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

Love is a homemade pizza

lamb chops with buckweat and strawberries
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

You and your valentine decided to stay in this year to celebrate, so you want to whip up a recipe that feels special…without coming off corny. (Naked angels and conversation hearts? Pass.) Luckily, Cupid is on your side: We’ve rounded up the 60 best Valentine’s Day dinner ideas—from roasted chicken to homemade pasta—that are fancy and a breeze to pull off. Better yet, we’ve included ideas for vegetarians and omnivores alike, and options for people who rarely cook, too. We promise there’s no cheesiness in sight (well, unless you count actual cheese).

What Makes a Good Valentine's Day Dinner?

Everyone has their own idea of a romantic meal, but we can all agree that a good Valentine’s Day dinner should feel at least a little fancier than your usual weeknight meals. Of course, there are shades of fancy, too—if you typically opt for frozen pizza, choose one of the beginner-friendly meals on this list, like a 20-minute cacio e pepe. Want to put on your chef’s hat? Opt for a more involved meal (like lobster risotto or homemade gnocchi) and you’ll really impress.

The 70 Best Valentine’s Day Desserts You’ll Swoon Over


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

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, beginner-friendly

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

2. Salmon al Pastor

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: gluten free, dairy free

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. It’s special enough for a holiday with the added benefit of being gluten- and dairy-free.

3. Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy

Pop quiz: A bouquet of phyllo dough rosettes or a bouquet of long-stem roses? (FYI, there’s a right answer.) Because the phyllo is brushed with butter and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, it gets crispy on the top but stays fairly soft in the center.

5. Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Leeks

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <10 ingredients, gluten free

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

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, <10 ingredients, gluten free

Intimidated by the thought of cooking shellfish at home? Don’t be. These scallops require just two minutes of cooking per side. Queue up that rom-com, would you?

7. Cheater’s White Wine Coq au Vin

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, special occasion–worthy, <10 ingredients

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.

valentine's day dinner ideas: sweet potato gnocchi with herbed white wine sauce
Half Baked Harvest

8. Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Herbed White Wine Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, crowd-pleaser

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

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, <10 ingredients

Fact: There’s no more surefire way to impress your dinner date than with lobster. Want to make it simpler? Look for lobster tails in your grocer’s fresh seafood section, and you're well on your way to winning over hearts (and stomachs).

11. Skillet Steak with Asparagus and Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly, gluten free

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

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours, 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, low carb

Few things are as romantic as an impeccably cooked bird. Just ask Ina Garten. (Plus, with just four ingredients, it’s surprisingly simple to pull off.)

13. Dorie Greenspan’s Sheet Pan Balsamic Chicken with Baby Potatoes and Mushrooms

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: sheet pan recipe, beginner-friendly, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, special occasion–worthy, crowd-pleaser

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

15. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, gluten free, dairy free

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

16. Cacio e Pepe

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, <30 minutes

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

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, beginner-friendly, make ahead

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

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: one pan, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

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

22. Pasta alla Norma

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, beginner-friendly

Roses are red, tomato sauce too…if you’re eating this vegetarian-friendly pasta, we’re jealous of you. Traditionally, Pasta alla Norma is made with ricotta salata (a type of pressed and aged ricotta cheese), but we subbed in pecorino, which is more widely available. Either will taste delicious.

23. Potato and Burrata Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

If pizza is our first love, potatoes and burrata are both tied for second. Store-bought dough keeps things streamlined.

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

24. Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

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. Pair with a glass of wine and a nice salad for a casual-yet-complete feast.

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

25. One Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pot, <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

The best part about this pasta (beyond having just one pot to clean)? Once you’ve mastered this version, you can customize the mix-ins to your heart’s content. We recommend trying spinach or kale.

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

26. One Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: sheet pan recipe, <10 ingredients, gluten free

Put away your skillet—because a no-fuss, no-mess dinner is exactly what a romantic night in calls for.

valentine's day dinner ideas: avocado pasta
Erin McDowell

27. Spaghetti with Avocado Pasta Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <30 minutes, dairy free, <10 ingredients

This recipe is rich but totally virtuous, and the whole meal takes just 30 minutes to prepare. What’s more lovely than that?

valentine's day dinner ideas: creamy sweet corn papardelle
Jeanine Donofrio/Love and Lemons Every Day

28. Creamy Sweet Corn Pappardelle

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, vegan, dairy free

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

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

29. Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, one pan, <10 ingredients

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

valentine's day dinner ideas: asparagus, pea and ricotta tarts
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

30. Asparagus, Pea and Ricotta Tarts

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

This one begins with store-bought puff pastry (aka the secret trick to seeming like a fancy chef without any effort) and ends with you enjoying every bite.

31. Garlic Shrimp Over Parmesan Risotto

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, gluten free

While we’ll admit this recipe requires some watchful stirring, we promise the resulting meal is worth the labor—it’s flavorful, creamy and oh-so-romantic.

32. Lamb Chops with Buckwheat and Black Pepper Strawberries

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, gluten free

Plump, juicy strawberries and perfectly cooked lamb chops are tough to beat. You can use rib chops if you prefer, but loin chops are a bit more flavorful.

valentine's day dinner ideas: mini peach tarts with goat cheese and honey
Photo: Mark Weinberg/Styling: Erin McDowell

33. Mini Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

You might want to make a second batch…they’re that good (not to mention really easy to put together). Served with a big salad, this is a meal for the books.

valentine's day dinner ideas: caprese salad with zucchini
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

34. New Caprese Salad

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

Few things are more satisfying than a plateful of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Paired with a heartier entree on this list, you’ll totally impress your loved one with dinner.

valentine's day dinner ideas: grilled flank steak with lemon-herb sauce
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

35. Grilled Flank Steak with Lemon-Herb Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, dairy free, gluten free

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, vegan, gluten free, dairy free

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, sheet pan recipe

Chalk the crunchy, flavorful breading up to pistachios, garlic, rosemary and cayenne. Hard to believe it's ready in 40 minutes, right?

39. Slow Cooker Chicken Piccata

  • Time Commitment: 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: slow cooker recipe, <10 ingredients

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. Just don’t tell your boo that’s what you did (wink wink).

40. One Pan Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Romaine

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: sheet pan recipe, gluten free

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <500 calories, one pan

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

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, special occasion–worthy, <10 ingredients

If you want to look like a pro, make sure you thoroughly dry the scallops before searing them in the skillet to ensure a gorgeous outer crust.

43. Pork Scallopini with Lemon, Capers and Radicchio

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

A 20-minute dinner = more time for watching romantic movies with your S.O. Because the pork cutlets are thin, they’ll cook quickly on the stovetop.

44. Baked Ginger and Lemon Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly

Warming ginger, zingy lemon and sweet honey make for the most delectable sticky marinade of all time. This one is ideal if you want to impress but don’t feel super confident in the kitchen.

45. Vegetable Wellington with Mushrooms and Spinach

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, vegetarian, low sugar

How do we love thee, frozen puff pastry? Let us count the ways. This vegetarian version of a classic is filled with earthy mushrooms and spinach for a twist.

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

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours, 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, special occasion–worthy

Nothing says “I love you” like fall-apart-tender beef over herbed mashed potatoes. This slow cooker meal requires some planning ahead—since it spends 6 to 8 hours on low—but the end result is worth the effort.

47. Vegan Avocado Caesar Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegan, <500 calories

Capers, green peppercorns and Dijon mustard give the dressing all the umami of traditional anchovies. If you don’t think salad is Valentine’s Day friendly, wait until you take a bite.

48. Flank Steak Tacos with Cucumber Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, dairy free, gluten free

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).

49. Gluten-Free Cauliflower Gnocchi Pomodoro

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: gluten free, special occaison–worthy, vegetarian

Homemade pasta? In under an hour? And it’s gluten-free? It’s true, cauliflower really can do anything.

50. Easy Skillet Linguine with Trumpet Mushroom ‘Scallops’

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

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

51. Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Salmon

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: sheet pan recipe, crowd-pleaser, gluten free

If your schedule doesn’t allow for a three-course feast, look no further. 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

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes

Pizza is our first love (shh), so naturally we’re making it on the most romantic day of the year. The key to this ingenious hack is using a large store-bought focaccia for the base.

53. Balsamic Cranberry Roast Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours
  • Why I Love It: one pan, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

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

  • Time Commitment: 5 hours, 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, <10 ingredients, special occasion–worthy

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

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours, 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: slow cooker recipe, make ahead

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

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, sheet pan recipe

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)

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, no sugar

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.

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

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, special occasion–worthy, low carb

This Contessa creation is easy enough to prepare, yet fancy enough to serve for a special occasion. Make it for your Jeffrey.


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Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...