Easiest Dinner Recipes for Busy Lives

Tight on time and energy? These easiest dinner recipes are the ticket to making dinnertime simple, healthy, and full of flavor.

BBQ Bean Tacos with Pineapple Salsa | A Couple Cooks

We get it: you’re busy! Most evenings when you’re trying to juggle work, kids, school, and all the things, there isn’t much time to think about dinner. But might we suggest that with just a little bit of forethought, dinnertime can actually be…easy? There are nights where we have time to cook up a great recipe for our family, but other nights we rely on our easiest dinner recipes to make dinnertime quick and simple.

Here are our easiest dinner recipes for busy nights. Most of these are concepts that you can feel free to take your own spin on. Serve your seared tuna with whatever is on hand. Make margherita naan pizza instead of Thai curry. These recipes are intended as templates, so feel free to follow them word for word, or put your own unique spin on them.

Related: Easy Dinner Recipes for Family

And now, our easiest dinner recipes!

This seared tuna is one of the easiest dinner recipes out there! Seared ahi tuna literally cooks in less than 5 minutes. Put it together with leftover veg or rice and you’ve got a quick dinner. If you’ve never had ahi tuna, it’s time to start. NOW! Sushi grade seared ahi tuna does not tasty fishy at all. The flavor? Buttery on the inside and salty savory on the outside. Here we’ve shown the seared tuna with some leftover rice, veggies, and Yum Yum sauce.

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Here's the easiest dinner recipe we have: and we think (hope!) it takes you only 5 minutes. Yes, these Epic 5 Minute Tacos are seriously fast. These tacos feature our chorizo-style eggs, which materialize into a meaty flavor and texture before your eyes. Top with salsa fresca, cilantro and hot sauce, and prepare to be amazed!

Also try: BBQ Bean Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

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Another in your easiest dinner recipes arsenal: BBQ bean tacos with pineapple salsa! These tacos are full of flavor and done in 25 minutes. Simply simmer pinto beans in BBQ goodness, then use that time to chop up your pineapple, red onion and cilantro for a quick salsa. It’s one of our go to’s for quick weeknights! The salsa uses canned pineapple, so many of the ingredients can be kept in the pantry for easy access when you need easy dinners. There’s no real difficulty in cooking methods here, making this top of the list of easy dinner recipes.

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This mushroom pasta with 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. Dinner in a snap!

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This coleslaw & Swiss cheese melt sandwich might be the best sandwich ever. After trying this the first time, Alex said that it tastes like a healthy version of a Big Mac! What makes this coleslaw & Swiss melt sandwich so savory and delicious? Well, start with our best coleslaw ever. Add a melty cheese on top of a salty pretzel bun. What puts it over the edge is our secret sauce: Russian dressing, the star ingredient in a Reuben sandwich. Oh and it only takes 20 minutes to make. Are you ready to get eating?

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Naan pizza is one of our favorite fast and easy dinner recipes! We use storebought naan bread and pre-bake it for a few minutes to make a lightly crispy crust. Then add pizza toppings and bake for another few minutes until the cheese is melted. That’s it! In this recipe we remixed the typical way to eat naan and curry into a non-traditional pizza topping. Luckily, Thai curry paste mixed with canned tomatoes makes for an ultra delicious pizza sauce! Add cashews, thinly sliced green onions and cilantro, and you have uniquely tasty pizza. Want an even easier, quicker pizza? Try this easy cheese pita pizza.

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This may be one of the fastest, easiest dinner recipes we’ve created: a 5 minute gnocchi sauce, which comes together into a meal in 15 minutes flat. How, you ask? The romesco gnocchi sauce is a tasty mix of almonds, tomatoes, and red peppers, whizzed in a blender. At the same time, you boil your gnocchi, and those delicious pillows of pasta cook in just 2 to 3 minutes. As a finale, you use the pasta water to quickly wilt spinach instead of cooking it in a separate pot. Stir it all together and you’re done! It’s lightening fast and oh so delicious. (Omit feta cheese for vegan.)

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Stir fry is a common go-to meal for us in our easiest dinner recipes arsenal. And this one’s the best veggie stir fry out there! The homemade teriyaki sauce is so easy to make: it takes just 4 ingredients and 5 minutes. The teriyaki also has no refined sugar, instead relying on maple syrup! Combine it with nutrient dense brocolli, bell peppers, and tempeh, and you’ve got a satisfying and protein-filled meal. It’s become a serious go to in our house. Of course, you can make it with any of the veggies or proteins of your choosing!

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Try this quick garlicky shrimp couscous, which comes together in a flash. Juicy shrimp, quick sauteed in a bit of butter with minced garlic, tastes so good it’s almost like candy! Here it’s served with quick cooking lemony couscous. 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.

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This 30-minute coconut lentil curry is one of our most popular easy dinner ideas because it’s healthy and full of flavor. One of our fan favorites, we hear things like: “This is a new favorite!” and “Absolutely LOVED IT! Definitely am making again.” It’s surprising how much humble brown lentils can inspire so much enthusiasm! The base of the curry is simple: just lentils, coconut milk, Thai curry paste, and tomato paste. It’s also a great way to eat your dark leafy greens! You can throw in handfuls of any of your favorite greens. Serve with rice for a simple meal.

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Ready in just 30 minutes, this Tuscan soup is one of our tried and true easy dinner recipes. We affectionately call it “pizza soup” because it tastes like liquid pizza! Honestly – this Tuscan soup is over the top delicious. The pizza flavor is due in part to the San Marzano tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of tomato that’s grown in Italy. They’re now pretty readily available canned in most stores in the US. Other essential ingredients that bring the savory flavor are fennel and smoked paprika. Throw in some Tuscan kale to the mix, and you won’t even tell it’s there: you’ll only be able to taste the pizza!

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If you just can’t figure out what to eat, this is one of our easy dinner ideas ever: chickpea salad! It’s like a vegetarian version of a chicken salad sandwich, but made using chickpeas. The chickpeas are smashed and mixed together with a bit of mayo, lemon juice, celery and green onions to make the most savory, delicious spread. You can serve it as a sandwich, or eat it with crackers as a dip. This one only 5 minutes to whip up.

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This Everything Bagel pasta is everything you love about the Everything Bagel, reconstructed into pasta. And it’s so, so simple: it takes just 6 ingredients and 15 minutes to make! This recipe uses our homemade Everything Bagel seasoning, but you could use store bought as well to make it even quicker. Serve with roasted brocolli and this one of the easiest dinner recipes out there. Alternatively, use our Easy Marinara Sauce if you’re looking for a tomato-based sauce!

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Looking for more dinner recipes?

Outside of the easiest dinner recipes above, here are a few more of our favorite dinner ideas:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

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

Cookbook Author and photographer

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.

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