One can never have enough weeknight dinner recipes in their arsenal — recipes that tick all the coveted boxes: easy, quick, satisfying, healthy-ish, balanced, requires little-to-no dishes and, most importantly, inspires joy at the end of a long day. So, we've rounded up our favorite box-ticking recipes.
From easy sheet-pan chicken dinners to hearty beef stew and stir-fries, these dishes are simple enough for a weeknight and delicious enough to be put on repeat. Eating vegetarian or vegan is a breeze with nourishing, protein-packed recipes, and don't forget to put the "fish" in efficient with a number of easy seafood dinners. To top it all off, we included dinnertime's most underrated star: the egg, which is a quick way to throw some protein (and the best built-in sauce) onto your meal.
Winner, winner, chicken (and turkey) dinners
Harissa-spiced pasta and chicken with green beans reflects the cooking and flavors of North Africa with the punch of harissa married to Italian influence with the pasta shells.
Chicken and ricotta meatballs are lighter than their beefy counterparts and don't require a lot of work. Baking skips the time and mess of browning on the stovetop and leaves you with one mixing bowl and sheet pan to clean at the end — and, most importantly, 20 delicious meatballs to savor with a side of crisped broccoli.
The sweet tomatoes beautifully balance the bracing acidity of the tangy sherry vinegar and briny olives in this easy chicken dinner that has a bright pop of flavor in every bite.
This dish is pure comfort food — a hearty, rich Bolognese, packed with delicious vegetables and satisfying ground turkey. You can serve it over spaghetti squash, zoodles or whole-grain pasta — eater's choice.
The spicy harissa, sweet pomegranate, crunchy walnuts and fresh mint distinguish this roast chicken from the typical rosemary, sage and thyme poultry seasoning. Also, the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to make, which makes it an easy dinner idea that's as quick as it is comforting.
This recipe is fantastic to make and serve for a smaller crowd. It's also not as intimidating as cooking a whole turkey if you're new to the kitchen. The compound butter with the citrus and smoked paprika is absolutely incredible.
Craving a comforting roast chicken dinner but don't have the time for an elaborate prep? This savory Italian-flavored meal includes the main dish, plus all the hearty sides all in one sheet-pan. Just take 10 minutes out of your day, then let the oven do the work.
When life hands you leftover rice, make your own chicken "fried" rice. It’s just like the dish you’d order for takeout, but you're using up all the almost-ready-to-be-tossed vegetables in your own fridge.
Chicken satay is a popular Southeast Asian dish that's typically grilled on skewers and served with a spicy peanut sauce as an appetizer. This recipe skips the skewers and the grill and air-fries the chicken instead, which is perfect for weeknight dinners.
Sure, this recipe is a bit of a treat, but rice flour and gluten-free panko make it a little lighter and easier on the stomach. Giada serves it the way they do in Italy, topped with an arugula salad dressed with lemon and salt, or without the salad and just a squeeze of lemon juice.
This dish is so versatile, and it's also great for meal prep. Whether you're making tacos or stuffed bell peppers, it's something that you'll enjoy all week long.
In this relatively speedy sheet-pan dinner, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are seasoned with a savory, cumin-scented spice mix and roasted with whole garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes, which turn soft and sweet in the oven's heat.
Sweet, saucy and oh-so-delish, this is a dish your whole crew will really enjoy. It’s bright, colorful and packed with protein and other countless nutrients, thanks to the chunks of juicy pineapple, red onion and bell peppers. The best part? This recipe comes together fast on a single sheet pan.
Chicken salmoriglio is a prime example of Sicilian cooking: fresh herbs, lemon, honey, olive oil and greens. Simple and exceptional.
Dark-meat chicken and bread come together all in a sheet pan for this delicious meal. Tossed together with delicious dressing and fresh greens make it a win-win weeknight meal.
This Dijon chicken combines easy cooking techniques with big flavor. Each ingredient in this recipe adds a layer of flavor. This one-pot dish allows fresh ingredients to unite and produce a lively yet comforting meal.
This quick and easy one-sheet wonder requires just a handful of basic ingredients and features a smoky and flavorful marinade for the chicken that the whole family will love. The crispier the Brussels sprouts, the more delicious, so don't be afraid to let them get nice and brown.
This meatloaf is light in texture but heavy in flavor, and when it's combined with this potato recipe and cooked on just one sheet pan … it's pretty much an award-winning dish.
This is a lighter, quicker but just as cheesy version of chicken Parm — no deep-frying required! Serve it with a big green salad on the side.
"When I tell my kids we're having chicken for dinner, they always ask if it's 'the good chicken,' says Elizabeth Heiskell. "'Yes, the good chicken,' I reply, and the celebration begins. This is the chicken breast that's gussied up and gets them excited."
Hearty beef and pork dishes
Folks at the table may think you've labored away in the kitchen for hours on this restaurant-worthy steak dinner. But, in actuality, it requires only five fresh ingredients and takes 20 minutes to make. The cilantro chimichurri adds a summery pop to the grilled tenderloin, juicy yellow squash and crispy potatoes.
The best part about this dish is all the different textures! The sage chips and cumin seeds give this recipe such a great crunch and bursts of flavor. The secret to perfect pork lies in the resting period, so it reabsorbs all the juices.
The combination of rich savory flavors and ease of cooking that make ropa vieja one of Alejandra Ramos's go-tos for busy days and easy entertaining. Though classic versions of the recipe often call for cooking the beef and sauce separately, this one-pot version allows for both to cook together, making for extra tender and flavorful meat.
Leela Punyaratabandhu, a food blogger, adapted this recipe from Soei, a family-run restaurant in Bangkok, where she grew up. The cooking method is fast: You sauté a mashed paste of chiles and garlic in lard, then add thinly sliced beef to the hot pan, followed by fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, a smidge of palm sugar and a smattering of makrut lime leaves to glaze and swaddle the beef.
Ready to try the best beef stew of your life? This flavor-packed version is incredibly easy to make because it all comes together in one pot.
The combination of sausage and peppers stewed in a deeply flavorful tomato-based sauce, topped with provolone and toasted onto crunchy garlic bread, is a perfect make-ahead dish that gets even better the longer it sits.
This recipe starts with an umami-rich marinade that takes its cues from Vietnamese, Thai and even Korean kitchens. In addition to this salad, we like to use this dressing as a base for stir-fries, a marinade for meats bound for the grill, or sneak it into a savory caramel and serve with vegetables, fish, chicken or pork.
Buttery cannellini beans and kale pair wonderfully with this peppery, nutritious Italian sausage dinner. A delightfully easy meal for any night of the week, the whole thing only takes 10 minutes to put together in one sheet-pan and takes just 30 minutes to bake.
This is a great basic recipe that can be transformed in any way you like and requires only a few simple ingredients, many of which you might already have on hand.
What should you make? Magical one-pot spaghetti is an excellent option. Why? Not only is it easy, but everyone likes spaghetti. And, with some minor adjustments to the recipe, it can be made vegan or vegetarian.
Eggs for dinner
This recipe is weeknight-worthy because it easily feeds a large group, and the sauce can be made ahead. Once the sauce is ready, the dish comes together quickly and is warm and satisfying on a chilly day. Best of all, it is extremely adaptable: Add merguez or your favorite sausage, if you like.
"Frying" rice in the oven, on a sheet pan, is not only possible, it actually produces the perfect amount of crisping. As with all sheet pan recipes, it’s the perfect throw-it-in-the-oven dish — simply toss your cold rice with veggies, kimchi and seasonings, spread it all onto a sheet pan and let a hot oven do the "frying" for you.
A quiche might sound fancy and difficult but this is actually one of the most versatile recipes that is also easy to make ahead. It is, of course, a lovely brunch item but makes a delightful supper when served with a salad.
Eggs in purgatory, or uova in purgatorio, is the Neapolitan version of shakshuka. The spicy, bright red tomato sauce and fast-cooking eggs makes for a quick and light dinner. Chef Anthony Contrino likes to serve it with a simply dressed side salad.
Satisfy your cravings with a deconstructed version of the fried classic — flavorful spices and veggie-filled inside — that cuts the carbs and pumps up the protein. Plus, it's ready in a mere 20 minutes.
Ringing in at under $15 total, this recipe is perfect as a fast and easy weeknight dinner (or weekend brunch!).
At the end of a trying day, the forgiving dish asks for little — no arduous chopping, stirring or washing. All it takes is a bit of calm whisking, followed by a quiet wait while the dish steams. Yet, for what little work the process requires, it gives much in return: a reassuringly soft, warm meal that feels toasty in the belly and is delicate on digestion.
If you keep leftover rice in the fridge and some frozen vegetables in the freezer, you'll always have dinner. Dress up these basics with some chopped aromatics, eggs and an additional protein, and you're in business.
Similar to congee rice porridge or risotto, oatmeal is a base that absorbs savory flavors beautifully. While many people are used to complementing oats with berries or nuts at breakfast, this broth-cooked comfort food is perfect for lunch or dinner.
On a seafood diet
"There are so many nights I stare into my fridge trying to find the perfect balance between something exciting and something quick. For me it often comes down, again and again, to miso paste and lemon," says Ali Rosen about this simple sheet-pan salmon dish.
As a member of the tuna family, mackerel is a delectable, yet underrated fish that deserves more attention. A firm, high-fat fleshed fish, it's known for its bold, savory flavor. When mixed with salty olives, sweet, acidic tomatoes and fresh herbs, this seafood-topped pasta is a must-try.
This is one of Gaby Dalkin's favorite summer dinners — and for good reason. The light, buttery protein gets a healthy boost from a zesty avocado and mango salsa. What's even better is that you can serve six people in just 30 minutes, from start to finish.
Shrimp don't need much dressing up to be tasty. Here, a simple marinade and quick sauté yields a deeply flavorful and perfectly cooked result. The crunchy broccolini and earthy soba noodles are a great complement to the naturally sweeter shellfish.
Cooking fish at home often seems intimidating. What type should you buy? Won't it overcook? Will it stick to the pan? Enter this recipe, which is the easiest and tastiest way to make fish for a group. Even if you double the recipe, you can cook all the pieces at the same time; there’s no splattering or mess whatsoever and there’s no chance of the fish sticking to the pan.
This dish is so full of flavor and healthy at the same time. White miso adds delicate sweetness while upping the umami flavors of fresh salmon. The crunchy, caramelized broccolini is a perfect foil to the tender grilled fish.
A savory salmon burger (made with canned fish!) is a crowd-pleaser that tastes like a gourmet dinner treat. It's hard to tell that it's a quick prep and takes hardly any effort at all to get onto the table.
Perhaps you already mastered the art of grilling flaky fish perfectly, but sometimes a foolproof method suits the mood. This simple recipe calls upon the citrus, parsley and onion to infuse the cod with a zesty sweetness that's hard to beat.
One-pan wonders are one of the best respites from a busy day. You just put the fresh salmon and crisp veggies on a baking sheet, season everything and pop it in the oven to roast. In just 20 minutes, you've got a nourishing dinner for the whole family and only one pan to clean.
In another simple and flavor-packed sheet-pan dinner, white fish is topped with a lemon-dill-mustard dressing for a bright, herby flavor that pairs well with juicy tomatoes and crunchy green beans.
This recipe is so easy, yet the fresh herbs and sophisticated flavors make it feel fancy, but the quick prep and cleanup make it easy enough for any weeknight.
The secret ingredient to this easy and flavorful weeknight fish dish is one that you might be tossing into the compost — an orange peel. With its distinctly sweet, sharp flavor, it lends brightness, texture and aromatics.
Keeping it plant-based
This is Gaby Dalkin's go-to vegetarian dinner. It's so easy, everyone loves it (including meat eaters), and it makes for excellent leftovers.
It's fun to use lentils in a Bolognese in the same way that you would meat, while keeping traditional elements like carrots and onions along for the ride. The result adds a plant-based twist to a traditional and iconic pasta dish.
This recipe is so low maintenance, you can put it in the oven and then finish odd tasks around my apartment while it cooks (as long as you don't forget to set a timer!). There's something comforting about digging up the thick pieces of lasagna noodles smothered in garlicky red sauce. Plus, the spinach makes it feel at least a little bit healthy.
Samah Dada makes this Indian staple a bit lighter than it is traditionally prepared. The result is a fast and easy vegan dinner recipe for two, four or however many people are at the table tonight.
A healthier and simplified version of eggplant Parmesan is a perfect fit for a weeknight meal. Using Japanese eggplants shortens the prep time because you don't have to draw out the moisture with salt (like regular eggplants) for 20 to 30 minutes first.
The creamy, indulgent sauce is made from healthy, high-protein tofu, but it tastes like it has all sorts of dairy products in it. Top it with shiitake bacon (simply thinly sliced roasted shiitake mushrooms with olive oil and sea salt) and it’s the perfect bait for your long-term mate!
This recipe achieves that wonderful double bonus of being quick to make and quick to reheat. Portobellos are filling while also fulfilling any dietary restrictions; they cook quickly and add a meaty flavor (plus they hold up in the freezer like a dream). In 15 minutes, you'll have a wonderful dinner (or side dish) set to go.
Packaged gnocchi are one of Ree Drummond's most favorite ingredients for making weeknight dinners easier. This meatless marvel is both a cinch and a revelation: soft and tender gnocchi pillows roasted on a sheet pan with the best variety of veggies and topped with Parmesan and basil.
Aloo gobi is a fulfilling combo of potatoes and cauliflower sautéed in spices. It’s simple to put together, pretty hands off and its flavor to ease ratio is off the charts. Also, these hearty vegetables are truly exceptional at absorbing and enhancing seasonings.
Thanks to a little help from a package of frozen ravioli, you can pull a skillet of toasty, bubbly lasagna from the oven in a little more than half an hour. In this ingenious one-pan supper, make a tomato sauce right in the same skillet used to bake the whole thing.
This recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal because everything is conveniently mixed together, dumped right onto a sheet pan and ready to eat in 30 minutes. Once you pull this pan from the oven, the onions will be caramelized, the raisins will be plump, the veggies will be tender and the room will fill with the smell of what Jerrelle Guy likes to call "sheet-pan potpourri."
This lightened-up version of Alfredo sauce is perfect when it's a little chilly outside. The sauce is downright healthy compared to that of a traditional Alfredo and no one would even know the difference, it's so delicious.
Two simple vegetarian additions turn this easy one-pot pasta into a vibrant main dish. You can customize the ingredients to suit your taste. You can use any kind of noodle you prefer or switch up the greens with chopped kale, escarole or chard instead of spinach.
Enjoy the creamy, satisfying notes of spinach-artichoke dip but in one 20-minute pasta dinner. You can count on frozen spinach and jarred artichoke hearts to make this simply delicious meal shine.
Loaded with beans, quinoa and veggies, this Mexican-inspired stew is guaranteed to make your mouth water — plus, it's vegan!
The avocado cream sauce is both light and refreshing — qualities rarely found in creamy sauces. This sauce also maintains an amazing brightness with the addition of fresh basil and lemon and is extremely versatile.
Wake up your weeknight dinner routine with this light and zesty pasta dish. It's quick and easy to throw together and bursting with fresh flavors.
Dal is both an ingredient and a staple dish in Indian cuisine using lentils or legumes. Though many stews may simmer for hours, this is my go-to dal recipe on a weeknight, since it's both easy and flavorful. It cooks really quickly, it has the depth of flavor of a dish that has been sitting on the stove all day, and served with rice or roti (and maybe some sliced cucumbers on the side), it's a complete meal.