50+ Best Easy Dinner Ideas
Food & Cooking

50+ Best Easy Dinner Ideas

Here’s your ultimate guide for the best easy dinner ideas! From lightning-fast recipes to batch cooking on a Sunday, I’ll show you how to plan a stress-free week filled with tasty and nourishing meals the whole family will enjoy.

A big pan of creamy cajun chicken

Plan Your Dinner Recipes Ahead

Ever struggle to get a home-cooked meal done by dinner time? Or feel uninspired by your weekly rotation? Well, good news – I’ve rounded up a list of the best dinner ideas that check the boxes for healthy, uncomplicated, and super delicious.

To make the most of this list, it’s really about planning ahead. Here are a few ways to strategize — no matter how your week pans out:

  • Make a list of 30-minute recipes to keep on hand. For days where you have one hour to spare for cooking, these will come in handy. Think one pan meals, easy stir fry recipes, and sheet pan dinners that are jam packed with flavor.
  • Batch cook ingredients to save time throughout the week. If you’ve followed my meal prep guide before, you know just how convenient this plan is. Instead of batch cooking entire recipes, you’ll prep ingredients to create exciting mix and match meals that come together in about 5 minutes.
  • Rely on freezer-friendly meals for busy months. You can make a scrumptious chicken casserole and pre-cut it into portions for a grab-and-go reheatable meal. Or cook up a big pot of beef chili and freeze several portions for later. Just make sure to plan for meals that store well and can be reheated throughout the month. You’ll soon start to appreciate these instant freezer meals!

Easy Dinner Ideas Under 30 Minutes

These flavorful yet easy dinner ideas can be ready in under 30 minutes! That means minimal ingredients and tools with easy clean up. Who doesn’t love that?

Cods en papillote on a baking sheet

Mediterranean Cod en Papillote: In 30 minutes, you’ll have flaky baked cod and perfectly steamed veggies infused with fresh Mediterranean flavors.

Chicken stir-fry in a pan.

Chicken Stir-Fry: This speedy dinner is loaded with juicy chicken, colorful veggies, and is a 30 minute meal the whole family will love!

Shrimp scampi in a large pan with a spoon

Shrimp Scampi: Nothing beats a classic shrimp scampi cooked in the most fragrant garlic butter sauce. And yes, it only takes about 10 minutes to make! Side note — you can toss it with zucchini noodles to make this zucchini pasta with shrimp.

Baked chicken breasts in a pan.

Best Baked Chicken: Make juicy and tender chicken breasts with this foolproof baked chicken that takes only 25 minutes. For more easy marinade ideas, check out my list of chicken marinades!

Mediterranean ground beef stir fry in a pan with a slotted spoon.

Mediterranean Ground Beef Stir Fry: The best thing about this easy stir fry dinner is how customizable it is! Plus, it tastes great served with rice, lentils, and more.

Tuna salad on a slice of bread.

Tuna Salad: For something super quick, this creamy and crunchy tuna salad always ticks the box. Plus, you can serve it with bread or lettuce wraps. And if you want extra greens in your meal — you’ll love this broccoli tuna salad.

Baked salmon in a pan next to lemon wedges.

Best Baked Salmon: This easy 15-minute dinner achieves perfectly tender salmon coated in lemon garlic butter and fresh herbs.

These Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps are reminiscent of PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, yet they're gluten-free, paleo and much healthier. It's a family favorite chicken dinner recipe.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: This chicken lettuce wrap is perfect for a fresh yet savory meal that can be made in under 30 minutes!

Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Love

Satisfy those picky eaters with these deliciously comforting dinner ideas for the family! Choose from burrito bowls, pizza, and all things chicken — with a healthy, homemade spin.

A skillet of tuscan chicken

Creamy Tuscan Chicken: Tender chicken simmered in a creamy sauce filled with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach is sure to be a dinner favorite.

Chicken fajitas in a pan on a table with toppings.

Chicken Fajitas: This is great for a build-your-own dinner kind of night! And if you want to switch it up the protein, you can make my steak fajitas or shrimp fajitas.

A pan with shrimp fried rice with a serving spoon.

Shrimp Fried Rice: Skip the Chinese take-out and make your own shrimp fried rice at home! It’s super easy and tastes just as good (if not better).

Pizza stuffed zucchini on a baking tray.

Pizza Stuffed Zucchini Boats: Give pizza a healthy new twist with these stuffed zucchini boats. I guarantee the kiddos will love this.

Baked meatballs in marinara sauce in a pan

Meatballs: These juicy meatballs simmered in homemade marinara sauce are always a family favorite. You could also pair this sauce with fennel pork meatballs.

Two cooked cauliflower pizzas.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust: Enjoy pizza with a healthy twist using this easy cauliflower pizza crust! Plus, everyone can get creative with their toppings.

Beef barbacoa burrito bowl on a table with salsa.

Barbacoa Burrito Bowls: If you’ve got a slow cooker, this barbacoa recipe will save you time and delivers a big flavor. Build Chipotle-like bowls with cilantro lime rice, pico de gallo, beans, corn, and guacamole. And if you’re a pork fan, you’ll love this carnitas recipe.

Whole30 casserole recipe with shredded chicken, sautéed mushrooms and broccoli, then topped with my Vegan Alfredo Sauce for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner. It's also a dairy-free and paleo casserole recipe.

Whole30 Chicken Broccoli Casserole: This chicken-broccoli combo is always a family favorite. And this one’s perfect for dairy-free folks with a vegan alfredo sauce.

Air Fryer Dinner Ideas

It’s really hard to beat the air fryer when it comes to easy dinner ideas. Bonus – there’s usually just one item to cleanup afterward – the air fryer itself!

Air fryer chicken breasts on a plate with a fork

Air Fryer Chicken Breast: This is an air fryer staple recipe to keep in your back pocket. It results in super juicy chicken coated in the best seasoning.

Air fryer salmon filets on a plate

Air Fryer Salmon: The spiced Dijon mustard topping on these salmon filets is chef’s kiss. Plus, they turn out super moist with a beautiful outer crust every time.

Lemon pepper air fryer chicken wings on a plate.

Air Fryer Chicken Wings: The entire family will love these crispy and juicy lemon pepper chicken wings. And yes, they can be served for dinner or as an appetizer.

Best Dinner Ideas with Chicken

There’s no denying our love for chicken when it comes to dinner. From chicken breast to chicken thighs, I’ll show you how to create the tastiest chicken dinners in a snap.

Greek sheet pan chicken with vegetables.

Greek Sheet Pan Chicken: This sheet pan chicken is one of my top recipes for a reason. You’ve got juicy marinated chicken roasted with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, red onions, olives, and crumbled feta – all in one sheet pan.

Cajun chicken with mashed potatoes

Creamy Cajun Chicken: With a batch of my homemade Cajun seasoning, this chicken dinner comes together fast! It’s got loads of flavor with a creamy sauce that’s great served over mashed potatoes.

Chicken and rice in one pan garnished with lemon slices and parsley.

One Pan Chicken And Rice: This one-pan dish shines bright with Mediterranean flavors, juicy chicken thighs, and citrusy rice.

Butter chicken with rice in a bowl.

Butter Chicken: With a handful of spices, I’ll show you how to make the best butter chicken that simmers in the most velvety curry sauce.

Six cooked chicken thighs with cilantro lime flavors in a fry pan.

Cilantro Lime Chicken: Whisk together cilantro, lime, spices, and a touch of honey to turn chicken thighs into sticky sweet, cilantro lime goodness.

Teriyaki chicken recipe served with rice and broccoli.

Teriyaki Chicken: I’ll show you how to make the most delicious teriyaki chicken with an authentic homemade teriyaki sauce.

Balsamic chicken and Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan

Balsamic Chicken: Juicy chicken thighs are marinated in a savory-sweet balsamic sauce, then roasted with Brussels sprouts and red onions in one easy sheet pan recipe!

White chicken chili in a bowl next a pot of it.

White Chicken Chili: This one-pot wonder is a hearty chili that swaps in white beans and chicken, for a switch-up you’ll love.

A casserole dish filled with honey mustard chicken thighs

Honey Mustard Chicken: You’ll love this addictively delicious, sticky sweet, and savory baked chicken!

Skewers of greek chicken kabobs with a bowl of tzaztiki.

Greek Chicken Kabobs: Come grilling season, these chicken kabobs with a side of tzatziki sauce are sure to be in rotation. Skewers are threaded with lemony chicken and fresh chunky veggies!

Turmeric chicken and rice casserole

Turmeric Chicken and Rice Casserole: Turmeric adds a warm, curry-like flavor to this chicken and rice casserole. A clever way to enjoy more turmeric.

Exciting Ground Beef Dinner Ideas

Don’t overlook that pound of ground beef sitting in your freezer. It cooks fast, makes for hearty meals, and can be stuffed or layered into the most comforting, freezer-friendly, easy dinner ideas.

A bowl of chili on a table with a spoon.

Best Chili Recipe: There’s always a time and a place for a big pot of beef chili. Plus, it’s super easy to make and great for meal prepping!

Zucchini lasagna in a white casserole dish.

Zucchini Lasagna: This zucchini lasagna tastes just as good as the original, plus it’s loaded with extra greens!

Six stuffed peppers in a casserole dish.

Stuffed Peppers: I’d say stuffed peppers are a family favorite, so make a double batch to store some in the freezer for later.

A large pan of shepherd's pie

Shepherd’s Pie: This is comfort food at its finest — with ground lamb and vegetables simmered in a savory sauce, then topped with fluffy mashed potatoes.

Taco soup is guaranteed to be a family favorite. It's healthy, incredibly easy (only takes 30 minutes) and naturally gluten-free. The perfect healthy dinner!

Taco Soup: Enjoy your favorite taco flavors — all in one soup! And yes, this is a great pantry-friendly recipe.

A plate of zucchini noodles topped with bolognese sauce, fresh parmesan and basil.

Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese: Made from fresh tomatoes and ground beef, homemade bolognese sauce is the best. And to keep things light, zucchini noodles are the perfect match to complete this “pasta” meal.

Fresh and Light Seafood Dinner Ideas

The options are seemingly endless when it comes to seafood for dinner — there’s salmon, flakey baked cod, juicy scallops, and of course tasty little shrimp. Bonus, you only need a few simple ingredients to make each of these seafood options taste amazing!

Four baked cod filets in a white casserole dish.

Baked Cod: This easy, foolproof method guarantees perfectly flaky fish baked in the best garlic butter herb topping.

Salmon salad in a large white bowl

Salmon Salad: This creamy salad has it all – flaky baked salmon, crisp celery, red onion, radishes, and fresh herbs, tossed in the best lemony dressing. 

Creamy chipotle shrimp in a saute pan with garnish.

Creamy Chipotle Shrimp: With the help of this homemade chipotle sauce, this easy one-pan recipe is bursting with zesty flavors and a spicy kick.

Several scallops in a pan.

Scallops With Citrus Ginger Sauce: The best way to dress scallops is with this easy citrus ginger sauce!

Dijon baked salmon on a tray with a fork.

Dijon Baked Salmon: This is one of my go-to salmon recipes for dinner. The Dijon herb spread is incredibly tasty and the salmon comes out perfectly moist and tender.

Grilled shrimp skewers on a plate with lemon slices, parsley and the marinade.

Garlic Grilled Shrimp Skewers: After soaking in an herby, garlicky marinade, these grilled shrimp taste amazing with just about any side dish.

Orange glazed salmon in a pan.

Orange Glazed Salmon: Coated in the best citrusy sweet glaze, these salmon fillets are guaranteed to be a weeknight favorite.

Salads for Dinner That Honestly Keep You Full

Don’t think a salad will keep you full? Think again! These recipes are loaded with greens, delicious proteins, and healthy fats.

A large bowl of mandarin chicken salad.

Mandarin Chicken Salad: This fresh and filling salad is piled high with sweet mandarins, shredded chicken, avocado, and crunchy toppings, then tossed with a zingy lemon vinaigrette. 

Chicken salad in a white bowl with spoon.

Ultimate Chicken Salad: You can enjoy it straight out of the bowl (like I do), add it to a sandwich, or wrap it in butter lettuce leaves. So much versatility!

Salmon filet on salad with avocado slices.

Salmon Avocado Salad: Top pan-seared salmon on a bed of leafy greens, avocado, tomatoes, and red onions for the best salad ever.

A close up of broccoli salad in a bowl

Broccoli Salad: This is the best combination of creamy and crunchy ingredients. Bonus — it stores well for the week!

Southwest chicken salad in a white bowl next to a small bowl of avocado dressing.

Southwest Chicken Salad: Grilled cilantro lime chicken gets layered with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, beans, corn, and a creamy avocado dressing.

Veggie-Heavy Vegetarian Dinner Ideas

Sometimes, the best dinners revolve around plant-based ingredients and loads of veggies. Perfect for meatless Monday, or truthfully, any day of the week!

Two bowls of lentil soup on a table next to a napkin.

Very Best Lentil Soup: A blend of lentils, kale, mirepoix vegetables, roasted tomatoes, and herbs creates this delightfully filling and flavorful soup.

A stack of zucchini fritters on a plate.

Zucchini Fritters: These crisp and golden fritters are a must-make when it’s zucchini season!

Zucchini noodle caprese is made from my favorite gluten-free pasta alternative, zucchini noodles - and inspired by one of my all time favorite salads, caprese.

Zucchini Noodle Caprese: An easy, homemade pesto basil sauce goes far in this salad. Just toss with tomatoes, mozzarella, and freshly made zucchini noodles.

A plate of falafel drizzled with tahini sauce.

Falafel: these delicious balls of chickpea goodness taste amazing in wraps, pitas, sandwiches and even salads – along with a drizzle of tahini sauce.

A bowl of vegetarian chili next to diced avocado.

Ultimate Vegetarian Chili: this flavorsome, veggie-heavy chili is just what you need for a filling vegetarian dinner idea. Plus, it’s great for meal prep.

The Best Dinner Meal Prep

To wrap up these dinner ideas, I’m circling back to my meal prep guide where ingredients themselves become the star of the show. Because nothing makes us feel more on top of our game than prepping grains, proteins, and veggies to create mix-and-match dinner recipes that come together in under 5 minutes!

You can make macro bowls, wraps, tacos, salads, or a simple combo plate. And don’t forget sauces and toppings for flavor and freshness. Add a dollop of hummus to a Mediterranean bowl or guacamole and creamy salsa to tacos.

Zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice for easy dinner ideas.

Start with a Base

Lentils and shredded chicken for easy dinner ideas.

Add in Protein

Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes for easy dinner ideas.

Add in Vegetables

Chickpea salad and carne asada tacos for easy dinner ideas.

Mix and Match Dinner Ideas

With your prepped ingredients, here’s a few ideas on how to combine them into the BEST dinner recipes!

  • Tacos: pulled pork street tacos, carne asada tacos, or shrimp tacos with cilantro lime bacon slaw.
  • Salads: pulled pork, cabbage, and arugula salad, warm sweet potato noodles, cabbage, and lentil salad, or mediterranean chickpea salad.
  • Bowls: similar to my carnitas burrito bowl, start with a base and layer on your favorite protein and vegetables.
  • Zoodles: zucchini noodles with chicken, spinach, and parmesan, Mexican chicken zucchini noodles,

If you make any of these easy dinner recipes, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. And for more meal inspiration, check out the best healthy breakfast ideas!

Chipotle shrimp next to teriyaki chicken for easy dinner ideas.

50+ Best Easy Dinner Ideas

There are so many options for flavorful, healthy, and easy dinner ideas! One of my favorites is this Dijon Baked Salmon.

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Then place the salmon on a parchment-lined baking tray and set it aside.

  • Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and generously coat the top of the salmon.

  • Bake the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes (depending on size and thickness), then slice it into individual portions and serve immediately.

Calories: 231kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 203mg, Potassium: 708mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 307IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 1mg

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Recipe roundup originally posted December 2020, but updated to include new recipes.