For many, dinner is the largest meal of the day. A hearty, caloric dinner might be par for the course for you and your family. Other people prefer to eat their larger meals with breakfast and are looking for something lighter to fill their dinner plates.
If you’re here because you’re calorie-counting for weight loss, be warned — it might not be as effective as you think. But regardless of whether you're trying to cut calories or not, these recipes are a good idea to add to your dinner rotation. Tacos to feed the family? Done. Delicious pasta dinners that don't overload on fatty sauces, but still feel indulgent? You'll find them in this round-up. There's a recipe to satisfy every craving included in this list. With these recipes, you can cook an incredible dinner at home without exceeding 500 calories per serving.
Despite their low-calorie appeal, these recipes are actually really tasty — unlike other low-cal swaps you can only pretend to want to eat. Plus, they’re jam-packed with nutrients from whole grains, lean proteins, and all kinds of easy-to-cook vegetables. Here are 50 delicious recipes that are still under 500 calories.
Sesame oil, fresh lime slices, soy sauce, red pepper powder, julienned carrots, ginger, garlic, and lots of cilantro pack this dish with oh-so delicious Asian flavors. Crushed peanuts, added at the very end, deliver a necessary crunch for this one-dish dinner.
The perfect way to jazz up a chicken dinner? Sweet, spicy barbecue sauce. Yum! The tang of pineapple brings out the flavor in the sweet and savory sauce. Serve with cilantro and enjoy.
Regular barbecue can load on hundreds of extra calories from slathers of sauce and heaps of carb-filled side dishes. To satisfy your craving without all these extras, make this light and fresh salad for a weeknight dinner.
This recipe is perfect for meal prep, since it makes for a filling lunch and a delicious dinner. It keeps well in the fridge and only gets more flavorful on day two. This recipe uses jackfruit as a vegan alternative to meat, but you can make yours with whatever fillings you like.
This creamy, cheesy meatless dinner comes together effortlessly thanks to frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets. You can easily make this in advance and freeze it for a vegetable-laden dish that even kids will eat.
Savor this Thai-inspired soup, with a base of creamy coconut milk, rich butternut squash, a hint of spicy peppers and succulent shrimp. For a shortcut, look for peeled and cubed butternut squash in the produce department. Serve over rice or noodles if you like.
How do you make meatballs healthier? Swap red meat for lean ground chicken and bake them instead of frying. Doused in delicious red sauce and covered in cheese, serve these over whole-wheat pasta for a better-for-you take on an Italian classic!
Cut back on calories from pizza by making your own at home. This recipe doesn’t skimp on anything — it uses real bread in the crust, savory tomato sauce, and thin slices of mozzarella cheese. Yum!
This pasta salad is just as flavorful as it is colorful! As pasta salads go, this is likely one of the healthiest. It uses an oil-based vinaigrette instead of your usual fatty mayonnaise, and is filled to the brim with colorful fresh vegetables.
This salad is the opposite of boring. Fresh, crunchy, sweet, and savory — this salad truly has it all. All of the vegetables are either shredded or chopped small so that the sweet and tangy dressing can evenly coat each bite.
This refreshing summertime dish is surprisingly easy to make and bursting with citrus-y flavor. Pair it with some rice or another healthy side dish for a complete meal.
Butternut squash serves as the perfect low-calorie, high-fiber base to a still-creamy pasta sauce you can enjoy. Top with pumpkin seeds for some healthy fats and enjoy your pasta!
Love chicken parm but want to sneak some vegetables into your diet? Eggplant parmigiano is about to become your best friend. This easy eggplant parmesan involves baking the eggplant and then simply layering everything in an oven-proof dish. It’s as simple as that!
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These chicken enchiladas are a tasty combination of white meat chicken, tart salsa verde, creamy sour cream, and melted Monterey Jack cheese. Baked in one loaded pan, this recipe calls for minimal dishes and tons of satisfaction.
These lettuce wraps are crisp, refreshing, and perfect for a picnic in the sun. The chicken salad filling keeps well as leftovers, too, so you can pack the remainder for a healthy, no-heat office lunch!
Covered with fresh vegetables and heart-healthy olives, this flatbread is a light, nutritious dinner option that’s sure to satisfy.
These Mexican open-faced sandwiches can serve as either an appetizer or entrée, depending on how big you choose to make the huaraches. Either way, they’re delicious and flavorful, a creative new way to serve grilled chicken!
Fish tacos are the perfect fun party recipe that doesn’t load on extra calories and fat. Stuffed with flaky fish fillets, vegetables, and a flavorful spicy sauce, these will satisfy even the strongest of taco cravings.
Salmon provides all kinds of benefits to your body, ranging from improving your heart health to helping stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s. This recipe is easy to make and flavorfully zesty.
This recipe is perfect for when you’re craving takeout but don’t want to indulge in a greasy bowl of noodles. A lighter option, these bowls include shrimp for a healthy protein and eggplant to fill you up with vegetables.
Trout has a ton of lean protein, perfect for a filling, low-carb dinner. Since the fish is so flavorful on its own, all you need is a simple lemony marinade to prepare this delicious dish. Paired with fried carrots, it’s the perfect filling entrée.
Here’s a creative twist on a classic — black bean soup with a kick of Indian spices and cilantro. Black beans have a ton of protein and fiber, perfect for a filling, nourishing dinner.
Contrary to what the name may have you believe, this recipe does not have to include any actual tortillas. So your low-carb-loving friends can still indulge in your home-cooked meal. Sauteing the vegetables before adding them to the soup kicks up the flavor and texture of this classic Mexican-inspired dinner.
This crunchy kale salad recipe is keto-friendly and can be made in your Instant Pot — perfect for a healthy weeknight meal. Made with Asian-inspired marinade, the chicken is incredibly flavorful, but still healthy!
Lasagna has a reputation for being very high-maintenance and very high-calorie, but a multi-cooker makes it easy to make for anyone who is a big fan of this dish. Plus, this recipe is just 300 glorious and carb-filled calories per serving. You don’t even have to boil the noodles first!
Skip the sodium-heavy stir fry and make these simple chicken skewers instead. With scallions, sesame seeds, and a delicious tare sauce, these Japanese-inspired skewers are perfectly paired with rice and some grilled vegetables.
If you’re going to carb-load on spaghetti, you may as well load up with kale, as well. It’s hailed as a superfood for its many vitamins and minerals, and tastes great paired with lemony sauce and — of course — cheese!
Looking to try something new? Cooking with shellfish might sound ambitious, but it’s easier than you might think. Plus, these shellfish make for a low-calorie, enticing addition to a pasta-heavy meal.
Roasted chicken thighs are a satisfying, savory alternative to boring old grilled chicken that the whole family will love. Cooked in a citrusy marinade alongside onions, these are the opposite of bland. They are served with a whole grain couscous and broccoli for a complete, balanced meal.
This cozy, comforting meal is perfect for a chill night at home. It’s ready in just 20 minutes, and despite all the cheese and red meat you use to make it, it’s still well below 500 calories.
Sneak some extra vegetables onto your family’s plates with these cheesy, delicious quesadillas. Kids love them, and they’re super healthy! Don’t worry too much about the cheese — it’s actually got a lot of unexpected health benefits.
Bored with your usual dinner rotation? Spice up your menu with this Moroccan-inspired, whole grain recipe. Filled with vegetables and a myriad of spices, there won’t be a dull moment for your taste buds.
Save yourself some cleanup by making a one-pan recipe that can still feed a crowd. This meal tastes incredible and couldn’t be easier to prepare. The vibrant colors from the sweet potato and eggs are contrasted with the fresh cilantro to make this dish stunning to look at.
Craving Italian food but don’t want to overload with creamy sauce and cheese? This recipe is the perfect happy medium. Indulge your pasta craving without all the calories with this lighter — but still cheesy — option.
This is the perfect summer seafood recipe. Salsa with mango, watermelon, serrano peppers, and fresh mint adds pizazz to healthy fillets of salmon.
These sweet and savory pork chops taste even better than they look. Serve these with a vegetable-rich side dish for a complete meal everyone will love.
This is a rich, indulgent salad, full of big flavors. The crisp basil perfectly complements savory prosciutto, all of which is folded neatly within heart-healthy quinoa for a nourishing bowl of whole grains.
Southwestern cuisine never fails to zest up the dinner table with spicy, lime-flavored dishes. This simple chicken and rice recipe is no exception. Pair it with avocado or homemade guacamole instead of sour cream for some extra healthy fats!
You can whip up this simple soup recipe in just one hour. Lentils are friendly to your heart, your stomach, and your wallet, since they’re so cheap and filled with nutrients. The coconut milk adds a creamy texture that can’t be beat.
Looking for a new way to serve up salmon? Make these kebabs! Simple, delicious, and packed with extra vegetables, they’re ready in under an hour and make for a light weeknight dinner perfect for a family.
A salade nicoise is a classic French recipe that withstands the test of time; filled with protein, crunchy vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs, it’s a salad that can actually keep you full. This salad is super simple to prepare — make a larger portion to save some to pack for lunch the next day!
As the name implies, these tacos are so good, you’ll be screaming for more. These light and fresh tacos are sure to be a hit with the whole family. Double the recipe to feed a crowd!
The classic sizzling fajita platter found in Mexican restaurants across the globe is a cinch to replicate in your own kitchen. Fajitas can be made with almost any protein, but this recipe uses steak while still remaining miraculously under 500 calories per serving.
Breakfast for dinner, anyone? Eggs are so good for you, you could totally eat them for every meal of the day. Potatoes, garlic, and vegetables jazz up these simple sunny-side-up eggs.
Who said noodles had to be banished from your low-calorie dinner menu? Vietnamese-style pho is filled with vegetables and spices, all with unique health benefits.
On a cold winter evening, it can be tempting to gorge on cheesy and cream-filled comfort foods. But this bowl is so tasty and satisfying, you won’t mind cozying up with nutritious vegetables, instead. Roasted squash pairs delightfully with heart-healthy pumpkin seeds and flavorful goat cheese. Drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette and dig in!
This recipe is made using your slow cooker, so it’s perfect to throw together in a cinch. Lean chicken breast, avocado, fresh vegetables… Everything in this light soup is good for you. Now that you’ve got weeknight dinners taken care of, it’s time to catch up on some meal prep. These recipes use just one pan and are perfect to make ahead to freeze, heat, and eat!
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