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59 Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas That Feel Fancy (but Not Cheesy)

You and your valentine decided to stay in this year to celebrate, so you want to whip up a recipe that feels special…without feeling corny. (Naked angels and conversation hearts? Pass.) Luckily, Cupid is on your side: We’ve rounded up the 59 best Valentine’s Day dinner ideas—from roasted chicken to homemade pasta—that are fancy and a breeze to pull off. We promise there’s no cheesiness in sight (well, unless you count actual cheese).

68 Valentine's Day Dessert Recipes That Will Make You Swoon


1. Antoni Porowski’s Lazy Pierogi With Wild Mushrooms, Cabbage And Prunes

Homemade dumplings in 35 minutes? Consider your date wooed. (Feel free to make extra to sprinkle with breadcrumbs and sugar.)

2. Salmon Al Pastor

Pork takes a backseat to quick-cooking salmon in this Mexican-inspired dinner (which only takes 40 minutes to prepare, BTW). Think warm ancho chile powder, fresh citrus juices, diced pineapple and pickled onions.

3. Polenta With Roasted Mushrooms And Bacon

Pop the mushrooms in the oven while you cook the polenta and dinner is halfway done. (Psst: You don't have to stir it nonstop, either!)

4. Mac And Cheese With Crispy Parmesan-phyllo Crust

Pop quiz: A bouquet of phyllo dough rosettes or a bouquet of long-stem roses? (FYI, there’s a right answer.)

5. Butternut Squash Risotto With Crispy Leeks

Risotto feels sophisticated and chic, but it’s actually just as easy to make as regular rice (albeit with a bit more stirring). This one gets jazzed up with a frizzled leek topping that’s *chef’s kiss.*

6. Pan-seared Scallops With Citrusy Corn Succotash

Intimidated by the thought of cooking shellfish at home? Don’t be. These scallops require just two minutes of cooking per side.

7. Cheater’s White Wine Coq Au Vin

Don’t tell Julia Child, but we took some shortcuts with this elegant dish to make it doable in under an hour. We think she’d give us a pass for Valentine’s Day.

valentines day dinner ideas sweet potato gnocchi herbed white wine sauce recipe
Half Baked Harvest

8. Sweet Potato Gnocchi In Herbed White Wine Sauce

The key to our heart is homemade gnocchi. Luckily, the pasta in this dish only needs five ingredients and nine minutes to come together.

9. Alison Roman’s Swordfish With Crushed Olives And Oregano

It tastes like chicken and is just as easy to make, but also has a certain je ne sais quoi that’s ideal for a cozy night in with bae.

10. Lobster Risotto

Fact: There's no more surefire way to impress your dinner date than with lobster.

11. Skillet Steak With Asparagus And Potatoes

Cooking steak at home doesn’t have to strike fear in your heart. Just turn to your trusty cast iron skillet for guidance.

12. Whole Roasted Chipotle Chicken

Few things are as romantic as an impeccably cooked bird. Just ask Ina Garten.

13. Dorie Greenspan’s Sheet Pan Balsamic Chicken With Baby Potatoes And Mushrooms

When you pull this beautifully burnished chicken out of the oven, you won’t be able to stop yourself from swooning.

14. Greek Chicken And Rice Skillet

Easy? Check. Gorgeous? Double check. And don’t even get us started on how it tastes.

15. Pomegranate-maple Glazed Lamb Chops

Dressed in an effortless five-ingredient glaze, these lamb chops are ready for their Instagram closeup.

16. Cacio E Pepe

A six-ingredient, 20-minute bowl of pasta is better than a box of chocolates in our book. (But we’ll take the chocolates, too.)

17. 30-minute One-pot Cheater’s Bouillabaisse

You don’t have to hop a flight to Provence to be romantic. Just make this rustic seafood stew and serve it with lots of crusty bread.

18. Foolproof Cheater’s Confit

Impossibly juicy, fork-tender duck meat and crispy skin? We didn’t think it was possible to have a crush on a meal, but here we are.

19. 30-minute Cheater’s Beef Stroganoff

Craving warm and fuzzy feelings? Look no further than this buttery, melt-in-your-mouth bowl. The only thing it's missing is a glass of red wine.

20. Cheater’s Skillet Paella

Traditionally, this hearty Spanish rice dish isn’t exactly easy to cook at home…but we made a few tweaks so dinner can be foolproof.

21. Pan-fried Cod With Orange And Swiss Chard

The whole thing goes from fridge to plate in less time than you would have to wait for a table at your favorite restaurant.

22. Pasta Alla Norma

Roses are red, tomato sauce too…if you’re eating this pasta, we’re jealous of you.

best valentine s day dinner ideas baked mac and cheese bites recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

24. Baked Mac And Cheese Bites

What’s better than mac and cheese? (Hint: nothing.) These baked bites are crispy on top and chewy on the inside, just how you like 'em.

best valentine s day dinner ideas one pot tomato basil pasta recipe
Inspired Entertainment/The Domestic Geek's Meals Made Easy

25. One-pot Tomato Basil Pasta

The best part (beyond having just one pot to clean)? Once you’ve mastered this version, you can customize the recipe to your heart’s content.

best valentine s day dinner ideas one pan steak with beets and crispy kale recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

26. One-pan Steak With Beets And Crispy Kale

Because a no-fuss, no-mess dinner is exactly what a romantic night in calls for.

best valentine s day dinner ideas avocado pasta recipe
Erin McDowell

27. Spaghetti With Avocado Pasta Sauce

This recipe is rich but totally virtuous, and the whole meal takes just 30 minutes to prepare. (Cue the singing angels.)

best valentine s day dinner ideas sweet corn pappardelle vertical
Jeanine Donofrio/Love and Lemons Every Day

28. Creamy Sweet Corn Pappardelle

Cashews and lemon create a cream sauce that doesn’t use any actual cream for this way-too-easy-to-eat pappardelle.

best valentine s day dinner ideas skillet gnocchi with sausage and broccoli rabe recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

29. Skillet Gnocchi With Sausage And Broccoli Rabe

This hearty and delicious dish is super simple, but tastes like you spent all day making it.

best valentine s day dinner ideas asparagus pea and ricotta vegetable tart recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

30. Asparagus, Pea And Ricotta Tarts

It begins with store-bought puff pastry and ends with you enjoying every bite.

best valentine s day dinner ideas what to serve with chili sweet potato and arugula salad
Ambitious Kitchen

31. Sweet Potato And Arugula Salad

This one takes only 35 minutes and is oh so impressive (and healthy to boot).

best valentine s day dinner ideas cobb salad
Pinch of Yum

32. Chipotle Chicken Cobb Salad

Plump, juicy strawberries and buttery avocado are tough to beat.

best valentine s day dinner ideas tarts
Photo: Mark Weinberg/Styling: Erin McDowell

33. Mini Peach Tarts With Goat Cheese And Honey

You might want to make a second batch…they’re that good.

best valentine s day dinner ideas caprese
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

34. New Caprese Salad

Few things are more satisfying than a plateful of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.

best valentine s day dinner ideas flank steak
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

35. Grilled Flank Steak With Lemon-herb Sauce

For big, bold flavor, marinate the steak before it hits the grill pan. Then, serve it with fresh herb sauce for an extra boost.

36. Easy One-pan Ratatouille

This dish, starring squash, bell peppers and zucchini, is traditionally cooked low and slow on the stove, but we roast it in the oven to minimize the cooking time.

37. Lemon And Herb Roast Chicken

You only need five ingredients and 80 minutes to pull this stunner off. Color your beau impressed.

38. Pistachio-crusted Pork Tenderloin With Apple And Escarole Salad

Chalk the crunchy, flavorful breading up to pistachios, garlic, rosemary and cayenne.

39. Slow Cooker Chicken Piccata

Throwing everything in the Crockpot and calling it a day is almost as convenient (and way less expensive) than having a private chef cook your dinner.

40. One-pan Roasted Salmon With Potatoes And Romaine

We've never met a sheet pan recipe we didn't like love. This one cooks your protein (read: flaky, tender salmon) and sides in one shot.

41. Spiralized Winter Vegetable Gratin

Meet the creamiest, dreamiest vegetarian bake ever created. It's got parsnips, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, plus lots of fresh herbs, Parmesan and Gruyère.

42. Seared Scallops With Green Peas, Mint And Shallots

Make sure you thoroughly dry the scallops before searing them in the skillet to ensure a gorgeous outer crust.

44. Baked Ginger And Lemon Chicken

Warming ginger, zingy lemon and sweet honey make for the most delectable sticky marinade of all time.

46. White Wine Braised Short Ribs With Buttered Mushroom Cream Sauce

Nothing says "I love you" like fall-apart-tender beef over herbed mashed potatoes.

47. Vegan Avocado Caesar Salad

Capers, green peppercorns and Dijon mustard give the dressing all the umami of traditional anchovies.

48. Flank Steak Tacos With Cucumber Salsa

Steak says fancy, tacos say casual. Give your boo the best of both worlds with these handhelds (and maybe a side of chips with fresh guac).

50. Easy Skillet Linguine With Trumpet Mushroom ‘scallops’

Trumpet mushrooms are affordable, easy to prepare and an uncanny vegetarian substitute for scallops.

51. Honey-mustard Sheet Pan Salmon

Pro tip: Marinate the salmon and cut the veggies while the oven preheats to save time.

52. Cheater’s Sicilian-style Pizza With Jalapeños And Honey

The key to this ingenious hack is using a large store-bought focaccia for the base.

53. Balsamic Cranberry Roast Chicken

This skillet delight is festive, seasonal and super hands-off. Glazing the chicken in a zingy marinade and roasting it at a high temperature for the last few minutes of cooking guarantees a crackly outer crust.

54. Antoni Porowski’s Strip Steak With Harissa Butter And Parsley Salad

Believe it or not, this restaurant-caliber meal only requires ten minutes of prep and ten minutes of cooking. (Oh, and the side salad will change your opinion of parsley forever.)

55. Seared Scallops With Citrus-shallot Salad

Consider this recipe an ode to citrus season. Opt for navel oranges, or mix it up with grapefruit, blood oranges or cara cara oranges.

56. Skillet Roast Chicken With Schmaltzy Potatoes

The buttermilk brine is a hack on its own, but so is this tip: Position the chicken's legs in the back corner of your oven so the breast, thighs and drumsticks finish cooking at the same time without the breast meat drying out.

57. Cheater’s Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Think of this comforting classic as an edible hug. (The mashed potatoes make it twice as romantic, if you ask us.)

58. Salmon With Pesto And Blistered Tomatoes

Fancy enough for date night, simple enough to add to your weekly rotation. Serve it with a side of rice or atop a bed of pasta.

59. Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo (shrimp In Garlic Sauce)

If you always keep V-Day casual (like, order in a pizza casual), this 15-minute gem is right up your alley. Have dinner rolls on hand to soak up all the leftover lemon-garlic butter.


For even more great recipes, check out our first cookbook, Only the Good Stuff.