These are three of my absolute favorite and easy dinner recipes, and I say that with confidence! As a food writer, that really says something! I cook and write recipes every day. Sometimes I test several recipes on the same day. So, if I can find a compilation of ingredients that I feel compelled to create, again and again, that’s a clear winner. That’s why I want to share these champions with you.
Top Easy Dinner Recipes of All Time
So what is it about these easy dinner recipes that makes them so special? The flavors are balanced beautifully, they’re easy to prepare, and they are complete meals. I hope you enjoy these three recipes as much as we do at my house!
Stuffed Pesto Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella & Roasted Potato Medley
In this delicious dish, chicken breasts are stuffed with parmesan cheese, coated with basil pesto and baked under a blanket of fresh, creamy mozzarella.
Cooking time: 30 mins
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, about 4-5 ounces each
2 ounces parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler into thin strips
Salt and ground black pepper
4 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
1 pound small red or yellow potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
8 ounces grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
Fresh basil leaves for serving, optional
- Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Step 2: Using a small paring knife, slice a pocket into each chicken breast (as if cutting a bagel), without cutting all the way through the other side.
- Step 3: Nestle the parmesan cheese slices in the pocket.
- Step 4: Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan and season the top with salt and pepper.
- Step 5: Spoon the pesto over each chicken breast. Set aside.
- Step 6: In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, basil, and onion powder. Toss to coat.
- Step 7: Arrange the potatoes and tomatoes around the chicken on the sheet pan.
- Step 8: Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.
- Step 9: Arrange the mozzarella slices on top of the chicken.
- Step 10: Return the pan to the oven and roast for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the cheese melts and the chicken and potatoes are cooked and golden brown.
- Step 11: Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired. Enjoy!
In this dish, it’s the meat sauce that really steals the show. The savory, meaty Bolognese sauce is crammed with herbs and spices and makes the ideal topping for all varieties of pasta. I chose to use cavatappi because I adore how the meat sauce clings to the pasta’s twists and turns; you can also use fusilli. This is definitely a sauce you’ll be putting in your regular rotation of delicious, yet easy dinner recipes.
Cooking time: 30 mins
16 ounces cavatappi pasta, or any pasta of choice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced white onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
28-ounce can tomato sauce (or two 15-ounce cans)
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste or regular tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Grated parmesan cheese for serving (preferably freshly grated)
Chopped scallions for serving, optional
Fresh parsley leaves for serving, optional
- Step 1: Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Step 2: Drain and, while still warm, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the basil, 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Step 3: Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Step 4: Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and golden.
- Step 5: Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is browned and cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
- Step 6: Add the remaining teaspoons of basil and oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- Step 7: Stir to coat the beef. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Step 8: Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Step 9: Transfer the pasta to individual shallow bowls and top with the Bolognese sauce.
- Step 10: Grate the parmesan cheese over top. If desired, top with scallions and fresh parsley leaves.
Vegetable Pad Thai
The third recipe is for those looking for a protein-rich meal that doesn’t rely on beef, seafood or chicken (although you can certainly add any of those to this dish). It’s my version of Pad Thai and it has all the flavors you’d find if you ordered Pad Thai in a restaurant (the only thing missing is tons of fat). The sauce is a sweet and savory combination of soy sauce, tamarind, rice vinegar, and tomato paste (which adds the sweetness). Flavor explosion in every bite!
Cooking time: 30 mins
1 1/2 cups good-quality vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons tamarind paste (sold with the other Asian ingredients in the grocery store), or mango chutney
1 tablespoon rice vinegar, regular or seasoned
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sweet (not smoked) paprika
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
1 each red and green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
8 ounces uncooked pad Thai noodles
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Step 1: In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth, water, soy sauce, tamarind paste, rice vinegar, tomato paste, and paprika. Set aside until ready to use.
- Step 2: Heat the peanut and sesame oils together in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Step 3: Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, and ginger and sauté for 3 minutes, until soft.
- Step 4: Add the broth mixture and noodles and bring to a simmer.
- Step 5: Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, until the noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Step 6: Push the noodles and vegetables to one side of the pan to make room for the eggs.
- Step 7: Add the eggs to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the eggs are cooked through but still moist.
- Step 8: Fold the eggs into the noodles.
- Step 9: Top the noodle mixture with the peanuts and cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.
- Step 10: You can skip the eggs to make it completely vegetarian and add Chinese mung bean sprouts for crunch on top.
It is better to make as many meals at home to avoid excess salt, sugar, and additives present in junk or packaged foods. According to a 2017 report published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, eating home-cooked meals more often is positively linked to better nutrition content and lower adiposity levels in the body. So enjoy these easy-to-make meals at your home!