my 5 favorite one-skillet dinners | recipe roundup

Just say “no” to washing lots of dirty dishes with my top 5 favorite easy one-skillet dinners.

If there’s one thing I hate as much as I love cooking it’s doing the dishes. I will gladly fold a hundred loads of laundry but I just loathe doing dishes. So any chance I get to reduce or eliminate the number of pots and pans needed to make dinner, you bet I’m gonna take it. That’s when I reach for these one-skillet dinners.

The internet is full of lists of “easy one-skillet dinners” but I’m gonna be honest — I don’t think they’re always worth it. I have a strict two-part criteria for one-skillet dinners that I deem worthy of adding to our regular dinner rotation.

  • One: They have to be reliable. Properly cooking and seasoning all of the components of a dish (or a dish + starch or dish + side) in one skillet is no easy feat. A good one-skillet recipe needs to produce good results every time.
  • Two: One-skillet dinners need to be truly require only one skillet. Meaning, no additional pots or pans required to prepare rice or noodles. Everything must cook in the same skillet.

So, with that criteria in mind, here are 5 of my favorite go-to one-skillet dinners that are as delicious to eat as they are easy to clean up.

1. Martha Stewart’s Genius One-Pot Pasta

This recipe is the crown jewel of one-skillet dinners. All of the ingredients — including the dried pasta — go into a cold, shallow skillet and cook for about 9-10 minutes. As the water boils it absorbs into the noodles, infusing them with garlicky, tomato-basil flavor and coating them with a glossy slurp-worthy sauce. The recipe calls for grated parmesan to top the pasta for serving, but I find it works even better if you add a 1/4 cup of it right into the pan during the last minute of cooking. Then, top it with more finely grated parm and some thinly sliced basil for serving.

TIP: While you can use any kind of tomato you want, I find it works best with the Nature’s Sweet Glorys instead of the Cherub tomatoes, which are better for salads. (This is not an ad.)

2. Cooking Light’s Chicken Biriyani

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Last night we made this chicken biryani recipe that I’ve been wanting to make forever. It requires whole cardamom pods (I adore cardamom) but I couldn’t find them in any grocery store near me so ended up buying them online (expect a lot more cardamom recipes on @the.practical.kitchen in the near future) and then of course found them at @worldmarket the day after I had ordered them. But I digress. I finally acquired cardamom pods which meant we finally got to make this biryani and it was probably the best new recipe we’ve tried in the past 6 months. It requires a bit of pre-work to remember to marinate the chicken in advance but then the chicken and rice (toasted with garlic, ginger, and other aromatics) cook at the same time in the same pot. And who doesn’t love a satisfying one-pot dinner that makes more than enough for leftovers?? . . . #chickenbiryani #indianfood #onepot #chicken #rice #cardamom #cinnamon #leftoversfordays #cookinglight @cookinglight #foodstagram #cashews #cilantro #weeknightdinner #eatingforinsta #turmeric

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I am obsessed with the way this one-skillet dinner works. It requires a little bit of planning ahead — the chicken needs to marinate for 2-4 hours before cooking (though I’ve done it as long as 12 hours) — but then you cook the chicken right in the pan with the dry rice. The best part is that the recipe doesn’t take any shortcuts to help you build great, layered flavors all in one pan. The raisins and the crispy fried onions on top are optional, imo, but you definitely don’t want to skip the whole cardamom pods (buy them on Amazon) or the chopped toasted cashews. The squeeze of lime juice at the end really ties the whole dish together.

TIPS:

  • Make sure you really bring the pan to a boil once the chicken is in. I know it’s hard to tell once the pan is covered, but take a peek every now and then to make sure it’s reached a nice boil before lowering the temp to let it simmer. If it doesn’t reach that boil or if you lower the temp too much on the simmer (it should be medium-low) the rice will be undercooked.
  • Cashews can be pricey, but you really don’t need that many for this recipe. Instead of buying a whole bag, see if your grocery store has those dry-goods dispensers and buy just the small handful you need.
  • If you can’t find Serrano peppers, red Fresnos, or even quick pickled red onions will work fine. (To quick pickle a red onion toss thinly sliced red onion in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and pinch of salt).
  • If you’re planning on eating this as leftovers, prep your garnishes — cashews, cilantro, sliced peppers — on the first day and store them in the fridge in small, covered bowls or a divided Tupperware to grab easily later.
  • If you have extra cardamom pods, might I suggest making orange-cardamom ice cream?

3. One-Skillet Dinner Caprese Pasta by Yellow Bliss Road

A close up of one-skillet dinner "One-Pan Caprese Pasta" in a silver pan with side-handles. In the pot is cooked rigatoni noodles, halved and wilted cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced basil, and large pools of melty mozzarella cheese.
(photo via yellowblissroad.com)

A close cousin of the Martha Stewart recipe with a Caprese twist — this one-pan pasta dinner uses chunky Rigatoni noodles and diced chunks of mozzarella and is served with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Unlike the Martha Stewart version, here you’ll add chunks of mozzarella when it finishes cooking and then cover the pan to let the cheese melt in the residual heat.

I’ve tried adding mozzarella to the Martha Stewart version and it just doesn’t work. The mozzarella is too gloopy and gooey for the spaghetti noodles and sticks them all together. Rigatoni on the other hand is strong enough to hold its own against the mozz.

Again, I find this one-skillet dinner works best with the Glory tomatoes instead of Cherubs.

4. One-Skillet Chicken with Roasted Carrots & Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a main + side dish all in one? When it comes to one-skillet dinners, the more you can cook in one pan the better imo. You’ll want a large oven-safe skillet or everyday pan for this one, because the pan starts on the stove but then goes in and out of the oven a few times to pace the cooking of the chicken and the veggies. One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it sneakily teaches you a few very useful cooking skills: turning pan drippings (frond) into a creamy sauce, the importance of letting chicken rest after cooking, how to use your oven to finish cooking without burning your protein, and just how powerful of a slice of lemon and pinch of fresh herbs can be.

The end result is a well-balanced chicken-potato-veggie dinner with a savory cream sauce — and only one pan to clean up.

5. Vegetarian-friendly Malaysian Ramen from Indian-ish

A white bowl filled with Malaysian Ramen, a one-skillet dinner, sits on a dark grey cutting board. In the bowl are curly yellow ramen noodles, tiny pieces of broccoli and carrots, and two lime wedges.

I made this for the first time recently as part of The Kitchn’s Digial Cookbook Club — October’s cookbook was Indian-ish by Priya Krishna (who you might recognize from her appearances in Bon Appetit’s Test Kitchen). Every recipe we’ve tried from the book so far has been amazing, but what I really loved about the Malaysian Ramen recipe is that it embraces those packaged ramen packets, right down to the silver foil of seasoning that comes with them. You’ll definitely want to prep everything before you start cooking because there’s a lot of little components, but once they’re prepped, the cooking part is easy.

TIPS:

  • If you don’t like spinach, reduce the amount you use and cut it into really fine pieces — you’ll barely notice it.
  • Finely chopped broccoli florets are a great addition to this dish. Cut the florets down into smaller crowns and stir them in at the end before covering the dish and letting it sit on the stove.
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