Easy 3-Ingredient Recipes You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

We've all been there: it's been a long day, we're home already, and we just want something tasty without the work, effort, or the need to run to the store for some ingredients. Don't worry! We've got you covered.

Whether you're looking for something sweet to satisfy some late-night cravings or something different (but still easy) to complete dinner, we've got exactly what you're looking for. And yes, every one of the recipes we're going to talk about here takes just three ingredients.

Even better? We're not even talking about strange or trendy ingredients you'll have to go out of your way to get, and most of the time, you'll find you have everything you need right in your kitchen cupboard or pantry. That's the furthest you'll need to walk to get everything you need, and there's absolutely no need to trade your slippers for shoes or your PJs for outside clothes. Total win, right?

3-ingredient cherry/berry cobbler

The perfect meal calls for the perfect dessert, and let's be honest: sometimes, we just want the perfect dessert as the meal.  Baking is complicated, and given that it's more of a science than other types of cooking, it can be a bit up-in-the-air as to what you're going to get when your creation comes out of the oven. What if we told you that we have a recipe for a delicious dessert that is nearly foolproof? If it sounds too good to be true, don't worry — it's absolutely real.

Basically, all you're going to need to throw together a quick fruit cobbler is a craving for a fruit-filled dessert, a few simple ingredients, and a boxed cake mix. And everyone has a boxed cake mix in their house ... even if you don't remember ever buying one, which is weird.

Seriously, that's it! If you're thinking about that can of cherry pie filling that's taking up space in the cabinet, then check out the full instructions for this 3-ingredient cherry cobbler. Got a bag of frozen mixed berries sitting in the freezer? Try making 3-ingredient berry cobbler.

Not only is it easy, but you can definitely mix-and-match. Chocolate cake and cherry pie filling? Blueberry filling and a white cake? Strawberries and yellow cake? Once you try it, you might just find yourself stocking up on these three simple ingredients.

3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake

The arrival of pumpkin spiced everything is one of the first signs that autumn has arrived, and honestly, it's easy to get burned out on pumpkin pretty quickly ... you might think. We have a recipe for a 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake that just might change your mind.

As you might expect, the three ingredients are just that: marshmallow, pumpkin, and cake. There's a bit more to it — but, we promise, only a bit — so check out the full 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe.

And even if you heaved a heavy sigh of resignation when you saw "pumpkin," you definitely should check this out. The frosting is not your typical old buttercream, and it's this creative topping that gives this moist, delicious dessert a completely unique, ooey-gooey topping that every marshmallow fan will go nuts for.

Plus, there's another bonus: with a prep time of just five minutes and a cook time of 30 minutes, it's great for those last-minute occasions when you want to impress in a hurry. Looking for something different to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, or any autumn gathering? This is your cake.

3-ingredient pumpkin hummus

Hummus has been around for a long time. According to the BBC, this spread made traditionally from chickpeas has a lot of countries — from Lebanon to Syria to Turkey — wanting to claim it for their own. It was first mentioned in 13th-century Arabic cookbooks, and since then, it's become less of a tried-and-true recipe and more of an idea.

And an incredibly versatile idea, at that. Chocolate hummus might make you question all that you hold dear, but we have a super easy, 3-ingredient hummus that you're guaranteed to love — especially if you're a fan of pumpkin spice. 

We're talking about 3-ingredient pumpkin hummus, of course, and here's why this one's simply brilliant. Since one of the ingredients is your standard chickpea hummus, the base is already done for you — and anything that makes less work in the kitchen is a good thing. Plus, this is a great way to use up any extra pumpkin you might have leftover from a pie or other project. Easy? Healthy? Delicious? Check, check, and check.

3-ingredient apple cake

There's no denying the fact that apple pie is delicious, and how many times have you had the craving strike when you see that can of apple pie filling on the shelf at the grocery store? If the answer is "a lot," we're right there with you.

But here's the thing — apple pie is a pain. Even if you're using pre-made crust, getting it to look right is a chore, and there's times when frustration takes away from all the joy. If any of that sounds familiar, we have such a solution for you: apple cake. 

It's super easy: since a boxed cake mix already has (almost) everything you need for the cake part and apple pie filling already has all the spices, there's just one more thing you'll need. This 3-ingredient apple cake recipe has all the details on how it comes together (and some delicious serving suggestions), along with some tips on how to make sure it comes perfect. Afternoon book club meetings and evening game nights will never be the same when you're serving up this super-easy, super-delicious dessert!

3-ingredient Crock Pot pork chops

There's basically two types of kitchens: there's the perfect (and expensively furnished) kitchens you see on television, and then there's real-life kitchens. Real-life kitchens have an inevitable bit of chaos thrown into the mix, and when it comes time to decide what's for dinner, there's plenty of times our busy schedules just won't allow for a few hours standing around the stove.

Enter: the slow cooker and the Instant Pot. These brilliant devices do all the work for you, letting you juggle your many commitments and still put a home-cooked meal on the table. If you're looking for something hot, hearty, delicious, and easy, check out our 3-ingredient Crock Pot pork chops, which come complete with a secret ingredient you may never have thought to use with pork chops before.

You might just find that even if you have the time to cook, you're going to opt for throwing these tricky cuts of meat into the Crock Pot and using your time elsewhere. Pork chops are tough to get right: they can often turn out dry and tough, but follow these instructions and you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised by how moist and tender they are.

3-ingredient Nutella brownies/chocolate cake

There's something heavenly about the combination of hazelnut and chocolate, and it's what makes Nutella just so darn good. Anyone who keeps a jar of it around in case of emergencies (like a particularly bad day at work, or a sweet tooth in desperate need of satisfying) knows how important it is to keep their Nutella spoon washed and ready to go. (Doesn't everyone have a designated Nutella spoon? Just us?)

If the idea of a Nutella spoon sounds pretty brilliant, then you'll need to give our super-easy, 3-ingredient Nutella desserts a try. Did you know you can whip up a delicious Nutella cake with just three ingredients? No? Well, you absolutely can and it's super easy.

And the news just gets better: Nutella is actually one of the key ingredients in our 3-ingredient brownies, too! It works in large part because Nutella has so much sugar, allowing it to fill in for a few different ingredients that go into making most ooey, gooey brownies. Add in that kick of hazelnut and you'll find you've got a new go-to dessert the whole family loves.

3-ingredient banana bread

Banana bread is as close to magic as we've ever seen in this cynical world of ours. You're essentially taking overripe, mushy, and texturally questionable bananas and turning them into a deliciously sweet (but not too sweet) bread that's versatile enough to be anything from breakfast in the morning to a snack in the evening. If that's not magic, we don't know what is.

There's a ton of banana bread recipes out there, and unfortunately, many contain either a ton of sugar, or use a boxed cake mix. That's fine, but that's just pretty much making banana cake, isn't it? And we're talking about banana bread here — not cake.

Fortunately, we've perfected a simple, 3-ingredient banana bread that actually comes out looking and tasting like bread! Baking can be tricky, after all, but this delicious recipe is proof that it doesn't always have to be difficult.

3-ingredient pancakes

Who doesn't love pancakes for breakfast? A lazy Sunday morning spent whipping up a whole batch is one of the best things about the weekend, right? Anyone who's ever made them knows that for something that looks so easy, there's a surprising amount of recipes out there. Then, if you're looking for something with only a handful of ingredients, you're likely to find recipes that call for bananas. That's ... acceptable, sometimes, but it's not really a pancake in the traditional sense of a pancake. It's more ... like hot bananas.

That's where our 3-ingredient pancake recipe comes in, and spoiler alert: one of those ingredients is not a banana. (Though you could always add some if you like).

While this is the perfect recipe for dressing up with a few extra ingredients, the good news is that once you make our recipe, you'll have a base of fluffy, light, delicious pancakes. They're perfect for a standard (yet delectably classic) maple syrup, a sprinkling of fresh fruit, chocolate chips, or both.

3-ingredient biscuits

There's an almost unlimited number of dinners that are only made better by the addition of some warm biscuits right out of the oven. It turns soup into an entire meal, and makes everything else better: from chili to steak, from beef stew to grilled salmon, from an omelet to our 3-ingredient Crock Pot pork chops, it's all better with a biscuit on the side.

But, biscuits seem like one of those things that seem like a lot of work. They're hard to mix, there's the rolling and the cutting, and then there's just watching through the oven door hoping that they rise like you want them to. Here's the good news: we've simplified the whole thing with our 3-ingredient biscuits.

If you're skimming through this to keep an eye out for what you'll need to pick up at the grocery store, here's a tip. One of these ingredients is buttermilk, but there's a wide range of substitutes — just in case you don't have buttermilk handy, and who does? It inevitably goes bad before you can use it, and wasting food isn't cool. Here's the solution: pick up a box of shelf-stable, powdered buttermilk to add to your pantry, and your problem is solved.

3-ingredient steak marinade

Cooking steak in a way that's going to make everyone happy is a tricky thing. There's a ton of advice out there, and when it comes to applying it in a very practical way... well, it's complicated. In the real world, it's unlikely that your entire family can even agree on the degree of doneness they want their steak cooked to.

One thing you might want to consider is a marinade, especially if you're using a cut of meat that's a bit tougher than you'd really like. A marinade will help make the final product not so jaw-breaking, and it'll also add a kick of flavor — one that might be needed for even a mid-range steak. 

Dive into the world of steak marinades, and it's almost overwhelming. Don't worry, we're here to help with a simple, 3-ingredient marinade made with just the right combinations of salt, fat, and acid. This won't overpower the taste of the steak like some other marinades will, and it'll still let the meat be the star of the show while giving it just a little extra helping hand. Try it once, and it might just be your new go-to.

3-ingredient stir fry sauce

The craving is undeniable: when it hits, you've just got to order yourself some takeout from the local Chinese restaurant. We've all been there — we've all ordered way too much, then done the walk of shame back out to the car while carrying a few massively heavy bags and trying out a facial expression that says, "No, really — I've got a dozen people waiting at home for me, and it definitely isn't just me and the cat." 

If you want to avoid the hefty takeout bill, the inevitable feeling that you ate way too much, and the knowing expressions from other customers who look at you like, "Sure you do ... my cat's name is Mr. Fluffykins, what's yours?", then you should absolutely try your hand at making stir fry at home. 

In addition to all the basic stir fry components — like rice or noodles and your choice of meat — the important thing is the sauce. That can either fulfill your craving for a Chinese meal or leave you sorely underwhelmed — and fortunately, we've got the perfect, 3-ingredient stir fry sauce that will work like a charm no matter what else you're using. You're welcome!

3-ingredient peppermint bark

It doesn't matter if it's actually the holiday season or if you just wish it was, peppermint is as reminiscent of snow, Santa, and carols as pumpkin is of autumn leaves. Who doesn't love peppermint? A Scrooge, that's who!

One of the best things about the holidays is the food, and that pretty much goes for any holiday. Let's say you're looking for a little bit of wintertime flavor in mid-summer, or — if it actually is December — you're looking for something quick and easy to hand out to the neighbors as a tasty treat. Skip spending days making cookies (they already have plenty, anyway), and do something different: 3-ingredient peppermint bark.

This stuff is so good that even if they suspect you were taking the easy way out, they just won't care. With just three ingredients, you'll have a sweet treat that's as gorgeous as it is easy. It's the sort of thing that anyone will want to leave out on the counter or in a candy dish to add a little festive cheer to the table, but there is a down side: it won't be long before it's all eaten.

3-ingredient vanilla cake

Crud! It's your neighbor's birthday, and you forgot. Or, maybe you promised to make something for the bake sale, or to take in to work for an office party. It's last-minute, the stores are closed, and you're in a bind.

We've got you covered with this super simple, 3-ingredient cake recipe, and there's a few awesome things about it (besides the fact that it's just three ingredients). For starters, you can absolutely make a cake out of it, but if you need cupcakes for, say, a kindergarten birthday party you forgot about, you can definitely do that, too. And it's super versatile: the 3-ingredient vanilla cake ingredients will allow you to mix-and-match flavors as you see fit, and the only thing better than an easy recipe is an easy recipe that you can adjust to any particular flavor profile and occasion. 

And stick with us here, because spoiler alert: this contains ice cream. That's right, the dessert you're going to bake in the oven is made with something you always keep in the freezer, but somehow it all works.

3-ingredient apple cobbler

Apples are one of those rare fruits that somehow seem to multiply in the fridge of their own accord. You go grocery shopping, pick up half a dozen, eat three, and somehow, you still have six in the fridge. If it seems like there's always a few stray apples kicking around your fridge, we have a delicious solution for that.

It's our 3-ingredient apple cobbler, and not only will it use up all those stray apples, but it's so good you might just find yourself buying more apples than usual. Pro tip: the sweeter or more tart the apples you choose are, the better the cobbler will turn out. Also, go with the crispy varieties — trust us.

The old saying does suggest that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and since it doesn't specify what form those apples should be in, we're all for eating ours in cobbler form. Here's the thing: being an adult comes with a lot of stress and responsibilities that none of us signed up for. So, the least we can do is get our apple-a-day in the form of dessert.

3-ingredient Alfredo sauce

The best part of Alfredo is the sauce, right? It's not just for pasta, it's also pretty perfect if you're looking for a fun way to dress up something like chicken breasts, or to drizzle over a serving of vegetables to mix it up a bit. You can pour and serve, you can pour and bake ... and you can even save some of the leftovers for lunch, alongside some of that extra garlic bread you just happened to make, too. (Funny, how there always ends up being extra garlic bread made, isn't it?)

Hey, no one said there were rules for lunch! 

There's no need to stock up on cans, either — we've come up with a 3-ingredient Alfredo sauce that isn't just made from scratch with none of the question, semi-pronounceable ingredients you'll find listed on the back of the jarred stuff, but it takes just five minutes to make. Yep — five minutes. It takes longer than that to open the jar sometimes.