No-Recipe Recipes: 13 Easy Dinner Recipes You’ll Know by Heart

No-recipe dinners are kind of my specialty. It didn’t happen on purpose, my cooking just kind of evolved that way. While I love spending all day cooking on the weekends (making stocks, pickles, and preserves while I wait for the 4-hour braise to finish), I don’t have that kind of time on the weekdays. Who does?

I turned to Instagram for inspiration for simple, easy dinner recipes and before I knew it my own Instagram feed was full of them! Weeknight dinners don’t have to be complex to put together to have complex flavors, and some of the best comfort food doesn’t even require a recipe. So put down the take-out menu, cancel the meal kit, and let’s get cooking a meal the family will love.

1. Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers

This is not only quick and delicious, but it’s healthy, too! Use chicken sausage instead of traditional pork sausage to cut the calories without cutting out any of the flavor.

Sometimes I’ll even throw a bag of sauerkraut in, adding some probiotics to my diet. This recipe defines how easy weeknight dinners should be: simply slice, season, and roast.

2. Sheet Pan Vegetables and Chickpeas

Looking for a meatless Monday, easy meal solution?  Roast a variety of vegetables with chickpeas. The vegetables will become soft and tender, and the chickpeas will crisp up, adding a nice texture contrast. Simply season to your liking and you’re ready to pop in the oven.

It’s so easy, there’s no recipe required! Serve over spicy arugula to make an unforgettable salad. If you want to skip meatless Monday, simply add chicken thighs to the pan.

3. Vegetable Skewers on the Grill

Want to keep the kitchen clean? Pop those vegetables on a skewer and toss them on the grill. They’ll get a delicious flavor boost from the grill’s smoke and char.

Serve over rice with a delicious togarashi-miso sauce or tomatillo avocado salsa. The grill is your gateway to easy recipes for busy weeknights because you’ll keep the heat out of your house in the summer, and the stovetop clean year-round.

4. No-Recipe Rice Bowls

Speaking of serving things over rice: rice bowls are always quick and easy to throw together! They’re incredibly versatile so you can choose to make them meatless or not, Asian style with soy sauce, or Mexican style with ground beef, avocado, and salsa.

Since there is no recipe, feel free to sub in some whole grain rice, quinoa, or millet for the white rice to give your bowl a healthy boost. Rice bowls also make popular breakfast recipes in Asian cultures, so give it a try one Saturday morning before you head out to finish up those errands.

5. Skillet Pasta

Skillet pasta is one of my weeknight go-tos because it is so easy to customize. It’s a great way to repurpose your leftovers, and it makes great leftovers itself! Most skillet pastas are also easily repurposed to casserole recipes if you’re looking for party recipes or some serious comfort food.

Simply cook the noodles according to the package directions and cook your meats and vegetables in a cast iron skillet. Add a sauce like pesto, alfredo, tomato, or white-wine butter (my favorite). Embrace the no-recipe-ness of this recipe and mix a few sauces together! Toss it all together in the end and simmer away for a delicious result.

6. Spaghetti with Spaghetti Squash

Feel like pasta, but don’t want to deal with the carbs? Spaghetti squash is the answer! Cut it in half and roast it, cut-side down, in a 400 degree F oven for 30-45 minutes. It will result in tender, angel-hair-like strands of pasta that can be combined with your favorite tomato sauce for delicious vegetarian recipes.

Sprinkle it with some parmesan cheese and fresh basil and you’ll think you’re eating the real thing! Additionally, you can create a spaghetti squash faux mac and cheese by creating a roux. Hey, you’re cutting carbs by using squash!

7. Zoodles Shrimp Scampi

Want to take no-noodle-pasta one step further? Let’s make some zoodles! Zucchini, sweet potato, squash, carrots, potatoes, and beets are the perfect candidates for spiralizing because they’re firm, yet become soft and succulent after some light sautéing.

To make zoodles pasta, cut zucchini on a spiralizer and toss it into your favorite skillet pasta sauce. I love doing this with shrimp scampi, it makes me feel less guilty about eating all that butter.

8. Roasted Chicken

Roasted chicken is one of the easiest and most delicious chicken dinner recipes you can make. The cooking methods for chicken recipes are endless: drop it in the sous vide or slow cooker and it’s done when you come home from work, cook it on the grill beer-can style, cut it into quarters and roast it over potatoes, or spatchcock it and grill it.

Salt and pepper the skin, rub in some herbs or stuff it with lemons and thyme. Even the best fried chicken is basically a no-recipe easy weeknight dinner. Either way, it’s going to be delicious no matter how you cook it, even if you pull out one of your classic slow-cooker recipes.

9. Pan-Seared Fish

Pan-seared fish is an easy way to put a healthy dinner on the table. Look for meaty fish that can hold up to the pan, like halibut, cod, or swordfish. Fish is also an ideal candidate for slow cooker recipes especially.

I like to make a big batch of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays so I have just enough pesto to serve with a dish like this, but store bought pesto works perfectly fine, too.

10. Indoor Steak

Steak on the grill is delicious, no doubt, but I like steak seared in a cast iron almost as much because it allows you to make a delicious pan sauce. While most home cooks will go with a steak sans sauce, it’s so simple to whip one up, you’ll wonder why you never did before.

Pan sauce was my original no-recipe sauce: while your steak is resting, cook some chopped onions in the pan with all the drippings. Deglaze the pan with stock, wine, or brandy and swirl in a pat of butter. Top it off with some freshly chopped parsley. When it comes to dinner ideas, this no-recipe meal makes even the worst weeknight feel luxurious.

11. Tacos or Tostadas

Pork tinga, avocado, radish, cilantro, queso fresco, tostada #foodie #foodporn #homemade #fromscratch #eatmorepork

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Taco Tuesday can be every night in my house! Cook up some shredded chicken or pork and serve it with avocado, spicy radishes, fresh cilantro, and some cotija cheese.

Simple and delicious! When it comes to easy dinner recipes, you can’t ask for more than that.

12. Polenta

Have leftovers from all these delicious steak, chicken, pork, and oven roasted vegetable meals? Serve the leftovers over rich and creamy polenta with some spicy braised greens.

Polenta is easy to pull together on the stovetop and really meets its purpose the few days after Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and other holidays where the leftover pile is huge and full of meat.

13. Put an Egg on It!

#weeknightdinner #healthyfood #iloveeggs #ilovekale #healthy

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Don’t feel like cooking? Never fear, just #putaneggonit! Never underestimate the transformative power of putting an egg on anything, from kale Caesar salads to burgers to avocado toast.

It won’t feel like breakfast, and you won’t be sorry you did it.