Whether it's date night or you’re working late at the office, you can trust your teen to make these fuss-free recipes that put simplicity (and flavor) at the forefront.
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english muffin pizza snacks topped with fresh basil
Credit: Frank Frances

After watching and helping you in the kitchen for years, the time has finally come for your teen to make a few meals on their own. We recommend starting their solo cooking journey off with straightforward recipes that use familiar ingredients, like chicken or pasta, as the recipes featured in this collection do. Here, we're highlighting teenager-friendly meals that favor simple preparations and cooking techniques, including boiling water and chopping vegetables, so they can build their confidence in the kitchen without going outside of their comfort zone.

English Muffin Pizza Snacks 

Making an after-school snack has never been easier (or tastier!) with this recipe. English muffins are topped with marinara sauce and sliced fresh mozzarella and toasted until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly crispy. Garnish with fresh basil for a quick and tasty take on margarita pizza. 

turkey tacos

Ground Turkey Tacos

Everything other than the garnishes gets cooked in one skillet for these tasty tacos and that makes clean up a cinch. Onions are sautéed until translucent, then the ground turkey is added to the mix and broken into small pieces, then chili powder, tomato paste, and chicken broth are added. Once cooked through, the turkey is spooned into taco shells and topped with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. 

Steamed Salmon and Vegetables
Credit: Paola + Murray

Easy Steamed Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Broccolini

With this recipe, your teenager will learn a cooking technique they'll go back to again and again: steaming. Salmon filets are added to a steamer basket alongside sliced sweet potatoes and broccolini, and cooked until the fish is done and the vegetables are tender. It's a healthy weeknight dinner your teenager can put together, from prep to table in about 25 minutes. 

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Credit: Rob Tannenbaum

Braised Pulled Pork Shoulder 

This recipe teaches two valuable cooking techniques—searing and braising—and yields a big piece of meat that will feed a crowd or make several meals. Dry rubbed pork shoulder is seared on all sides until golden brown all over and then two cups of water are added and the meat is left to braise for about five hours in a Dutch-oven. It's done when it easily shreds. This recipe is simple but the flavor is unmatched. 

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Breaded Chicken Cutlets

This four-ingredient recipe yields crispy, golden-brown chicken without any deep frying. Instead, cutlets are coated in flour then dredged in egg and toasted panko and baked to perfection. If there are leftovers, your teen can store them in the freezer and defrost them whenever they're in need of a quick lunch or dinner.  

hands holding grilled cheese
Credit: Sidney Bensimon

Test Kitchen's Favorite Grilled Cheese 

They may already know how to make grilled cheese, but with this recipe we're teaching them some pro tricks to take this favorite sandwich to the next level. The bread is coated in butter and mayonnaise before a combination of American and cheddar cheese is layered between the two slices. When it's cooked in a hot skillet, the bread will become buttery with an uber-crisp exterior. 

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Credit: Mike Krautter

Kimchi Fried Rice 

Is there leftover rice in the refrigerator? Your teen can easily turn it into one-pan dinner with our recipe, which also calls for scallions, garlic, kimchi, gochujang, sesame oil, and soy sauce. They'll crack an egg and add at the end to cook until whites are set and golden brown.

sloppy joes
Credit: Clive Streeter

Sloppy Joes

All your teenager has to do is for this easy meal is add the ingredients—ground beef, onion, bell pepper, celery stalk, tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce—to a skillet and cook until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Then they spoon the mixture into hamburger buns and enjoy. 

Pasta Carbonara recipe
Credit: Bryan Gardner

Spaghetti Carbonara

Here, six familiar ingredients are turned into a delicious pasta that your teenager will enjoy making and eating. While the spaghetti cooks, they'll crisp up some pancetta or bacon in a skillet. Then they'll toss the pasta and the bacon in an egg-cream mixture with plenty of grated Parmesan to form a rich, creamy sauce.  

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15-Minute Lentil Soup 

Knowing how to make your own soup is a great life skill. This super quick soup recipe is an ideal place to start. It uses canned lentils (have them learn to cook lentils and beans from scratch at some point too), plus onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. The ingredients are cooked in broth and simmered until the soup thickens and the flavors meld. 

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Credit: Andrew Purcell

Ramen with Vegetables

Your teen can give a familiar ingredient—packaged ramen—an upgrade when they make this recipe. The instant noodles are combined with sautéed onion, carrots, celery, and green beans for a healthier take on instant ramen. 

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce 

The only cooking required for this recipe is cooking the spaghetti until al dente. Then all that's needed is to toss it in a fresh (uncooked) tomato sauce made with finely chopped tomatoes, basil, parsley, garlic, and oil. 

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Easy Basic Pancakes

Knowing how to make pancake batter from scratch is a valuable skill for cooks of any age. This recipe calls for combining whisked wet ingredients—milk, butter, and egg—with dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. When just combined, the batter is spooned onto a hot skillet and cooked.

Basic chicken soup

Basic Chicken Soup

We mentioned the value of knowing how to make soup before, and with this recipe they'll not only learn how to make a hearty chicken soup but they'll also have a chance to hone their knife skills by chopping the vegetables—onion, celery stalks, and carrots—in this streamlined soup recipe.

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