20 Fast Dinner Ideas for Any Night of the Week
Don’t have an hour to spend simmering dinner over the stove or waiting for it to roast in the oven? Who does? Our ideas for quick and easy suppers are wholesome, almost entirely homemade, and affordable, too—no chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or prohibitively expensive meals here. These speedy recipes all require just 15 minutes or less of hands-on work, and they run the gamut from totally kid-friendly fare (such as our Baked Pecorino Chicken and a simple bowl of orecchiette pasta with broccoli, ground turkey and Parmesan) to more sophisticated dinner party or date-night dishes (Poached Halibut with Green Beans and Red Potatoes or a deceptively simple lamb and spring vegetable stew). Use the collection to plan five weekdays’ worth of meals, and you can cycle through Southwestern chili, creamy shrimp pasta, a breakfast that’s equally delicious at dinner, seafood soup, and oven-fried pork cutlets. Or maybe a lineup of curried chicken, steak with roasted vegetables, Caribbean pork tenderloin, bulgur salad, and spicy salmon sounds like a better fit for your family. We’ve got you covered for those busy nights when spending more than 20 minutes in the kitchen just won’t do, and unlike lots of recipes that claim to simplify dinnertime, ours are truly all-in-one meals. Meaning you could toss some bread on the table, if you’d like, but ultimately, we’ve got multiple food groups on each plate and every bowl because, really, who’s got time for multiple courses? Pin this slideshow for later, when you’re finding your go-to menus are getting a little tired.
Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta
Feel like a meal that’s both light and hearty? One that’s got vegetables and protein? Our recipe for Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta is the answer. While the pasta cooks, sauté the leaks and shrimp in butter. The spinach will wilt naturally when combined with the warm pasta, and a bit of lemon zest adds fresh flavor to the light cream sauce. The kids get a “macaroni and cheese”-like supper, which has not one, but two vegetables stirred in. And the adults get a tasty and easy meal—in just 20 minutes.
Get the recipe: Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta
Shrimp With Tomatoes and Olives
This flavorful shrimp dish, served over couscous—a quick-cooking staple that’s an instant time-saver—requires just 10 minutes spent over the stove. And, from start to finish, the supper’s on the table in 20 minutes total. As the grain cooks, you’ll sauté chopped onion, then make a sauce with canned diced tomatoes, green olives, and white wine, before adding the shrimp and simmering the mixture for a few more minutes. Perfect for a fall or winter night whenever the whole family’s dealing with busy schedules—and growling stomachs.
Get the recipe: Shrimp With Tomatoes and Olives
Spicy Salmon With Bok Choy and Rice
Get a healthy meal on the table in 20 minutes with this smart plan to divide and conquer: While the salmon cooks up quickly in the oven, you’ll cook the rice according to the package directions, make a tasty glaze for the fish—with a bit of honey, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper—and steam the baby bok choy. Plate the salmon over a bed of rice and next to your green vegetable, and voila.
Get the recipe: Spicy Salmon With Bok Choy and Rice
Related: Healthy Fish Recipes That Won’t Dirty Any Dishes
Salmon With Creamy Cucumber-Fennel Salad
When you’re on the hunt for a quick and easy meal, you’ve probably got a go-to chicken dinner, and maybe a shrimp recipe, too. Shake up the routine with this simple approach to salmon. And, to speed up pre-dinner prep time, you can make the side salad, which gets its crunch from cucumbers and fennel, up to 12 hours in advance. Reserve a few fennel fronds to garnish the plate. Store the salad in the fridge in a sealed container; serve cool or at room temperature alongside freshly roasted salmon.
Get the recipe: Salmon With Creamy Cucumber-Fennel Salad
Chicken, Zucchini, and Prosciutto
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! This surprising but oh-so-satisfying meal is on the table in 20 minutes. First, you’ll brown the chicken breasts over the stove before transferring them in the oven to cook through. As they roast, you’ll crisp up the prosciutto, then sauté sliced zucchini with garlic, salt and pepper. (That step only requires a few minutes, as we found that cutting the squash into thin half-moons means they’re ready fast.) Just eight minutes after throwing the chicken in the oven, it’s ready; toss everything together, squeeze some fresh lemon on top—and you’re done.
Get the recipe: Chicken, Zucchini, and Prosciutto
Baked Pecorino Chicken
A crunchy coating of grated pecorino, bread crumbs, and butter breathes new life into boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. This technique might look time-intensive, but in reality, it couldn’t be easier: Rather than breading each individual piece of meat, you sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the chicken, placed side-by-side in a baking dish. And the best part? While the chicken cooks in the oven, you’ll have more than enough time to whip up a healthful and colorful side of sautéed Swiss chard, or whatever leafy green or other vegetable your family loves.
Get the recipe: Baked Pecorino Chicken
Chicken Curry in a Hurry
Wait a minute, you might be thinking. How does curry qualify as a quick dinner? Our hurried-up version uses rotisserie chicken to save time, and the meal’s ready in just over half and hour. Pin this one for later—those nights when you’re craving Indian food but don’t care to order take-out, and you need something on the table, stat. A simple sauce, made with plain yogurt, heavy cream, and a few teaspoons of curry powder, evenly coats the shredded chicken. Add a can of diced tomatoes, too, if you’d like, and serve the dish over rice.
Get the recipe: Chicken Curry in a Hurry
Pasta With Turkey and Broccoli
This dish might taste like those slow-cooked Italian pastas with vegetables and sausage. But our take is ready in 20 minutes, and uses ground turkey, a leaner, healthier alternative to sausage or beef that also cooks up quickly. You’ll brown the meat in one pan, but boil the pasta and the broccoli together. Chopped garlic and crushed red pepper gives the pasta a bit of a zip; for picky eaters, hold the red pepper and let everybody season their own plate as they sprinkle on the Parmesan.
Get the recipe: Pasta With Turkey and Broccoli
Related: Easy Ground Turkey Recipes
Zucchini and Bean Salad With Bulgur
Believe it or not, nothing on that plate requires much in the way of preparation—or cooking. The bulgur simply steams in boiling water, so after making a quick vinaigrette and chopping your zucchini, shallot, and dill, you’re ready to toss this tasty salad together and serve. Salted roasted almonds lend some crunch, while creamy, crumbled goat cheese ties it all together. You’ll be sitting down within 20 minutes, to a satisfying but unexpected meal that’s as healthy as it is convenient.
Get the recipe: Zucchini and Bean Salad With Bulgur
Related: Sophisticated Italian Pasta Recipes
Whole-Grain Spaghetti With Garlicky Kale and Tomatoes
Craving pasta, but not in the mood to load up on carbs? We devised this super easy pasta dish, with garlic, onion, kale, grape tomatoes, and almonds, to go with whole-grain noodles. As you boil the spaghetti, you’ll cook the kale on the stovetop with garlic and onion, which only takes a few minutes. Top the pasta with kale, chopped roasted almonds, and pecorino cheese. We’re willing to bet the whole family will love this 30-minute meal. Especially you.
Get the recipe: Whole-Grain Spaghetti With Garlicky Kale and Tomatoes
Related: Healthy Kale Recipes
Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn
Plenty of choice chili recipes require you to simmer the pot for an hour or two. And it’s not that this all-American classic isn’t worth investing some time. But when your family wants chili fast, this poblano chile-spiked chili, packed with ground beef, black beans, corn kernels, and carrots, comes together on the stove in just 30 minutes. What’s even quicker than that? Doubling the recipe, and taking care of dinner for night down the road, or stretch it out by serving the chili over brown rice.
Get the recipe: Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn
Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo
The idea of breakfast for dinner is nothing new, and some nights, there’s nothing wrong with scrambling up a few eggs (or even offering oatmeal or pancakes for an evening meal). But with just slightly more planning, you can cook up this tasty frittata, packed with yellow onion, red potatoes, chorizo sausage, and Manchego or cheddar cheese—in half an hour, and in a single skillet. Expect this filling omelet to become a comfort-food fixture in your kitchen. (And just so you know, leftover slices are fantastic for lunch.)
Get the recipe: Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo
Steak With Roasted Parsnips, Tomatoes, and Scallions
This dinner looks like it took time and plenty of effort, right? Well, in reality, it’s a steak dinner that comes together in 15 minutes in your kitchen—no grill required. Toss the parsnips, cherry or grape tomatoes, and scallions with thyme and olive oil, and roast the mixture until tender. Then, all that’s left to do is to sear the steak over the stovetop—and dinner is served. The recipe’s perfect for colder nights when you don’t feel like firing up the grill.
Get the recipe: Steak With Roasted Parsnips, Tomatoes, and Scallions
Steak With Artichoke and Cherry Pepper Sauté
When a steak sure would hit the spot, but you’re looking for something more interesting than a supper of meat and potatoes, try this surprisingly delicious combination. We designed the recipe with ease in mind; after you sear the steak, you’ll cook the simple side dish of charred bread, artichoke hearts, and peppadews, in a second skillet. The side requires just a few minutes of cooking time, giving the meat the perfect amount of time to rest before slicing and serving.
Get the recipe: Steak With Artichoke and Cherry Pepper Sauté
Related: Easy Steak Dinners
Halibut and quick-cooking mussels are the stars of this rich, fragrant meal-in-a-bowl. And while the seafood soup might look fancy, and even a bit time-intensive, it’s actually quite easy to prepare: After sautéing leeks, garlic, and fennel in a saucepan, you’ll add sherry and canned diced tomatoes before bringing the mixture to a simmer. Add the fish and mussels, and simmer another 5 minutes, tops. Garnish the bowls with freshly chopped parsley and put a bowl of mixed olives on the table, and you’re ready to eat. Crusty bread makes a great addition, too.
Get the recipe: Fishermen’s Soup
Roasted Cod and Scallions With Spiced Potatoes
Some quick and easy dinner ideas require little chopping, or just a single pan, or even very little cooking. In this case, all the ingredients cook in the oven, which makes for very little prep—and very few dishes to wash. Start with four pieces of skinless cod (halibut or striped bass fillet work nicely, too), which is topped with strips of lemon zest and roasted alongside scallions and sliced red potatoes, coated in olive oil and chili powder. Oh, and it’s all ready in 30 minutes.
Get the recipe: Roasted Cod and Scallions With Spiced Potatoes
Poached Halibut With Green Beans and Red Potatoes
Just seven ingredients combine to make this delicious seafood dinner. You’ll boil whole red potatoes, then green beans until just tender before mixing the cooked vegetables with some butter, fresh chives, and salt and pepper. Then, in a separate skillet, you’ll poach the fish in a bite of white whine. After plating the meal, take any leftover butter and spoon it over the fish. That plate might look like it came from a fancy seafood restaurant, but with this recipe, you can replicate it quickly and easily at home.
Get the recipe: Poached Halibut With Green Beans and Red Potatoes
Oven-Fried Pork Cutlets With Fennel-Chickpea Slaw
Thin, crispy slices of pork and a crunchy, zesty salad (made with chickpeas, sliced fennel, celery, red onion, and a quick lemon dressing) provide a great point and counterpoint in this simple supper. And that breaded crust? It’s homemade—no stale store-bought breadcrumbs here. After quickly whipping up your own bread crumbs with whole-wheat sandwich bread, you’ll coat the thin pork cutlets before tossing them in the oven to bake. That leaves plenty of time to mix up the slaw before the timer dings and dinner’s on the table.
Get the recipe: Oven-Fried Pork Cutlets With Fennel-Chickpea Slaw
Caribbean Tenderloin With Mango Salsa
Give dinnertime a tropical flair with this lively salsa made with fresh mango, scallions, lime juice, and crushed red pepper. Chop up the ingredients and mix the salsa up first thing; then set it aside to let the flavors meld a bit while you prep the pork tenderloin, which gets cooked under the broiler in just 12 to 15 minutes. Put a lime wedge on each plate to amp up the tart citrus flavor, and serve the meal alongside a green salad or rice, if you’d like.
Get the recipe: Caribbean Tenderloin With Mango Salsa
Quick Spring Lamb and Vegetable Stew
Carrots, onion, diced canned tomatoes, green beans, chicken broth, and fresh parsley combine to flavor this easy-to-make lamb stew, which feels so right in spring—but proves delicious and warming in fall and winter, too. Feeling a tad ambitious? Make an extra batch of this freezer-friendly dinner, and save it for a night when you’re even more pressed for time. (We’ve even got detailed instructions on how to best freeze and reheat the stew so the vegetables and meat remain perfectly tender.)
Get the recipe: Quick Spring Lamb and Vegetable Stew
Related: Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals