All too often we get home from work, or dinner time just rolls around and we realize we have nothing planned at all. Haven’t even given it a single thought all day.
If this sounds like you, here are 26 last-minute dinner ideas you can take advantage of. Stock up your pantry, or check it out on your way home from work and hit up the local grocery store on the way, and you’ll be able to whip up a delicious meal in no time.
Whether you are a vegetarian or a massive meat-eater, there are options for everyone who needs dinner and needs it fast!
While you do have to press the tofu for 15 minutes, the cooking time is very quick on this dish. This meal is all about the seasoning, so make sure you don’t leave any out. Hopefully, it’s all stuff you’ll have on hand, like cumin and smoked paprika, and once it’s all mixed up it really is only about 10 minutes of cooking time.
Perhaps you feel like spaghetti but don’t have time to stand over the stove cooking? This is a quick-to-prepare pasta dish that you can pop in the oven for 25 minutes while you settle in and get ready for the night. The shredded mozzarella and chicken give a healthy dose of protein as well.
3. Taco Pockets
For a much quicker version of taco night, check out this taco pockets recipe. It takes flatout bread, stuffs it with taco filling, and then bakes like little samosas. Much quicker and less clean up than making an entire taco spread, but just as tasty!
The excellent thing about shrimp, aside from being super healthy, is that it cooks really quickly. These have a delicious flavor dripping off them as well, think lime, apple, and red pepper. The longer they marinate the better, so you can do it the day before, but if you’re in a rush 20 mins is fine, and then throw them on the grill for a few minutes more.
Stir fries should be your number one go-to meal for a last-minute dinner. They come together so quickly, and you can basically use anything you have in your fridge. Shrimp is called for in this recipe, and it’s a great choice of protein due to the quick cooking time. The paprika and orange add great flavor too.
This can be a complicated and time-consuming dish to make. However, this recipe calls for the use of a jarred sauce. Score! By adding in a few fresh ingredients, like parmesan and chicken, it takes the taste up a notch from merely throwing it on pasta. The use of tortelloni is smart because it’s a quick-cooking pasta. Nobody needs a 20-minute fusilli after a long day at work.
Even the title sounds fast. It’s not only quick to make, but it’s great for a last-minute dinner because you’re very likely to have all the ingredients already in your house. Pork chops (or other meat, like chicken breast, turkey, or fish), panko crumbs, egg, and spices. They only take about 15 minutes to cook in the air fryer.
A classic chili is surprisingly quick to make and also makes a brilliant last-minute dinner because it uses such basic ingredients. It’s also one of those meals you can sub out a lot of the ingredients depending on what you have already. Things like peppers and corn are delicious veg to add to chili. If you want it to be lower in calories, it’s important to track down 99% fat-free meat though.
For a last-minute dinner in the summer, these salad bowls are very simple to put together. The grilled chicken has a yummy marinade of herbs like oregano, thyme, and basil. The salad is made of chopped cucumber and tomato, as well as olives, avocado, and red pepper. The feta is then crumbled on top adding a salty flavor.
Chucking a potato in the oven is a pretty easy last-minute dinner. Simple toppings can include tuna or shredded cheddar, but this recipe suggests you step up your baked potato game. It has you adding cheese, jalapenos, ranch, and bacon bits. Oh my!
Having a good roasted vegetables recipe up your sleeve is great in a time-crush. It’s a great way to use up any potatoes, carrots, or other root veg, alongside things like onions and peppers. Pair it with a roasted chicken breast, or salmon fillet, and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded meal!
This recipe is so simple, yet so much tastier than just a plain cheese quesadilla. For the filling, you’ll need chicken, ranch, shredded cheese, cream cheese, and hot sauce. That’s it! Perfect for when you need to whip up dinner quickly.
Need a dinner last minute but want something fancier than just throwing a frozen pizza in the oven? This comes out looking way better than an ordinary pizza and is almost as easy. All you need is a pack of biscuits, pepperoni, cheese sticks, and shredded cheese. Oh, and a marinara sauce for dipping if you want to go all out!
Anything in one pot is ideal for cooking dinner quickly and with minimal mess. You basically fry the chicken and vegetables, and let them simmer in the sauce for about 15 minutes. Who knew you could have such a wholesome meal cooked so quickly?
This recipe from Eat Well 101 makes a great meal paired with vegetables like broccoli or some mini roasted potatoes. Its a pretty simple meal, easy to prepare as it’s mainly all about the shrimp and the cajun seasoning so if you’ve got those, you’re good to go.
Any dinner ready in 20 minutes is a winner! Again, using shrimp cuts down your cooking time substantially as it’s ready in a few minutes. The flavors Sally’s Baking Addiction come up with are so yummy, the sweetness of the honey coupled with the garlic makes for a delicious dinner. It goes well served alongside rice and vegetables.
A super quick dinner because you just chuck it all on one baking tray and roast it. It has a delicious glaze, giving the dinner a feel of an afternoon of preparation not 10 minutes of work. Thank you Eat Yourself Skinny for this beauty!
It sounds extravagant but in reality, this recipe from The Kitchn is a very quick meal to prepare. The main flavor is balsamic vinegar and because you don’t want to overcook a steak tip, it works perfectly for a last-minute dinner.
Anything going on a sheet pan works great once if you need to throw something together quickly at the end of the day. Gnocchi cooks really quickly as well, making it a great carb to add. Just roast the veg, add the gnocchi and for a decadent finish The Kitchn recommends tearing creamy burrata on top.
This double B recipe from Damn Delicious is an easy last minute dinner filling you with plenty of protein and iron. The sauce is quite a simple one, combining condiments like soy sauce and sriracha with ginger. Don’t forget the sprinkling of sesame seeds on top, because it adds an extra layer of flavor that just makes it pop!
A really, really quick dinner would just be instant noodles in the sachet of soup seasoning. Baker By Nature takes the two-minute meal and steps it up and into the 20-minute category. Still quick, just not quite lightning, and makes it feel like more of a whole meal as opposed to student life. The soft-boiled egg on top finishes the dinner off nicely.
The Glowing Fridge’s recipe is jam-packed full of goodness, all topped with a deliciously flavourful tahini dressing. Quinoa and kale are bursting with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Any leftover dressing can be used on other foods, like in wraps or sandwiches.
This dinner from Pinch of Yum is super quick and only needs a few ingredients, which are easily found if you pop into the store on your way home from work. Sugar, salt, pepper, and oil are the only ingredients you need for the glaze, and it’s delicious served alongside spinach or rice.
Pasta dishes are always good last minute because they can include basically anything you have on hand. This recipe from Pinch of Yum suggests a delicious combo of roasted tomatoes, pesto, lemon, and feta. Takes about 20 minutes to prepare but tastes like it took hours!
25. Fish Taco Bowls
Fish tacos are super yummy, but not really a last-minute dinner, they are more of a slave-in-the-kitchen meal. This recipe from The Live Kitchen takes the elements of a fish taco and presents them in a bowl, which is visually appealing but also easy and delicious. You can use all of the same toppings as you would on a fish taco, like cilantro and salsa, or if you’re in a rush just use what you have in the house already.
Half-baked Harvest brings us this very simple French bread pizza, which sounds very posh from its name, but I assure you it’s easy. It’s a meal to make when you’re out of everything and involves sauteeing the tomatoes and vegetables while crisping up some basil in the oven for a slightly different flavor of the garden herb.
26 Last Minute Dinner Ideas
- Chipotle Sofitas (Copycat Recipe)
- Chicken Parmesan Spaghetti Bake
- Taco Pockets
- Weight Watchers Grilled Shrimp Skewers
- Weight Watchers Shrimp Stir Fry
- Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo with Grilled Chicken (Copycat Recipe)
- Shake N Bake Pork Chops
- Spicy Chicken Chili
- Easy Greek Salad Chicken Bowls
- Jalapeno Loaded Baked Potato
- Roasted Vegetables
- Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
- Pull Apart Pizza Bread
- One Pot Mexican Rice and Chicken
- Cajun Shrimp Skillet
- 20 Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp
- Sheet Pan Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon
- Balsamic Glazed Steak Tips and Mushrooms
- Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Veggies
- Beef with Broccoli
- Spicy Ramen Noodle Bowl
- Green Goddess Bowl with Edamame, Zucchini, and Kale
- Caramelized Salmon
- Lemon Pesto Penne
- Fish Taco Bowls
- Simple Crispy Basil Caramelized Garden Vegetable + Fontana French Bread Pizza
- Choose your favorite recipe.
- Click the link of your favorite recipe.
- Follow the instructions of the linked recipe.