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50 best Sunday dinner ideas for cozy family meals

Bookmark these recipes for the upcoming weekend.
Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables
Roast chicken with potatoes, fennel, carrots, garlic and rosemaryGetty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Gather around the table and make Sunday dinner the highlight of your week with these cozy, family-friendly meals. Whether you’re in the mood for crowd-pleasing classics or seeking recipes outside your culinary comfort zone, there’s bound to be an entrée and side dishes that will delight the entire group.

For some, weekends are a time for experimental cooking projects. If you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and put in a little time and effort, there’s certainly no shortage of next-level recipes, from this elevated lasagna to a traditional slow-simmered beef bourguignon

But if time isn’t on your side, fear not. Even if Sundays are jam-packed with activities and chores, you can still put together a dinner that’s filling and special — think one-pot wonders, quick-cooking seafood and shortcut recipes that save on time, but don’t sacrifice on flavor.

Of course, no Sunday dinner is complete with side dishes to complement your choice of hearty mains. Depending on what you’re serving or the time of year, you may want to indulge in decadent options like creamy mashed potatoes and buttery buttermilk biscuits or opt for lighter fare such as roasted carrots or a big crunchy insalata verde (the recipe comes from one of New York City’s hottest restaurants). 

No matter which Sunday dinner idea you choose, each recipe is designed to bring joy and comfort to your family gathering. These delicious dishes are guaranteed to create memories that linger long after your plates are empty.

Featuring macaroni baked in a velvety cheddar cheese sauce, this custardy casserole is Southern comfort at its best. The mac and cheese gets its luscious texture from a blend of milk, heavy cream, cream cheese and sour cream.

Pot Roast with Horseradish Cream

Pot roast is delicious on its own, but even better when paired with a zippy horseradish cream. Most of the work happens in the slow cooker, which means you can spend Sunday relaxing and still have a hearty meal on the table in the evening — plus leftovers for the next day.

Skillet Lasagna

Enjoy lasagna without the hassle. This skillet version offers all the flavors and textures of the Italian noodle casserole, but skips a few steps. No-boil noodles simmer in store-bought marinara with dollops of ricotta. Once they’re cooked through, pop the pan under the broiler to get the mozzarella and Grana Padano topping nice and bubbly.

One-Pot Vegetarian Chili

This one-pot recipe is a perfect balance of convenience and taste. Bursting with bell peppers, protein-packed beans and raisins to lend a hint of sweetness, the vegetarian chili is just as satisfying as beef-based versions. A medley of spices help deepen the chili’s flavor as it simmers on the stove — and it gets even better the next day.

Forget about fussing over a roux — this creamy casserole comes together effortlessly. The combination of cavatappi pasta, velvety Gruyere, sharp cheddar and homemade breadcrumbs create a mac and cheese that’s decadent, yet comforting. The best part? You can prepare it in advance and bake it right before dinner. 

Perfect Roast Chicken

Prepare to impress with this roast chicken. With minimal effort and a handful of ingredients, you can achieve golden, crispy skin and juicy, tender meat. Once you get the technique down, this will become your go-to centerpiece for any occasion, from Sunday dinners to holiday parties.

Butter-Basted Pork Chops

These thick and juicy pork chops are seared on a cast-iron skillet and basted with a garlicky herb butter that keeps them wonderfully tender and moist. The simple, yet flavorful technique will elevate your Sunday supper.

Sausage and peppers are a classic Italian dish that chef Scott Conant grew up eating. His recipe calls for slowly cooking down the onions and peppers, allowing them to develop a rich, flavorful sauce. Serve with crusty garlic bread to sop it all up. 

Baked pasta becomes even more satisfying when you use cheese-filled tortellini as the base. The pasta, Italian sausage and garlic cook in marinara, then go into the oven with a ricotta-mozzarella-Parmesan topping until the sauce is bubbling and cheese is gooey.

Traditional Neapolitan Pizza

Pizza for dinner is always going to be a hit. This Neapolitan pizza is as traditional and simple as it gets, so be sure to use the best fior di latte cheese, tomato sauce and fresh basil that you can find.

Quick to cook, yet still full of flavor, skirt steak is a great option for busy weekends when you don’t have a ton of time, but still want a fancy meal. To get a deep caramelized crust on the steak, make sure it’s patted dry and the pan is smoking hot. Serve with the sweet-and-spicy red chimichurri and a side of roasted veggies or a salad. 

As its name suggests, reverse searing calls for cooking the steak in the oven first, then browning and basting it in a skillet. The technique breaks down the fat in fattier cuts like rib-eye so the meat is nice and buttery. Smashed cacio e pepe-inspired spuds add a unique twist to the classic meat-and-potatoes pairing.

Shrimp Scampi with Bucatini

Drew Barrymore aptly describes this classic Italian pasta as a pairing of  “lemony sunshine” with “glorious shrimp.” The low-effort meal comes together in no time, but is elegant enough for a dinner party. Simply sear the shrimp with garlic, deglaze the pan with wine, then bring everything all together with some butter, lemon juice and pasta water.

Surf and turf is a marvelous meal that has something for everyone. Kevin Curry gives this pairing of steak and shrimp a Cajun twist with a coffee-infused spice rub that adds a literal buzz. To keep things low carb, they’re served on a bed of herb-roasted veggies. 

Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

Spice up your Sunday with easy sheet pan chicken fajitas. Toss chicken tenderloins, peppers and onions in a homemade spice mix, then let the oven do the work. With minimal prep and maximum taste, this recipe is a convenient and delicious way to satisfy your Tex-Mex cravings.

Martha Stewart's Perfect Roast Turkey

Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving. A beautifully roasted bird that’s juicy and golden brown is impressive anytime of year. Martha Stewart’s secret? Turn the pan every hour for even browning and a showstopping centerpiece.

Baked Gnocchi Alla Vodka

Baked gnocchi alla vodka will excite and delight with its familiar flavors and unique pasta choice. Pillowy store-bought gnocchi not only pairs beautifully with creamy vodka sauce, but cooks up in minutes. Top with cheese and panko breadcrumbs to form a bubbling, crowd-pleasing baked pasta.

Coq au Vin with Spaetzle

Two classic dishes — coq au vin and spaetzle — come together in this elegant meal. Don’t be intimidated by either component. Once you get a good sear on the chicken, the braise is mostly hands off, with the exception of a few flips of the meat. The buttery spaetzle doesn’t require any special tools either. Just mix the dough together and push it through the bottom of a colander to get its unique shape.

Chicken Parm Meatballs

Take your meatball game to the next level. These juicy meatballs each have a cheesy surprise in the center as a nod to chicken Parm. They’re cooked in marinara and finished with both fresh basil leaves and a basil vinaigrette for a pop of herbaceousness.

This playful twist tops pot pie with another comfort food — tater tots — in an homage to hot dish. Packed with tender chicken, carrots, peas and a creamy sauce, the casserole is so much better than the old-fashioned version.

Mini Ravioli Soup

Warm up with a bowl of mini ravioli soup. This recipe combines sausage, store-bought pasta and aromatics in a rich soup made with marinara sauce and beef stock. It’s a one-pot wonder that combines  convenience and flavor.

If you need a set-it-and-forget-it dinner that’s full of comfort, look no further than this slow-cooker beef stroganoff. The broth, filled with onions, mushrooms and succulent beef, is especially delicious on a cold winter’s night when spooned over wide egg noodles. 

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon is a classic dish that never goes out of style. This version uses bacon and tomato paste for extra depth of flavor. While it’s tempting to pour in any cheap wine, it’s best to use a bottle that you actually like to drink — you’ll notice a difference in the finished stew.  

One-Pot Beef Stew

No tomato paste? No problem! This rich stew gets its acidic kick from ketchup so there’s no need to make a last-minute grocery store run. Cubes of beef chuck slowly braise with red potatoes, carrots and onions in wine and beef broth until succulent.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Packed with wholesome ingredients, this hearty chili combines the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes with the earthy flavors of black beans and quinoa. It’s a simple one-pot wonder that comes together effortlessly, making it perfect for busy days.

These Parmesan-crusted chicken tenders will be a hit with adults and kids alike. Panko breadcrumbs give the tenderloins a nice, crunchy bite, while the grated cheese takes the flavor up a notch. Don’t forget Siri Daly’s special sauce —a sweet-tangy combination of ketchup, mayo and mustard. 

What’s even better than Hamburger Helper? A homemade baked pasta that has the same great flavor. This recipe takes classic cheeseburger ingredients — such as ground beef, cheddar, and relish — and stuffs them into giant shells that are kid-friendly and totally unique.

Best Eggplant Parmesan

Breading and frying eggplant can be a time-consuming process. This variation on eggplant Parm trims down the work without sacrificing on flavor or texture. Layering baked eggplant between sauce, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan breadcrumbs gives the same breaded effect with far less effort. Just remember to salt the eggplant, which removes some moisture and seasons it, too. 

Rao's Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Rao’s Homemade Marinara is available at most supermarkets (and a TODAY-approved favorite!), but if you’re feeling ambitious, use this recipe to make it from scratch. The famed restaurant’s meatballs are equally delicious and get their tender texture from this technique tip: Add the water, breadcrumbs and cheese in layers so it’s easy to mix.

Cacio e Pepe

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Cacio e Pepe

Nadia Caterina Munno, "The Pasta Queen"

Cacio e pepe is a timeless Italian pasta that’s as impressive as it is simple. Velvety strands of spaghetti are coated in a luscious blend of Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper. The trick to great-tasting noodles? Season the water with salt until it tastes like soup, not the ocean.

Lemony Chicken and Rice Casserole

Brighten up your dinner table with this delightful casserole. Tender chicken and fluffy rice infused with zesty lemon flavor come together in this easy weeknight crowd-pleaser.

These lasagna pinwheels aren’t just fun to serve — because of their unique shape, each swirl has that coveted crispy top balanced with a soft and delicate interior. Calling for from-scratch pasta, bechamel, bolognese and tomato sauce, this recipe is no doubt a project, but one that yields a truly memorable  dinner (no reservation needed). 

Shrimp Creole

Savor the vibrant flavors of the South with this shrimp Creole. Succulent shrimp is simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce that’s infused with aromatic spices. Serve over hot rice for a filling meal loaded with bold flavors and a kick of heat.

For a dinner that’s equal parts comforting and indulgent, try this baked ziti bolognese. It’s packed with a hearty meat sauce, creamy ricotta cheese and both mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top, then baked until golden and bubbling.

Chicken piccata is a dish that effortlessly combines elegance with simplicity. The buttery lemon sauce studded with capers lend a burst of tangy, savory flavor to tender chicken cutlets. Serve atop pasta with spinach or other veggies of your choice for a complete meal.

Cheeseburger Pasta

No need to spend all evening flipping patties — this cheeseburger-inspired pasta has the same great flavor with far less work. Ground beef, onions, cheddar cheese and corkscrew-shaped pasta come together in one skillet to satisfy your burger cravings.

Hosting a last-minute Sunday dinner party? This chicken potpie is ready in half an hour, thanks to a few handy shortcuts. The filling is made from rotisserie chicken, frozen mixed vegetables and cream of chicken soup, while canned biscuits form the impressive-looking top. 

Side Dishes

Quick-cooking green beans are always a wonderful side dish for family dinners. This Arab-style recipe cooks tomatoes down into a sweet-tangy sauce that makes crisp green beans pop.  

Citrusy Candied Carrots with Yogurt Sauce

Freshly grated ginger and ground cardamom enhance the natural sweetness of charred roasted carrots, while a tangy yogurt sauce and dusting of smoked paprika add brightness. The flavors mingle beautifully in this dish, which pairs well with grilled or roasted proteins or can even work as a standalone vegetarian entrée.

All you need are a few pantry staples to take roasted carrots from dull to lively. Balsamic vinegar and honey enhance the root vegetable’s naturally sweet flavor, while adding a bit of depth and zip. Garnish with fresh thyme, which lends a minty, lemony aroma, to make it a celebration-worthy side dish.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

There are two tricks that make these mashed potatoes so irresistibly creamy and luxurious. First, the spuds are cooked in chicken broth, which gives them a greater depth of flavor. Once they’re done, the potatoes are mashed with a few tablespoons of cream cheese for extra richness.

The key to buttery, flaky biscuits is quite simple: Use cold, small pieces of butter. These fluffy buttermilk rounds can be enjoyed a number of ways — serve as a side to entrées, use them as a pot pie topping or turn them into a sweet treat.   

Al Roker's Baked Potatoes

A classic baked potato can easily be dressed up or down, making it an ideal side dish for any kind of dinner party. Serve plain with a pat of butter or make it the star of the show with a baked potato bar featuring hearty toppings like pulled pork or chili.

Insalata Verde

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Insalata Verde

Jody Williams and Rita Sodi

A truly amazing salad is one you could eat every day and that’s the case with this insalata verde from New York City restaurant Via Carota. The mix of different greens offer a perfect balance of crunch and flavor that’s especially lovely with the zippy thyme-infused vinaigrette.

Slow-Cooker Scalloped Potatoes

With just a few simple ingredients and a slow cooker, you can pull off fancy-looking scalloped potatoes. The creamy, cheesy side dish will easily steal the spotlight at Sunday dinner, but thanks to the magic of a slow cooker, most of the work can be done ahead of time.

Perfect Roast Vegetables

A plate of perfectly roasted vegetables goes with just about everything. From cruciferous vegetables in the winter to summer squash, there’s never a shortage of veggies to pop in the oven. Thanks to this handy recipe, you can learn exactly how — and how long — to get a beautiful caramelization without overcooking them.

With just a handful of ingredients and a hot oven, you can achieve crispy, golden-brown potatoes. Rosemary and thyme add a delightful burst of flavor, making these roasted spuds a dish that will have everyone reaching for seconds.

Whether served as an appetizer or a side, stuffed onions are guaranteed to impress a crowd. These are stuffed with a potato gratin filling that’s cheesy and decadent.

Snap Peas with Feta and Mint

Feta and mint are a classic flavor pairing that brings brightness and saltiness to charred snap peas. The dish is ready in 15 minutes, making it a great option for busy Sundays in the spring and summer, when peas are at their prime.   

Oven-baked French fries are a healthier — and less messy — alternative to the deep-fried kind, but they’re just as crave-worthy. To get a nice crispy texture, pop the tray beneath the broiler for a few minutes before serving.