vinaigrette, briny capers, fresh parsley, and just-bitter-enough radicchio leaves. Heaped on top of toasted sourdough, the result is both fresh and hearty, a win-win! This mixture would also be delicious piled on a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, or even served as a salad for a lighter meal. Get the recipeEgg Salad Toast with Fresh Herbs and Capers. Greg DuPree

This elegant toast is perfect for lunch or dinner and totally vegetarian. The herbs add a level of freshness, and the tanginess from the capers makes this restaurant-worthy.

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Lemony Lentil Soup

lemony-lentil-soup-0519din
Greg DuPree

A batch of this bright and healthy plant-based soup is perfect for a cozy dinner—and you may even have leftovers for another meal. Add some pita on the side to dip.

Japanese Dinner Ideas for Two

Skip takeout and whip up a Japanese-inspired meal on your own. Think tempura, nigiri, and more.

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Shrimp and Broccoli Tempura

Shrimp and Broccoli Tempura, one of our easy shrimp recipes
Seltzer and baking soda in the tempura batter ensures the coating stays light and crispy.Get the recipe: Shrimp and Broccoli Tempura. Paul Sirisalee

Soft soba and crisp homemade tempura unite as the perfect pair in this refined dinner for two. Delegate one diner to throw together the dipping sauce and the other to fry the goodies for the perfect meal.

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Japanese-Style Shrimp Salad

Japanese-Style Shrimp Salad Recipe
Greg DuPree

This quick and healthy meal comes together in 15 minutes and is packed with rich, tangy, and spicy flavors. Purchase pre-cooked shrimp to make the prep even shorter.

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Salmon Nigiri

Salmon Nigiri
Yes, this recipe is intended for thinly-sliced sushi-grade salmon. But you can also top the vinegar-seasoned rice with large cooked, tail-on shrimp or thin slices of ripe avocado. Get the recipe:Salmon Nigiri. Daniel Agee

Sushi night at home is the best night! Make it date night with this nigiri recipe, which can be supplemented with edamame.

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