Valentine's Day Food Ideas: 40 Romantic Appetizer, Dinner, and Dessert Recipes
Forget what you've heard: Elegant appetizers, indulgent dinners, and decadent desserts make Valentine's Day is the ULTIMATE food lovers' holiday. We rounded up our best romantic recipes to make this Valentine's Day one you'll never forget.
Valentine's Day Food Ideas
Use our menu to plan a perfectly romantic date night with your Valentine.
Kick off your date with bite-sized snacks that come together quickly.
Spicy-Sweet Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
In under 30 minutes, you can dress crispy bacon wrapped shrimp in brown sugar, paprika, and smoked red pepper for a dynamically delicious appetizer. This combinatioin of spicy, sweet, smooth, and crunchy will keep you grabbing for more.
Melted Manchego Tortas with Romesco and Chorizo
Spanish flatbreads, or tortas, are a tapas staple. Make these with thin sandwich round halves and a 1 1/4-inch circular cutter. You'll only use 1/4 cup of the romesco, but the remainder makes a great sauce for meats, vegetables, or fish.
Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey
In addition to being a delicious appetizer that feels special, these Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey make for extra awesome croutons on salads and as "meat" balls for vegetarian pasta dishes. Be sure to bring your oil to the right heat before adding the poppers--if the oil is not hot enough, you will end up with a soggy, greasy mess instead of crisp poppers. Available at most stores that carry kitchen equipment for around $10, a kitchen thermometer is an incredibly worthy investment.
Usher in the warm days of spring and summer with Strawberry Bruschetta. This refreshing mixture of nectarine, grape tomatoes, strawberries, and basil are served over baguette slices with slatherings of goat cheese.
Mini Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Dill Crème Fraîche
Make these in the morning, and top with salmon and crème fraîche just before your guests arrive. Tight on time? Use store-bought blini instead.
Brie with Jeweled Fruit Compote
This lovely appetizer is about as quick and easy as it gets--as tasty, too. You don't even need to let the cheese come to room temperature first; the warm fruit that goes on top will soften it up. Serve with crostini or crackers.
Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Prepare the fig jam for this savory-meets-sweet appetizer up to three days in advance, and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature, and assemble bruschetta just before serving. For smaller groups, use half the amount of bread. Leftover jam is great on toast at breakfast.
Seared Beef Tenderloin Mini Sandwiches with Mustard-Horseradish Sauce
These mini sandwiches are a great beef tenderloin appetizer. Serving beef tenderloin as an appetizer is an elegant, yet budget-friendly way to enjoy a pricey cut of meat.
Classic Shrimp Cocktail with Red and Green Sauces
For convenience, make this dish ahead, and refrigerate until time to serve.
Channel your inner Julia Child with these delicious, indulgent Valentine's dinners.
Pan-Seared Strip Steak
This fantastic strip steak is the perfect dinner for date night or any special occasion that deserves something extra delicious on the table. A little butter adds richness and keeps the leaner-than-usual beef moist without adding much in the way of total fat. Don't know how to cook steak on the stove? No worries! Not only is this one of our best steak recipes, it's incredibly easy. However, a word of caution: This recipe is smoky! Keep your exhaust fan on high or cook in a skillet on a hot outdoor grill.
Seared Flank Steak with Lime-Wasabi Sauce
Zesty red wine marinade is the key for this super-tender and deeply flavored steak. The longer it marinates, the better.
Sheet Pan Steak with Blistered Veggies
We have a saying around here: A good sheet pan dinner is always a winner. And this quick and easy steak and veggie supper is a shining example. It’s a delicious taste of what cookbook author Julie Grimes offers in $10 Dinners: Delicious Meals for a Family of 4 that Don't Break the Bank; grab a copy today for more family-friendly recipes that are equally friendly on your wallet.
Classic Mignonette With Fresh Oysters On The Half Shell
Mingonette is the perfect balance to the salty and briny oyster. This sauce goes best with cold oysters and a glass of Chardonnay, but it'd also be great stirred into mashed avocado or whisked together with olive oil for a great salad dressing.
Penne with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce
Simple and delicious, Penne with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce is perfect with a simple salad and a glass of red.
Beef Filets with Pomegranate-Pinot Sauce
This 5-star recipe gives you rich and elegant flavors in just 20 minutes.
Filet Mignon with Arugula Salad
Arugula, a peppery salad green, makes a tasty bed for tender, simply seasoned pan-seared steak.
Simple Lemon, Shrimp, and Prosciutto Pasta
Salty, umami-packed prosciutto complements the sweet shrimp and tomatoes in this streamlined 20-minute main.
Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi
Indulge in the flavor of the Mediterranean with plump shrimp tossed with lemon and pepper and served over a bed of orzo.
Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Burgundy-Mushroom Sauce
Everyone will admire these tender spirals of beef filled with creamy spinach and leeks and topped off with a rich mushroom sauce. Rolling and stuffing the meat is easier than it looks.
Basil-Ricotta Ravioli with Spinach
Wonton wrappers are the secret to these seemingly from-scratch pasta pillows. Skip the fancy folds; just make sure to seal the ravioli well. The ravioli fare better with a delicate sauce--here, just a drizzle of olive oil and lemon.
Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms, Fennel, and Blue Cheese
This gorgeous main uses just one skillet--first to sear and roast the pork, then to caramelize the fennel and mushrooms. Arugula isn't only for salads; it wilts nicely when sautéed in the pan juices from the pork tenderloin.
Pasta with Shrimp and Tomato Cream Sauce
Smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape, have brighter, fruitier flavors than larger ones. Look for colorful selections such as the orange Sun Gold and the purple Black Cherry. Cherry tomatoes need only a few minutes in a hot pan before they soften and release their naturally sweet juices. For the best flavor, use fresh shrimp, not frozen, and don’t overcook them, or the shrimp will become tough. Tarragon’s anise notes complement the cherry tomatoes and cream, but you can substitute basil or oregano.
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.
Lemon Roast Chicken
Lunch: Keep hunger pangs away with these healthy and delicious dishes! 150 calories and under. Lose weight the 5:2 way. This healthy chicken recipe is featured in the lunch section of the new 5:2 Starter's Guide to The 2-Day Diet. The book provides a selection of over 100 tasty recipes that meet the daily 500 calorie allotment for the 2 days of intermittent fasting, as required by the 5:2 Diet.
Pasta Aglio e Olio
A riff on the traditional Italian garlic and oil pasta dish, roasted walnut oil adds an unexpected gentle, nutty flavor. Cool the walnut oil slightly before adding the water to avoid splatters. We think bucatini pasta is the best choice for this dish; however, you also could use whole-wheat spaghetti or angel hair pasta to amp up the dish’s nuttiness. For a protein boost, add sautéed shrimp alongside or atop this dish.
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.
Grilled Pork Loin with Blackberry Glaze
"Bone-in pork rack is one of my favorite things ever," says Cassidee Dabney, executive chef at The Barn at Blackberry Farm. "When you make the glaze, cook it down and strain out all the seeds so you have this sticky, unctuous mixture. When the pork fat hits it, it's magic."
Pasta with Browned Butter, Anchovy, and Kale
Match the hearty taste of whole-grain noodles with anchovy, red pepper, and pecorino Romano cheese. Lest those flavors get too heavy, brighten with a squeeze of lemon juice.
While dinner gets the most attention, we all know the final act is the real start of the show.
Elsa's Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons
These macaroons are the most delicious we've ever tasted in the Sunset Test Kitchen. The recipe comes from Karen Dannenbaum of Topanga, California, who inherited it from her mother, Elsa, an outstanding cook. Of all the recipes Elsa left behind in her handwritten notebooks, "this was one of her best, and a family favorite," Dannenbaum says. She also included an option for double-dipping the cookies in melted white chocolate over the dark. We loved them as-is, but if you'd like to double-dip, feel free!
Juicy strawberries are made even better when dipped in chocolate. And to take your berries a step further, try coating them with another flavor and/or texture boosting ingredient before the chocolate sets. We like using various types of chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, etc.
Rose Petal-White Chocolate Bark
Absolutely gorgeous and so easy to make, this white chocolate bark would make the perfect hostess gift or wedding favor. You can find white chocolate melting wafers in many grocery stores or craft stores, such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Just be sure to microwave at 50% in short increments as white chocolate is easy to burn.
Molten Dark Chocolate Cakes
Chocolate Clementine Cake with Hot Chocolate Sauce
This cake can be made a day in advance. The Hot Chocolate Sauce can be stored, covered, in refrigerator up to 1 week; reheat over low heat until warmed through. Make both the cake and sauce with the best quality bittersweet chocolate you can find. Substitute semisweet chocolate if you wish.
Chocolate Thumbprints with Caramel and Sea Salt
From Great Falls, Montana, Colette Tihista-Longin writes, "I found this cookie recipe in an old collection at a yard sale. The original recipe has a chocolate filling, but I adapted it to include caramel and sea salt several years ago. It's a hit every year at our cookie exchange." Despite the name for this style of cookie, the end of a wooden spoon makes a neater, deeper depression in the cookie than your thumb will.
Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake
Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cakes with Raspberry Sauce
You can make the sauce for this cake a day ahead and keep it refrigerated. Garnish soufflés with fresh raspberries or mint, if desired.
Vegan Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart with Fresh Berries
Take one bite of this chocolatey, decadent “clean eating” dessert, you might not believe that it’s raw, vegan, gluten-free and paleo… but low and behold, you don’t need excessive sugar or other processed ingredients to make a next-level dessert. Easy to prep, and filled with rich chocolate-hazelnut flavor, this vegan dessert is perfect for anyone following a special diet or simply trying to clean their eating habits up a bit. Serve it for a special occasion, or just as a “treat yo-self” indulgence—since there’s no need to crank up the oven, it’s especially ideal to satisfy a summertime sweet tooth.
Kahlúa Cookie Dough Bites
If you're only going to have "a bite" of dessert, this is the bite to have.
Red Velvet-White Chocolate Cheesecake
Cheesecake in a slow cooker is a brilliant idea for a heavenly fall dessert. Top with fresh raspberries to complete your sweet treat.