Last Minute Dinner Recipes - Danielle Walker

Sometimes, no matter how much I prep or meal plan, I find myself with a night where I have little time to throw together a dinner the whole family will enjoy.  And I know I am not the only one! Over the years and through trial and error, I have created recipes that have become my tried and true staples in this arena. And many are on this list of Last Minute Dinner Recipes that can be on your table in under thirty minutes! Let me know which ones are your favorites to make and to eat!

Instant Pot Dairy-Free Broccoli Rice Casserole

With minimal prep and the option to shortcut with a store-bought “queso”, this casserole is as easy as it gets.  Everything is thrown into the Instant Pot and comes together in 20 minutes to form a creamy casserole that is full of flavor and unbelievably, it’s dairy-free too!

image of instant pot dairy free chicken broccoli rice casserole in two bowls with spoons on a counter from a side view.

15 Minute Veggie-Packed Fried Rice

If I want to stick to eating healthy at home, prepping ahead is key.  This recipe allows you to chop vegetables the night before (I like to food prep with my favorite Netflix show in the background) and utilizes a bag of frozen cauliflower rice.  When it’s dinner time, I simply throw everything into the skillet and add the dreamy sauce. It’s done in just 15 minutes and packed full of nutrition!

image of a bowl of 15 minute veggie fried rice

Chicken Power Bowls

I put this recipe on Instagram a while back, and it’s become a new fan favorite! This is the perfect end-of-the-week meal when you want to use up what you have in the fridge and eliminate food waste.  With a teenager in my house, I need a high-protein option to keep him full for longer, so this meal is a new go-to for us.

Close up shot of chicken power bowls on the counter

Paleo Salsa Chicken Tacos

I shared this recipe when I was on The Today Show recently because it’s just SO easy and delicious!  Place the chicken in the Instant Pot with a jar of salsa and some seasonings and you’re done! Choose the toppings that work the best for you and your family! Oh, and if you’re still shredding your chicken with forks, I’ve got a hack for you on the easy, instant way I shred mine! Here’s the scoop!

image of paleo salsa chicken tacos on a plate with salsa and guacamole

Gluten-Free Pad Thai

I love Pad Thai and am so grateful that I can still enjoy it while sticking to my nutritional and dietary needs.  If you have the time, the sauce is really worth making and much more flavorful than anything on the shelves.  But you can save time by purchasing pre-spiralized veggie noodles, or even opting for a gluten-free rice noodle if you can tolerate it.

Thai Chicken Pizza

We love a good pizza night here, but at times, I want something outside of the Italian-style marinara and mozzarella.  Enter this Thai Chicken Pizza with a mock “peanut” sauce layered with vegetables galore! To make this even faster, you can pickup a Capello’s or Banza crust instead of making one at home. Nuts don’t work for you? Use sunflower seed butter in the sauce.

Instant Pot Sesame Orange Chicken

This recipe is one of my most visited blog posts of all time and for good reason! It is easy, flavorful, healthy, and tastes exactly like Orange Chicken from our favorite restaurant.  If you have time in the morning, you can put everything in the slow cooker, but this recipe also has Instant Pot instructions so you can put it together quickly when dinnertime sneaks up on you. 

above shot of sesame orange chicken in a gray plate on a white counter

Kale Crunch Salad

The keys to a delicious salad (in my opinion) are a great flavorful protein, a balanced dressing, and crunch. This Kale Crunch Salad checks all those boxes! The chicken in this recipe gets an overnight sesame ginger marinade, and everything else can be tossed together while it cooks. Super easy to make this up as lunches for the week ahead and it’s the perfect dish to welcome in Spring!

kale crunch salad with sesame ginger chicken

Broccoli Crunch Salad

The only thing better than a fast-cooking meal is a zero-cooking meal!  This Broccoli Crunch Salad is a no-brainer when it comes to an easy weeknight dinner.  Broccoli itself has a some protein, but I like to add leftover bacon from the morning’s breakfast for a bit more, plus a salty crunch! You also probably have all the necessary ingredients for this salad on hand, so it comes together in a flash.

image of broccoli crunch salad with bacon in a white bowl on a countertop

Instant Pot Indian Butter Chicken

Indian-inspired dishes used to intimidate me because they are so flavorful I thought surely they took hours to make.  My recipe for Indian Butter Chicken comes together easily, but has deep flavor thanks to warming spices. Plus, there’s enough sauce in this recipe to repurpose it atop a leftover protein for lunch the next day!

Instant Pot Arroz Con Pollo

Latin-inspired cuisine is a favorite of mine!  I make this dish with my Adobo Seasoning spice blend and use white rice which my kids and Ryan all eat.  If you’re looking for a grain-free version, you could sub cauliflower rice or even plantains! This Arroz Con Pollo dish is a tad on the spicy side so be sure to add or subtract heat depending on your preferences.

Sheet-Pan Steak Fajitas, Eat What You Lovep. 223

Fajitas were my go-to meal when I first went grain-free with my diet. This homemade Sheet-Pan Steak Fajitas version allows you to make it as mild or spicy as you’d like. To make this dish even easier, sub your favorite grain-free store-bought tortillas!

Burger Bites, Celebrations, p. 140

These burger bites are a great high-protein dinner option that adds a little extra fun.  Coming together easily, each person can build their own skewer exactly to their liking! A really fun one to tackle with kids of any age. 

Crispy Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, Against All Grainp. 206

I made these Crispy Chicken Tenders when Asher was little, and they have remained a family favorite. These are great as a stand alone dish with some easy fruit or vegetables on the side or, you can serve them over a bed of greens as a delicious salad.

BLT Salad, Meals Made Simplep. 104

Who doesn’t love a BLT? This BLT Salad is filling and nutritious and comes together within minutes.  My herb ranch dressing is delicious, but if you’re in a pinch you can sub for a store-bought version that has ingredients that you can tolerate. While it’s creamy enough as it is, we often add avocado when it is in season.

Curried Cauliflower and Mango Salad, Healthy in a Hurry, p.260

This salad is perfect for a Meatless Monday option, or just when you want a veggie-loaded meal.  The mango gives this dish a surprising and robust complexity, and I like to use Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning to top it off!

Crispy Green Goddess Salmon with Broccolini, Potatoes and Arugula, Make it Easy 

Nothing is more satisfying than a one-sheet pan dinner and this recipe (from my new cookbook!!) does not disappoint!  There are so many things you can do to make this meal even faster: the sauce can be made up to two weeks in advance and the salmon can be refrigerated for up to two days.  And, if you’re really short on time, you can buy your favorite green goddess dressing, and use almond flour and seasoning for the “bread” crumbs! 


My new cookbook, Make It Easy, is full of meal plans and dinner ideas for those hectic days when you still want to eat healthy! It will be on the shelves in September, but you can pre-order it here!


Last Minute Dinner Recipes

Split hero image of three different las tminute dinner recipe images


  1. Kathy Trow says:

    We love the brocolli chicken rice casserole. Had it tonight! And the Salsa chicken tacos are our favorite. Quick and delicious.

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