50 Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas That Feel Fancy but Not Cheesy
You and your valentine decided to stay in this year to celebrate, and you want to whip up something that feels special…without feeling schmoopy. (Naked angels and conversation hearts? No thanks.) No worries: We've rounded up the 50 best Valentine's Day dinner ideas—from roasted chicken to homemade pasta—that are fancy *and* easy to pull off—with no cheesiness in sight. Well, unless you count actual cheese.
1. Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon
Pop the mushrooms in the oven while you cook the polenta and dinner is halfway done. Just pretend you spent all evening stirring. (Psst: You don't have to stir this polenta nonstop, either!)
2. 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.)
3. Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Leeks
Risotto feels sophisticated and chic, but it’s actually just as easy to make as regular rice. This one gets jazzed up with a frizzled leek topping that’s *chef’s kiss.*
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Herbed White Wine Sauce
The key to our heart is homemade gnocchi. Luckily, the pasta in this dish needs just five ingredients and nine minutes from start to finish.
7. 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.
8. Lobster Risotto
Fact: There's no better way to pull out all the stops than with lobster.
9. 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.
11. 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.
12. Greek Chicken and Rice Skillet
Easy? Check. Gorgeous? Double check. And don’t even get us started on how it tastes.
13. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops
With an effortless five-ingredient glaze, these chops are ready for their Instagram closeup.
14. Cacio e Pepe
A six-ingredient, 20-minute bowl of pasta is better than a box of chocolates, if you ask us. (But we’ll take the chocolates too.)
15. 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.
16. Foolproof Cheater’s Confit
Impossibly juicy, fall-apart-tender meat and crispy skin? We didn’t think it was possible to have a crush on a dinner, but here we are.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Pasta Alla Norma
Roses are red, tomato sauce too…if you’re eating this pasta, we’re jealous of you.
21. Potato and Burrata Pizza
If pizza is our first love, potatoes and burrata are both tied for second. This holiday is all about love, after all.
22. Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites
What’s better than mac and cheese? (Hint: nothing.) These mini baked mac-and-cheese bites are crispy on top and nice and chewy on the inside.
23. 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.
24. One-Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale
Because a no fuss, no mess dinner is exactly what a romantic night in calls for.
25. Spaghetti with Avocado Pasta Sauce
This recipe is rich but totally virtuous, and the whole meal takes just 30 minutes to prepare. (Cue singing angels.)
26. 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.
27. Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
This hearty and delicious dish is super simple, but tastes like you spent all day making it.
28. Asparagus, Pea and Ricotta Tarts
It begins with store-bought dough and ends with you enjoying every bite.
29. Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad
This one takes only 35 minutes and is oh-so impressive.
30. Chipotle Chicken Cobb Salad
Strawberries and fresh corn are hard to beat.
31. Mini Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey
You might want to make a second batch…they’re that good.
32. New Caprese Salad
Few things are more satisfying than a plateful of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.
33. Grilled Flank Steak with Lemon-Herb Sauce
For big, bold flavor, marinate it before it hits the grill. Then, serve it with a fresh herb sauce for an extra boost of flavor.
34. Easy One-Pan Ratatouille
This dish, starring squash, bell peppers and zucchini, is traditionally slow-cooked on the stove, but we roast it in the oven to minimize the cooking time.
35. Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken
You only need five ingredients and 80 minutes to pull this stunner off. Color your beau impressed.
36. Pistachio-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Escarole Salad
Chalk the crunchy, flavorful breading up to pistachios, garlic, rosemary and cayenne.
37. Slow-Cooker Chicken Piccata
Throwing everything in the Crock-Pot and calling it a day is almost as convenient (and way less expensive) than having a private chef cook your dinner.
38. One-Pan Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Romaine
We've never met a sheet-pan recipe we didn't like love. And this one cooks your protein and sides in one shot.
39. 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.
40. 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.
42. Pomegranate-Sumac Chicken with Roasted Carrots
Adding sweet pomegranate molasses to the old-school buttermilk brine gives the chicken a tart kick.
43. Vegetable Wellington with Mushrooms and Spinach
How do we love thee, frozen puff pastry? Let us count the ways.
44. White Wine Braised Short Ribs with Buttered Mushroom Cream Sauce
Nothing says "I love you" like fall-apart-tender beef over herbed mashed potatoes.
45. Vegan Avocado Caesar Salad
Capers, green peppercorns and Dijon mustard give the dressing all the umami of traditional anchovies.
48. Easy Skillet Linguine with Trumpet Mushroom ‘Scallops’
Trumpet mushrooms are affordable, easy to prepare and an uncanny vegetarian substitute for scallops.
49. Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Salmon
Pro tip: Marinate the salmon and cut the veggies while the oven preheats to save time.
50. 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.