These romantic dinner ideas are ideal for date nights at home! Cook the recipes together or surprise your special someone.
Want to cook up a romantic dinner? Some foods just have that elegant, romantic vibe: whether they’re simple seared scallops or a cozy, hearty lasagna. So here are all our top romantic dinner ideas for impressing your special someone at home! You’ll find dinner recipes, sides, and dessert ideas, which you can cook together as a fun activity, or whip up as a special surprise. There’s nothing more fun than a cooking date (in our minds), so let the fun begin! See also: 25 Top Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas
And now…the top romantic dinner ideas to try at home!
At the top of all romantic dinner ideas: seared scallops! This seafood is easy to cook but feels like a restaurant. Serve it with a lemon herb butter sauce, which makes it taste absolutely divine.
Here’s a decadent dish that will win hearts and minds: Truffle Mac and Cheese! This cozy pan mixes a rich, creamy white cheddar sauce with just the right hint of earthy truffle oil. The truffle adds an irresistible nuance (not overpowering as some truffle dishes can be!). If you're cooking for two, make a half recipe.
Here’s a deliciously creamy, cozy romantic dinner idea for any season: Mushroom Risotto! This one is full of robust earthy flavor and the best canvas for any type of mushroom you have on hand. Throw them together with Parmesan cheese, white wine and if you like, a homemade mushroom broth. You won’t believe the silky, irresistible flavors!
Bookmark this romantic dinner idea: Creamy Shrimp Pasta! It’s ultra classic: juicy, savory shrimp and al dente pasta swimming in a creamy sauce. Because we love options, we’ve got two sauce ideas for you: a white wine sauce, bursting with tangy flavor. Or try our easy cream sauce, a creamy Parmesan sauce that’s actually made with no cream at all.
Here’s a romantic dinner idea that consistently makes everyone who takes a bite say Wow. Try this Pecan Crusted Salmon! It's restaurant-style fancy, but quick and easy to whip up. It takes basic salmon to the next level, coating it in a crunchy topping of nuts, seasoned breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese.
Here’s one of the ultimate Italian romantic comfort foods, done easier and healthier: eggplant Parmesan! The eggplant is coated in an impossibly crispy coating that’s also magically gluten free and low carb. The secret? Almond flour. It’s a genius trick and you’ll never make this recipe another way.
When it comes to romantic recipes…well, this one is tops. Meet our best vegetarian lasagna with ricotta! The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. Leftovers save well if you're cooking for two!
If we had to name a romantic recipe, Cacio e Pepe would be at the top of the list! This Italian "cheese and pepper" pasta is creamy and savory, with spicy bursts of pepper. Serve it with a Parmesan frico, a crispy cheese cracker, for ultimate enjoyment.
Shrimp and grits is a luxurious comfort food that's perfect for sharing bowls on a romantic dinner! These creamy grits, tender shrimp, and luscious veggie gravy are bursting with flavor: the ideal meal for a splurge.
Here's a fast and easy romantic dinner idea you can eat right out of the skillet: cheese tortellini in creamy marinara sauce! In just 15 minutes, you’ve got a pasta skillet that’s a literal symphony of flavor. The fresh basil-infused marinara sauce is perfectly complimented with pillows of tangy goat cheese. (In fact, it's our favorite baked goat cheese dip, done up as a main meal.)
Black truffles are the ideal romantic food. Their aroma is earthy, intoxicating, and makes anything taste nuanced and intriguing. For a romantic dinner, try this Truffle Pizza! It's all about channeling that truffle love: savory mushrooms, gooey cheese, and finished off with a truffle oil that infuses the entire pie.
What's better for a romantic dinner than paella for two? Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that has loads of variations. Often it’s made with seafood, but we’ve also tasted many delicious vegetable-based versions while traveling in Spain! The saffron-scented rice is loaded with a colorful assortment of vegetables, and it’s a true delight.
Also try: Spanish Paella with Shrimp
A romantic dinner is an ideal time to break out this amazing Eggplant Meatballs recipe! Garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese make one insanely juicy and savory meatball. Roasted eggplant makes them moist and textured. Combine it with marinara sauce and it’s out of this world delicious.
Seared ahi tuna is bursting with meaty flavor and only takes 5 minutes to cook! It's ideal for a romantic dinner, perched atop a bed of cilantro rice or even sweet potato puree. The way the light, sweet puree enhances each bite of savory protein is unreal!
Burrata cheese is one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of the best ways to make it into a romantic dinner? This Burrata Pasta, a beautiful example of Italian-style culinary simplicity. The majestic balls of fresh mozzarella sit atop a pasta twirls entwined with a rustic tomato basil sauce. Skip the fresh tomatoes if they're not in season: it's just as good!
This epic homemade pan pizza tastes just like the thick crust pizza from your favorite pizzeria. The smell wafting from the oven is enough to make you visibly drool. Cooking in a cast iron skillet makes the crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside: and the cheese goes all the way to the edges. These supreme-style toppings with gooey cheese and garlicky tomato sauce…well, it’s true perfection.
Let's move on to side dishes for romantic dinners! Here’s a dreamy salad if there ever was one: this brilliant Pear Salad! It’s a study in contrasts: fresh, juicy pear against funky gorgonzola cheese; bright pomegranate against savory shallot. Throw in some toasted pecans and cover it in tangy poppy seed dressing, and well: it’s absolutely irresistible.
Try this pomegranate salad to accessorize your romantic dinner recipes! Crunchy pomegranate seeds make a beautiful confetti over the top of leafy greens. Add tart green apple slices, toasted pecans, and goat cheese or feta crumbles, and it’s a true symphony of flavor!
When it comes to vegetables, there’s nothing quite like the crispy perfection of Roasted Brussels Sprouts! This basic oven roasted Brussels sprouts recipe brings those crispy, French-fry like addictiveness of these veggies to your plate.
Want to dress up broccoli to take it to irresistible status? Try this Parmesan broccoli! It’s crispy, crunchy, and impossible not to take another bite. Roasting broccoli brings a sweetness and lightly charred edges to this healthy green vegetable. Combine that with savory, crispy Parmesan cheese, and it’s the best way to accessorize your romantic dinner.
Here’s a great side dish that's elegantly simple: roasted broccolini! Broccolini is broccoli’s cooler and more sophisticated cousin, with a long elegant shape and sweeter, milder flavor. It's perfect for a fancy romantic dinner!
Classic is classic for a reason, and the classic wedge salad does not disappoint. Every time we serve it, people ooo and ahh. Because it really is perfection: the crunch of iceberg lettuce against the creamy, savory blue cheese dressing just makes sense. Not to mention it looks stunning! There’s a reason this salad has been impressing us all for 100 years.
Here’s a creamy side dish that’s perfect on any plate: Sweet Potato Puree! This lusciously creamy puree is light and sweet: ideal for serving with a savory protein like roast chicken or seared fish. It tastes restaurant style: especially when you serve the protein perched on top!
Let's move on to desserts for a romantic dinner! What’s a more romantic dessert than bananas foster? Sautéed bananas float in a dreamy sauce of caramelized sugar and rum, topped with melty vanilla ice cream. Of course setting it on fire brings over the top drama.
Not sure what romantic dessert to make? These chocolate covered strawberries might be the easiest! The sweet tart fresh berries are covered with crunchy semi-sweet chocolate: an easy no-bake dessert that always looks stunning!
Get ready for the ultimate romantic dessert for a chocolate lover. Flourless chocolate cake! Rich and fudgy, dense and dark chocolaty, it’s a chocolate lover’s dream cake. Top it with this easy raspberry compote for a sweet tart pairing that cuts the sweetness of the cake perfectly.
If you're making a romantic dinner for two, a Mug Cake is where it's at! This Chocolate Mug Cake recipe comes out insanely fudgy and 100% delicious! It’s got a secret ingredient that makes a delightfully rich flavor, and it takes only 2 minutes to cook...in the microwave!
Want a lighter sweet ending to your romantic dinner? Try these sauteed apples a la mode! There’s no baking necessary, and no advanced preparation. Just slice up some apples, saute them in butter and spices, and bam! Eat them warm topped with vanilla ice cream (and maybe a caramel sauce?), and there’s really not much better.
Last up in our romantic dinner ideas...the classic Italian affogato! Two ingredients come together in the most exciting flavor pairing: sweet, creamy vanilla gelato and bitter, rich espresso. Poured at the table, you get to see the ingredients transform right before your eyes. Like you’d expect from Italian cuisine, it’s essentialism at its finest.
Want more inspiration?
Here are a few more places for romantic dinner idea inspiration! Check out:
- Browse more of our 25 Top Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas
- Need some appetizers? Review these 50 Easy Appetizer Recipes Everyone Will Love.
- Or try Marinated Olives, Whipped Ricotta or Baked Brie as a good place to start.
- Look at more 15 Decadent Chocolate Desserts
Tips for a cooking date
If you’re planning to cook up some romantic dinner ideas with your partner, you’ve got to be in the right mindset for a cooking date! Here are a few tips we’ve have learned over the years for cooking romantic recipes at home:
- Don’t be overly ambitious. If you’re new to the kitchen or short on time, don’t try to make lots of new recipes at once. Pick a main recipe to focus on, then accessorize with a simple salad or dessert.
- Avoid starting hungry. Cooking when you’re starving is no fun, and is sure to end in tears or a fight. Start cooking well before you might get hungry — and set out some snacks (and wine?) during the cooking process. Munch on some raw veggies or nuts to avoid a kitchen catastrophe.
- Delegate. It’s easiest to work in the kitchen by delegating a “lead” on the recipe, and a “sous chef.” The lead is in charge of reading the recipe and delegating the tasks to both people. It’s the smoothest way to get things done — and you can alternate roles depending on the recipe!
- Clean as you go. No one likes ending with a huge pile of dishes! Delegate one person or the other to do some quick cleanup before moving on to the next part of a recipe. It will save you a lot of heartache in the end.
- Slow down & just have fun! Sit back and enjoy the process: turn on some music, take a deep breath, and enjoy the time together! Cooking can be fun, but it requires a sense of humor and a relaxed demeanor! Even if it doesn’t turn out quite like the picture or taste like you intended, enjoy the time you spent getting there.
30 Romantic Dinner Ideas: Scallops with Lemon Herb Sauce & More!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x
Here are the tricks to how to cook pan seared scallops and get that perfect brown crust! Follow these simple tips for a simple romantic dinner.
- 1 pound sea scallops, thawed if frozen
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley, etc)
- Thaw the scallops, if frozen (see above).
- Brine the scallops: In a shallow dish, mix together 4 cups room temperature water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Place the scallops in the water and wait for 10 minutes.
- Remove the scallops and dry thoroughly. Lightly season with a several pinches kosher salt.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. If using a medium skillet, cook the scallops in two batches. Once the oil is hot, add the scallops and cook without turning for 2 to 3 minutes, until an even brown crust clearly forms on bottom.
- Flip scallops with tongs. Cook additional 2 to 3 minutes on the other side, until a crust just forms on bottom and the center of the scallop is almost opaque.
- Remove the scallops from the skillet to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter, lemon juice, minced garlic and chopped herbs. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release flavor from any browned bits stuck to the pan. Cook 1 minute until fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the scallops and cover them with sauce. Then remove from the heat and serve immediately.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Romantic
- Diet: Gluten Free
Keywords: Romantic dinner ideas, romantic dinner, romantic dinner recipes