Dinnertime doesn’t have to be difficult to be delicious! Here are our top easy dinner recipes for beginners.
Dinnertime can be difficult: especially if you’re short on time or expertise in the kitchen! Here at A Couple Cooks, we started as beginners back in the day. Because we started with no knowledge of how to cook, all of our recipes are designed to be easy enough for beginners. With a little bit of advanced planning, you’ll learn how to get dinner on the table in no time!
Here we’ve collected our top easy dinner recipes for beginners! For these recipes, you need limited knowledge of the kitchen. Each recipe is written with beginners in mind: but at the same time, none of these easy dinner recipes are dumbed down. The unique flavors and cooking methods have integrity and there are no store bought shortcuts. So, at the same time as you’re getting dinner on the table, you’ll learn a little bit about cooking methods too.
And now, our top easy dinner recipes for beginners!
First up in our easy dinner recipes for beginners: these poke bowls! This delicious spin on a Hawaiian inspired poke bowl features seared salmon and veggies in a colorful bowl. What makes it so easy? The salmon is seared in literally 1 minute: talk about quick dinner recipes! Then throw it in a bowl with rice, seasoned cucumber “noodles”, sesame carrot ribbons, and red cabbage and you’ve got one very, very delicious dinner.
This mushroom pasta is quickly becoming a fan favorite recipe: and luckily it’s also one of our easy dinner recipes for beginners! It stars fresh herbs, goat cheese and lemon is one of our easy dinner recipes that tastes like it took all day to make.
The pasta is smothered with creamy goat cheese, the mixed mushrooms are sauteed with fresh thyme and oregano until they’re super savory, and there’s a pop of fresh lemon to round it off. Oh and there’s some nutrient dense leafy greens, too. It takes only 25 minutes to put together.
Next up in our easy dinner recipes for beginners: you can’t get easier than this! On nights that we have no idea what to make, we turn to pita pizzas! Just top pita bread with shredded cheese and toppings and broil until the cheese is melty and the pita is a little crisp! We do this all the time and it’s always a hit with kiddos.
Tacos are one of our go to easy dinner recipes for beginners! And these refried bean tacos are some of our very favorite. The filling is our Simplest Refried Black Beans, with a quick bell pepper slaw. And the kicker that takes it over the top: our chipotle cream! It’s a zesty sauce that covers the whole taco. These are one of our favorite weeknight meals!
This vegetarian chili is so flavorful, you won’t miss the meat! It’s a crowd pleasing hit with vegan, vegetarian, and meat eaters alike. This one takes about 45 minutes to make, but it’s truly easy to make. It requires only a little bit of chopping the onion, and we’ve got video tutorials to help you out!
Top it with cheese, sour cream, and all the fixin’s: or to keep it vegan, use our Vegan Nacho Cheese or Cashew Cream instead! It’s a go to in our easy dinner recipes for beginners.
Next in our easy dinner recipes for beginners: this incredible Swiss Melt sandwich! It might be the best sandwich ever: and it’s incredibly easy to make. After trying this the first time, Alex said that it tastes like a healthy version of a Big Mac!
Start by making homemade coleslaw (you could use a purchased bag of coleslaw mix in a pinch, just make our best coleslaw dressing). Add a melty cheese on top of a salty pretzel bun. And what seals the deal is our secret sauce: Russian dressing, the star ingredient in a Reuben sandwich. It takes only 20 minutes to make: so why wait?
This classic Italian pasta is seriously easy (though, the name in Italian is not so sweet!). This easy dinner recipe for beginners features olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the Puttanesca sauce for tangy burst of flavor. Or, use our Easy Marinara Sauce for a more straightforward take.
The one is one of our favorite easy dinner recipes for beginners because it’s more of a concept than a recipe! This bowl is filled with hummus, pita crisps, cucumber, red pepper, shallot, leafy greens and rice. You could add any other proteins that you’d like: leftover cooked meats, chickpeas with olive oil and salt and pepper, and so forth.
This one is seriously easy and people always love it! These noodles are smothered in a creamy peanut sauce and mixed with Napa cabbage and red pepper. The trick here is using our method to “cook” the red pepper by pouring over the boiling water from the noodles when draining them.
It’s a fun shortcut that makes for crunchy tender red pepper strips. Combine that with frizzled Napa cabbage and some lime, cilantro and chopped peanuts, and you’ve got a delicious dinner.
People have been making our tomato coconut cauliflower curry for years, and it’s one of the recipes that we hear makes it into the weeknight rotation for readers and followers. This one requires a bit more chopping: sweet potato, cauliflower and onion: and we’ve got video tutorials to show you how to do it!
Once you’ve chopped the veggies, it’s a breeze to simmer up: and you can clean as you go. It’s one of our top easy dinner recipes for beginners that we recommend because it’s oh so tasty. An even easier version: try our Weeknight Chickpea Curry.
And to round out our easy dinner recipes for beginners: this supremely quick shrimp couscous! It cooks in just 15 minutes and brings big flavor. This garlicky shrimp couscous features juicy shrimp, quick sauteed in a bit of butter with minced garlic, served with lemony couscous and sprinkled with parsley.
While couscous is a pasta and not a whole grain, it cooks up in 5 minutes so it’s perfect for easy dinner recipes. If you have more time, feel free to substitute the grain of your choice: quinoa is also relatively fast. Throw some fresh parsley over the shrimp and couscous and it’s a totally gourmet meal in 15 minutes.
With the salmon lying flat on a cutting board, run a sharp knife between the skin and the flesh to remove the skin. Cut the salmon into 1 inch squares and add it to a medium bowl. Note that thinner parts of the salmon may shred a bit (this is okay). Add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, and the sriracha to the salmon and stir gently. Allow to marinate while preparing the vegetables.
Thinly slice the cabbage (2 cups). Place it in a medium bowl and mix it together with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.
Julienne the cucumber into long thin strips (3 cups; we used a handheld julienne peeler). Place in a medium bowl and mix with 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
Peel the carrots into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Place in a medium bowl and mix with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds.
Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the salmon and cook for about 30-45 seconds until just cooked. Immediately remove to a clean bowl and add the green onions, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and 1 or 2 pinches of kosher salt.
To serve, scoop rice or quinoa into bowls, then top with the vegetables and salmon. If desired, garnish with additional sesame seeds.
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.