Tasty 20-Minute Meals to Cook for Dinner Tonight

Home-cooked meals are the best, but sometimes it can seem like preparing dinner is the equivalent of a part-time job. To eat well and still have a life, you need to develop a stable of quick and easy recipes to turn to when you’re in a rush. These 20-minute meals may not count as fine cooking, but they’ll get dinner on the table, fast (which is sometimes all that really counts). Here are seven meals you can whip up in less time than watching a full episode of Seinfeld.

1. 20-Minute Lasagna

lasagna on plate

Skillet lasagna | iStock.com

Lasagna that doesn’t take two hours to prep and bake? We’re on board with that idea. You cook everything in one-skillet (yes, even the noodles) in this ultra-efficient and meaty lasagna recipe from Kevin & Amanda. You don’t even need to turn on the oven to make this convenient weeknight meal.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (9.6-ounce) bag Jimmy Dean pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles, or substitute ½ pound cooked pork breakfast sausage
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into quarters
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste, about ½ teaspoon each
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls

Directions: Add the ground beef and the onions to a large skillet. Cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned. Drain off fat. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add the pre-cooked sausage, lasagna noodles, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 15 minutes, shaking the skillet occasionally to distribute the noodles.

Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese. Top with the mozzarella pearls. Place pan under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve.

2. Cobb Salad with Rotisserie Chicken

close up of cobb salad in white plate

Cobb salad | iStock.com

Some salad recipes aren’t hearty enough to serve as a main course for dinner, but that’s not the case with this take on a classic cobb salad from The Simple Skillet. Packed with filling ingredients like pre-cooked roast chicken, bacon, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs, this dish will fill your belly and takes just 15 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken, chopped, white meat, skin removed
  • 10 ounces lettuce, such as butter or large green leafy, rough chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, reduced sodium, browned and crumbled
  • ½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, balsamic
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, bottled minced
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, black, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  • 2 lard hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • ¼ red onion, chopped (optional)

Directions: Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp (or bake the bacon in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Drain on a paper towel. Once cool, crumble into small pieces.

As the bacon cooks, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and chopped chives to a bowl. Mix until fully combined. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with the lettuce. Pour the dressing over and toss. Arrange the chicken, avocado, bacon crumbles, blue cheese, tomatoes, egg, pine nuts, and chopped onions on top of the lettuce. Serve.

3. Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping

Sliced medium-rare steak

Sliced steak | iStock.com

Quick dinners don’t have to be short on style. This easy steak recipe is ready in about 15 minutes, but it won’t look like you cut corners in the kitchen. Simply stick the steak under the broiler, and as the meat cooks, prepare a simple tomato-jalapeño sauce. Serve with a side of minute rice, couscous, or orzo for a complete meal. Recipe from Cooking Light.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: Preheat broiler. Combine 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and red pepper; sprinkle evenly over steak. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning once. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeño to pan; cook 1 minute. Add remaining ¼ teaspoon cumin, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and tomatoes to pan; cook 3 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro. Serve tomato topping with steak.

4. Grilled Turkey Burgers

turkey burger

Turkey burger | iStock.com

Turkey burgers are a lower-fat alternative to traditional beef burgers, but too often they’re a poor substitute for the real deal. This recipe from Once Upon a Chef solves the problem of the tasteless turkey patty by mixing flavorful Italian turkey sausage in with the ground turkey. With just a handful of other ingredients, you can have these healthy and delicious burgers on the table in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 1.3 pounds 93% lean ground turkey
  • 6 links (or 1¼ pounds) hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 hamburger buns

Directions: Remove the sausage from the casings. Place the sausage in a large bowl along with the ground turkey. Add the pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon. Mix with your hands until well combined. Shape into 8, ½-inch thick patties. Cover and set aside until ready to cook.

Preheat grill to high. Grease the grill by dipping paper towels in vegetable oil, then use tongs to rub the towels on the grate. Once the grill is ready, place the turkey patties on the grate, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Flip, cover again, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Warm hamburger buns on the grill. Place cooked patties on the buns, garnish with your favorite toppings, then serve.

5. Shrimp Fried Rice

fried rice with shrimp and veggies

Shrimp fried rice | iStock.com

Don’t let the leftover rice from last night’s takeout go to waste. Instead use it to make this quick and easy shrimp fried rice recipe from Steamy Kitchen. In fact, using day-old, chilled rice is key to successfully preparing this dish. You’ll also want to cook all the ingredients separately and use high heat for the best results.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces small uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 3 eggs, beaten in a small bowl
  • 2 stalks scallion or green onion, minced
  • 4 cups previously cooked leftover rice, grains separated well
  • ¾ cup frozen carrots and peas, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions: Toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper, and cornstarch in a bowl. Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Once the wok is very hot, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and swirl to coat.

Add the shrimp to the pan, spreading them out so they don’t overlap. Cook without stirring for 30 seconds. Flip the shrimp over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside. Leave as much oil in the pan as possible when transferring shrimp.

Reduce heat to medium and let the pan warm up again. Add the eggs, stirring quickly to break up and scramble. Cook until the eggs are nearly done, and remove from pan and place in the same dish as the shrimp.

Wipe out the wok with a paper towel. Turn heat to high and add 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling again to coat. Once the oil is very hot, add the green onions and cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds. Add the rice, stirring to combine with the green onions. Spread evenly throughout the wok and let cook without stirring for 1 to 2 minutes, until you hear the grains start to sizzle. Toss the rice with a spatula.

Drizzle soy sauce over the rice. Toss to coat. Add the peas and carrots, then the shrimp, egg, and sesame oil. Toss until everything is well mixed. Continue to cook until everything is heated through and the rice is very hot. Remove from heat, taste, and add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce if needed for additional flavor. Serve immediately.

6. 20-Minute Chickpea Curry

Chickpea curry with rice in a bowl

Chickpea curry | iStock.com

Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will salivate over this chickpea curry that’s perfect for busy weeknights. Start buy sautéing veggies like carrot and red pepper, then add the chickpeas and simmer for a few minutes with coconut milk and curry paste. Serve the results over rice for a comforting and healthy meal. Recipe from Creme de La Crumb.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced crosswise
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Cooked white rice (optional)

Directions: Add the oil to a large pan and heat over medium-high. Add the snow peas, onions, carrots, and red peppers. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, lime juice, yellow curry powder, chickpeas, garlic salt, and salt to the pan. Stir to combine and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until the chickpeas are warmed through. Season to taste with salt, then serve over warm rice and top with cilantro.

7. 20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas

cheesy chicken enchiladas with red enchilada sauce

20-minute chicken enchiladas | iStock.com

Most enchilada recipes take way more than 20 minutes to make, but not this simplified version from The Way to His Heart. Using ingredients like pre-chopped onion and a store-bought rotisserie chicken saves on prep time, while cooking the enchiladas under the broiler is faster than baking them in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pre-chopped onion
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 3 cups shredded skinless boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 15 ounces)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 ounces shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream

Directions: Preheat broiler. Add the onion, chicken stock, flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, salt, and tomato sauce to a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and cook until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1½ cups of the sauce. Add chicken and beans to the remaining sauce in the pan and cook until chicken is heated through.

Stack the tortillas, wrap in damp paper towels, and heat in the microwave on high for 25 seconds. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Add about 1/3 cup of the chicken and bean mixture to the center of each warmed tortilla. Roll up and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Once you’ve assembled all the enchiladas, top with the remaining sauce and the cheese. Broil for 3 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Top with tomato and cilantro and serve with sour cream.

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