35 Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas to Add to Your Menu

Take the guesswork out of the "what's for dinner" question. Our simple dinner ideas will help you get meals on the table in 35 minutes or less.

Grilled Pork Chop with Peach Arugula Salad on a White Circular Plate With Metal Fork

If you need fast dinner recipes to help you quickly get dinner on the table, we've come to the rescue. These easy dinner ideas are wholesome, almost entirely homemade, and affordable, too—no chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or prohibitively expensive meals here. Plus, they only require 35 minutes or less of hands-on work, which is perfect if you tend to wait until the last minute to prepare your final meal of the day.

These simple dinners run the gamut from kid-friendly fare (cheesy chicken nachos) to more sophisticated dinner dishes like glazed salmon with broccoli rice. Use one of these fast dinner ideas to prepare a delicious meal on busy weeknights. And when you've breezed through these recipes, there are plenty of great cookbooks to inspire you.

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Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Sheet Pan Chicken Leg Quarters and Sweet Potatoes Served With Watercress on a Circular White Plate With Metal Fork
Greg DuPree

Sheet-pan dinners are a dream come true for busy cooks. You can cook everything you need for your meal at one time and on the same dish—in this case, chicken leg quarters and sweet potato wedges. This saves you time and plenty of effort, not to mention there isn't much to clean up once dinner is over.

This meal is quite simple, which is why it's so great for weeknights. Feel free to change up the herbs (the recipe calls for sage, but rosemary would be good, too) and switch the greens from watercress to butter lettuce or anything you have on hand.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Arugula Salad

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Arugula Salad Served on Two Circular White Plates With a Metal Fork
Greg DuPree

A grill is perfect for easy dinner ideas, as is the case with this simple pork chop recipe. The pork chops get a perfect sear since you pat them dry before adding them to the hot, oiled grill, and—bonus!—there's no smoky kitchen to worry about afterward.

You'll serve the chops with 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, will taste great too.

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Cheesy Chicken Nachos With Avocado and Radish

Cheesy Chicken Nachos With Avocado and Radish on a Baking Sheet, Surrounded by Glasses and Bottles of Water
Greg DuPree

Constructing nachos at home allows you to pile on the goodies evenly after arranging the chips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. For this recipe, this means every chip is gloriously topped with chicken, cheese, salsa, avocado, and, well, more cheese.

Make this an even heartier meal by adding black beans, or swap the avocado for homemade guacamole. The best part? This dish takes 20 minutes to prepare.

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Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Salsa Verde

Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Salsa Verde Served With Warm Tortillas
Jen Causey

Dust off your sheet pan because this 30-minute meal is destined to become a new favorite! The recipe pairs seasoned chicken thighs with fresh vegetables, cotija cheese, and savory salsa verde, which you can then nestle inside a warm corn tortilla for a complete meal.

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Egg Salad Toast with Fresh Herbs and Capers

Boiled Egg Salad Toast with Fresh Herbs and Capers on a Wooden Cutting Board
Greg DuPree

These open-faced egg toast beauties are much more than your average egg salad sandwich—the flavors, textures, and even the look are elegant and original. A mustardy vinaigrette, briny capers, fresh parsley, and just-bitter-enough radicchio leaves are folded into the boiled egg salad mixture.

Heaped on top of toasted sourdough, the result is fresh and hearty—a win-win! This mixture would also be delicious if piled on whole grain (like brown rice or quinoa) or served as a salad for a lighter meal.

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Grandma Pie With Pepperoni and Pink Sauce

Rectangle Pizza With Pepperoni and Pink Sauce on a Baking Sheet and Cut into Squares
Greg DuPree

Grandma pies—said to have originated in New York—have one highly likable attribute (beyond all the ingredients): You can make the whole thing on a standard baking sheet. The toppings here are mostly classic—melted mozzarella and crispy pepperoni coins—but the red pizza sauce gets a twist courtesy of a few tablespoons of heavy cream, which makes this pizza richer than usual.

Top this pie off with rounds of red onion and a dash of crushed red pepper, and it becomes an unforgettable meal. Or, you can use whichever toppings you and your family prefer. The great thing about homemade pizza is that it's customizable.

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Grilled Halloumi Salad

Grilled Halloumi Salad on a Circular White Plate With a Metal Fork, Surrounded by Dressing in a Small Bowl
Greg DuPree

There are a few reasons why this delicious grilled halloumi salad will become a new dinner fave. First, it's easy to throw together after work, and it 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 so you can eat grilled halloumi. The firm cheese can stand the heat of a grill or grill pan and tastes salty, like feta. Go ahead and cut into the planks of crispy, melty cheese with a knife and fork, just like you would tofu or portobello mushrooms.

08 of 35

Shrimp Lo Mein

Shrimp Lo Mein With Vegetables Served in a Large White Bowl
Greg DuPree

Lo mein (meaning stirred noodles) is a standard takeout order for many people in the U.S. However, making it at home is an opportunity to expand your culinary repertoire and reduce delivery expenses.

Lo mein noodles are stirred into a sauce—in this case, a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, 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, mushrooms, and fresh baby bok choy.

09 of 35

Lemony Lentil Soup

Lemony Lentil Soup, Topped With Kale and Served in a White Bowl With a Metal Spoon
Greg DuPree

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 when heated. Instead of puréeing the entire soup into oblivion, you'll only blend half the batch to retain some texture.

Then, you'll top the whole thing with crispy, roasted kale leaves for a modern garnish. For a classic soup-and-sandwich combo, serve a bowl with a whole-grain grilled cheese sandwich.

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Eggplant and Tomato Masala With Chickpeas

Eggplant and Tomato Masala With Chickpeas Served on a Circular White Plate With Wooden-Handle Utensils
Antonis Achilleos

This Indian-inspired vegetarian meal comes together in 25 minutes but is still incredibly bold and delicious. That's because the recipe calls for two layers of seasonings, including cumin, mustard seeds, and coriander.

The spices then stew with onions, eggplant, garam masala, and cilantro stems, which are then simmered with canned chickpeas and fire-roasted tomatoes. Trust us—you'll love this flavorful feast.

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Crispy Chicken Cutlets With Artichoke Dressing

Crispy Chicken Cutlets and Asparagus on a Large White Plate, With Artichoke Dressing in a Small White Bowl
Greg DuPree

You can't go wrong with crispy chicken cutlets. Breadcrumb-coated chicken is baked and paired with roasted asparagus, and the whole thing is topped with a lemony dressing made from briny artichoke hearts, fresh parsley, and salty Parmesan cheese. This dish is so tasty that it's hard to believe you can whip it up in just 25 minutes.

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Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Chicken Curry in a Hurry, a Perfect Quick Dinner Recipe, Served Over White Rice in a White Bowl
John Kernick

How does curry make a list of quick dinner recipes? Our fast version uses rotisserie chicken to save time—the meal is ready in just over 30 minutes. Pin this one for nights when you're craving Indian food but don't care to order take-out.

A simple sauce of 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.

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Pasta With Turkey and Broccoli

Pasta With Turkey and Broccoli Served in a White Bowl
Raymond Hom

This recipe might taste like a traditional slow-cooked Italian pasta dish with vegetables and sausage—but our version is ready in 20 minutes and uses ground turkey, a leaner, healthier alternative to sausage that 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 give the pasta a bit of a zip.

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Zucchini and Bean Salad With Bulgur

Zucchini and Bean Salad With Bulgur Served in a White Bowl Against a Blue Plaid Tablecloth, Surrounded by White Cups
Marcus Nilsson

Believe it or not, nothing on this plate requires much 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 together. You'll be sitting down within 20 minutes and enjoying a satisfying but unexpected dinner that's as healthy as it is convenient.

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Whole Grain Spaghetti With Kale and Tomatoes

Whole-Grain Spaghetti With Garlicky Kale and Tomatoes
Hans Gissinger

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, 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 dinner idea.

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Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn

Two White Bowls Full Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn, a quick dinner recipe, Topped With Shredded Cheese
Hector M. Sanchez

Plenty of chili recipes require you to simmer everything for an hour or two. And it's not that this classic isn't worth investing time in, but when your family wants chili fast, this poblano chile-spiked version (packed with ground beef, black beans, corn kernels, and carrots) comes together on the stove in just 30 minutes.

Double the recipe and take care of dinner for one night down the road, or make the chili last a bit longer by serving it over brown rice.

17 of 35

Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo

Two Slices of Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo Served With a Side Salad on a White Plate
Ngoc Minh Ngo

The idea of breakfast for dinner is nothing new, and some nights there's nothing wrong with scrambling up a few eggs (or even preparing oatmeal or pancakes) for an evening meal. But with just slightly more planning, you can cook up this tasty Spanish omelet packed with yellow onion, red potatoes, chorizo, and Manchego or cheddar cheese.

The best part? It's ready in half an hour and can be cooked 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.)

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Smoky-Sweet Steak Supper

Smoky-Sweet Steak Supper Served With Fresh Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes on a White Circular Plate With Wooden-Handle Utensils
Caitlin Bensel

While cooking steak for dinner might sound intimidating, this hearty meal is ready in just 25 minutes and certainly doesn't lack flavor. The meat is slathered in a sugar and paprika rub, which delivers an irresistible sweet and smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with blanched green beans and fresh cherry tomatoes. Break out a bottle of pinot noir, and you're good to go!

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Steak-and-Potato Skewers With Orange Salsa

Steak-and-Potato Skewers Served With Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions on a White Plate
Victor Protasio

There's nothing better than a meal on a stick, especially if it sounds fancy but only takes 30 minutes to make. With this recipe, you'll build the steak and spiced potato skewers, then grill bell peppers and onions separately. The whole spread is tied together with a spicy orange salsa, which you'll want to make over and over again.

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Fishermen's Soup

Fishermen's Soup in a White Bowl With a Small White Ladle Spoon
Marcus Nilsson

Halibut and quick-cooking mussels are the stars of this rich, fragrant meal-in-a-bowl. And while this seafood soup might look fancy—and even a bit time-consuming—it's quite an easy dinner to prepare.

After sautéing leeks, garlic, and fennel in a saucepan, add sherry and canned diced tomatoes before bringing the mixture to a simmer. Add the fish and mussels, and simmer for another five minutes—tops.

Garnish the bowls with freshly chopped parsley, provide some mixed olives on the table, and you're ready to eat. Crusty bread makes a great addition, too.

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Sheet Pan Cod and Potatoes

Sheet Pan Cod and Potatoes Served With Greens on a White Plate
Caitlin Bensel

Remember that sheet pan you used for those easy chicken dinners? It works for fish too. This simple dinner has everything you need—creamy Yukon gold potatoes, a cod fillet, and crispy chard leaves. The balanced meal gets dressed up with a quick olive salsa that adds richness, acidity, and a little spice to the whole dish.

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Saucy Shrimp and Noodle Stir-Fry

Saucy Shrimp and Noodle Stir-Fry Served in a Large White Bowl
Antonis Achilleos

If you're eager to cook with shrimp but don't know where to start, try this easy stir-fry recipe. The shrimp are stir-fry-proof (trust us), and they're slathered in a sweet and spicy sauce you'll want to put on everything.

Tender rice noodles, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy round out this 20-minute meal. Feel free to add (or swap in) bell peppers, broccoli, and whatever veggies you have in the fridge.

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Green Curry With Halibut and Corn

Green Curry With Halibut and Corn Served in a White Bowl With a Metal Spoon
Johnny Miller

Sure, you can order take-out curry for dinner, but if you want to try making the popular dish yourself, start with this easy recipe. You'll begin by cooking the shallots in green curry paste and adding coconut milk and chicken broth before stirring in the corn and halibut.

Once the fish is cooked (which takes about eight minutes), spoon the curry over already-cooked rice. To add flavor to the meal, add a squeeze of lime and toss in basil leaves and sliced jalapeño.

24 of 35

Crispy Pork Cutlets With Fennel-Chickpea Slaw

Crispy Pork Cutlets With Fennel-Chickpea Slaw, Served With Lemon Wedges on a White Plate
Christopher Baker

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 homemade bread crumbs using whole-wheat sandwich bread, coat the thin pork cutlets before tossing them in the oven to bake. That leaves plenty of time to mix the slaw before the timer dings and dinner's on the table.

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Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin Served With Carrots and Cucumber Over Rice
Greg DuPree

Thanks to a tasty brown sugar and soy-spiked beef stock, this easy-to-make pork tenderloin is anything but dry. While a slow cooker is needed for this recipe, it only takes 20 minutes to make, and the result is tender meat that can be pulled apart with a fork. Serve the sweet and savory pork with fresh cucumber and carrots over hot rice for a balanced meal.

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Broiled Salmon on Rice With Broccoli

Broiled Glazed Salmon Served Over Rice With Broccoli
Kan Kanbayashi

Salmon is a fishy fish—a real turn-off for many picky eaters of all ages. However, this dish features broiled salmon that's buttery, flaky, and won't stink up your kitchen.

Once the fish is nearly done broiling, brush it with a glaze made from brown sugar and low-sodium soy sauce or tamari. This will allow the sauce to caramelize and give each fillet a slightly crispy top. And be sure to save some of the sauce for drizzling over the broccoli rice.

27 of 35

Quick Lamb and Vegetable Stew

Quick Spring Lamb and Vegetable Stew in a Blue Pot With a Wooden Serving Spoon
Quentin Bacon

Carrots, onion, diced canned tomatoes, green beans, chicken broth, and fresh parsley combine to flavor this easy-to-make lamb stew. It's a hearty, warm meal you can make any night—especially on cool fall or spring days.

Feel 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 for how to freeze and reheat the stew so the vegetables and meat remain perfectly tender.)

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Shrimp and Spinach Pasta with Leeks

Shrimp and Spinach Pasta with Leeks Served on a White Plate
Christopher Baker

Want a meal that's both light and hearty, with vegetables and protein? Our easy, fast recipe for shrimp, leek, and spinach pasta is the answer.

While the pasta cooks, sauté the leeks 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.

Kids (and kids-at-heart) 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 ready in just 20 minutes.

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Salmon With Creamy Cucumber-Fennel Salad

Salmon With Creamy Cucumber-Fennel Salad Served on a Plate With Metal Utensils and a White Cloth Napkin
José Picayo

While you probably have a go-to chicken dinner and maybe a quick shrimp recipe ready for busy nights, shake up the dinner routine with this simple approach to salmon. 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.

Make sure to reserve a few fennel fronds to garnish the plate. Store the salad in the fridge in a sealed container and serve cool or at room temperature alongside freshly roasted salmon.

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Linguine With Shrimp and Artichokes

Linguine With Shrimp and Artichokes Served in a White Bowl With a Metal Fork
David Prince

A crisp, golden brown topping on the pasta (sautéed panko crumbs mixed with chopped parsley) elevates this dinner dish, making it look far more elegant and time-consuming than it truly is. Believe it or not, this protein-rich pasta requires just 25 minutes of hands-on time in the kitchen.

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Spicy Grilled Chicken With Shaved Zucchini Salad

Spicy Grilled Chicken With Shaved Zucchini Salad on a White Plate With Metal Forks, Surrounded by a Pitcher and Two Drinks
Jen Causey

Forget your standard grilled chicken recipe and use this one instead. The chicken, which is anything but dry, is rubbed in Aleppo pepper for a little kick, then paired with a lemony-marinated zucchini salad. The whole dish is then drizzled with garlic and herb dressing.

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Slow-Cooker Chipotle Short Ribs With Tangy Cabbage Slaw

Slow-Cooker Chipotle Short Ribs With Tangy Cabbage Slaw Served Over White Rice on a White Plate With Metal Utensils and a Drink
Raymond Hom

Short ribs become fall-apart delicious when simmered with onion, garlic, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, and cumin–and this quick dinner idea only requires 20 minutes of hands-on time. Cook the rice 20 minutes before you plan to serve dinner, add some cabbage slaw when it's all good to go, and you're done!

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Grilled Turkey-Zucchini Burgers

Two Grilled Turkey-Zucchini Burgers (one open-face) served with chips on the side on white plates
Caitlin Bensel

Let's be honest: Turkey burgers can be a tad dry. However, these are anything but. The secret here is zucchini, which makes these patties extra juicy and delicious.

Eggs help bind the patties together, while garlic powder and cumin bring extra flavor. Top the burgers with a combo of honey mustard and mayo (not to mention sliced tomato and crispy lettuce) and you won't be disappointed.

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Hummus, Tomato, and Feta Pita Pizzas With Arugula Salad

Hummus, Tomato, and Feta Pita Pizzas With Arugula Salad on a White Plate
Johnny Miller

Layers of hummus and feta replace classic tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese in this non-traditional personal pie. The best part about this fun and creative dinner is that it only consists of four steps—including plating the meal.

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White Pizza With Artichokes, Rosemary, and Olives

White Pizza With Artichokes, Rosemary, and Olives Served on a Wooden Pizza Board
Raymond Hom

It's hard to find someone who doesn't love pizza, and this white pie is bound to please just about anyone. Instead of tomato sauce, it's topped with ricotta cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, and olives. While the dough is baking, whip up an easy side salad for a complete meal.

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