30 Twenty-Minute Meals That You’ll Actually Be Excited To Make (Including Pizza)

via Flickr - Lars Plougmann
via Flickr – Lars Plougmann

1. Cream Cheese Salmon

1 Salmon Fillet

Smeared with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
That is then topped with a mixture of grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

Cook for 10 minutes at 190C. Enjoy

EDIT: Optional. Mix bread crumbs into the parmesan and parsley for an extra crispy topping

2. Chicken Thighs Are Underrated

Chicken thighs. Anytime I’m hosting a dinner without prep I get chicken thighs, make an easy marinade, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, some thyme; BAM. Lay them out, 425 F, 20 minutes, there you have it. Always surprises people who don’t usually buy chicken thighs. They are cheap, even organic. Can pair with cous cous, rice, left over potatoes, salad, peas, really anything.

3. Parmesan Chicken With Zucchini

Take some thinly sliced chicken breast filets, melt some butter, and get some of that grated/powder parmesan cheese. Set to medium to medium high heat. Dip the chicken into the melted butter, then into the parmesan. You want the chicken as coated in the parmesan as you can get it. Throw it on that pan when it’s hot, and let ‘er rip. Turn when sufficiently browned.

For side, I like sauteed zucchini. You can also throw some oil and Worcestershire (you’ll have to play with the amount of Worcestershire to your taste) and toss in some asparagus. For a lower budget, go with a can of vegetables or a microwaved potato.

Minimal prep time, short cook time, pretty healthy, and super delicious. When I go with the cheaper side options, I’m looking at $3.50 per meal, and I’m not shopping around for cheap meat, I’m buying fresh thin sliced filets. You could get some packaged/frozen chicken and slice it up yourself and pay less. You could easily get close to $2.00 a meal if you shop and coupon.

4. Keeping It Super Simple

Spaghetti topped with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and oregano.

5. Bow Tie Pasta To Die For

  • 4 bell peppers – diced

  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms – sliced thin

  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion – diced

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

  • 1/2 stick of butter

  • 1 cup half & half

  • 1 bunch of kale – chopped

Sauté diced bell peppers with onion and mushrooms, s&p to taste. Add half a stick of butter and a cup of half & half and add finely chopped kale. Toss with bow tie pasta and feta cheese.

6. Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Crushed garlic sauteed in olive oil with a little chili flakes…tossed with cooked spaghetti and topped with parmesan. Lovely…and authentic Italian…only takes 10 minutes.

7. Fried Rice = Leftovers Heaven

Being Asian, fried rice is like our version of leftover casseroles. Chop it up, grab yesterday’s rice, fry it with yesterday’s meal. So many variations, so it’s hard to get bored. And it’s already all cooked, so really you’re just reheating everything.

8. Ultimate Mac N Cheese

Mac and cheese with truffle oil, eggs, bacon, and parmesan cheese. I could eat for all meals.

9. Frog In A Hole

Butter a slice of bread, cut an egg yolk sized hole in the middle. Crack an egg into a frying pan, salt and pepper, place the bread butter side up over the egg. Cook for a bit then flip the egg/bread. Cook for until done.

Frog in a hole. Egg in a basket… An easy breakfast in 3-5 minutes.

10. Hash Brown Madness

Crisp up some frozen shredded hash browns in a skillet. Add onions and peppers. Add chorizo. Add your favorite hot sauce and fritos. Mix in an egg or 2. Add shredded cheddar cheese. Eat that shit.

Tortilla optional, ketchup a must.

11. Awesome Breakfast Burritos

Brown 4 oz sausage. Beat 2 eggs, add a little water. Add eggs to sausage and stir with spatula. Heat should be 4/10. When eggs are firm add salsa. Put 2 tortillas in microwave, cover with damp paper towel and cook for 16 seconds. Fill tortillas and voila, 7 minute meal that’s good any time of the day.

12. Blackened Chicken

Chicken breast, paprika, ancho, chipotle, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic, onion. Like all the dried seasonings, I guess. Throw in hot pan. Maybe get some frozen fries rocking a little beforehand. Top with cheese if feeling so inclined.


13. Ravioli Cacio e Pepe (Hangover Recipe)

For 2 persons: – 250gr of Ravioli (ideally filled with ham & cheese) – 200gr of parmesan – black pepper – olive oil – chili flakes.

Cook the ravioli 1 minute less than recommended time. Remove all water but let the raviolis in the cooking pot over low fire. Add 120 grs of grated parmesan, black pepper and a few chili flakes in the pot. Add 2 spoons of olive oil and and stir for a minute. Remove the raviolis when the parmesan is fully melted and start forming a crust.

Serve directly in a plate, add more grated parmesan and pepper to your liking.

This is also my go-to hangover recipe.

14. Ratatouille Wraps

Saute onion, zucchini, pepper and eggplant in a skillet. Take a wrap, spread some goat cheese on it. Take sauteed veggies and roll in wrap. Voila, nommy wraps that are pretty healthy too!

15. Spam, Ssamjang, And Rice

Sliced spam to about a 1/4″ thickness and pan fry until crispy on the outside

Spread ssamjang on top then eat with rice.

16. Sliced Chicken Breast With Mixed Veggies

Chicken breast with garlic powder, pinch of salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Cut it up into pieces (cooks faster when chopped up).
Frozen broccoli/mix vegetables — microwave for 2-3 minutes. Boom, that’s my meal. Usually takes a total of 10 minutes. So yummy too.

17. Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen Before

This is a recipe I invented, but it’s insanely easy and nutritious (especially if you use brown rice pasta). Boil water and cook pasta according to directions. While that is working, food-process great northern beans, olive oil, garlic, rosemary. Drain pasta. Put olive oil in pan (I usually use the one I cooked the pasta in to save on clean-up) saute some spinach or kale, whatever is your preference (add extra garlic if you like – I usually do to avoid the greens being too bland), add bean mixture, stir to combine, saute til hot. Toss with pasta. Done. Mmmm.

18. Udon Soup

Sure it’s salty, but what isn’t these days? You can literally add any veggie or protein you’d like and it’ll taste good and takes hardly any time to prepare. My favorite is with three types of mushroom, carrots, seaweed, tofu and chicken… still comes out as a very affordable meal.

19. Roy Choi’s Perfect Instant Ramen


20. Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Cook pasta

  • In separate pan cook bacon/pancetta (mushrooms optional)

  • Add pasta

  • Add eggs, creme fraiche/cream, parmesan and stir

  • Avocado/Prawn Pasta

  • Cook pasta

  • In a bowl mash up an avocado with some creme fraiche, garlic, seasoning and add some prawns or pre-cooked chicken.

  • Drain pasta and put back in the saucepan and stir in sauce.

Glorified stir and serve is my favorite.

21. Noodle Soup With Veggies And Eggs

This will require a full 20 minutes of effort (as opposed to 5 mins of prep, 15 mins in the oven), but it’s my go-to easy meal.

  • Slice up 5 or 6 mushrooms, toss into a pot with 2 cups of stock (I use veggie, but whatever you like). Simmer. Add a splash of sesame oil, some sriracha (or chili garlic paste), a drip of fish sauce (and/or rice vinegar) if you have it, some soy sauce to taste, and a pinch or two of brown sugar. Taste as you go to make sure you like what’s happening. But keep simmering till the mushrooms are fully cooked.
  • While it’s simmering, slice up some onions very very thin, and some other veggies (also sliced thin) if you have them (I like bell or anaheim peppers and daikon radish, but you can work with what you’ve got – any hard-ish veggie that’s OK raw is great – celery, radish, whatever) and put them in the bottom of a large soup bowl.
  • Once the mushrooms are cooked, add a handful of rice noodles. Simmer for ~3 minutes till they’re pretty soft. Add some greens if you’d like (bok choy or spinach is great and they cook fast, if you want something like kale or collard, add earlier so it’ll have more time to cook).
  • Bring to a fast simmer (edit: not sure if this is actually the right way to describe – but bubbles a little bigger/faster than a simmer, but not a full boil) and drop in 2 eggs. Poach in the simmering soup for about 3 minutes. I like the white to be fully cooked, and then the yolk to be runny. Remove from heat and break open the yolk and quickly mix it into the soup. If you do it fast, it won’t turn into eggdrop, but will instead make the soup super creamy!
  • Pour the soup over your raw veggies. They’ll slightly poach, but will retain their crunch. Break up the rest of the eggs so you can get them in more than one bite. Enjoy!!

You can do any modifications you’d like. Some leftover cooked meat would be great, or add some raw shrimp with time for them to cook in the soup. Sometimes I toss in some tofu. Add more or less veggies to taste, but I think the mushroom and onions are important. Adjust seasonings to taste.

22. Yes, Yes It Does

Frying an entire pound of bacon and eating it as you go counts as a meal, right?

23. The Ultimate 20 Minute Meal

Grilled chicken and some stir fry peppers and onions. I can have the meal cooked and dishes washed in under 20 minutes.

24. Burrito Bowls!

Chop an onion, chop a couple of jalapenos, saute with some ground beef. Dump that in a pot with two cans of beans, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of corn. Throw in some salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder, and stir over heat for a few minutes. You now have four or five decent meals for almost no effort.

25. Pita Pizzas

  • Slather a greek-style pita with some spaghetti sauce (or sliced Jersey tomatoes when in season). The ones from the big national bakeries suck. Get the real ones. You won’t regret it.

  • Cover with shredded cheddar and mozzarella

  • Season to taste with spices, etc.

  • Pepperoni slices (optional)

  • Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes or until brown & bubbly

26. Minimalism At Its Leanest

1 can of tuna 1 fork

27. Easy Lettuce Wraps

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 white onion diced 2 green bell peppers sliced thin 1lb lean ground turkey 2 eggs 2 tbsp oil (preferably an oil that can withstand some higher temps).

  • In a cast iron skillet, add the turkey along with the onion, garlic, and peppers in oil, s+p to taste.

  • Once turkey is almost cooked through and the veggies are soft, stir in the 2 eggs.

  • Once satisfied with your eggs’ consistency and turkey is cooked through, place ingredients in a few lettuce leaves, drizzle with Sriracha.

Once of my go-to meals when I am in a hurry or don’t feel like prepping a big meal.

28. Steak And Rosemary Oven Potatoes

Just chop up the potatoes to small cubes (so they are done faster), generously douse in olive oil, paprika powder, chilis and rosemary, mix it together with your hands, spread out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake at 220o Celcius for 15 min (5 min prep).

While it’s baking, heat up a pan, generously salt the dry-patted steak and slap it in the pan with some high smoke point oil. fry until its at the temp you like (i like blue rare-rare, so warm in the center but still blood red, with a small pink margin at the edges and a good sear on the edges). due to not having to be fully cooked smaller steaks especially are done so damn fast.


Or I take frozen salmon, cover in herbs, lemon sliced and oil and bake for 15-20min and put it on top of a bowl of rice with some soy sauce :D

29. Wine Is A Complete Meal And No One Can Tell Me Differently

Opening a bottle of wine only takes about 20 seconds…

30. Sushi, Yes, Sushi. Get On This Dude’s Level!

Sushi. Within the 20 minutes it takes to cook 3 cups of rice (in a rice cooker), you just cut up strips of cucumber, avocado and filet of salmon/tuna. Boil strips of shiitake and carrot in fish sauce and include beni shoga and kanpyo if you’re feeling extra special. Then simmer 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 of vinegar right before the rice is done, and stir it into the rice while fanning. Roll a J, roll 6 or more makis in lightly toasted nori, and you have your night made with your SO. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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