Our 50 Best Weeknight Dinner Recipes
Eberly Film Labs/The Daily Meal

50 Easy Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights

We finally answer the question: "What should I make for dinner?"
Our 50 Best Weeknight Dinner Recipes
Eberly Film Labs/The Daily Meal

Looking for a dinner recipe? How about 50? These delicious meals are homemade food at its finest. From lasagna and shakshuka to ramen, lemony chicken pasta and easy enchiladas, we've compiled the ultimate recipe roundup for simple weeknight dinners that can be on the table in one hour or less with minimal prep work and minimal cleanup.

Linguine With Lemony Chicken

Linguine With Lemony Chicken
Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune; Styling by Lisa Schumacher

One of the absolute best pasta dishes for when you need a little pick-me-up, this light chicken linguine is in a simple yet zesty sauce made from briny capers, tart lemon and dry white wine.

For the Linguine With Lemony Chicken recipe, click here.

Classic Beef Meatloaf

Classic Beef Meatloaf
Courtesy of Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner

Meatloaf is a classic for a reason, and while there are a surprising number of variations on meatloaf, this recipe is straightforward and nostalgic. Serve with roasted carrots and a big pile of mashed potatoes.

For the Classic Beef Meatloaf recipe, click here.

Chicken Apple Harvest Sheet Tray Dinner

Chicken Apple Harvest Sheet Tray Dinner
Courtesy of Perdue

Sheet pan dinners make your life so easy, and this recipe, in particular, has only 10 minutes of prep time. Sweet potatoes and apples are particularly satisfying flavors in the fall, but are fortunately available and affordable at the grocery store all year long.

For the Chicken Apple Harvest Sheet Tray Dinner recipe, click here.

Soy Grilled Tuna Steaks

Soy Grilled Tuna Steaks

Courtesy of Catherine Pappas/Living the Gourmet

One of the best recipes for seafood lovers, these tuna steaks are marinated in a Japanese-inspired blend of soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Once you get that prep work done, all you need to do is grill these up for a couple of minutes and serve with rice.

For the Soy Grilled Tuna Steaks recipe, click here.

Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese

Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

This tried-and-true recipe for the gooiest, cheesiest mac and cheese only takes 20 minutes of prep and won't dry out as you’re getting ready to eat. The trick is plenty of milk and a combination of cheddar, taleggio, fontina and Gouda cheeses, resulting in an out-of-this-world cheesy dish. You can also add some of these unexpected ingredients that go great with mac and cheese to take it to the next level. This even freezes well if you want to plan ahead.

For the Mac and Cheese recipe, click here.

Air-Fryer Chicken Wings

Air-Fryer Chicken Wings
Robin Gentry / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Even without sports, you can still make these game day staples at home. A trendy air fryer makes chicken wings that are crispy and tender without all the oil. This recipe requires only a few basic ingredients: chicken wings, salt and pepper, garlic powder, olive oil and your favorite wing sauce.

For the Air-Fryer Chicken Wings recipe, click here.

Simple Spaghetti Carbonara

Simple Spaghetti Carbonara
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

The best part about making spaghetti carbonara is that you probably already have everything on hand. It requires only six ingredients: spaghetti, bacon, olive oil, ground pepper, eggs and Parmesan cheese. The result is a filling, luxe dinner that will make the whole family happy. If your kids are resistant, try rebranding it as “bacon and egg pasta.”

For the Simple Spaghetti Carbonara recipe, click here.

Grandma’s Sloppy Joes

Grandma’s Sloppy Joes
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

If you’re looking for family-friendly dinners, it’s hard to beat a classic American sloppy joe. The best part is this super satisfying sandwich can be on the table in just 30 minutes.

For Grandma’s Sloppy Joes recipe, click here.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup
hsunny/Shutterstock

Black bean soup is one of the best meals you can make using canned ingredients and is a hearty vegetarian meal. This recipe makes a ton of soup, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers for weekday lunches, too. It also freezes well.

For the Black Bean Soup recipe, click here.

Mini Naan Pizzas

Mini Naan Pizzas
Courtesy of Happy Money Saver

If you're looking for an easy way to get your kids involved in the cooking process, it's time to get into pizza making. But instead of starting from scratch with homemade dough, one of our favorite weeknight hacks is to use naan as your crust — it bakes up beautifully. Top it with jarred (or homemade) pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella and the toppings of your choice. This fun meal takes no more than 15 minutes to make,

For the Mini Naan Pizzas recipe, click here.

Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie

Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie
Courtesy of Blue Apron

You might think chicken pot pie is complicated to make at home, but if you have biscuit mix, it’s surprisingly easy. This hearty classic is bursting with chicken, mushrooms and turnips, but if you don’t have those things, you can use carrots, peas and potatoes.

For the Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie recipe, click here.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice
Nungning20 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Looking for one of the best ways to use yesterday’s leftovers for tonight’s dinner? Try this simple, customizable veggie fried rice. We like to keep it classic with onions, carrots, bell peppers and peas, but you can throw almost any vegetable in this dish. Eat on its own with plenty of soy sauce or top it with shrimp, scallops, chicken or steak.

For the Vegetable Fried Rice recipe, click here.

Cod With Soba Noodles in Spicy Tomato Broth

Cod With Soba Noodles in Spicy Tomato Broth
Courtesy of Ready Set Eat

Cod is an incredible fish because it’s so tender and mild. It pairs well with other light flavors, like an aromatic, spicy tomato broth seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, herbs and crushed red pepper for that heat.

For the Cod With Soba Noodles in Spicy Tomato Broth recipe, click here.

Easy Turkey Meatballs

Easy Turkey Meatballs
© Inga Nielsen | Dreamstime.com

You can put these kid-friendly meatballs on a bed of perfectly cooked pasta, on a sub or just eat them as-is. Make an extra batch and freeze for an even busier weeknight. 

For the Easy Turkey Meatballs recipe, click here.

Pork Carnitas Tacos

Pork Carnitas Tacos
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Pork carnitas is straight up one of the best things you can make in a slow cooker. If you want to get it extra crispy, put the pork under the broiler for a few minutes before serving. This easy recipe is used in street-style tacos, which is a great place to start. You can use the leftovers for burrito bowls, epic nachos or a hash later in the week. For a different flavor profile, use that pork butt or shoulder to make BBQ pulled pork sandwiches instead.

For the Pork Carnitas Tacos recipe, click here.

Easy Chickpea and Potato Curry

Easy Chickpea and Potato Curry
© Bartosz Luczak | Dreamstime.com

This Indian-inspired chickpea curry — also known as chole — is a spicy, delicious and filling meal all by itself, but with fluffy rice, it’s even better. The traditional South Asian flavors of garam masala, cumin and curry powder are so rich, you’ll think this hearty vegetarian dish has been simmering for hours.

For the Easy Chickpea and Potato Curry recipe, click here.

Red Shakshuka

Red Shakshuka
Courtesy of Handsome Brook Farms

One of the best ways to cook eggs, shakshuka takes just minutes to cook and is perfect for dipping crusty homemade bread. If you want to expedite the cooking process, make your tomato sauce the night before.

For the Red Shakshuka recipe, click here.

Miso-Glazed Salmon

Miso-Glazed Salmon
Photo by Michelle K. Min

Salmon is a particularly flavorful fish, so it doesn't need a big, bold glaze. This Japanese-inspired marinade combines miso paste, mirin, soy sauce and ginger. Serve with baby bok choy and rice for a healthy weeknight dinner.

For the Miso-Glazed Salmon recipe, click here.

Easy Homemade Lasagna

Easy Homemade Lasagna
Courtesy of Happy Money Saver

A toasty pan of lasagna fresh from the oven is bound to cure any weekday slump, and it’s arguably the best comfort food there is. Lasagna is one of those dishes that sounds like a lot of work but is surprisingly easy. Just cook the beef; all that’s left is creating the layers and baking the lasagna until it's hot and bubbly.

For the Easy Lasagna recipe, click here.

Easy Spinach Lasagna

Easy Spinach Lasagna
Lindsay Landis from Love & Olive Oil

Want a vegetarian version of lasagna? Swap the beef for frozen chopped spinach and tons of ricotta cheese. Because more cheese is always good.

For the Easy Spinach Lasagna recipe, click here.

Asian Steak Lettuce Wraps

Asian Steak Lettuce Wraps
Courtesy of Emily Paster, West of the Loop

For a light dinner that still brings the flavor, try these Asian steak wraps. This recipe features crisp butter lettuce wrapped around tender steak and silky rice noodles. The quick-cooking marinated skirt steak makes this a fabulous choice for weeknight dinners.

For the Asian Steak Lettuce Wraps recipe, click here.

Greek Orzo Salad With Shrimp and Cherry Tomatoes

Greek Orzo Salad With Shrimp and Cherry Tomatoes
Carolyn Menyes/The Daily Meal

Shrimp and orzo both cook in a matter of minutes, making them the ideal pair for weeknights. If you want an easy and tasty way to prepare shrimp, try making it in the air fryer. This easy Greek orzo salad is loaded with tomatoes, feta and shrimp and gets tons of zesty flavor from olives and a dill-infused homemade vinaigrette.

For the Greek Orzo Salad With Shrimp and Cherry Tomatoes recipe, click here.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Easy Chicken Enchiladas
Courtesy of Bits and Bites blog

Enchiladas are a Tex-Mex favorite and aren’t too much of a fuss to make at home. With a few grocery store shortcuts like enchilada sauce and rotisserie chicken, you can have a weeknight dinner on the table in a little over 30 minutes. This recipe can also be made vegetarian using roasted sweet potatoes and black beans instead of chicken.

For the Easy Chicken Enchiladas recipe, click here.

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Carolyn Menyes/The Daily Meal

Broccoli and cheese are a classic combination, and there are a ton of things you can make with these two ingredients. But our favorite use for weeknights is this creamy, cheesy broccoli cheddar soup. Serve with homemade sourdough, and you’ll feel like you’re at Panera.

For the Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe, click here.

Thai Chicken Satay With Peanut-Pumpkin Sauce

Thai Chicken Satay With Peanut-Pumpkin Sauce
zkruger/Shutterstock

Grilled chicken has a reputation for being a bit bland, but this grilled chicken recipe is far from boring. The chicken is marinated in a blend of pumpkin, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, cayenne pepper and herbs for a rich, Thai-inspired flavor. Serve these skewers with more of the reserved sauce on the side for a fun eating experience.

For the Thai Chicken Satay With Peanut-Pumpkin Sauce recipe, click here.

Grilled Caprese Sandwich

Grilled Caprese Sandwich
© Bhofack2 | Dreamstime.com

Caprese is a popular Italian salad made simply with fresh sliced tomato, creamy mozzarella, basil, balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil. Put those ingredients between two slices of white bread and cook in a pan for a next-level grilled cheese sandwich.

For the Caprese Grilled Cheese recipe, click here.

Lemon Chicken Ramen Soup

Lemon Chicken Ramen Soup
tbralnina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Take your instant ramen noodles to the next level by using them in this easy homemade chicken ramen soup. Serve garnished with scallions, sesame seeds and a perfectly soft-boiled egg.

For the Lemon Chicken Ramen Soup recipe, click here.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

With black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan), butter and spaghetti, cacio e pepe is all about showcasing good-quality ingredients. And the one restaurant trick you need to know to make this perfectly is to use the reserved pasta water, so make sure not to drain the spaghetti once it's cooked.

For the Cacio e Pepe recipe, click here.

Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu
Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune; Mark Graham/food styling

Mapo Tofu is a staple at Chinese restaurants, but you can control the heat levels if you make it at home. Just make sure you have plenty of Lao Gan Ma for the signature flavor of this comfort food.

For the Mapo Tofu recipe, click here.

Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes
Courtesy of Eggland's Best

Crab cakes are one of those foods you may think you need to go to a seafood shack to get a real good version of, but you can make them easily at home. For dinner, serve on a toasted bun with some sriracha ginger mayo and red onion for a scrumptious sandwich.

For the Crab Cakes recipe, click here.

Two Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Brisket

Two Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
Juanmonino/E+ via Getty Images Plus

Want to make dinner with four ingredients or fewer? Slow cook your meat with a jar of salsa verde. This super scrumptious beef brisket is great for tacos, but can also be eaten on sandwiches, over mashed potatoes or on top of nachos.

For the Two Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Brisket recipe, click here.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan
LauriPatterson / E+ via Getty Images Plus

Chicken parmesan is a quintessential, family-friendly Italian-American dish. This version keeps it basic in a good way with chunky, homemade marinara sauce, pan-fried breaded chicken cutlets and thick slices of mozzarella cheese. If you find yourself super short on time, you can also make a twist on chicken parm in an air fryer.

For the Chicken Parmesan recipe, click here.

Quinoa Burrito Bowls

Quinoa Burrito Bowls
Courtesy of Happy Money Saver

These burrito bowls are filled with heart-healthy quinoa and chicken sausage, making them a wholesome yet light dinner. However, you could easily use chorizo, steak, chicken or ground beef depending on your mood and what you have on hand. Considering this recipe takes only 15 minutes to put together, you’ll want to make it a regular part of your meal rotation.

For the 15-Minute Quinoa Burrito Bowls recipe, click here.

Spanish Chicken and Rice Casserole

Spanish Chicken and Rice Casserole
AS Food studio/Shutterstock

One-pot meals are life savers during the work week, and this Spanish chicken and rice casserole is ready in under an hour with only 10 minutes of active prep time. Even better — clean up is a breeze.

For the Spanish Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe, click here.

Penne With Black Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta and Spinach

Penne With Black Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta and Spinach
Courtesy of West of the Loop

This Greek-inspired pasta salad is a fantastic choice for a summer weeknight. It hits all the right notes thanks to the bold flavors from the black olives and sun-dried tomatoes, creamy saltiness from the feta cheese and fresh brightness from the spinach. Serve as-is for a vegetarian-friendly dinner option or top with some grilled salmon, shrimp, lamb or chicken.

For the Penne with Black Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta and Spinach recipe, click here.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup
Courtesy of Karrie Truman, Happy Money Saver

Tender chicken, fresh vegetables and wholesome noodles make chicken noodle soup an ideal home-cooked meal for any day of the week. The trick is making your own chicken broth — a slow cooker or multi-cooker makes easy work of this — and adding fresh thyme and parsley for herbaceousness. You should aim to make extra broth to freeze or use in other meals throughout the week.

For the Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, click here.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Sweet and Spicy Salmon
Zareen Syed/The Daily Meal

Salmon is a terrific source of healthy omega-3 fats, which are good for everyone and especially important for pregnant women. This sweet and spicy salmon is covered in a brown sugar, chili powder and ground cumin spice rub and then pan-seared until perfectly charred. Serve on a bed of brown or white rice or with a side of greens.

For the Sweet and Spicy Salmon recipe, click here.

Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Oftentimes, the best Italian food is simple Italian food — and is there anything more simple than spaghetti tossed in tomato sauce? Instead of using the jarred stuff, take a little time to make your own marinara with ripe tomatoes, high-quality extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves and cloves of garlic. This vibrant sauce is infinitely better than store bought and is still ready in one hour.

For the Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce recipe, click here.

Copycat Panera Frontega Chicken Panini

Copycat Panera Frontega Chicken Panini
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Rotisserie chicken really can be a godsend for weeknights and can be used in a variety of ways. We like to pile it high onto this sandwich that’s worthy of the dinner table. What makes it super for supper? A homemade chipotle mayo, made with — what else? — chipotle peppers in adobo and mayonnaise.

For the Copycat Panera Frontega Chicken Panini recipe, click here.

Sesame Peanut Noodle Bowl

Sesame Peanut Noodle Bowl
Courtesy of McCormick

This sesame peanut noodle bowl can be made in just 20 minutes, which is way quicker than waiting for your takeout order to arrive at your door. Top it with some air fried garlic shrimp for a quick and filling meal.

For the Sesame Peanut Noodle Bowl recipe, click here.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken
stockstudioX/E+ via Getty Images

You may think you may need to call up your local Indian joint to get good butter chicken, but this is one of those takeout dishes you can make at home in just 35 minutes! A splash of cream and a dollop of butter make this dish silky smooth and so rich, especially when paired with jasmine rice or fresh naan.

For the Butter Chicken recipe, click here.

Bears Chili

Bears Chili
Courtesy of Aramark

If you’re looking for one of the most comforting soups and stews out there, then you’re also looking for chili. Tons of cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, onions and chipotle peppers pack this chili with flavor and make it taste like it stewed for hours instead of just 30 minutes.

For the Bears Chili recipe, click here.

Coney Chili Hot Dogs

Coney Chili Hot Dogs
Courtesy of McCormick

If you find yourself with leftover chili, then it’s time to cook yourself up one of the best regional hot dogs, which are always going to be a crowd-pleaser.

For the Coney Chili Hot Dogs recipe, click here.

Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing

Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing

Courtesy of Pillsbury

This retro recipe is still a winner for dinner. There are a few unconventional ingredients that take this homemade meal over the top: maple syrup and peach preserves add a sweetness to the chicken while Worcestershire sauce brings the savory element. And — surprise! — that stuffing is made from toaster waffles.

For the Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing recipe, click here.

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Baked ziti takes some time to bake in the oven, sure, but you can assemble everything hours before baking, so just do the prep work in the morning. Then, when night comes around, bake it and serve hearty portions with a salad and some garlic bread.

For the Baked Ziti recipe, click here.

One-Pan Sweet Potato and Egg Hash

One-Pan Sweet Potato and Egg Hash
David Kaplan/The Daily Meal

This vegetarian dinner recipe is quick, easy and so delicious even carnivores will want a second serving. Sweet potatoes, red bell peppers and the yellow egg yolks also make this dish a total rockin' rainbow.

For the One-Pan Sweet Potato and Egg Hash recipe, click here.

Chilled Lemongrass Beef & Noodles

Chilled Lemongrass Beef & Noodles
Courtesy of Blue Apron

A cook time of only 10 minutes? We have no choice but to be a fan! Serving this cold noodle bowl with fresh carrots and cucumber helps to cut down on time spent in the kitchen.

For the Chilled Lemongrass Beef & Noodles recipe, click here.

Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats
Photo by Ashley Lima, courtesy Liv B's Easy Everyday

These zucchini boats are a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables. In fact, the entire dish is plant-based, but it’s one of those dishes that are so good, you won’t even realize it's vegan.

For the Zucchini Boats recipe, click here.

Simple Seared Pork Chops

Simple Seared Pork Chops
Eberly Film Labs/The Daily Meal

Pork chops are a great, versatile protein for dinner, and they cook up delightfully quickly. Serve with mashed potatoes, asparagus and top the whole plate with a creamy mushroom sauce that will definitely have you coming back for another serving.

For the Simple Seared Pork Chops recipe, click here.

Sheet Pan Chicken With Lemon and Olives

Sheet Pan Chicken With Lemon and Olives
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Joan Moravek/food styling

Baking chicken in the oven is easy and the cleanup is even easier. This Greek-inspired chicken thigh recipe is bursting with briny flavor from the olives and citrus deliciousness from roasted lemons. This super simple dinner is just one of the 101 best ways to cook chicken.

For the Sheet Pan Chicken With Lemon and Olives recipe, click here.

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