I love spending hours cooking and sharing wonderful meals with my family and friends, but the opportunities to do that are few and far between these days. Most of the time, the norm is dinner that needs to come together quickly. When I need to feed my family and we’re tight on time, 30-minute meals come in handy.
All of these recipes take 30 minutes from start to finish, leaving some time to sit around the table and share a meal and conversation. Many of them are also useful if you’re cooking for one because you’ll have enough leftovers for a second meal.
If you need a quick side to throw together while the main dish is cooking, try steamed broccoli, microwaved baked potatoes, or sautéed escarole.
Skillet Cacio e Pepe Tortellini With Wilted Greens
Inspired by the classic Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe (which means cheese and pepper), this 25-minute tortellini dinner comes together in a single pan. Cook store-bought fresh or frozen tortellini in a small amount of water in a skillet. Most of the water evaporates before you add cheese, greens, and freshly ground black pepper.
Salmon With Brown Sugar Glaze
Brown sugar-glazed salmon is a classic way to prepare the already flavorful fish. If you have the salmon, you probably have everything else you need for this dish on hand, too—brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. While the salmon bakes, throw together a green salad or cook up some green beans.
Mapo tofu is a traditional Sichuan dish that’s intensely spicy. A one-pot meal, by the time it’s done it’s a delicious, lip-numbing Sichuan peppercorn sauce flavors pork and tofu. Serve with rice to balance the dish’s spice and saltiness.
Easy Fish Tacos
Seasoned cod, tilapia, halibut, or other white fish filets are the star of these tacos. Or maybe it’s the red cabbage slaw. Or the fish taco sauce. Or, maybe the combination of all three creates irresistible pan-seared fish tacos.
Creamy Chicken Florentine
Chicken cutlets nestle in a creamy spinach sauce with mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in this one-pan meal. Serve with a side of pasta, rice, or chunks of crusty bread to soak up the hard-to-resist sauce.
Garam Masala Fish Sticks
Bake these crispy, kid-friendly, cod fish sticks in the oven or make them in the air fryer. The Garam masala fragrant spice blend packs a punch and sets this finger food apart from other fish sticks. A tahini yogurt sauce makes for great dipping.
Easy Vegetable Pizzas
Using naan as the base for these pizzas means there’s no dough to make. Drizzle the naan with olive oil and top with a heap of veggies and herbs—zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes, arugula, basil, mint, and more. Of course, it needs some cheese, and Parmesan and fontina take care of that.
Sheet Pan Shrimp and Asparagus
Shrimp on one side of the pan, asparagus on the other. Drizzle garlic butter over both sides and bake. Serve as is, or boil thin pasta and serve on top using the pan juices as a sauce.
Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts
Lemon pepper seasoning, fresh lemon juice, butter, and chicken stock (feel free to use boxed broth as a shortcut) create a luscious sauce with tons of flavor to accompany flour-dredged chicken breasts. Quick, easy, and ready for any side dish you can throw at it.
Looking for something different to do with ground beef? Chopped cheese is a popular sandwich across sections of New York City’s boroughs in bodegas and small shops, and it’s quick and easy to make at home. Smother seasoned, chopped ground beef in American cheese and place it on a toasted roll with mayo, lettuce, and tomato. Sound a bit like a burger? You’re not far off, but it’s also a bit like a cheesesteak, and also its own thing.
Microwave Red Curry Poached Salmon
Poach salmon—in the microwave—in a flavor bomb of aromatics. Microwave cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, and jalapeños in vegetable oil to infuse the oil. Then mix in coconut milk and curry paste. Add the salmon and microwave. In about 25 minutes, you’ll have a flavorful meal on the table.
This ungrilled panini (panini simply means sandwich) comes together quickly. Smash some canned chickpeas. Add grated carrots, goat cheese, and seasoning. Place on a baguette with lemon juice, olive oil, and arugula. Done.
Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Bell Peppers
This vegetarian 30-minute meal is all roasted on one sheet pan. Spiralized zucchini, red onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, and seasonings roast alongside fresh or shelf-stable gnocchi. Sprinkle with Parm when it comes out of the oven and enjoy.
Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders
Does anything beat a hot ham and cheese sandwich in the comfort sandwich department? Fill soft, fluffy slider buns with deli ham and Swiss, pour a compound butter over them, and pop in the oven. While they’re heating, make a salad or simply rip open a bag of baby carrots to serve on the side.
Kai Jeow (Thai Omelet)
This Thai-style omelet (kai jeow) is so easy to make that you can finish it in as little as 10 minutes. It’s a flavorful quick dinner or late night snack for one. The flavor comes from fish sauce, brown sugar, scallions, Thai chili, and black pepper. Serve it with the rice (try it in the microwave), plus undressed raw cucumber and lettuce.
Vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy
Homemade biscuits and gravy in a half hour? Yep. Make the biscuits first and as they’re baking, create a flavorful gravy full of mushrooms, spinach, and plenty of seasoning. Spoon the gravy over the finished biscuits and savor this comforting meal.
Baked Tilapia in Lemon Butter Sauce
Make this easy weeknight meal with tilapia, or choose another mild white fish to bake with lemon, butter, and garlic. It’s simple, but the flavors are classic together. Best of all, it’s done in 20 minutes.
This version of matar paneer, a mildly spiced Indian dish made with peas and paneer (a soft Indian cheese), simmers in mildly spiced tomato sauce with cream and maple syrup. Serve with rice, roti, and/or naan on the side.
Vegetarian Tortellini Soup
If you use refrigerated or frozen tortellini, you’ll get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. If you use dried tortellini, you’ll need a few more minutes. Give onion, celery, and garlic a quick sauté. Add tomatoes, stock, beans, and seasoning. Simmer then throw in the tortellini and spinach for the last 5 minutes. If you time things well, you can make garlic bread while the soup simmers.
Turmeric Fried Rice With Eggs and Kale
Turn last night’s leftover rice into tonight’s dinner. Sauté onions and spices, including turmeric, then add chopped kale, chickpeas, tomatoes, cooked rice, and lemon juice to the skillet. Plate the fried rice and top it with a fried egg. I suggest leaving the yolk runny and letting the silky yolk coat the fried rice.
Creamy Miso Mushroom Pasta
The 8 ingredients in this pasta come together in 30 minutes. Miso is a paste of fermented soybeans, rice, and salt that has a salty, umami flavor. A few tablespoons add a burst of flavor to a simple bowl of pasta with mushrooms, garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese.
Harissa Grilled Shrimp with Orzo and Olives
Start by heating your grill and getting the water boiling for the orzo. Then, season harissa and coat the shrimp. Grill the shrimp and add it on top of the orzo with olives. This dish looks like it was more work than it was, and you can also make it using a grill pan.
What sets this apart from just throwing BLT mainstays into a wrap—which you probably already know how to do—is the quick chive mayo you make for the sandwich. While the bacon is cooking in the oven, mix mayo, fresh chives, lemon juice, salt, and garlic powder to take this classic up a notch. Optional: Add avocado to the sandwich, too.
Chicken Salad with Tahini Dressing
If you have leftover chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken, this salad is ready to eat in about 25 minutes. The dressing is simple to make with tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and plenty of seasonings. The salad is full of crisp veggie goodness and shredded chicken. Combine, and you have a flavorful, filling salad.
Easy Avocado and Black Bean Quesadillas
Quesadillas are always a smart choice for quick dinners. I made them frequently to use up leftovers. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a roadmap for complementary flavors and this recipe is one of those roadmaps. Stuff tortillas with avocado, black beans, red onion, and fresco and cheddar cheeses (or use what cheese you happen to have on hand). Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side.
Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas
This enchilada recipe uses up leftover chicken, comes together in one pan, and is on the table in 30 minutes. Shredded leftover or rotisserie chicken, a quick pan sauce from pantry ingredients, and cheese fill rolled-up tortillas. Once they’re in the pan, the remaining sauce smothers the roll-ups. It all simmers together quickly.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mozzarella, Red Peppers, and Arugula
We love grilled cheese so much in this house that my kids used to eat them for breakfast before school at times. But those were the simple bread and cheese versions. This more sophisticated version is just as easy, but you use mozzarella, jarred roasted red peppers, and arugula on sourdough bread.
Cooking shrimp in both butter and olive oil ensures the butter won’t burn in the high heat needed for shrimp scampi. Flavored with garlic and lemon, the shrimp cooks fast once it hits the pan. Serve the shrimp on its own as a main course with sides or add it to pasta with its juices as a sauce.
Somewhere in your pantry is a can or two of tuna just waiting to become these patties. Think crab cake but with tuna, and you get the gist. Mix the tuna with an egg, Dijon, lemon, ripped fresh bread, butter, oil, and fresh herbs, form into patties, and sauté. Whip up a quick tartar sauce for serving.
Chicken, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes with Port Wine
The title of this dish pretty much sums it up, aside from the addition of butter, garlic, shallots, and seasonings. It’s all done in one skillet, and it’s quick, satisfying, and filling.
Hamburger and Macaroni
Super simple and enduring in its appeal, hamburger and macaroni offers comfort after a challenging day. Brown and beef and make the sauce as the pasta boils. Serve with a salad kit or bagged slaw and dinner is on easy street.
A restaurant-worthy meal in a savory sauce with everyday ingredients. That’s a win in any book! Some readers double the sauce so they can serve it over pasta or couscous.