Cooking and baking from a limited supply in the kitchen is easier than it sounds. Provided you are already armed with salt, pepper, and butter or oil, your next kitchen adventure only needs three ingredients. Then you’ll be ready to throw together breakfast, make a side dish, serve a steak dinner, or even indulge in a dessert. Worried the dish will be bland? That is a concern that you won’t give a second thought to after you explore these eight recipes that are short on ingredients but that promise a big impact.
1. Paleo Pancakes
Whatever your thoughts are concerning the Paleo diet, going grain free at breakfast means you can have pancakes with just three ingredients. Ultimate Paleo Guide lets you know exactly how to get a plate full of flapjacks, explaining that the more almond butter you load into the tablespoon, the closer you are to a traditional pancake texture.
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter
- butter or coconut oil
Directions: Mash up the bananas. Add in the egg and mix into the batter. Stir in the almond butter to the mix. Cover pan with butter or coconut oil. Cook the pancakes until brown on each side.
2. Grilled Spiced Chicken Wings
When taking a minimalistic approach to cooking, make sure the ingredients you are using can really make an impact. The seafood seasoning in Real Simple‘s chicken wings will bring that desired flavor force to your dish. This recipe serves 4.
- 8 chicken wings (about 1½ pounds), halved through the joint
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ranch dressing, for dipping (optional)
Directions: Heat grill to medium. In a large bowl, toss the wings with the oil and 1 teaspoon of the seafood seasoning. Grill, uncovered, turning once, until cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the butter and the remaining teaspoon of seafood seasoning. Add the wings and toss to combine. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping, if desired.
3. Spinach Pizza
Getting the most out of spices is one way to make an impact with only a few items, but so is making the most out of foods that are already prepared. Pizza squares that are entirely snack-worthy are possible when you have a container of spinach dip and this recipe from Sargento. It will make 6 servings.
- 1 (10-ounce) thin crust pizza shell
- 1 container (8 ounces) prepared spinach dip
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheese (mozzarella or cheese blend)
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pizza shell on baking sheet. Spread dip evenly over crust; top with cheese. Bake for 14 minutes or until cheese is brown around the edges. Cut into wedges and serve.
4. Shells and White Cheddar
Creamy macaroni and cheese is well within your three-ingredient reach, She Makes and Bakes says. When served as a side dish, you’ll get about four servings out of this recipe. Use any small pasta noodles and cheese you have on hand, such as elbow macaroni and sharp cheddar, if desired.
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups shells (or other pasta)
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese (or preferred cheese)
Directions: In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and pasta to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often and making sure that the milk doesn’t boil. Once the pasta is al dente, remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted. If you like it a little creamier, you can add more milk. Add salt to taste.
5. Grilled Skirt Steak with Poblano-Corn Sauce and Salsa
With this recipe from Food & Wine you’re still only using three main ingredients, but by the time the food makes it to your plate, you’ll think you cooked with a lot more than that.
- 2 ears of corn, husked
- 1 large poblano chile
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1¾ pounds skirt steak, cut into 5-inch pieces
Directions: Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Rub the corn and poblano lightly with oil and grill over high heat, just until the corn is lightly browned and the poblano is lightly charred all over but still firm, about 3 minutes. Peel and core the poblano, then finely dice it. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs. Transfer half of the poblano and corn to a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water and puree to a chunky sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, toss the remaining poblano and corn kernels with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the steaks with oil and season them generously with salt and pepper. Grill the steaks over high heat, turning once or twice, until lightly charred, about 6 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain. Spoon the sauce onto plates and top with the steak. Spoon the salsa on the meat and serve right away.
6. Whipped Potatoes
When you need a speedy side dish with simple ingredients, whip together the potatoes featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. Butter and heavy cream ensure you’ll still have rich potatoes and enough for 10 to 12 servings.
- 2 pounds (about 5 to 6) Idaho Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup heavy heavy cream , brought to a boil and kept warm
- 6 tablespoons butter , softened to room temperature
- Salt and cracked black pepper
Directions: In a large saucepan, cover the chopped potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are very tender when stabbed with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Return to the saucepan and add the cream and butter. With a hand mixer, blend until just smooth (do not over-whip). Season generously with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
7. Peanut Butter Cookies
Swap out the bananas for sugar and change over to peanut butter from the Paleo pancakes recipe, and you have these old-fashioned peanut butter cookies from Barefeet in the Kitchen. The 1:1:1 ratio yields 18 cookies.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the ingredients together until smooth. Scoop or roll 1 inch onto a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Press down with the back of a fork and then press again from the opposite direction to form a criss cross pattern on top.
The cookies do not spread at all. You can bake the full recipe on a single tray, if you would like. Bake for 12 minutes and then let cool on the tray for 1-2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
8. Apple Dump Cake
Do desserts get much easier than dump cakes? Probably not. Always made with just a few ingredients and without concern for presentation, dump cakes should be your go-to when you need dessert in a flash. Try this apple version from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures to see for yourself. If you have ice cream on hand, it is highly encouraged you add a scoop or two when serving.
- 2 cans apple pie filling
- 1 yellow cake mix, as packaged, unprepared
- 2 sticks butter, melted
Directions: Spread apple pie filling in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top. Drizzle melted butter over cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Serve warm.