Easy 30-minute dinners for fast, flavorful meals

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Some of my favorite foods to make, and eat, take a significant time commitment: sourdough bread, braises, ice cream (the waiting for it to chill). Thankfully, spending hours in the kitchen isn’t the only way to create something delicious. With smart techniques and flavorful ingredients, you can churn out a meal that tastes like it took a long time to assemble but didn’t.

The threshold of what is an acceptable amount of time to spend on dinner on a hectic weeknight, or any night you struggle to muster the energy to cook, varies by person. For many, half an hour (or less) seems to be that magic number, and not just because Rachael Ray helped popularize the concept of the 30-minute meal more than two decades ago.

We, too, understand the appeal of a quick dinner. Here are some of the best, tastiest recipes from our archives that max out at 30 minutes from start to finish — with plenty coming in at less.


Everything Salmon With Cucumber and Red Onion Salad

Total time: 3o minutes

Pictured above. My colleague Ann Maloney took inspiration from a favorite bagel deli order and turned it into a quick dinner that includes pan-seared salmon and a salad, which you can tweak depending on your vegetable supply. Get the recipe.


Creamy Cannellini Bean Rigatoni

Total time: 25 minutes

Canned cannellini beans bring convenience and luscious texture to this vegan pasta. Get the recipe.


Scallops With Grapefruit Brown Butter

Total time: 20 minutes

Elegance need not be sacrificed for efficiency, as this recipe from Andy Baraghani featured in Daniela Galarza’s Eat Voraciously newsletter shows. Get the recipe.


Jackfruit or Chicken Tinga

Total time: 20 minutes

This speedy version of the Mexican braise has options for meat eaters and vegetarians. Use in tacos, tostadas and sandwiches or over rice or greens. Get the recipe.


Tostadas de Frijoles y Queso (Bean and Cheese Tostadas)

Total time: 20 minutes

Speaking of tostadas, this kid-friendly recipe uses canned refried beans and tostada shells to get dinner on the table in a flash. A lot of the fun is in the topping, too. Get the recipe.


Fragrant Dressed Tofu With Garlic and Basil

Total time: 20 minutes

Immersing the tofu in boiling salted water results in a rapid infusion of flavor that also firms up the texture, no pressing needed. Then it’s simply dressed with herbs, sesame oil and garlic. Get the recipe.


Diner-style Club Sandwich

Total time: 30 minutes

Yes, you can always throw together a sandwich in mere minutes. But know that you can make this double-decker that feels extra-special without it slowing you down too much. Get the recipe.


Orange and Cashew Cabbage Salad With Sesame Dressing

Total time: 20 minutes

You could open a store-bought bag of greens, but if you want a destination salad, take a bit more time to make Jim Webster’s meatless version of a Wolfgang Puck original. Get the recipe.