Fast Family Dinner Favorites
Family dinners together, whether they're routine weeknight meals or special occasions, call for healthy, flavor-packed meals everyone is sure to love. But that doesn't mean they should take hours or rival holiday buffet spreads. These easy dinner ideas are speedy—ready in 20 minutes or less—and filling. Just combine them with your favorite salad or a side of steamed vegetables, and the whole family will be smiling with satisfaction.
Rebecca Longshore's family treasures her mother's Fabulous Slow-Cooker Pork Tenderloin. "I love bringing this recipe out in the fall. It's so easy and simple, and it makes me feel at home," she says. Our 20-minute version of this dish, Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples, is a one-dish dinner that delivers all the comforting flavors of Rebecca's slow-cooked family favorite.
Farmer Family Chicken Curry
"My grandma Beth's chicken curry is my family's go-to comfort food—roasted chicken with onions, golden raisins, curry and rice topped with fresh lime juice, coconut shavings, cilantro, green onions and cashews. Leftovers are even better the next day with some mango chutney," Katherine Flynn says.
You can share these delicious flavors with our fast version of this comforting classic, Quick Chicken Curry. This saucy rice bowl is the stir-fried version of comfort food—ginger and chiles bring the warmth, and coconut milk adds satisfying richness.
Content From RAGÚ: Dishes Simmered in Tradition
RAGÚ pasta sauce began with one simple sauce. Now there’s a rich collection of recipes for your family to enjoy.
Family Night Taco Salad
"My father is a great cook, but he refuses to follow a recipe. It drives me insane. No two dinners in my house ever tasted the same because my dad would follow his instincts around the kitchen, and whatever happened, happened," Sara Tane says. "Most of the time, it was a beautiful thing, but every now and then, he had some serious fails. The one dinner that we consistently enjoyed as a family was taco night. The customizability and flexibility that comes with all the different components allowed me to take back some of the control of how my dinner would taste, rather than keeping my fingers crossed that whatever my dad was concocting would be up to par. There is no other dinner option that can please such a wide variety of eaters. A good taco bar truly does have something for everyone."
Use the recipe for our Beef and Bean Taco Salad to create a base, and then let diners customize their toppings.
A Soup Loved Through Generations
"My mother's college roommate made this soup for her suite mates (my mother being one of them). They all ate lunch together once a week, and this was in the rotation frequently" says Hagen Baker of this family-favorite vegetable soup. "My mother has been making it ever since she got the recipe 32 years ago, and now I make it for my family."
For a speedy version of this Stegall family favorite, try our White Bean and Vegetable Bowls with Frizzled Eggs. This easy bowl of brothy goodness is loaded with both veggies and umami depth—it's comfort food you can feel good about.
Crispy Chicken, Ham, and Swiss Roll-Ups
Meaty, cheesy, moist, and crunchy: This 5-ingredient dish really delivers. Preheating the pan gets the breading crisp within 20 minutes. If you only have regular breadcrumbs, just add 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder. The timing and ingredient amounts work for small, 2-ounce cutlets. Split larger ones in half: Place each on a cutting board, and place your hand flat on top. Holding a sharp knife parallel to the cutting board, carefully halve using short, swift strokes. Serve roll-ups with a simple green salad.
Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad
It may seem too good to be true, but it's not: This impressive plate requires only 5 ingredients (water, oil, salt, and pepper are freebies). Microwaved sweet potatoes are sliced into medallions, brushed with oil, and lightly seared so they become satisfyingly steak-like. The creamy, nutty sauce adds richness, and the lemon-dressed arugula-chickpea salad bulks up the plate beautifully. In place of almond butter, you can use any nut butter you like—try peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter. And if canned chickpeas aren't in your pantry, try cannellini or navy beans.
Mac and Cheeseburger
This budget-friendly dinner costs less than $9. Mac and cheese gets heartier, and possibly even more family-friendly, when you stir ground beef and fire-roasted tomatoes into the cheese sauce. Make sure to drain the tomatoes so the sauce doesn’t get too thin. We call for whole-grain rotini, but any short pasta shape will work here; just do try to go whole-grain for more nutrition. If you don’t have dry mustard (used here for added depth), stir in a teaspoon of Dijon. Serve with a side of green beans or broccoli tossed with browned butter, or with a salad the family enjoys (a crunchy romaine Caesar salad would be great).
Chicken Potpie Skillet Pizza
Try this quick, playful spin to turn pizza night on its head—in a good way. You get all the creamy goodness of chicken potpie, in a fun, eat-with-your-hands way that kids will love. Grown-ups will dig it, too, especially if you offer hot sauce at the table. Cooking the pizza in a preheated cast-iron skillet makes the crust wonderfully crispy so that it doesn’t sog out when the creamy sauce goes on. Be sure to use only 10 ounces of dough (though you’ll likely have to purchase in a 1-pound or larger ball); save the remaining dough to make breadsticks the next night.
Sautéed Scallops with Shaved Celery Salad
Celery is an underrated vegetable, often used as a flavor accent for soups or Thanksgiving stuffing. But it shines as the star in a salad, thanks to its fantastic crunch and naturally salty flavor. For ease and speed, we advise slicing thinly on a mandoline. To cut by hand, line up 3 stalks and slice all at once instead of slicing each stalk individually. The crisp texture of the salad provides a nice contrast to the creamy-meaty scallops. Golden raisins are a surprising and delicious addition, offering a pop of sweetness and chewy texture; you can substitute regular raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries.
Turmeric Pork Chops with Green Onion Rice
Our turmeric slathered pork chops may look polished, but don't let this quick weeknight supper fool you. It's complex flavor belies it's simple preparation.
White Bean & Vegetable Bowls with Frizzled Eggs
This easy bowl of brothy goodness is loaded with both veggies and umami depth—it's comfort food you can feel good about. It's also great for times when the food budget is tight, as it costs only about $11 for 4 servings.
Chicken Fingers and Green Beans with Tahini Sauce
Chicken fingers aren't just for kids. Savory-sweet and addictive, the tahini-tomato dipping sauce offers a palate intrigue adults will love but enough flavor familiarity to keep it kid-approved.
Ham and Cheese Pizza
When a classic sandwich gets reincarnated as a cheesy pizza, rave reviews are bound to follow. Sweet, crisp Fuji apple provides a great balance to the rich, gooey cheese and savory ham, and everyone knows there's no better place to slip in some extra leafy greens than on a pizza. To get julienne-cut apple pieces, cut into thin slices; then stack and cut lengthwise into matchsticks.
Curried Chicken Thighs with Pomegranate-Mint Sauce
Talk about a company-worthy meal without much effort or a hefty price tag. Serve this easy and elegant entrée over a bed of couscous and with a side of the Steamed Broccoli with Garlic and Red Onion.
Chipotle Hanger Steak with Sour Cream Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Hanger steak is a flavor-packed cut of beef from between the rib and the loin. You may have to ask for it at the butcher's counter; if you can't find it, a different flat cut, like flank or skirt steak, works just as well. If your steak is thicker than 1 inch, it may require a slightly longer cook time or a quick finish in a 400°F oven. If you loved grandma's hamburger steak suppers growing up, this grown up version is guaranteed to make you cheer. It has all the comfort-style food you crave in a more attractive, satisfying package.
Chicken-Poblano Tortilla Soup
Chilly evenings call for a comforting soup with a bit of restorative kick and plenty of vibrant toppings. Top with tortilla chips, or make your own crispy tortilla strips as shown. Cut 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas into 1/2-inch strips and bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Crush halve the strips for the soup and garnish with the rest. Make these ahead and store in a zip-top bag at room temperature for a day or two. Poblano peppers range in heat; add cooling avocado or crushed red pepper as needed.
Provolone and Broccoli Rabe Beef Sliders
Pleasantly bitter broccoli rabe gives sliders a sophisticated edge and introduces a likely unfamiliar veggie in a delicious way. The Italian flavors of broccoli rabe and provolone cheese may sound like an unlikely combination but make for a truly great family-friendly meal. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, paprika, and Worcestershire, these succulent sliders are flavorful enough to please both kids and parents. Use Broccolini for a milder flavor. To create a truly terrific burger use quality 93% lean ground sirloin and premium whole wheat buns. Lean ground sirloin and reduced-fat cheese help keep fat and calories in check.
Cheesy Chicken Fajitas
Chicken taco meets 7-layer dip in this fiesta of a skillet supper. For extra zest, serve with cilantro and lime wedges. Shredded rotisserie chicken makes this veggie-packed meal a breeze. Red onion, orange bell pepper, tomatoes, corn, and avocado boost nutrients and add fresh flavor, while the combination of both chicken and beans packs 25g of protein and 10g fiber into this speedy supper. For additional fiber, you can swap in black beans or kidney beans for the pintos. Using reduced-fat sour cream and part-skim mozzarella still gives you plenty of creamy goodness while lowering calories and fat.
Pork Chops and Couscous with Tomato-Caper Sauce
This dish easily works with chicken if you don't have pork on hand. Toasting the turmeric in oil is a simple way to develop savory depth—try this technique with any spices you're cooking with. Couscous makes for a quick, versatile side dish that easily adopts different flavor profiles. Israeli couscous has more of a bite to it and can also be served chilled for picnics and to-go lunches. The tomato-caper sauce pairs well with other proteins beyond pork and poultry such as sole or shrimp simply cooked with garlic and butter. It's an impressive dish that's quickly prepared whenever you're short on time.
Silky Tomato Soup with White Beans and Garlic Oil
Creamy, silky tomato soup is the ultimate comfort food. We've elevated the traditional soup with the addition of white cannellini beans and toasty garlic oil. You won't miss any of the cream or calories from this dairy-free tomato soup as the texture is still silky from blending the tomato base. With the addition of the white beans, each serving provides 8 grams of protein making this vegetarian meal foolproof. Serve alongside our revamped Grilled Cheese Skillet "Panini" for a complete meal kids and adults will all approve of. We lean on reduced-fat cheddar in this sandwich but add a little canola mayo to stretch the cheese and encourage extra meltiness for a mixture that has 50% less sat fat than regular cheddar and saves 190mg sodium over processed American cheese.
Grilled Chicken Skewers with Wasabi Mayo
A kicking dipping sauce adds amped up fun and flavor. Serve with Orzo with Snap Peas, Cilantro, and Peanuts for a complete meal with 46g of protein. If you use wood skewers on the outdoor grill, be sure to soak them in water before grilling to avoid burning. Make a few extra skewers to add chicken to lunches and salads the next day. The wasabi mayo adds bold flavor to simply seasoned grilled chicken and pairs well with the sweetness of honey and tang of rice vinegar. The mayo can be saved and served alongside roasted vegetables, skirt steak, or fresh grilled fish.
Fresh Corn Cakes with Summer Salsa
This speedy vegetarian entrée is absolutely bursting with peak-season produce. Side suggestion: an herby white bean and arugula salad.
Burger Patty Salad
We love the richness that a little ground lamb offers, but you can use all beef or even ground turkey instead.
Fish Tacos with Sweet Pickle Sauce
The creamy sauce offers a cool counterpoint to the bold blackening spices. Not in the mood for tilapia? The recipe is also great with chicken, sliced flank steak, or shrimp. Toss some avocado, tomato, and cilantro into the mix, and you're ready to knock Taco Tuesday out of the park.
Grilled Vegetable and Flank Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
If you don't love blue cheese, try crumbled feta or grated Parmesan instead.
Chicken Pesto Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
It’s seems like portobello mushrooms were just made for stuffing. Not only is this loaded fork-and-knife-entrée easy and cheesy; it's customizable, too. Make it your own with any produce or herbs you already have in your fridge, you can even switch up the protein if you’re feeling like steak or serving a vegetarian guest. If you don’t mind the extra step, homemade pesto takes this dish from great to amazing.
Lemon-Honey Chicken Thighs
Steak and Tomato Panzanella
We use the broiler to keep this vibrant summer salad speedy, but if you already have the grill cranked up, this dish easily transitions to an outdoor entrée.
BBQ Chicken with Peach and Feta Slaw
This summery crunch-tastic slaw is guaranteed to find its way into your recipe rotation for the rest of the season. Using ripe, juicy peaches, it's the perfect sweet-salty side dish for any number of grilled or smoked proteins.
Family-Style Chicken Spaghetti
A family favorite swaps jarred sauce for fresh—which requires just a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes.
Cheesy Beef Patties with Tomato-Cucumber Salad
This deconstructed take on a cheeseburger puts some of the season's best and most abundant produce in the spotlight with a simple, dilly tomato-cuke salad.
Sausage, Shrimp, & Quinoa Skillet
Chicken and Arugula Pasta Salad
In this dish, just a bit of a rich and pungent cheese can go quite a long way. Tossing hot pasta with a few ounces of creamy Brie makes for a light, luscious, and flavorful sauce to coat this abundant bowl of chicken, fresh veggies, and whole-grain noodles.
Grilled Salmon with White Bean and Arugula Salad
Ask for salmon fillets from the head end of the fish—the tail end is much thinner.
Spicy Thai Red Curry Beef
This single-skillet supper is a quick ticket to rich, exotic flavor. Don't shake the coconut milk before opening; you want to keep the thick cream layer separated.
Chicken Thighs with Ginger-Sesame Glaze
Make-ahead tip: Mix up the glaze first thing in the morning, and allow the chicken thighs to marinate all day long in the refrigerator to soak up even more flavor. After that, getting dinner on the table is as simple as heating up the grill pan.
Lemon-Garlic Pork and Broccoli Bulgur Bowl
Bulgur is a great go-to grain because of its quick cook time and neutral flavor.
Pan-Seared Tuna Tacos with Avocado and Mango Salsa
These simple, vibrant tacos rely largely on superfresh ingredients for the fullest flavor potential. Opt for just-ripe avocados and tuna from a source you trust.
Summer Squash and Chicken Chowder
This silky, veggie-forward soup is a fantastic way to use up a load of fresh summer squash. This would also work well with zucchini.