25 Easter Recipes Using Pantry Staples
The humble pantry may not be the first place you look when it comes to holiday meal preparation, but it should be. Whether you’re looking to bulk up the nutritional value in your Easter spread or just save some money, the arsenal in your pantry can certainly help. These Easter mains, sides, and desserts all capitalize on the ingredients you already have.
Hearty Ham and Cheddar Cornbread Muffins
Outmaneuver your morning fast-food cravings with these savory grab-and-go breakfast muffins. Leftover ham comes to the rescue with day-sustaining protein; equal parts cornmeal and flour yield a not-so-bready muffin with a perfect tender crumb. Make a batch of these on the weekend and save the leftovers for breakfast all week long.
Hoppin’ John Casserole
Get all your New Year’s good luck in one dish with this casserole full of bacon, peas, rice, and collards. The mixture of soft rice with tooth collards and peas, plus chopped bacon makes for a nice variety of textures. It’s great on its own, but it’s also a great side dish for fried chicken or pork chops.
Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes
What’s the secret to super creamy, melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes? Your slow cooker. These super simple Crock Pot mashed are easy to prepare and even easier to eat. They get tons of richness, thanks to plenty of butter and milk. Adding a bay leaf takes things up a notch and unveils a layer of savory aromatics that doesn’t overpower or cloy the rest of the dish.
Lamb and Rice Stuffed Eggplant
If you’ve ever experienced the disappointment that is a bland eggplant boat hidden under copious amounts of sauce and cheese… rest assured, this isn’t that. A variety of dried spices provide a wealth of warm, aromatic flavors, while ground lamb delivers a distinct richness, and fresh mint provides a pop of herbaceous energy—ultimately, making for an incredibly satisfying meal. Even if you’re not always on Team Eggplant, we’re confident that this flavor-packed dish may very well be a preparation you of the veggie you really enjoy. When shopping, look for eggplants with firm skin and no bruises. If you have trouble finding ground lamb, you can definitely substitute a different ground meat, like beef or turkey, in it’s place—just be sure to use a ground meat with at least 10% fat.
BLT Pasta Salad
If you’re looking for a foolproof side to take to your next barbecue or potluck, you’ve come to the right place. This BLT Pasta Salad is essentially a BLT in a bowl, and who could turn that down? It’s creamy and crunchy, just like the sandwich, and packs a delicious punch, especially with the use of fresh tomatoes and lettuce. If you have access to heirloom cherry tomatoes, feel free to use those instead. You could also use baby arugula instead of lettuce for a peppery zing. You can prepare this ahead of time, but don’t dress until immediately before serving—otherwise, the lettuce will wilt and lose its crisp.
3 Ingredient Easter Cookies
These Easter cookies feel festive, but you only need a handful of ingredients that you've already got on hand.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
A comfort-filled classic, the traditional dish features a cast of hefty characters—cream, cheese, and noodles—and delivers nearly 700 calories and a day’s worth of sat fat with just one helping. In an attempt to introduce fresher ingredients while staying true to the classic, we start by bolstering the filling with meaty mushrooms, lots of aromatics, and herbs. Tomato paste adds a tangy counterpoint to the creamy, noodle-coating sauce, while Dijon mustard and lemon zest add zing. Canned tuna is a pantry staple that takes center stage in our remake (with just as many beneficial omega-3s as fresh). In lieu of a breadcrumb or potato chip topper, we use fresh dill and sharp cheddar to round out this dinner with bright flavor and cheesy goodness for less sodium.
Shortcut Risotto with Brussels Sprouts
Our simple technique yields classic risotto texture in a fraction of the time. Precooked brown rice simmers with a flour-thickened mixture of milk and chicken stock, boosted with a touch of cream cheese for extra richness.
Three-Bean Pasta Salad
We combined two potluck classics—pasta salad and three-bean salad—to make one tasty new side dish. Blanched celery is the unexpected star in this side dish; it has a tender-crisp texture and bright green color. Swap out the canned beans for your favorite cooked field peas.
Field Peas, Corn, and Okra in Country-Ham Cream
This comforting skillet supper makes a great summertime meal, when field peas, corn, and okra are in season. While fresh veggies are the star of the dish, the country-ham cream, a light yet luxurious sauce, will have you licking your plate. Serve alongside some skillet cornbread and you’ll have a meal to remember.
Smoky Black-Eyed Peas
Serve these black-eyed peas with collard greens and cornbread for a Southern New Year's feast. All 3 dishes symbolize good fortune; they're also just plain delicious. If you can't find a ham hock, substitute a smoked turkey leg or wing. Add cooked peas to stews or salsa, or sauté with rice, garlic, and bell pepper for hoppin' John. Use leftover ham hock meat as a flavoring agent for greens, beans, and broths. This recipe goes with: Seared Grouper with Black-Eyed Pea Relish, Black-Eyed Pea-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Niçoise Gnocchi Salad
Haven’t made it to the grocery store in a minute? That doesn’t mean you can’t whip up an impressive dish. This lovely, snackable take on a salad Niçoise is composed largely from pantry items, like canned tuna and roasted red peppers, plus a couple of common refrigerator staples—frozen green beans and eggs. We use packaged gnocchi, shelf-stable gnocchi as a creative swap for the fresh potatoes typically found in a salad Niçoise. Dressed up with a super simple vinaigrette this “throw-together” salad could easily pass for a well-planned. In other words, keep this one in your back pocket for the next time you need a last-minute appetizer for entertaining.
Cake Mix Sandwich Cookies with Strawberry Buttercream
No one will believe these impressive (yet low-effort) spring treats start with a boxed cake mix. The strawberry buttercream filling for these sandwich cookies uses both fresh and freeze-dried berries in order to deliver a potent punch of vibrant strawberry flavor. While it’s the perfect accompaniment to these pillowy vanilla cake mix cookies, you’ll likely find yourself returning to the recipe again and again for icing layer cakes and cupcakes. Freeze dried strawberries can be found at many grocery stores and online. Pro tip: Don’t skip chilling the dough; this allows the coconut oil to solidify and helps the cookies maintain their shape while baking.
Skillet Red Beans and Rice
Look for trinity blend (a mix of onion, bell pepper, and celery) with the prepared produce. Or make your own with 3/4 cup onion, 3/4 cup celery, and 1/2 cup bell pepper.
Creamiest Mashed Potatoes
Look for xanthan gum with the gluten-free baking mixes and flours; it's available in most supermarkets these days. You can get semiclose results with cornstarch, but the spuds won't be quite as creamy.
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Kids aren’t the only ones who love this melty, Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole. The rice, broccoli, and chicken provide a nice substance for the creamy, béchamel type sauce, while the buttery topping adds crunch and richness. In other words, it’s pure comfort food, and you can have it ready for a weeknight dinner right at under an hour. Rotisserie chicken works wonderfully here, but you can use whatever leftover chicken you have on hand. To shake things up, substitute in a different cooked vegetable, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus, for the broccoli.
For the perfect, all-purpose macaroni salad, look no further than this easy recipe. Our version of the staple summertime side dish delivers everything you love about a classic, creamy pasta salad, but with an extra touch of vibrancy. Chopped bell peppers deliver colorful, sweet crunch while cream cheese provides a tangy depth, and fresh dill lends a flavorful kick of freshness. Whether you’re heading to a picnic or potluck-style barbecue, a large bowl of this macaroni salad will always be more than welcome.
Easy Oven Rice
For anyone who’s ever struggled with cooking rice on the stovetop (and no, it’s not just you…), this easy oven rice recipe is for you. Say hello to your new foolproof method for perfect, fluffy rice—every time. The only real “tricks” to nailing this baked rice recipe are avoiding over-stirring and fighting the urge to “peek” while the rice is cooking.
Lemon-Basil Orzo with Parmesan
Just 6 ingredients are all you need to make this fresh pasta side. The lemon and basil brighten the dish making it perfect for a spring gathering. Add cooked shrimp or chicken for a hearty lunch or light supper.
Instant Pot Peanut Brittle
This Instant Pot candy recipe delivers a classic candy shop treat with no intimidation factor. In fact, you don’t even need a candy thermometer to make this perfectly porous and crisp brittle. While it makes a scrumptious treat any time of year, our Instant Pot Peanut Brittle is especially awesome to make during the holiday season. Being that the recipe produces a generous yield of candy, it’s an excellent goody for gifting. A key factor in candy cooking is making sure you sugar granules are completely dissolved. If you want to give your brittle a little test as it cooks, take your wooden spoon or rubber spatula (whatever you’re using to stir the mixture) to scoop a small amount of the melted sugar mixture and spread a thin layer onto a paper plate. This allows you to see any sugar crystals that may still be in the mixture, as well as observe how the mixture hardens as it cools. If the mixture hardens like glass and cracks easily, you know it’s ready.
One-Pan Hot Honey Chicken and Rice
Another winner, winner, chicken dinner! You can’t miss when budget-friendly chicken thighs are cooked to golden brown, nestled into a bed of rice and vegetables, and dressed with a honey-chile sauce. This is truly a one-pan recipe, making clean-up a breeze. The right amount of fat can be fantastic and flavorful, but you can have too much of a good thing. Trim excess fat from the chicken thighs to prevent rice from clumping. If needed, pour out excess fat from the rendered chicken thighs before adding your vegetables. Turn leftovers into fried rice. Shred chicken and refrigerate; let rice chill overnight, uncovered, and stir fry it the following day.
Ham Pasta Salad
Our Ham Pasta Salad is a great way to use leftover glazed ham—the lemon dressing brightens it up for Easter and offsets the ham’s sweetness, while the fresh parsley adds sprigs of color. The secret to the sauce is using the pasta water, so remember to keep it—if you do dump it out on accident, you can just use chicken stock. This is best served at room temperature. It’s still good after it’s been refrigerated, but the pasta will soak up some of the dressing. There’s also room for flavor variations based on your preferences: You could substitute fresh broccoli for broccoli rabe, add in even more ham, or incorporate lemon zest for a tangier salad.
Creamy Classic Rice Pudding
If you’ve never tried rice pudding, the concept may seem a little strange, but trust us—this toasty, creamy, carb-based custard is just about the most comforting dessert you’ll ever encounter. Give this easy to follow recipe for classic rice pudding a try and taste for yourself.
Bucatini with White Beans, Tonnato, and Olive Oil Breadcrumbs
Elevate humble mayo via a quick ride through the blender with high-quality canned tuna and anchovies (think Ortiz or Genova brands). The velvety result? Tonnato, an Italian condiment-turned-pasta-sauce to coat every bit of bucatini. Reserve a spoonful or two of the sauce for future sandwich spreads or a dip for roasted veggies.
Pantry Beans and Greens
If it’s a cold-weather, feel-good meal you want, Pantry Beans and Greens is everything you need. This hearty yet healthy dish is both easy on your wallet and incredibly easy to pull together. But don’t be fooled—just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not one of the most satisfying meals you’ll eat this winter. (It is.) And the best part is, while this pantry meal is delicious as is, it’s also endlessly customizable. Swap in a different, heartier green if you like; ditch the Parmesan to make it vegan; add bacon or ground meat to bulk up the protein; transform it into a pasta or soup—it’s really up to you. Enjoy the base recipe and then try changing it up with one of the variations written below.