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60 Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners (That Even the Most Culinarily Challenged Can Manage)

We get it, friend: You’re busy. Us, too. While we’d love to whip up an elaborate feast for dinner every night, that’s just…not going to happen. Our solution? These 60 easy dinner recipes that require minimal effort (and zero fancy chef skills), but still taste delicious. From 15-minute pasta recipes to one-pan chicken wonders, consider your evening meals covered.

65 Easy Dinner Recipes for Two

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

It requires as much work and know-how as pouring a jar of marinara—but is way more impressive. Add ricotta cheese or crispy prosciutto to make it more filling.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, special occasion-worthy, high protein

Just place all the ingredients on a sheet pan and pop the whole thing in the oven—what’s easier than that? (You’ll be left with minimal dirty dishes, too.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, make ahead

While standard lasagna can be a little tricky (all that layering is exhausting, no?), this version is significantly easier to master. Plus, it freezes like a charm.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours and 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: slow cooker recipe, high protein, kid-friendly

Let your Crockpot do the heavy lifting. Dump in the ingredients, set the timer, make a pot of white rice and you’re good to go.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

A sophisticated dish that tastes like you spent all day making it, but it’s actually ready and on the table in under an hour. (Chalk it up to limiting the seafood to shrimp and littleneck clams.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, one pan, high protein, beginner-friendly

How impressive does this guy look? (Just don’t tell anyone that all you had to do was throw everything in a skillet and wait 30 minutes.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, beginner-friendly, high protein

We know, cooking fish can seem intimidating. But as long as you use a nonstick pan, this dish is even easier to cook than chicken. Promise.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian, kid-friendly

Rich, creamy and oh so easy. Once you’ve mastered this decadent, five-ingredient, cheese-and-pepper pasta dish, it’ll be your weeknight go-to.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, special occasion-worthy

Fact: Everything tastes better in miniature form…including these two-bite pockets made with chicken tenders, soft pita and creamy herb sauce.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein

Allow us to introduce you to a cooking technique that gets dinner on the table quickly with zero dirty dishes to wash. We love you, nonstick foil.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, beginner-friendly, <30 minutes

The easiest dinners to make are those that require no cooking at all. (Well, besides toasting the pita, that is.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian, kid-friendly

Easy enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for a dinner party. Just don’t skimp on the Parm. (We’ll take crushed red pepper flakes on ours too.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, low carb, keto-friendly

Our favorite veggie makes cutting back on carbs easy. Oh, and did we mention that it’ll be ready to devour in 30 minutes flat?

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, low carb, gluten free, dairy free, keto-friendly

Who needs wrappers? Everyone knows that the filling is the best part. (OK, we wouldn’t blame you for adding a few crispy wonton strips to your bowl.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, one pan, high protein, kid-friendly

All you need to whip up this easy yet satisfying meal is chicken, veggies, a few pantry staples, 20 minutes and your trusty skillet. Ta-da.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

Even easier (and so much more elegant) than grabbing a jar of tomato sauce from the cupboard. Add ground beef or crumbled sausage to boost the protein.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Thanks to store-bought dough, this beautiful ’za is as easy to toss together as your go-to kale Caesar. Drizzle it with a generous dose of olive oil before digging in.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: high protein, make ahead, beginner-friendly

This healthy dish is more about assembling than actual cooking. And remember: When in doubt, watermelon radishes make everything look fancy.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein, beginner-friendly, special occasion-worthy

Sure, you could order takeout…or you could save yourself time (and money) by whipping up this copycat instead. The choice is yours.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, beginner-friendly

Cooking healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult. Case in point: This quick and nutritious soup (served with a side of cheese-encrusted baguette, obvi) that comes together in practically no time.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein, kid-friendly

Always reaching for chicken breast at the grocery store? Here’s a little secret: Thighs are not only more flavorful, but they’re basically impossible to dry out.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, high protein

Whip up a quick and easy Thai-inspired dish in 30 minutes flat. Serve it with rice on the side and a sprinkle of scallions on top, if you’re feeling ambitious.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, one pan, high protein

Psst: Don’t tell your dinner guests that these tacos started with a rotisserie bird. (Or that the whole meal only took you 30 minutes from start to finish.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, one pot, vegetarian

So much better than mac from a box, but just as easy to make. Consider your picky kids satisfied at first bite.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, high protein

Three cheers for a quick dinner that you can make with whatever’s lying around in your pantry. (It’s even faster if you have leftover couscous at the ready.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 7 hours and 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, slow cooker recipe, high protein

Just ten minutes of prep work is all that’s required for this crowd-pleaser. Serve it on brioche buns with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: gluten free, Paleo-friendly, beginner-friendly, sheet pan recipe

Low-maintenance cooking is our favorite. This mouthwatering meal is hands-off and leaves you with practically zero dishes to wash. Win-win.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Dream scenario: We’re jetting over to Italy in a few days to enjoy the real deal. Next best thing? This pasta dish made with savory eggplant and fresh sauce. Buon appetito.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Having friends over to watch the game? These mini bites, stuffed with seasoned rotisserie chicken, are guaranteed to impress.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly

Juicy tomatoes, crispy bacon and crunchy lettuce mixed with diced avocado and creamy pasta. Who knew you could improve upon the classic sandwich?

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free

So fresh, so clean. Feel free to mix and match with whatever fruit and veggies you have lying around, or nix the eggs to make it vegan.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, high protein

Remember the microwave noodles that fueled you through college? Our take is significantly more grown-up.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly

This dish takes just 30 minutes from start to finish. We give you full permission to eat the leftovers cold, since it tastes just as good—if not better—that way.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, <30 minutes, no cook

You had us at 15-minute dinner, and again at no oven required. Double the recipe to make enough for four people.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Rotisserie chicken, we salute you. (How else could we have a mouthwatering wrap ready to go in a mere 20 minutes?)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

It’s impossible to beat a ten-minute salad. And this one is crowned with charred halloumi cheese, so it’s even better.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, dairy free, gluten free, high protein

It sounds time-consuming, but we promise it’s a breeze. (We’re talking only ten minutes of prep, folks.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: make ahead, gluten free, beginner-friendly

Ready in half an hour is just the beginning. These meatballs are tender, rich and juicy, plus they’re baked instead of fried for minimal mess.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 7 hours and 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: slow cooker recipe, high protein, make ahead

The answer to your dinnertime prayers? Spicy, nourishing burrito bowls, starring succulent pork shoulder, portioned out for the entire work week.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, gluten free, high protein, make ahead

Bye, dinner rut. We’ll see you never, thanks to these adorable pepper boats filled with healthy chicken salad.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, make ahead, dairy free

It’s basically a giant bowl of guac masquerading as a salad, and we’re not complaining at all. In fact, that’s the definition of our dream meal.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein, kid-friendly, make ahead

Low-maintenance is the name of the game. Make this spicy-sweet number the night before (it takes just 35 minutes) and reap the rewards when your stomach growls the next day.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, vegetarian

Tip: Don’t skimp on the good stuff. And by good stuff, we mean all that creamy burrata cheese.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, one pan, keto-friendly

One-pan meals are the way to go when you’re looking to save time. This one tastes super decadent, but it’s surprisingly healthy and low-carb.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, beginner-friendly, high protein

Dishes? What dishes? We’re only making sheet pan meals from now on, and we’re starting with this dairy- and gluten-free gem.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, one pan, beginner-friendly

These chewy, sticky rice cakes are about to win the dinner game. Grab the flavor-packed XO sauce from your local Asian market.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, gluten free

Who says eating healthy has to be boring? This fresh legume-veggie-yogurt combo will fill you up without weighing you down.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: make ahead, vegan, beginner-friendly

The only cooking these wraps call for is blanching the collard greens. Not only are they portable, but they can be made up to two days in advance.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein, special occasion-worthy

These beauties only take 20 minutes to prepare, including the slightly spicy tropical salsa that would also taste great on pork chops, salmon or guacamole.

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MELLISSA SEVIGNY/SQUEAKY CLEAN KETO

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, keto-friendly, high protein, low carb

Use store-bought everything bagel seasoning or make your own with spice-rack staples like dried onion flakes and minced garlic.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, one pan, kid-friendly

You favorite local takeout spot will miss you. Feel free to toss in any less-than-perfect veggies lurking in your fridge.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegan, no cook

A million times more refreshing than hot tomato soup. (But we’re still having ours with a grilled cheese sandwich.)

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DAVID LOFTUS/ULTIMATE VEG

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, beginner-friendly

This vegetarian take on a Russian classic is just the antidote for a blustery winter night. Trust us, you won’t even miss the beef.

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Dana Carpender/The Keto for One Cookbook

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: keto-friendly, low carb, <10 ingredients, no cook

Save a few strips of steak whenever you’re at the grill to make a next-level salad with the leftovers that’s ready in no time.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, low carb, gluten free

All the butter, garlic, lemon and white wine of the original, minus the carbs. Good looking out, zucchini.

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Mark Weinberg/I Dream of Dinner

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, one pot, beginner-friendly

We have a feeling your picky kids will have no problem with cheesy, buttery pasta. (They might even give the broccoli rabe a taste, if you’re lucky.)

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Mark Weinberg/I Dream of Dinner

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: high protein, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

If you can’t find trout, mackerel or bluefin tuna would be fine substitutes. But TBH, the sweet, savory marinade will work on everything from tofu to chicken to cauliflower.

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Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, special occasion-worthy, beginner-friendly

Make the crispy chickpeas and fish-free dressing ahead so you can assemble the salad in a flash come dinnertime. (Oh, and make a second batch of chickpeas just for snacking.)

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Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, no cook, <10 ingredients, low carb

Newly on keto? This gluten-free way to serve tuna salad substitutes carby bread with crisp, refreshing lettuce cups, so it’s on your diet.

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Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly

Any dinner that starts with a bag of frozen tots is one after our own heart. They’re topped with all the fixings, including chorizo, avocado and quick-pickled onions.

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54 Fast Dinner Ideas You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.

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