These 31 easy recipes for beginners are quick weeknight meals that I have relied on for years. I turn to these recipes when I need an easy weeknight dinner that the entire family will love.
I have categorized these recipes so you can find exactly what you are looking for. There are salad recipes that are great for an easy lunch, meal prep recipes, and easy dinners perfect for busy weeknights. You can use the table of contents to click through to what you want. I hope that these beginner recipes help to give you confidence in the kitchen.
Easy Recipes for Beginners:
One of my oldest friends recently admitted that she has trouble in the kitchen. She asked me if I had any simple recipes that she could make for her family. I thought that I would help her out by assembling a list of easy recipes for beginners – a collection of foolproof recipes that a beginner cook can successfully make.
Easy Pasta Recipes for Beginners:
Inspired by a recipe created by Top Chef winner Joe Flamm of Rosemary in Chicago, this rustic pasta is bursting with fresh flavors and can be prepared in just 20 minutes! This delicious meal is made with just a few basic ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, parmesan cheese, pasta, black pepper, salt, and a sundried tomato. The tomatoes are pureed to create a simple homemade tomato sauce cooked with olive oil and basil. The final touches are grating fresh parmesan and a sundried tomato over the pasta for an extra burst of flavor.
My Mom made this all the time when I was a kid – we used to call it “sausage and bow ties.” Now, I make it for Charles. This is a great simple recipe because it takes just 20 minutes to make, and all the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find in grocery stores. You can easily make this recipe your own by adding your favorite vegetables. Mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, and red pepper flakes are all wonderful optional additions.
This rich creamy beef pasta skillet is made with roasted tomatoes, ground beef, and mascarpone cheese to make an irresistible pasta dish. To prepare this meal, first you roast tomatoes on a sheet pan. After roasting, the tomatoes are pureed and mixed with cooked ground beef, sauteed mushrooms, and mascarpone to create a creamy beefy sauce. Fresh pasta gets cooked right in the sauce. This is one of the more involved meals on the list, but it is perfect for a dinner party.
Everyone loves macaroni and cheese, and this recipe for stovetop mac and cheese with a crispy panko topping is super simple and can be made in just 20 minutes. The secret to this easy weeknight meal is that crispy toasted panko breadcrumbs mimic the taste of baked macaroni and cheese. It is an easy hack that adds so much flavor to the meal. The most important thing to keep in mind when preparing this meal is that you want to use good ingredients. Get a flavorful sharp aged cheddar. You can definitely add in your favorite cheeses, but I think a sharp cheddar is the best way to add a rich taste to macaroni and cheese.
Jocelyn’s easy Shrimp Scampi can be made in 15 minutes or less! While shrimp is a special ingredient, you probably have the other ingredients in your pantry. The shrimp gets tossed in pasta with a lemon, butter, and white wine sauce seasoned with red pepper flakes, garlic, onion powder, and parsley.
This delicious vegetarian pasta recipe with simple, fresh ingredients comes together in 40 minutes. The sauce is a mixture of roasted garlic, melted goat cheese, and roasted tomatoes thinned out with a touch of pasta water. If you prefer feta cheese, I think it would work well in place of goat cheese.
When I was in grad school, I worked at a Manhattan restaurant that charged $18 for this meal. And in 2006, $18 for a vegetarian pasta dish was a lot. The restaurant has since closed, but I have the recipe for the Spaghetti alla Rustica. The ingredients for this meal cost just $10, and you will have enough for four servings. The best thing is that the meal can be made in just 20 minutes.
Please believe me: you can make ricotta gnocchi from scratch in just 10 minutes. This is an unexpectedly easy recipe for beginners. I learned this recipe at a cooking demo in Italy, and I was shocked to learn that this pillowy gnocchi is so simple to make. You only need ricotta, 00 flour (special flour for pasta that is available in most grocery stores), pecorino romano cheese, and salt. The dough is very easy to work with, and the gnocchi takes just a moment to cook. Serve with your favorite sauce.
Meat Main Courses for Beginners:
This is the most popular recipe on this website – it has been shared on Pinterest over 230,000 times! Chicken is stuffed with cream cheese, diced jalapeños, and Mexican cheese, wrapped in bacon, and then baked. The preparation time is less than 10 minutes!
A super flavorful chicken recipe that takes just 25 minutes of active preparation time. It is one of my favorite easy dinner recipes from childhood. Growing up, my whole family loved this meal, so we had it frequently. The best part of this recipe is that you can add different vegetables to make the recipe feel new if you are cooking it often. If you need a simple side dish, I love to serve this with rice pilaf since the sauce tastes so great over rice.
Amy’s balsamic glazed pork tenderloin can be made in less than 25 minutes, and it makes 8 servings. Using an instant pot to prepare this meal is a big time saver that results in fork tender meat.
New cooks can be intimidated by the idea of cooking a whole chicken, but roasting a chicken is one of those cooking skills that everyone should learn. This has become one of my go-to recipes; it requires minimal ingredients and yields a lot of food. The classic combination of roast chicken, gravy, and mashed potatoes is a comfort food meal that I crave.
This healthy soup can be made on the stovetop or in the instant pot. The recipe has tender shredded chicken, onion, carrot, celery, spinach, garlic, long grain rice, and herbs.
You can prepare this one pot meal loaded with healthy ingredients in just 20 minutes of prep. Inspired by one of my favorite take-out dishes, I wanted to turn it into a healthy meal that I could prepare in less time than it takes to get delivery. To prepare this sesame chicken, the chicken is cooked in sesame oil and then slathered in a quick homemade sauce made with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sriracha. You can add your favorite vegetables. I like to add shredded carrots, mushrooms, and snow peas, but you could opt to add broccoli, bell peppers, green onion, or bok choy.
My Dad’s recipe for a classic pot roast only requires five ingredients and about 5 minutes of active preparation time! We ate this on repeat throughout my childhood because it is one of those simple meals made with very affordable ingredients. A chuck roast gets covered with mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, and dry onion soup mix and slow-roasted in a dutch oven. We always serve it over egg noodles. You can also opt to prepare this meal in a slow cooker.
If you want a quick and easy recipe that seems fancy, this is your best bet. Chicken breasts are quickled seared and then covered creamy mushroom and sherry sauce and put in the oven to finish cooking. The basic technique of searing meat to lock in the juices before letting it finish cooking in the oven at a lower temperature is something that home cooks should master. You can serve this chicken over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes.
Salad Recipes for Beginners:
This spinach salad is topped with diced chicken breast, blue cheese, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, mushrooms, crispy prosciutto, and a homemade blue cheese dressing. It’s fantastic. I use the meal prep chicken recipe listed below to cook the chicken in big batches since I like to meal prep our salads so that we can eat them for lunch throughout the week. If you want to save a little bit of time, you could use diced rotisserie chicken instead.
Inspired by the famous Brussel & Kale Salad, which Blue Door Farmstand sells for $17, I add gem lettuce since brussels sprouts and kale are so gaseous that they can give me a stomach ache. The salad is topped with crispy bacon, parmesan, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, and an easy homemade maple tahini dressing. This is a lunch that I get excited about.
This salad is an easy healthy recipe made with fresh asparagus, chicken, tomatoes, and mandarin oranges in a light yogurt dressing. It tastes like summer thanks to the fresh herbs in the dressing!. While I like to add chicken, you could add salmon instead.
People get intimidated by cooking steak, but it is really easy. I break down this new skill into manageable steps in one of my most popular blog posts ever. For a low carb option and lighter meal, you can add the steak to a spinach salad.
I love this hearty salad. It was one of my go-to healthy recipes when I was on the paleo diet several years ago (I have since started adding goat cheese). The chicken roasts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar before getting chopped up and added to a spinach salad with chopped roasted sweet potato, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and dried cranberries. I simply dress this salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but you could use your favorite salad dressing. A mustard dressing would go nicely.
A great way to save time is to purchase chopped sweet potato (my grocery store has this in the produce aisle) and to use rotisserie chicken.
Easy Recipes for Beginners Made with a Slow Cooker:
When someone tells me that they can’t cook, I always have the same response, I ask: “Do you have a slow cooker?” I think everyone needs a slow cooker – they are the best tool for making a lot of food with minimal effort. Here are a few of my favorite crockpot recipes:
Let’s start with the easiest recipe! Throw four simple ingredients in a crockpot, and a few hours later, you have chicken perfect for making tacos! And let’s face it – taco night was the best of the week when you were a kid. I like to serve tacos with black beans, cheese, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime juice. This recipe works well at parties. I just leave the shredded chicken in the slow cooker and set out tortillas and taco toppings so that guests can make their own tacos.
This meal of tender chunks of beef, mushrooms, and onions in a creamy sauce takes just 20 minutes of active preparation time. You just need to quickly brown the beef and saute the mushrooms and onions before throwing everything into a crockpot to cook for 5 hours. Usually, I make this recipe using a chuck roast, but recently I used short rib instead and it took the recipe to the next level.
I love this recipe because you can customize your sandwiches with your favorite toppings. Just like the other crockpot recipes, you just need to throw a bunch of ingredients together and let your meal cook. This is another perfect recipe to serve at a party. I always think that it is a good idea to serve foods that can be prepared in advance so that you can enjoy time with your guests at parties instead of spending time in the kitchen.
Meal Prep Recipes for Beginners:
When you are just learning how to cook, preparing a meal can seem like a daunting task. For that reason, I wanted to include some easy recipes for beginners that can be used for meal prep on this list. This way if you go through the effort of cooking, you will end up with a meal that will give you leftovers for another night or two.
I had to include this recipe in my list of easy recipes for beginners because if is the very first recipe that I remember making. My sister and I made this when we were just kids. My recipe for Vegetable Lasagna Roll Ups has two main differences from a standard lasagna recipe. First, I roll each lasagna sheet up instead of layering them. I think this makes the lasagna faster to assemble and easier to serve. The other difference is that I add extra veggies. I add thin strips of zucchini, spinach, and bell pepper. Sometimes I add some grated carrot (no one even knows it is there). When I prepare this meal, I make a double batch and put one in the freezer. This recipe freezes so well and I love having an extra meal ready in case I have a busy day.
This recipe is as easy as it gets. The only cooking involved is boiling the lasagna sheets and baking the lasagna. The rest is easy assembly. If you have kids, they will love helping to prepare this meal.
This is the healthy chicken recipe that I turn to if I need to prepare chicken for salads. The secret to cooking a super tender chicken breast is slowly cooking it in white wine with a drizzle of olive oil. The best thing about this recipe is that it takes just 5 active minutes of meal prep. Plus, it is easy to prepare a large batch of chicken. In addition to adding this chicken to salads, it can be used in pasta dishes or sandwiches.
I usually use this method for preparing chicken breasts, but you could use it for cooking chicken thighs.
Just like the Lasgana Roll Ups, this recipe doesn’t require much time in the kitchen, and it is easy to make a double batch so you can make a meal for another day. This recipe is basically a Mexican lasagna with tortillas taking the place of pasta. To prepare, just cook the ground beef and then assemble the taco pie by layering tortillas, the cooked beef, salsa, beans, corn, and cheese. I often make this meal to give to friends that have just welcomed a new baby.
Making Lauren’s Breakfast Egg Bars is a genius way to make breakfast for the week all at once. She adds spinach, onion, chicken sausage, red pepper, and parmesan cheese to her egg bars, but you can make changes to include your favorite veggies and cheese.
Easy Breakfast Recipes:
This collection of easy breakfast recipes for beginners includes recipes that I make all the time. I hope you love them as much as we do.
This is a basic recipe that everyone should know. This post breaks down the process of making sunny side up eggs with a fully cooked white but a runny yolk. Once you learn to make sunny side up eggs you can add them to breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, or slices of leftover pizza (a personal fav).
Save this recipe for when you have houseguests. While this meal looks fancy, anyone can master making this breakfast. I like to use prosciutto and manchego with a touch of pesto in this recipe but you could add your favorite cheeses and veggies.
Chilaquiles is a classic Mexican breakfast made with pantry staples like salsa, tortilla chips, broth, and beans. I often turn leftovers from taco night into chilaquiles. If you have any leftover taco meat, add it right in! I like to serve chilaquiles topped with a fried egg and some shredded Mexican cheese.