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Ten minute dinners

Updated on January 27, 2014

Quick and easy dinner ideas

I love cooking. I can spend hours in the kitchen, enjoying pretty much every second of the process. I can create absolute culinary masterpieces yet sometimes... I just don't feel like it. Sometimes the only thing I need is a warm meal, to be cooked within a few minutes without any fuss and any risk of spoiling the dish. Here's a collection of well tried recipes for just such a moment - if a ten minute dinner is what you're after, look no further.

Photos come from this source, unless specifically marked otherwise.

clock public domain
clock public domain

10 minutes - is it all it takes?

Weeeeeell... I did say ten minutes, didn't I? But you surely don't expect me to cook with a stopwatch and knock a delicious dish off my list only because it takes, say, 13 minutes to prepare it. Or, let's say we're talking pasta dishes - does the pasta-boiling time counts? Or potatoes, does it... You get the picture. I've had a few things in mind when selecting recipes for this article:

- it has to be really quick

- it has to be effortless

- it has to be foolproof

- it has to be a recipe I actually go for pretty often. I have them mastered simply because I'm practising all the time.

That's as much as you need to know when it comes to introductions. Let's get cooking.

Are you a fan of ten minute dinners?

Confess right now! Don't worry, it's as anonymous as it gets :)

How often do you go for 10 minute dinners?

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10 minute dinners with...


The Lazy Cook's best friend

The Lazy Cook's best friend
The Lazy Cook's best friend
pasta with cheese public domain
pasta with cheese public domain

10 minute pasta dinners with quark cheese

We're in the realm of the real 10 minute dinners here - pasta usually takes no more than 7 minutes to cook, which leaves you three minutes to toss it with whatever you like.

My very favourite way of turning humble pasta into a proper dinner is mixing it with some quark cheese. If you have a Polish shop nearby, you have no problem - simply ask for any 'white' or 'bialy' cheese. If you don't, you'll have to either go for your local equivalent (cottage cheese or ricotta work pretty well here) or (*gasp*) make it yourself. The good news is:

a) equivalents work REALLY well, so don't worry very much if you can't find proper quark

b) quark cheese is dead easy to make if you have unpasteurised milk on hand (I may write a how-to one day. Then again, I may not)

Once you've hunted the cheese down, it's downhill all the way. I prefer the savoury version: crumble cheese into your pasta, add some melted butter, season with salt. This is it, your dinner is ready. You'll probably be left with a spare minute or two to make a cup of tea for dessert.

Sweet version is just as easy and I remember distinctly it was being served as a dinner in my school canteen once upon a time, so it must count as a 'dinner', right? Cook your pasta without salt, add the cheese and:

- your favourite jam (plum or apple work really well here)

- sugar and cinnamon (here ricotta can actually be better than quark)

- vanilla sugar

- apple puree and cinnamon

tomatoes public domain
tomatoes public domain

Ten minute pasta dinners - Italian style

One word - pesto. Simply mix your pasta with ANY pesto (follow the big link below to see how many different kinds there may be), sprinkle with cheese shavings and your dinner is ready.

if you're feeling more ambitious, you can always go for pasta bolognese. I was going to include a proper recipe, but who in the world does not know how to make bolognese sauce? Every bachelor/student/inexperienced cook household I've ever been to served one version or another of spaghetti bolognese, so I've decided not to waste too many words here. If by some freak chance you live in a bolognese-free world, I'll give you a hint - minced meant with onions and tomato puree. That's all there is to it.

Other possible toppings for pasta:

- tomato puree and cheese

- smoked salmon and spinach leaves

- cheese and egg (needs to be baked or re-fried before serving)

- cooked cabbage, fried onion & bacon bits (this one does take some cooking time but it's too delicious not to mention)

- gravy and (optionally) leftover roast

Ten minute dinners with...


Chips do not grow in McDonalds...

Chips do not grow in McDonalds...
Chips do not grow in McDonalds...
fried potatoes public domain
fried potatoes public domain

Quick and easy potato dinners

One nasty thing about potatoes - they do take their time to cook. Yep, if you take cooking time into consideration, you'll never get your spud dish ready in ten minutes. Let's exclude cooking time from this section, ok? I'll make it up for you, I'll make preparation extra short :)

Obviosly, the easiest thing you can do to a potato is to cut it in half lengthways, pop it into the oven and forget about it for about 90 minutes.

I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but home fireplaces work just as well - simply wrap your potato in aluminium foil and cover with embers. I did it many times during attacks of extreme laziness and I remember the outcomes very fondly. A little butter and salt is all this dish requires.

If the very idea of baking potatoes in a fireplace revolts you, stick to the oven - after all I'm not trying to make a rebel out of you. Ovens are ok. Plus, there are literally hundreds of things you can put onto your potato before baking to make it tastier.

If you need something quick, boiled potatoes are your best best. If you chop them in smaller pieces beforehand, they will be ready in about 20 minutes. Simply mash and serve alongside a salad and

- a poached egg

- fried (Polish) sausage

- white cheese (see pasta above) and fried onions

- sour cream and dill

- canned meat (SPAM-type), sliced and fried

Ten minute dinners with...

Groats and kashas

Buckwheat groats with cheese

Buckwheat groats with cheese
Buckwheat groats with cheese

Photo by Tiggered

buckwheat copyright: tiggered
buckwheat copyright: tiggered

Kasha within minutes

Ah, here's my favourite cheese again. Did you notice that I tend to add white cheese to all of my quick meals? That's because it tastes great whatever you mix it with :) Pictured above, buckwheat with quark cheese and fried onions - delicious and recommendable.

I've actually already written a lens with my favourite buckwheat recipes, so let me just send you there instead of repeating myself (see the big link below), but there's more to world's kashas than buckwheat.

You may not agree with me, but I consider cous cous 'a kasha' as well. There's barley kasha, which takes some time to cook, but once you have it done, it can be mixed with condiments of your choice within minutes. I imagine most of my pasta toppings would work quite alrighgt if mixed with any kasha. Think: onions, meat, cheese, sour cream, gravy, leftover veg, whatever happens to be in your fridge.

Photo by Tiggered

couscous public domain
couscous public domain

The title may sound a bit nonsensical, but this is just how i think of this dish. My sister taught me how to make it some years ago. I believe she prepared for me a variation upon the original recipe she picked from an authentic Moroccan, and since I've introduced further variations to make up for my hazy memory, I don't dare to call it simply 'Moroccan dish'. Here's Moroccan cuisine with European twist.

Prep time: 10 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: 3


  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 button mushrooms
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • a handful of pitted olives
  • a handful of raisins


  1. Cover couscous with boiling water, leave until the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Chop vegetables into whatever chunks you like best. Slice olives into thin strips.
  3. Fry onions and mushrooms until gold-ish, add remaining vegetables, fry until soft.
  4. Add olives, raisins and couscous, heat through.
  5. Mix well, season with salt and pepper.
  6. As unlikely as it sounds, olives and raisins are THE ingredient in this recipe. The rest, probably with the exception of couscous, can be rather painlessly disregarded or substituted with something else.
Cast your vote for Quick Moroccan couscous, European style

Ten minute dinners with...


My No. 1 when it comes to quick veggie dinners

My No. 1 when it comes to quick veggie dinners
My No. 1 when it comes to quick veggie dinners
fried onions copyright tiggered
fried onions copyright tiggered

Veggies for a quick bite

When I was a teenager, my mum has been going through a rough patch health-wise and she wasn't able to cook for us. With my dad working most of the time, I was left to feed myself with whatever a twelve year old me could devise, which boiled down to three dishes:

- cooked cauliflower

- cooked broccoli

- cooked string beans

All of the above in copious amounts and with some yummy topping.

As a result of such a diet, I grew up into a reasonably healthy adult and I don't even hate veggies - just the opposite. Even today I still love a big plateful of e.g. string beans with breadcrumbs.

Topping is important! I usually fry some breadcrumbs in butter (until golden) foir extra crunch, but there are other delicious options:

- fried onions, chopped really fine

- fried bacon bits (preferably mixed with the onions)

- grated cheese (sprinkle on your almost-cooked veg and pop into the oven for another 5 minutes)

- melted butter is ok too

Photo by Tiggered

red bell pepper public domain
red bell pepper public domain

Roasted veggies for a quick dinner

If cooked vegetables are not your thing, you can always go for the roasting option. Roasting in most cases takes more than 10 minutes, but since you're actually not doing anything at the time, it doesn't really count, does it? Anyway, here's some candidates for a roasting champion:

- I simply have to mention potatoes again. The best thing ever invented

- mediterranean style veg: courgettes, red onions, red peppers

- root parsnip. This may sound surprising, but roasting transforms the taste and texture of parsnips to an unbelievable degree. Don't you dare disagreeing before you actually try it!

- beetroot - I've tried it and did not fall in love. You may have different tastes altogether. Or again, you may not. I'm just signalling that it can be done :)

- pumpkin (or squash) - I haven't tried it yet, but it's definitely on my 'to do' list.

The basic method is exactly the same for all the vegetables above - sprinkle with oil and seasoniing, roast until golden.

10 minute dinner with rice

Ten minute dinners with...

Everything else

french toast public domain
french toast public domain

Pick'n'mix of ten minute dinner ideas

Here's some more ideas if you're craving a quick bite:

- mix a raw egg with milk, salt and paprika powder. Soak a slice of bread in the mixture. Fry until golden.

- meat sounds scary and time consuming, but pork sirloin steak beaten into thin slices cooks in about two minutes

- when you think about it, a medium-done steak takes 2 minutes a side to cook

- ready made pastry is a wonderful thing. Roll out, top with whatever you like and into the oven it goes

- good old corn fritters (I add some onions and jalapeno peppers to the batter - stunning!)

- baked fish - wrap in aluminium foil with some seasoning and a knob of butter. Baking time depends on your oven and your preferences.

Just think about it:

If you decide to pick a snack in McDrive, it will probably take more than 10 minutes.

Choosing the homemade option can be just as quick, just as delicious and much, much cheaper

What's your favourite 10 minute dinner?

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    • LaPikas profile image


      5 years ago

      Buckwheat recipe is new for me, so sure will try to make that one for my family. May I add a suggestion? Since you love cheese, have you try to do Quesadillas? They go with everything: leftovers, veggies, etc and are tasty and quick to do it =)

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 

      6 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      What an amazing and attractive lense! My face 10 minute dinner is my cheat's version of shakshuka. I fry onions, garlic & spices, add a can of chopped tomatoes the break a couple of eggs into two holes in the sauce. Perfect with a nice, crusty baguette.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Pasta is great for a 10 min dinner but my favourite is an omelette! Delicious lens.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 

      6 years ago from New York

      I don't think I am capable of making a 10 minute dinner. LOL. I have to make a salad and a vegetable side for every main course dinner I serve. I could do it in 30 and it would be a tasty, healthy meal. Regardless of my lack in speed, you have done a good job putting this lens together. *Squid Angel Blessed* and I added it to My Squid Angel Blessings 2012 in the "Food & Cooking » Recipes" neighborhood.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      You've sold me on 10-minute dinners! Blessed, for saving me kitchen time without calling for microwave packages! ...Now, can we get "groats" a new name, and maybe a good press agent? ;)

    • BucketTrucks LM profile image

      BucketTrucks LM 

      6 years ago

      I'm so glad the pinning feature has been added. This is a perfect article for all my friends on pinterest!

    • WildAnimalTattoos profile image


      6 years ago

      Not spending ages in the kitchen sounds like a good plan to me. 20 mins is my main maximum but use the microwave to shorten things like baked potatoes etc. Thanks for a great lens

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 

      6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Every now and then we all need a meal that is quick to prepare. Good ideas here!

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 

      6 years ago

      Love the couscous ideas.

    • BusyMOM LM profile image

      BusyMOM LM 

      6 years ago

      Being that life is fast and furious as it is - this is a really helpful lens. Love the recipes.

    • emmaklarkins profile image


      6 years ago

      Genius list! Feta is another type of cheese that works with just about anything, from Greek to American to Mexican and Indian dishes.

    • chwwalker lm profile image

      chwwalker lm 

      6 years ago

      The problem isn't usually cooking time. It's prep time. It doesn't take long to cook chicken fajitas, for example, but it definitely takes more than 10 minutes when you factor in the time it takes to cut the chicken, chop the onions and peppers, warm the tortillas, and prepare any toppings (personally I love cilantro, onion, and lime juice). But there are some good ideas here.

    • GoAceNate LM profile image

      GoAceNate LM 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the post. I cook dinner every night for our family and it's hard to get dinner finished at a decent hour. By the time my wife and I both get home it's around 6:30. I basically start cooking as soon as I get home. These willhelp.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love quick 10 minute dinners! An omelet with cheese (and toast on the side) is one favorite. Another is a quick veggie stirfry with rice (either instant or leftover, reheated) on the side. For protein on the side, tofu fries up quickly and tastes divine seasoned and sizzled with soy sauce. Thanks for this great lens!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Leftovers or a sandwich are about the only things I can prepare in 10 minutes. I'm an efficient cook, but good food (from scratch) does take time.


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