Keep It Simple: 5 Ingredient Main Dish recipes for Busy Cooks

Keep It Simple: 5 Ingredient Main Dish Recipes for Busy CooksYou’ve had one of those days. Work was a marathon, the commute home felt endless, and now your stomach is growling. The last thing you want to do is spend hours slaving over a complicated meal. What you need are main dish recipes with just a few basic ingredients that come together in minutes. Keep it simple – that’s your motto for the evening. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with 5 hearty, satisfying main dishes that only require 5 ingredients or less. In 30 minutes or less you’ll be sitting down to a homemade meal that tastes like it took all day. Simplicity never tasted so good. Skip the takeout and keep these super easy recipes on hand for those nights when easy is the only thing on the menu.

Introduction to 5 Ingredient Main Dish Recipes

When you’re short on time but still want a home-cooked meal, stick to a handful of quality ingredients. These crowd-pleasing, 5-ingredient main dishes are perfect for busy weeknights.

Chicken Fajitas

(-) 1 pound chicken breast, sliced

(-) 1 bell pepper, sliced

(-) 1 onion, sliced

(-) 2 tablespoons chili powder

(-) 2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss the chicken, peppers and onions in 1 tablespoon of the chili powder and olive oil. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Warm tortillas, top with the chicken mixture, and serve with your favorite fajita fixings like salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, etc.

Pasta Primavera

(-) 1 pound pasta

(-) 2 cups mixed veggies (like broccoli, carrots, zucchini)

(-) 3 cloves garlic, minced

(-) 1/4 cup olive oil

(-) 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Meanwhile, in the same pot, sauté the veggies and garlic in olive oil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, parmesan, and a splash of the reserved pasta water; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

With a handful of high-quality components and a few minutes of active cooking time, you’ll be enjoying a homemade dinner in record time. Keeping meals uncomplicated during the week helps avoid burnout, allowing you to spend more time doing the things – and with the people – you love.

main dish 1

Easy Skillet Meals Made With Just 5 Ingredients

Nothing beats a hot, homemade meal after a long day, but complicated recipes with a mile-long ingredient list are less than appealing when you’re short on time. For busy nights, keep these 5-ingredient skillet meals in your rotation.

Easy Beef and Broccoli

  • 1 pound beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 pound broccoli florets

Toss the beef with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and cook the beef until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the broccoli to the skillet, stir frying until crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add the remaining soy sauce and stir to coat and heat through, about 1 minute more. Serve over rice or noodles.

  • Cooked rice or noodles (optional)

Cheesy Chicken and Tomato Skillet

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Cooked pasta (optional)

Season the chicken with Italian seasoning. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, cheese, and cooked pasta (if using). Stir to combine and continue cooking until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through, about 3 more minutes.

Fast Sheet Pan Dinners You Can Make With 5 Ingredients or Less

Fast Sheet Pan Dinners You Can Make With 5 Ingredients or Less

When time is short and you’re hungry, a sheet pan dinner is the perfect solution. Simply toss a few ingredients on a pan and roast until done. These fast and flavorful meals require 5 ingredients or less so you can keep things simple.

Chicken thighs, broccoli, and potatoes: Place 1 pound chicken thighs, 1 head broccoli florets, and 1 pound diced potatoes on a sheet pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 F for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender.

Shrimp, bell peppers and zucchini: Arrange 1 pound shrimp, 2 sliced bell peppers, and 2 zucchini sliced on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon. Season with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Roast at 400 F for 15-20 minutes until the shrimp is opaque and pink.

Sausage, cabbage and apples: Cut 1 pound sausage links, 1/2 head cabbage, and 2 apples into chunks. Place on a sheet pan and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 F for 25-35 minutes, stirring halfway, until the sausage is browned and the cabbage is tender.

These no-fuss dinners are budget-friendly, healthy, and satisfying. The variety of flavors and textures are sure to please everyone. And with only a single pan to wash, cleanup is a breeze. For extra nutrition add vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots or green beans. Switch up the protein by using ground turkey, beef or lamb. The possibilities are endless, so get creative and enjoy!

main dish

Simple Soup and Stew Recipes Using Only 5 Ingredients

Simple soups and stews are comforting, cozy, and perfect for busy weeknights. The key is keeping the ingredient list short. Focus on a few high-quality ingredients for maximum flavor with minimal effort.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing says comfort like chicken noodle soup. For a quick 5-ingredient version, you’ll need:

  1. 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 3 carrots, sliced
  4. Egg noodles or rice noodles
  5. Low-sodium chicken broth

Place the chicken, onion, and carrots in a pot and cover with broth. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Add noodles to the pot and cook according to package directions. Shred or dice the chicken and add it back to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Beef and Barley Stew

Hearty beef and barley stew is perfect for a chilly night. The ingredients are simple but satisfying:

  1. 1 pound stew meat (chuck, rump, or brisket), cut into 1-inch cubes
  2. 2 onions, diced
  3. 3 carrots, sliced
  4. Beef broth (low-sodium)
  5. Pearl barley

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the beef in batches, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Return the beef to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beef is tender when pierced with a fork, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Stir in the barley during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a simple salad or crusty bread.

Effortless Oven Baked Dishes With Just 5 Ingredients

read more:The Art of Making Healthy Salad Recipes

One of the easiest ways to make a homemade meal with minimal effort is to use just a few ingredients and pop it in the oven. These oven-baked dishes require almost no active cooking time, so you can put together dinner in a snap and get on with your evening.

Baked Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are inexpensive, juicy, and perfect for quick oven meals. Season 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and your favorite dried or fresh herbs like rosemary. Place in a baking dish and roast at 400 F for about 30 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. Serve the chicken with a simple side of roasted broccoli, rice, or a salad.

Sheet Pan Fajitas

Slice 1-2 bell peppers and 1 onion and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and roast at 400 F for 15 minutes. Push the veggies to the side and add 1 pound flank steak or chicken to the pan. Roast 10 more minutes, then slice the meat and serve everything in tortillas with your favorite toppings like salsa, guacamole, cheese, and cilantro.

Pasta Primavera

Toss 1 pound penne pasta, 2 cups broccoli florets, 1 diced zucchini, 1 diced bell pepper, 3/4 cup marinara sauce, 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Pour into a baking dish and top with 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Simple, vegetarian and delicious!

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Potato Wedges

Cut 4 russet potatoes into wedges, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and roast at 450 F for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until browned and crisp. Serve as a side to sandwiches, burgers or eggs.

These effortless one-pan or one-pot oven meals are perfect for busy weeknights or when you want to keep things uncomplicated. With just a few basic ingredients, you can make a homemade meal the whole family will enjoy.


So there you have it—5 simple, delicious main dish recipes with only 5 ingredients each to add to your weeknight dinner rotation. When time is short and energy levels are low, having a handful of ultra-simple go-to meals in your back pocket can be a lifesaver. These recipes prove that you don’t need a long list of fancy ingredients to make something satisfying and comforting. Sometimes keeping it simple is the secret to success. Rather than being intimidated by a complicated recipe with hard-to-find ingredients, give one of these 5-ingredient wonders a try. Your belly and sanity will thank you. Now stop reading and start cooking! Your easy, delicious dinner awaits.

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