20 Favorite Five-Ingredients-or-Less Main Courses

Jess Richardson | May 31, 2019 Food & Party
20 Favorite Five-Ingredients-or-Less Main Courses
Image: iStock

slow cooker pineapple chicken salsa
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We love Jamie Oliver for a lot of reasons -- he's charming, and cute, and he's a man who knows all about cooking, which is kind of our dream. But we especially love him for introducing us to the concept of the five-ingredient meal. Oliver didn't invent this concept (it's been around probably since the dawn of cooking began, when people were starting to sear meat over an open flame), but he can be credited for popularizing it, and for that, we are grateful. 

Dinner doesn't have to be an overly complicated affair -- even a really nice dinner can be as simple as five good, clean, fresh ingredients thrown together to make something absolutely delicious. While we highly recommend checking out Jamie's book, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food, he's not the only one to have a bunch of five-ingredient tricks up his sleeve. For cooks who aren't super comfortable in the kitchen, this is one way to learn how to cook simple meals.

And for cooks who are really into cooking, sometimes it can be good to just simplify and make life easier all around -- or find new weeknight inspiration -- with dishes that require few ingredients, or that take little time or effort -- or both! And five ingredients isn't the only way to achieve this! 

We love sheet pan recipes, which we literally just slap onto a tinfoil-covered sheet pan and toss in the oven for full beautiful meals that cook all together at once. For super simple meals, try an Instant Pot recipe to make cooking happen super fast -- and with minimal effort. And in the summer, a cold dinner is just the thing when we just can't imagine heating up the kitchen by turning on the oven. For camping (or just low-effort, low-oil meals), we love foil packet dishes, and for weeknights we keep going back to one-skillet dishes.

  • 5-Ingredient Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

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    5-Ingredient Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs
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    Chicken thighs are only marginally fattier than chicken breasts, and they're so much more flavorful. We love this recipe for 5-ingredient honey mustard chicken thighs -- and it pairs so well with asparagus that's just been roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  • Baked Ziti

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    Baked Ziti
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    Not only does this baked ziti recipe only require five ingredients, it also freezes beautifully -- so it's a perfect dish to make two of, one for tonight and one for when there really is zero time in the day to cook at all!

  • 5-Ingredient Shrimp Alfredo

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    5-Ingredient Shrimp Alfredo
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    This 5-ingredient shrimp Alfredo is absolutely delicious, healthier than restaurant fare, totally cost-effective (try buying a bag of frozen shrimp at a warehouse store!), and takes only 30 minutes to make, start to finish. A great weeknight option!

  • 5-Ingredient Mexican Biscuit Casserole

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    5 Ingredient Mexican Biscuit Casserole
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    Kids absolutely adore this recipe for 5 ingredient Mexican biscuit casserole, and why shouldn't they? It's simple, delicious, and comes topped with flaky, buttery biscuit dough. Serve with some quick-seared fajita veggies on the side. 

  • 5-Ingredient Skillet Gnocchi

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    5 Ingredient Skillet Gnocchi
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    Who doesn't love gnocchi night? This recipe for 5 ingredient skillet gnocchi takes basically no time at all -- 20 minutes total! -- and tastes absolutely delicious. Pair it with a quick side salad. 

  • 5-Ingredient Beef Enchiladas

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    5 Ingredient Beef Enchiladas
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    These 5 ingredient beef enchiladas have saved our butts many a time when a weeknight, homecooked meal was needed. They take such little time, they're tasty, and they are extremely inexpensive to make -- wins all around!

  • Marinated Grilled Salmon

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    Marinated Grilled Salmon
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    This marinated grilled salmon is one of the easiest recipes in the world, it tastes sophisticated, and it really masks the fishy flavor for those who don't love the taste of cooked fish. Serve with rice or quinoa, and maybe a sheet pan full of roasted veggies!

  • Simple Rosemary Lamb Chops

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    Simple Rosemary Lamb Chops
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    There's nothing easier than these simple rosemary lamb chops, which smell and taste incredible, and would be beautiful paired with boiled or roasted baby new potatoes and a handful of sauteed string beans.

  • Sweet & Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders

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    Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders
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    This quick, 25-minute recipe for sweet and spicy bacon-wrapped chicken tenders is sure to be an instant family favorite. So good served with a sheet pan of broccoli roasted with garlic and olive oil, too!
  • Quick Ramen Bowl

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    Quick Ramen Bowl
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    This super-easy recipe for a quick ramen bowl takes just 20 minutes from start to finish, and it's a great recipe to teach older kids who want to start helping in the kitchen. Throw in leftover chopped pork or chicken for a protein boost.

  • 20-Minute Sweet Potato Chili

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    20-Minute Sweet Potato Chili
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    This recipe for 20-minute sweet potato chili takes truly only 20 minutes from start to finish, and it freezes absolutely beautifully -- perfect for making a double batch. It's so good served with some cornbread, too!

  • Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

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    Parmesan Pesto Tilapia
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    This incredibly simple, quick recipe for Parmesan pesto tilapia really masks the fishy flavor of the tilapia, and is a super healthy way to sneak some fish into a kid's diet. It's so good served with some wilted baby spinach in garlic and lemon juice.

  • 5-Ingredient Breaded Lemon Chicken

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    5-Ingredient Breaded Lemon Chicken
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    We really adore this recipe for 5-ingredient breaded lemon chicken. It's not the healthiest thing we make, but it's so much healthier than real fried chicken, and kids absolutely love it. Serve it with roasted asparagus to complete the meal.

  • Bourbon Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

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    Bourbon Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
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    This bourbon teriyaki pork tenderloin is the kind of thing that tastes like it involves so much more effort than what it does -- which is really just to smash five ingredients together. This is so good grilled, but is delicious baked, too. 

  • Slow Cooker Pineapple Salsa Chicken

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    Slow Cooker Pineapple Salsa Chicken
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    This slow cooker pineapple salsa chicken is another one of those recipes that tastes like a lot of effort went into it, when it's really a "dump it all in the slow cooker and hit the 'go' button" item. We love it with rice or tortillas!

  • 5-Ingredient, One-Pot Spicy Asian Noodles

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    5-Ingredient, One-Pot Spicy Asian Noodles
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    When we're in the mood for Thai take-out but can't really afford the extra cost (or calories), this recipe for 5-ingredient, one-pot spicy Asian noodles is just the ticket. It's also a great place to use up leftover steamed veggies or baby spinach. 

  • 5-Ingredient Black Bean Soup

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    5-Ingredient Black Bean Soup
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    Just 15 minutes buys us a flavorful, protein- and fiber-packed meal with this 5-ingredient black bean soup recipe. We love it with some avocado on top, and while it works as a vegetarian entree, it's also a way to use up leftover shredded rotisserie chicken. 

  • 5-Ingredient Vegan Stuffed Peppers

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    5-Ingredient Vegan Stuffed Peppers
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    So quick and easy, and so cute, kids love them. These 5-ingredient vegan stuffed peppers are complete meals with protein, veggies, and healthy carbs that are so easy to make. A smart way to introduce kids to cooking, too!

  • Lemon-Butter Scallops

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    Lemon-Butter Scallops
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    Scallops are one of those ingredients that seem really intimidating but are actually incredibly easy to cook -- just toss them in a pan full of butter and ignore the urge to swoosh them around (we want to get a good sear on them). These phenomenally easy lemon-butter scallops are delicious over pasta or salad.

  • Beef Coconut Curry

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    Beef Coconut Curry
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    Delicious, inexpensive, and fast -- just 20 minutes from start to finish! -- this recipe for beef coconut curry is in our go-to, let's-always-have-the-ingredients-around list. Serve it with some steamed or sauteed broccoli. 

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