These quick, easy dishes don't skimp on flavor.
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Credit: Bryan Gardner

You've been there: You're buried in work and the kids, only to look up and see it's 5 p.m. Or you're at the supermarket, but don't have any creative ideas for dinner. You'd rather not have pasta with marinara sauce, microwave leftovers, or pull something out of the freezer—again.

We all need quick-draw meals to have at the ready. These homemade dinners should come together in 20 minutes or less, taste delicious, and use pantry or freezer ingredients (or things we can quickly grab at the local grocery store). The following entrées, with their hearty grains and proteins, fresh vegetables, and flavorful preparations, are the simple, easy dishes you need for an on-the-fly dinner or your weekly meal plan.

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Inside-Out Pork Dumplings

Since assembling dumplings is the most time-consuming step, we've created a comforting one-skillet dinner with all the ingredients and none of the fuss.

Cheater's Mac and Cheese recipe

Cheater's Mac and Cheese

We love a baked mac and cheese, too, but some days call for a stovetop, one-pot mac made with the lovely trifecta of butter, cream cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cook the broccoli with the pasta for a healthy addition.

Crispy Panko Shrimp Salad

Crispy Panko Shrimp Salad

Shrimp isn't just for hors d'oeuvres or having friends over—keep a bag in your freezer for quick meals. This speedy dinner amps up the flavor thanks to panko-breaded shrimp, which is tossed with Dijonnaise and a few vegetables (in this case, cherry tomatoes and a spring mix). It's a salad that satisfies.

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Easy Beef Tacos

These American-style tacos feature ground beef seasoned perfectly with chile powder and cayenne, heaped into crispy taco shells, and layered with the works.

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Sausage-and-Pepper Ragu Over Polenta

Rich, creamy polenta is an underused foundation for a fantastic dinner. Here, it's topped with a mouthwatering ragu of tomato paste, peppers, onions, and hot or sweet Italian sausage.

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One-Pan Pasta

Skip the colander, halve the number of pans to clean, and get on with the pasta dinner. This one-pan pasta combines the conventional steps of straining and making a separate sauce. High heat and constant stirring are the keys to success.

easy chicken posole

Easy Chicken Posole

When you want the comfort of posole, but not the labor, call on store-bought broth, rotisserie chicken, and a good salsa, like Frontera's guajillo, to lighten your load.

warm farro-and-winter-greens salad

Warm Farro-and-Winter-Greens Salad

The secret to a quick dinner salad is ensuring it's hearty enough—and this recipe has heartiness in spades, with its nutty farro, rich feta, tangy shrimp, and nourishing beets. The warmth of the ingredients ties it all together.

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Chicken Cutlets with Summer Squash and Feta

Chicken cutlets are a sure route to a quick dinner. Capers, brine, and broth bring the salt and umami to your chicken, and summer squash and spinach bring nutritious warmth. Add a little feta, plus bread and butter, and you've got no-fuss dinner.

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Coconut-Curry Shrimp and Couscous

Boil, cover, and reduce: That's pretty much all you need to do for this red curry shrimp recipe. Frozen peas, couscous, and coconut milk make your job easy, and the result is a cozy meal you'll always crave.

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Chinese Corn-and-Mushroom Soup

On a chilly night, this forgiving soup brings aromatic warmth to your dinner table. Simply simmer your vegetables and broth, then add corn, tofu, and seasonings. To make it a protein-rich egg drop soup, drizzle beaten eggs in at the last minute.

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Seared Scallops with Celery and Golden Raisin Salad

The celery salad is the real work in this light and bright dinner recipe, since the scallops sear quickly and then hit the oven for just a couple minutes. Still, the salad dressing is quick, and slicing celery takes just a few seconds when you have a sharp knife.

broiled flounder

Broiled Mustard-Crusted Flounder

Need a fast fish dinner for four? Buy flounder fillets, season appropriately, broil, and serve with simple greens. Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, capers, and olive oil make easy work of your seasoning duties in this tasty recipe.

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Broiled Pork Chops With Yellow-Pepper Puttanesca

If you haven't gotten into sheet-pan dinners, it's time. Simply layer vegetables, like peppers and tomatoes, and proteins, like these succulent bone-in pork chops.

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Salmon with Mango Salsa

When you choose a fast-cooking entrée, you have more time for a colorful, delicious accompaniment. Making homemade mango salsa turns your kitchen into a fragrant, tropical paradise, enlivening broiled salmon fillets.

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Chili-Rubbed Steak and Salad

Dining alone, and want something elevated, fast? Treat yourself with this chili- and coriander-rubbed steak for one, served with a simple green salad and homemade dressing.

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