Our Best Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinners | Yummly

Our Best Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinners

Straight from the Yummly test kitchen, we've got 33 easy dinner ideas that will help you avoid takeout — and find some new family favorites.

Healthier, better-tasting meals are easier than you think with help from Yummly! Try it free now.

One-Pan Pasta Primavera; photograph by Olga Ivanova

A typical week at my place includes … Y’know what? Never mind. I refuse to play the Who’s Busier Olympics. We live in hectic times. I’m busy, you’re busy, our families are busy. And while in my single days I might’ve steamed some frozen vegetables, nuked a veggie burger, and called it dinner, that doesn’t fly any more. My family needs a weeknight meal, a real meal, every night. Every. Night.

That’s where this mega-collection of recipes comes in. You’ll find dozens of family-friendly meals here, and none takes more than 45 minutes to get on the table. If you cook one of these recipes every weeknight, your dinners are planned for the next six-plus weeks.

Which one will be your first family dinner?

Jump ahead to:

Simple bowls and salads >>

Dinner with an Asian accent >>

Burger night >>

Classics old and new >>

Easy weeknight vegetarian recipes >>

Cozy cold-weather recipes >>

Mexican-ish recipes >>

Fast seafood suppers >>

Break out your gadgets >>

Note: The Yummly Meal Planner is available to paid subscribers.

Simple bowls and salads

Either “big salad” or “grain bowl” is on the menu at my place pretty much every week. They’re so fast and flexible!

Vegan Black Bean and Rice Bowls with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Yummly Original

Y’know how they say a rug can really pull the room together? Same goes for a yummy dressing and grain bowls, like this cilantro vinaigrette. Drizzle some onto a rice bowl topped with black beans and assorted veggies, and you’ve got a meal.

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Dressing

Yummly Original

Ready in just 20 minutes, this main-dish salad combines shredded rotisserie chicken, corn, black beans, and cilantro with a dressing made from store-bought BBQ sauce. My husband is a sucker for a creamy chicken salad, and this one tops his list.

Easy Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls

Yummly Original

This simple and refreshing poke bowl beats your average takeout sushi any day. Cubes of fish marinate in a soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil bath while you chop fresh veggies and make a creamy sriracha sauce to drizzle on top.

Quick and Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

Yummly Original

On Sundays, I’ll cook some bone-in chicken breasts in my Instant Pot and stow them in the fridge. Now I’m ready to serve a bright-tasting salad like this one in just a few minutes. It only calls for cutting up a handful of veggies: tomatoes, green onions, and fresh cilantro for the salad itself, and avocado slices for serving.

Dinner with an Asian accent

If my son had his way, the only takeout we’d ever get is Chinese. I’d rather make a quick stir-fry on the stovetop — it’s quicker and far less greasy.  

Mongolian Beef

Yummly Original

Hoisin sauce adds a sweet and savory touch to this kid-friendly stir-fry. In it, thin slices of flank steak get seared in a hot skillet or wok and mixed with aromatics, crisp-tender vegetables, and that easy sauce. 

Black Pepper Beef and Peppers Stir Fry

Yummly Original

Think of this as Mongolian Beef’s spicier cousin. Instead of the hint of sweetness you get from hoisin sauce, coarsely ground black pepper adds intrigue to the beefy stir-fry. Green and red bell peppers provide nice, crunchy contrast. 

Kung Pao Chicken

Yummly Original

I’ve eaten a lot of Kung Pao chicken in my life, but I didn’t realize how easy it is to make at home. Here, tender chunks of chicken thighs or breasts meet a complex, spicy sauce, and the crunch of peanuts. I never need to order it again.

Burger night

Kid-friendly dinners don’t get much kid-friendlier than burgers. 

Grilled Hamburgers with Crunchy Potato Chips

Yummly Original

These burgers start out fairly basic, just ground beef seasoned with Worcestershire and garlic powder, but a not-so-secret ingredient takes them up several notches. Tucking potato chips inside your bun is a game changer. If you like things cheesy, the recipe has cheeseburger instructions. And if you’d like to get a little playful, make sliders by downsizing the patties.

Pan-Seared Lamb Burgers with Creamy Feta Sauce

Yummly Original

Lamb burgers are just the thing for a family of more adventurous eaters. The combination of ground lamb, fresh or dried mint, a smidge of tomato paste, and a little ground cumin yields a special burger that still feels familiar. The yogurt-feta-garlic sauce is just what these patties need.

Green Chili Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Mayo

Yummly Original

The mild flavor of ground turkey lends itself to all kinds of add-ins, like this recipe’s canned green chiles and southwestern spices. Served on a toasted brioche bun with lime-chipotle mayo, this is one memorable burger. 

Classics old and new

There’s a reason recipes like these have endured for decades.

Shrimp Scampi

Yummly Original

Garlic, butter, white wine, and lemon: You only need a handful of ingredients and 20 minutes to create a saucy shrimp dish that will have everyone in the family licking their plates. (Serve with rice or crusty bread to prevent licking.)

Classic Chicken Marsala

Yummly Original

In old-school Italian restaurants, my husband orders chicken parmesan. I go with chicken marsala. The tender mushrooms, the slightly sweet wine sauce, the tender chicken … swoon. Cooking it at home means I don’t have to wait for a restaurant. The sauce is delectable, so serve with mashed potatoes — or for a faster side, prepared gnocchi.

Mexican-Style Sloppy Joes

Yummly Original

These Joes are nothing like what we grew up with, but that’s not only OK: It’s amazing. The trick is to swap some of the ground beef for fresh Mexican chorizo, which effortlessly adds flavor and heat. 

Easy weeknight vegetarian recipes

Whether you’re planning Meatless Monday or moving towards a fully vegetarian diet, you still need quick dinner options.

One-Pan Pasta Primavera

Yummly Original

On a busy weeknight, it’s tempting to reach for a jar of marinara (I do, sometimes). But the one-pot method of cooking macaroni gives you a homemade, veggie-packed pasta dish in no time. Stir in some soft garlic-and-herb cheese at the end for a creamy sauce.

Quick and Healthy Vegetable Soup

Yummly Original

I love to make a big pot of veggie soup and stow it in the fridge for the week — with some good bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan, it makes a terrific lunch. To turn it into dinner, add a salad or Pesto Grilled Cheese sandwich. 

Twice as Nice Corn Chowder

Yummly Original

Starting with frozen corn, canned creamed corn, and frozen hash browns saves a lot of time here. You wind up with a thick, hearty bowl of soup — filling enough for dinner — that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours, but it’s ready in just 40 minutes. 

Grilled Mediterranean Flatbread Dinner

Yummly Original

Store-bought flatbread takes on a wonderful smoky flavor after a few minutes on the grill. Top it with grilled halloumi cheese, grilled and raw vegetables, and a dressing made with prepared hummus, and you’ve got an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner. 

Cozy cold-weather recipes

Comfort food is the order of the day when the weather turns chilly. 

Curried Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Yummly Original

A handful of clever shortcuts, like pre-cubed butternut squash and store-bought red curry paste, give you a rich, vegan dinner-in-a-bowl that’s anything but ordinary. Don’t skip the garnish of pumpkin seeds and cilantro leaves — the contrasting textures make a big difference. 

Weeknight Pan-Fried Pierogi and Kielbasa

Yummly Original

I like to make weeknights easier by limiting cleanup. This cozy one-pot supper cooks sliced onions, kielbasa, and frozen pierogi in one large skillet. Everything comes out golden brown, and the sausage and dumplings both develop nice crispy edges. The best part: There’s almost no prep, and just the one pan to wash later. 

Easy Fettuccine Alfredo

Yummly Original

In less than half an hour, you can make a classic pasta recipe that tastes like you ordered it from a fancy Italian restaurant. Quick-cooking fresh pasta in a creamy, cheesy sauce is just the thing on a cold night — I want to cuddle up with a big bowl of it.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Yummly Original

This outrageously delicious tenderloin — rubbed with a southwestern spice blend, wrapped in bacon, and glazed with maple syrup — is ready in just 45 minutes. Serve it with roasted sweet potatoes and your favorite green vegetable.

Mexican-ish recipes

On a busy weeknight, I might not attempt something as complicated as enchiladas — but tacos, burritos, and quesadillas definitely qualify as quick and easy.

Weeknight Chicken and Avocado Burritos

Yummly Original

Mixing shredded rotisserie chicken with green salsa and sour cream makes an ingenious filling for burritos. So much flavor, with so little effort! Top the chicken with avocado, shredded cheese, and cilantro, roll up the tortilla, and toast it in a hot skillet until crispy.

Vegan Chickpea and Corn Tacos with Avocado Crema

Yummly Original

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen chickpeas at my local taqueria, but when they’re browned in a skillet with corn, bell peppers, and chili powder, they make a fantastic vegan filling. The avocado crema on each tortilla holds everything together.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Mango Salsa

Yummly Original

These tacos are delightfully easy. To make them, rub warm spices like cumin, oregano, and chipotle powder on a pork tenderloin and grill it. While that’s going, make a quick, spicy-sweet mango salsa. 

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Sheet Pan Quesadillas

Yummly Original

This takes breakfast-for-dinner to a whole new level. It’s like a giant bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich, made on a sheet pan — but with avocado and green onions tucked inside, and topped with sour cream, salsa, and pickled jalapeños.

Fast seafood suppers

Few foods cook as quickly as fish and shellfish. Frozen varieties thaw quickly, and you can buy top-notch canned and jarred fish, too. 

Miso-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass

Yummly Original

Moist, rich Chilean sea bass only needs a few minutes of marinating in a miso-rice vinegar-soy sauce-brown sugar elixir. Pop it under the broiler until the top gets beautifully burnished, about 10 minutes, and it’s ready.

Macadamia-Crusted Mahi Mahi

Yummly Original

Who wouldn’t like a little tropical escape in the middle of a busy week? Coating mahi-mahi in chopped macadamia nuts, shredded coconut, and panko will whisk you away in just about half an hour.

Lemon-Garlic Pasta with Arugula and Salmon

Yummly Original

If you’ve got a can of salmon, some sun-dried tomatoes, and pasta in the pantry you’re more than halfway to dinner. You’re only cooking the pasta and softening some garlic, so it’s on the table lickety-split.

Seared Scallops Scampi with Spinach

Yummly Original

This lightened-up version of the lemony, garlicky classic swaps scallops for shrimp, skips the butter completely, and adds spinach and pasta to make a complete, balanced, and easy meal. 

Break out your gadgets

Sometimes, the answer to a quick weeknight dinner lies in using the right equipment. 

Crispy Parmesan Panko Air Fryer Pork Chops

Yummly Original

An air fryer gives you all the crunchy goodness you expect from fried food, without the mess (or calories) of cooking in oil. Coat pork chops with panko and Parmesan, pop ‘em in the basket, and they come out irresistibly browned.

Air Fryer Salmon with Ginger and Miso

Yummly Original

Honey, miso, and ginger make a perfect complement to rich salmon fillets. They come out of the air fryer moist and flaky inside, glazed and gorgeous outside.

Air Fryer Flank Steak Fajitas

Yummly Original

My son would eat fajitas five nights a week (the other two? hot dogs and pizza). Using the air fryer to cook up seasoned flank steak, bell peppers, and red onion makes cleanup practically effortless. Pile on the guac, salsa, and sour cream, wrap in a tortilla, and dig in.

Slow Cooker Lemon, Garlic, and Mustard Chicken

Yummly Original

OK, so this is the opposite of fast cooking, but it’s still a weeknight lifesaver. Bone-in chicken breasts soak up the flavor from lemon, white wine, mustard, and garlic for hours after you set it and forget it in the slow cooker. When you return, dinner will be just about ready.

More dinner inspiration

Even more new family favorites await in the related articles below. 

Easy, Healthy Dinner Recipes in 30 Minutes

Looking for quick, healthy dinner recipes for the whole family? We've collected 20 tasty candidates for your Meal Plan.

16 Easy Dinner Recipes for Kids to Make By Themselves

If your kids have some basic kitchen skills, why not let them make dinner?

The Broiler: Your Secret Weapon for Easy Weeknight Cooking

Here’s how to use the broiler, plus 13 recipes that make the most of its quick, high-heat power