50 Easy Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less


View as:

woman standing by the stove in the kitchen, cooking
Photo credit: Daxiao Productions/shutterstock

When the heat is on and time is scarce, complicated dishes can be recipes for disaster. Take the easy way out instead. Simpler dishes made with basic ingredients are the way to go. From breakfast to lunch, dinner, and dessert, here are 50 dishes that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less.

Quick-Cooking Oats
Photo credit: ff-photo/shutterstock

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest and cheapest ways to fill up at breakfast. Steel-cut oats have the highest nutrition, but they take about 30 minutes to soften. The quick-cooking variety, however, takes only five to seven minutes.

Recipe:  Bob's Red Mill

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Omelet
Photo credit: apolonia/shutterstock

Eggs, tomatoes, and spinach all cook quickly, which means this indulgent meal takes just 15 minutes to prepare. You can expand on this basic recipe by substituting or adding other tender greens, vegetables, and meats that are already cooked.


Yogurt Granola Parfaits
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

This no-cook treat from Rachael Ray can be a breakfast, dessert, or snack. It looks impressive and can be whipped up quickly to feed a crowd in almost no time at all. It's as simple as layering yogurt, granola, and fresh or preserved fruit in a glass and serving. You can also use whipped cream instead of yogurt and cookies instead of granola for a sweeter twist.

Recipe:Food Network

Berry Protein-Packed Smoothie
Photo credit: Africa Studio/shutterstock

Smoothies can be a delicious utility meal any time of day, made even more filling with the addition of protein powder or protein-packed nut butters and seeds. This berry shake uses all frozen and raw ingredients that just get blended together. You'll even have enough time to wash the blender before heading out the door.

Recipe:Men's Health

Egg Sandwich
Photo credit: itakdalee/shutterstock

There's no need to rely on fast-food restaurants for a good egg sandwich. It takes about three to five minutes to cook an egg. Meanwhile, toast bread or a roll in a broiler with a slice of cheese. Then set the egg on top of the cheese and cover with the other half of the bread or roll, adding seasonings to taste.


Turkey Wrap
Photo credit: msheldrake/shutterstock

Wraps are quick to make and portable, which means spending a few minutes in the morning will save the money you'd pay for a similar convenience food later in the day. Having deli meat or other pre-cooked, sliced meat on hand is what makes this so easy to whip up.

Recipe:My Recipes

Tuna Salad Sandwich
Photo credit: Foodio/shutterstock

Tuna salad comes together quickly after chopping a few vegetables and opening and draining a can of tuna. A batch of tuna salad will stay good in the fridge for a few days, making it quick to assemble meals throughout the week.

Recipe:Betty Crocker

Photo credit: Olga Nayashkova/shutterstock

In this dish, eggs are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce and eaten with pita or crusty bread for a satisfying brunch, lunch, or dinner. While you could certainly take your time simmering homemade sauce for hours, this dish can also be whipped up lightning fast with a jar of sauce.

Recipe:Joybilee Farm

Chipotle Sandwich
Photo credit: Hari Karki/shutterstock

Canned chipotles can be a busy cook's best friend. They add a ton of slow-cooked flavor instantly. But once the can is open, transfer the contents to a jar to keep them fresh as you work your way through them. This recipe calls for a chipotle mayonnaise, but substituting one pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and adding mayonnaise also works well.

Recipe:Tuxedo Cat

Pita Pizza
Photo credit: MShev/shutterstock

Pita pizzas -- along with French-bread pizzas -- are an essential life hack. Keeping shredded cheese and bread in the freezer ensures you always have a backup 5-minute meal plan. Just allow a little extra time for the ingredients to thaw in the heating process.

Recipe:The Baker Chick

Photo credit: Timolina/shutterstock

Stir-frying quickly on high heat gives ingredients a nice caramelization on the outside while vegetables stay crisp and meat stays tender. The possible combinations are endless, and relying on freezer and pantry staples cuts prep time.

Recipe:Tone & Tighten

Photo credit: kuvona/shutterstock

Often mistaken for a grain, this budget-friendly pasta cooks in just five minutes. Cooking the couscous in broth rather than water and adding a few spices yields a flavorful result, which can be tossed or topped with practically anything for a quick meal. Canned beets give it a pink color.

Recipe:Food in a Minute

Ramen with Soft Egg
Photo credit: Sergey Mironov/shutterstock

The shortcut for making a delicious bowl of steamy ramen is to go big with the seasonings to mimic a slowly simmered broth. Add a few fresh toppings and an egg, and it's a satisfying, protein-packed meal in 20 minutes or less.

Recipe:Aberdeen's Kitchen

Soba Noodle Salad
Photo credit: Josie Grant/shutterstock

Soba noodles, also known as buckwheat noodles, cook very quickly, which makes them a pantry must-have for whipping up meals on the fly. Rinsing them after they boil is crucial and takes only an extra minute. Then toss the noodles with just about anything to make a delicious meal.

Recipe:Woman's Day

Photo credit: Bartosz Luczak/shutterstock

Enchiladas can come together quickly when you have pre-made sauce and pre-cooked filling. This recipe calls for canned black beans, but rotisserie chicken or another cooked meat would also work well. Get the condiments together while the enchiladas are broiling.

Recipe:The Weary Chef

Creamy Herb Zoodles
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Zoodles -- noodles made from zucchini -- have so many benefits, one of which is how fast they can be prepared. Combine fresh zoodles with a quick blended sauce of avocado and common herbs for a creamy and flavorful meal.

Recipe:Gimme Delicious

Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup
Photo credit: Liv friis-larsen/shutterstock

A pressure cooker is a game changer for anyone who needs quickly prepared meals. It can churn out delicious soups and stews in practically no time. Lentil soup is a particularly fast recipe that starts with dried lentils, a relatively quick-cooking legume taken to lightning speed with this method.

Recipe:Genius Kitchen

Pressure Cooker Risotto
Photo credit: stockfoto/shutterstock

Many Italian grandmothers may be dismayed to learn a pressure cooker can yield a risotto as creamy and tender as one they spent an hour or more cooking on the stovetop. The estimated cooking time for this dish: just 17 minutes.

Recipe:Hip Pressure Cooking

Pasta with Chickpeas and Spinach
Photo credit: marco mayer/shutterstock

The art of getting a pasta dish on the table in less than 20 minutes is all about making the sauce while the pasta cooks. Relying on ready-to-go and quick-cooking add-ins such as garbanzo beans and spinach ensures a swift process.

Recipe:Aggie's Kitchen

Balsamic Salmon
Photo credit: iuliia_n/shutterstock

Salmon can be prepared on the stovetop for a quick and healthy meal. Using a condiment that is already rich in taste, such as balsamic vinegar, eliminates the need to spend a long time simmering ingredients together.

Recipe:Eating Bird Food

Miso Soup
Photo credit: MosayMay/shutterstock

Nourishing, inexpensive, and comforting, miso soup can be a light and energizing meal any time of day. Fresh miso can be found in many grocery stores and most Asian markets, and it can also be used in salad dressings and marinades.

Recipe:Minimalist Baker

Photo credit: Magdanatka/shutterstock

A bowl of mussels can bring a celebratory or festive feeling to a meal, which makes this quick recipe that much more fun to make and enjoy. To keep cooking time down, prepare any side items such as grilled or toasted bread while the mussels are cooking.


Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders
Photo credit: Pixelbliss/shutterstock

Wrapping chicken tenders in bacon and sage puts a sophisticated spin on a family favorite. Buying the chicken in strips is a great way to cut prep time and get this meal on the plate even faster.

Recipe:Martha Stewart

Spicy Shrimp
Photo credit: Foodio/shutterstock

Shrimp don't take long to cook, which makes them a good option when in a hurry. A simple Rachael Ray recipe flavors them with a base of herbs and garlic. With this versatile preparation, the shrimp can be enjoyed with a variety of sauces, as a filling for sandwiches, or on pastas and salads.

Recipe:Food Network

Flap Steak Salad
Photo credit: cobraphotography/shutterstock

A simple pile of greens topped with medium-rare slices of steak and dressing is a healthy and satisfying lunch or dinner. To make this and other salad recipes lightning fast, wash salad greens as soon as they're brought home and store in the fridge wrapped in a dishcloth for maximum freshness.

Recipe:Community Table

Chickpea Curry
Photo credit: travellight/shutterstock

Coconut milk and canned chickpeas make this and other similar recipes a breeze to prepare. Because the coconut milk is so rich and flavorful, you can season the dish with powerful aromatics such as ginger and garlic without overwhelming its taste or having to rely on an expensive pre-made sauce.

Recipe:Woman's Day

Photo credit: Hans Geel/shutterstock

Whether beef, chicken, turkey, or veggie, a good burger can be cooked and assembled in 20 minutes or less. While the burgers cook, gather the buns and toppings so adding the fresh, hot patty is the last step.

Recipe:Food Network

Grilled Cheese with Mushrooms
Photo credit: BGSmith/shutterstock

A grilled cheese sandwich can be a meal on its own and take on nearly any addition, from protein-laden mushrooms to crunchy apple slices. Veggies that sauté quickly, such as spinach, keep cooking times extra brief.

Recipe:Genius Kitchen

Tilapia Fillets
Photo credit: stockcreations/shutterstock

Tilapia is cheap and very quick to prepare on the stove or in the oven. The stove is faster and also allows for a bit more crispness from a good sear. While the fillets cook, assemble a small salad to complete the meal.


Shrimp Tacos
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

The key to having all the components for shrimp tacos ready at the same time is to heat the tortillas while preparing the shrimp filling. If the oven takes too long to heat up, warm the tortillas on a griddle at the last minute or, in a pinch, heat them in the microwave. 

Recipe:Fine Cooking

Smoked Salmon Sandwich
Photo credit: Mint and Lemon/shutterstock

This clever recipe swaps out the bacon in a classic BLT sandwich for savory smoked salmon. Since smoked salmon doesn't require any preparation, the sandwiches come together in just a few minutes. If you miss the crunch of bacon, consider layering in a few potato chips.


Spaghetti with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes
Photo credit: Mint and Lemon/shutterstock

If you have your heart set on pasta marinara but no pre-made sauce, or you simply have a container of cherry tomatoes past their prime, this recipe is an easy go-to. Cook the tomatoes until they burst and caramelize while the pasta cooks separately for a flavorful meal that is fast and low-effort.

Recipe:Food & Wine

Photo credit: farbled/shutterstock

Quesadillas are a festive meal that almost everyone loves and can be whipped up in about 10 minutes. Make them plain with only cheese, or layer in cooked meat, vegetables, and herbs. Round out the dish with guacamole, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.

Recipe:Simply Recipes

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups
Photo credit: Joshua Resnick/shutterstock

A refreshing meal that's perfect for summer, Asian chicken lettuce cups are meaty and crunchy. Using rotisserie chicken is an ideal way to save time, although a chicken thigh or breast would still be swift to cook in a pan.

Recipe:Woman's Day

Tortellini with Brown Butter and Sage
Photo credit: Francesco83/shutterstock

This sexy and sumptuous dish comes together in the time it takes to cook the tortellini. The pasta comes in dry and fresh varieties and can even be used straight from the freezer by adding an extra two minutes to the cooking time. While the pasta cooks, you can prepare the sauce and even have time left over to open a bottle of wine.

Recipe:Serious Eats

Bean Burritos
Photo credit: margouillat photo/shutterstock

Burritos are a quick-serve food that can be made in a flash and even eaten on the go for ultimate convenience. Because they are so simple to make, they can feed a lot of hungry mouths in less than 20 minutes.

Recipe:The Nutrition Twins

Photo credit: JonMilnes/shutterstock

A tostada is basically an open-face taco on a crunchy fried tortilla, although pre-made tostadas are much more expensive than tortillas. This recipe saves money by baking fresh tortillas at home for eight minutes to get them crunchy and layering them with beans, lettuce, and cheese.

Recipe:Yellow Bliss Road

Coconut Shrimp Curry
Photo credit: YoONSpY/shutterstock

Shrimp curry is a popular takeout and delivery item, but this recipe can be ready in less time than it takes even the swiftest restaurants to prepare an order. Cooking rice from scratch can slow things down, so people in a real hurry could serve this with noodles or couscous.

Recipe:Green Healthy Cooking

Rigatoni with Pesto
Photo credit: mpessaris/shutterstock

Pesto comes together quickly, as there is virtually no cooking involved. It also freezes well, so it's worth making a large batch and freezing in individual portions for later use. Make this dish come together even faster by using pre-made pesto, either store-bought or homemade.


Angel Hair Pasta with Herbs and Lemon
Photo credit: Arina P Habich/shutterstock

This light, refreshing meal is bursting with flavor thanks to fresh herbs and lemon. Since the sauce doesn't require cooking and the pasta cooks quickly because of its thinness, this is one of the fastest pasta dishes to make.


Veggie Fried Rice
Photo credit: Karissaa/shutterstock

Much like a stir-fry, fried rice is all about cooking ingredients quickly on high heat. The best time to break out this recipe is when you already have cooked rice. Rice that has spent a day or two in the fridge will fry up nicely.

Recipe:Pinch of Yum

Chicken with Mustard Sauce
Photo credit: hlphoto/shutterstock

This dish is so elegant and quick to prepare that it should be in everyone's repertoire for last-minute dinner guests. Using a bit of flour on the chicken and searing it in the pan gives it a crisp texture that feels like it took much longer to prepare.

Recipe:Woman's Day

Salmon Cakes
Photo credit: Magdanatka/shutterstock

These skillet-fried salmon cakes can be enjoyed as is, on top of a salad, or on a bun for a delicious salmon burger. Canned salmon is the key to making these in just 20 minutes, and canned tuna or crab could be substituted for a slightly different take.


One-Skillet Pork with Apples
Photo credit: Aimee M Lee/shutterstock

Traditionally, pork with apples and vegetables would take at least 30 to 60 minutes to prepare. This recipe gets it done faster by making everything together in one skillet. Another advantage to this method is that all the flavors meld together, so every bite is flavorful.


Ham and Cheese Frittata
Photo credit: Stepanek Photography/shutterstock

Ham and cheese are a satisfying combination in many dishes. Combined with nutritious and fast-cooking eggs (and possibly other add-ins), they become a full meal. The key to getting this done quickly is to preheat the oven, so it's hot by the time you're ready to put the pan in.

Recipe:Nugget Markets

Bananas Foster
Photo credit: Fresnel/shutterstock

This impressive dessert must be made just before serving. It comes together in just 20 minutes, some of which is entertaining to watch and makes the time go by even faster. If you are planning to make this for a dinner party, do the five minutes of prep ahead of time and have the ingredients ready to go.


Ice Cream Sandwiches
Photo credit: Stephanie Frey/shutterstock

Ice cream sandwiches are a well-loved treat that are simple and quick to prepare. It's important to let the ice cream sit out of the freezer for five minutes or so to get the right texture before layering it between two cookies.

Photo credit: Olga Miltsova/shutterstock

S'mores are usually part of an outdoor camping experience, but an indoor recipe by pastry chef Gale Gand makes quick work of this sweet indulgence, allowing preparation of a large serving of fresh, warm, and gooey s'mores in no time at all.

Recipe:Food Network

Photo credit: Piyato/shutterstock

This grown-up dish combines dessert and coffee into one cup. Preparing coffee or espresso and scooping ice cream takes only a few minutes, and this treat will disappear just as quickly.

Recipe:Martha Stewart

Chocolate Panini
Photo credit: bonchan/shutterstock

Pressed sandwiches are quick to make and can be adapted for every meal, including dessert. This chocolate panini recipe can be modified to include strawberry jam or hazelnut chocolate spread.

Recipe:  Midwest Living

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.