The 35 BEST Light Dinner Ideas

BEST Light Dinner Ideas

Of all the three meals in a day when it comes to dinner, it’s easily the one that takes the most energy. After a day of rushing around, working, and cleaning up, the last thing you want to do is have to spend hours deciding what to eat.

And a busy day means the last thing you want is heavy, greasy takeout food which will just lead to bloating and who knows what other issues. Is the taste really worth it? Is the taste even that good or is it just easy to get your hands on?

So you’ll be good and cook. But then you actually have to cook too. The whole process is long and arduous, right? Not always. Would you believe there are some foods out there that are not only tasty and light but can be made in under an hour? Some of them in less than 20 minutes.

That’s less time than a takeout delivery and your food will actually be hot by the time you get to eat it. But where are these foods? Here, my friend. Here.

Luckily we’ve made things a bit easier. Below are 35 of the best, quick, and light dinner recipes. Easy to make and easily adjustable for any number of guests, dinner time will never be boring again. 

Chunky Sausage and Tomato Pasta

Chunky sausage and tomato pasta

One of the quickest and lightest dishes to make, depending on your ingredients, pasta is everyone’s weeknight go to fix. Versatile and tasty, you can choose from red or white pasta. This chunky sausage and tomato pasta is a delicious red pasta, packed with meaty bits for you to sink your teeth into.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi 

Garlic butter shrimp scampi

Garlic butter shrimp scampi is easily one of the quickest and lightest meals to make. Don’t be fooled by the butter, it’s still kept healthy by the way it’s cooked. And taking only about 10 minutes to make means it’s perfect for the days you’re in a rush. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes

Honey Garlic Salmon 

Honey garlic salmon

Salmon is probably one of the most nutritious fish out there, rich in omega 3, plenty of good fatty acids, and lots of vitamin B-12. All of these contribute to healthy heart functioning. Deeply filling and tasty, honey garlic and salmon has a nice balance of sticky and sweet. It only takes 15 minutes to make.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

Tuscan Chicken 

Tuscan Chicken

Pan it, stir it, fry it, grill it, or roast it. Chicken is one of the most popular meats to eat. This creamy Tuscan chicken is not only delicious and filling, but low carb too! Packed with flavor and easy to make, it’ll make a brilliant midweek meal. 

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

Bell Pepper Nachos  

Bell pepper nachos

One of the more inspired recipes, who knew you could make nachos from bell pepper? Bell peppers make a much healthier alternative to your usual nacho shell. Stuff it however you like or follow the recipe. This recipe is nacho everyday dinner. 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes

Greek Salad 

Greek Salad

Looking for something incredibly easy with virtually no cook time? Then throw together a quick, light, Greek salad. Made up of only 7 simple ingredients, including feta cheese. Thrown together they make a delicious, healthy, summertime dinner. 

  • Prep/Cook time: 15 minutes

Chickpea and Kale Soup 

Chickpea and Kale soup

Chickpea and Kale soup is the perfect light meal for a cold day. And even better, it’s jam-packed with nutrients as well as taste which is brilliant for battling those wintertime sniffles. 

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

Roasted Chile and Lime Chicken Legs 

Roasted chile and Lime chicken legs

Roasted chile and lime chicken legs are the definitions of simple and easy. They’re not too heavy either compared to fried chicken legs. With only 5 ingredients to the whole recipe and 305 kcals, this is something you’ll definitely be making again and again. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes

Chorizo Meatball and Feta Traybake 

Chorizo meatball

Whatever the weather, there’s always time for a traybake.  Easy to make, the most you have to do is cut and season the ingredients, then whack it in the oven to bake while you do whatever you like. This authentic Mexican chorizo meatball and feta tray bake will take you to your happy place in just a single bite. 

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes

Ham and Spinach Pizza 

Ham and spinach pizza

When it comes to making pizza most people think it takes hours on end. But with this quick and simple ham and spinach pizza, you’ll be in and out of the kitchen in under an hour. And ham and spinach make for a tasty yet surprisingly healthy combo!

  • Prep time: 14 minutes
  • Cook time: 16 minutes

Balsamic Steak With Eggplant and Peppers 

Balsamic steak with eggplant and peppers

When I say steak does your mouth water but your mind goes numb at the idea of having to cook one? Don’t worry it’s not as hard as we’ve been led to believe. You don’t need to be salt bae to cook a great steak. For anyone with a gluten allergy, this recipe is for you. Gluten-free and incredibly healthy, balsamic steak with eggplant and peppers may not roll right off the tongue, but it’ll make your mouth water. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

Thai Basil Chicken 

Thai basil chicken

Stir fry’s in general are packed with nutrients and are some of the quickest meals to cook. Thai basil chicken is the ultimate Thai stir fry.  With an incredible prep time of just 5 minutes, and only 15 minutes cook time, this is by far one of the quickest dinners to make. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Grilled Chicken Kebab 

Grilled Chicken Kebab

Craving a kebab but don’t want to waste money on some greasy, heavy overloaded takeout? This recipe is the perfect, healthy substitute. Tasty and light and quick to prepare, these grilled kebabs are the ultimate dinner. As with all good things, they do require a bit more effort than your usual recipe.

While the cooking time is only 15 minutes, ideally the prep should be done the night before and the kebabs left in the fridge to marinate for 8hrs. But we promise it’s worth it. 

  • Prep time: 35 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Marinate time: 8 hours

Fasolada 

Fasolada

Fasolada is a traditional Greek lentil soup. Traditionally it can take up to hours to make, but by using tinned lentils the prep time is slashed to minutes. All without sacrificing the taste. This delicious dish can be remixed however you see fit by adding any of your favorite vegetables.

  • Prep time: 8 minutes
  • Cook time: 22 minutes

Chicken Provencal 

Chicken provencal

This is French cuisine, which means you know it’s tasty. Delicious chicken smothered in a southern French braise of tomato sauce, garlic, and rosemary. This would make a perfect romantic meal for two over red wine.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes

Steak and Lettuce Wraps  

Steak and lettuce wraps

It seems like everything is wrapped in lettuce nowadays, and for good reason. Lettuce wraps are actually much lighter and healthier than traditional wraps. This steak and lettuce wrap is the perfect combination of juicy and crunchy thanks to the mix.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes

Cobb Salad 

Cobb salad

Ever watch a lunch scene in a movie or on TV between a bunch of upper-class, stick-thin, ultra-beautiful women and every single one ordered a cobb salad? (If you thought of sex and the city then high five).

Well, it turns out cobb salad is actually quite nice and not just the blah meal everyone thought was for rich Karens of the world. Bacon, eggs, avocado, tomato and so many more mouth-watering ingredients combined to make a quick and light meal. 

  • Prep/ cooking time: 20 minutes 

Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken 

Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken makes for a great family treat, and is nice and healthy too. You’ll be having thanksgiving vibes in the middle of May with a meal like this. This dish has great easy steps to follow, and even better, it’s all in one pot! This means you won’t have to spend forever washing up once you’re done cooking. Always a bonus.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes

Pork Milanese 

Pork Milanese

Any kind of Milanese, where the food is coated in a delicious breadcrumb marinade, is worth trying in my opinion. Pork Milanese is on another level. Crunchy and tender in one tasty combo, Pork Milanese would be a great dinner party meal.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes 

Seafood Risotto 

Seafood Risotto

Seafood risotto is a classic dish on any menu. This creamy, rice-based dish can be topped with whatever you feel like. Seafood risotto is a prime example of an umami dish, meaning it’s a good mix of savory and sweet.

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time: 

Panzanella 

Panzanella

Panzanella is a gorgeous and light salad. Tuscan style, it’s made up of tomato and bread. Simple yet oh so elegant. If you close your eyes while eating this delicious salad, it’ll transport you to somewhere with a nice hot sun. Metaphorically speaking. This isn’t, like, a magical space jumping salad. But that would be cool right?

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

Pesto Chicken Tortellini 

Pesto chicken tortellini

The greatest thing that the Italians ever gave us, aside from pizza, is tortellini. Similar in a way to pasta, like coke is to Fanta. Cooked in one pot, so washing up is way easier, pesto chicken tortellini is packed with the freshest and tastiest ingredients

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

Beef Tacos 

Beef tacos

Who needs taco bell when you can make these delicious beef tacos right in your own kitchen? With only six ingredients and tons of flavor, Taco bell who? And you can bring these tacos to life by adding whatever sides you feel like. Guacamole, Salsa, sour cream, and so much more.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Chicken Buddha Bowl  

Chicken Buddha bowl

Buddha bowls sound so ancient and divine that you wouldn’t be blamed for not knowing that the term was actually coined in 2013. By none other than Martha Stewart. Inspired by Buddhist monks a buddha bowl takes on the concept of balance in Buddhism to create a nutritious and balanced meal in one bowl. 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

Firecracker Salmon 

Firecracker Salmon

Firecracker salmon is one of the most addictive salmon recipes out there. The blend of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and chili creates a fiery kick that coats the crispy salmon flakes perfectly. Plus with the option of adding in brown sugar for those of you who don’t like too much spice, this dish is incredibly accommodating.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time:  20 minutes

Bhuga Chawal 

Bhuga Chawal

There are so many rice dishes out there that you could make a different one each day and not have eaten the same dish for an entire lifetime. Bhuga Chawal is an Indian, Sindhi-based dish. So flavorful and mouth-watering and, you wouldn’t realize it by the taste, but very nutritious.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

Chicken Noodle Soup 

Chicken noodle soup

Chicken noodle soup is the greatest comfort food. Rain, shine, wind, night, day, Monday, Saturday, January, august, it doesn’t matter. This meal is perfect and you can’t convince us otherwise.  Obvious bias aside, it’s also a brilliant herbal medicine for any sniffly ailments. Goodbye stuffy nose. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes

Tomato Soup 

Tomato soup

Okay, we were wrong. Tomato soup is the greatest comfort food. This is definitely a recipe that’ll have you going, good soup. Rich, creamy and smooth, tomato soup is a staple of any good diet. This easy and delicious recipe only has 3 ingredients and every single one will hit the right spot on your tastebuds. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes

Grilled Fish Tacos  

Grilled fish tacos

Fish tacos are the best thing to come out of 1983, period. Forget the camcorder, bye-bye space shuttle, compact disk where? It’s fish tacos. So much lighter than their beefier counterparts, and rich in omega, perfectly seasoned fish tacos are just *a chef’s kiss*

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

Sheet Pan Mediterranean Shrimp 

Sheet pan Mediterranean shrimp

Sheet pan anything just means the dish is supposed to be cooked in a metal rectangular pan called, wait for it, a sheet pan. It’s an ideal way of cooking Mediterranean shrimp because it allows the veggies and shrimp to be roasted and browned enough to bring out their juicy flavors. And if you know Mediterranean food, then you know it’s all about those juicy flavors. 

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Hunan Beef  

Hunan beef

If you think you know Hunan beef, no you don’t. Most of the Hunan beef you get from your local Chinese takeout is an Americanized version. This recipe is 100% authentic and will show you what real Hunan beef tastes like. You’ll never want to go back after eating this drool-worthy dish. 

  • Prep time: 40 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Rack of Lamb 

Rack of lamb

When you think of lamb, you think of Easter, they go hand in hand. But this delicious rack of lamb is good for any time of the year and is sure to resurrect your boring midweek meals. Sprinkled with rosemary and another seasoning, and served with loads of tasty sides, this meal is as filling yet light that you can get. 

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 55 minutes

Ratatouille Salad 

Ratatouille salad

Ahh, you thought of the movie. It’s okay, and so did we. Ratatouille, other than being the name of a brilliant movie (and not the name of the rat, who was called Remy), is a delicious french cuisine made up of vegetables seasoned to perfection, served with juicy mozzarella cheese. With no cook time, this is one of the quickest, fanciest dishes to make.

  • Prep/Cook time: 20 minutes

Buffalo Chicken Pizza 

Buffalo chicken pizza

Did you know that buffalo chicken actually has nothing to do with buffalos? It’s actually named after Buffalo, New York, where the dish was cultivated. Compared to regular chicken, Buffalo chicken will pack a nice, sharp, punch. Put that on a pizza and you’ve got a great evening in store. 

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash 

Lasagna stuffed spaghetti squash

Why have just lasagna when you can have lasagna stuffed spaghetti squash? We’re telling you, food gets infinitely better when it’s stuffed. Hello, stuffed crust anyone? This isn’t like your traditional lasagna and thankfully takes nowhere near as much effort to make. Light and tasty, and a great meal for the family. 

  • Prep time: 20 minutes 
  • Cook time: 20 minutes 

Conclusion

There you have it! 35 of the best light dinner ideas from all over the world. From a simple spaghetti to a fabulous fasolada, you’ll be looking forward to dinner each evening and your meals will be the talk of the town. 

Again, metaphorically. I mean unless you want to go around town talking about your dinner. It might be a little weird but hey, who are we to judge? And with these easy recipes, who wouldn’t want to shout about them? 

Brandon White
Latest posts by Brandon White (see all)