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28 Romantic Dinners Literally Anyone With an Hour Can Pull Off

This isn’t Top Chef…but it could be.

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It's approximately 5:00 p.m., your date will be in your apartment in less than two hours, and you’re knee-deep in Pinterest trying to find a meal you can make fast with stuff that isn't super expensive or hard to find. Oh, and it also needs to seem somewhat impressive and romantic. Basically, you’re realizing you’re now a finalist on an IRL MasterChef competition that you never signed up for.

Yup, pretty much anybody can light a few cute candles and set the mood with a suggestive, The Weeknd-heavy playlist. No problem there. But if you're attempting a beef bourguignon (hmm, how about a simple buff chicken bowl instead?) and chocolate soufflé situation—and you have exactly 45 minutes to execute—that’s a problem.

* cue fire alarms, crying, sweating, and emergency takeout *

But don't panic! This doesn’t mean you have to pass off your secret Seamless order as a homemade Michelin-starred meal (though we have all been there). Nor does it mean you have to cancel the evening and reschedule after you’ve taken a rigorous cooking course. Doable, fancy-looking, delicious romantic dinners DO exist. We know because we scoured the interwebs to find alll the right recipes to make your date night amazing.

So if you’re down to the wire and lacking in Ina Garten-level skills, take a breath, do a shot of tequila, and scroll through this list of romantic dinners you can totally cook. Our menu of date night recipes includes vegan options, lots of Italian things (in case you're feeling ambitious and wanna whip up a pasta dish *and* a truffle oil pizza), a fancy grilled cheese, some Korean BBQ, and so much (drool-worthy) more. You got this!

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1. Butter-Basted Sirloin Steak

butter basted sirloin steak

Steak is the go-to dish for a romantic dinner—don't fight that. This oh-so-slightly elevated take is a great way to level up your night. Plus, instead of fries, you can get real fancy with ~parsnip wedges~.

Get the recipe at HelloFresh.

2. Truffle Pizza

truffle oil pizza
Sonja and Alex Overhiser

Making pizza from scratch looks super impressive, and it’s actually easier than you may think. Try this recipe for straightforward ingredients and instructions and because, let’s face it, truffle oil makes everything better.

Get the recipe at A Couple Cooks.

3. Refried Butternut Tacos

butternut tacos
Purple Carrot

Okay, tacos may not be the neatest to eat, so maybe save them for date two (or don't, we won't judge). These butternut tacos not only look cute, but are an awesome plant-based option for anyone who doesn’t eat meat. The recipe is 100 percent vegan and 100 percent delicious.

Get the recipe at Purple Carrot.

4. Pasta Primavera

pasta primavera
Cooking Classy

Everyone knows pasta is as reliable a dish as they come, but the classic tomato sauce can get, idk, a little boring. Instead, try a primavera preparation to mix in some fresh veggies.

Get the recipe at Cooking Classy.

5. Sirloin Tip Roast

sirloin tip roast
Weekend at the Cottage

Few things will impress your dinner guest more than a perfectly cooked roast, because it takes a little confidence to cook something that needs a thermometer to tell you it's done. And nothing's sexier than confidence.

Get the recipe at Weekend at the Cottage.

6. Lemon Rosemary Chicken

lemon rosemary chicken
Nourish and Fete

This isn't your weeknight chicken recipe. Every bite has legit flavor, between notes of zesty citrus and fresh herbs.

Get the recipe at Nourish and Fete.

7. Honey Glazed Salmon

honey glazed salmon
Dinner at the Zoo

Salmon can often feel like an intimidating fish to make, but in reality, it’s so easy to master. And this honey glaze has just a few ingredients, so it’s near impossible to screw up, trust us.

Get the recipe at Dinner at the Zoo.

8. Korean BBQ Beef Bowls

korean bbq beef bowls
Simply Scratch

There's so.much.flavor. packed into these Korean BBQ bowls. And you can garnish it with a fried egg and some sesame seeds so your romantic dinner is truly Instagrammable.

Get the recipe at Simply Scratch.

9. 4-Cheese Roasted Garlic Alfredo Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

stuffed alfredo spaghetti squash
Half Baked Harvest

Spaghetti squash has been a thing for years now, but this Alfredo-inspired take on the gourd brings some excitement to dinner. It's also perf if you have vegetarian guests.

Get the recipe at Half-Baked Harvest.

10. Classic Lasagna

classic lasagna
Parker Feierbach

While trying something new can always be fun, sometimes, it’s best to stick to the classics. Lasagna is also literally impossible to not get right—just keep layering the noodles and cheese, friends.

Get the recipe at Delish.

11. Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

dish, food, cuisine, capellini, spaghetti, ingredient, bucatini, noodle, fideo, italian food,
Minimalist Baker

This plant-based dish only requires 15 minutes of prep, and the roasted red peppers add a delicious kick. Swap in gluten-free spaghetti if you or your bae can't handle the wheat.

Get the recipe at Minimalist Baker.

12. Braised chicken

dish, food, cuisine, ingredient, produce, recipe, taco, naan, staple food, meat,
Half Baked Harvest

This Thai-Indian fusion dish is sure to impress, plus it's perfect if your locale is effing cold this time of year. The best part: It only takes 30 minutes to prep and cook.

Get the recipe at Half Baked Harvest.

13. Mushroom Stroganoff

mushroom stroganoff
101 Cookbooks

If you're lucky enough to have an Instant Pot at home, this pasta dinner is your new best friend. And you didn't hear it from us, but the secret ingredient is vodka. Prego (that's Italian for you're welcome).

Get the recipe at 101 Cookbooks.

14. Turkey Piccata

dish, food, cuisine, ingredient, produce, gratin, staple food, recipe, zucchini, vegetarian food,
Andie Mitchell

Delicious turkey dishes don't have to be limited to the holiday season. Try this recipe out for a creamy, lean protein option.

Get the recipe from Andie Mitchell.

15. Cauliflower Gnocchi

Dish, Food, Cuisine, Ingredient, Meat, Produce, Recipe, Staple food, Caponata, Picadillo,
A Cozy Kitchen

All you Trader Joe's fans out there, we see you. This take on spaghetti bolognese is another tasty meatless option that comes together in just 30 minutes.

Get the recipe at A Cozy Kitchen.

16. 20-Minute Spaghetti Carbonara


Impress your S.O. with these masterful noods: Cheese, bacon, carbs, and 20 quick minutes make this dish the easiest, tastiest trick up your sleeve.

Get the recipe at Delish.

17. Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken for Two


Sure, this meal might be what we like to call "project cooking"—a.k.a. it takes more than throwing together a frozen one from Trader Joe's—but if you can wrap a present, this is a piece of cake. Especially when you've got a PIC (partner in cooking, that is) by your side.

Get the recipe at HelloFresh.

18. Faster Steak Frites


Psst, wanna know the secret here? Frozen French fries! Cook your steak to perfection, and you're basically dining in a 5-star restaurant.

Get the recipe at Good Housekeeping.

19. Eggplant Florentine with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce and Toasted Ciabatta

Purple Carrot

This bad boy is ideal when one of you is a vegan and the other one wants to be supportive but really just wants a whole bunch of cheese. Luckily, this main can trick even the most die-hard dairy lover.

Get the recipe at Purple Carrot.

20. Buffalo Chicken Bowl

Snap Kitchen

Try not to let your S.O. drool when their favorite game-day snack becomes a totally satisfying bowl of goodness.

Get the recipe at Snap Kitchen.

21. Tomato Paprika Soup with Hearty Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


Grilled cheese + tomato soup = peak coziness. Up the wow factor by cutting the sammies into lil hearts.

Get the recipe at HelloFresh.

22. Japanese Bento Box with Teriyaki Pineapple and Speckled Rice

Purple Carrot

For when you both want a little taste of everything—and a restaurant-worthy meal that takes less than 30 minutes to make, leaving plenty of time for...everything else.

Get the recipe at Purple Carrot.

23. Totally Loaded Veggie Nachos

Kelly Peloza

Up your nacho game with this all-star riff on the classic plate. (Although this recipe calls for vegetarian-friendly alternatives, feel free to add some meat if that's your thing.)

Get the recipe from Kelly Peloza of Upton's Naturals.

24. Breakfast for Dinner


Become bae's favorite short-order cook with a sweet (and cheap) twist on the breakfast classic. Serve with bacon, sausage, or home fries for extra lovin'.

Get the recipe at HelloFresh.

25. Burst Tomato Pasta

burst tomato pasta
Last Ingredient

Sitcom people are always running into trouble with their soufflés falling. Learn from their mistakes, and cook a dish (in 20 minutes, no less) where ingredients collapsing and falling apart are what make it taste good.

Get the recipe at Last Ingredient.

26. Almond-Crusted Pork Loin with Red Wine Raisins

almond crusted pork loin with red wine raisins
Cooking with Books

Soaking raisins in red wine not only makes them pair wonderfully with pork loin, it also means you have an open bottle of vino to sip from as you're cooking.

Get the recipe at Cooking with Books.

27. Lemon Garlic Pasta

lemon garlic pasta
Wonky Wonderful

It's hard to mess up pasta, and this one has the advantage of being delicious without calling for a sauce that'll ruin the tablecloth you've never used before.

Get the recipe at Wonky Wonderful.

28. Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

baked chicken with tomatoes and garlic
Brooklyn Supper

You know what's the last thing you want to do after a romantic dinner? Wash dishes. This baked chicken is delightful and keeps the washing to a minimum.

Get the recipe at Brooklyn Supper.

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