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…
Are you ready? Top quick dinner recipes for one:
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!
Time to make it: 5 minutes
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! For this recipe we used packaged gnocchi, which we still consider a whole food similar to packaged pasta.
Instead of cooking the spinach, we use a little shortcut: use the hot pasta water to quickly wilt it when draining the pasta. Once you’ve tried this tip, you’ll find yourself using it often. Combine the wilted spinach with the gnocchi sauce and cooked gnocchi and you’ve got dinner!
Time to make it: 15 minutes for the entire meal
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)
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.
Time to make it: 10 minutes
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.
Time to make it: 20 minutes
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.
Time to make it: 15 minutes
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.
Time to make it: 20 minutes
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.
Time to make it: 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!).
Time to make it: 20 minutes
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.
Time to make it: 25 minutes
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:
- Seared Salmon Poke Bowl
- Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese
- Coleslaw & Swiss Melt Sandwich
- Easy Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- Stir Fry Vegetables with Teriyaki
- Quick Coconut Lentil Curry
- Loaded Quinoa Tacos
- Gemelli Pasta with Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- Superfood Veggie Quesadilla
- 50 Quick and Easy Family Meals
- Cuban Black Beans & Rice
- Chickpea Couscous Bowls with Tahini Sauce
- Pasta Puttanesca Recipe
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.