37 Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Nights

updated Jun 23, 2023
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Lemon dill tortellini in skillet.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Getting dinner on the table during the week can be a feat even in the best of times. Making that happen when you’re juggling a busy schedule can feel almost impossible. To avoid ordering takeout, eating a bowl of cereal, or grazing through the pantry, I lean on a roster of reliably quick and easy weeknight dinner ideas.

From a lemony tortellini soup to sloppy joes to sheet pan salmon and much more, these 37 recipes are just what you need in your back pocket when you want a satisfying dinner but are short on time and energy.

Quick Dinner Ideas

Meaty mains and seafood are not out of the question on busy nights — you just need to lean on recipes with quick cooking methods (like broiling) and smart ingredients (like thin chicken cutlets).

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Garlic Parmesan Chicken Bites
Tender, bite-sized pieces of chicken flavored with garlic and a generous shower of nutty Parmesan.
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2 / 13
Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry
The sticky honey sauce ties it all together.
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3 / 13
Chicken Scallopini
Chicken scallopini is simple, straightforward, and thanks to the bath of buttery lemon-white wine sauce, is far, far greater than the sum of its parts.
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4 / 13
Beef and Broccoli Noodles
You only need 10 minutes to prep these saucy noodles.
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5 / 13
Quick & Easy Crispy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
These crispy fish tacos start with frozen beer-battered cod fillets, which makes them extra quick to prepare.
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6 / 13
Quick & Easy Sloppy Joes
A family dinner classic, these easy sloppy Joes are ideal for any night of the week.
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Ritz Cracker Chicken
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts encrusted in buttery Ritz crackers, then baked until tender and juicy.
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8 / 13
Chicken Saltimbocca with Spinach and Potatoes
Starting with thin chicken cutlets cuts the cook time and keeps prep to a minimum.
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9 / 13
Sheet Pan Crispy Salmon and Potatoes
This sheet pan supper will show you just how quick and simple it can be to get a salmon dinner on the table any night of the week.
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10 / 13
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel & Lemon
The simple method of roasting fennel wedges alongside chicken thighs allows the vegetable to absorb the rich juices from the meat while they caramelize on the sheet pan, making them incredibly addictive.
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11 / 13
Katsu Sando
Crispy pork cutlet, kewpie mayonnaise, and thinly shredded cabbage sandwiched between slices of plush milk bread.
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12 / 13
Spicy Shrimp Skillet with Tomatoes and White Beans
This spicy dinner relies on just a handful of ingredients to become something that’s simple and satisfying.
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13 / 13
Smoked Paprika-Parmesan Fish with Sautéed Greens
Mild white fish gets a boost from smoked paprika, Parmesan, and a brown butter sauce.
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Quick Dinner Ideas for Kids

With meals like pizza burgers, sticky glazed salmon, and quick-cooking chicken Parm, the whole table will love these family favorites, not just the kids.

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Chicken Sliders
For the best-ever chicken sliders, mix shredded chicken with mayo, sour cream, and scallions. Melty cheese and buttery rolls take things to the next level.
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2 / 12
Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan
For a family of four, you’ll need less than 15 minutes of air frying time before it’s time to plate dinner.
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Buttered Noodles
Turn this simple dish into a flavorful, weeknight dinner crowd-pleaser.
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4 / 12
Spinach and Refried Bean Quesadillas
Meet our favorite way to slide a little protein and a helping of greens into cheesy quesadillas.
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Chickpea and Cheddar Quesadillas
The best part of these protein-rich quesadillas is that they can be made in advance, and freeze & reheat like a dream.
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Honey-Glazed Salmon
Honey and soy sauce, combined with garlic and lime juice, create a sweet and savory glaze for simple pan-seared fillets that cook up in just 10 minutes.
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Confetti Spaghetti
This miracle meal uses up that bag of broccoli slaw in a way your whole family will love.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
For the crispiest chicken tenders, look to the air fryer.
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Tortellini with Butter-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
Roast halved cherry tomatoes with garlic-infused butter and they're transformed into a light and juicy sauce for cheese tortellini.
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Cinnamon Toast Grilled Cheese Recipe

A grilled cheese with cinnamon swirl bread, crispy bacon, and two kinds of melty cheese. Salty and sweet, it is the best of both worlds for kids young and old.

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11 / 12
Chicken Teriyaki
Inspired by the take-out classic, this easy chicken teriyaki is made with boneless chicken breast and a simple pantry sauce that comes together in 20 minutes.
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Open-Faced Pizza Burgers
If you grew up eating English muffin pizzas, these cheesy burgers will be right up your alley. They taste like a beefed-up version of the childhood favorite.
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Vegetarian Dinner Ideas

No meat, no problem! Pasta, tacos, soup, nachos, and stir-fries make all great ideas to put veggies and pantry staples to work for quick and easy dinners.

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One-Pan Creamy Lemon-Dill Tortellini
You only need 20 minutes to make this weeknight pasta — it’s a keeper.
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2 / 12
One-Pot Penne with Creamy Basil-Garlic Sauce
This creamy basil garlic pasta with green vegetables and crispy breadcrumbs is a weeknight dinner crowd-pleaser.
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Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Packed with vegetables and a warm, lightly spiced broth, lentil soup is one of the easiest meals you can make in your Instant Pot.
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Roasted Mushroom and Poblano Tacos
A quick and easy recipe for vegetarian tacos filled with roasted portobello mushrooms and poblano peppers and topped with creamy goat cheese.
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5 / 12
Loaded Black Bean Nachos
This hearty and wholesome take on nachos leans on smashed black beans, tangy Greek yogurt, and guac to make it satisfying enough for dinner time.
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Ravioli with Artichokes and Garlic Breadcrumbs
Break apart stuffed artichokes into their primary elements — garlic breadcrumbs, artichokes, herbs, and lemon — toss them with ravioli, and you get the perfect weeknight dinner.
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7 / 12
Lemon Caper Pasta
The very best part of this dish might not be the actual pasta (although it’s garlicky and lemony and oh so good), but the crispy, crunchy breadcrumbs that are sprinkled with abandon over the top.
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8 / 12
Miso-Buttered Mushrooms & Noodles
Reach in the back of your fridge for that tub of miso paste, because it will singlehandedly treat you to the best buttered noodles you have ever tasted.
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9 / 12
Herbed Gnocchi and Mushrooms
With only eight ingredients, you’ll have dinner on the table in roughly 30 minutes, and no leftovers to contend with afterwards.
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10 / 12
Red Lentil Soup
This quick and easy recipe for lentil soup puts a hearty vegetarian dinner on the table in just about 30 minutes.
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Lemony Tortellini Spinach Soup
With a 30-minute cook time and the majority of the ingredients already hanging out in your fridge, a fast and fresh dinner never looked better.
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Gnocchi Alfredo Bake
Plump gnocchi are baked in an easy Alfredo sauce that’s loaded with Parmesan cheese.
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