Looking for a date night in? These romantic dinner ideas are perfect for a night in for two, from cozy pot pie to bananas foster.
It’s one thing to go out for a romantic dinner. But why not stay in and cook? A date night in can be just as romantic: and cooking together can bring two people even closer! Enjoying a delicious meal the two of you made together gives you a sense of investment that’s not there with even the fanciest of restaurants.
As a couple who cooks together for a living, you might think Alex and I might prefer going out to a date night in. But there is something so personal about making a meal and enjoying it together! (Plus, now that we have a kiddo we don’t have to get a sitter — ha!) Now, there’s something about the vibe of romantic dinner ideas that are different from everyday recipes. I’m not sure how to describe it, but an elegant pasta or a cozy pot pie is a bit more romantic than something like tacos or a soup. We’ll let you decide if you agree! Here’s what we think are are our top 10 romantic dinner ideas for two (though you’ll have some leftovers since many are designed for four servings — even better!).
Tips for a cooking date
Before we start: if you’re going to cook up some romantic dinner ideas together, you’ve got to be in the right mindset for a cooking date! Here are a few tips Alex and I have learned over the years for cooking together on a date night in:
- 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 (from the romantic dinner ideas below!), 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. Instead, start cooking well before you might get hungry — and set out some snacks (and wine?) during the cooking process. Having some raw veggies or nuts on hand has saved us from a few kitchen catastrophes.
- Delegate. We’ve found 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 him or herself, and the sous chef. We’ve found it’s the smoothest way to get things done — and we alternate roles frequently depending on the recipe!
- Clean as you go. No one likes ending with a huge pile of dishes! If you can, delegate one person or the other to do some 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 a lot of 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!
And now…10 romantic dinner ideas!
First up in our romantic dinner ideas: pot pie! This vegetarian pot pie is crazy delicious, with a flaky pot pie crust and a savory filling of veggies and Parmesan. It takes a little over an hour to make, but it’s absolutely worth it. And this recipe works well with two people! Serve it with a green salad and a glass of wine. Or the vegan pot pie variation is next level: hearty vegetables, a gooey sauce, and a flaky, sage crust made with coconut oil. Both versions are fan favorites!
This sophisticated spin on mac and cheese uses the sumptuous combination of roasted tomatoes and white cheddar cheese. It’s got romantic dinner written all over it! The gooey white cheddar sauce is contrasted with the tangy pops of flavor in the roasted tomatoes.
Salmon features in many romantic dinner ideas; this one is even more romantic because of the preparation! Here, the salmon is cooked in parchment paper (“en papillote”), and the parchment paper is cut into two heart shapes! It’s a fun method for cooking salmon, and it comes out flaky and tender. In this version, we’ve added a pile of colorful veggies that cook alongside the salmon as well.
What says romantic dinner ideas more than truffles and risotto? This dish sounds gourmet, but it’s actually quite simple to put together. The creamy Parmesan rice is paired with the earthy flavor of black truffle in a symphony of flavor. The recipe calls for canned black truffles and mushrooms, which is a worthy splurge. If you can’t find them, you can also garnish with a drizzle of black or white truffle oil.
This classic Italian pasta is romantic in its simplicity (though, the name in Italian is not so sweet!). This romantic dinner recipe features olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the Puttanesca sauce for tangy burst of flavor. Or, use our Easy Marinara Sauce for a more straightforward take.
Another fave? Long-simmered Vodka Sauce Pasta
What’s more romantic than the most classic pizza of them all, Margherita pizza? Perhaps it’s because we honeymooned in Italy, but pizza is one of our favorite romantic dinner ideas. This one features our homemade pizza dough, 5- minute best pizza sauce, gooey mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. Perfection! (For a quicker way to that romantic pizza dinner, use store bought pizza dough.)
Simple and cozy pastas are one of our favorite romantic dinner ideas: and we wanted to give a vegan option too! These vegan meatballs with spaghetti are seriously comforting, and you won’t miss the meat. Top with our vegan Parmesan, and it’s a truly flavorful date night in.
For some reason, a cozy pocket of dough filled with pizza fillings features in our ideas for romantic dinner ideas! This simple calzone recipe features a homemade pizza dough and a spinach, mushroom, and two-cheese filling. Dip it into our best pizza sauce with a glass of wine in hand, and it’s a super cozy date night in.
Here’s the quintessential romantic dessert: bananas foster! Because what’s more fun than cooking a dessert with flames! Our bananas foster recipe is more than just flair, though. It’s actually really, really flavorful, spiced with cinnamon with a depth of flavor from the banana liquor. It’s a fun way to end a meal: just be careful with the flames!
Looking for more dinner ideas?
Outside of these romantic dinner ideas, here are a few more collections of what to make for dinner:
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Lives
- Best Vegan Dinner Recipes
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Two
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Family
- 10 Filling Plant Based Recipes Perfect for Dinner
- Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners
- What Should I Make for Dinner?
- Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Beginners
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.