15 Quick And Easy Dinners Even Beginning Cooks Can Handle

We all need quick and easy dinners when life gets hectic, especially cooks who are just learning their way around the kitchen. No matter what your experience level is, having a few go-to recipes that work every time and always hit the spot is essential. Especially when those foods are comfort-style foods that we know will be epic at the end of a long work or school day. These delicious dinner ideas are not only quick and easy but simple, too. They use basic ingredients you can find in any store (or even in your own kitchen), and they can be served as is, or you can make other dishes to go with them. The choice is yours.

1. Roasted Balsamic Chicken And Tomatoes

Roasted chicken legs with vegetables and herbs.
Photo Credit: Nitr/Shutterstock.

Need a quick and simple dinner? I’ve got you covered with this roasted balsamic chicken and tomatoes recipe, which is one of the easiest dinners you can make. It’s filled with rustic flavors, and the best part is that you pop it in the oven and let it cook without having to keep an eye on it. Serve this with a side of rice and some steamed veggies if you want more of them.

2. Homemade Mac And Cheese

A spoon lifts mac and cheese out of a bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This homemade mac and cheese recipe is a great way to give the kids and adults what they want and still feel good about the quality of what they (or you!) are eating. Boxed mac and cheese can’t hold a candle to the homemade stuff, and this one is extra creamy and cheese to deliver maximum comfort. If you want to add sides, try a green salad and some garlic bread. Both are quick and easy to make as well.

3. Shrimp And Asparagus Skillet

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with this Shrimp And Asparagus Skillet recipe.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This shrimp and asparagus skillet is quick, flavorful, and easy. Even beginner cooks can make this, and it only takes 15 minutes. It’s a fast, simple, and healthy dish with plenty of delicious flavor. Serve this with a bowl of soup or a dinner roll.

4. Sheet Pan Chicken And Cauliflower

A sheet pan full of cauliflower and chicken breasts.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Few recipes are easier than this sheet pan chicken and cauliflower recipe for dinner. You can meal prep the ingredients for the freezer ahead of time and then just place them on a sheet pan, season them, and cook them in the oven when you’re ready to eat. It’s a fast and easy weeknight meal.

5. Slow Cooker Taco Soup

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Taco Soup and topped with fresh avocado chunks and fresh herbs.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you love Mexican flavors, here’s a quick and delicious dinner idea: slow cooker taco soup. It has all the flavors you love in a taco, but it’s soup. This is a great dish when you have low-carb eaters in the group. Served as is, they will love it. For those not eating low carb, simply add some tortilla strips or even some rice.

6. Baked Pesto Chicken

Two baked pesto chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This baked pesto chicken is one of the easiest dinners you can make. Despite using only two ingredients, it delivers on flavor in a major way. You can turn to this recipe when you’re crunched for time, and you need a delicious meal fast. This pairs well with vegetables and rice, or you can chop it up and toss it with some pasta.

7. Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken Verde

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken Verde in a white bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This slow cooker pineapple chicken verde is sure to be a dinnertime hit. The great thing about this recipe is that your slow cooker does most of the heavy lifting. You only need a few minutes to prep, then walk away, and it will be ready and on your dinner table in no time. Serve with some Mexican rice and refried beans, or use it to stuff tacos, burritos, and wraps.

8. Instant Pot Mexican Chicken

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with instant pot Mexican chicken topped with fresh tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Here’s another hearty meal to add to your dinner rotation if you love Mexican flavors and are looking for quick dinners. This Instant Pot Mexican chicken is made with hearty, all-natural ingredients, and if you have any leftovers, you could use them to make delicious tacos or burritos the next day. As you can see, this is great for serving over rice with a few fresh toppings of your choice.

9. Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

Shrimp tacos in tortillas served on wooden cutting board.
Photo Credit: Sunny Forest/Shutterstock.

This sheet pan shrimp fajitas recipe ticks all the boxes for an epic dinner. They are packed with amazing flavor, they’re easy to make, and they create minimal cleanup. You can even meal prep them by cutting the ingredients beforehand for a perfectly easy but flavorful meal on a busy weeknight.

10. Italian Chicken Wrap

Two halves of an Italian Chicken Wrap are stacked on top of each other and are laying on a wood surface.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This quick, easy, and healthy Italian chicken wrap will be your new go-to for a light, fast, and easy dinner. It’s made with good-for-you ingredients, like chicken, tomatoes, and fresh lettuce. You won’t feel guilty about indulging because it’s a deliciously wholesome meal. Serve with a side salad or a bowl of soup to round out the meal.

11. Garden Vegetable Turkey Skillet

A cast iron skillet full of turkey vegetable skillet and garnished with fresh tomatoes and avocado.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This garden vegetable turkey skillet will be a game-changing addition to your weekday dinner rotation. It’s a one-pan meal, so cleanup is minimal, and you’ll get a healthy dose of vegetables and protein. Serve this as is for low-carb eaters, or add in some cooked rice for non-low-carb folks.

12. Mediterranean Sandwich

A stacked Mediterranean grilled cheese sandwich on a cutting board.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you love Mediterranean flavors and need a fast dinner idea, this Mediterranean sandwich could be the answer to the age-old question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” These sandwiches are easy to make and packed with delicious Mediterranean flavors that have both sweet and savory notes. This is wonderful served with a green salad on the side or a bowl of homemade minestrone.

13. Loaded Sheet Pan Quesadillas

A portion of loaded sheet pan quesadilla sitting on a white plate, garnished with fresh cilantro.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you need to feed a crowd, these loaded sheet pan quesadillas are a great way to do that. You can make these on a few different sheet pans so that everyone gets to pick the filling and toppings they want, or you can make it the same way for everyone on a single sheet pan. Just don’t forget the salsa for dipping.

14. Taco Spaghetti

An overhead view of a skillet filled with Taco Spaghetti.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Taco spaghetti is one of those meals you make when you’re tired of everything you’ve been making lately and need to freshen up the meal rotation a bit. This is just like like making regular spaghetti, only the spices are a bit different than the usual Italian spices. Both kids and adults will love this fusion dish.

15. Mom’s Taco Casserole

A spoonful of Taco Salad Casserole from a white casserole dish.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If dinner is going to be a family affair, try making Mom’s taco casserole. You can serve this on individual plates on a bed of lettuce to make it like taco salad, or you can ladle this over a plate of corn chips and enjoy it more like a 7-layer dip. Either way, people will love this one.

More From The Gracious Pantry

A dutch oven with a cooked whole chicken topped with rosemary twigs.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Need more ideas for dinner? These can help. Chicken and turkey are very versatile foods that will help you create an unlimited number of dinners. Here are 118 ideas to get you started.

This originally appeared on The Gracious Pantry.

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Food and Travel Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel


Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author and food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. Her food specialty is healthy comfort food recipes.

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