After a long day at work, the idea of spending hours in the kitchen preparing a meal isn’t all that appealing. So, takeout’s the best option, right? Not necessarily! In addition to being hard on the wallet, too much takeout isn’t always good for you, as even “healthier” options contain hidden salt, sugar, and fat. Cooking at home from fresh ingredients is typically a much healthier choice—you know exactly what’s in it. Plus, nutrition is a form of self-care, and it doesn’t have to take long to prepare a nutrient-packed, home-cooked meal. Check out these 16 quick dinner ideas for inspiration. 

Quick Chicken Dinner Ideas

Chicken’s versatile nature means that it’s the main ingredient in many tasty, quick dishes. The key, though, is cooking it properly. Cook it too quickly, and it’ll be pink inside, leaving you wishing you weren’t in such a hurry! 

1. Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is an Indian favorite that can be made quickly using a ready-made sauce. However, it’s not hard to make the sauce from scratch with a well-stocked Indian spice tray. Speed the preparation of this dish up by marinating your chicken in the refrigerator the night before. 

2. Honey Garlic Chicken

chicken and rice
Source: instagram
Quick chicken dinners include honey garlic chicken served with rice. (Courtesy of @foodvoyagerbadhan)

This easy honey garlic chicken recipe can be thrown together in 15 minutes, more or less. Serve it with rice cooked in a rice cooker to further simplify things.

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Quick Vegetarian Dinner Ideas

If you don’t eat meat or just want to have a few meatless meals throughout the week, check out these quick vegetarian dinner ideas. Note that these meals do include eggs and cheese, so keep scrolling for vegan options.

3. Asparagus Egg Bake

Try this quick asparagus egg bake the next time you’re looking for quick vegetarian dinners.

This asparagus egg bake is super simple, and the cleanup is easy, too! You only need one skillet or oven-proof fry pan. As for ingredients, all you need are asparagus spears, eggs, and parmesan cheese.

4. Rigatoni With Spring Onions and Peas

Pasta is among the simplest of quick vegetarian dinners.

Pasta is one of the easiest dishes out there for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Boil it until al dente (or as the package directs you), then just add sauce or vegetables. Spring onions and peas add a burst of freshness and nutrition, and you can add feta cheese for extra flavor. Learn how to make it here.

Quick Vegan Dinner Ideas

You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy vegan food, which is free of any animal ingredients, including eggs and cheese. Bonus: Some of the quickest dinner ideas out there are vegan.

5. Cauliflower Couscous Bowl

Quick vegan dinners don’t come simpler than couscous and roast vegetables.

Couscous is super simple to prepare—just mix it with some boiled water, then add the roasted vegetables of your choice. This recipe substitutes cauliflower for couscous and adds feta cheese on top, but you can skip it or use vegan cheese instead. 

6. Mango and Cucumber Salad With Coconut Milk Dressing

vegan salad
Quick vegan dinners include healthy salads.

Salads make a quick meal because there’s usually no cooking required—just chopping, tossing, and dressing. This mango and cucumber salad with coconut dressing is a light, refreshing summer dish, and you can accompany it with crusty bread and olive oil for a more substantial meal. 

Quick Crock-Pot Dinners

Crock-Pot cooking isn’t exactly “quick,” but it only requires a few minutes of active cooking time. Once you’ve prepped your ingredients, put them into your Crock-Pot and then wait for the dish to slowly cook. Just make sure to cut your ingredients into small, uniform pieces to ensure even cooking.

7. Lamb Tacos

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Cook your lamb in a Crock-Pot and enjoy these quick lamb tacos for dinner. (Courtesy of Bite Your Brum)

Slow cook lamb in a Crock-Pot, and it’ll be ready to shred and put into tacos with salsa and guacamole once you get home. Here’s a great recipe. Other meats, like pork and chicken, work well, too.

8. Beef Stew

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Beef stew and Crock-Pots go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Beef stew is a classic Crock-Pot recipe and a warming winter dinner. Include your favorite winter vegetables like potato, carrot, and celery, as well as a tasty broth. This recipe also uses mushrooms.

Quick Instant Pot Dinners

Instant Pot multi-cookers are another easy, set-it-and-forget-it way of cooking. Unlike Crock-Pots, though, they have the function to cook like a traditional pressure cooker, speeding up the cooking process enormously.

9. Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

vietnamese foods
Tasty Vietnamese food has never been so easy.

Vietnamese beef noodle soup requires quite a few ingredients, but once they’re prepped and placed in the Instant Pot, this is a super easy dinner idea.

10. Instant Pot Chicken Breasts

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An Instant Pot speeds up the process of cooking chicken. (Courtesy of Instant Pot South Africa)

If you think baked or grilled chicken takes too long, try this Instant Pot chicken breast recipe. All you need is 45 minutes from start to finish.

Quick Beef Dinner Ideas

Quick beef dinners might seem like an unachievable goal, when you think about dishes like oven-roasted beef. But there are plenty of other, much quicker, ways to have beef for dinner. 

11. Traditional Japanese-Style Beef Udon

udon noodles
Udon noodles are thick and hearty, especially when topped with beef.

Udon noodles are a great option for a hearty meal, and they’re usually pre-cooked, so they only need warming with hot water. Top them with pre-cooked sliced beef and shallots for a warming one-bowl meal. 

12. Spaghetti Bolognese

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What could be heartier than a good spaghetti bolognese?

Bolognese sauce is made with ground beef that’s simmered with tomatoes and spices. Cook the sauce while the spaghetti is boiling to speed up your dinner prep time. This recipe can be made in around half an hour. Because the sauce can be simmered slowly, it’s a good candidate for throwing in the Crock-Pot or Instant Pot, too. 

Quick Fish Dinner Ideas

Fish is a tasty and nutritious dinner option—and quicker to prepare than most meats.

13. Salmon Tray Bake

Salmon is one of the simplest quick fish dinners.

Salmon is one of the easiest quick fish dinners because it has a distinct flavor of its own and doesn’t need much seasoning or sauce. Plus, you can bake it, fry it, or grill it—it’s very versatile. Save time (and dishes!) by baking it on the same tray as accompanying vegetables like asparagus, baby tomatoes, and zucchini. Find the instructions here

14. Prawn Pad Thai

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Pad Thai is a Thai-style fried noodle dish.

Pad Thai—a fried rice noodle dish served with peanuts, egg, shallot, ginger, garlic, and a protein, such as shrimp—is a takeout favorite, but you can whip it up quicker than it takes the delivery driver to arrive. Find out how to make it here.

Quick Pork Dinner Ideas

Quick pork dinners offer a lot of variety—you can eat pork as a steak or chop, as sausages, or as bacon. Sausages are the quickest of the bunch to make, but they contain a lot of fat, so if you’re looking for healthier options, try these quick pork dinner ideas instead.

15. Pan-Fried Pork Chop

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Pan fry pork for a quick pork dinner. (Courtesy of @chilliesue)

Pan-frying a pork chop is a quick way to prepare this type of meat. Boil potatoes while the pork is frying and mash them with butter and milk, or serve the chop with steamed vegetables. Check out this recipe for tasty pan-fried pork chops served with sage and apple potato mash. It sounds fancy, but it won’t take much more than half an hour. 

16. Potato and Bacon Soup

Potato and bacon soup is an easy and warming meal.

In this soup, potatoes and bacon are cooked in the same pot and then blended together with a stick blender. Make a large batch and freeze it to reheat it later for an even quicker meal. Learn to make this recipe here.

What’s Cooking in Your Kitchen?

A delicious, easy meal by Skillshare student Ying Tu for Creative Cooking: Simple Sauces to Elevate Every Meal.

Once you get into the habit of cooking dinner at home, it’ll feel less like a chore and more like a healthy lifestyle choice. Cooking can also be relaxing after a day spent in front of screens, creating a transition from work life to home life. These 16 quick dinner ideas will keep you full for at least two weeks, and there’s a world of other healthy, tasty, quick dinner ideas to explore. Bon appetit!

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Written by:

Elen Turner