Weeknight dinners can be a real bear when you are feeling too tired to cook. Yet, we must eat, so the StudyFinds team has decided to lend a helping hand with our list of the top five best easy dinner recipes to cut you some slack. These recipes aim to be simple in terms of ingredients and preparation. Some of them are fast to prepare and others are hands-off but require a little time or perhaps a slow cooker.
According to a recent study, after a long, stressful day of work, cooking dinner can seem like another grueling chore at the end of the day. With that in mind, a new survey finds one-third of Americans can whip together an “ultra-fast” dinner in 10 minutes or less. Nearly half the poll claim to have special “cheat codes” to get a meal on the table lightning quick. Egg sandwiches, grilled cheeses, hamburgers, hot dogs, and microwavable meals are all common dinners respondents say they can whip together in a pinch.
Another recent study asks if the secret to easing stress be as simple as having dinner as a family? Researchers with the American Heart Association have found that 91 percent of parents notice their families are less stressed when they share meals together. In a poll of 1,000 American adults, conducted for the AHA’s Healthy for Good™ movement by Wakefield Research, 84 percent wish they could share a meal with loved ones more often. However, the average adult eats alone roughly half of the time. Two in three (65%) say they’re at least somewhat stressed and 27 percent are very or extremely stressed. Researchers say chronic and continuous stress increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. “Sharing meals with others is a great way to reduces stress, boost self-esteem and improve social connection, particularly for kids,” says Erin Michos, M.D, M.H.S, an American Heart Association volunteer.
Dinner time can be delicious and therapeutic when it’s easy to prep and downright yummy. That’s where the best easy dinner recipes come in. Coming together at mealtime with family, friends, or even co-workers doesn’t need to be a source of additional stress. Let us know your favorite simple recipes in the comments below!
The List: Best Easy Dinner Recipes, According to Experts
1. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is a great week-night meal option, especially for folks that work from home. Start with a slow cooker, add a few simple ingredients, and you will have soup ready by dinnertime. “Soulful Chicken Soup. It’s good when you’re sick; it’s good when the temperatures drop; it’s good for the soul, we swear it. Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs in your slow cooker, walk away, and come back in six hours. Throw in the noodles and dinner is served,” says Southern Living about this recipe.
Making great chicken soup can be achieved quickly as well, “This comfort food classic is just as flavorful and soul-satisfying as Grandma’s chicken soup, but where hers took several hours-or a day-to make, ours takes under an hour. Instead of long-simmered stock, we start with store-bought chicken broth and water but enrich them with stock vegetables and the carcass, bones and meat of a leftover roast chicken,” adds Food Network.
“A generous sprinkling of lemon and fresh herbs really wakes up the flavor of this simple, classic chicken noodle soup. Note: This soup tastes great left over. If the noodles soak up too much of the liquid, just add more broth. 8 servings. Place the chicken, broth, garlic, 4 teaspoons of the thyme, bay leaves, sage, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper in a large, heavy pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer covered until the chicken is very tender, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken; when it’s cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and chop it. Meanwhile, add the carrots, celery, and onion to the broth. Bring it back to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the noodles and cook uncovered until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chicken, lemon juice, parsley, and remaining 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves, and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you may need a tablespoon or more of salt, depending on the saltiness of your broth). Remove the bay leaves and serve,” explains Taste.
2. Baked Salmon
Salmon is a great choice for easy meals. “This healthy baked fish is the best way to feed a crowd. There’s no skillet cooking at all—everything is oven-baked in foil, making prep and cleanup a breeze. We believe it might just be one of the best salmon recipes… ever,” says Delish on this recipe.
When considering easy meals, weeknights are almost always a consideration. “Salmon is already one of our go-to dishes for a quick weeknight dinner, but this one-pan recipe is healthy and should move to the top of the list. It takes just one sheet pan (which minimizes cleanup), and it also makes a tasty roasted broccoli and tomato side dish in the same pan as the salmon. Top your fillet with a zesty mix of lemon juice, honey, and fresh herbs for an unbeatable one-dish meal,” writes Better Homes & Gardens.
All you really need is salmon and a baking tray or dish. “Salmon baked at a low temperature until medium-rare delivers a silky texture that tastes special enough to make it a festive centerpiece. This easy dish works any night of the week, since it comes together in less than half an hour. Maple syrup sweetens the glaze, which gets a savory pop from whole mustard seeds in Dijon. Even though salmon is naturally fatty, a dollop of mayonnaise adds extra richness while thickening the glaze to help it seal onto the fish. The herbaceous aroma of cilantro stems baked into the sauce brightens the dish, as do tender leaves scattered on top. Fill out your feast with any combination of steamed rice, roasted potatoes, green beans or salad,” explains The NY Times.
3. Chicken Stir Fry
With a skillet and some assorted fresh or frozen vegetables, chicken stir fry can be on the dinner table in a matter of minutes. “Strips of skinless chicken breast stir it up with garlic, ginger, and tons of crunchy vegetables, including sliced cabbage, red bell pepper, and sugar snap peas. Toss it with a lightly sweetened soy sauce, and dinner’s ready! “‘This was great because it is so healthy and yet very flavorful,’ says betsyjane. Gwen adds, ‘This is delicious, no matter what vegetables I use,'” say reviewers from All Recipes on this recipe for garlic chicken stir fry.
Once mastered, the chicken stir fry is also a easy to free-style meal that can help you use up the odds and ends in your vegetable drawer. “Stir-fries are a quick, easy, and healthy dinner for those busy mid-week meal times. Guaranteed to please all the family, their versatility means there’s a variety of proteins, vegetables, sauces and noodles to choose from,” raves BBC Good Food.
Quick and customizable, “the best part of this chicken stir fry is how versatile it can be. Broccoli and bell peppers are great, but pretty much any vegetable you have in the fridge will work, too. Stir fry is a Chinese method for cooking, usually in a wok over high heat. Here a cast iron or other heavy skillet will work great!” advises Delish.
4. Burrito Bowl
Easy Mexican recipes like the Burrito bowl are another weeknight crowd pleaser. “For all the lovers of build-your-own bowl style fast-food restaurants, creating your own burrito bowl at home couldn’t be simpler, Bearden says. Throw together canned beans, microwavable rice and shredded rotisserie chicken. You can customize your burrito bowl with an array of ingredients, including: Cilantro. Fresh lime juice. Pico de gallo. Pre-made guacamole. Shredded cheese. Creating your own burrito bowl could be a healthier alternative from consuming one from a fast food place, if you use fresh and healthy ingredients like the ones above,” mentions U.S. News & World Report.
The method for prep is super easy as well, “In a medium bowl, toss the rice with the cilantro and the orange zest. Divide the rice evenly among 4 individual serving bowls. Top with the black beans and half of the pico de gallo. Add warm carnitas and top with the rest of the pico de gallo. Sprinkle on the cheese, and spoon a dollop of the sour cream on top. Finish with the chopped green onions,” recommends Food Network.
A combination of store-bought toppings and home-cooked protein can help to make sure that prep time for a delicious burrito bowl stays quick. “Ground beef, fajita seasoning, a can of pinto beans, and salsa feature in this simple but flavorful burrito bowl. This is a great recipe for using up leftover brown rice. “I really like taco and burrito bowls and wanted to make something that was quick and easy at home,” says earlzey. “Spoon into bowls and top with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, lettuce, etc,” mentions All Recipes about their skillet burrito bowl.
5. Chicken Enchiladas
Easy authentic Mexican food is one of the most popular categories in trending recipes for 2023. “These chicken enchiladas put a little zip into any menu. The rolled tortillas are filled with a hearty mixture of cheese, chicken and green chiles, and then topped with a creamy sauce and more cheese. I sometimes use leftover turkey instead of chicken,” say reviewers from Taste of Home on their recipe for chicken enchiladas for four.
Enchiladas may seem labor intensive, but making a tray of cheesy deliciousness is deceptively simple. “If you’ve got a few minutes and a handful of staple ingredients, you can have these enchiladas in the oven and baking away with just 45 minutes between you and a dish that rivals the takeout fix you’ve been craving. Our Creamy Chicken Enchiladas are the weeknight answer to all of your decadent and comforting food hankerings—trust me, you’re going to want to commit this one to memory. Now don’t panic, but this recipe does require one additional step prior to stuffing tortillas with a creamy, dreamy mixture of meat and cheese. You’ll need to sauté chopped onion for about five minutes, then add in a can of drained, chopped green chiles and sauté for another 60 seconds. That’s where the prep for this recipe begins and ends,” adds Southern Living.
Influenced by Mexican-American communities, the enchilada is an easy to prepare authentic entrée that hits the spot for lovers of cheese and Mexican flavors. “The popular ‘Magnolia Table’ cookbooks by Joanna Gaines are full of Texas classics like king ranch, chicken spaghetti and this creamy version of chicken enchiladas. The combination of tart salsa verde (which has tomatillos and green chiles) with cream and melted cheese makes it special; don’t use red enchilada sauce here. The cream of chicken soup mixed with the chicken meat makes a super-rich filling, but you can absolutely use an additional 8 ounces of sour cream instead if you prefer,” says a reviewer from The NY Times.
You might also be interested in:
- Southern Living
- All Recipes
- US News & World Report
- Better Homes & Gardens
- Taste of Home
- Food Network
- NY Times
- BBC Good Food
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.