Cooking is one of my greatest passions in life—spending time in the kitchen makes me feel creative and calm, and the best part is the end result to share with the people I love. But you know what I don’t love? Trying to cook dinner when I’m in a rush or when there’s something else I want to be doing instead (like hanging out with my kids if I haven’t seen them all day—or taking a bubble bath). This is why I always have some easy dinner recipes in my back pocket that come together faster than you can say takeout.
Just because I don’t have time to whip up a culinary masterpiece every night doesn’t mean we can’t end our day around the table enjoying something healthy and delicious. Scroll on for my go-to quickest dinners, and I’d love to hear in the comments what you make when there’s no time to cook!
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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Why We Love It: Overnight oats are the perfect healthy meal in a rush. You can customize your toppings as you see fit throughout the year. Even better, you can heat them up on the stovetop for a warm and comforting meal. Versatile and make-ahead, does it get any better? If you haven’t yet jumped on the breakfast-for-dinner bandwagon, this is your sign to make it a part of your weekly dining ritual.
Hero Ingredient: Cinnamon’s a crowd-favorite topping. Seriously, who doesn’t love the sweet and spicy kick?
Why We Love It: Sweet potatoes are the perfect gluten-free base to replace bread for all the many different toast recipes you can dream up (see how it’s done here). Plus, sweet potatoes are super high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin A. They’re nutrient-dense, simple to prepare, and a perfectly delicious dinner recipe for busy weeknights.
Hero Ingredient: Sometimes, you just have to give it up for the main event itself. Here, the sweet potatoes reign supreme.
Why We Love It: This elevated avocado toast is an easy healthy meal for any time of the day. Bursting with flavor, fresh herbs, and crunchy veggies, this recipe is the perfect reset after all the holiday indulgences. Plus, it’s an excellent way to balance your blood sugar—because that’s something we’re prioritizing in 2023 and beyond.
Hero Ingredient: A squeeze of honey adds just a touch of sweetness that’s unexpected but absolutely crave-worthy.
Why We Love It: These Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas require only five ingredients, making them your go-to for easy dinner recipes. I love a Mexican-inspired recipe that’s quick to prep and packs major flavor. These fajitas check all the boxes.
Hero Ingredient: The peppers pack a double punch—they’re full of health benefits and plenty of flavor.
Why We Love It: Everyone needs a comforting one-pot pasta wonder in their easy dinner recipes toolkit. This Pesto Gnocchi Skillet Bake requires minimal ingredients, couldn’t be simpler to prep, and is quick to clean up. In essence, it’s perfection. The best part? You get your greens from the spinach without a salad in sight. (I’m all for sneaky recipes that do exactly that.)
Hero Ingredient: PSA: Cream cheese isn’t just for bagels. It makes this bake taste so deliciously indulgent.
Why We Love It: This Mexican chopped salad is hearty enough to count as a vegetarian main course, or the best easy side dish for tacos and enchiladas. It’s healthy and colorful—essentially the textbook definition for “eat the rainbow.”
Hero Ingredient: The easiest way to draw an array of seemingly disparate ingredients together? A flavor-packed dressing. This homemade Honey-Shallot Vinaigrette completes the dish.
Why We Love It: With such a stunning presentation, I’m sure you’ll be shocked that this stuffed butternut squash is a breeze to prep. Simply scrape out the seeds, then you’re ready to roast. No peeling or chopping necessary. I like to roast the squash before work and stick it in the fridge. All that’s left to do is add your toppings and pop the squash in the oven.
Hero Ingredient: I’m a major fig advocate. They’re earthy, sweet, and visually stunning. Perhaps you wouldn’t expect them in a recipe like this, but let them tell you, they’re an absolute standout.
This post was originally published on January 17, 2020, and has since been updated.