Freeze-Ahead Recipes for Dinner on Demand—Just Hit Preheat!
Some nights you need dinner to be quick and easy. For those times, stock your freezer with some delicious homemade meals that you can heat up in a flash. Here are three flavor-packed recipes that go perfectly from freezer to oven to table—and they're rated "E" for everyone. If you have a little more time, make, bake, and serve any of these recipes tonight—no freezing necessary.
Note that when freezing these or other recipes, always let the food cool completely. This step is important to prevent steaming, which creates excess moisture, compromising texture and encouraging freezer burn. Wrapping and freezing still warm food also inhibits quick cooling, a food safety issue with potential for buildup of bacteria.
Sausage-and-Kale Stuffed Shells
A comfort food dinner in the freezer is like money in the bank, and this hearty baked pasta is worth its weight in gold. If you want to make it for dinner tonight, skip the freezer step and bake immediately. To bake without freezing, bake in a 375° oven for 35 minutes covered, then 20 minutes uncovered. Let the dish rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve these three-cheese stuffed shells directly from their baking dish. Bonus: The rest will keep warm longer for second helpings.
Curry Chickpea Handpies
Our curry handpies are made with the test kitchen's favorite pâte brisée, a buttery, flaky dough that gets golden brown and crumbles ever so slightly when baked. Know that pâte brisée can be frozen for up to three months; thaw overnight before making the handpies. To bake without freezing, let the prepared pies chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then bake at 375° for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
Crunchy Lemon-Pepper Salmon
Breaded salmon is not as common as breaded chicken or pork, but it's just as delicious and super simple with this recipe. Breading with panko adds delicious crunch and color. If you're serving straight away, bake the salmon at 400° for eight to ten minutes. Serve with a green salad for a quick, light, and healthy meal the family will enjoy.
Recipes: Sarah Carey
Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart