7 Easy Dinner Recipes for Beginner Cooks

By Brittany Zerr

Making dinner can be a huge pain. Cooking meals means meal planning, grocery shopping, and dishes to clean. It also means that you can’t vege out on the couch and watch Netflix right after work. Ordering food from SkipTheDishes or Uber Eats is easy — cooking a meal takes time and attention.

If you’re a beginner learning to cook, these simple recipes are the perfect starting point to gain confidence in the kitchen. These recipes don’t require a ton of ingredients, or weird one-time use ingredients, and don’t require any fancy cooking skills or equipment!

 One-pot pasta is the best pasta.

One-pot pasta is the best pasta.

Italian Wonderpot

Budget Bytes is a great website for the budget-conscious — food is expensive, but you can still eat delicious meals even on a budget. Italian Wonderpot is one of the first Budget Bytes recipes I tried, and it did not disappoint! Toss the ingredients in a large pot, let it cook while you watch some Food Network, and enjoy!

Why Make It:

  • Everything cooks in one pot! Say yes to less dishes.

  • Not a lot of prep work is required. The only “work” you have to do is slicing an onion and some garlic!

  • Pasta doesn’t take a lot of time to cook — boil and enjoy.

Tips:

  • Add the frozen spinach at the end so it maintains its green color. (It just needs to defrost!) Adding it earlier will make the spinach turn black.

  • Be careful to not overcook the pasta — it is possible. Mushy pasta is gross.

 Colorful & delicious.

Colorful & delicious.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille sounds foreign and fancy, but it’s actually super simple to make! While the Pixar-style ratatouille is a labour of love, the traditional method is easy to prepare. If you’re not  a fan of veggies, this recipe isn’t for you, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you should definitely try it! Learn how to make Ratatouille.

Why Make It:

  • Simple prep — all you have to do is chop your veggies into equal-sized pieces!

  • You’ll feel fancy cooking a French dish.

  • Tastes delicious (seriously).

Tips:

  • Don’t skip salting your eggplant and zucchini and letting them sit. Getting rid of the excess moisture will vastly improve the texture of this dish.

  • Vegetables are great, but not very filling. If you’re hungry, you can make ratatouille a side dish, or serve it with rice or eggs.

 A potato-quality photo of potatoes (and chicken).

A potato-quality photo of potatoes (and chicken).

Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes

Chef John will make your food wishes come true, hence the name of his YouTube channel, Food Wishes. I’ve made many Food Wishes recipes, and this is one of my favourites. It just so happens that it’s also super easy to make! If you love lemon and garlic, this recipe is for you.

Why Make It:

  • Easy on the wallet — chicken thighs are cheaper than breasts, and potatoes are also inexpensive!

  • Limited dishes — just a bowl and a pan required.

Tips:

  • Line your pan with aluminum foil for easier cleanup.

  • Pair with a Greek salad or some greens for a complete meal.

  • If you have leftovers you want to pack up for lunch the next day, be sure to drench your potatoes with the remaining sauce!

 Homemade curry > curry sauce from a jar.

Homemade curry > curry sauce from a jar.

Indian Curry

Curry warms the heart and the soul, and is a simple dish to make if you use curry powder as a shortcut. (Curry powder is made from a mix of spices — curry isn’t a spice itself!) Pop some rice in your rice cooker as you whip up this easy Indian curry for supper.

Why Make It:

  • Good dish to practice your knife skills by dicing onion and chopping tomato.

  • Few ingredients and spices needed — this recipe won’t break the bank.

Tips:

  • Serve with naan bread to wipe up the extra curry sauce off your plate.

  • Use scissors to easily cut up your chicken — no knife skills required!

 I’m always craving donairs.

I’m always craving donairs.

Donairs

Donairs probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a beginner recipe. I’m here to tell you that they’re super easy to make! Donairs are often known as late-night drunk food, but they don’t have to be. Read our donair recipe.

Why Make It:

  • 100% certified delicious.

  • Save money — don’t spend $$$ buying overpriced donairs from donair shops.

Tips:

  • Wear gloves while you combine the ground beef and spices.

  • Steam your pita bread so it doesn’t rip when you fold your donair.

 My shakshuka wasn’t very photogenic.

My shakshuka wasn’t very photogenic.

Shakshuka

Shakshuka is one of those dishes I wish I knew about earlier. It has everything I love — tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggs. Like the curry recipe, it only requires a few ingredients and spices but it packs a ton of flavour! Get the recipe for this Middle Eastern dish here.

Why Make It:

  • It makes great leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

  • Little effort required — you just need to chop a bell pepper and onion, open up a can of diced tomatoes, and add your spices.

  • It all comes together in one pot. Less dishes for you!

Tips:

  • Crack your eggs on the counter, not on the side of the pan — you’re less likely to get egg shells in your meal this way!

  • Serve with some garlic naan bread. Mmmm.

 Pasta for garlic lovers.

Pasta for garlic lovers.

Pasta Aglio E Olio

I had to include at least one other pasta recipe in this list because I love pasta. Pasta makes suppertime easy — the only way you can mess up pasta is if you overcook it, which you can easily avoid by testing your pasta as it cooks. This is another garlic and lemon recipe, but it deserves a spot on this list because it’s simple and delicious. Although it’s easy to make, this dish can take a while to perfect, which is a great learning opportunity. Read about our experience making Pasta Aglio E Olio.

Why Make It:

  • It’s only four ingredients: pasta, parsley, garlic, and lemon. (Okay, plus red pepper flakes and olive oil, do those count?)

  • It’s fast — you’ll be out of the kitchen and can go back to browsing memes on reddit in no time.  

Tips:

  • Watch the garlic as it cooks — it can easily burn!

  • Pair with a nice white wine.


Now you have a recipe for every day of the week! If you want to make these recipes for dinner, this shopping list includes all of the ingredients you’ll need for all seven meals. It looks like you need a lot, but a good chunk of the list is spices. If you have a spice rack, you probably have most of these!

What is your favourite beginner-friendly recipe? Let us know in the comments below!