Recipes for 3-Ingredient Dinners That Anyone Can Make

Except for the rare individual who manages to plan a week’s worth of meals in advance, most people struggle to figure out what to cook for dinner each night. While searching for some simple recipes during a break can be helpful, even some of those easy meals require a lot of ingredients. Trying to maneuver a grocery cart through the after-work crowd isn’t the best way to unwind, so keeping ingredients to a bare minimum is crucial.

It might sound too good to be true, but we’ve unearthed six recipes that only require three ingredients, in addition to staples like salt and oil. That means you can breeze through the supermarket without even grabbing a basket. Supper just became a lot less stressful.

1. 3-Ingredient Tomato Soup

3-ingredient dinners

Tomato soup | iStock.com

Canned soup has a tendency to taste like, well, a can. Besides, most varieties have a long list of bizarre ingredients. Time, rather than additives, is the secret ingredient in this tomato soup from Inspired Taste. All you have to do is melt some better, add tomatoes, onion, and water, then let the mixture simmer. After 40 minutes, blend the soup to creamy perfection. If you’re not too wiped out, a grilled cheese makes the perfect accompaniment.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: Melt butter in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot set over medium heat. Stir in onion, water, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste soup and season with additional salt, if needed.

Using an immersion blender purée soup to your desired consistency. Alternatively, use a regular blender, working in batches. Serve.

2. Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops

glazed pork chop on lettuce leaves over a white platter

Pork chops | iStock.com

Give chicken the night off by making Real Simple’s sweet and tangy pork chops. A combination of apricot preserves and balsamic vinegar make a flavorful sauce in next to no time. Because this recipe is so minimal, you can easily adapt it to make fewer servings. You might want to make a whole batch, though, because leftovers will taste great tossed with some cooked grains and spinach for lunch.

Though the basic glaze is great, you can get more creative simply by using different preserves or another type of vinegar. Orange marmalade with white wine vinegar would be great. You can even find jams with fun add-ins, such as ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (1-inch-thick, 10-ounce) bone-in pork chops
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions: Heat oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook until browned on outside and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Add apricot preserves and vinegar to skillet and cook, turning pork to coat until coated, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Serve.

3. Cacio e Pepe

close up of pasta with cheese and black pepper with olive oil in the background

Cacio e pepe | iStock.com

This traditional Italian pasta literally translates to cheese and pepper, which clearly spells out exactly what three ingredients you’ll need. Many modern versions incorporate additional cheeses and butter, but The Italian Dish sticks stays simple with their take on the creamy pasta. That being said, tossing a few handfuls of frozen peas in at the very end is an easy way to boost this meal’s nutritional value.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1½ cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, following package directions.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook until fragrant. Use tongs to transfer pasta to the skillet, allowing water to cling to the pasta. Swirl to coat pasta with olive oil. Add cheese and continue to mix pasta until well coated. If needed, add a few more splashes of pasta water to achieve a creamy sauce. Serve at once.

4. 3-Ingredient Barbecue Chicken-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato stuffed with barbecue chicken, sour cream, and cheese

Sweet potato stuffed with barbecue chicken | iStock.com

When you want a truly complete meal for hardly any work, make The Comfort of Cooking’s barbecue chicken sweet potatoes. You’ll get plenty of protein, fiber, and a whopping dose of immune system-boosting vitamin A. Feel free to add any other toppings you have in your fridge to dress up these sweet potatoes even more.

Want to make this recipe even easier? Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, then shred the meat right into the pot along with the barbecue sauce. You’ll also have extra chicken for fast meals later in the week.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, halved
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • ⅓ cup barbecue sauce, plus more

Optional garnish

  • Chopped parsley or sliced green onions

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes, cut-side up, on a large baking sheet. Transfer tray to oven and bake until sweet potatoes are tender, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine chicken and barbecue sauce in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Top each potato half with a generous scoop of chicken. Top with additional barbecue sauce and sprinkle with parsley or green onion, if using. Serve.

5. Mustard Salmon

salon with a mustard and herb topping served with peppers, tomatoes, and asparagus

Mustard salmon | iStock.com

For the fastest route to dinner, go for seafood. This mustard salmon from Woman’s Day makes things super easy by cooking the fillets in a hot oven. This method is gentler than searing on the stove, so you’ll be a lot less likely to overcook the fish. If you prefer your salmon a bit rarer, it’ll be ready even sooner.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1¼ pounds skinless salmon fillet

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Whisk mustard and maple syrup in a small bowl to combine.

Place salmon on prepared baking sheet and top with the mustard mixture. Roast until salmon is opaque, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve.

6. Lemon and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza

thinly slicing a lemon on a cutting board

Slicing lemon | iStock.com

The same combination of pepperoni and sausage every week can make pizza night pretty boring. For something totally different, whip up this white pie topped with smoked mozzarella and lemon slices from O, The Oprah Magazine. The combination of the rich cheese and bright citrus is unexpected, but completely delicious. It might become your next go-to.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • ½ pound smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 small lemon, very thinly sliced, seeds and ends discarded
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Stretch and press dough into a 14-inch circle on a large pizza pan or stone. Arrange mozzarella and lemon slices evenly over crust. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.