19 Culinary Ideas To Fall In Love With For A Valentine's Day Dinner

Cooking a lovely meal for your significant other, who you also think is lovely, is what love is all about. And February 14 is a perfect opportunity to express how you feel by serving up some love to your amour. The Relationship Paradigm suggests that not only is it an enjoyable experience to dine together, but it could be that couples who eat together are also happier. Food is engaging, exciting, and even sensual — there's a reason why sweets make for great Valentine's Day gifts. Sitting down with a loved one over dinner gives you valuable time to talk, connect, and feel relaxed. Making an effort on a special occasion also shows a sense of commitment and that you value your relationship.

Meanwhile, TIME reports that couples start to like the same foods the longer they're together, too. It could be that your love of the same dishes is what you really bond over, or, perhaps over time, eating the same meals has somehow influenced your taste. Food is a journey, after all — and so is love. Check out these 19 creative culinary ideas to fall in love with for a Valentine's Day dinner.

1. Bake a heart-shaped pizza

Haute cuisine, either cooked at home or in a restaurant, may feel special with a gourmet dish inspiring a feel-good atmosphere. However, simple food that you know your significant other loves with a cutesy, Valentine's Day twist can be fun, creative, and adorable. You don't have to search high and low for rare ingredients to express your feelings. In fact, you can do it by making a heart-shaped pizza instead. Putting love into culinary efforts bakes a thousand words — plus, who doesn't feel passionate about pizza? If you really want to impress, then you could make your own crust, and still make it easy with a no-knead pizza dough recipe. 

Either way, once you've rolled out your dough, use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the base into the shape of a heart. Add pizza sauce (leaving the dough bare around the edges), as well as slices of evenly-spaced mozzarella. Once cooked, sprinkle with vibrant green basil leaves. Serve with a fresh salad and a bottle of wine or champagne. Make sure the only heart that's broken is the one you're serving, as you slice into your pizza and share a lovely meal on Valentine's Day.

2. Have fun with a blindfold taste test

British chef Jamie Oliver has enjoyed a fun blindfold taste test with his friend; however, if you change up a few elements, you can turn this idea into flirty food fun for Valentine's Day. All you need are individual servings of food and a mask. You can also add a card for jotting down guesses. Rather than making lots of dishes, you might want to serve different cheeses, candies, and desserts, and you can include drinks, too. Try organizing this game beforehand, with your romantic date joining in and preparing some foods for you to try as well. Just make sure if it's a new romance to check for allergies, and it might be best to avoid pungent or very spicy foods.

My Spicy Vanilla suggests using a silky mask to add a more sensual feel. It's also important to think about where you want this activity to take place. While the blindfolded partner may not be able to see, the environment is important, so think beyond the dining room table. Serve foods your lover actually likes, and make sure they're bite-size, otherwise it could get messy and anything but romantic. Prep how you lay out the foods as you don't want spillages either.

3. Write a menu for a home-cooked dinner

It's fabulous to get glammed up and eat out at a fancy restaurant, but, on Valentine's Day, the romance can be overshadowed by expensive menus and a cliché atmosphere surrounded by other couples. However, a home-cooked meal can sometimes feel a little been-there done-that. Even if you choose from one of these 50 romantic Valentine's Day meals to cook, you may still feel you're missing an ingredient to make the night extra special.

Mommy Savers has a cute, affordable idea if you don't want to go out for dinner, but still want to bring the restaurant sense of occasion to the dining table. Choose dishes and/or ingredients that you wouldn't usually make. This immediately defines the dinner as different. Consider setting up a smaller table that's not the usual place you eat so your evening feels intimate. You might want to also decorate the table with flowers or a proper tablecloth. A lovely idea is to write or print out a menu so your dining partner can appreciate what you're going to serve. It adds sophistication to the dinner and, just as in a restaurant, part of the enjoyment is the anticipation of what's to come. Try writing out not just the names of the dishes, but also the descriptions, so they sound even more tempting.

4. Indulge in luxurious chocolate truffles

Some people like the whole hearts and flowers experience on Valentine's Day, with over-the-top balloons and large bouquet of red roses. They like to be swept off their feet, and wined and dined with ornate, complex dishes. However, if you're feeling under pressure to perform, then why not simplify romantic culinary experiences by offering the seduction of pure dessert indulgence? You can do this by crafting something like dark chocolate ganache truffles.

Sometimes, less fanfare and a more luxurious approach is more seductive. Heavy cream, dark chocolate chips, and cocoa powder are the only ingredients you need to create creamy, chocolatey velvet bursts of divine decadence. Aside from a two-hour chill in the fridge, these bite-size beauties are quick to make. That's not to say there aren't different ways to make these after-dinner delights. You may want to look at some classic mistakes everyone makes with chocolate truffles first so that you can avoid them. Sinking your teeth into a soft truffle and enjoying the sensation as it melts in your mouth is delectable. It's also far more suitable than a heavy pudding that's going to make you feel like falling asleep on the sofa afterward.

5. Set out an indoor picnic

Considering Valentine's Day is in February, depending on where you live, it may be too chilly outside for an outdoor picnic. So, why not bring the picnic indoors instead? Snuggling down inside makes it extra cozy, too. If you're looking for setup ideas, then try setting crates or upturned boxes on a blanket as low tables with stem vases and flowers, desserts, and candles. Add cushions and throws for comfort. String up some fairy lights and surround the picnic with balloons, such as one user did on TikTok. Another TikTok indoor picnic idea is to fill a board with sweet and savory goodies. Keep wine and glasses on another board and add a picnic basket and dried flowers onto a blanket to complete the look. 

Loveglam on YouTube shows an indoor picnic setup to inspire. Lay a throw on the floor in the lounge with a picnic basket on top with extra food inside. Create a cheese and charcuterie board with grapes, green olives, and crackers. Add cushions, serve bubbles, and decorate with flowers, petals, and candles. You can also serve up a pizza for a casual twist.

6. Say it with fortune cookie messages

If you've ever eaten out at a Chinese restaurant, then chances are you've been served fortune cookies at the end of your meal. They're crunchy with a subtly sweet taste and filled with a message about your future and any lucky forecasts. It's fun to open them even if you know that the message isn't personal. However, it could be. Make Life Lovely suggests making your own fortune cookies to serve on Valentine's Day to that special someone after a romantic dinner. This way, you can add sweet nothings or sexy sayings in the middle, and make it completely your own.

What's great is that you can use pre-made fortune cookies and swap the message inside. Write your words of love on strips of paper. Don't make these too big because they have to hide inside your cookies. Remove all the fortune cookie packaging and steam them open in a steamer basket. Once open, use tongs to carefully take out the messages and put your own in there instead. Press the fortune cookies together again and leave them to cool and set. If you want to put them back in any original packaging, all you need is some pieces of tissue and a flat iron to do so.

7. Add culinary allure with aphrodisiac foods

Certain foods are renowned aphrodisiacs, so you might want to explore some of these if you want to create a sensual feast for your Valentine. If you're not quite sure what an aphrodisiac is, it's a type of food that supposedly gives the libido a lift. However, while the science may not fully back up this idea, there are plenty of ingredients to serve that could awaken the senses. You might consider spicy foods to drive desires, as they turn up the heat. Or, maybe fragrant herbs that arouse the senses (via Verywell Mind).

Luxurious foods, such as lobster, are regarded as an aphrodisiac, perhaps because this seafood contains a lot of zinc and this is linked to testosterone production. Meanwhile, you might want to blend a smoothie with maca root from Peru, which is considered beneficial in terms of not just desire, but durability (via Myles Spar MD). Classic aphrodisiacs that can add some culinary allure to your special night include oysters, figs, and red wine. You might be surprised by some of the others on the list though, such as celery, okra, and watermelon (via Erudus).

8. Make edible underwear

If you can't bring some cheeky fun into a Valentine's Day dinner then when can you? And it doesn't get cheekier than adding an extra dish of edible underwear! It'll certainly give new meaning to the idea of Valentine's Day nibbles.

Of course, there are many options out there that you can buy pre-made, but, if you're the creative type, you could try making your own licorice pants by following the tutorial at Knitty. Instead of knitting needles and wool, you knit red laces candy with some chopsticks. If you follow the instructions exactly, the pants contain 302 calories, in case the nutritional value matters to you. And what's more, there aren't any complex or expensive ingredients to purchase, although you may need a little patience if you're not the crafty type. If it all goes wrong, you can probably fashion something a little simpler, and at least it'll raise a laugh, if nothing else.

9. Toast marshmallows at home

When it's cold outside, you likely want to stay warm and cozy inside. However, there's also something romantic about the campfire vibe and the idea of gooey toasted marshmallows. Real Mum Review suggests a quirky Valentine's Day dessert after dark that combines the two. To cook marshmallows at home, you can try this set from The Naked Marshmallow Co., with gourmet marshmallows and a tabletop burner in a tin that's odorless, smokeless, and non-toxic.

Another option you may like is easy, oven-baked s'mores. Melt dark chocolate and marshmallows onto graham crackers in the oven, and then drizzle with a homemade caramel sauce and top with flakes of sea salt for an extra special touch. Another option is to make air fryer s'mores. These are super easy to make. Simply roll chocolate, marshmallows, and graham cracker crumbs in crescent roll dough. Drizzle melted chocolate on top and enjoy them soft and warm.

10. Create a stunning sharing board

Sharing food brings you closer to a loved one. It inspires feelings of togetherness, as well as creates a more relaxed dining experience. What's more, rather than having to eat what's on your individual plates as you chat, you can chill out a little more and graze on food as the evening unfolds. For Valentine's Day, the perfect platter for two is a stunning sharing board. If you design it in an artistic way, it also adds beauty to a romantic meal. 

And if you need inspiration, then follow a TikTok idea on how to beautify your board. Choose a round, attractive board and add a honey dip in the middle. Surround it with slices of cheese, mini mozzarella balls, and pretzels. Add cold cuts, crackers, and chocolates. To make your board colorful, add fresh strawberries, raspberries, slices of fruit, and a spray of red currants. On TikTok, Lover Boards adds cheeses and other goodies to a long board. Cut a heart shape out a wheel of brie and plate with cubes and crumbly bits of other cheeses. Add slices of red apple, cold cuts, and squares of dark chocolate. Place honey in a bowl in the middle, and sprinkle on the board sliced strawberries, cherries, and dried apricots, plus unshelled pistachios. Cover your creation with some pomegranate seeds, and gummy candies in the shape of the letters X and O. A fresh rose in the center finishes your romantic spread.

11. Write a chocolate love letter

You might want to speak a few heartfelt words as you sit with your amour for a special Valentine's Day dinner. You can also write what you feel with a chocolate love letter, too. What's not to love about this IG-worthy culinary idea suggested by pankobunny on YouTube? Not only is this sweet chocolatey suggestion affordable and easy, it's personal too, as you can write what you like and add your loved one's name at the top.

To start, you need a chocolate bar, and if you're not sure what to use, then one with a soft center is going to add a smooth, velvet-like texture and taste. Melt some white chocolate and, using a toothpick, write your words of love on the back of the bar. It'll take longer than it would if you were writing with a pen, so be patient enough so that the letters are legible. Decorate with heart-shaped sprinkles "glued on" with dots of the melted white chocolate.

12. Cook together at the table

According to a feature in Smithsonian Magazine, creative projects, such as cooking and baking, inspire positivity and lift your mood. It can also help your relationship, according to a survey highlighted by Fox News. In a survey of 1,000, some 87% believed that cooking together could help make their partnership stronger. The couple that cooks together has a better chance of staying together because of how this activity inspires communication, which is key to a successful relationship. Meanwhile, Daily Mail reveals that there's a real trend for social dining in which diners are involved with the cooking.

Adding a pot to the center of the table and creating dishes while you sit is nothing new in Asia, where sharing dishes is commonplace. Try it for yourself with this easy shabu shabu recipe, which is similar to hot pot. Add veggies and tofu to a soup simmering on the table. Dunk thin slices of raw meat into the broth to quickly cook before dipping them into a spicy sauce. Eat the veggies, soup, and meat with udon noodles. Another great tabletop dish is raclette from Switzerland. However, you do need a special raclette set for this that will cook your meat and veggies on top and grill your cheese. For an easier option, try cheese fondue. Or, if you don't want to be cheesy on Valentine's Day, then you might prefer chocolate fondue.

13. Craft a modern love table setting

If you love the classic Valentine's Day red roses and pink balloons look, then good for you, but you'll also be forgiven if you think they're all a little cliché. After all, if your love feels unique, then you might not want to cherish it in the same way that everyone else does. What really resonates as genuine emotion is when you express a little originality. A fabulous way to do this is by choosing a dish that'll woo and then giving your table decoration a cool look. Add a hip edge to your modern love with a homemade XO table runner, as suggested by Craft Box Girls.

All you need is a piece of fabric for your runner, which will become the centerpiece along your table. Choose whatever color you'd like. Grab a paintbrush that's pointed — so that you can write — and use acrylic paint to mark 'XO' along it. Try copper or gold paint to add a touch of glamor, and just be mindful of protecting surfaces underneath as you paint. TikToker @hipandhumblestyle also created an XO runner made from white wrapping paper and black paint. She then added greenery, folded cloth napkins, tall candlesticks, and even mini chalkboards with Valentine's Day messages for a completed look.

14. Add some umami and boost the senses

While aphrodisiac foods are often desirable, when it comes to taste, everyone is in love with irresistible umami flavors. This savory boost gives dishes a powerfully desirable quality and, once bitten into, you just can't get enough. It adds that special je ne sais quoi to a dish that's perfect for savoring a love that also can't be fully described.

Arousing the senses is the perfect way to bring attention to not only your dinner, but the occasion itself. If you're wondering what types of foods are rich in umami, then big hitters include soy sauce, miso, and truffles. Mushrooms are also rich in umami, as is shellfish, as well as cooked meats (particularly beef). Sounds like the perfect excuse for a date night surf and turf dinner with steak and lobster. Dashi, tomatoes, and MSG are also ingredients that add umami to a dish. This is one culinary idea you can't fail to fall in love with for a Valentine's Day dinner.

15. Have a chocolate treasure hunt for dessert

Some of the best holiday traditions are reserved for children, and we're specifically thinking about trick-or-treating and Easter egg hunts. There is no reason why you can't create your own Easter egg hunt at home, especially under the guise of Valentine's Day. Instead of baking crème brûlée or molten lava cakes for your romantic dinner at home, spend the afternoon hiding little treats around the house. When you've finished dinner, let the scavenger hunt begin. If you want to make sure you both get to enjoy the fun, you and your partner can each pick a room or part of the house to hide the goods. That way, you'll both get to do the hiding and the hunting.

To elevate the proceedings beyond a Valentine's Day version of an Easter egg hunt, you can go all in with crafty romantic clues, riddles, and even maps. The best part about this version of dessert is that it doesn't have to cost a lot. The excitement and fun of searching for treats outweigh the sweets themselves. Get an assortment of your partner's favorite candies and get creative with the clues and hiding places.

16. Have a cooking competition

Competitiveness probably isn't the mood you want to stoke with your partner for Valentine's Day, but impressing and pampering each other definitely is. In this spirit, a cooking competition is the perfect activity. Rather than putting the full burden of the meal on one of you or trying to cook together (a situation almost guaranteed to raise the wrong kind of tension), you can assign different parts of the meal to each person. This allows both of you to showcase your culinary skills without needing to micromanage one another. Maybe one of you can be on dessert and appetizers while the other takes over drinks and the main course.

This arrangement not only incites you to be creative and surprise each other with the results, but it also leads to a playful culmination of scoring each dish. Just make sure your style of judging errs more on the lighthearted, constructive side of "The Great British Baking Show," rather than the fiery, expletive-laden ambience of "Hell's Kitchen."

17. Make Valentine's Day cocktails

If you consume alcohol, you'll know that it's much easier to grab a beer or a fancy bottle of wine than it is to make a cocktail. But when it comes to special occasions, not even Champagne can outshine an exquisite mixed drink. You don't have to be a professional mixologist or even have a history of bartending to whip up a cocktail worthy of Valentine's Day. Depending on your liquor preferences, you can pick a recipe that is quick and straightforward or elaborate and complex.

To keep with the theme, why not make a strawberry and rose cocktail? With a vibrant color and dried rosebuds floating on the surface, it's romantic and refreshing without being too sugary. For something a little sweeter that can double as dessert, try a strawberry and rosé granita. Made with only three ingredients (sugar, rosé wine, and strawberries), it's a frozen drink that tastes just like a spiked popsicle.

If you're looking for a more sophisticated and classic addition to the meal, a martini is the way to go. For one thing, there are many martini variations to pick from, right down to the type of alcohol you use. For coffee and chocolate lovers, you can make an espresso martini. For a bold kick of tropical flavors and a cheeky theme, you can make a porn star martini. When in doubt, however, you can never go wrong with a classic martini, one of the chicest and easiest drinks around.

18. Have a gourmet sandwich night

Whether you're sipping Champagne alongside a bucket of fast-food fried chicken or drizzling truffle oil over popcorn, there is something deliciously rebellious about making unglamorous foods luxurious, especially on Valentine's Day. While restaurants advertise their special, romance-themed menus and grocery stores dedicate whole aisles to heart-shaped candy, going rogue with a gourmet sandwich night is one of the best ways to assert your individuality while still celebrating the occasion in style.

Most of us have a go-to sandwich recipe, but whether you're devoted to peanut butter and jelly or tuna salad, there is plenty of room for an upgrade. First of all, there's the bread. Instead of opting for a regular sandwich loaf, now is the time to branch out into rosemary focaccia, a flour-dusted boule, or maybe even a classic, 26-inch baguette. Then there are the fillings. This is where you should let your imagination lead you. Try a pairing of figs and prosciutto, or go on a whistle-stop tour of the cheese aisle. If you prefer to work from a recipe, go for something fancy and sophisticated, like a croque madame or a Southern tomato sandwich.

To take full advantage of this dinner option, hit up the grocery store with your partner to choose the ingredients together. Rather than being a fancy restaurant meal that you only get to enjoy for an hour or two, gourmet sandwich night can be a creative activity and a decadent meal all in one.

19. Make your own Valentine-themed dessert

If you're staying at home for Valentine's Day dinner, take advantage of the freedom it offers. Sure, you could purchase a beautifully crafted dessert from a local bakery, but if you have the time, there is nothing that can outshine a homemade treat, especially when you have fun with the Valentine's Day theme. It's up to you how simple or time-consuming you want to make it — both can be a success.

For something quick and relatively easy, why not make Valentine's Day fudge? All you need are a few ingredients, 11 minutes of prep time, and a short stint in the fridge, and you'll have a delicious, powder-pink block of mouthwatering fudge for your loved one. Brownies and Rice Krispie treats are quick recipes that can easily be transformed into the holiday theme with the help of some sprinkles and icing. Like fudge, they take hardly any time to make and require little baking prowess. If you have more time on your hands and want to make something that will impress your date, Valentine's Day chocolate raspberry mousse pots are the way to go. Velvety, chocolatey, and beautiful to look at, they will be the showstopping highlight to end your romantic meal.