Recipes You Can Have on the Table in 30 Minutes

Since few people have enough time to get a decent night’s sleep, it seems unlikely anyone would want to devote their precious evening hours to cooking a meal during the week. Unless it’s something that comes together quickly. For most, 30-minute recipes usually meet this criteria. The next time you’re feeling winded from work, look to these quick meals to get you through the week.

1. Orange Simmered Pork Chops with Mango Relish

Pork chops with oranges

Pork chops served with orange relish | iStock.com

Just when you thought you’ve tried every pork chop variation on the planet, this sweet and savory recipe from Better Homes and Gardens can prove otherwise. It’s like a quicker, more tropical version of smothered pork chops. The real genius behind this recipe is it uses frozen chops right from the freezer, so you don’t even have to worry about thawing.

Though we love the fruit relish as written, other fruit combinations work just as well. If the mangoes at your store don’t look great, try swapping in some melon instead. You can even play around with different herbs.

Ingredients:

Relish

  • 1 mango, halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 small orange or clementine, peeled and segmented
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small banana pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pork

  • 4 (¼-inch-thick) frozen, bone-in pork chops
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ cup water
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs

Directions: In a medium bowl, stir together mango, pineapple, orange, ¼ cup orange juice, red onion, banana pepper, orange peel, and cayenne. Set aside until ready to use.

Season chops with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, brown chops for 3 minutes per side. After second batch is browned, add all chops back to skillet.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining orange juice with honey. Add to skillet along with water. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, or until pork is cooked through. Spoon relish over top, cover, and simmer 1 minute longer. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm. Return pan to heat and increase heat to high. Simmer until reduced by half. Serve pork with mango relish and pan juices drizzled over top. Garnish with cilantro.

2. Easy 30-Minute Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup with lime wedges

Chicken tortilla soup with lime wedges | iStock.com

Rotisserie chicken has to be one of the greatest ingredients for cooking quick meals. Because the protein is already fully cooked, you really just have to warm it through. One of our favorite uses is this speedy chicken tortilla soup from Averie Cooks. If you’re really in a hurry, skip the tortilla strips completely and substitute crushed tortilla chips.

Ingredients:

Tortilla strips

  • 10 small corn tortillas, cut into ¼-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced small
  • 1 large jalapeño, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Optional toppings

  • Diced avocado
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and scatter tortilla strips over top. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Bake until golden and crisp, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for about 1 minute longer.

Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, chicken, corn, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add water to maintain liquid level, if needed. Stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve soup in bowls with tortilla strips and desired garnishes.

3. Wild Mushroom Quesadillas

mushroom quesadilla with guacamole

Vegetarian mushroom quesadillas | iStock.com

Whether you’re vegetarian or not, these hearty mushroom quesadillas from The New York Times make for a phenomenal meal. They’re also really easy to adapt, taking well to any variety of mushroom and melting cheese you want to use. To bulk them up even more, add some sautéed poblanos and black beans. For a speedy side to round out the meal, toss together a slaw with pre-shredded cabbage, lime juice, and a drizzle of oil.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, such as chantrelles, black trumpet, and cremini
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup mined yellow onion
  • 4 ounces grated Oaxaca or Muenster cheese
  • 4 ounces grated panela or aged mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces grated cotija or Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of ground coriander
  • 8 (8-inch) flour or corn tortillas

Directions: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and season with salt, cook until mushrooms release moisture and begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add onions and continue to cook, adjusting heat as needed, until soft and mixture is brown, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Finely chop mushroom mixture with a knife or in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and add cheeses, cilantro, oregano, and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Spoon mushroom mixture evenly into each tortilla, and fold in half to create half-moons. Working in batches, cook quesadillas until well browned and cheese is melted. Serve at once.

4. Grilled Chicken Parmesan

chicken with herb marinade on the grill

Grilled chicken with herbs | iStock.com

Even those who love a good chicken Parmesan usually lack the motivation required to pull it off after a long day. But when you turn the meal into a grilled dish with this recipe from Food Network, it’s suddenly a lot more practical. You can even cook the entire recipe on the grill by simmering the sauce right over the grate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10-inch) piece baguette
  • 1½ pounds tomatoes, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Directions: Cut off a 1½-inch piece of baguette and pulse in the food processor until you have breadcrumbs. Add tomatoes and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse until tomatoes are finely chopped.

Heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and tomato mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat a grill to medium high. Toss chicken with remaining olive oil, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Split remaining baguette in half, then cut in half again to form four even pieces.

Grill bread, cut-side down, until toasted. Grill chicken until fully cooked, about 5 minutes per side. During last 2 minutes of cook, add mozzarella to chicken. Spoon sauce over bread and top with half of Parmesan. Add a piece of chicken to each, then top with remaining sauce, basil, and remaining Parmesan.

5. Glazed Salmon with Broccoli Rice

glazed salmon

Glazed salmon | iStock.com

When you’re feeling clueless about how to get dinner on the table, think seafood. Salmon is one of our favorites because it’s loaded with good-for-you omega-3s and takes well to bold flavors. Try the fish in this speedy supper from Real Simple. With plenty of veggies, protein, and carbs, it’s a complete meal that’s as delicious as it is healthy.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 head broccoli, florets only, chopped
  • 4 (5-ounce) pieces skinless salmon fillet
  • 1 large red onion, cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions: Preheat broiler to high. In a small bowl, combine sugar and soy sauce. Set aside.

Cook rice according to package directions, adding broccoli during last 3 minutes of cooking. Let stand off heat until broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, place salmon and onion or a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Broil until salmon is opaque, about 8 to 10 minutes, spooning half of soy glaze over fish during last 2 minutes.

Serve salmon and onion over rice with remaining glaze.

6. 30-Minute Lemon Spaghetti with Sausage and Spinach

creamy mushroom and sausage pasta on a white plate

Creamy pasta dish with mushrooms and sausage | iStock.com

As much as we all love pasta, the same gloppy tomato sauce gets boring after a while. For something totally different that fits firmly in the realm of 30-minute recipes, try this lemon spaghetti from Little Broken. It’s brimming with bold flavor thanks to the citrus, sweet Italian sausage, and plenty of Parmesan cheese. For those who prefer something with a bit more heat, opt for spicy sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Cook pasta according package directions. Drain, reserving ⅓ cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking apart, until golden and fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cream and reserved pasta water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Add lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted.

Add pasta to skillet along with Parmesan. Toss to combine and serve at once.

7. Hearty Steakhouse Salad

close-up of a juicy steak served with an arugula and tomato salad

Steak salad with tomatoes | iStock.com

You might not be able to make a traditional steakhouse meal during the week, but this substantial salad from Good Housekeeping is one of the best 30-minute recipes to get you close to the real thing. The best part is the homemade blue cheese dressing, which is easier than you might think. Just blend some sour cream, milk, and blue cheese along with some seasonings, then you’re good to go. Any leftover dressing is great for sandwiches or a dip for raw veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1¼ pounds New York strip steaks
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • ¼ cup fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • 3 tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped

Directions: Preheat a grill to medium. Cut onion into ½-inch-thick rounds, keeping intact. Lightly brush onion slices and steaks on both sides with oil. Season steaks with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper

Grill onion and steak, covered, until onions are well browned and tender, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, and steak is cooked to your desired degree of doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to a large cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, milk, blue cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, hot sauce, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined.

Cut onion slices in half and slice steak. Arrange romaine on a platter and top with onion, steak, and tomatoes. Serve with dressing.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec