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    The 35 BEST Last Minute Dinner Ideas

    We’ve all been there – the working day has run over and there is nothing immediately obvious in the fridge. Or one of your family members has just sprung a surprise guest on you. With that in mind, could there be a more useful thing than a handy list of the 35 best last minute dinner ideas?

    Obviously there are some classics in there but we’ve also included some slightly leftfield suggestions in there too that are big on flavor and low on effort.

    You can thank us later.

    Last minute dinner ideas pin.

    Last Minute Dinner Ideas:

    1. Ground Beef Stir-Fry

    Dinner in 20 minutes? This ground beef stir-fry recipe is a total winner!

    With tasty ground beef, a variety of colorful veggies, and a mouthwatering stir-fry sauce; it’s the easiest dinner you’ll ever make.

    So grab a wok and get ready to whip up this super flavorful dinner in no time!

    Get the Recipe: Ground Beef Stir Fry

    2. Pasta e Piselli

    This pasta e piselli recipe is what you need for those unplanned weeknight dinners. It’s delicious, comforting, and super easy to make.

    It’s a classic Neapolitan dish of pasta and peas, which is a light, one-pot meal. You can whip this up in 25 minutes.

    Get the Recipe: Pasta e Piselli

    3. Thai Basil Beef (Pad Kra Pao)

    Take your taste-buds on a trip to the vibrant streets of Bangkok with this mouthwatering, street-food classic; pad kra pao. It’s a lightning-fast, stir-fry that is guaranteed to hit the spot.

    This dish is amped up with all those classic SE Asian flavors like soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce, along with a kick from bird’s eye chilis and the unique taste of Thai basil.

    Get the Recipe: Thai Basil Beef

    4. Cajun Chicken Pasta

    Looking for a restaurant-style pasta recipe that’s quick and easy for busy weeknights? Look no further than this Cajun chicken pasta.

    It features moist chicken in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a smoky Cajun kick, paired with your favorite pasta.

    Get the Recipe: Cajun Chicken Pasta

    5. Jerk Shrimp

    Get ready for some delightful treats with this flavorful jerk shrimp!

    This dish is packed with bold island flavors, striking the perfect balance of spicy and sweet, along with zesty, vibrant tastes.

    With just a few pantry ingredients, you can have this ready in under 20 minutes.

    Get the Recipe: Jerk Shrimp

    6. Hibachi Chicken (Benihana Copycat)

    Are you ready for a delicious adventure?

    Hibachi dinners are all about creating amazing memories! Why not bring that Hibachi experience into your home?

    This recipe is easy, incredibly tasty and quick to make. We’ll share the tricks to make this awesome Hibachi-style meal.

    Get the Recipe: Hibachi Chicken

    7. Steak Bites with Potatoes

    Steak and potatoes, what a classic!

    No need to fire up the grill and the oven. We’ve got you covered with this quick and easy skillet recipe.

    Tender steak bites paired with perfectly caramelized potato chunks, it’s like a match made in heaven.

    Get the Recipe: Steak Bites with Potatoes

    8. Beef and Broccoli

    Have the best stir-fry night ever with our beef and broccoli recipe. It’s a delicious meal that is ready in under 30 minutes.

    Simple ingredients pack a punch that can beat any takeout place.


    Get the Recipe: Beef and Broccoli

    9. Sheet-Pan Chicken

    Sheet-pan dinners are the perfect solution for hassle-free weeknight meals, and this chicken with colorful veggies not only looks inviting, but every single bite is packed with amazing flavor.

    Chicken bites and veggies are seasoned with a zesty, herby marinade and cooked in about 30 mins.

    Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken

    10. Shrimp Fajitas

    You’ll absolutely adore these shrimp fajitas!

    Just a quick marinade and a toss in the skillet and you’ll have a restaurant-worthy meal, ready in minutes.

    Serve them with your choice of corn or flour tortillas and you’re good to go .

    Get the Recipe: Shrimp Fajitas

    11. Ground-Beef Stroganoff

    Ground-beef stroganoff is a tasty twist on classic comfort food.

    Cook up some hamburger meat in a creamy, mushroom sauce. Serve it over noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.

    It’s a crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for a quick, weeknight dinner.

    Get the Recipe: Ground Beef Stroganoff

    12. Ground Turkey Tacos

    Give these ground turkey tacos a try! Seriously delicious and packed with amazing flavors.

    It’s all about the seasonings and loads of tasty toppings, And guess what? It is good to go in 20 minutes, so treat your family with this heart-healthy meal soon.

    Get the Recipe: Ground Turkey Tacos

    13. Korean Chicken Bowl

    This Korean chicken bowl is hands-down one of the most mouth-watering recipes you’ll find.

    Umami? Yes.

    Touch of spiciness? YES.

    Delicious textures? YES!

    All that; with an egg on top?

    It’s a total game-changer. Plus, you can whip up this colorful bowl in about 25 minutes.

    Get the Recipe: Korean Ground Chicken Bowl

    14. Greek Steak Gyros

    If you’ve never made gyros at home, trust us, these steak-filled pockets are the bomb!

    Tender strips of perfectly marinated steak are stuffed inside pitas with all your favorite gyro fixings. If you’re feeling fun, set up a gyro bar for your guests and let them go wild with their own combinations!

    Get the Recipe: Greek Steak Gyros

    15. Taco Meat Recipe

    If you want to nail taco Tuesday, start with the perfect taco meat.

    Seasoned to perfection with a homemade taco seasoning blend, this dish can be yours in just 20 minutes and can be used in countless delicious ways.

    Get the Recipe: Taco Meat

    16. Spicy Noodles

    Hey spice-lovers, these amazing noodles are just for you, and they’re exactly what you need in your life.

    These’re seriously fiery and delicious, with the perfect balance of hot, umami, and just a hint of sweetness.

    Perfect for lazy days as they are ready in under 15 minutes and can be customized in countless ways. Enjoy.

    Get the Recipe: Spicy Noodles

    17. Skillet Pork Chops

    Get ready to upgrade your pork chops to a whole new level of yum!

    Don’t settle for dry pork as these are bursting with flavor, tender, and super easy to make in a flash.

    Get the Recipe: Skillet Pork Chops

    18. Moo Goo Gai Pan

    Moo goo gai pan is a restaurant classic, whereby thinly sliced chicken is stir-fried with mushrooms and veggies are tossed in a simple yet flavorful sauce.

    So next time those Chinese cravings strike, ditch the takeout and give this easy dish a shot.

    Get the Recipe: Moo Goo Gai Pan

    19. Arroz Chaufa (Peruvian Fried Rice)

    Spice up your fried rice with a South American twist using this awesome arroz chaufa recipe! It’s a fusion of flavors from Peru that makes for a delicious and convenient weeknight dinner.

    It’s packed with rice, protein, and veggies. A great, satisfying meal on its own or a tasty side dish. It’s also a great way to use up your leftover rice, so what are you waiting for?

    Get the Recipe: Arroz Chaufa

    20. Hunan Beef

    Check out this delicious stir-fry for all you heat freaks out there!

    Hunan beef is made with thinly sliced, marinated flank-steak, bell peppers, and chilis, all tossed in a flavorful stir-fry sauce.

    It’s a quick and easy weeknight dinner that beats takeout any day, so you can satisfy those cravings in no time.

    Get the Recipe: Hunan Beef

    21. Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

    If you’re in the mood for an effortless grilling recipe using basic pantry ingredients, then try these teriyaki chicken skewers!

    All you have to do is marinate the chicken for a few hours and then grill it on skewers for 10 minutes. Yes!

    Get the Recipe: Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

    22. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

    These sheet-pan chicken fajitas are a total winner for family dinners. They are full of flavor and a breeze to make.

    In this well-seasoned recipe, chicken and veggies are all cooked on one baking sheet, and the end result is juicy and delicious.

    Trust us, you’ll be making this recipe on repeat. Perfect for those busy weeknights when you need a fun crowd-pleaser.

    Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

    23. Egg Roll in a Bowl

    This egg roll in a bowl is a super easy skillet dinner that cooks up in no time. It’s a healthy, low-carb twist on your favorite Chinese appetizer.

    Next time you’re craving some Asian flavors on a crazy weeknight, forget about take-out and whip up this quick 20-minute dinner.

    Get the Recipe: Egg Roll in a Bowl

    24. Chicken Shawarma

    This chicken shawarma recipe is a flavor bomb!

    Marinated with vibrant and aromatic spices, it’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a crowd-pleaser when you have company.

    Grill it, cook it in a skillet, or bake it – it’s going to be tasty! And hey, make a big batch because it’s great for meal-prep too.

    Get the Recipe: Chicken Shawarma

    25. Creamy Sausage Pasta

    This creamy sausage pasta is magic, transforming simple ingredients into an insanely delicious dish!

    Just imagine your favorite Italian sausage smothered in a creamy, garlic, parmesan sauce and then paired with your preferred pasta.

    It’s not fancy, it’s not complicated, and it’s ready in just 20 minutes. But seriously, once you take that first bite, you’ll be completely hooked on these amazing flavors.

    Get the Recipe: Creamy Sausage Pasta

    26. Thai Cashew Chicken

    Spice up your stir-fry night with this delicious Thai cashew chicken!

    It’s an easy dish. It is packed with amazing flavors and textures. Simply chop, make the sauce, and stir-fry for a quick and satisfying dinner.

    Perfect for a laid-back weeknight meal option, Enjoy…

    Get the Recipe: Thai Cashew Chicken

    27. Sweet and Sour Meatballs

    Here’s a fantastic dinner idea for the whole family to enjoy, sweet and sour meatballs!.

    Meatballs with a perfect sweet and sour glaze, loaded with colorful and crunchy veggies and topped with yummy pineapple. It is sticky, glossy, sweet and sour goodness with juicy pineapple chunks in every bite.

    Perfect for those busy weeknights when you need a quick meal.

    Get the Recipe: Sweet and Sour Meatballs

    28. Firecracker Salmon

    This firecracker salmon recipe is super easy and super delish!

    It’s got the perfect combo of salty, sweet, and a little bit spicy. Plus, it is ready in just 20 minutes!

    Seriously, it’s a total win-win.

    Get the Recipe: Firecracker Salmon

    29. Steak Gorgonzola Flatbread

    Who’s up for some flatbread? This steak gorgonzola flatbread is not just delicious, it’s also super quick,

    Stack up steak, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and gorgonzola on your flatbread, and boom! You’ve got yourself the most delicious pizza ever.

    Whether you serve it as a main dish or as an appetizer, it’s gets a 10 from us.

    Get the Recipe: Steak Gorgonzola Flatbread

    30. Gigi Hadid Pasta (Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka)

    You have to try this Gigi Hadid pasta tonight and see why it went viral on social media.

    Picture this, the same creamy, cheesy pasta alla vodka, but with a little twist. It’s got that extra kick from some red chili flakes which makes it insanely delicious.

    We bet you will understand why the whole planet loved it!

    Get the Recipe: Gigi Hadid Pasta

    31. Pastalaya (Jambalaya Pasta)

    Craving a flavorful twist to your pasta? Go ahead and try this quick and delicious Jambalaya pasta for dinner tonight and get a taste of Louisiana right at your table!

    It’s an insanely tasty dish with shrimp, chicken, and sausage drenched in a creamy, cheesy sauce bursting with Louisiana flavors. It’s like the all-time favorite jambalaya but with pasta instead of rice.

    Get the Recipe: Pastalaya

    32. Chicken Tacos

    You’ll keep coming back for more of these awesome chicken tacos! They’re just like the ones you find on the streets of Mexico!

    Perfectly seasoned and well-marinated tender juicy chicken is all you need to make this taco dinner a huge hit.

    Just simple good food you’ll be delighted by every time.

    Get the Recipe: Chicken Tacos

    33. Creamy Chicken Skillet

    Looking for an easy chicken recipe? We’ve got you covered, because this dish is not only simple to make but it is also incredibly delicious.

    It takes less than 30 minutes and uses everyday ingredients, Imagine golden chicken with a creamy sauce and colorful veggies – a total crowd-pleaser for sure!

    This recipe is definitely a keeper. Save it for your everyday dinner…

    Get the Recipe: Creamy Chicken Skillet

    34. Cajun Shrimp Scampi

    Who doesn’t love classic scampi? Juicy shrimp cooked in a rich, buttery, garlicky, and lemony sauce with a splash of white wine, topped with a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan. It’s just perfect on its own!

    This one is super quick and easy, perfect for any weeknight, but it is also fancy and delicious, perfect for those special occasions too…

    Get the Recipe: Cajun Shrimp Scampi

    35. Flank Steak Fajitas

    You’ll be pleasantly surprised that this beautiful platter can come together in under 30 minutes. Believe it or not, these flank steak fajitas are soooooo easy to prepare!

    You can enjoy them with tortillas or go for a low-carb and gluten-free version. Most importantly, they are absolutely delicious and incredibly addictive.

    Get the Recipe: Flank Steak Fajitas

    So many great last minute dinner ideas to try… where to start?

    Save or pin this collection of great recipes so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new easy recipes for you!

    Check out these other recipe collections!
    Easy Weeknight Dinners
    30-Minute Meals
    Stir Fry Recipes
    Flatbread Recipes
    Meal Prep Ideas

    Featured image for last minute dinner ideas post.

    35 BEST Last Minute Dinner Ideas

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Total Time: 20 minutes

    Looking for quick and easy last minute dinner ideas? From stir-fries to pasta dishes, discover flavorful meals ready in under 30 minutes!


    • 1.5 Tbsp cooking oil
    • 1 pound ground pork ( or ground turkey /ground chicken /ground beef)
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
    • ½ cup carrot, julienne cut
    • 5 cups cabbage, shredded
    • ¼ cup soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
    • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
    • ½ tsp red chili flakes
    • 2 large eggs
    • scallions (green parts only), for garnish
    • sesame seeds, for garnish


    1. Heat cooking oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground pork, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook till it is no longer pink.
    2. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
    3. Add in cabbage and carrot. Toss well, and stir fry till the vegetables start to soften, but still have a little crunch.
    4. Stir in the sauce. Mix well and cook for about a minute,
    5. Move the meat and vegetable mixture to the perimeter of the pan, leaving a hole in the middle. Add whisked egg into the hole and scramble. Once egg is cooked, stir everything together.
    6. Serve immediately, garnishing with sesame seeds, the green parts of scallions, and your preferred sauce.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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