12 Recipes to Spice Up Your Weeknight Dinners

Welcome to the workweek, where dinners can be made in under an hour with ingredients that you probably already have on hand, delivering big flavor with minimal effort. If you’re tired of the same old recipes and looking to add some excitement to your weeknight dinners, you’ve come to the right place. From international flavors to comforting classics, these 12 recipes will help you break out of your dinner rut and make every meal a delight.

Key Takeaways

  • These recipes are designed to be quick and easy, perfect for busy weeknights.
  • You’ll find a variety of dishes, including pasta, seafood, vegetarian, and chicken options.
  • Most ingredients are likely already in your pantry, making these meals convenient to prepare.
  • Each recipe aims to deliver big flavor with minimal effort.
  • These dishes will help you break out of your weeknight dinner rut and bring excitement back to your meals.

1. Spaghetti all’Assassina


Spaghetti all’Assassina, also known as Assassin’s Spaghetti, is a unique Italian dish where the pasta is cooked directly in tomato sauce until it becomes slightly charred. This method gives the dish a distinct, smoky flavor that sets it apart from traditional spaghetti recipes.


  • Spaghetti
  • Tomato sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté until fragrant.
  3. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the spaghetti, ensuring it lays flat in the pan.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and slightly charred.
  6. Mix in parmesan cheese and reserved pasta water to tie the dish together.


  • Use a large pan, such as a 12-inch cast iron skillet, to allow the spaghetti to lay flat.
  • For added nutrition, stir in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, or baby spinach just before serving.

This pasta hits the spot every time and scales easily if you need to serve a bunch of friends in a pinch.

Serving Suggestions

  • Pair with a side salad for a complete meal.
  • Garnish with extra parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Bold: This method gives the dish a distinct, smoky flavor.
Italics: Use a large pan.


2. Egg Foo Young

Egg Foo Young is a versatile and delicious Chinese-American dish that can be customized with your favorite ingredients. This savory omelet is typically filled with vegetables, meat, and sometimes seafood, making it a hearty meal perfect for any night of the week.

3. Chicken Alfredo

Chicken Alfredo is a classic comfort food that combines tender chicken with a rich and creamy Alfredo sauce. This dish is perfect for a cozy weeknight dinner and can be made in under 30 minutes.


  • Chicken thighs or breast
  • Fettuccini pasta
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Zatarans blackened seasoning
  • Fresh steamed broccoli (optional)


  1. Season the chicken with Zatarans blackened seasoning.
  2. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook the chicken until it is golden brown and cooked through.
  4. In a separate pot, cook the fettuccini pasta according to the package instructions.
  5. Prepare the Alfredo sauce in a saucepan.
  6. Combine the cooked chicken, pasta, and Alfredo sauce in the skillet.
  7. Serve with fresh steamed broccoli for a healthier option.


  • You can substitute chicken with shrimp for a different twist.
  • For a low-carb version, use zucchini noodles instead of pasta.
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg to the Alfredo sauce for extra flavor.

Chicken Alfredo is not only delicious but also versatile, allowing you to customize it to your liking. Whether you prefer it with chicken, shrimp, or even a vegetarian version, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings.

4. Beef Stir-Fry

Beef Stir-Fry is a quick and versatile dish that can be customized to your taste. It’s perfect for busy weeknights when you need a nutritious and delicious meal in a hurry. The key to a great stir-fry is high heat and constant movement, ensuring that the beef and vegetables cook evenly and retain their vibrant colors and flavors.


  • 1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Optional: 1 tsp red pepper flakes for heat


  1. Marinate the Beef: In a bowl, combine the sliced beef, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Vegetables: While the beef is marinating, prepare the vegetables by slicing the bell pepper and onion, and cutting the broccoli into florets.
  3. Cook the Beef: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the marinated beef and stir-fry until it’s browned and cooked through. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.
  4. Stir-Fry the Vegetables: In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Then, add the broccoli, bell pepper, and onion. Stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
  5. Combine and Serve: Return the cooked beef to the skillet and toss everything together. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat through. Serve hot over steamed rice or noodles.

For an extra kick, sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the finished dish. Enjoy your flavorful and nutritious Beef Stir-Fry!

5. Shrimp Scampi


  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti


  1. Cook the pasta: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Prepare the shrimp: Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: In the same skillet, add the remaining butter and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the white wine and lemon juice, and bring to a simmer. Let it cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Combine and serve: Return the shrimp to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and parsley, and toss everything together until well combined. Serve immediately.


  • For an extra kick, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce.
  • Fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor.

Shrimp Scampi is a quick and delicious dish that can be prepared in under 30 minutes, making it perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.

6. Vegetarian Tacos

vegetarian tacos for weeknight dinners


  • Corn tortillas
  • Black beans
  • Red cabbage, shredded
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Lime juice
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Garlic, minced
  • Quinoa, cooked


  1. Prepare the quinoa: Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked, mix with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a squeeze of lime juice.
  2. Make the salad: In a bowl, combine shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, minced garlic, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Toss well.
  3. Assemble the tacos: Warm the corn tortillas in a pan. Fill each tortilla with a spoonful of quinoa, black beans, shredded salad, and avocado slices.
  4. Garnish: Top with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.


  • For added flavor, you can add a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of feta cheese.
  • If you prefer a bit of heat, add some sliced jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce.

These vegetarian tacos are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, making them a perfect choice for a healthy weeknight dinner.

7. Baked Ziti


  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Cook the ziti pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Add the marinara sauce to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked ziti, marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese on top.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  8. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.


  • For an extra crunchy topping, add some breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter on top before baking.
  • You can add cooked ground beef or Italian sausage to the sauce for a heartier dish.

Baked Ziti is a comforting and versatile dish that’s perfect for feeding a crowd or enjoying as leftovers throughout the week.

8. Lemon Garlic Salmon


  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Place the salmon fillets on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon juice.
  4. Brush the mixture over the salmon fillets.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through.
  7. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Tips for Perfect Salmon

  • Do not overcook the salmon to keep it moist and tender.
  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.

This Lemon Garlic Salmon is a quick and healthy option for a weeknight dinner, bringing a burst of fresh flavors to your table.

9. Chicken Fajitas


  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fajita seasoning (store-bought or homemade)
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese


  1. Prepare the ingredients: Slice the chicken breasts, onion, and red pepper. Mince the garlic.
  2. Season the chicken: Use either store-bought fajita seasoning or make your own.
  3. Cook the chicken: In a large skillet, cook the chicken over medium heat until it’s no longer pink.
  4. Add vegetables: Add the sliced onion, red pepper, and minced garlic to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Assemble the fajitas: Serve the cooked chicken and vegetables on flour or corn tortillas. Top with shredded cheese.


  • For extra flavor, marinate the chicken in the seasoning for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Serve with a side of guacamole or salsa for added zest.

Chicken fajitas are a quick and delicious way to spice up your weeknight dinners. The combination of seasoned chicken, sautéed vegetables, and melted cheese wrapped in a warm tortilla is simply irresistible.

10. Stuffed Bell Peppers


  • 4 large bell peppers, any color
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Drain any excess fat.
  4. Add the diced onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened.
  5. Stir in the cooked rice, fire-roasted tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Stuff each bell pepper with the beef and rice mixture and place them in a baking dish.
  7. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of each pepper, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.


  • For a vegetarian version, substitute the ground beef with black beans or a meat substitute.
  • Experiment with different types of cheese for a unique flavor.
  • Serve with a side salad or garlic bread for a complete meal.

Stuffed bell peppers are a versatile and delicious option for weeknight dinners. They can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs.

11. BBQ Chicken Pizza


  • 1 pizza dough
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C).
  2. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness.
  3. Spread the BBQ sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a small border for the crust.
  4. Top with shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese, and red onion slices.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped cilantro before serving.


  • For a smoky flavor, use a smoked BBQ sauce.
  • Add some jalapeños for an extra kick.
  • Serve with a side of ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

This BBQ Chicken Pizza is a delightful twist on the classic, perfect for a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner.

12. Thai Green Curry


  • 1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Fresh basil leaves


  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add the green curry paste. Stir for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the sliced chicken breast and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth, stirring to combine.
  4. Add the bell pepper and snap peas, cooking until tender.
  5. Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar, adjusting to taste.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.


  • For a vegetarian version, substitute chicken with tofu or extra vegetables.
  • Serve with jasmine rice for an authentic experience.

Thai Green Curry is a versatile dish that can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences. Enjoy a burst of flavors with minimal effort!


Weeknight dinners don’t have to be a mundane routine. With these 12 recipes, you can bring excitement and variety back to your dinner table, even on the busiest of days. From hearty pastas to flavorful chicken dishes, these recipes are designed to be both delicious and easy to prepare, ensuring that you can enjoy a satisfying meal without spending hours in the kitchen. So go ahead, try out these recipes and make your weeknight dinners something to look forward to!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Spaghetti all’Assassina?

Spaghetti all’Assassina, also known as Assassin’s Spaghetti, is a unique Italian pasta dish that is cooked directly in a pan with tomato sauce, creating a crispy and flavorful result.

How do you make Egg Foo Young?

Egg Foo Young is a Chinese omelette made with beaten eggs and a variety of ingredients like vegetables, meat, and seafood. It is typically served with a savory brown sauce.

What is the best way to cook Chicken Alfredo?

To make Chicken Alfredo, cook chicken breasts until golden brown, prepare a creamy Alfredo sauce with butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese, and combine it with cooked fettuccine pasta.

Can Beef Stir-Fry be made ahead of time?

Yes, Beef Stir-Fry can be made ahead of time. Simply cook the beef and vegetables, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat and add the sauce just before serving.

What ingredients are needed for Shrimp Scampi?

Shrimp Scampi typically requires shrimp, garlic, butter, lemon juice, white wine, and parsley. The dish is quick to prepare and is often served over pasta or with crusty bread.

Are Vegetarian Tacos healthy?

Yes, Vegetarian Tacos can be very healthy, especially when made with fresh vegetables, beans, and whole-grain tortillas. They are a great option for a nutritious and delicious meal.

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