With just a few pantry and fridge staples in each recipe, you’ll be able to put dinner on the table fast. 15 minute dinners are perfect for busy weeknights!
Busy night? We’ve all been there. With school and activities picking up in the next month-ish, we’ll all be there again. One of the most common questions we hear this time of year is some variation on “How do I get dinner on the table when I have no time or energy?” In this post, I’ve rounded up 15 of my favorite 15 minute dinners. Every one of these is easy, and every one of these can be put on the table in under 15 minutes.
Now, in order to make my life easier, I do not make everything from scratch. We use pancake mix, canned chicken, frozen pre-cooked sausage patties, Minute rice, and a number of other foods to cut time and effort. These meals are quite few steps up from bringing home McDonald’s, but the focus here is not producing a perfect, made-from-scratch experience. The focus is feeding my family while keeping my sanity. For me, it’s a very reasonable tradeoff.
A Note on Side Dishes
Many of these 15 minute dinners are a complete dinner unto themselves (haystacks, Korean beef and veggies, and breakfast for dinner, I’m looking at you!). Others are a main dish, and your family may want a side to go with it. I have a couple of go-to sides I keep around to make this easy:
- refrigerated biscuits
- chips and salsa
- bagged salad
- seasonal fruit
- canned veggies
- canned fruit
- frozen fruit and juice concentrate for smoothies
- To make smoothies: Put 1 cup frozen fruit, 1/4-1/2 cup concentrate, 1 cup water into a blender. Blend! You can even throw in some spinach or kale to level up the nutrition.
All of these can be thrown on the table quickly to pull the meal together. In the descriptions below, I offer some ideas of which sides my family likes with each dinner.
15 Minute Dinners for Busy Nights
1. Breakfast for Dinner
This is actually my husband’s specialty. For my family, we use the griddle to make eggs over easy and heat up frozen sausage patties. While those are cooking, we mix up the pancake mix, and it’s ready to go by the time we take the eggs and sausage off. Set the table while the pancakes cook, serve with seasonal fruit, and you can have dinner ready in just a few minutes!
Variation: You can also lose the pancakes, bake some refrigerated biscuits instead, and make your own breakfast sandwiches!
2. Hawaiian Haystacks
Keep your family’s favorite toppings around, and it’s just a matter of making rice and heating up the sauce to get this dinner on the table quickly. With Minute rice, your prep time is cut to practically nothing.
Sides: fruit, smoothies, or bagged salad
3. Pita Pizzas
No time to deal with pizza dough? No problem! Pitas make the perfect base for these personal pizzas. Whole wheat pitas are an easy way to level up the nutrition on this one. Keep a can of pizza or spaghetti sauce plus your family’s favorite toppings so prep is easy!
Sides: bagged salad
4. Korean Beef and Veggies
Hard to believe you can get this kind of flavor in just a few minutes! Korean beef and veggies can be made in under 15 minutes with a couple of hacks. First, sauté the veggies and brown the beef in 2 different pans at the same time, then dump the veggies into the beef pan before adding the sauce. This way, you can cut the cooking time in half without losing any of the taste. Second, use minute rice!
You can make this recipe healthier by subbing ground turkey for the ground beef, and brown Minute rice for the regular rice.
Sides: fruit, smoothies
5. Chicken Salad Sandwiches
I make a very basic chicken salad — 1 can of chicken, 1/2 cup mayo or miracle whip, 1/4 cup chopped pickles, and salt and pepper to taste — but this base recipe can be jazzed up very easily with very little extra time. Consider adding chopped celery, green onion, red onion, or even mango!
Sides: fruit, smoothies, bagged salad, fresh veggies with dip
6. Ten Minute Tostadas
These tostadas can actually be faster than 10 minutes if you don’t make your own tostada shells. If you use pre-packaged shells, this is one of the fastest meals on the page. Just heat up your refried beans, chop a tomato, and you can assemble these tostadas in minutes! (This one is my favorite of these 15 minute dinners!)
Sides: bagged salad, fruit, smoothies, chips and salsa
7. Microwave Fried Rice
Vibrant and full of veggies and proteins, this is one of the healthiest recipes on this list! Just a few minutes in the microwave can turn minute rice, frozen veggies, eggs, and canned chicken in to a delicious meal.
Sides: fruit, smoothies
8. Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon
This recipe was originally written for large fillets, but if you use the smaller, personal-sized fillets, it cooks fast enough to make this list. I use these frozen fillets from Walmart, which do not even need to be thawed. Just place the frozen fillet on the baking sheet, drizzle the lemon juice, sprinkle the spices, and bake for 10 minutes. The salmon should flake when it’s done.
Sides: Minute rice, bagged salad, refrigerator biscuits, fruit
Browning ground beef takes under 10 minutes, making simple ground beef (or turkey!) tacos are an easy dinner for busy nights. Chop the toppings while the beef browns and let the family assemble their own tacos for a deliciously quick meal!
I don’t have a recipe for this one — I just use the taco seasoning packets that come from the store. If you want to kick it up a notch, this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe is still pretty fast!
Sides: fruit, smoothies, chips and salsa
10. Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes can be a 15 minutes dinner if you know how to use your microwave! Microwaved baked potatoes can be done in 8 minutes or less, are perfectly tender, and can be accessorized in numerous ways. Add a warmed-up can of chili for a filling and easy meal!
Sides: bagged salad, fruit, canned veggies
This 10 minute Quesadilla recipe from Cookie and Kate is a nutritious and delicious take on a simple quesadilla. It makes up quick, and tastes amazing!
Of course, if you have picky eaters, the classic cheese-only option is not only faster, but guaranteed to help you avoid arguments you don’t have time for.
Sides: smoothies, fruit, chips and salsa
12. Chicken Stirfry
Another of my husband’s specialities, this stirfry can be made with frozen veggies, canned chicken, and Minute rice for a fast meal full of lean protein and veggies.
Sides: fruit, smoothies
Bean and cheese burritos take minutes. You can dress them up by adding minute rice, veggies, salsa, or guacamole. Food.com suggests some spices you can use to level up canned refried beans to something that tastes restaurant worthy!
Sides: chips and salsa, bagged salad, fruit
14. Taco Soup
A great choice for colder nights, taco soup can be ready in just few minutes with one little tweak. While you brown the beef, heat the rest of the ingredients in the soup pan. Add the browned beef, stir it around a bit, and voilà! A quick and tasty soup you can serve with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips for a compete meal!
Sides: chips, bagged salad
Want to be the fun mom? This is how you be the fun mom. A giant tray of nachos is both fun and delicious. The basic recipe is chips and cheese, but you can customize any way your family would like. This easy chicken version from Pillsbury is a favorite of ours.
Sides: smoothies, fruit, bagged salad
That’s the list! My family loves these, and I love how easy they are. Do you have favorite 15 minute dinners? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!