When you're running on a tight schedule, cooking can be a burden. Between career, family, friends, and more, everyone has had to decide, at some point, between taking the time to create a well-rounded dinner or just ordering takeout. To avoid this dilemma, having a rotation of simple, versatile recipes at your disposal comes in handy.
While navigating the kitchen can feel like a dream for those born to do it, the experience can still be enjoyable even if you aren't as gifted. We selected 33 easy, culturally diverse recipes for beginner cooks that are simple enough for any budding chef to pull off without a hitch. Pick your favorites—from appetizers, snacks, and main dishes—and get started below.
Chinese Eggplant With Garlic Sauce
The Recipe: Chinese Eggplant With Garlic Sauce
Why We Love It: Tender, stir fried eggplant is only a splash of soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil away with Pickled Plum's recipe. Cook the eggplant in oil, then use the same pan to soften garlic, ginger, and chilis. Add sauce, eggplant, and sesame oil. The entire process takes a swift 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: Serve with warm white or brown rice.
The Recipe: Fried Rice
Why We Love It: Pickled Plum's fried rice recipe is great for cleaning out leftover produce, and works just as well with frozen veggies. All you need is a neutral oil, leftover rice, veggies like carrot, mushroom, and peas, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil.
Pro Tip: Add a whisked egg, and top with chopped scallions to make it restaurant-style.
Vegan Enchiladas With Lentils
The Recipe: Vegan Enchiladas With Lentils
Why We Love It: With Brown Sugar & Vanilla's vegan enchiladas recipe, the oven does most of the heavy lifting. All you have to do is sauté sweet potato and cooked lentils to make the filling, roast tomatoes and chilis to make the enchilada sauce, roll up the lentil filling in tortillas, top with sauce and bake for 20 minutes.
Pro Tip: Garnish with cilantro, avocado slices, and sunflower seeds.
Turkey Mushroom Bolognese
The Recipe: Turkey Mushroom Bolognese
Why We Love It: This simple recipe from Feasting at Home can be made in a slow cooker or on a stove top. Sauté aromatics with mushrooms and ground turkey, then simmer with red wine, tomato paste, add seasonings like chili flakes, bay leaf, and soy sauce (for depth).
Pro Tip: You can substitute chicken broth for the red wine, and add nutmeg as options.
Coconut Lime Grilled Chicken and Rice
The Recipe: Coconut Lime Grilled Chicken and Rice
Why We Love It: This simple, herby sauce (cilantro, mint, garlic, fish sauce) with a coconut milk base from Pinch of Yum, coats grilled chicken thighs for an easy, zesty, and savory weeknight meal or weekend dinner. Serve with a side of vegetables and rice.
Pro Tip: This recipe also calls for lemongrass paste (or fresh lemon grass), which you will likely fine at your nearest Asian market, or online.
Lemon Herb Pasta Chicken With Marinated Chickpeas
Why We Love It: Pantry staples including olive oil, lemon, chickpeas, and garlic come together in Pinch of Yum's easy pasta recipe. Marinate chickpeas in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Then make the pasta, chop up the herbs, toss in freshly grated parmesan, and dinner is served.
Pro Tip: For maximum flavor, Pinch of Yum recommends marinating chickpeas overnight.
Cold Ramen Noodle Salad
The Recipe: Cold Ramen Noodle Salad
Why We Love It: Whether we're craving a light meal or hefty side dish, The Modern Proper's cold ramen salad hits the spot. A simple ginger sesame sauce dresses cold ramen noodles and lots of veggies of your choice—think bell peppers, shredded cabbage, cucumbers, and more. Be sure to have fish sauce, lime, ginger, brown sugar, chili paste, and toasted sesame oil on hand, too.
Pro Tip: Toss in peanuts for texture, plus sesame seeds, cilantro, and basil for garnish.
Baked Chicken Thighs
The Recipe: Baked Chicken Thighs
Why We Love It: This minimalistic recipe from Kristine's Kitchen Blog requires olive oil, seasonings you likely already have (Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic and onion powder), and bone-in chicken thighs. Bake for 30–45 minutes at 400 degrees, and let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Pro Tip: Dried oregano works as a good substitute for Italian seasoning.
The Recipe: Vegetarian Chili
Why We Love It: Pinch of Yum gets creative with the "meat" in this vegan-friendly chili recipe. Pulse walnuts, carrots, and mushrooms in a food processor before cooking in a pan with a number of spices, beans, and tomatoes. Simmer for 45 minutes before serving.
Pro Tip: Top with cilantro, avocado, radishes, and tortilla chips.
Lemon Pappardelle With Shrimp
The Recipe: Lemon Pappardelle With Shrimp
Why We Love It: In Pinch of Yum's simple recipe, an easy sauce made with heavy cream, white wine, garlic, and lemon is served over pasta. Top with shrimp, which cooks quickly in a pan with a pat of butter. Garnish with ground pepper and a lemon wedge.
Pro Tip: Shrimp can be cooked tail on or tail off, it's up to you.
Spicy Honey Sesame Tofu
The Recipe: Spicy Honey Sesame Tofu
Why We Love It: The most difficult part of Pickled Plum's tofu recipe is procuring ingredients not everyone may have on-hand, like sesame seeds, chili paste, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Then, coat tofu cubes in corn starch, fry them in a hot pan, and add the spicy honey sesame sauce.
Pro Tip: Take the time to coat each tofu cube in cornstarch, and to fry each side for 3–4 minutes; these steps are key to crispy vs. soggy tofu.
Herb Panko Crusted Halibut With Tomato Cucumber Relish
Why We Love It: Seasoned bread crumbs add flavor and crunch to Le Petit Eats's fish recipe. Coat fish fillets in an egg wash before covering with bread crumbs, then pan fry for 3–4 minutes. Serve with a tomato and cucumber relish seasoned with fresh parsley, oregano, chives, and lemon.
Pro Tip: While Le Petit Eats used a white, flaky fish for this recipe, any fish will do, though note cooking times may change.
Farro and Fig Salad With Maple Tahini Dressing
The Recipe: Farro and Fig Salad With Maple Tahini Dressing
Why We Love It: Le Petit Eats's nourishing grain and greens salad is so easy to assemble. Cooked farro, and arugula are dressed with dried figs, crumbled feta, walnuts, and tossed in a lemony, tahini-based dressing.
Pro Tip: This recipe makes 4 servings, meaning lunch for the week is sorted.
Broccoli Cheddar Orzo Bake
The Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Orzo Bake
Why We Love It: Half Baked Harvest utilizes a skillet to simmer, then bake, this one pan meal. Herbs, wine, cream, and sharp cheddar, and Manchego cheese add flavor to orzo and broccoli.
Pro Tip: Top with fresh thyme and parsley, and throw in some cubed chicken to add more protein, if desired.
Herby Tomato Soup With Melted Brie Crostini
The Recipe: Herby Tomato Soup With Melted Brie Crostini
Why We Love It: All you need to make Half Baked Harvest's tomato soup recipe is a heavy bottomed pot that can go from oven to stove, and a blender. Then, just add basic ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and herbs like basil, thyme, and sage. Coconut milk adds plant-based creaminess. Ciabatta bread and brie make the crostini.
Pro Tip: Garnish soup with fresh basil.
Chili-Rubbed Cast Iron Skillet Steak With Sweet Potato-Kale Hash
Why We Love It: Feed Me Phoebe's one-skillet meal is as easy as seasoning the steak, browning it on each side for 3–4 minutes, then sautéing sweet potatoes and kale with shallots, and the remaining spice mixture used to season the steak. To finish, spritz with lime.
Pro Tip: Let steak rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain.
Ginger-Almond Baked Salmon With Green Beans
The Recipe: Ginger-Almond Baked Salmon With Green Beans
Why We Love It: Feed Me Phoebe's baked salmon recipe comes together in 25 minutes, and since the fish is baked in parchment—it requires no clean up. You'll use a food processor to create a crust from garlic, ginger, almonds, and herbs to top the fish with. Bake for 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: Serve with a side of quinoa and vegetables, and lemon wedges.
Golden Beet Soup With Tarragon Yogurt
The Recipe: Golden Beet Soup With Tarragon Yogurt
Why We Love It: Combine, boil, and blend are the three steps needed to make Feed Me Phoebe's soup recipe. You'll need golden beets, garlic, leeks, and vegetable stock. To make the tarragon yogurt topping, you'll need Greek yogurt, chopped tarragon, and lemon juice.
Pro Tip: Substitute Greek yogurt with coconut yogurt to go dairy-free.
Gingery Ground Beef (Soboro Donburi)
The Recipe: Gingery Ground Beef (Soboro Donburi)
Why We Love It: This Japanese-inspired comfort food recipe from The Modern Proper only takes five minutes and a hot skillet. All you need is ground beef, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and frozen peas.
Pro Tip: Serve over rice.
The Recipe: Lamb Meatballs
Why We Love It: These freezer-friendly lamb meatballs from Spoon Fork Bacon are so easy to make, you'll want to make a double batch to whip out during the week for a quick and filling meal. Season ground lamb with garlic, cumin, cinnamon, finely chopped onion, salt, and pepper before baking until cooked through.
Pro Tip: Spoon Fork Bacon also includes a recipe for gravy, and recommends serving it all on top of a bed of egg noodles.
Heirloom Tomato, Peach, and Burrata Summer Plate
The Recipe: Heirloom Tomato, Peach, and Burrata Summer Plate
Why We Love It: No cooking is required to make this summer plate recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon. Harness your best assembly skills to arrange sliced tomatoes and peaches, prosciutto, and burrata on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Top with herbs.
Pro Tip: Opt for sea salt flakes over table salt for crunchy texture.
Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops With Whole Grain Mustard Sauce
Why We Love It: This easy pork chop recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon packs texture and flavor. Sauté crusted pork chop in a pan, then finish in the oven for up to 15 minutes, until cooked through. While the pork bakes, make the mustard sauce on the stove top with shallots, garlic, brandy or chicken stock, heavy cream, butter, and olive oil.
Pro Tip: Serve with a side of mashed potatoes.
Vegan Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
The Recipe: Vegan Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Why We Love It: Load sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot for 15 minutes and prepare a black bean mixture, salsa, and guacamole to make Joyful Healthy Eats's stuffed sweet potatoes recipe. Sauté beans in onion, garlic, and red pepper while sweet potatoes cook.
Pro Tip: You can also microwave sweet potatoes on high for 8 minutes; just wrap them in a paper towel and poke a few wholes in them with a fork before doing so.
Avocado Salsa Verde
The Recipe: Avocado Salsa Verde
Why We Love It: This versatile condiment recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats calls for less than 10 ingredients. Once you've blended tomatillos, sweet onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, cumin, salt, and avocado, use the sauce on everything from grilled meats, or as a dipping sauce.
Pro Tip: Make this salsa with roasted or raw tomatillos.
The Recipe: Minestrone Soup
Why We Love It: A comforting mix of beans, pasta, and vegetables ranging from zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes make up Joyful Healthy Eats's easy minestrone soup recipe. Chop up the veggies, sauté them with garlic and onion, add broth and herbs, and simmer before adding beans and pasta. Adjust seasonings, and serve.
Pro Tip: Serve with shredded parmesan cheese.
The Recipe: Guacamole
Why We Love It: It takes just one trip to the produce aisle or farmers market to gather the ingredients for Joyful Healthy Eats's guacamole recipe. Procure avocado, jalapeño, tomato, onion, lime, cilantro, and garlic. Mash the avocado, combine the other ingredients, then mix till incorporated.
Pro Tip: Mix gently, and serve immediately as a tasty snack or appetizer, or tuck into a sandwich.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola
The Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola
Why We Love It: A seasonal, crunchy homemade snack is in easy reach with Joyful Healthy Eats's granola recipe. Make it with warm spices (cinnamon, pumpkin spice seasoning), maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, dried cranberries, pecans, pepitas, pecans, and oats.
Pro Tip: Bake for 25–30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes so granola doesn't burn, Joyful Healthy Eats recommends.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta With Roasted Zucchini
The Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta With Roasted Zucchini
Why We Love It: According to Green Evi, her vegan-friendly pasta recipe doesn't require a measuring cup. "A little more or less of any of the ingredients will just give it a personal touch," she writes. Ingredients include pasta, zucchini, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, tahini, nutritional yeast, hummus, basil, lemon, and spices: Garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika.
Pro Tip: Top with pine nuts, basil, and enjoy.
Baked Spaghetti Squash With Creamy Tomato Sauce
The Recipe: Baked Spaghetti Squash With Creamy Tomato Sauce
Why We Love It: Prepare this vegan dish from Green Evi with the help of a blender, and some oven time. For a creamy, dairy-free sauce, whirl cashews, tomatoes, basil, garlic, miso, and tomato paste in a blender. Bake spaghetti squash, scrape out its insides, then replace with olives and capers, pour sauce over strands, and bake some more. Ladle more sauce, garnish, and serve.
Pro Tip: Use a fork to scrape squash into spaghetti-like strands.
Mayo-Free Deviled Eggs
The Recipe: Mayo-Free Deviled Eggs
Why We Love It: Practically anyone can make Minimalist Baker's deviled eggs recipe. Her version is still creamy, yet lightened up with hummus, and flavored with turmeric, paprika, and cayenne. You'll also need honey, olive or avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon or spicy mustard.
Pro Tip: Garnish with fresh chives or dill.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
The Recipe: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Why We Love It: This grain-based salad from Love & Lemons comes together easily with chopped produce, and toppings including feta cheese, olives, pine nuts and chickpeas. Whisk up an Italian dressing to drizzle with olive oil, honey, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, fresh parsley, dried oregano, and thyme.
Pro Tip: Quinoa and roasted tomatoes can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Mixed Mushroom Toasts With Parsley Salad
The Recipe: Mixed Mushroom Toasts With Parsley Salad
Why We Love It: Salt & Wind's mushroom toast recipe makes the perfect appetizer or brunch gathering contribution. Sauté leeks, garlic, mushrooms till soft and golden brown. Spoon onto toast, top with cheese, parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic, and serve.
Pro Tip: Cook mushroom and leek mixture till water has mostly evaporated, about 10 minutes, recommends Salt & Wind.
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Tacos
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Why We Love It: A slow cooker does most of the work in Yes to Yolks's chicken taco recipe. Combine buffalo sauce, chicken stock, ranch or bleu cheese dressing, and boneless skinless chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. Make the slaw, and serve chicken and slaw over tortillas.
Pro Tip: Garnish with avocado slices and lime.