35 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 quick dinner ideas and simple recipes are wholesome, almost entirely homemade, and affordable, too—no chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or prohibitively expensive meals here. These dinner ideas all require just 25 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 for many more dinners. 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's supper.
We’ve got you covered for those busy nights when spending more than 25 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. 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 several courses? Pin this slideshow of simple dinner ideas for later when you’re finding your go-to menus are getting a little tired.
Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
One-dish dinners are a dream come true for busy cooks. You can cook everything you need for your meal—in this case, chicken leg quarters and sweet potato wedges—at the same time, and on the same dish. This saves you time, mess, and a whole lot of effort. This dish is quite simple, which is why it’s so great for weeknights. You can change up the herbs (it calls for sage, but rosemary would be good, too) and switch the greens from watercress to butter lettuce or anything you have on hand.
Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
Grilled Pork Chops with Peach-Parsley Salad
A grill is the gift that keeps on giving for easy summer dinners, as in the case of this easy pork chop recipe. The pork chops get a perfect sear thanks to patting dry before you add them to the hot, oiled grill grates, and—bonus!—there’s no smoky kitchen to worry about after. You’ll serve the chops with a peppery arugula and stone-fruit salad; a perfect savory-sweet dinner pairing. Peaches and apricots are called for here, but any in-season stone fruit like plums or nectarines would taste great alongside.
Get the recipe: Grilled Pork Chops with Peach-Parsley Salad
Cheesy Chicken Nachos
Making a nachos recipe at home leaves you to pile on the goodies evenly over the chips, which you’ll arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. This means every chip is gloriously topped with chicken, cheese, salsa, avocado and, well, more cheese. Make it a bigger meal by adding black beans or get crazy and swap the avocado for guacamole. Best part? This dish takes 20 minutes.
Get the recipe: Cheesy Chicken Nachos
Chicken Thighs With Chorizo, Spring Onions, and Rice Pilaf
This Spanish-inspired chicken dinner is short on time but long on flavor, thanks to a clever combination of dried chorizo and a triple dose of alliums, aka spring onions, red onions, and garlic cloves. The rice pilaf is a riff on a classic Spanish dish called fideos—essentially pan-toasted pasta, spiced with saffron and simmered in rich chicken broth. The result is so much more exciting and delicious than your average chicken and rice combo.
Get the recipe: Chicken Thighs With Chorizo, Spring Onions, and Rice Pilaf
Egg Salad Toast with Fresh Herbs and Capers
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 recipe: Egg Salad Toast with Fresh Herbs and Capers
Grandma Pie With Pepperoni and Pink Sauce
Grandma pies, said to have originated in New York, have one attribute that is highly likable (beyond all the ingredients): it's the fact that it can be made in a standard baking sheet. The toppings here are mostly classic: melted mozzarella and crispy coins of pepperoni, but the red sauce has a twist: a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream, which makes this even richer than normal. Top it off with rounds of red onion and it's becomes an unforgettable pie. Before serving, sprinkle some crushed red pepper and dried oregano, or serve both on the side and have everyone sprinkle their own.
Get the recipe: Grandma Pie With Pepperoni and Pink Sauce
Grilled Hallmoumi 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
Shrimp Lo Mein
Lo mein—a Chinese dish that means stirred noodles—is a standard takeout order for many Americans, but making it at home is an opportunity to not only expand your culinary repertoire, but to cut down on expensive delivery. Lo mein noodles are stirred into a sauce—in this case, a mixture of soy, lime, sugar, Sriracha, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. What’s not to like? You’ll also fold in shrimp and sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, scallions, and mushrooms, plus fresh baby bok choy.
Get the recipe: Shrimp Lo Mein
Lemony Lentil Soup
In this simple soup recipe, you’ll simmer everyday ingredients like carrots, onion, garlic, and spices with red lentils, which are the perfect soup legume since they break down into soft submission. Instead of pureeing the entire soup into oblivion, you’ll only blend half the batch to retain some texture. On top are crispy, roasted kale leaves for a modern garnish—they’re not your mother’s parsley leaves, that’s for sure. For a classic soup-and-sandwich combo, serve with a whole-grain grilled cheese.
Get the recipe: Lemony Lentil Soup
Crispy Eggplant With Minty Yogurt
Here’s a clever way to use a jar of mint jelly you’ve had sitting in your fridge since Easter: stir it into a tangy yogurt sauce and serve it with crispy eggplant rounds. The mint jelly adds a fresh herbal twist, plus welcome sweetness to balance out the crunchy coating on the eggplant rounds. Make sure to buy panko breadcrumbs, which are Japanese-style and much crispier than the standard American variety.
Get the recipe: Crispy Eggplant With Minty Yogurt
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, the recipe 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
RELATED: 30 No-Fail Chicken Dinners
Chicken Curry in a Hurry
Wait a minute, you might be thinking. How does curry make a list of quick dinner ideas? 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 for those nights 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 this 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 dinner 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 dinner idea: a 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 supper idea. 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 one 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 fast 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 you slice and serve.
Get the recipe: Steak With Artichoke and Cherry Pepper Sauté
RELATED: Easy Steak Dinners
Related: How to Make Personalized Pizzas
Making pizza at home is easier than you might think, and the results are infinitely better (and healthier!) than takeout. The whole family can make their own individual pies, complete with their favorite toppings, such as pepperoni or pineapple. Start with pre-made dough from the grocery store to simplify the process.
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 an easy dinner o 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 five minutes, tops. Garnish the bowls with freshly chopped parsley, 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
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. This easy dinner idea is 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
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 fast recipe, you can replicate it 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 easy supper idea. 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 quick dinner alongside a green salad or rice, if you’d like.
Get the recipe: Caribbean Tenderloin With Mango Salsa
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 next to your green vegetable, and voila.
Get the recipe: Spicy Salmon With Bok Choy and Rice
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
Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta
Feel like a meal that’s both light and hearty? One that’s got vegetables and protein? Our fast 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 dinner—in just 20 minutes.
Get the recipe: Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta