50 Easy Recipes You Need to Try in 2021
While we've cherished these last few months of bread-baking and stew-making, we're ready to embrace spending a little less time in the kitchen now that summer's here (and there's no end in sight to the pandemic). Enter, and not a moment too soon, these 50 delicious recipes that will put dinner on the table in a mere 30 minutes or less.
Whether you're experiencing cooking fatigue or just want more time to do other things, these recipes prove that eating a healthy, home-cooked meal doesn't have to be a challenge. Dig in!
And for more, don't miss these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
Southern Cornmeal Catfish with Tomato Gravy
One of the quickest routes to a healthy dinner starts with fish filets. No matter what method you choose to cook it, a fish filet cooks in mere minutes. In this case, in under eight. Even when you add the time it takes to heat the skillet, you still have time to make the simple but delicious cornmeal-based tomato gravy and still have dinner on the table in just 30 minutes.
Get our recipe for Southern Cornmeal Catfish with Tomato Gravy.
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Sweet Chili-Glazed Salmon
Salmon takes a bit longer to cook through than catfish, but in the time it takes to heat your oven, you'll be done whipping up the sweet and spicy glaze and ready to lacquer that fish up. Depending on the thickness of your salmon, you could be eating in under 25 minutes.
Get our recipe for Sweet Chili-Glazed Salmon.
Grilled Steak with Red Wine Butter
Only have 15 minutes? Then consider going with a steak. Skirt steak will take less time to cook than a sirloin or a filet, although it depends on the thickness of the cut. While the heat does its Maillard magic to the meat, you can prep your red wine butter, either by making it fresh or by slicing up some that you made in advance and letting it melt on your steak once it's plated.
Get our recipe for Grilled Steak with Red Wine Butter.
Steak and Eggs with Chimichurri
We're nominating chimichurri as one of the best condiments on the planet, not just because it's so versatile and flavorful, but also because it's so incredibly easy to make. Once you've got some on hand, you can enjoy this flavor-packed steak and eggs dinner. Including the time it takes to fire up your cast iron skillet, this recipe will take you under 25 minutes from start to finish.
Get our recipe for Steak and Eggs with Chimichurri.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri
If you'd rather enjoy your chimichurri delivery system in under 10 minutes, then add this grilled chicken sandwich to your dinner rotation. It's super flavorful and tender because it calls for boneless chicken thighs, and it makes genius use of jarred roasted red peppers.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri.
Scallops with Chimichurri
Talk about getting dinner on the table quickly! When you use scallops as your excuse to spoon up the chimichurri, you're looking at dinner in five. Seriously. As long as you have the chimichurri on hand, fire up your skillet, pat those scallops dry, and call the family to the table. By the time they all arrive, dinner will be sizzling.
Get our recipe for Scallops with Chimichurri.
Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach
Scallops, with or without chimichurri, are truly one of the breakout stars of the quick-to-the-table dinner repertoire. In this version, even with the addition of canned white beans and fresh baby spinach leaves, the cooking time is barely over 20 minutes.
Get our recipe for Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach.
The Ultimate Club Sandwich with Super Mayo
For those times—for example, during the heat of the summer—when only a cold plate will do, there's this triple-decker club sandwich, featuring an easy-to-make garlic-and-dijon-boosted mayo. And if you feel like slathering on some chimichurri because you happen to have some on hand, we'd applaud you. Not just for your good taste, but because chimichurri is secretly a nutrition superhero—it's brimming with fresh parsley, which is on our list of healthiest herbs you can treat yourself to.
Get our recipe for the Ultimate Club Sandwich with Super Mayo.
Chinese Chicken Salad
Another way to cut dinner prep time during the week is by starting with a pre-cooked chicken, such as Costco's surprisingly affordable rotisserie chicken. This Asian-influenced salad came to us by way of the popular Austrian chef, Wolfgang Puck, does precisely that and relies on what a reliable alternative for homemade salad dressing: a bottled brand like Annie's. As a result, even with the shredding of cabbage and the slicing of chicken, this recipe takes under 15 minutes to pull together.
Get our recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad.
Chicken, Kale, and White Bean Salad
Here's another recipe that starts with pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. It's so easy to put together, you'll have time to make the homemade lemon vinaigrette and still have dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
Get our recipe for Chicken, Kale, and White Bean Salad.
Mexican Quinoa Chicken Salad
In this rotisserie-chicken-based dinner, you can start with pre-cooked quinoa, but even if you rinse and cook your quinoa on the spot, you'll still have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes—maybe even a bit less time if you use the time while the quinoa is cooking to prep your salad fixings.
Get our recipe for Mexican Quinoa Chicken Salad.
Grilled Calamari Salad
By making use of a hot-as-heck grill, this calamari salad makes quick work out of omega-3-rich squid, which happens to be high on our list of healthiest seafood. Despite being dressed with a sauce that is, in part, made with homemade ingredients (we start with a pre-prepared chili garlic sauce but doctor it up with fish sauce, lime, diced veggies, and fresh basil), this is an incredibly easy recipe.
Get our recipe for Grilled Calamari Salad.
Copycat Big Macs
Quick-to-the-table dinners are not limited to salads and seafood. Burgers are another guaranteed-fast entrée, regardless of whether you grill them outside or saute them on the stove. For our version of the classic Big Mac, you'll need under 20 minutes including the time it takes to mix up the "special sauce," pull together your condiments, and grill those babies.
Get our recipe for Copycat Big Macs.
Pan-Fried Burger with Egg and Special Sauce
Here's another quick-to-table burger that has the power to make you forget all about Big Macs once and for all by topping it with a fried egg (and because we know it's important that you can feel the yolk break when you take your first bite, here's how to fry an egg without "wrecking" it).
Get our recipe for Pan-Fried Burger with Egg and Special Sauce.
Because our version of this mega-chain classic benefits from using homemade caramelized onions, and caramelized onions can take a good 45 minutes of patiently waiting in front of a low-flame, we might not have included this recipe in a 30-minutes-or-less roundup. But our recipe for caramelized onions keeps for up to one week in the fridge, so if you happen to have them on hand, these Jalapeño Cheeseburgers come together even more quickly than the Copycat Big Mac.
Get our recipe for Jalapeño Cheeseburgers.
Keto Cheeseburger Casserole
One of the great things about ground beef is that it cooks up fast even if you're not making burgers. This keto-friendly casserole starts with a sauté of ground beef that you can be finished making in the time it takes to heat the oven. With your ground beef cooked and your oven fired up, just add a handful of other flavorful ingredients, and dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes.
Get our recipe for Keto Cheeseburger Casserole.
Mexican Hot Dogs
When you're deciding between burgers or dogs, the first question you should ask yourself is "how much time do you have?" Sure, burgers cook up fast, but not as fast as hot dogs, which can also serve as a powerfully lean protein delivery system, depending on which brand you buy (it matters). Most hot dogs can go from the fridge to the grill to your plate in five minutes. Dressing it up Mexican-style adds but another minute or so.
Get our recipe for Mexican Hot Dogs.
Chicago Hot Dogs
All of the same rules apply equally to our Mexican and our Chicago dogs, even though for a hot dog to qualify as Chicago-style, grilling is not allowed. Nevertheless, we're talking five minutes in the heat and a minute to "get dressed," and your dining experience will be ready to begin.
Get our recipe for Chicago Hot Dogs.
Instant Pot White Chicken Chili
If you don't have an Instant Pot yet, what are you waiting for? While it can be used as a slow cooker, it's just as useful as a pressure cooker, which means you can use it to speed up the process for cooking foods that would otherwise require hours of simmering (don't miss these 20 instant pot hacks every cook should know). That's how we're able to vouch for this recipe for white chili with chicken as coming together in a mere 30 minutes or less.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot White Chicken Chili.
Instant Pot Steak Fajitas
Did we mention the Instant Pot also makes sautéing a snap? That's why it's the secret to our one-pot steak fajitas. So even with slicing the onions and peppers and preparing the accouterments, you're looking at a restaurant-worthy meal in under a half-hour.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Steak Fajitas.
Margarita Chicken, also known as Chicken Margherita, is on the menu at nearly all U.S. chain restaurants, and there's a reason: its perfect synergy of chicken, salsa, and cheese. But with our quick and healthy recipe, which amps up the flavor of prepared salsa using fresh lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro, you can have all that in the time it would take you to load up the car with the family.
Get our recipe for Margarita Chicken.
Avocado Crab Salad
We won't tell if you won't tell…that this avocado crab salad relies upon canned crabmeat to get it from mere thought-bubble to table. It works because of all the other fresh, bright flavors that make up this unexpectedly nuanced salad with the perfect contrast between smooth and toothsome.
Get our recipe for Avocado Crab Salad.
Instant Pot Shrimp and Broccoli
Here's a recipe where nothing is pre-cooked, and yet it's ready in under 15 minutes. That's the beauty and wonder of shrimp: Like scallops, it doesn't want (or need) to spend more than a brief foray in the heat. While our version calls for deshelling shrimp with the shells on, some chefs prefer to cook shrimp in their shells, which help to preserve the moisture and provide a small (very small) buffer to overcooking. Skip the deshelling step, and you're going to have food on the table even faster.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Shrimp and Broccoli.
Shrimp Scampi Linguini
Getting dinner on the table quickly often means pasta is out of the question, particularly baked pasta dishes like lasagna and baked ziti. But when your recipe starts with shrimp, that quick-cooking yet flavorful epicurean wonder, you might just have time to cook up some linguini to go with. Ten minutes to get the water boiling plus 10 to get your strands al dente, during which time you could cook your shrimp and set the table, and you're off to the races.
Get our recipe for Shrimp Scampi Linguini.
Spanish Garlic Shrimp
For those times when you're all about the garlicky shrimp but not so much about the pasta, give this powered-by-paprika Spanish-style garlic shrimp sizzle a whirl. From start to finish, this recipe clocks in at 14 minutes flat.
Get our recipe for Spanish Garlic Shrimp.
Asparagus Salad with Fried Egg and Prosciutto
Who says you can't eat eggs for dinner? This salad is a riff on the French bistro staple, Frisee Lardon. Here, we use the much more health-positive prosciutto in place of the bacon lardon, which we don't sizzle on the griddle but rather let warm up on top of the fried eggs. Also, we swap the green but relatively-bland frisée for a more flavorful, nutrient-rich cooked asparagus. After you're done heating the water for the asparagus, you're looking at less than 10 minutes until the dinner bell rings.
Get our recipe for Asparagus Salad with Fried Egg and Prosciutto.
Mediterranean Tofu Scramble
If you're a recovering egg lover easing into a plant-based diet, this Mediterranean-flavored tofu scramble will help ease your transition. Don't let the "scramble" in the name fool you.
Get our recipe for Mediterranean Tofu Scramble.
Vegetarian Rice Bowl
Another quick and easy vegetarian option is this rice bowl, which gets its protein from egg (which is everything you want in a protein) and can be on your table in a mere eight minutes, start to finish.
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Rice Bowl.
Turkey Salad BLT
Remember we told you croutons are one of the 10 foods you should never add to your salad? Well, just to be clear, that was just about white-bread croutons, and it also assumed your croutons would be pre-made. The croutons in this genius salad version of the classic BLT sandwich are whole-wheat, and they're essentially the two slices of bread you'd be using to make your classic BLT. The addition of sliced deli turkey is not only yummy, but it also ensures you're getting enough protein to keep you satisfied.
Get our recipe for Turkey Salad BLT.
Blackened Fish Sandwich
Need a filet-o-fish fix? You don't even have to leave the house to enjoy this antioxidant-rich blackened version that cooks up crispy on your handy cast-iron skillet (here's how to get the best results from your cast-iron cookware). Plus, the avocado adds a creamy umami contrast that mayo could never compete with.
Get our recipe for a Blackened Fish Sandwich.
Instant Pot Buffalo Wings
Speaking of fast-food fixes, crispy, hot-sauce and butter-soaked, Buffalo-style chicken wings aren't nearly as incorrigible as you might think, especially when you cook them up in your Instant Pot, which crisps them up in 10 minutes flat, sans the whole deep-fry debacle. Top that off with another five or 10 minutes under the broiler, and you might find yourself wondering why anyone ever deep fries their wings.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Buffalo Wings.
Air Fryer Falafel
Sure, the falafels you can get from your local falafel truck are a healthy and delicious vegetarian dinner alternative. But what if we told you they don't need to be deep-fried to get their crunch, and you can make them at home in under 30 minutes?
Get our recipe for Air Fryer Falafel.
Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
Our recipe for coconut shrimp is a great alternative to the chain restaurant version of this crunchy, sweet and spicy, Southern-meets-Caribbean classic, and it only takes 10 minutes in the oven. But if you have an air fryer, we think you'll want to give this version, which can be on the table even faster, a try.
Get our recipe for Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp.
Chicken Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
Sure, burgers are a quick-to-table classic, but so far we've been talking only about beef burgers, which isn't fair when you consider how easily lean, ground chicken lends itself to the burger game. This version benefits from a sun-dried tomato aioli that's so easy to prepare, you'll feel like you're cheating a bit when you call it by its fancy moniker.
Get our recipe for Chicken Burgers with Sundried Tomato Aioli.
Southwest Turkey Burger
Next on our tour of not-beef burgers is this recipe for Southwest-inspired turkey burgers, which benefits from a litany of Southwestern classics, including chipotle purée, lime juice, avocado, and pico de gallo. If you're willing to add another 15 minutes onto the 18 minutes it should take to get this dish on the table, you can even make your own pico de gallo.
Get our recipe for Southwest Turkey Burgers.
Apple and Bacon-Infused Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled cheese sandwiches give us all the feels for so many reasons we felt it necessary to list them all here. And of course, topping the list, right behind the fact that it's a total budget win, is the fact that grilled cheese is so easy to make. It's true even when you add on the sweet and spicy combo of apples and bacon (which, to be fair, only adds another few minutes for a total of 20).
Get our recipe for Apple and Bacon-Infused Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
Creamy Instant Pot Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese
This keto-friendly version of the classic gets it right on so many levels. First, it makes use of cauliflower rice in place of the carbs, which works not only for this dish but for these 20 (and many more). Even better, it makes use of the cook-it-whole-before-you-cut-it method of cooking cauliflower, which eliminates all the mess that goes along with chopping up a raw cauliflower head. And, of course, it comes together in one pot—the Instant Pot—in record time.
Get our recipe for Creamy Instant Pot Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese.
Turkey Sloppy Joes
This recipe for turkey sloppy joe sandwiches settles the question once and for all: Do you need to start your sloppy with a box from the supermarket? And the answer is, of course, no. Save gas. Save time. Start from scratch for this easy one-pot dinner.
Get our recipe for Turkey Sloppy Joes.
Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil
Thai cuisine delivers a lot of flavor per calorie, and it cooks quickly, too. This spicy Thai-flavored chicken, which gets its complex flavor thanks to that "Swiss Army Knife" of herbs, basil, can be on your table in a mere 25 minutes.
Get our recipe for Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil.
Instant Pot Tilapia
Using the Instant Pot not only makes the flakiest tilapia ever, but it also keeps the entire dinner-making process below 15 minutes. Carrots and green beans round out all the colors of this dinner.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Tilapia.
Sea Bass Packets with Asparagus and Mushrooms
With black sea bass on our list of most nutritious fish, and considering this fancy-sounding dish can be ready in under 30 minutes, we had to mention it. If you've never tried cooking in-a-packet (or as they say in French, en papillote), here is the one we suggest you try first. It brings home the notion that, yes, you really can cook everything in one packet.
Get our recipe for Sea Bass Packets with Asparagus and Mushrooms.
Mediterranean-inspired Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers
You probably love capers, but do you know what they are? Spoiler alert: They're flower buds! And they bring a tangy, pickled Mediterranean vibe to this quick, easy, and delicious chicken breast recipe that is just one dimension shy of en papillote.
Get our recipe for Mediterranean-inspired Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers.
Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Red Pepper Sauce
Harissa is a hot-chile flavor bomb that hails from Africa, and guess what? You can make it yourself if you have five minutes and a blender. It goes perfectly with this grilled mahi-mahi, yet another filet that gets dinner done in double time.
Get our recipe for Grilled Mahi Mahi with Red Pepper Sauce.
Sweet and Spicy Beef Stir-Fry
It takes a mere 22 minutes, start to finish, to get this Chinese takeout copycat onto the table, and 10 of those minutes are spent watching the beef marinate. Do we have your attention? How about if we told you it works amazingly with sugar snap peas? You may never want takeout again.
Get our recipe for Sweet and Spicy Stir Fry Beef.
This quick and easy stir fry features freshly grated ginger and freshly diced mango, as well as sugar snap peas. But if you have trouble finding sugar snap peas in the market, snow peas, green beans, and broccoli will work just fine, too.
Get our recipe for Chili-Mango Chicken.
Healthier Orange Chicken
This chicken stir-fry is just like the orange-flavored deep-fried chicken dish you can get at a Chinese takeout place, except it's not deep-fried. And you won't care, either—this recipe makes genius use of orange zest and features chicken breast, as opposed to chicken thigh meat, for a healthier alternative.
Get our recipe for Healthier Orange Chicken.
Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi
Gnocchi, for the uninitiated, is an Italian-style potato dumpling. And in case you've never made these little pillows at home, here's a secret: They take less than five minutes to cook once you've got the water boiling. You'll know they're ready when they rise to the top. Our version pairs them with basil pesto, green beans, and cherry tomatoes, but feel free to experiment with any kind of pesto.
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi.
Instant Pot Lemon Chicken
The secret to the juiciest lemon chicken? Well, it's two secrets. One is using chicken thighs, as we do here. The other is making use of that kitchen overachiever, the Instant Pot. Serve it up with some steamed veggies and perhaps a little gnocchi made from cauliflower.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Lemon Chicken.
Instant Pot Creamy Chicken with Spinach
This dish only sounds decadent. Well, it tastes decadent too. Eh, let's face it, it is decadent…for a healthy food that cooks up in under 30 minutes thanks to the Instant Pot. So, yes, it does include a cup of heavy cream, but that's only because it also includes two pounds of chicken, a half cup of Parmesan cheese, and little else to make it anything but keto-friendly.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Creamy Chicken with Spinach.
Balsamic Honey Glazed Pork Chops
We saved this one for last because pork chops are probably the last thing you think of when you think of dinners you can make in under 30 minutes. But these thick and meaty pork chops, which go into the pan brushed with balsamic vinegar (which helps them cook up tender), are meant to be cooked for only three to four minutes per side. Got 14 minutes?
Get our recipe for Balsamic Honey Glazed Pork Chops.
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