Looking for recipes to stay in and cook? These Valentine’s Day dinner ideas make a great date night or romantic dinner!
What’s better than a night in for Valentine’s Day? Here at A Couple Cooks we love dinner out, but there’s something cozy about staying in and cooking up a dinner for the people you love. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a dinner with the whole family, there are so many ideas to make a special meal! And even better: many of them are just as easy to make.
Here we’ve compiled all our favorite Valentine’s Day dinner ideas for cozy night in! Every recipe has a bit of a romantic vibe…though it works for the whole family too. Of course: you don’t have to use these on Valentine’s Day either! You might find some favorites in this list that work for any day of the year.
And now, Valentine’s Day dinner ideas for a night in!
First up in our list of Valentine’s Day dinner ideas: Pistachio Crusted Salmon! This method for cooking fish seems like something you’d get at a restaurant, but it’s so simple to make. The aroma wafting from the oven will have you salivating before the food even reaches your plate! Each bite of tender fish and the crunchy, Parmesan pistachio topping makes you immediately want to take another.
Here’s a recipe that couldn’t be more delectable. Try these spinach artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms! Yes, that’s right. It combines the deliciousness of spinach artichoke dip with the meaty, savory goodness of a baked portobello mushroom. Top it off with crunchy Italian breadcrumbs, and you’ll amaze everyone at the table! It’s vegetarian but will please every type of eater: we promise.
Next up in our list of Valentine’s Day dinner ideas: Cacio e Pepe: cheese and pepper pasta! Pasta is mega romantic, right? This Italian cheese and pepper spaghetti couldn’t be simpler; the recipe is from our friend Ashley Rodriguez’s book Date Night In. Alex and I ate a killer cacio e pepe last time we were in Rome, and we had one of the best one’s of our life in NYC. It’s a truly simple recipe that’s elegant in its simplicity.
One of our more elegant Valentine’s Day dinner ideas is this Parmesan black truffle risotto! A seemingly gourmet dish, this Parmesan truffle risotto recipe is pretty simple to put together, and the black truffle flavor sends it out of this world. There’s a splash of white wine in the risotto, and you can drink the rest of the bottle as you cook!
Scallops have a beautiful, mild sweet flavor that’s easy to love: and there’s nothing better than that perfect seared crispy outside. Try them bathed in this amazing Lemon Herb Sauce. It takes a little know how to get that golden brown crust without under cooking or overcooking them. But once you know a few secrets…it’s very easy and takes only 5 minutes to cook!
Call us crazy, but isn’t an elegant pot pie is the coziest, most romantic sounding of Valentine’s Day dinner ideas? This pot pie has become one of our top fan favorite recipes, and for good reason. The flaky crust is scented with sage, and the inside is pure creamy, savory goodness with sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and white beans. If you’re looking for romantic dinner, this is it.
This creamy vodka sauce is simmered with garlic and basil, served over rigatoni with lots of Parmesan. The secret? Simmer the sauce for 1 hour!This vodka sauce pasta is so seriously full of flavor, it’s worth every second of that simmer. And what says "I love you” more than a 1 hour simmered pasta?
There’s just something about silky caramelized onions topped golden, crusty cheese that takes your breath away every time. This is classic French cooking at its finest...it's a bit of a project, but worth every minute of it for an elegant Valentine's Day dinner. This recipe is full of rich, nuanced flavor and all the cozy, date night in vibes.
We love using Valentine's Day as an excuse to make a fancy paella! This stunning one pan dinner is made for celebrations! This traditional Spanish rice dish has thousands of variations. but it’s always rice with an explosion of colorful toppings. This one stars saffron-scented rice, mixed colorful vegetables and shrimp, and it’s full of traditional flavor. Pair with red sangria or apple sangria.
Gooey white cheddar mac and cheese is like a huge bear hug! It’s cozy and comforting in a way that’s indescribable. Add these tangy red roasted tomatoes, and it’s outfitted as one of our Valentine’s Day dinner ideas! It’s on the rich side, so serve with a refreshing green salad.
You’ll want to bookmark this recipe for making after Valentine's Day too...this 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. Mix the components together and wow!
What’s more Valentine’s Day appropriate than hot pink hummus? This is the perfect appetizer to a cozy dinner. Adding a roasted beet to hummus makes it stunning to look at—and it’s tasty too. You don’t have to cut your veggies to be heart shaped of course...but why not?
Cherries are perfect for Valentine's Day dinner, and here's a great appetizer idea: cherry and goat cheese crostini! Saute tart cherries with a bit of sage and balsamic vinegar, then spoon them over a goat cheese crostini. They're a simple and delicious starter to pair with the main dishes above!
Here's a perfect salad for Valentine's Day dinner: shaved Brussels sprout salad! This one is a study in texture contrasts: the feathery shaved Brussels, the pop of the Pomegranate seeds, and the bright crunch of the apple. It’s vibrant and colorful, covered in a lightly sweet vinaigrette.
Another great Valentine's Day dinner side dish: pomegranate salad! 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! Pick from a few different dressing choices: our favorites are apple cider vinegar dressing or pomegranate vinaigrette.
These Brussels sprouts are a fantastic Valentine's Day side dish...and they really are next level! They’re impossibly crispy, baked until they’re caramelized and the outside layers flake off into darkened crunchy chips. Then they’re draped in a tangy maple balsamic glaze that heightens the flavors to their peak. One bite of these, and everyone around the table will be asking how you did it.
Of course, we've got to have some romantic Valentine's Day cocktails to go with the dinner ideas, right? Try this sweet tart red cocktail: the Raspberry Martini! This drink is stunning and full of bright berry flavor: from first sip, you’ll be sold! The sweet tart, lightly floral flavor of raspberry is beautifully pure, thanks to homemade raspberry syrup.
Here's a beautifully bright brilliant pink Valentine's Day drink: yes, it’s a Cosmo! A Cosmopolitan cocktail, to be exact. This classic cocktail is ready to spice up your next gathering, be it a dinner party or drinks on the patio with friends. It was at its height in the 1990’s (hello, Sex and the City), but the Cosmo is a legit sour cocktail that’s worth drinking.
The chocolate martini is rich and creamy, basically a dessert in a glass! It’s got Irish cream and creme de cacao for maximum flavor, like the liquid version of your favorite chocolate bar. Mix this up for special occasions like Valentine’s Day or a romantic dinner…or just anytime you need a sweet treat in cocktail form.
Here’s one of the most sophisticated and refreshing cocktails out there...and it's perfect for Valentine's Day dinner. Try the French 75! It’s got a mysterious name, but it’s made with a few simple ingredients. It’s tangy, bubbly, and a bit botanical, and it makes every dinner more festive!
The best dessert for in our Valentine's Day dinner ideas: mug cake! This genius method for going from 0 to cake in just a few minutes is absolutely worth a try. This chocolate mug cake recipe comes out insanely fudgy and 100% delicious! It’s got a secret ingredient that makes a delightfully rich flavor. The hardest part? Waiting for it to cool until you can dig in.
What's better than ending a Valentine's Day dinner with flourless chocolate cake? Rich and fudgy, dense and dark chocolaty, it’s a chocolate lover’s dream. Top it with this easy raspberry compote for a sweet tart pairing that cuts the sweetness of the cake perfectly.
This dessert could not be more romantic or perfect for Valentine’s Day. Our crustless triple cherry cheesecake is ultra creamy, made with Greek yogurt and baked slowly to perfection. It’s got a healthy spin but tastes decadent!
Cherries and chocolate are the best Valentine's Day combination! This rustic chocolate cherry tart is simple to whip up and tastes incredible. The contrast of the sweet cherries with rich chocolate and flaky crust is absolutely sublime.
Last up: one of our very favorite ways to end a Valentine’s Day dinner bananas foster! If you like playing with fire, this one’s for you. Our recipe is easy with instructions on how to flambé and get that dramatic flame! It tastes truly incredible. Grab two spoons for your skillet and dig in!
More romantic recipes
Need more romantic recipe inspiration? We’ve got you. Here are a few more ideas that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day:
Impress your date with Pesto Salmon with a glistening green sauce
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (non-dairy as desired)
Mix: In a 12 ounce* microwave-safe mug, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the milk and oil. Add the chocolate chips and stir once.
Microwave: Place a paper towel under the mug in the microwave, then cook on High 60 seconds. Check for doneness: if it’s still gooey and wet on top, microwave another 20 seconds, then another 10 seconds. It done when the top looks cooked and springs back when you touch it (it will still appear moist but will be springy). The exact timing depends on the microwave: ours works well with 60 seconds, then another 30 seconds.
Cool: Important: wait for 2 to 3 minutes for the cake to cool down from piping hot to warm. Don’t taste right away: it doesn’t taste right. But cooling a few minutes does the trick! Top with whipped cream or ice cream and serve warm.
*It also works in an 8 ounce mug (shown in the photos), but it may spill a bit over the sides (hence the paper towel).
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.