Cooking solo and need dinner fast? Here are quick dinner recipes for one that get you from zero to dinnertime in a flash.
Okay, we get it. You’re short on time some nights — and so are we! It’s hard to get a delicious, nutritious meal on the table, especially if you’re tight on time! So Alex and I have cooked up some lightning fast quick dinner recipes for one, for nights where you’re cooking solo and don’t have a moment to spare. Some of these aren’t even really “recipes,” they’re more like ideas! Feel free to customize them to make them your own, based on what’s on hand in your pantry. Luckily, most of the recipes below have a healthy spin too! So you’ll be nourished in the handful of minutes you have to meal prep.
Since you’re low on time, let’s get right to the point…
Here's the very fastest in our quick dinner recipes for one: these Epic 5 Minute Tacos! Can dinner really be made in 5 minutes? We'll let you find out for yourself. 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!
While we’re on seriously quick dinner recipes for one, let’s talk about this 5 minute gnocchi sauce! The romesco gnocchi sauce recipe is bursting with flavor and takes just 5 minutes to whiz in a blender. And the gnocchi boils for 3 minutes! When you're cooking for one, make half of this recipe and refrigerate any leftovers: they're great the next day.
Next up in our quick dinner recipes for one: seared tuna! Seared ahi tuna is one of the most delicious foods on the planet, and it 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.
Time to make it: 5 minutes, plus time to prep how you’re serving it (try this couscous for a side dish that cooks in 5 minutes)
Here’s a quick dinner recipe for one that will knock you off your feet: and it sounds deceptively simple. This really is the perfect sauteed shrimp! The tender, juicy savory flavor is so remarkable, you won’t be able to stop taking bites. Really! We couldn’t. Here’s our secret seasoning blend and exactly how to make what we think is the best sauteed shrimp. Add couscous, rice or quinoa for an easy dinner.
So here’s a quick dinner recipe that will hit the spot: the Avocado Club! Contrary to what you might think, simply slapping an avocado on a sandwich is not as delicious as it sounds. This sandwich combines the best hearty and rich flavors to make a killer sandwich. Avocado, mayo, cheese and bacon are so full of umami flavor it will surprise you!
This pita pizza is one of our no-think quick dinner recipes! It’s a way to get dinner on the table in just a few minutes: way quicker than delivery pizza! You can use any marinara sauce or basil pesto as the sauce for this pita pizza: a great option is our 5-minute Homemade Pizza Sauce.
Make a margherita pizza or a veggie pizza or your own creation! Veggies like jarred roasted red peppers, artichokes, spinach, and olives work well. Or you could do straight up cheese: we love the combination of shredded mozzarella and feta cheese. Stock up on some pita bread to keep in your refrigerator when you need quick dinner ideas. Pita pizza is truly a lifesaver on busy weeknights.
Now here's a classic in quick dinner recipes for one: the quesadilla! Alex and I often make quesadillas when we’re in a rush for dinner. And this one is packed with veggies! This vegetarian quesadilla recipe is homemade with natural whole foods and full of both nutrients.
Most importantly, it’s bursting with flavor — the kind where both Alex and I both mutter “Whoa” while still chewing the first bite. 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. And the zesty chipotle lime tahini sauce is the showstopper.
Is it odd to count a tuna melt in your “best of” foods? It might sound basic or ordinary. But this tuna melt: this is the stuff dreams are made of -- and the absolute perfect quick dinner recipe for one! Between crusty bread is sandwiched a creamy, gooey mess so perfectly seasoned that you won’t be able to stop taking bites. Here we’ll show you how to make a tuna melt that will make you…melt.
Another one of our quick dinner recipes is a fancy sandwich! This Mediterranean veggie sandwich features our garlic herb white bean dip as a filling, but you can also use purchased hummus as a time saver! Add sliced red onion, shredded carrot, and feta cheese. To top it all off, we’ve used pea shoots for some visual flair; though you can use any type of sprouts or microgreens. It’s super fast to put together and pretty darn delicious. For a vegan version, replace the feta cheese with salty Kalamata olives.
Pasta is a go to in our quick dinner recipes: because simple pastas come together so quickly! A few flavors elegantly combined can taste better than something that has taken all day to prepare. Anything goes with this orecchiette pasta: combine it with roasted vegetables as we have here, use fresh veg and load it with herbs in the summer, or simply douse it in marinara.
This orecchiette recipe takes just 7 ingredients and about 20 minutes to make. It’s so quick and simple it works for a weeknight meatless dinner, but it’s also elegant enough to serve for guests. Other ways to serve it: try our easy marinara sauce or with peas, feta and dill.
One of our most “fancy” truly quick dinner recipes for one, this quick garlicky shrimp couscous 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. Couscous is a pasta and not a whole grain, so cooks up in 5 minutes and is perfect for quick dinner ideas. 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.
This Tex Mex migas uses old tortillas or tortilla chips instead of bread; they’re mixed with eggs and veggies into a delightful scramble! Another name for this type of migas recipe is migas con huevo (crumbs with eggs). We almost always have old corn tortillas on hand, so for us this is a perfect clean-out-the-refrigerator weeknight meal! You can eat migas for breakfast, or for quick dinner recipes (we’re always in for brinner!).
Here’s a fun quick dinner recipe: Greek nachos! What’s in these Greek nachos? Juicy tomatoes, cool cucumber, and lightly flavored white beans are spread over crunchy pita chips and covered in a cool, bright green cilantro sauce. These Greek nachos are vegan, so they’re 100% plant based! You can make your own Homemade Pita Chips, but of course if you’re in a hurry, use storebought pita chips instead! You could also use hummus as a sauce instead: just mix it with a little water or lemon juice until you can drizzle it over the nachos.
Time to make it: 25 minutes, less with the shortcuts above
Another one of our quick dinner recipes for one: naan pizza! Just like with the pita pizza above, we use storebought naan bread. here we 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 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.
And rounding out our quick dinner recipes for one: Instant Pot spaghetti! All you have to do is “set it and forget it” for this one! This Instant Pot spaghetti recipe is for busy weeknights, and times when you just don’t want to have to think about dinner. And the flavor? Take it from one of our readers, who said: “Oh my, I scraped the bowl clean on this one! The flavor was awesome and it was so easy, it was exactly what I needed right now.”
More quick dinner recipes for one
Outside of these quick dinner recipes for one, here are a few more to choose from:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs. Add the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt, and whisk until combined.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the eggs and cook over medium low heat, scraping as the eggs solidify, about 3 to 4 minutes total. As you scrape, they’ll start to form together into a meat-like texture. Don’t scrape too much or you’ll make too small of pieces: just enough for that it comes together!
If time, warm and char the tortillas by placing them on an open gas flame on medium for a few seconds per side, flipping with tongs, until they are slightly blackened and warm. (See How to Warm Tortillas.)
Top with salsa fresca (drain extra liquid before serving), thin sliced red onions, torn cilantro leaves, and hot sauce.
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.