24 Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners

New to cooking? We have you covered with tips for success in the kitchen plus 24 simple recipes to get you started. Make easy pasta sauce, the perfect quesadilla, baked salmon, and more.

Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginners

If you don’t have a lot of confidence in the kitchen, not to worry! Instead, just keep cooking. Like any new skill, it’s all about practice. Good recipes help, too.

With that in mind, we’ve curated a collection of 24 easy recipes that are suitable for new cooks. Here are a few tips to help you find success in the kitchen, regardless of the recipe:

  • Read the recipe from start to finish before starting. That way, you’ll know what you’re getting into and can plan accordingly. 
  •  If you’re unfamiliar with a technique, we have a lot of tips and tutorials that can help. Within the recipe, we try to include images with the methods to help guide you along visually.
  • Be organized. Gather the tools, equipment, and ingredients you’ll need and set them neatly on the kitchen counter. A messy kitchen can make cooking harder. 
  • To minimize stress, try to cook when you don’t have a big time crunch. Put on music you love. Relax. Aim to make cooking a pleasant experience. That way, you will want to keep doing it. With time you will no longer be a beginner cook. 
  • Know that it’s normal to have failures along the way. With every attempt, you’ll pick up pointers for the next time you cook. 

Robin Shreeves joins Katie Morford, RD in compiling this list.

  • Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts

    Lemon Pepper Chicken in a Pan Garnished with Shredded Parsley and Lemon Slices

    Simply Recipes / Marta Rivera Diaz

    Seems fancy, but it's easy, we promise. Pan fry flour-dredged chicken breasts in olive oil and butter. To the same pan, add more butter, garlic, and seasonings (including lemon pepper) to make the sauce. Add the chicken back in to let it soak up some of the sauce's flavor. Serve it with the remaining sauce drizzled over.

  • Easy Tomato Soup

    Best Tomato Soup Recipe - bowls of tomato soup on table with bread
    Alison Bickle

    There’s no need to lean on canned soup when homemade soup is this easy (and so good!) Top it with anything you like, from grated Parmesan to buttery croutons. If you want to make the most of your cooking time, double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for next time.

  • Sheet Pan Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

    Overhead view of a sheet pan sausage dinner.

    This three-ingredient dinner—sausage, peppers, and onion (plus oil and seasonings)—cooks up on just one sheet pan in 45 minutes from start to finish. Take the pan from the oven to the table and add a green salad and crusty bread. Feel free to reach right into the middle of the table with a slice of bread and soak up the juices straight from the pan.

  • Salmon with Brown Sugar Glaze

    Plate of Salmon with Brown Sugar Glaze and a Side of Green Beans

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Combine Dijon mustard, brown sugar, honey, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Spoon the mixture onto the salmon. Bake for 12 minutes. You're done. It doesn't get much easier than this to create a healthy main dish.

    Continue to 5 of 24 below.
  • Turkey Sloppy Joes

    turkey sloppy joe on a roll with side of cole slaw
    Nick Evans

    Adults and kids love these easy homemade Sloppy Joes, and they taste so much better than anything you get from a can. Mince (cut into tiny pieces) onion, carrot, garlic, green onion, and celery. Sauté them on the stovetop and then add ground turkey until it's cooked through. Add a sauce of ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar to the pot and bring to a simmer. Serve on rolls.

  • Chicken Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

    chicken scampi over pasta in a skillet
    Aaron Hutcherson

    It's just as easy to make shrimp scampi with pasta as it is chicken scampi, but somehow chicken scampi seems less intimidating to a beginner cook. For this easy weeknight meal, sauté quick cooking, thin, seasoned chicken tenders while the pasta water is boiling. When the pasta goes into the pot, make the simple garlicky sauce in the pan, cut the chicken into strips, and combine it all with the cooked pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy.

  • Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas

    Easy chicken enchilada recipe
    Alison Bickle

    Make a simple tomato based enchilada sauce by simmering onions and garlic, then adding tomato paste, canned green chilis, and some seasonings. Roll cooked chicken (store bought rotisserie chicken works) and cheese into tortillas, then add them to the pan. Spoon the sauce over, top with more cheese, and let cook on the stove. Top with the garnishes of your choice. Leftovers freeze well.

  • White Beans and Sausage

    white beans and sausage
    Elise Bauer

    Creamy white beans and Italian sausage make an excellent pairing, and they come together with ease in this dish. Cook the beans from scratch or use canned beans. Serve the finished meal in a shallow bowl with grated Parmesan on top and a generous slice of toasted Italian bread.

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  • Homemade Pizza Bagel

    Pizza bagel on a sheet pan.

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

    Even the most novice cook might have a good idea of how to make a pizza bagel, but our recipe gives you ideas for the types of bagels to use and the variety of seasonings that can kick them up a notch. Quick, easy, and pizza(ish). What else could you want? If you're an adult eating this favorite from your youth, perhaps a bottle of Chianti?

  • Easy Avocado and Black Bean Quesadillas

    Easy Avocado and Black Bean Quesadillas
    Alison Conklin

    Add black beans and avocado to your quesadilla to transform this Mexican-inspired mainstay into a truly nourishing supper. Plus, you’ll learn how to get tortillas crispy in the process. For a quick side dish, slice one English cucumber (no need to peel or seed) and douse it with the juice of one lime. Season it with salt and chili powder to your liking.

  • Denver Omelet

    Denver Omelet with Mixed Greens on Plate

    Ross Yoder / Simply Recipes

    Omelets are easy to make and this hearty version is full of diced ham (you can use deli ham if you want), onion, bell pepper, and cheddar cheese. Serve with a simple salad of mixed greens, and brinner (breakfast for dinner) is ready.

  • Cheesy Bruschetta Chicken Cutlets

    Cheesy Bruschetta Chicken Cutlets in a stainless steel skillet
    Coco Morante

    Transform everything that’s appealing about good, garlicky tomato bruschetta into a scrumptious chicken dinner that takes just about 20 minutes to make. Serve it with a crusty baguette to swipe through all those tasty pan juices.

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  • Cheesy Quinoa Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers

    Quinoa Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers
    Elise Bauer

    This is one of those recipes that will make you feel like a gourmet cook, but it is quite simple to make. It’s just four core ingredients – bell peppers, cheese, black beans, and quinoa – plus a couple of seasonings. The bell peppers are the vessels that hold the fixings. Roast them in a hot oven until the cheese bubbles. Delicious!

  • Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce

    A beautiful fast bolognese sauce on a blue patterned plate with noodles and fork.
    Sally Vargas

    Abolish any notions you have that a good pasta sauce takes all day to make. This is a simple spin on a classic Italian meat sauce. Chopping the onion, carrots, and celery is easy since it only takes a few seconds in a food processor. Serve the sauce over any pasta shape you like with a side of steamed broccoli.

  • Baked Tilapia in Lemon Butter

    Lemon Butter Oven Baked Tilapia on a plate with a fork and green beans.
    Lori Rice

    Tilapia is an unfussy fish to work with so it's a good choice for beginners. This simple recipe takes just 20 minutes from start to finish. Make a sauce with butter, lemon, and garlic (plus salt and pepper), pour over the fish, and bake. Serve with an equally simple side like steamed broccoli or green beans.

  • Shrimp with Snow Peas

    Shrimp Snow Peas
    Elise Bauer

    Shrimp is one of the quickest to cook in the seafood case. It’s also easy to tell when it’s done since the color changes dramatically from grey to pink. This recipe includes fresh ginger, which adds great flavor. Check out this tutorial for how to prepare ginger. Serve the shrimp over rice. You can cook your own or don’t be afraid to take a shortcut with store-bought pre-cooked rice. It’s usually found in the frozen foods section.

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  • Easy Salmon Foil Packets with Vegetables

    Roast salmon filet on foil with roast grape tomatoes, chopped cilantro and thinkly sliced lime on top.
    Sally Vargas | Banner Art Credit: Elena Resko

    Wrapping fish in foil like a little present is a smart way to cook it. Salmon is especially forgiving for beginner cooks because it’s a fatty fish, so it’s harder to overcook. Season this salmon with a bit of mayo and harissa, a North African spice paste. If you can’t find it at the market, use a tablespoon of store-bought basil pesto instead. The flavor will be different, of course, but it will still be very tasty.

  • Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes

    Roasted Sheet Pan Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, and Broccoli on a sheet pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    You only dirty one pan for this recipe, which is part of what makes it so appealing. Buy pre-cut broccoli at the market if you want to minimize prep time. Be sure to follow the first step of pre-heating the baking sheet before adding the chicken and potatoes—that’s what makes them golden brown and crispy.

  • Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak

    Pan Fried Flank Steak
    Elise Bauer

    It’s handy to have a foolproof steak recipe in your back pocket. This one is done with flank steak, a thin, flavorful cut of meat that cooks quickly. Serve it with classic baked potatoes and a simple salad on the side.

  • Easy Steak Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

    steak salad with greens and avocado
    Elise Bauer

    If you have flank steak leftover from making the recipe above, you're already halfway done making this salad that's flavorful and filling. You can use the leftover steak—or cook a steak—for this salad. Pile bell peppers, avocado, scallions, goat cheese, and the steak on top of lettuce and arugula. Dress with a quick Dijon vinaigrette and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

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  • Sweet Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

    Goat cheese quesadilla
    Alison Conklin

    When corn and zucchini are plentiful in the summer at the farmers markets and the grocery stores, this is the recipe to use them in. Quickly cook some corn and zucchini on the stovetop. Fill tortillas with goat cheese and the cooked veggies. Add some fresh basil leaves, fold the tortillas over and pan fry them.

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mozzarella, Red Peppers, and Arugula

    grilled cheese with mozzarella, arugula, roasted red pepper on sourdough bread
    Alison Bickel

    This is not your childhood grilled cheese. First of all, it's made on sourdough bread. In between those sourdough slices, place mozzarella, jarred roasted peppers, spicy arugula, and a spread of Dijon and mayo. So grown up.

  • Classic Tuna Melt

    classic tuna melt sandwich halves stacked on top of each other
    Sally Vargas

    Looking for a light dinner? Grab a can of tuna, some cheese, and bread, and get to work making these scrumptious sandwiches. Mix perfectly seasoned tuna with mayo, cut up a tomato, and cook up the melts on the stove. Use any bread, but may we suggest slices of a French or Italian loaf?

  • Shrimp and Mushroom Stir Fry

    Shrimp and Mushroom Stir Fry Served over Rice

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

    Cook up some white rice (the kind that cooks up in a minute is absolutely fine). Then do a fast stir fry of mushroom, shrimp, and scallions in olive oil followed by a drizzle of sauce of chicken stock, garlic, soy sauce, and cornstarch.