Dinners You Can Make With 3 Ingredients Or Less

Feeling overextended? Same. I have definitely encountered periods in my life when preparing dinner seems like an all-day-everyday chore that never ends. From thinking about what to make for the week and shopping for groceries to prepping ingredients and actually cooking, the dinnertime song and dance can get the better of you if you let it. Luckily for us busy bees, not all meals require hours at the supermarket searching for tons of ingredients. Believe it or not, there are yummy, tried-and-true recipes out there that use just three ingredients to produce satisfying and nourishing meals you'd gladly add to your supper rotation any day.

The beauty of these simple, streamlined dinners has everything to do with the way they are prepared. While they are delightfully different and delicious, they all manage to spotlight key ingredients, employ easy cooking preparations, and keep flavors uncluttered. Whether you're detoxing and looking to make a light bean salad or starving and could eat an entire dish of cheesy baked pasta, these 10 recipes let you keep the meal prep to a minimum without sacrificing taste. And if you find yourself with more time one day, they are flexible enough that you can easily add more complexity to them along with your personal touches.

Slow cooker teriyaki chicken

This quick and easy recipe from Thrifty Northwestern Mom promises to help you banish your boring chicken blues without breaking a sweat. Lean chicken breasts are pounded thin, placed in your trusty slow cooker, and smothered with Yoshida's original marinade. This hands-off recipe lets you relax while dinner is cooking, which is something of a small miracle in my humble opinion. The meal comes together magically when you serve it with calrose rice alongside to soak up the sauce. Budget-friendly and a cinch to whip up, this deeply flavorful meal tastes like your favorite takeout dish minus the grease.

Easy oven baby back ribs

This savory recipe from Lauren's Latest tastes like you might have slaved over it, but nah. How do oven-baked baby rack ribs sound to you? If you're salivating, read on. While some people are under the impression that ribs for dinner seems like a gigantic hassle for a weeknight, this simple recipe ought to change some minds. The secret to this dish's success is using high-quality ingredients. Get yourself a good rack of pork baby back ribs, rub it down well with your favorite grill seasoning, and baste it with your go-to barbecue sauce. The slow cook time means you'll have plenty of time to catch up on other parts of life while your dinner makes itself. With very little hands-on effort, you'll be rewarded with a finger-licking good meal.

Pizza crescent rolls

This crowd-pleasing weeknight meal from Mommysavers is fun to make and easy to devour. If you love buttery crescent rolls, then I don't need to tell you why turning them into little pizza buns is a brilliant idea. Prepared crescent rolls are topped with zesty pizza sauce and kid-friendly string cheese, then rolled up tightly. The baked results are warm and cheesy like traditional pizza pie, making utensils purely optional. It's hard to go wrong with food that tastes like a cross between a croissant and a pizza — not to mention the bonus points for being portable and handheld. Make these ASAP!

Baked spaghetti

This remarkably satisfying recipe from Kids in the Sink is perfect for busy weeknights. This dish of baked spaghetti takes regular old pasta and transforms it into a substantial casserole that's cozy as can be. With just tomato sauce, cheese, and spaghetti, you're on your way to oven-baked cheesy carb bliss. For this simple staple, I like to use whole wheat spaghetti and mozzarella. On nights when I have more time, I sometimes add herbs or something meaty like beef or sausage. The best part about this three-ingredient recipe is the freedom to make it as is or throw in your own mix of ingredients to enhance the flavors.

Portobello mushroom pizza

This lovely gluten-free vegetarian pizza recipe from Lisa Harris Pantry Blog is an easy go-to when you kind of want pizza for dinner but don't want to fill up on bready carbs. And yes, this describes my mealtime feels at least 30 percent of the time. Big, meaty portobello mushroom caps stand in for the crust. Brilliant! They get topped with pasta sauce and mozzarella, then baked until the cheese is perfectly melty and gooey. This meal tastes like something fancy you might get at a restaurant but it's actually almost embarrassingly easy to make. Try it out for the next Meatless Monday.

Roasted chicken

When in doubt, roast chicken. This recipe from Nerdy Mama represents my core dinner philosophy. I literally roast chicken and vegetables whenever I'm tired and fresh out of ideas. This one-pan meal brings together hearty potatoes, sweet carrots, and chicken for truly dreamy results. Oven-roasting miraculously caramelizes veggies to bring out their natural sweetness and imbues poultry with unbeatable flavor. Like with many of these streamlined recipes, you can use this one as a customizable formula. Swap with whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand for a truly personalized meal.

Frito pie

This indulgent recipe from Chef in Training uses three ingredients and takes less than 25 minutes to whip up. Think of this Frito pie as fancy dorm food to satisfy the inner kid in you. Frito corn chips are topped with pre-made chili and shredded cheese, then baked until the chili is heated through and the cheese is melted. After having made much more complicated versions of Frito pie, I can attest to the pluses of this no-nonsense recipe. With layers of goodness, hearty textures, and endearing shortcuts, it's the ultimate lazy weeknight dinner. Bake up a dish and enjoy while watching your favorite Netflix program.

Kidney bean salad

This lighter recipe from Totally the Bomb is a bit of a mind trick. I can't get over how three pantry ingredients can produce such delectable results. This healthy bean salad brings together protein-rich kidney beans, fragrant onions, and creamy mayo in a dish that manages to please even the pickiest of eaters. With no cooking involved, you can count on spending no more than five minutes on dinner when you pull this recipe out of your back pocket. Feel free to substitute with other types of legumes if kidney beans aren't your jam.

Fried fish

This seafood recipe also comes from Totally the Bomb, which obviously caters to busy folks. Fried fish! Reminiscent of British fish and chips, this dinner is crispy, rich, and lives up to the name of its publisher. Simply coat your favorite type of fish in cornmeal and milk, then fry until crisp and golden. Whether you enjoy it as is or serve it with a dip alongside, the succulent results are undeniable. I love the sheer versatility and ease. For someone like me who insists on eating fish at least once a week, this recipe makes it easy to do that. This meal is perfect for small gatherings, too.

Beef stew

I equate fall and winter with beef stew. If you do, too, then you'll go crazy for this simplified recipe from Nerdy Mama. Three ingredients — prepared mixed veggies, beef, and vegetable juice — turn into warm bowls of meaty stew that's ideal for sopping up with crusty bread or serving over rice. This down-and-dirty version of those slow-cooking stews you love so much hits the spot on cold nights after work. No, you don't feel like wasting money on takeout. Yes, you want to sit down to a hot, homemade dinner that nourishes you from the inside out. Make this stew on all the chilly nights.

With the busy holiday season still ahead and plenty of cooking on the horizon, save yourself some time and energy in between when you turn these three-ingredient meal ideas into dinners that work for you and your family. The whole point is to minimize your stress, so don't be shy about adapting these recipes to suit your preferences. Happy eating!