Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Weeknights
Everybody understands the stuggle of getting dinner on the table after a long day. For an easy weeknight dinner that you can depend on, we picked out some of our tried-and-true favorites that have gotten us through even the busiest of days. Whether you're cooking for yourself or for a family, these are sure to leave everyone satisfied and stress-free.
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes
One pan, a handful of ingredients, and 30 minutes are all you need to put this impressive pork chop skillet dinner on the table. This flavor-packed, single-skillet supper is an easy dinner for two that feels like something special. It’s also an ideal recipe for one, as the leftover chop and veggies reheat well for a next-day lunch worth looking forward to.
Skillet Chicken Thighs with Spring Vegetables and Shallot Vinaigrette
This elegant single-skillet meal for two is deceptively easy to make. Ready in under an hour, this skillet chicken dinner includes your protein (perfectly golden-crisp chicken thighs), green veggies (peas and asparagus), a starch (baby Yukon gold potatoes), and a whole lot of vibrant flavor (hello, shallot vinaigrette). A great recipe for anyone cooking for one or two, this easy weeknight chicken dinner is one you’re sure to come back to again and again.
Sheet Pan Carnitas Bao Buns
This genius recipe is the perfect solution for anyone who craves delightful, soft and fluffy steamed buns, but doesn’t own a steamer (i.e. most of us). Here, we create a pseudo-steamer using the ever-versatile sheet pan; simply place a wire rack (for the buns to sit on) in a sheet pan filled with a shallow layer of water, tent the buns loosely with foil, and you’re ready to go. While you steam the buns, you’ll use another sheet pan to simultaneously cook the deliciously crispy pulled pork that you’ll fill the buns with. You can find frozen bao buns (we used Wei-Chuan brand) at your local Asian market—and you can also pick up gochujang, ponzu sauce, and Kewpie mayo there as well. We prefer Kewpie in this recipe as it is a bit sweeter than typical mayonnaise, which is a great balance to the gochujang. And if you want to cut back on the heat a bit, as the saucy pork definitely has a kick, reduce the gochujang by 1 tablespoon. These little buns make for a great game day snack or party appetizer, and the recipe is easily multiplied to serve more people.
Broiled Salmon and Asparagus with Crème Fraîche
This technique cooks salmon perfectly every time. The sauce is flavorful and rich, but not heavy--just right for a weeknight.
Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Baby Potatoes
A very hot oven quickly roasts the potatoes and finishes the chicken without overcooking. You can substitute fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise, for the small Yukon gold potatoes.
Chicken, Broccoli, and Brown Rice Casserole
This healthy whole-grain spin on a comfort food classic is indulgent, creamy, and a guaranteed family-pleaser. Cost for 4: $10.31
Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Peppers
This dish comes together in just one pan, making for quick cleanup and tons of flavor as the elements build on each other. Each component contains just 5 ingredients or fewer (oil, salt, and black pepper are freebies). Anchovies add depth to the peppers, but you can omit them if you like.
Thai Basil Chicken Stir-Fry
Red bell peppers are the star vegetable in this stir-fry, a crisp, sweet counterpoint to the serrano chile heat. Use any vegetables you like, but keep it simple; one or two vegetables, plus the basil and chicken, are all you need.
Pork Medallions with Grainy Mustard Sauce
Supper doesn't get any simpler than one pan and five ingredients. To easily round out the plate for this elegant entrée, serve with a spinach salad and roasted potatoes or a bed of wild rice, and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
Weeknight Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner
It doesn't get much easier, or more satisfying: a complete dinner in one pan in half an hour. Lemon brightens this cozy winter meal.
Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad
All the fresh flavors of summer come together in Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad. The homemade buttermilk dressing balances the heat of the chicken and completes the meal.
Grilled Mango-Habanero Jerk Chicken
You probably have all the ingredients on hand to make this quick spice rub. Water or chicken stock can be substituted for rum in the mango sauce.
Flattened Chicken with Almond and Paprika Vinaigrette
While pounding the chicken breast thin and searing is a French technique, the flavor profile here is decidedly Spanish.
Garlicky Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
Removing a chicken's backbone—a technique called spatchcocking (or butterflying)—ensures juicy meat and golden crisp skin in less time than roasting a whole bird. Although it does require some simple knife skills, it's the best and fastest way to roast a chicken. Plus, you can save the backbone to make a great chicken stock. This is the kind of sheet pan dinner you'll want to make all fall and winter long.
Five Spice Chicken Thighs with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
The seasoning blend called Chinese five-spice adds a warm note without pushing the apples into pie territory, and the apples are tart enough to balance the flavor too. Cooked fennel bulbs add a warm, aromatic note that makes this sheet pan dinner smell like a cozy, Autumn night. Roasting ingredients together on a sheet pan saves time and reduces cleanup. Make sure to head to your farmer's market between August and November for the freshest, ripest apples that will yield the most flavorful, sweet results.
Two-Cheese Veggie Nachos
We love the double-cheese contrast here: Shredded cheese melts into a bubbly blanket over the tortillas, while crumbly queso fresco covers the veggies with a salty kick. It's an impressive dish for coffee table dining--it's fun to keep it all on the baking pan and serve as a shared platter.
Fast Skillet Chicken Cacciatore
Lean chicken breasts cook quickly--in just 15 minutes compared to the hour-long braise in most cacciatore recipes. If you'd like more heat in the sauce, kick up the crushed red pepper to 1/2 teaspoon.
Grilled Chicken Florentine Pasta
Add grilled chicken, spinach and a light cream sauce to linguine for an easy one-dish meal.
One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
This pasta dinner is a game changer: You use just enough liquid to cook the pasta--no colander needed. Recipe adapted from our sister publication Southern Living. Cost for 4: $8.43
One-Pot Pasta with Tomato-Basil Sauce
This dish is a revelation. Throw all of your ingredients into one pot over medium-high heat, and about 25 minutes later you'll have noodles perfectly coated in a luscious tomato-basil sauce. This is any busy mom's weeknight dinner perfection. If entertaining, serve with one of our easy green salad recipes for the complete dinner experience.
Honey-Soy-Glazed Salmon with Veggies and Oranges
Here's the delicious proof that you can serve a complete, no-mess fish dinner in less than 25 minutes.
Skillet Rice with Shrimp and Chicken
Simple substitutions give these hearty dishes flavorful twists: Swap sausage for chicken, crabmeat for shrimp, or make a vegetarian option by subbing vegetable stock and omitting proteins.
Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine
Broiled Flat Iron Steak with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
This one-pan meal is a crowd-pleaser and testament to how 4 ingredients can come together to form a supremely satisfying dish, ready in a flash. We broil the steak over the veggies so the meat juices baste them as they cook.
Shrimp and Bean Burrito Bowl
Sweet chili sauce is not too sweet, spicy, or salty--great for an instant glaze on the shrimp, in marinades, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or chicken kebabs. Find it in the international aisle of most supermarkets. If you can't find it, sub regular chili sauce (such as Heinz), or skip the sauce and squeeze a lime wedge over top. For a vegetarian main, use cubed tofu instead of shrimp, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock in the bean mixture. Serve with Mango-Jalapeño Slaw.
Carne Asada Bowls
Instead of a fried shell, crunchy tortilla chips mingle in a base of crisp, sturdy romaine. Try leftover mild, crumbly queso fresco in Mexican egg scrambles, burritos, or stuffed poblano peppers.
Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowls
Before: Classic Chicken Marsala. Notice our recipe has mushroom before chicken in the title. The classic recipe has a meat to veggie ratio of about 3:1, while ours is quite the opposite. We skip the white pasta and spoon this saucy goodness over whole-grain quinoa.
Rich chicken thighs are supremely satisfying when paired with lots of buttery browned mushrooms.
Kasha with Kale and Pancetta
In our favorite new weeknight meal, kasha and a poached egg rev up greens and smoky pork. The recipe comes from Sandy Sonnenfelt, prepared-foods director at Market Hall Foods and its flagship store, The Pasta Shop in Oakland.
Wine Pairing: A crisp Riesling such as Trisaetum 2013 Dry Riesling (Willamette Valley; $18). The wine offers bright citrus and minerality to handle the greens and egg, and the pancetta pulls out the wine's apple and stone-fruit notes. --Sara Schneider
Egg-Topped Quinoa Bowl with Kale
Here, the yolk of the fried egg serves as a dressing (without you having to do anything extra) to coat nutrient-dense quinoa. Pancetta adds a snap of savory satisfaction to earthy kale, while all-season cherry tomatoes, meaning you can make it whenever, lend a fresh pop of bright flavor. Sub steel-cut oats, bulgur, or leftover brown rice for quinoa. The hot sauce gives this simple dish a kick in the pants.
Bucatini Aglio e Olio
Dinner doesn’t get much simpler than this classic, garlicky pasta dish. Especially awesome for those weeks when you just can’t seem to make it to the grocery store, aglio e olio is easy to whip up with just a handful of pantry staples. You can definitely use spaghetti noodles instead of bucatini, but consider picking up a box of bucaini to try next time you go shopping. The noodle's hollow shape offers a texture (not to mention, sauce-gripping abilities) that we just love. We opted to jazz the dish up with the addition of broccoli florets, but if you have a different frozen green veggie kicking around the freezer, like sweet peas, or even a bag of spinach in the crisper, feel free to use what you’ve got instead. Or, hey, leave the veggie out altogether—this dish was designed to be flexible and delicious with whatever you have on hand. That said, if you have a block of Parmesan in the fridge, feel free to grate some over top of the hot pasta before serving.
Red Beans and Rice with Fried Eggs
Red beans and rice is a tried and true standby for good reason—at it’s simplest, the dish is hearty, tasty, comes together fast, and can be whipped up with ease, even during those hectic weeks you can’t seem to make it the grocery store. We amped up this largely pantry staple-based recipe with a runny yolked fried egg and a package of frozen “seasoning blend,” which includes chopped bell pepper, onion, and celery. If you have fresh onions, peppers, etc. on hand and a few extra minutes for chopping, feel free to go that route instead! Microwaveable rice keeps the dinner super speedy to prep, but you can use traditionally cooked rice here just as well.
Satay Soba Noodle Bowl
It’s amazing how many delicious meals can come from a can of coconut milk, and little nut butter, and a handful of other pantry staples. Here, with a rich and creamy shortcut satay sauce, soba noodles and frozen edamame are transformed into a scrumptious vegetarian main within a matter of minutes. In other words, during extra-chaotic weeks (as in, so chaotic you haven’t made it to the grocery store lately), this speedy supper is here for you. If you want to customize the dish with other fresh ingredients, go for it! This noodle bowl is a great base for creativity. If you just happened to have a block of tofu in the fridge, go ahead and crisp it up in some oil and add layer it on top of the noodles—you won’t be sorry.
Spaghetti with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Spinach
This meatless meal definitely doesn't skimp on flavor. With a bright and fresh spring pesto and lots of healthy spinach, getting your greens has never been so easy.
Chicken and Arugula Pasta Salad
Just a bit of a rich and pungent cheese can go quite a long way. Tossing hot pasta with a few ounces of creamy Brie makes for a light, luscious, and flavorful sauce to coat this abundant bowl of chicken, fresh veggies, and whole-grain noodles.
Strawberry-Chicken Salad with Pecans
This main-dish salad features juicy strawberries at their seasonal peak.