From pastas and omelets to cookies for dessert, these recipes make for a shorter shopping list—and a faster trip to the grocery store.

By Bridget Hallinan
April 13, 2020
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We're all for cooking complex recipes, but sometimes, having a shorter grocery list is easier. (And, not to mention, usually less expensive, unless your list happens to be meat- or fish-heavy). So we've rounded up a series of dishes that call for just eight ingredients or fewer, ranging from cheesy omelets and fragrant scrambled eggs to spaghetti carbonara and congee. Some have short ingredient lists as-is, while others just squeak by if you don’t count pantry staples like salt, pepper, and cooking oil. Read on to see the full spread.

Boursin Omelet 

Victor Protasio

If you have any Boursin (or other garlic-and-herb spreadable cheeses) lingering in your fridge, this basic omelet from Michael Tusk is a great way to use it up. Serve it with a crusty baguette and a crisp salad. 

Get the Recipe: Boursin Omelet  

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

Sarah Crowder

This traditional Indian scrambled egg dish includes almost an equal amount of fresh yellow onion to eggs. Combined with toasted cumin seeds, cilantro, and fresh green chiles, it’s incredibly fragrant.

Belgian Waffles

Abby Hocking

Chef Ludo Lefebvre's waffles are topped with strawberries and unsweetened whipped cream for extra indulgence.

Get the Recipe: Belgian Waffles

Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

Ian Knauer

Spaghetti carbonara is a famously simple dish, requiring sliced pork (either pancetta, guanciale, or bacon), eggs, cheese, pasta, and a touch of salt and pepper. We have a few riffs on the recipe, including a smoky version that swaps Parmesan for gouda and uses slab bacon.

Get the Recipe: Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

Pasta with Sausage, Basil and Mustard

Greg DuPree

This tasty pasta recipe, named one of our 40 best, combines grainy mustard, hot Italian sausage, dry white wine, heavy cream, and basil for a quick meal that’s ready in 20 minutes.

Easy Polenta 

Sarah Crowder

Unlike classic creamy polenta recipes, which require nearly an hour of stirring, our simplified version comes together off the stove—seriously, just put the lid on and walk away—and is practically effortless. It’s a great blank canvas, too, since it’s made with just broth, polenta, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper. Add sautéed vegetables on top, roasted pork or chicken, or even a simple poached egg with chili crisp and scallions.

Get the Recipe: Easy Polenta

Basic Chinese Congee 

Todd Porter and Diane Cu’s basic congee recipe, made with white rice, stock, salt, ginger, sliced green onion, and either sesame seed oil or soy sauce, can be adapted with all sorts of add-ins—Chinese sausage and mushroom, kimchi, and sweet corn, too.

Get the Recipe: Basic Chinese Congee

Turmeric and Coriander Roast Chicken

Cedric Angeles

Our recipe adapts Maydan’s roasted chickens (cooked on a hearth) for the backyard grill, and it’s pretty simple. Just grab a whole chicken, ground turmeric, coriander seeds, garlic cloves, grapeseed oil, kosher salt, and extra-virgin olive oil. In three steps, you’ll be ready to eat.

Herbes de Provence–Crusted Branzino and Fingerlings

Greg Dupree

This low-fuss sheet-pan meal gets flavor from herbes de Provence (we like Williams Sonoma’s blend), Dijon mustard, butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. You’ll have dinner ready in just four steps and 40 minutes.

Sheet Pan Chicken and Mushrooms with Parsley Sauce

© John Kernick

Julia Turshen’s sheet pan chicken gets extra flavor from roasted lemons and fresh parsley. The meal is ready in 45 minutes and yields four servings.

Roasted Side of Salmon

Christopher Testani

If you’ve got Dijon mustard, a side of salmon, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and sea salt, you’ll have everything you need for this recipe (plus, some cold water to brine the fish). Round out the meal with buttered steamed green beans.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Side of Salmon

Steak Au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce

Justin Walker

This steak gets served with a tasty red wine pan sauce, a combination of fond (browned bits leftover in the pan after searing meat), broth, shallots, red wine, and butter. It’s all ready in 20 minutes—just the right amount of time to make some garlic-rubbed toasts and wilted spinach to go alongside.

Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Smoky Tomato Sauce

Frances Janisch

This recipe from Musa Dagdeviren got a resounding five-star rating from our readers. The lamb is marinated in olive oil, garlic, and Aleppo pepper for flavor.

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Eva Kolenko

Syrupy aged balsamic balances the earthy mushrooms (either hen-of-the-woods, oyster, or morels) and charred asparagus. Top with a couple fried eggs, and it's a very springy dinner.

Supersimple Green Salad 

Ditte Isager

Nadine Levy Redzepi’s salad is another versatile blank canvas. It’s prepared with red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, and a mustard-vinegar dressing—feel free to add on in a protein of your choice, like grilled chicken or chickpeas.

Get the Recipe: Supersimple Green Salad

Romaine Salad with Cracked Olives and Salted-Lemon Yogurt 

Jennifer Causey

This refreshing salad from chef Biju Thomas gets a punch of citrusy flavor from preserved lemon. Top with some oil-packed canned tuna for a light but satisfying dinner.

Vegan Caesar Salad with Chicories and Walnuts

John Kernick

The dressing for this vegan take on Caesar salad includes miso, lemon juice and zest, extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, and maple syrup.

Harissa-Spiced Carrot Soup with Almonds and Rosemary 

Greg DuPree

Aside from water, extra-virgin olive oil, and kosher salt, you’ll only need six ingredients for this quick soup: large carrots, chicken broth, harissa paste, unsalted butter, marcona almonds, and fresh rosemary leaves.

Basque Garlic Soup

Greg DuPree

Smoked Spanish paprika and thoroughly toasted baguette gives this quick soup deep flavor.

Get the Recipe: Basque Garlic Soup

Marinated Artichoke Hummus 

Greg DuPree

Justin Chapple adds jarred artichoke hearts, plus a little of the marinating liquid, to hummus for extra brightness and tang.

Get the Recipe: Marinated Artichoke Hummus

Two-Bite Parmesan Biscuits

Caitlin Bensel

These biscuits are baked grated cheese, resulting in a crispy crust on each.

Get the Recipe: Two-Bite Parmesan Biscuits

Vanilla Ice Cream

Our simple vanilla ice cream recipe calls for just four ingredients—half-and-half, egg yolks, sugar, and a vanilla bean.

Get the Recipe: Vanilla Ice Cream

Lee Lee’s Double Chocolate Chunk Brownies 

Greg DuPree

This brownie recipe can be adapted according to what you have on hand—swap in light brown sugar if you don’t have dark brown sugar and feel free to use chocolate chips, too.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are flourless and ultra simple, requiring just smooth peanut butter, sugar, baking soda, and an extra-large egg. The finely chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips are optional—but highly recommended.