30+ Easy (But Still Impressive) Valentine's Day Dinners
Sure, romance is important, but we’d be lying if we said Valentine's Day wasn't just as much about the food. You could even say that the holiday essentially equates a delicious meal with love. Don't worry, though: You don't need a fancy restaurant or a complicated recipe to impress your Valentine this year. Just prepare one of these easy, but still wow-worthy, dishes for your date.
Marinated London Broil with Potatoes, Broccoli, and Roasted Garlic Aioli
This sheet pan dinner couldn’t be easier (or more delicious), and utilizing inexpensive London broil, it’s one you’ll come back to again and again. Serving this budget-friendly dinner with a shortcut aioli takes the entire meal up a notch with minimal effort. In testing, we even found that using jarred roasted garlic, rather than preparing your own, absolutely delivers on flavor. London broil will be labeled as such in many supermarkets, but you can also substitute flank steak or top round.
Sheet Pan Thai Red Curry Mussels
Easy weeknight dinners don’t get any more impressive than these sheet pan mussels. Bold aromatics come together with curry paste and rich coconut milk for an incredible broth that goes right on the sheet pan to steam the mussels and infuse them with flavor. We keep the prep time low on this restaurant-quality dish by opting for prepared ginger, garlic, and lemongrass paste; however, feel free to substitute fresh, whole ingredients. In fact, if you have some time to spare, you could even try your hand at making your own curry paste.
Lamb Chops with Fresh Fig Pan Sauce
Fresh figs cooked with red wine provide the perfect foil for rich lamb rib chops.
Lobster Mac and Cheese
This lobster mac and cheese recipe debunks the myth that seafood and cheese don’t belong together—in fact, they’re absolutely delicious. Sweet, fresh lobster meat marries well with the zesty Cheddar and mellow Gruyère, while the subtle heat of Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper cut through the richness of the dish. Any pasta shape works here, but corkscrews are our favorite for holding the warm, velvety sauce inside. Between the tender, cheesy noodles and the crisp, buttery crumb topping, this lobster mac and cheese recipe offers the flavors and textures of the perfect comfort food.
Skillet Chicken Thighs with Spring Vegetables and Shallot Vinaigrette
This elegant single-skillet meal for two is deceptively easy to make. Ready in under an hour, this skillet chicken dinner includes your protein (perfectly golden-crisp chicken thighs), green veggies (peas and asparagus), a starch (baby Yukon gold potatoes), and a whole lot of vibrant flavor (hello, shallot vinaigrette). A great recipe for anyone cooking for one or two, this easy weeknight chicken dinner is one you’re sure to come back to again and again.
Slow-Cooker Prime Rib
Here’s that super tasty holiday dinner recipe you’ve been looking for. In addition to adding loads of flavor, the seasoning and overnight sitting makes for the best crust that’ll keep the juices sealed once the roast is put in the slow cooker. You can find rib roast at most grocery store meat counters. Ask your butcher to trim, remove the chine cone, and tie the roast. Serve with red wine, roasted vegetables, and salad.
Clams with Pasta and Bacon
Spanish fideos—short, thin noodles—give this dish a satisfying heft. If your grocery store doesn't carry them, use angel-hair pasta instead. Serve family-style right out of the pot or in a large bowl.
Pecan-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Dipping Sauce
Instant Pot Chicken Mole
Flavorful chicken mole is an exceptionally great use of the Instant Pot. Making traditional mole is typically a labor-intensive process that requires slow simmering to build the sauce’s mellow depth and rich layers of flavor. However, this Instant Pot chicken mole delivers all of the bitter, sweet, toasty, aromatic goodness you want when a mole craving strikes—in a fraction of the time. Serve your speedy chicken mole over rice with black beans, radishes, cilantro, pepitas, and any other desired accouterments.
Citrus Roasted Salmon
Though easy to make and only requiring five ingredients, this elegant roasted salmon is a supremely impressive main dish. Topping the salmon with orange and lime rounds not only infuses the oily fish with flavor, but it makes for a beautiful display. Served with a simple, butter-enriched citrus sauce that’s brightened with fresh dill, this special occasion-worthy main feels as vibrant as it does decadent. Covering the salmon loosely with foil keeps the salmon moist.
Sweet shrimp is ideal for spicy dishes like this. If you want just a light lick of heat, use 1/4 teaspoon red pepper. If you prefer more fire, go for 1/2 teaspoon (or more).
Pomegranate Molasses-Glazed Chicken and Carrots
Pomegranate molasses, a staple ingredient in the Eastern Mediterranean, gives this one-pot dish a delectable tang.
Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Vanilla-Cabernet Butter
This single-skillet supper may sound highbrow (and look the part too), but trust us, it’s about as simple as it gets. Perfectly pan searing a succulent cut of steak is one of those essential kitchen skills that every home cook needs in order to whip up an impressive, company-worth meal on the fly or simply to treat yo’self at the end of an exceptionally long day. Topping your seared New York strip steak with a decadent compound butter is another back-pocket trick that is simple to do, but reads incredibly sophisticated/delicious. For this steak skillet, we opted to infuse our butter with vanilla bean and red wine—vanilla brings out the robust flavors of the ruby port and Cabernet, both of which partner beautifully with a tender New York strip. A vegetable medley of mushrooms, asparagus, and shallots quickly sautéed in the flavorful pan drippings makes the perfect side dish to round out this plate, balancing your rich steak and butter sauce. Make this dish once, and we can almost guarantee that butter-basted seared steak + a quick, same-skillet veggie sauté will become a dinner game plan you’ll come back to again and again. Note: You will definitely have leftover compound butter… which is not a bad thing. The butter freezes beautifully and is excellent to have on hand for flavoring veggies, spreading over warm bread, and topping other cooked meats. If you have leftover steak, it makes for one heck of a next-day steak sandwich—especially if you dress toasted bread with a generous smear of your compound butter. If you want to apply this same easy and elegant meal strategy to a slightly more budget-friendly cut of beef, try our Hanger Steak with Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes, and Lemon-Herb Butter. And you can find more helpful technique tips for achieving a perfect sear on your steaks right here.
Bourbon and salmon are a classic combination for a reason. Even the pickiest, salmon-averse eaters will love this.
Baked Lobster Tails with Citrus-Herb Butter
Lobster may seem intimidating to cook, but these baked lobster tails are a simple and elegant preparation that’s incredibly approachable—even if it’s your first time cooking the shellfish. A bright herbaceous compound butter are all that the sweet, tender lobster meat needs to sing. However, after baking, you could also extract the lobster meat from the shells and use it for classic lobster rolls or a decadent lobster mac and cheese. You can find frozen lobster tails at most supermarkets.
Classic Fettuccine Alfredo
This homemade Alfredo sauce clings to the noodles, all without producing a starchy taste. Remove the pasta while it’s still al dente, or slightly firm, and don’t skip the freshly chopped parsley. Dried egg fettuccine is readily available in the pasta aisle in the grocery store—it costs a bit more, but it’s worth it. The sauce will thicken once the pasta is added and removed from heat, so don’t worry if it seems too thin at first.
Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin with Broccoli and Butternut Squash
This easy, flavorful supper brings great taste and texture to the humble sheet pan. The juicy roasted pork tenderloin has a nice herb coating, and its delicious creamy tarragon mustard sauce is great with the butternut squash and the roasted broccoli florets. The sweet roasted squash balances the savory roasted broccoli, and the meat is perfect with just a schmear of the sauce. Pork tenderloins typically come in packages of two, so freeze one for later or double the recipe for a larger crowd. Make sure to preheat the oven with the rimmed baking sheet inside—this way, the tenderloin gets a nice sear and color before the vegetables hit the baking sheet.
Whole Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Fennel, and Apple
For an easy dinner, this whole roasted chicken is the way to go. Perched on a bed of root veggies, fennel, apples, and mushrooms, this chicken becomes irresistibly crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. Apples and mushrooms absorb the savory chicken fat and slowly break down throughout the slow-roasting process, making them almost melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The sheet pan will be crowded upon assembly, but don't fret, roasting will shrink the veggie and apple mixture's size.
Perfectly Seared Scallops
Scallops may be a little intimidating to cook at home—but trust us, once you nail the perfect sear once, you’ll be gunning to cook them any chance you get. Follow this foolproof method for perfectly seared scallops to nail the technique.
Instant Pot Chicken Cassoulet
Fast-track your way to a classic French dinner with this Instant Pot Chicken Cassoulet. In our version, chicken leg quarters take the place of traditional duck confit, but that doesn’t make the rustic, rib-sticking meal any less impressive. With two types of smoky pork, unctuous chicken, and a base of rich, salty, tomatoey beans, Instant Pot cassoulet is a hearty dish that’s fantastic for cool weather entertaining. You will have to saute in batches, but trust us—in this case, it’s so worth it.
Pesto Shrimp and Broccoli Fettuccine
Put your knife away—store-bought pesto and precut broccoli florets mean no chopping required. Your Dutch oven pulls triple duty in this recipe by cooking the pasta, blanching the broccoli, and bringing the whole dish together, all in one pot.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Plums and Hazelnut Gremolata
Consider this your invitation to pair lamb with grilled fruit. The sweetness of the plums offsets the fattiness and saltiness of the lamb, while the hazelnut gremolata brings in earthiness and a little brightness. This is a super easy way to cook lamb for a crowd, so don’t be intimidated. Wrap the bones in foil so they don’t char off during grilling. You can ask your butcher to go ahead and remove the fat cap and french the bones, but if you’d rather french the bones yourself, pull all the excess meat and fibers off them with butcher’s twine. Serve with a green like sautéed spinach, crusty bread, and rosé.
Linguine and Clam Sauce
Traditionally made with crushed red pepper, this recipe uses fresh chiles. Serrano chiles are hot; for less heat, use Fresno chiles.
Easy Roasted Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and White Beans
This simple baked chicken packs a ton of flavor atop a nice, toasty mixture of beans, tomatoes, and herbs. Since the chicken cooks on top of the vegetables, its juice add to the sauciness of the burst, roasted tomatoes, the buttery olives, and the tender creamy beans. A little bit of lemon zest makes a lovely finish. The entire combination is just as satisfying as it is visually pleasing, especially faro or another grain. This dinner is easy but has a grown-up feel, and the combined ingredients are meant to be together. If you like, you can add in or substitute other olives or vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and onions—whatever fits your palate.
Ultimate Tomahawk Steak
Whether you're sharing it with a loved one or serving it up to your family, this steak is destined to impress. Be sure to call your butcher ahead of time to reserve a tomahawk.
Easy Smoked Mussels with Garlic Butter
This easy technique for cooking mussels on the grill delivers the classic flavors you crave in a dish of steamed mussels—thanks to the garlic butter and lemony fresh herb sauce—but with a delightful smokey base. Serve warm off of the grill with slices of grilled bread for a divine seafood dinner.
Sweet Chile Roasted Salmon
For your next holiday meal, we highly recommend giving the ham a break and picking up a side of salmon instead. Whether you’re serving it for a special occasion or a casual weeknight meal, this perfectly tender roasted salmon is impressive in every possible way. In fact, this recipe is standing proof of how easy it can be to achieve a wow-worthy main course without much effort. The big flavor of this Thai-inspired salmon comes from a spicy (but not too spicy)-sweet glaze featuring sambal oelek, honey, and lemongrass. If you have trouble finding fresh lemongrass, you can substitute a bit of lemongrass paste or simply omit it.
Crab Pasta with Prosecco and Meyer Lemon Sauce
West Coast Dungeness crab and Meyer lemons, both in season now, come together deliciously in this special-occasion pasta. At A16 Rockridge, chef Rocky Maselli made it with housemade squid-ink tonnarelli; we opted for fettuccine since it's easier to find.
Chicken Cutlets with Herbed Mushroom Sauce
Cleanup is easy with this one pan dinner (you'll make the sauce in the same pan you used to cook the cutlets). Serve the dish over mashed potatoes or with a loaf of crusty bread to sop up the earthy sauce. To cut costs, purchase fresh herbs labeled "poultry blend." You'll get an assortment of herbs for the price of one package.
Orange-Balsamic Lamb Chops
A simple citrus marinade plus a quick sear yields significantly more flavor than you might think. Of course, a finishing balsamic drizzle is always welcome.
Foolproof Chuck Steak with Smoky Chimichurri
Thought chuck steak was just a meh budget cut of beef? It’s inexpensive for sure, but it’s a far cry from the stew meat you think it is. In fact, chuck steak—unbeknownst to many—boasts rich, meaty flavor akin to a ribeye, and can be just as tender. This easy recipe uses a technique known as a “reverse sear” to deliver perfectly cooked, tender chuck steak every time. The reverse sear is a great, approachable cooking method for those who want a deliciously salt-crusted, medium-rare steak, but don’t have a ton of experience preparing beef. Rather than searing the steak in a screaming-hot skillet on the stovetop and basting until you think it’s done and ready to rest, this hands-off trick entails cooking the steak in the oven until it reaches your desired degree of doneness (a meat thermometer is really helpful here) and then finishing it off with a quick sear just to get a nice, brown crust on the surface. This gentle cooking method not only removes guesswork for a less-experienced home cook, but also involves less intimidating popping and hissing skillet action. Served with a flavor packed chimichurri, this easy chuck steak is just begging to be layered onto charred corn tortillas for steak tacos.