16 Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners

pasta with shrimp garnished with parsley on a white plate
Photo: naples34102

Ready to up your kitchen game but aren't sure where to start? Look no further than these recipes. Many teach a basic technique like stir-frying, cooking under a broiler, or glazing chicken as it roasts. Others are super simple yet so satisfying — something any cook can make. Use these dinners as a starting point: Once you've gotten the hang of them, you can change the ingredients based on what you have and the flavors you like. Looking to impress friends or family with your new skills? Dishes like shrimp scampi and roasted pork tenderloin are company-worthy yet surprisingly easy.

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Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken

Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken on a white background
Alberta Rose

All-purpose crispy chicken breasts are perfect as a stand-alone main. You can also top with jarred marinara and mozzarella for chicken Parmesan or slice and top salads or sandwiches. "This is going to become a regular meal in our house!" says Udjesy.

02 of 17

Soy-Honey Glazed Salmon with Asparagus

Soy-Honey Glazed Salmon with Asparagus on a white background
France C

If cooking fish feels a bit intimidating, this easy recipe will make you a pro. It's also a great way to learn how to use your broiler. The soy and honey glaze caramelizes as the salmon cooks through, all in about 10 minutes.

03 of 17

Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

pasta with shrimp garnished with parsley on a white plate

Hosting friends or family for dinner? They'll be wowed by this Italian restaurant classic that's easy for cooks of all skill levels. The shrimp take just 2-3 minutes to cook — any longer and they can become rubbery. "Very easy and extremely tasty!" says reviewer Marcellino.

04 of 17

Asian Glazed Chicken Thighs

Asian Glazed Chicken Thighs topped with green onions
Raquel Teixeira

The sweet and savory marinade for these roasted chicken thighs doubles as a sticky glaze, maximizing the flavor. The chili garlic sauce has a vinegary kick that balances the honey. "Definitely need to double the recipe next time!" says fan Lizuett Cruz Hernandez.

05 of 17

Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

bowl of Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry with a side of rice
Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry. Allrecipes

As a beginning cook, it's a good idea to have a couple vegetarian mains in your back pocket. This one-pot vegetable curry tastes just like takeout. You can swap in any veggies you like, such as cauliflower, white potatoes, and kale.

06 of 17

Baked Denver Omelet

Baked Denver Omelet with a dollop of sour cream

No flipping is needed in this family-sized baked omelet. Classic Denver stir-ins like bell pepper and ham are used here, but you could use leftover ground beef, flaked salmon, or cooked sausage. Or keep it vegetarian with whatever veggies you have on hand.

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Quick Beef Stir-Fry

beef stir fry with vegetables

Dinner doesn't get much faster than a skillet stir-fry. Use this veggie-loaded version as a jumping off point: Add other veggies, chopped fresh ginger, scallions, teriyaki sauce, or a little chili garlic sauce.

08 of 17

Pork Tenderloin Diablo

Pork Tenderloin Diablo
France C

This simple-yet-special recipe is great for entertaining or for cooking pork tenderloin any night of the week. Searing first before roasting gives the pork aMo great crust. Using the drippings after roasting adds rich flavor to the pan sauce.

09 of 17

Easy Mexican Casserole

Easy Mexican Casserole

Love tacos, enchiladas, and nachos? This casserole marries them all with next to no prep — a meal that will feed and please a crowd. Do as many reviewers and add taco seasoning to the beef, then finish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and fresh salsa.

10 of 17

Spicy Asian Ramen Noodles

Spicy Asian Ramen Noodles
Spicy Asian Ramen Noodles. lutzflcat

Create a no-cook sauce with a handful of basic pantry ingredients (like peanut butter, chili-garlic sauce, and soy sauce). You'll simply combine the sauce with cooked ramen noodles and garnish with peanuts and green onions. Dinner's on the table in 15 minutes. "Fast, easy, and spicy with salty, sweet, and sour flavors kicking in," says lutzflcat.

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Spinach Tomato Tortellini

Spinach Tomato Tortellini
Culinary HitMan

Step up your staple spaghetti and jarred sauce by starting with refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini. The quick homemade tomato sauce is enriched with cream and Parmesan for a rich taste. "I have never received so many compliments on a meal before," says Robin.

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White Chili

Chili with white beans, corn, cilantro, and ground turkey
Sarah Seifipour

Using only five ingredients makes this chili very different from most recipes (some have 12 ingredients or more!) yet just as delicious. The pepper Jack cheese is stirred in for richness and heat. "I have made this recipe many times and it's always a favorite," says reviewer TX2Boys4Me.

13 of 17

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers

black bean burger patty on a multigrain bun with toppings
Gord Linder

Another vegetarian recipe for a beginner cook's arsenal. The veggies in these hearty burgers are chopped in the food processor, making them even easier to assemble. Double the batch and freeze for a burger dinner any night of the week.

14 of 17

Garden Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Garden Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Twice-baked or put-back potatoes are simple, delicious, and inexpensive. This recipe gives the usual loaded spud a twist with frozen broccoli and ranch in the filling instead of bacon and Cheddar. "Will be making these again and again!" says Veggielovinghippie.

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Chicken Pesto Pizza

Chicken Pesto Pizza on a dark pan
Amber Oliver

Store-bought shortcuts bring this pizza together in a snap. Use this pie as a starting point, then add your favorite veggies, cheeses, and meats. Reviewers had success with every kind of crust, from thin to thick, frozen to fresh.

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Pork Fried Rice

side view of a serving of fried rice with pork, peasn, and carrots on a white plate

Reinventing leftovers is a big part of learning how to cook. This recipe is the perfect vehicle for leftover cooked rice, that one seared pork chop, and any veggies on hand (you could also use a frozen mix). It's way better than takeout, and just as fast.

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More Inspiration

Four-Ingredient Red Curry Chicken
Culinary Envy

Hungry for more? Try one of our Cheap and Easy Dinners. Plus, explore our entire collection of Quick and Easy Recipes.

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