One-Pan Dinners Promising a Delicious Meal and Easy Cleanup

Persuading yourself to cook dinner at home is easier when the recipe promises an effortless cleanup. Takeout is convenient because it entails no post-meal cleaning. But homemade dinners are better for both your waistline and wallet, and they don’t have to create a big mess. Many dinner recipes require only one pan, making the cooking and cleanup painless. We’re highlighting the best one-pan dinners that will get you in the kitchen. There’s a dish on this list for everyone.

1. Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

meat in a pan

Meat in a pan | iStock.com

First up is a dinner for both the meat and vegetable lovers in your family. This recipe for pork chops with balsamic roasted vegetables from Cooking Light takes 20 minutes of prep time and just one roasting pan. The pork is the first to get loaded into the pan, followed by the potatoes and vegetables. Take your roasting pan from the stove to the oven to ensure all of your components are cooked evenly. And then it’s time to top your meat and vegetables with a balsamic vinegar mixture and Gorgonzola cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces small red potatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 ounce Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about ¼ cup)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large heavy roasting pan over high heat. Sprinkle pork evenly with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place pork on a plate (pork will not be cooked through). Reduce heat to medium-high. Add potatoes to pan, cut sides down; cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Combine remaining ½ teaspoon pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and tomato paste in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 2 tablespoons balsamic mixture, thyme, onion, and mushrooms in a bowl, tossing to coat. Add mushroom mixture to pan. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Arrange pork chops over vegetables; bake 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove pork from pan. Sprinkle vegetable mixture with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Place 1 cup vegetable mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 pork chop, 2 teaspoons remaining balsamic vinegar mixture, 1½ teaspoons parsley, and 1 tablespoon Gorgonzola cheese.

2. Linguine with Spicy Shrimp

pasta with sautéed shrimp

Shrimp pasta | Pixabay

A delicious meal of linguine with spicy shrimp can also be prepared in just one pot or pan. This recipe from Real Simple looks and tastes sophisticated, but it’s easy to make. Everything will go into a pasta pot, including the linguine, shrimp, and a spicy sauce made from garlic, red pepper, lemon zest, and salt. The recipe serves 4 and will be a treat for both the chef and cleanup crew. Have your delicious dinner on the table in 20 minutes, and expect your post-meal mess to require even less time than that.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ pound linguine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp, tails removed (raw)
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • bunches watercress, thick stems removed and torn (about 6 cups)
  • tablespoon grated lemon zest

Directions: Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¾ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta. Wipe out the pot.

Heat the oil in the pasta pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, red pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta, watercress, lemon zest, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes (adding more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce).

3. Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Broccolini

chicken meal on a plate

Chicken | iStock.com

It’s time for some chicken — lemon-rosemary chicken served with roasted broccolini to be exact. Country Living’s recipe promises easy prep and cleanup, and dinner can be on the table in less than an hour. Cook your chicken and broccolini on the same baking sheet. The chicken goes in the oven first for 20 minutes, after which you’ll add in your broccolini and bake for about 14 more minutes. This lemon-rosemary chicken boasts big flavor and a great nutritional profile, and it easily serves 4. This time around, you’ll definitely want leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices, divided
  • 4 small bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 2½ pounds total)
  • 2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound)
  • 1 red onion, cut into ½-inch wedges
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for serving

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine parsley, rosemary, garlic, Dijon, and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Place 8 lemon slices and half of rosemary mixture underneath skin of chicken, dividing evenly. Rub remaining rosemary mixture over chicken, dividing evenly. Roast, on a rimmed baking sheet, 20 to 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss broccolini, onion, red pepper, remaining lemon slices, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove baking sheet from oven, and arrange vegetables around chicken. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 12 to 14 minutes.

Serve with red pepper for sprinkling.

4. 1-Pan Chili Chicken

chili in a bowl with cheese sprinkled over the top

Chili | iStock.com

Combine your two favorite dinners into one with this one-pan chili chicken from Food Network. Everything goes down in a nonstick skillet. The star ingredients include chicken, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, rice, and peas. The important chili seasonings flavor the whole dish. And your dinner will cook covered for 20 minutes before you can serve it to yourself and 3 lucky guests. Instead of deciding between chili and chicken tonight, make the decision easy on yourself and cook both. Your dinner promises to be as delicious as the cleanup will be painless. Tuck into the comfort food before the warmer weather is upon us.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¾ pounds boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ pound small red potatoes cut into quarters, about 8 potatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
  • ¾ cups long grain rice
  • 1½ cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Directions: Heat the oil in a nonstick paella pan, wok pan, or 12-inch skillet. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and set aside. Add the onions and potatoes and cook, stirring often, until onions have softened and are lightly golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add carrots, garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, tomatoes, rice, broth, and the cooked chicken. If it appears too dry, add more liquid. Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove cover, and add the peas to the top without stirring in. Cover and cook 5 minutes more or until rice is cooked through and soft.

5. Glazed Salmon with Vegetables and Oranges

Salmon

Salmon | iStock.com

Next up is a no-mess fish dish that you’ll go back to again and again. The recipe for glazed salmon comes from Southern Living. It yields a 4-serving meal that can be prepared in only 25 minutes. Everything is cooked on a foil-lined sheet pan, and seasonal vegetables and citrus accompany your glazed salmon. The fuss-free dinner is packed with vitamins, minerals, omega-3s, and lean protein, making it that much easier to eat healthfully

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound fresh medium asparagus
  • 8 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 small orange, cut into ¼- to ½-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (5- to 6-ounce) fresh salmon fillets
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Directions: Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Whisk together honey and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Place asparagus, green beans, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to coat.

Place salmon in center of a heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Brush salmon with about 2 tablespoons honey mixture. Spread asparagus mixture around salmon.

Broil 4 minutes; remove from oven, and brush salmon with about 2 tablespoons honey mixture. Return to oven, and broil 4 minutes more. Remove from oven, and brush salmon with remaining honey mixture. Return to oven, and broil 2 minutes more. Serve immediately.

6. Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

bowl with risotto

Risotto | iStock.com

Good news: We’ve found a way to make risotto that doesn’t require hours of stirring or cleanup. Enter: butternut squash baked risotto from Martha Stewart. It’s simple comfort food that can come from just one pot. The dreamy vegetarian dinner tastes indulgent but is actually cream-free. It gets its flavor from shallots, garlic, thyme, wine, butternut squash, and broth. Bake your risotto in the oven until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. In 20 minutes, you’ll be ready to go, and you can garnish your baked risotto with Parmesan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium butternut squash (2 pounds), peeled and diced medium (4 cups)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch black (Tuscan) or curly kale, tough stems removed, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick strips
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add squash and broth; bring mixture to a boil. Stir in kale. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan.

7. Sheet Pan Steak and Vegetables

steak dinner with asparagus

Steak and asparagus | iStock.com

The next recipe from The Kitchn proves you can have a homemade steak dinner without an aggressive cleanup. The food formula yields a steak and vegetables dinner that comes together on just one sheet pan. You can use any vegetables you like. Put them in the oven on the baking sheet first before the steak joins them. Once the steak has cooked to desired doneness, serve your steak and vegetables with a fresh herb butter and only worry about having to clean one pan.

Ingredients:

Fresh herb butter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the steak and veggies:

  • Oil or cooking spray
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pound baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds (1-inch-thick) top sirloin steak, patted dry

Directions: Arrange a rack 6 inches from the broiling element in the oven and heat to broil. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet or coat it with cooking spray.

Make the fresh herb butter: Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

Spread out the asparagus, carrots, and tomatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Add the olive oil, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss to combine.

Broil until the carrots are slightly tender, about 7 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Season the steaks with salt and pepper, and add them to the baking sheet in a single layer.

Return the baking sheet to the oven, and broil until the steak is browned and charred at the edges, flipping once, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until desired doneness. Serve immediately topped with the fresh herb butter.

8. Smoked Turkey, Kale, and Rice Bake

casserole of pasta with zucchini and tomato with cheese

Baked casserole | iStock.com

If turkey is your meat of choice, this recipe from Eating Well is for you. It’s a skillet dinner you’ll want to dive into. Eating Well’s smoked turkey, kale, and rice bake requires one large, ovenproof skillet and 20 minutes of active time. Combine smoked turkey breast, quick-cooking rice, cottage cheese, kale, celery, leeks, and tomatoes in your skillet over heat until it’s time to move the operation to the oven. In the oven, cook your turkey, kale, and rice bake until the liquid has been absorbed and the extra addition of cheddar cheese is bubbling. And then it’s bon appetit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 4 cups slivered kale leaves
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-fat, no-salt-added cottage cheese
  • 1 cup instant or quick-cooking brown rice
  • 6 ounces smoked turkey breast or smoked tofu, chopped (1½ cups)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Directions: Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add kale and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until the kale begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese, rice, turkey, water, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

Stir the rice mixture, increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Spread cheese on top. Broil until the cheese is bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.

9. Asparagus and Pancetta Penne

penne dish

Penne | iStock.com

Back to the creamy carb game, we come to this penne recipe from Cooking Light. It’s an asparagus and pancetta penne that lets you eat your seasonal vegetables, while getting in the bacon, too. The colorful dish couldn’t be more delicious, and it promises an easy cleanup, too, thanks to everything cooking in one large saute pan. If you can add ingredients to a pan, you can make this asparagus and pancetta penne. It serves 6 and will take 45 minutes start to finish. Improve your pasta skills with this one-pot dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces chopped pancetta
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • ¼ cup white wine or 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 3 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
  • 12 ounces uncooked whole-wheat penne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper

Directions: Combine flour and butter in a bowl until a paste forms.

Place a large high-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pancetta; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until browned and liquid evaporates. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring to loosen browned bits. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt. Transfer mixture to a plate.

Add stock, 2 cups milk, penne, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in peas, asparagus, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, remaining 1 cup milk, and thyme; cook 2 minutes. Add butter-flour paste, in pieces, stirring constantly to combine and thicken. Remove from heat; stir in mushroom mixture, parsley, rind, and black pepper.

10. Honey Sesame Tofu and Green Beans

tofu cooking in a pan

Tofu | iStock.com

Our last recipe from The Kitchn can appeal to eaters of all kinds, especially vegetarians. Requiring only one baking sheet, it proves making tofu at home doesn’t need to be a big production. This dinner of honey sesame tofu and green beans is healthy and satisfying, while also being fun for your taste buds. The sweetness of the honey in the tofu marinade counteracts the spice from the ginger and red pepper flakes. Your end result of honey sesame tofu pairs perfectly with crunchy roasted green beans. Before you know it, you’ve brought an Asian dinner to your own kitchen. The recipe feeds 4, and you can swap in any vegetables that you like.

Ingredients:

  • Oil or cooking spray
  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

Directions: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.

Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towels, and place the tofu on top. Cover with more paper towels, and place a heavy item on top, pressing down on the tofu. Let rest for at least 10 to 30 minutes.

Whisk the soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, and sesame oil together in a large bowl; set aside.

Cut the tofu into triangles, and place in a single layer on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with soy sauce mixture. Bake until golden brown on the bottom, 12 to 13 minutes.

Flip the tofu. Add the green beans onto the opposite side of the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper.

Return to the oven, and bake until the tofu is golden brown on the second side, 10 to 12 minutes more. Sprinkle with the scallions and sesame seeds, and serve immediately.