68 Date Night Recipes That Are Shockingly Simple (and Romantic)

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Hot take: Just because you and your S.O. feel like staying in tonight doesn’t mean you have to settle for a mediocre dinner (or takeout). Play some mood music, uncork a bottle of wine and put one of these easy meals for two in motion instead to spice things up. Presenting 68 date night recipes to make for your one and only on Valentine’s Day (or any old weeknight).

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

1. Easy One-Pan Ratatouille

This classic French dish is a breeze to assemble, yet decidedly elegant. Serve it on its own or pair it with chicken, steak or fish.

Half Baked Harvest

2. Sicilian-Style Salmon with Garlic Broccoli and Tomatoes

Close your eyes and you're in Italy. Did we mention that the main and sides will be ready to devour in 25 minutes flat?

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

3. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops

A stunning main that requires minimal effort? Count us in. Use a grill pan to get wow-worthy char marks on the chops.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

4. Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

Is there any dinner as impressive as a whole roast bird? We think not. Sit back and relax as your kitchen fills with the aromas of rosemary and citrus.

Half Baked Harvest

5. Roasted Cranberry-Brown Sugar Pork Chops

Sticky-yet-classy is our favorite kind of dinner. Serve this caramelized masterpiece with a side of roasted potatoes.

Caitlin Bensel/The Mediterranean Dish

6. Crispy Chickpeas and Scallops with Garlic-Harissa Oil

Consider this spicy, savory masterpiece your gateway to cooking scallops at home on the reg. (Seriously—they only require two minutes of searing per side.)

Stephen Hamilton/Listen to Your Vegetables

7. Bucatini Verde with Tuscan Kale Pesto and Walnuts

Pasta is timelessly sexy in our book, and even more so when it's doused in homemade sauce. This is also a great option for vegetarians celebrating V-Day.

Quentin Bacon/Go-To Dinners

8. Ina Garten’s Creamy Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Thyme

Nothing says romance like, "it's an Ina Garten recipe." The sauce is positively drool-worthy, thanks to onions, leeks and tangy crème fraîche.

Foodie Crush

9. Crispy Smoked Paprika Chicken

A low-key, slightly fancy date night recipe for the books, by Coterie member Heidi Larsen. Make double of the paprika spice blend to use on other proteins or vegetables.

Pinch of Yum

10. Garlic Basil Shrimp and Grits

Yup, it’s basically a big bowl of shrimp-crowned Southern comfort. And thanks to almond milk in the grits, it's totally dairy-free.

How Sweet Eats

11. Herb and Butter Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions

Aka the most succulent meat main you'll ever make. Don't even get us started on the zingy horseradish sauce, which will taste divine on leftover beef sandwiches.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

12. Grilled Flatbread Pizza with Artichoke, Ricotta and Lemon

When you resist the urge to call your local pizzeria but still get your 'za fix, that’s amore. Serve with dressed greens or soup.

Feasting at Home

13. Simple Moroccan Salmon with Blood Oranges

Oh, citrus season. We love you so. Warm spices drive the Moroccan flavor home, but you can make it even tastier by finishing the salmon with almonds, olives and orange zest.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

14. Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant, Basil and Pecorino

Any excuse to open a bottle of good wine, right? We sub pecorino for traditional ricotta salata, which may be tougher to find at your local supermarket.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

15. Cacio e Pepe

It only takes six ingredients and 20 minutes to make this cheesy masterpiece. Even picky kids will have no complaints about this amped-up spaghetti.

Foodie Crush

16. Filet Mignon with Porcini Mushroom Compound Butter

There's no better time to splurge on filet mignon than Valentine's Day. This recipe will give your fave steakhouse a run for its money, so it'll be worth every penny.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

17. Pistachio-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Escarole Salad

Breaded in a crunchy herb coating and roasted to perfection. We'd find your "Kiss the Cook" apron, stat.


18. Slow Cooker Chicken Piccata

Nothing cures a long day like a low-and-slow meal. This main is as simple as adding all the ingredients to your Crockpot and pressing a button.

Weeknight Society

19. One-Pot Orecchiette Ragu

A sink full of dirty dishes is sort of a vibe-killer, no? Luckily, you'll only have one pot to wash after dinner (or heck, tomorrow morning).


20. Easy Skillet Linguine with Trumpet Mushroom "Scallops"

Vegan "seafood" in less than 30 minutes? It's a date night miracle. You'd be shocked what an uncanny scallop substitute seared shrooms are.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

21. Lobster Risotto

The tastiest way to say “I love you” is by cooking Parmesan-herb risotto topped with the meatiest lobster tails you can find for your boo.

Laura Edwards/The Yoga Kitchen Plan

22. Zoodles with Avocado and Mango Sauce

Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and downright delicious. We’d serve the zoodles alongside tropical salmon or red snapper.

Girl Gone Gourmet

23. 30-Minute Steak Carbonara for Two

Sweet dreams are made of butter, pasta, Parmesan and sirloin. Let the meat rest for ten minutes once it's finished before slicing it against the grain.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

24. Kale and Cheddar Cheese Galette

Sure, this vegetarian gem made with easy store-bought pie crust is a side dish…but it can be an entrée if you want it to be (especially if you serve it with your go-to white wine).

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

25. 15-Minute Lemony Broccolini Pasta

In case you *don’t* want to spend three hours of your date night in the kitchen, lean on this lightning-fast pasta dish.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

26. Pork Scallopini with Lemon, Capers and Radicchio

Just as easy a meal to make as chicken (in 20 minutes, no less), only way more exciting. It's bursting with tang and acidity, courtesy of fresh citrus, mustard and briny capers.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

27. Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Barley Risotto

Oh, hi there, meatless main. Even carnivores will fill up on this hearty meal, which boasts 20 grams of protein per serving.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

28. One-Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale

Because dirty dishes are far from romantic. Make this once and you'll never be too intimidated to cook steak at home again.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

29. Cheater’s Sicilian-Style Pizza with Jalapeños and Honey

In case your date nights tend to include kids. If they're anti-spice, nix the jalapeños on half the pie and lay the honey on thick.

Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott/Nothing Fancy

30. Alison Roman’s Swordfish with Crushed Olives and Oregano

It sounds fancy, but you’ll only need ten ingredients and 30 minutes to make it. Serve with steamed white rice.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

31. Honey-Lime Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Reapplying the sweet-and-sour glaze as the pork cooks helps build layers upon layers of flavor. Serve it with roasted potatoes, a side salad or cilantro rice.

Uyen Luu/Vietnamese

32. Baked Ginger and Lemon Chicken

Dining with another couple? This meal for four is sure to impress. Feel free to go the casual route by substituting chicken wings or pork ribs for thighs and drums.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

33. Skillet Roast Chicken with Peaches, Tomatoes and Red Onion

Bookmark it now to devour alfresco next summer (or use ripe pears or apples in place of peaches in the off-season).

A New Way to Food

34. Whole Roasted Chipotle Chicken

Can you believe you're only four ingredients away from dinner, including salt and EVOO? The key is canned chipotle peppers in adobo.

Erin Kunkel/The Vibrant Life

35. Orange Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Fennel

Behold: a sheet pan chicken recipe that puts your usual takeout order to shame. All that’s missing is a pot of jasmine rice.

Grandbaby Cakes

36. Creamy Garlic Pasta with Seared Scallops

This classy dish gets much of its deliciousness from a whole head of roasted garlic. Might we suggest following up with fancy mints to make it date night-friendly?

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

37. Balsamic Cranberry Roast Chicken

Since it's cooked in your trusty cast iron skillet, you won't need to brown the bird before roasting it. We'll call that a win.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

38. White Wine Coq au Vin

A French essential, ready for oohs and aahs in less than an hour. Her majesty Julia Child would be so proud.

Erin McDowell

39. Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

There's a reason this vegetarian feat is the most popular recipe in PureWow history. (We think the magic lies in the chile-yogurt marinade.)

Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

40. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

You can simply lay the dough sheets atop the pasta if you're pressed for time, but we're betting your date would prefer these phyllo rosettes over a real bouquet.

Helen Cathcart/Tuscany

41. One-Pan Creamy Chicken Fricassee with Sage

No heavy cream here. In fact, there's no dairy at all; the sauce is thickened with egg yolks and lemon instead.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

42. Pan-Fried Cod with Orange and Swiss Chard

Filling enough to satisfy, yet light enough that you’ll have plenty of room for dessert. We'd have a box of chocolate truffles at the ready if we were you.

Feel Good Foodie

43. Zucchini Ravioli

This meal is as easy as stuffing a few long, thin slices of zucchini with seasoned ricotta. It's just the ticket if you or your S.O. is on keto.

Half Baked Harvest

44. White Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Buttered Mushroom Cream Sauce

Comfort food at its creamy, dreamy finest. Be patient with this slow cooker recipe; the fall-apart-tender short ribs are well worth the wait.

Eric Wolfinger/The Mexican Keto Cookbook

45. Cast-Iron Pork Chops with Cacao-Spiced Rub

Salt the chops and let them come to room temperature for 45 minutes before cooking to achieve maximum tenderness. Oh, and make two times the rub to use on chicken or beef next.

Colin Price/Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook

46. Honey Mustard Sheet Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Bone-in, skin-on thighs get super crispy without drying out due to their higher fat content, unlike chicken breasts.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

47. Vegetable Wellington with Mushrooms and Spinach

Store-bought puff pastry does it again. The fresh herbs really elevate the mushroom filling, so much so that you won't miss the beef.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

48. Bacon-Wrapped Black Cod with Spinach and Capers

Bacon offers both serious savoriness and satisfying crunch to the tender, flaky fish. We bet you have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already, too.

Oh Carlene

49. Black Pepper-Parmesan Ravioli with Roasted Cauliflower

Lemon-parsley butter, charred cauli and zingy capers? Excuse us while we swoon.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

50. Polenta and Meatballs

Although reliably delicious, spaghetti and meatballs can feel juvenile on date night. Classy four-ingredient polenta, on the other hand, fits the bill.

Salt and Wind

51. Pan-Roasted Trout with Walnut-Green Sauce

Make the sauce with whatever herbs and greens you have on hand. Chives, tarragon, watercress, dill and parsley are all fair game.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

52. One-Pan Roasted Chicken with Carrots

It turns out an empty sink is a major aphrodisiac, as are seven-ingredient recipes that taste and look this good.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

53. Cheater’s Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Prepare 15-minute microwave mashed potatoes as a side, then sip cocktails while your Crockpot does all the heavy lifting.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

54. One-Pan Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Romaine

Dinner tonight *and* lunch tomorrow. If you've never had romaine lettuce warm, this sheet pan main is sure to convert you at first bite.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

55. Stuffed Eggplant

When’s the last time you had eggplant that wasn’t breaded and drenched in tomato sauce? Here, it's stuffed with herby quinoa and roasted until tender.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

56. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Taco Tuesday meets date night. We’re here for it (and we brought guac). Serve with plenty of pickled red onions and lime wedges.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

57. Skillet Steak with Asparagus and Potatoes

This one-hour beauty is basically foolproof, promise. Think of the herb sauce as a minty twist on chimichurri.

Aubrie Pick/Kitchen Remix

58. Potato Chip-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Pesto

You had us at "potato chip." Use thick, kettle-cooked chips so they don't turn soggy as the chicken cooks.

Grandbaby Cakes

59. Summer Brown Butter Pasta for Two

It's loaded with fresh corn and tomatoes, but we think the nutty, savory brown butter (aka liquid gold) really seals the deal.

Damn Delicious

60. Garlic Butter Steak and Scallops

Surf and turf is our love language. The lemony garlic butter would taste great on everything from bread to pasta, so keep the recipe for it in your back pocket.

Half Baked Harvest

61. Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Herbed White Wine Sauce

Five-ingredient homemade gnocchi is sure to wow your S.O. If you really want to go the extra mile, use home-grown herbs, which tend to be much more flavorful than those from the supermarket.

Feel Good Foodie

62. Broccoli and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

Your kids' favorite protein meets their most beloved soup. It's tasty enough to serve grown-ups though, and it's low-carb and keto-friendly to boot.

Paul Brissman/Antoni: Let's Do Dinner

63. Antoni Porowski’s Strip Steak with Harissa Butter and Parsley Salad

Have you only enjoyed parsley as a garnish? This underrated herb deserves your attention—and the spotlight.

Mark Weinberg/Baking with Dorie

64. Dorie Greenspan’s Potato-Parm Tart

Nothing puts us in the mood faster than spuds and cheese. The filling is a mix of cream cheese, Parm and finely sliced scallions.

Photo/Styling: Katherine Gillen

65. Skillet Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Potatoes

Six ingredients, one pan, much flavor. The buttermilk brine guarantees tender, juicy meat and crackly skin.

Photo/Styling: Katherine Gillen

66. Charcuterie Board Flatbread

This five-minute meal is a godsend for lazy cooks (and cheese-loving couples) who want to keep date night as casual as possible.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

67. Flank Steak Tacos with Cucumber Salsa

They're equal parts fancy and laid-back. Margaritas for two, anyone? (Or better yet, mezcalitas?)

Matthew Septimus/Rose’s Ice Cream Bliss

68. Chocolate Semifreddo Seduction

A dinner date is woefully incomplete without dessert, so we present to you this decadent, seven-ingredient indulgence.