Need inspiration for getting dinner on the table fast? These healthy and easy weeknight dinners take 30 minutes or less and satisfy the whole family!
What are your best easy weeknight dinners? We hear this question again and again. So Alex and I have put together our current Top 10 weeknight dinners! The great thing about our website (we think, at least!) is that we are two real people with a real 2-year-old who actually eat everything you see here. We’ve weeded out things that are impractical or niche and only share recipes that are actually really good.
What’s a healthy, easy weeknight dinner?
What makes something a healthy, easy weeknight dinner? These recipes work for family or whether you’re cooking for one. Here are our criteria for the the recipes below — each dinner recipe:
- Takes 30 minutes or less. To us, an easy weeknight dinner should be about 30 minutes, or quicker if possible. We bent the rule a tiny bit for this list and included two soups that take 35 minutes, because they’re just that good. But overall: we think 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb for weeknights.
- Uses all whole food ingredients: seafood, vegetarian or vegan. While we eat mostly plant based, we do eat a little seafood, so the recipes below are a combination of veggie-filled and seafood. Seafood is perfect for easy weeknight dinners because it’s so quick to cook. Overall, our definition of healthy is less about calorie counts and more about eating lots of nutrient dense ingredients, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins.
But enough with definitions…let’s get to the recipes!
And now…our top easy weeknight dinners!
First up in our easy weeknight dinners: chickpea curry! This one is literally designed for weeknights and comes together in just 20 minutes. It's seriously flavorful, filled with ginger, garlic, cumin and curry powder, with a little coconut milk swirled in to make it creamy. Serve with basmati rice (or Instant Pot rice).
Dinner in 15 minutes? Oh yes. This Easy Creamy Gnocchi is one of our very favorite easy weeknight meals. It takes just minutes to make the sauce, and the gnocchi boil up in 3 minutes. The flavor? It tastes like the fanciest ever mac and cheese: but takes literally no effort at all. It's modeled after the famous Italian recipe, Cacio e Pepe pasta (literally “cheese and pepper pasta” in Italian). Our version uses chewy gnocchi dumpling-style pasta and it’s simply to die for.
Here's the fastest easy weeknight dinner EVER: these Epic 5 Minute Tacos! Is it really possible to make dinner in 5 minutes? Yes (but no dawdling, of course!) These tacos are filled with our famous "chorizo eggs", which turn eggs into a meaty texture and flavor in a flash. Top with salsa fresca, red onion slivers, cilantro & hot sauce, and prepare to be amazed. It's kind of a miracle, making it fitting for the top spot in our easy weeknight dinners.
Want a vegan taco instead? These Black Bean Tacos we wrote for Washington Post have been popular with readers!
Looking for an easy weeknight dinner that’s lightening fast and seriously satisfying? These vegan Sloppy Joes are a dinnertime savior around here. They’re a hit with kids, adults, carnivores, and plant-eaters alike! The two-bean saucy filling is savory, tangy, and a little sweet. The secret? Kidney beans and pinto beans, sauteed onions, ketchup, and a whole bunch of savory spices.
This 20-minute creamy goat cheese pasta is so tangy and creamy, sweet from the tomatoes and lightly peppery from the fresh basil. The secret to the creaminess is that goat cheese, which brings a body to the sauce that’s almost like a vodka sauce. Combined with chewy penne, it’s out of this world! And best of all, you barely have to think to make it.
Got an Instant Pot? Make this pasta using our Creamy Instant Pot Pasta recipe.
Salmon is so quick to prepare and full of nutrients that it often features in our top picks for easy weeknight meals. This 10-minute baked salmon recipe makes for an ultra quick dinner. You can eat it on its own, or pair it with our bright green chimichurri sauce. For a seriously quick dinner, serve with quinoa, couscous, or roasted brocolli.
The quesadilla makes the rounds in our easy weeknight dinners: it's perfect for when you're in a rush! This one is bursting with flavor — the star ingredient here is creamy avocado, which adds healthy fats and richness to the filling without the need for a massive amount of cheese. It's got black beans in the filling, and is drizzled in a Spicy Chipotle Sauce.
Time to make it: 20 minutes
This Italian soup recipe is chock full of hearty veggies, almost like a minestrone. But instead of pasta, it's got doughy gnocchi! These chewy dumplings make each bite a little more cozy. This soup takes just over 30 minutes to make, but it tastes like it's been simmering all day. It’s chock full of nutritious veggies: spinach, chickpeas, green beans, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. It's become a fan favorite:
Is there anything better than shrimp tacos? Combine shrimp tacos with chips and salsa, and maybe some refried beans on the side, we can’t think of much better. What we love about this shrimp tacos recipe is that it’s both an easy weeknight dinner and perfect for entertaining, making it a double whammy.
Instead of simmering for hours, you can get big flavor in this tortilla soup in just over 30 minutes. The secret here is adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilis: it brings in a smoky flavor without adding too much heat! It’s not too spicy, so it pleases eaters of all kind and qualifies as one of our easy weeknight dinner recipes. Serve with our Easy Vegan Cornbread for a simple side.
And last up in our easy weeknight dinners: a fancy sandwich! A banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that consists of a chewy baguette with spiced meat or tofu, pickled vegetables, mayo, and Sriracha. Here we’ve attempted to recreate an egg banh mi I tried at a Vietnamese bakery while traveling in Laos. The hearty egg filling is topped with crunchy pickled vegetables and creamy mayo. Stuffed into a chewy baguette, it’s truly one of our favorite sandwiches and a tasty quick meal!
If you prefer a vegan version to vegetarian, try our Vegan Banh Mi instead! It’s filled with ginger lime hummus, pickled veggies and hot sauce.
This chickpea curry is the ultimate healthy and easy weeknight dinner! It’s done in 20 minutes, totally plant based, and full of flavor.
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
- 6 cups (5 ounces) baby spinach leaves (or chopped spinach)
- 28-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- White or brown basmati rice, to serve
- If you’re serving with rice, start the basmati rice.
- Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger (or grate it).
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and spinach and saute for 2 minutes until the spinach is fully wilted.
- Carefully pour in the tomatoes, then add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and chickpeas. Cook for 5 minutes until bubbly.
- Stir in the coconut milk until fully combined, then remove from the heat. Serve with basmati rice.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian Inspired
Keywords: Easy Weeknight Dinners, Easy Chickpea Curry
More easy dinner recipes
If you’re in the market for more easy weeknight dinners, here are a few more resources we’ve put together:
- Fast & Easy Dinner Ideas
- 12 Easy Family Dinner Ideas
- Quick Dinner Recipes for One
- Best Healthy Dinner Recipes
- Easiest Dinner Recipes for Busy Lives
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Family
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners
- Our 20-Minute Black Bean Tacos on Washington Post
- 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan
About the Authors
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.