29 Dinner Ideas for Tonight 2024 (Quick & Easy)

You’re tired, hungry and fresh out of dinner ideas for tonight. You need a quick and easy weeknight dinner – more substantial than a sandwich or ordering in another pizza.

With these recipes for pasta, fish & seafood, vegetarian meals or chicken & meat, you can whip up dinner in 30 minutes or less.

collage of quick and easy dinner recipes

My favorite easy dinner ideas? Pad Thai (I make it a lot), creamy salmon pasta and lemon garlic shrimp pasta (rich and decadent!). All delicious and all stand-alone dinners.

Keep in mind that almost all our recipes have shortcuts and substitutes if you need them. We firmly believe in getting from A to B in the quickest way possible and adapting recipes to your taste and what you have on hand.

If I had to choose the ultimate ‘quick and easy’ recipes,,,here are my go-to’s:

  1. Vegetable wonton soup (use whatever veggies you have on hand),
  2. Vegetarian fajitas (buy the packaged seasoning),
  3. Pink pasta sauce over packaged fresh ravioli
  4. Pastina soup with veggies (pure comfort Italian chicken noodle soup)
  5. Baked trout with lemon, butter and fresh herbs (a snap to make)
  6. PF Change simplified chicken lettuce wraps (surprised? check it out)
  7. Sweet and spicy chicken wings (we use spicy Thai chili sauce to make the glaze)

Easy Pasta Recipes

Most of these pasta dishes are vegetarian recipes but can be tweaked with added proteins if you like.

Best Pad Thai Recipe

pad thai on black plate with chop sticks
Think of the best pad Thai recipe as perfect Asian comfort food. The flavors and textures in this sweet, salty, umami noodle stir fry are simply delicious. Way better than take out. Make it vegetarian or not. 30 minutes
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Spicy Peanut Noodles With Vegetables

peanut noodles on glass plate f
A creamy peanut sauce with sesame, garlic, ginger and some heat plays the starring role in this spicy peanut noodles and vegetables dish. It's the perfect meal for busy nights when you need dinner on the table in 20 minutes
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Easy Gnocchi Recipe Indian-Style

veg gnocchi in an indian sauce with spinach in white bowl
With a few store-bought items, this easy gnocchi recipe delivers deep, rich Indian flavors with a creamy tomato-based sauce. Soak it up with Naan for a simpl and decadent Indian style pasta that won't take a lot of time to get on the dinner table. 20 minutes
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Easy Vegetarian Pasta Recipe (for all seasons)

vegetable spaghetti on white plate with wine behind plate.
This is one of my favorite non-meat meals. It’s a light, healthy, zesty, easy vegetarian pasta recipe using just a handful of ingredients. Perfect for dinner tonight in 30 minutes
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Noodle Bowl (A Spicy, Sweet Asian-Style Recipe)

noodle bowl with all the ingredients in it
A healthy meal that delivers big flavors with little effort. This Asian-style noodle bowl has it all. A bit of crunch, soft chewy noodles, lots of healthy veggies. Whatever protein you like. And a fabulous spicy- sweet-zesty-earthy sauce. 25 minutes
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Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe

Bump up your pasta and tomato sauce a notch with this easy mellow, decadent pink sauce pasta recipe with onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, basil and a splash of heavy cream. The next time you need a last minute meal, this is a good one. 15 minutes
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Easy Gnocchi Recipe (au gratin)

gnocchi au gratin in serving bowl
Pillowy gnocchi in this easy gnocchi recipe au gratin is transformed with a rich, velvety white cheese sauce. Serve it as an appetizer, side or main dish with a slice of crusty bread for a meal even your picky eaters will love. 22 minutes
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Garlic Shrimp Lemon Pasta

lemon garlic shrimp pasta in serving bowl f
This garlic shrimp lemon pasta is out of this world. Tender shrimp, the lemon shines through, the capers and garlic give it extra oomph and the butter makes it rich and silky. Seriously good! 28 minutes.
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Pasta Ham and Peas In Creamy Parmesan Sauce

creamy pasta with peas and ham in bowl.
Use up your leftover ham or buy a ham steak to make this quick and easy weeknight dinner of pasta ham and peas in a creamy parmesan sauce. Dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.
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Fish & Seafood Recipes

Creamy Salmon Pasta

creamy salmon pasta in bowl
Make a delicious one pot pasta, bake salmon at the same time, add it to the skillet and voilà – healthy, creamy salmon pasta with just a few simple ingredients. 23 minutes
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Crispy Baked Fish

panko covered white fish with veggies on black plate.
A buttery golden brown panko crust crowns this quick and easy crispy baked fish. A perfect fish recipe for people who don’t like fish. And for those who do too. 20 minutes
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Shrimp Piccata

single picatta shrimp on fork.
Lemony, garlicky, buttery shrimp piccata is on the table in 20 minutes. Serve over rice or as an appetizer straight from the skillet. A simple, classic and delicious meal. 20 minutes
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Shrimp Roll Recipe (easy, easier, easiest)

3 shrimp salad rolls on white plate sprinkled with parsley
Shrimp may be the poor man's lobster, but this grilled shrimp roll recipe with dressed-up plump juicy morsels of shrimp in a buttery toasted roll feels decadent. 28 minutes
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Coconut Curry Salmon (30 Minutes)

coconut curry salmon on top of rice on black plate.
Quick healthy dinners don't get any better. Salmon gets an Asian flare in this coconut curry salmon recipe. Spicy with tons of flavor, it makes a simple weeknight or company meal. 30 minutes
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Coconut Shrimp Tacos (Without Breading)

two hard shell coconut shrimp tacos with avocado, chili coconut sauce.
If you're looking for a casual meal with plump marinated shrimp, crispy shells, slaw, creamy avocados and a bit of heat, check out these grilled shrimp tacos with spicy coconut lime chili sauce. A perfect casual weeknight dinner. 30 minutes
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Baked Trout With Lemon, Butter & Herbs

piece of lemon herb baked trout on plate
I love this lemon butter herb baked trout made with just a few simple fresh ingredients. It's a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth dish the entire family will love. 20 minutes
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Vegetarian Meals

Easy Vegetarian Fajitas

4 filled fajitas on cutting board with condiments f
In just a matter of minutes, you can be sitting down to a delicious, satisfying, assemble-your-own vegetarian fajita feast with your favorite toppings. Start with the basics – red peppers, onions, fajita seasonings and flour tortillas – then customize from there. 20 minutes
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Easy Cast Iron Pizza

slices of pizza on cutting board one with dripping cheese
A simple cast iron pizza is faster than delivery! This delicious easy pizza has a super crispy crust (thick or thin) and no pizza stone is needed. It's a recipe you'll want to keep on regular rotation. 22 minutes
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Easy Pastina Soup With Veggies

bowl of pastina soup on white plate
Pastina soup is an Italian chicken noodle soup that's comfort in a bowl. I like to add veggies to bump up the nutrition, but that's up to you. A deliciously satisfying kid-friendly dinner the whole family will love. 22 minutes
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Vegetable Wonton Soup

This build-your-own Asian-style vegetable wonton soup is super flavorful and versatile. And leftovers are great the next day. If you like healthy meals, quick meal prep and a simple recipe, you’ve landed in the right place. 22 minutes
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Butternut Squash Curry (30-Minutes)

squash curry over rice in bowl f
With a few good shortcuts, this healthy butternut squash curry can be on the table in minutes for a perfect weeknight dinner. Rich, creamy, spicy deliciousness. 30 minutes
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Easy Eggplant Parmesan

piece of eggplant parmesan on plate
This easy Eggplant Parmesan recipe has no breading, no frying and no pre-salting. It's unfussy, healthy and simply delicious. 30 minutes
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For a more complete list of vegetarian meals, check out our meatless Monday dinner ideas.

Chicken & Meat Recipes

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (with Puff Pastry)

chicken pot pie topped with puff pastry crust on plate
With a few shortcuts that don't compromise taste, this rich, scrumptious chicken pot pie with puff pastry is the ultimate comfort food. And on the dinner table in 30 minutes
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Easy Sweet Thai Chili Wings (Grill or Bake)

pile of grilled wings on plate garnished with fresh oregano
Make these easy, spicy, sweet Thai chili wings on the grill when the craving hits and nothing else but chicken wings will do. Only 5 ingredients plus salt and pepper. Nothing fancy, just delish. 30 minutes
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Quick Beef Noodles With Veggies (One Pot, 20 Min)

beef ramen noodles with veggies on plate.
Whip up a quick and easy one-pot beef noodles dinner in just 20 minutes with ground beef, vegetables, and ramen or instant noodles – all tossed with a delicious savory sauce. 20 minutes.
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Cast Iron Skillet Pork Chops (with veggies and apples)

pork chops and veggies in skillet
Cast iron skillet pork chops is another easy and quick weeknight meal made in one pan with apples, veggies, thyme and a light sauce. Simple, yummy comfort food. 22 minutes
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Cheeseburger Sliders with Hawaiian Rolls (30 Min)

cheeseburger slider held in a hand.
Our easy-to-follow recipe for juicy cheeseburger sliders with Hawaiian rolls brings you classic flavors without the fuss. Perfect for a game day crowd, appetizer, snack, or simple weeknight dinner. Delish! The recipe can be doubled, tripled or halved. 30 minutes
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Juicy Chicken Burger Recipe with Mango Salsa

grilled chicken burger with mango salsa with fries on plate.
This juicy chicken burger recipe with mango salsa is great BBQ or easy weeknight meal. No more dry and tasteless burgers. These are moist and flavorful in just 22 minutes
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Ground Beef Stir Fry (One Pan, 30 Minutes)

stir fry ground beef and vegetables over white rice on plate.
Packed with veggies and protein in a flavorful savory sauce, this healthy ground beef stir fry can be on the table in 30 minutes – all in one pan.
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Simple Chicken Meatballs with Sauce

meatball stew in skillet with spinach added
This easy chicken meatballs recipe has a lot to brag about. Tender, juicy meatballs, healthy veggies and a delicious light savory sauce. 30 minutes
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PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps (simplified copycat)

pf chang like mixture in lettuce
These popular PF Chang's chicken lettuce wraps are a real treat for weeknights or dinner parties. Great flavors, great textures and surprisingly easy to make, especially with our simplified version. A one pot meal in 20 minutes
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Hungarian Paprikash Chicken (With Meatballs)

chicken meatball paprikash over egg noodles on plate with asparagus
We're using light, tender juicy chicken meatballs in this version of Hungarian paprikash chicken. Same delicious (and fairly traditional) paprikash sauce that will have your taste buds singing. 30 minutes
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Tips for getting dinner on the table quickly

1. Plan and shop ahead: I know this one is not always in the cards, but it does save time if you get your ingredients in advance and don’t find yourself wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what to make 🙂 It’s best to make a list of quick dinner ideas beforehand.

2. Prep ahead: If you have time the night before or in the morning, chop veggies or make a sauce ahead.

3. Use simple or available ingredients: Opt for recipes that have fewer ingredients or can be adapted to your fridge and pantry staples. Almost all our recipes have substitutes and can be tailored to your needs.

4. Double the recipe: Make enough for leftovers so you can have a quick lunch or dinner the next day. Meatballs, for example, are easy to freeze and use for another meal. So are rice and quinoa.

5. Use convenience foods: I’m a big fan of this as long as they don’t compromise taste. Some great time-savers are frozen veggies, puff pastry, salad kits, pre-cut vegetables like butternut squash, pre-washed baby spinach (I use this a lot!), frozen rice, rotisserie chicken and peeled/deveined frozen shrimp.

6. Employ your quicker appliances: Air fryer and instant pot recipes can definitely save time in the kitchen. Just be aware that with the instant pot, you have to calculate the extra time it takes for the food to come to pressure and, in some case, release pressure.

Need lower calorie meals?

Check out these delicious meals under 400 calories. There is no need to sacrifice flavor and eliminate all your faves.

Hope you found a few dinner ideas for tonight!

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