20 Easy Date Night Recipes for a Fancy Dinner at Home

Cooking date night recipes


shudder when I remember the first night I cooked for my boyfriend. I had to stay at work longer than expected to wrap up an urgent project and then rushed to the grocery store to get ingredients for easy late-date recipes that didn’t exist yet.

It was one of those weeks where I had fully committed and forgotten that I had invited him (and a friend of his I had never met) to dinner. If he had known then that his love language was tacos, he would have grabbed something easy on the way home and played it safe. No. Instead, this occasion seemed to be the time to grab an ambiguous whitefish from the market that I had never made before and just go for it.

Now we laughed the time we all sat around the table and picked up a piece of tasteless fish that was definitely undercooked. We ended up turning to leftover wine and pasta, and while I didn’t impress anyone, I’ll always remember that night as one of the first times we really connected. Food aside, the real purpose of cooking with the people we care about is to connect with each other and create memories.

After my failed test, I’ve landed on the perfect criteria for a great date night recipe. With many of us celebrating Valentine’s Day at home this year, the last thing we all need is a complicated recipe (or lack thereof) to distract us from having a good time. Date date recipes should be relatively easy, fun, and feel like a step ahead of your regular weeknight rotation.

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best easy date night recipes that feel stylish but allow you to have fun in the kitchen without breaking a sweat. From Bolognese to lamb chops, spice things up with one of these easy date night recipes that feel special and taste delicious.

Bottle of braised wine Brisket by The Defined Dish

Why we love it: One of my friends called this dish “the best meal she’s ever had.” She recommends serving it over this creamy mushroom risotto for an elegant, indulgent dinner you won’t believe you made yourself.

Hero ingredient: There is nothing more comforting than a Dutch oven sitting on the stove, impregnating the air with the delicious aroma of braised meat. In this recipe, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves amplify that irresistible smell that will make you count the minutes until dinner.

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Vegetarian Bolognese Pasta

Why we love it: One of Camille’s favorites, she likens this pasta to “a hug wrapped around every turn of your fork.” Plus, the fact that it’s a pantry staple that can be easily reinvented with sauces, herbs, vegetables, and cheeses makes it perfect for a date night at home.

Hero Ingredient: Nutrient-packed mushrooms absorb all the rich flavors of this vegetarian Bolognese sauce for the perfect flavor nugget in every bite.

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Ginger Chicken Pho by Half-Baked Harvest

Why we love it: A date night dinner should be comforting and relatively easy to cook so you can focus on having a good time with your partner. Plus, the last thing we all need is something else to stress about, right? This easy pho is packed with colorful and healthy ingredients that are as fun to organize as they are to enjoy.

Hero ingredient: Ginger, garlic and herbs are the star ingredients of this pho with star anise, cinnamon and chilies that give life to the steaming broth. It’s all the flavor you expect from a broth of a day in 30 minutes… Need we say more?

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Seamus Mullen Lamb Dumplings in Tomato Sauce with Fresh Ricotta

Why We Love It: We trust any recipe from Chef Seamus Mullen. These lamb dumplings in tomato sauce won’t disappoint, especially when paired with whole roasted cauliflower or this tasty radish, fennel, and grapefruit salad.

Hero Ingredient: This recipe is so perfectly assembled that it’s hard to determine exactly what makes it great. But, if we had to choose a hero ingredient, it would have to be ricotta. Fresh, creamy and refreshing, ricotta is the delicacy that elevates this dish to the maximum.

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Parmesan Chicken by What’s Gaby Cooking

Why we love it: Making anything breaded isn’t a solo endeavor, and it’s done best as a team. Serve this tasty and crispy fried chicken over a bowl of pasta for a classic Italian feast.

Hero Ingredient: If you have time, making your own tomato sauce is an option, but so is using your favorite store-bought sauce! Either way, this Parmesan chicken is a real winner.

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Creamy dairy-free pumpkin pasta with bacon and crispy sage

Why we love it: Nothing says special occasion like a creamy, indulgent pasta, but bonus points for when it’s really healthy. This dish is a healthier version of adult macaroni and cheese, with a decadently dairy-free sauce on soft angel hair noodles.

Hero ingredient: The sage leaves fried in this paste are as aromatic as they are delicious.

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Lobster Ravioli

from The Defined Dish

Why We Love It: Whether it’s a starter or the main course, these lobster ravioli are bound to steal the show. Believe it or not, it comes together in less than 40 minutes and is surprisingly simple.

Hero ingredient: A pinch of saffron brings an earthy, floral flavor to these ravioli that you won’t want to miss.

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Halibut Bread Leaf with Italian Green Sauce and Asparagus by The Defined Dish

Why we love it: If you’re looking for something lighter, a flaky white fish never disappoints. This bread halibut leaf and Italian green sauce are a combination made in heaven and come together with minimal effort.

Hero Ingredient: This green sauce is essentially an Italian chimichurri sauce with flavors of parsley, garlic and anchovies. Do more to use in your morning eggs, grilled chicken or roasted vegetables, you won’t regret it.

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Brown butter scallops with parmesan risotto by Pinch of Yum

Why we love it: While risotto may require extra attention, this recipe is worth it. Also, more time for you to drink your wine and chat while slowly stirring this creamy treat. When you add these scorched scallops at the end, you have a restaurant-worthy dish that’s perfect for a cozy evening.

Hero Ingredient: This stunning evening dish gets a lot of love from the drizzle of brown butter that tops it. He is rich, mad and absolutely divine.

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Dates stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in bacon with honey from Half-Baked Harvest

Why we love it: This is one of my favorite appetizers for any special occasion. These bacon-wrapped dates are crunchy, sweet, decadent and only to die for. They’re a fun start to putting together, cooking, and enjoying together while dinner is still in process.

Hero ingredient: Two words: rosemary honey. The sweet, spicy and herbaceous goodness that heads each of these dates is the perfect appetizer for any evening dinner.

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Fried Steak with Tarragon Alioli from The Defined Dish

Why we love it: You can sign me up for any date involving French fries. This homemade, healthy take on a classic measures chips at any favorite French restaurant.

Hero ingredient: I’ve always been pro-aioli when it comes to potato chips and this one is made even better with tarragon. It’s the dipping sauce you’ll come to crave.

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Pumpkin pizza with arugula and almond ricotta

Why we love it: Pizza is a celebratory food, plain and simple. There’s something about good pizza that brings people together. This pumpkin pizza is tasty and sweet and earns bonus points for being gluten and dairy free.

Hero Ingredient: A splash of balsamic icing is the spicy topping that perfectly finishes this pizza. It’s sweet, salty and overall delicious… and a must-see for your next date night.

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Vegetable Lasagna from What’s Gaby Cooking

Why we love it: Lasagna is truly the best comfort food, and this recipe nails the vegetarian version. It takes a while to cook, so enjoy some wine and snacks while soaking up the delicious aroma that will fill your home while baking in the oven.

Hero Ingredient: Basil vinaigrette cuts the sticky layers of cheese and marinara sauce for a taste of freshness in every bite. Duplicate this batch to use on toast, pasta, salads, or anything that can use a little lift.

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Chicken tacos with lime and lime with jicama, avocado and mint by Camille Styles

Why we love it: There’s nothing more relaxed and fun than taco night in my opinion. Camille says these lime chicken tacos might be her last meal, they’re that good. Especially when combined with a homemade margarita.

Hero ingredient: It seems that almost anything can be improved with the right aioli, which is definitely the case with these tacos. The chipotle aioli with lime and lime takes these tacos from incredible to practically unbeatable. They are essential.

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Easy pan-fried lamb chops with mint chimichurri from The Defined Dish

Why we love it: Lamb chops are a great dish for special occasions. Even though they can be a bit wasteful at the grocery store, cooking them is pretty foolproof. This dish is prepared quickly and you will want to put this mint chimichurri sauce in everything, trust me.

Hero ingredient: This mint chimichurri is no joke. It’s fresh, sharp and easy to assemble for the perfect companion to these lamb chops. Sprinkle some on these Greek potatoes for a simple but elegant date evening dinner.

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Rigatoni with Brussels sprouts and kale pesto

Why we love it: This pasta is just good. So good, in fact, that Camille says the first time she did it, she was “so impressed by the perfection of the dish, there were just no words.” It’s perfectly balanced, comforting and tasty for date night and will leave you wanting leftovers.

Hero Ingredient: The roasted nuts in this fainting-worthy paste bring an unexpected but appreciated crunch that officially earned it a spot in my recipe rotation. Sprinkle generously and enjoy!

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Sweet and spicy

braised ribs

Why we love it: These short braised ribs are the perfect low-effort, high-reward main course that is paired with minimal hands-on time. Serve them with this mashed cauliflower potatoes for a simple and tasty meal that you will thank us later.

Hero Ingredient: Chimichurri sauce cuts the richness of these ribs to make a really well-balanced flavor profile. And, it seeps into any creamy counterpart you choose to serve under the ribs, which is always a plus.

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Glazed pork tenderloin with orange and chili with carrot pesto and grilled carrots

Why we love it: This recipe takes you outside to the grill, which is never bad in my opinion. Sipping a cold cocktail or a cold rosé while the smell of grilled food fills the air? It sounds like a pretty ideal date night for me.

Hero Ingredient: Sweet and spicy grilled carrot pesto may sound strange, but one bite will conquer you, trust me


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Pistachio crust halibut with broccolini

Why we love it: Once again, halibut shines like a light, flaky fish that goes well with just about anything.

In this case, it is covered with walnut pistachios and baked to perfection


Hero ingredient: Roasted broccolini is the best companion to buttery fish and ushers in a fresh-tasting world


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Coconut curry with sweet potato, lemongrass

and chicken

Why we love it: There’s nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of curry perfectly seasoned with tender sweet potatoes and chicken. This bowl of goodness ticks all the boxes to make it simple, easy to make, and delicious.

Hero Ingredient: A generous dose of fresh herbs and lemon juice simply make this dish. The fresh, grassy flavor with a little lime makes this dish worthy of any date night. Use a heavy hand with these edible accessories and enjoy!

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What’s your favorite date night recipe? Share the link with us below!

This post was originally published on February 12, 2021 and has since been updated.

Canzaciti.com Culinary specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the restaurant industry.

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