20-Minute Recipes to Rely On

These fast and delicious dishes include juicy hamburgers, flavor-packed stir-fries, healthy salads, classic pastas, and more.

Shrimp Wedge Salad Recipe
Photo: Greg DuPree

Producing dinner in 20 minutes is a tall order — especially without resorting to takeout, convenience foods, or heating up leftovers. Here, we've collected a sizable number of recipes that capitalize on naturally quick-cooking proteins, from Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise and Goan Shrimp Curry to more indulgent fare like Steak au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce. Several lightning fast pasta and noodle dishes are represented, ranging from a Three-Pepper Cacio e Pepe to Pastrami Pad Kee Mao. Stir-fries, hearty egg dishes, main course salads, and some especially speedy soups round out the list, practically ensuring you will find a delicious and quick resolution to your time-sensitive dinner conundrums.

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Buttery Cast-Iron Shrimp with Winter Salad

Buttery Cast-Iron Shrimp with Winter Salad
Johnny Miller

Shrimp are seared and glazed in chipotle-honey butter in this warm seasonal salad from chef JJ Johnson. He serves the shrimp over gently sautéed radicchio and endive, which mellows their bitter edge without losing their color or delicate crunch.

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Pasta with Sausage, Basil, and Mustard

Pasta with Sausage, Basil and Mustard.

© Greg DuPree

In matching spicy sausage with a creamy mustard sauce and fragrant basil, British cookbook author Nigel Slater created a quick pasta supper with warm, mildly spicy flavors, perfect for a cool fall or winter evening.

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Lamb Chops Sizzled with Garlic

Lamb Chops Sizzled with Garlic
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Las Pedroñeras, in the Castilla–La Mancha region, is considered the garlic capital of Spain. These juicy, meaty lamb chops sizzled in extra-virgin olive oil with plenty of garlic cloves are Janet Mendel's homage to the village.

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Spicy Eggplant and Zucchini Stir-Fry with Plant-Based Meat

Eggplant and Chili Garlic Stir-Fry with Plant-Based Meat
Photo by Ellen Mary Cronin / Food and prop styling by Radin+Croney Collective

Similar in texture to ground beef with a rich, meaty flavor, plant-based crumbles are a perfect addition to quick-cooking stir-fries. Here, the eggplant and zucchini cook quickly, absorbing plenty of flavor from the chile-garlic and soy sauces, without getting overly tender. Fresh cilantro adds an extra pop of freshness to the finished stir-fry, which you can serve over brown or white rice for a fast and filling weeknight meal.

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Goan Shrimp Curry

Goan Shrimp Curry

David Malosh

Sanjeev Kapoor and his wife, Alyona, love beach vacations in Goa. Kapoor prepares this shrimp curry in typical Goan style, so it's tangy, spicy, and vibrant.

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Pork Fried Rice

Pork Fried Rice

Maxwell Cozzi

This Japanese-style pork fried rice from 2000 F&W Best New Chef Takashi Yagihashi was his favorite childhood after-school snack. It comes together in just 25 minutes, thanks to the inclusion of quick-cooking Chinese barbecued pork.

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Pan-Seared Cod with Preserved-Lemon Aioli

Pan-Seared Cod with Preserved-Lemon Aioli
© Lucy Schaeffer

Nonstick skillets are incredibly helpful when preparing lean fish like the cod fillets here because the flesh sticks to metal so easily. To give the cod a golden crust, Melissa Rubel dusts it with finely milled Wondra flour before cooking. The creamy preserved-lemon aioli she serves alongside the fish is also a terrific dipping sauce for roasted potatoes.

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Barbecue-Glazed Turkey Burgers

Barbecue-Glazed Turkey Burgers. Photo © John Kernick
© John Kernick

Turkey burgers are a popular lunch at Gwyneth Paltrow's house, where she serves them on toasted brioche buns. She usually adds a topping or two, like Swiss cheese and a few pickled jalapeños. Jarred barbecue sauce adds a ton of flavor to the burgers and helps keep them from drying out.

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Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu

Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu
© James Baigrie

No soup is quicker to prepare than miso; just whisk miso paste into water. It can double as a complete and light meal with shrimp, tofu, and greens added. Feel free to use leftover chicken or roast pork (or whatever else is at hand) in place of the shrimp.

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Chilled Sesame Soba Bowl with Cucumber and Scallions

Chilled Sesame Soba Bowl with Cucumber and Scallions Recipe
Eric Wolfinger

This easy recipe by Basic Kitchen’s Robin Hollis is endlessly riff-able: The lightly sweet, nutty sesame sauce makes a great starting point for additions such as salmon, grilled chicken, a fried or boiled egg, or extra veggies.

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Butter Bean, Tuna, and Celery Salad

Butter Bean, Tuna and Celery Salad
© Antonis Achilleos

Big, creamy butter beans give a tuna and celery salad terrific heartiness. The salad would also be delicious spooned over slices of warm grilled country bread.

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Charred Shallot and Arugula Salad with Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

Charred Shallot and Arugula Salad with Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

This hearty salad packs a punch. It combines spicy arugula, cracked black pepper, Parmesan, prosciutto, sunny-side-up eggs, and shallots. The shallots are charred under the broiler, where they develop umami and subtle sweetness. The potent, garlicky dressing tastes great alongside the spicy greens, salty cheese, rich eggs, and fatty meat, where the richness of the runny egg yolk mingles perfectly with the pungent dressing.

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BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich

BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich
© Kana Okada

Thomas Keller's scrumptious recipe combines three of the world's most popular sandwiches — bacon, lettuce and tomato; fried egg; and grilled cheese.

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Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon.
© Tina Rupp

This timeless tapa from Spanish cookbook author Penelope Casas has everything going for it — it's sweet, smoky and savory, all in one bite.

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Late-Night Japanese Noodles

Late-Night Japanese Noodles
© Jody Horton

This creamy, silky pasta gets salty pops of flavor from fish roe. Paul Qui uses mentaiko (spicy marinated pollock roe), but trout roe or even caviar would be delicious, too.

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Dry-Fried Sichuan-Style Green Beans with Shrimp

Dry-Fried Sichuan Style Green Beans with Shrimp
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Missie Neville Crawford

Instead of leaning on a sauce, "dry" stir-fries like this recipe use a small amount of liquid (in this case, fish sauce), relying on heat and movement in the wok to intensify each ingredient's flavors. To ensure that the beans blister, dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel before cooking. Pickled sushi ginger adds mild, well-balanced sweetness and a hint of spice.

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Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

John Kernick

In this quick-cooking dish, scallops are paired with sweet fennel and drizzled with a buttery lemon-caper sauce.

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Florentine Butter Chicken

Florentine Butter Chicken cooking in a skillet.
Greg DuPree

This recipe is inspired by F&W editor in chief Hunter Lewis' trip to 150-year-old Trattoria Sostanza in Florence. Cultured butter has a higher butterfat content, with a slight tang from those cultures. The butterfat gives cultured butter a slightly higher smoke point and, when combined with olive oil, enough cooking time to finish the chicken and the sauce simultaneously.

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Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

At chef Ziqiang Lu's Birds of A Feather in Brooklyn, tingly heat from Szechuan peppercorns teams up with slightly sweet dark soy sauce and Shaoxing wine to build deep flavor into this quick stir-fry. Have all of the ingredients at the ready before heating the wok for best results. Lu recommends browning the dried chile peppers until well toasted, which helps tease out their aroma and leaves you with a warming mouthfeel.

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Chicken Diane

Chicken Diane
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

This recipe is all about building layers of flavor as you cook. Searing chicken and then browning mushrooms in a skillet creates delicious browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the liquids are added, those browned bits release their flavor, resulting in a rich, silky, savory sauce. Fresh lemon juice and parsley are mixed in at the end for brightness. Serve the finished dish with egg noodles and a salad.

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Italian Tuna Salad

Roman-Style Tuna Salad

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman

This Italian tuna salad combines oil-packed jarred tuna, sundried tomatoes, red onions, juicy olives, and celery, all tossed in a lemony honey mustard dressing. This recipe is a perfect example of how a handful of pantry ingredients can become a meal that sings.

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Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara

Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara

Tina Rupp

The classic Roman preparation starts by frying savory cubes of cured pork in a skillet as the pasta cooks. Al dente spaghetti is added to the pan, followed by beaten eggs, a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water, and grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. Anne Quatrano guilds the lily by swapping whole eggs with heavy cream and beaten egg yolks, which form an especially creamy, emulsified sauce that clings to the pancetta-studded pasta.

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Ande Ki Bhurji (Scrambled Eggs with Cumin and Fragrant Herbs)

Ande Ki Bhurji (Scrambled Eggs with Cumin and Fragrant Herbs)
Sarah Crowder

A traditional Indian scrambled egg dish, ande ki bhurji includes an almost equal amount of fresh yellow onion to eggs. As the beaten eggs cook (until they are fully set but not browned), the onion sweetens and mellows. Topped with toasted cumin seeds, cilantro, and fresh green chiles, this meal is fragrant and savory, with a distinct vegetal crunch.

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Steak au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce

Steak au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce

Cara Cormack

Clocking in at 20 minutes, this recipe is both quick and elegant. Pair with a simple green salad and a pile of golden fries. (If you decide to bake up a batch of ready-made frozen ones, we promise not to tell anyone.) The red wine pan sauce is an amalgamation of fond (those browned bits left in the pan after searing meat), shallots, broth, good-quality red wine, and a few pats of butter to bind it all together and thicken it to a syrupy consistency.

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Penne with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce

Penne with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce

Christina Holmes

Paprika, cumin, and ginger lend their aromatic alchemy to this simple, no-cook tomato sauce that you can use with a wide range of ingredients.

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Three-Pepper Cacio e Pepe

Three Pepper Cacio e Pepe
Victor Protasio

A trio of peppercorns gives this pasta a subtle, floral heat; if you like, spice it up, swapping the Szechuan pepper with a pinch of red pepper flakes.

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Shrimp Wedge Salad with Old Bay Breadcrumbs and Hot Sauce Dressing

Shrimp Wedge Salad Recipe
Greg DuPree

Taking a cue from chef Nina Compton at Bywater American Bistro, former F&W editor Kelsey Jane Youngman adds a Crystal hot sauce–spiked dressing to this mashup of a wedge salad and a po’boy sandwich. Toasting the breadcrumbs in Old Bay–infused oil doubles down on the rich shrimp-boil flavor.

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Five-Herb Frittata with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Five-Herb Frittata Prosciutto and Parmesan
John Kernick

Star chef Nancy Silverton has strong opinions about frittatas. She likes them to be creamy like scrambled eggs, with various toppings like prosciutto, cheese, and a generous amount of herbs. At her dinner parties, she often serves this 15-minute frittata as a side dish, so guests can cut wedges at the table.

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Orzo and Chickpeas with Turmeric-Ginger Broth

Orzo and Chickpeas with Turmeric-Ginger Broth
Victor Protasio

Coconut milk and fresh lime juice are natural flavor partners to ginger and turmeric; here they come together to form a restorative tea-based broth that’s delicious studded with chickpeas and pasta.

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Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce

Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce

Christina Holmes

Stacked high with slices of tomato, onion, cucumber, avocado, and provolone cheese, this is a vegetable sandwich that even confirmed carnivores will love. You can add or substitute other fresh vegetables; radishes, spinach, or grated carrot go particularly well here. 

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Pastrami Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)

Pastrami Pad Kee Mao
Aubrie Pick

Tender wide rice noodles pick up color and peppery, meaty flavor when charred in a wok with thick slices of pastrami. This speedy, flavor-packed dish by Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market cooks up quickly, so have all the ingredients at the ready before heating the wok.

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Hatch Chile Smash Burgers

Hatch Chile Smash Burgers
Victor Protasio

Is this the best burger on the internet? We think so. This spicy, crispy, cheesy, swoon-inducing smash burger will have you going back for seconds thanks to the cheese and salsa that melt into a queso-like moment and take this burger to the next level. Our Hatch Chile Salsa replaces the acidity of ketchup with just enough heat to keep things interesting.

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Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

This refreshingly crunchy salad makes for an excellent spring lunch or super quick dinner. 

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Grilled King Salmon with Meyer Lemon Relish

Grilled King Salmon with Meyer Lemon Relish Recipe
Victor Protasio

Floral and lightly acidic salsa brings out the buttery, rich flavors of grilled king salmon. Salmon is meaty enough to stay intact on a grill and gets meltingly tender as it cooks. Serve leftover salsa with grilled lamb, chicken, or pork.

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