Need easy dinner inspiration? These recipes are the best healthy dinner ideas that our readers come back to again and again.
Need dinner? No problem. Here at A Couple Cooks, healthy dinner ideas are our forte. Because: if you’re going to the trouble of eating dinner, why not make both delicious and nourishing? After cooking up recipes for years, we know what types of healthy recipes please everyone. This collection of dinners are all recipes that have received a standing ovation from our readers for being the best deliciously healthy dinner recipes!
Before we start, what’s our definition of healthy? Here’s what you’ll find in these recipes:
These recipes fall under the Mediterranean diet: lots and lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil.
Healthy is less about calorie counts and more about nutrients and variety of veggies. Many of the recipes you’ll find here are vegetarian or vegan, but they taste so delicious you don’t feel like you’re making any sacrifices.
One of our top healthy dinner ideas: pesto salmon! Bright green pesto goes hand in hand with tender baked fish to make a stunning dinner. Because really: what isn’t better with a little pesto on top? The savory, garlicky sauce makes the flaky fish pop: you’ll already be taking your second bite before finishing the first. It’s easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to guests.
Here's another one to file under healthy dinner ideas: this Easy Rice Bowl! This 30 minute dinner features these easy black beans, a trick to make a bland can of beans taste amazing in 5 minutes. Pair it with rice and colorful veggies. The kicker? A zingy cilantro lime ranch that you’ll want to bathe in.
Here’s one of the ultimate Italian comfort foods, done up as a healthy dinner idea: eggplant Parmesan! Typically this baby is fried, but we have a secret for you. It’s even better baked, and this version is incredible. The eggplant is coated in an impossibly crispy coating that’s also magically gluten free and low carb. The secret? Almond flour. It’s a genius trick and you’ll never make this recipe another way.
Meet your healthy dinner recipe soulmate: Crispy Avocado Tacos. Could there be a taster tortilla filling? You’ve got avocado fries, breaded and baked in a hot oven until crispy, with a texture reminiscent of a fried fish taco. Then top that with spiced black beans, pico de gallo, and the refreshing crunch of romaine lettuce. Drizzle on a creamy lime and cilantro sauce, and it’s heaven on a plate. It tastes like restaurant tacos, but it’s easy to whip up in your kitchen.
Here’s an idea that has easy weeknight meal written all over it: pesto shrimp! Turns out this bright green, garlicky sauce is the perfect pairing for this succulent shellfish. The two flavors go hand-in-hand, just like famous duos like tomatoes and basil. There’s no better use for a big patch of pesto than a pile of shrimp (if you love seafood, that is). Pair with rice or quinoa and a salad for a full meal.
Next in our healthy dinner recipes is a fan favorite: creamy wild rice soup! This soup is oh so comforting, featuring white beans, carrots, mushrooms and wild rice. And, it’s vegan! It’s naturally creamy using cashews blended with some of the soup to create a silky smooth texture. It makes for a filling and satisfying wild rice soup.
These Mexican loaded sweet potatoes are one of our healthy dinner ideas that we’ve been making for years! Loaded with veggies, the flavors are the perfect blend of savory against the lightly sweet and fluffy sweet potatoes. Spicy black bean pico de gallo and corn make a colorful confetti, and it’s dollop with our tangy creamy cilantro sauce. It’s a little bit of heaven: and tastes like a treat instead of a “healthy” compromise.
Here's a popular one in this list of seafood recipes: a poke bowl! This Hawaiian bowl of seasoned raw fish, rice and crunchy veggies has caught on here on the mainland, and everybody’s doing it! Because poke is that good. And guess what? You can easily make poke in the comfort of your own home: it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, or even better for a showy meal for entertaining.
Rice and beans is one of the most humble of healthy dinner recipes, but the flavor of this one is stunning! It features onion, green pepper, jalapeño, and garlic, sauteed with beans until they become thick and saucy. The flavor that results is super savory, silky, and addictingly good. Serve it up with some rice (brown has a bit more nutrients!), and it’s a humble meal that tastes like a million bucks.
Tofu right out of the container doesn't have much flavor, but cook it up right and it’s one of the tastiest plant-based healthy dinner ideas there is! This healthy vegan protein is great for incorporating into your meal prep repertoire. Want to fall in love with it? Come taste this tofu stir fry. It’s got the most flavor-packed stir fry sauce that works with any veggie, and the tofu is crisped on the outside and perfectly seasoned.
Bowl meals are so popular these days, and they're one of our top healthy dinner ideas because they're so simple to put together! But here’s the thing: you can’t just throw anything into a bowl. A good grain bowl has to be well-seasoned, and play up contrasts in color, texture and flavor. This one is Greek-inspired and stars our easy canned chickpeas with seasoned quinoa, colorful veggies and tahini sauce.
Here's a tasty healthy dinner recipe that's always a hit: Fish Tacos! Tilapia is perfect white fish for baja-style tacos. You’ll bake it or broil it until it’s flaky with a homemade spice blend, then top with creamy sauce and a crunchy slaw. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy this lean protein, and it’s always a hit for entertaining or with a crowd.
These Thai sweet potatoes get high marks from our readers as one of their favorite healthy dinner ideas because of the big flavor in this simple concept. If you have an Instant Pot, you can use it here to get perfectly cooked, moist sweet potatoes. Otherwise, simply bake the sweet potatoes in the oven while you prepare the toppings: a fresh, crunchy Thai-style pepper and cabbage slaw and a creamy peanut sauce.
Looking for a healthy dinner idea starring everyone's favorite shellfish? Try this shrimp and broccoli!The pair are cooked with soy sauce and and rice vinegar until bright and savory. The contrast of the crisp tender broccoli against the juicy shrimp is really something. Serve it with rice or noodles to make it a complete meal that comes together quickly!
Lentils are low in calories, high in nutrition, and budget friendly. And, they make 40 times less greenhouse gases than a burger. Impressive, right? So here’s our favorite new way to eat them: our Best Damn Lentil Soup. Yes, we're pulling out the expletives because this one is so delicious, you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a cozy hug. Did we mention it’s a plant based dinner recipe, too?
Here’s a deliciously easy healthy dinner idea that’s full of surprises: pan fried cod! This white fish knocked us off of our feet. Really! Cod is a beautifully mild and buttery-flavored fish, and this preparation couldn’t be easier or more stunning. Coat it in paprika and a few other spices, then pan fry it until tender and juicy. It takes under 10 minutes to get restaurant-quality flavor! We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this one.
Meet one of our favorite dinner recipes: the Falafel Burger! We don’t always have the energy to fry up a batch of authentic falafel. So eating it in burger form is the next best thing! These are easy to make with canned chickpeas. The combination of a cumin and coriander-scented chickpea patty with cool cucumber sauce and all the fixin’s is pretty darn epic. It’s a healthy vegetarian and vegan dinner recipe that everyone loves.
This easy chickpea curry checkboxes for plant based dinner perfection. It’s full of plant based protein, so it will keep you full for hours. It’s full of nutrients, and it takes only 20 minutes to make. Twenty minutes! That’s speed demon dinner, right there. And then the flavor of this vegan chickpea curry hits it out of the park. Really, every person who thinks plant based eating is bland should make this STAT.
Here’s a fast healthy dinner idea to spice up your routine: avocado tuna salad! This spin swaps out the classic mayonnaise for nutrient-rich avocado. The flavor is so fresh and delicious, you may give up the mayo version altogether. It takes only a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes to put together. It’s easy to forget about tuna salad, but this one is now solidly part of our healthy meal repertoire!
And to round out this list of healthy dinner recipes: pasta e ceci, a traditional Italian pasta and chickpea soup! This stew is full of big Italian flavors: intense vibrant tomato, leafy Tuscan kale, and a creamy broth made with Parmesan rind. Swimming in it all are the chickpeas and pasta of the soup’s title, making it hearty and filling. It’s a stunner and joins our other Italian soup favorites tortellini soup, ribollita and minestrone.
More dinner recipes
The collection of healthy dinner ideas above just gives you a taste of all the delicious meals you can enjoy around the table. Here are a few more runners up we’d highly recommend:
Brine the salmon: While the oven preheats, in a shallow dish stir together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until it dissolves. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes (this should be about the time it takes to preheat).
Bake: Rub the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Pat each piece of salmon dry and place it on the pan. Sprinkle the salmon with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt for each of the 4 fillets and fresh ground pepper. Cover pan with foil and bake the salmon for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil bake again for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the center). A 1-inch thick fillet should cook in about 15 minutes total.
Serve: When the salmon is done, spoon the pesto over the salmon. Sprinkle it with chopped pine nuts and if desired, a bit of lemon zest. Serve immediately. (Leftovers can be stored refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.)
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.