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33 Five-Ingredient Recipes for Effortless Dinners and Desserts

From easy roast chicken to no-churn ice cream, these time-saving recipes are a boon to busy weeknights.

Photo by Morgan Hunt Glaze / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Photo by Morgan Hunt Glaze / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

While we love a cooking project, some evenings or occasions call for easy recipes that won't require an extra trip to the grocery store. Behold the simple dinners, sides, and desserts below, which all come together with five (or fewer!) ingredients (not counting salt, pepper, or cooking oil). But aside from those staples, we kept to the assignment, rounding up dishes that range from simple peanut butter cookies to restaurant-worthy butter-basted rib eye steaks. Bookmark these recipes — you'll almost certainly want to make them again.

Roast Chicken with Lemons

Photo and Styling by Julia Gartland
Photo and Styling by Julia Gartland

This classic recipe from chef Marcela Hazan includes just two ingredients (save salt and pepper): a whole chicken and two lemons, which are stuffed inside the bird's cavity. The oven takes things from there, yielding crispy skin and juicy, flavorful meat.

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Lemon-Ricotta Pasta

<p>Jordan Provost / Food Styling by Thu Buser</p>

Jordan Provost / Food Styling by Thu Buser

This easy pasta comes together in just 15 minutes thanks to a no-cook creamy sauce of ricotta, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Red pepper flakes and basil add pops of color and flavor.

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Baked Flounder with Parmesan Crumbs

<p>Maxwell Cozzi</p>

Maxwell Cozzi

This simple weeknight fish dish from chef Nigel Slater cooks in just 15 minutes. Flounder fillets are topped with a buttery Parmesan breadcrumb mixture, then baked until golden and brightened with a squeeze of lemon.

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Chewy, Fudgy Almond Butter and Palm Sugar Cookies

<p>Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen</p>

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

These salty-sweet cookies' caramel-rich flavor comes from gula jawa, an Indonesian palm sugar. Combined with eggs, vanilla extract, and almond butter, the powerhouse ingredient yields chewy and almost chocolatey cookies that taste even better with a sprinkling of sea salt.

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Panko Breaded Pork Chops

Photo by Morgan Hunt Glaze / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Photo by Morgan Hunt Glaze / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

These crunchy pork chops from chef Gale Gand are breaded with a savory Parmesan and sage panko coating. They're cooked simply in a nonstick skillet for a fast and easy weeknight dinner.

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Miznon's Whole Roasted Cauliflower

<p>Photographer: Kelsey Hansen, Food Stylist: Kelsey Moylan, Prop Stylist: Addelyn Evans</p>

Photographer: Kelsey Hansen, Food Stylist: Kelsey Moylan, Prop Stylist: Addelyn Evans

This stunning dish from chef Eyal Shani requires just three ingredients: a whole cauliflower, sel gris (a French sea salt), and high-quality olive oil. The secret is in the technique, which requires boiling the cauliflower in salted water before roasting to ensure the final dish is seasoned and tender all the way through.

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Basic Chinese Congee

<p>Diana Chistruga</p>

Diana Chistruga

For this classic and comforting rice porridge dish, long-grain white rice simmers slowly in an aromatic stock flavored with fresh ginger. Scallions, sesame seed oil, and soy sauce add flavor and complexity to the final dish.

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Spaghettoni with Butter and Brewer's Yeast

Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox
Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox

This umami-packed pasta dish from chef Ricardo Camanini has a surprising addition: brewer's yeast. It's worth adding to your pantry for sprinkling over easy dishes like this one, a simple combination of thick spaghetti and melted butter.

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Butter-Basted Rib Eye Steaks

<p>Diana Chistruga</p>

Diana Chistruga

For this simple dish, bone-in rib eye steaks are basted with butter, garlic, rosemary, and thyme as they cook in a cast-iron skillet. You don't even need to chop the herbs.

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Pineapple-Coconut Soft Serve

Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Christine Keely / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Christine Keely / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer

Frozen pineapple chunks and coconut cream blend into a smooth and airy soft serve, sweetened with agave nectar, for this almost effortless dessert. It's an irresistible warm-weather treat.

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Pan-Roasted Chicken with Grapes, Garlic, and Rosemary

Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

For this elegant dish from chef Angie Mar, whole chicken pieces are roasted in a pan with red grapes, garlic cloves, and rosemary sprigs, yielding crispy skin and a schmaltzy pan sauce that's begging to be sopped up with crusty bread.

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Coconut Rice

<p>Matt Taylor-Gross</p>

Matt Taylor-Gross

This luscious rice, barely sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar, gets its rich texture and flavor from coconut milk used as part of the rice cooking liquid. You can add more sugar to bring it into dessert territory.

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Steak au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce

<p>Cara Cormack</p>

Cara Cormack

A seared rib eye steak pulls double duty as the main event and the beginning of a luscious pan sauce made from fond (the browned bits left over in the pan), red wine, beef broth, butter, and shallots.

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Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

<p>Cara Cormack</p>

Cara Cormack

This restaurant-worthy dessert from chef E. Michael Reidt is made with cream instead of a cream-milk combination, shortening the ingredient list and making for an extra-rich texture. The cream is cooked with sugar and a whole vanilla bean, then set with gelatin and garnished with fresh berries.

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Chicken with Lemon, Oregano, and Feta Cheese

<p>Photographer: Kelsey Hansen, Food Stylist: Annie Probst, Prop Stylist: Breanna Ghazali</p>

Photographer: Kelsey Hansen, Food Stylist: Annie Probst, Prop Stylist: Breanna Ghazali

For this easy weeknight dish, quartered chicken pieces are dressed with lemon juice and seasoned with dried oregano, then roasted until juicy. A scattering of feta cheese on top melts under the broiler for extra flavor.

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Ande Ki Bhurji (Scrambled Eggs with Cumin and Fragrant Herbs)

Sarah Crowder
Sarah Crowder

For this traditional Indian scrambled egg dish, fresh yellow onions mellow and soften at the same time as the eggs cook. It's topped with toasted cumin seeds, cilantro, and fresh green chiles for a beautiful contrast of flavors and textures.

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Onigiri

<p>Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Thom Driver</p>

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

This classic Japanese snack relies on short-grain Japanese rice for its sticky and soft texture. The rice is simply stirred with furikake seasoning, then shaped around umeboshi, a salty-sweet plum, for a fun and savory surprise.

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Smashed Fava Beans on Toast with Pecorino and Mint

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Blanched and shelled fava beans are smashed with mint and pecorino for a flavorful and simple toast topping. This fresh and tasty snack quickly becomes a meal with an egg on top.

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Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Bridget Hallinan
Bridget Hallinan

These flourless cookies include just four ingredients: smooth peanut butter, sugar, baking soda, and an egg. Chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips are fun optional add-ins.

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Sautéed Ramps with Crispy Potatoes

<p>Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely</p>

Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

For this easy and elegant seasonal recipe, simply sautéed ramps are served with pan-fried potatoes and crispy bacon. A splash of vinegar helps to keep the potatoes crisp.

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Florentine Butter Chicken

Greg DuPree
Greg DuPree

This mouthwatering dish, inspired by Trattoria Sostanza in Florence, Italy, leans almost entirely on pantry staples. Seasoned boneless, skinless chicken breasts are breaded in egg and flour, then cooked in butter and oil until they're golden-brown and crisp. Fresh lemon juice finishes the dish and brightens the buttery pan sauce.

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Steakhouse-Style Rib Eyes

Christopher Testani
Christopher Testani

Dry-brining these bone-in rib eye steaks ahead of time with salt is the key to the concentrated flavor of the final dish. Once brined, they're simply seared in a little butter and garlic, then finished in the oven.

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No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream

<p>Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Shell Royster</p>

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Shell Royster

This rich chocolate ice cream doesn't require an ice cream maker and comes together in just three hours. A simple combination of sweetened condensed milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, and a pinch of salt is lightened with whipped cream and frozen until airy and smooth. Chocolate chips add crunch to each spoonful.

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Umami-Mayo Roast Chicken

Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox
Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox

This delectably crisp chicken is slathered in mayonnaise and brewer's yeast before roasting, locking in juiciness and maximum umami flavor. The chicken cavity is stuffed with thyme and garlic for more aromatics and flavor.

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Tagliatelle with Garlicky Tomato Sauce

© Con Poulos
© Con Poulos

A generous amount of garlic (four cloves!) helps to flavor this dish and keep the ingredient list low. Along with crushed red pepper, the garlic bolsters a simple tomato sauce that gets tossed with tagliatelle.

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Easy Polenta

Victor Protasio
Victor Protasio

Quick-cooking polenta or cornmeal cooks in chicken broth off the heat for this streamlined polenta recipe. Whisking with butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano right before serving makes for a luxurious side.

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Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic

© SIMON WATSON
© SIMON WATSON

For this classic dish from chefs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, clams steam in a simple sauce of olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. They're tossed with spaghetti and chopped parsley for a dead-simple and delicious dinner.

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Coconut Macaroons

© David Malosh
© David Malosh

These sweet and chewy macaroons from baker Danny Cohen are made with sweetened shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and egg whites. After baking to golden perfection, they're dipped in rich bittersweet chocolate.

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Grilled Whole Fish

© John Kernick
© John Kernick

Don't be intimidated by a whole fish — it's in fact one of the easiest cuts to cook. For this recipe, a whole branzino or red snapper is seasoned simply and stuffed with parsley stems, garlic, and lemon. The grill does the rest of the work, yielding crispy skin and tender flesh.

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Chocolate Pots

© Hugh Stewart
© Hugh Stewart

For this decadently rich make-ahead dessert from chef Jamie Oliver, chopped chocolate is melted with heavy cream, then whisked with egg yolks, enriched with dark rum and butter, and chilled until set.

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Easy Braised Chicken with Kimchi

© Justin Chapple
© Justin Chapple

For this low-effort dish from cookbook author Julia Turshen, seared skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces braise in scallions, garlic, and kimchi with its juice, which doubles as a flavorful ingredient and braising liquid.

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Spaghetti with Arrabbiata Sauce

© Kate Winslow
© Kate Winslow

This dish gets its formidable heat from crushed red pepper flakes, which spice up a simple garlicky tomato sauce. It's tossed with spaghetti for an effortless meal.

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Salt-Baked Fish

Javier Salas
Javier Salas

For this dish from renowned chef José Andrés, a whole dorade or red snapper bakes in a rosemary, thyme, and bay-leaf scented salt crust until it's perfectly moist and seasoned. Leaving the scales on the fish makes it easy to peel the skin off after baking.

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