5 Dinners Anyone Can Make from Scratch in Under 30 Minutes

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Quick and easy dinners are the bread and butter of my meal plan, week in and week out. From Monday through Friday you won’t find recipes with a laundry list of ingredients, long prep times, or a lot of hands-on time at the stove. I save those for the weekend, when I have more time and I’m not tired from the day. Weeknight dinners need to be delicious, easy-to-make meals that go from prep to hitting the table in 30 minutes.

From tomato tortellini soup to crispy orange beef, these five recipes will show you that 30-minute meals are well within your reach — no matter your cooking experience or what your pantry looks like.

30-Minute Meals for Anyone and Everyone

Simplicity is the name of the game when quick and easy weeknight dinners are a priority. I do not exaggerate when I say that anyone can make them. Whether you are just beginning to cook or you’re a seasoned pro, you can get these meals on the table in 30 minutes.

Our philosophy on quick-cooking dinners extends to budget as well. We don’t think the convenience of time should come at the expense of your weekly food budget, so you’ll find that these recipes are easy on your wallet as well.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Use one or two superstar ingredients for big flavor.

Just because these dinners come together in 30 minutes does not mean they lack in the flavor department. To create lots of flavor, these recipes lean on one or two flavor-packed ingredients to deliver a deep, rich, irresistible taste. Whisk in a spoonful of umami-rich miso and you’ll never look at a simple skillet of buttered noodles the same again. A generous splash of sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar is just the thing to add an extra layer of flavor to a pot of quick-cooking tomato tortellini soup. For more flavorful chicken and bean burrito bowls, cook the meat in salsa rather than reserving it for your bowl topping. And orange zest and juice instantly make a weeknight stir-fry sauce sing.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A single piece of cookware is enough.

Weeknight suppers shouldn’t just be quick and easy to bring to the table — they should also come with an easy cleanup to match. And the best candidates can be made in a single pot, pan, or skillet. A sheet pan is all you need for crispy salmon fillets paired with potatoes and asparagus; a Dutch oven or soup pot is your ticket to a quick and comforting pot of tomato tortellini soup; an Instant Pot is the simplest and quickest way to cook up hearty burrito bowls filled with saucy chicken, beans, and rice; and a single frying pan or skillet is all you need to cook up some crispy orange beef.

Embrace the meanwhile.

I’ve talked about this cooking tactic before, and I really can’t sing its praises loudly enough. It is my number-one trick for getting dinner on the table as quickly as possible. I take advantage of those few hands-off minutes that show up in recipes — like while veggies are steaming or something is coming to a boil — and work on something else, like slicing that carrot.

Rather than prepping all of the ingredients at the onset (as we’re often told to do), read the full recipe, then prep just what you need to get started. This will look different from recipe to recipe, but the idea is always the same. It’s these small steps that add up to minutes, and ultimately save you time along the way. Practice this more and more, and eventually it will become second nature; you’ll do it without even thinking about it.

5 Dinners Anyone Can Make from Scratch in Under 30 Minutes