light dinner ideas

27 Light Dinner Ideas For Meals You Can Whip Up in Minutes

Tired of stuffing yourself with heavy, cheesy dinners? Looking for something light for a change? Or maybe you wish to follow a clean diet and want some healthy meal ideas? You’re in the right place!

On busy weeknights, it can often be challenging to put in the time, effort, and energy to prepare something healthy and light yet delicious and filling. So, here’s a list of some effortlessly appetizing light dinner ideas — from fish and shrimp to chicken and veggies — that you can whip up quickly without compromising on taste.

#1. Honey Garlic Shrimp

If you’re a fan of delicious stir-fry, there’s nothing like preparing Chinese restaurant-worthy meals in your own kitchen. Sweet, spicy, and savory, this Asian honey garlic shrimp recipe featuring red pepper flakes, orange juice, and oodles of flavor is an easy and quick light dinner option that you can put together in under 20 minutes.

#2. Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara

This zucchini spaghetti in delicious marinara sauce is a colorful recipe that’s hearty without making you feel uncomfortably full. Smothered in the goodness of whole tomatoes, dried herbs, and garlic cloves, this zucchini spaghetti recipe is easy to make, tastes great, and is a great low-carb alternative to pasta if you’re on keto.

#3. Chile-Lime Cauliflower Quesadillas

Spicy roasted cauliflower tossed in ultra-flavorful spices with crispy tortillas and chili-lime seasoning come together in this exotic yet effortless dish. If you want to add an extra touch of heat to these vegetarian quesadillas, consider using poblano peppers, and if you want something mild, sweet bell peppers will do the trick.

#4. Easy Tasty Chicken Tinga Tacos

These easy and customizable tacos can be your savior when you have limited ingredients in your pantry. All you need to do is throw all the ingredients — corn, chicken, black beans, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and taco seasoning — in the pot and let them simmer and mingle. That’s it! Serve with tortillas or in rice bowls for a delicious, healthy dinner.

#5. Healthy Taco Salad

What if we tell you healthy can also be super addictive? This healthy taco salad packed with juicy meat, Mexican toppings, low-sodium Southwest spices, and crunchy tortillas is a nutritious and yummy meal that’s light on your tummy. Make your taco night even better by piling the taco fixings onto a bed of crisp romaine lettuce!

#6. Thai Basil Chicken

If you’re looking for a meal that’s super quick, delicious, healthy, light, and filling, this Thai basil chicken fits the bill perfectly. You can whip it up in 15 minutes or less, and it’s a recipe that’s bursting with vibrant colors and authentic Thai flavors. Serve with jasmine rice and top it up with a fried egg.

#7. Salmon Sushi Bowl

Here’s a way to satiate your sushi cravings without having to step out of your house. Easy, delicious, and flavorful, you can put together this no-fuss salmon sushi bowl in just 10 minutes. For best results, use a rice cooker for preparing the rice and pick up sushi-grade salmon from your local Asian market.

#8. Chicken Katsu with Ginger Rice

Tangy Katsu sauce, vibrant ginger, and bok choy mixed with rice and lightly breaded chicken — can you think of better flavors coming together? Packed with layers of spices and textures of pantry staple ingredients, this Asian-inspired dish can be whipped up in minutes and makes for a great weeknight dinner option.

#9. Pesto Eggs

Wildly flavorful and equally healthy, this pesto eggs recipe is easy to whip up and can be great as a last-minute dinner option or an excellent addition to a Sunday brunch buffet. Eggs fried in pesto sauce add a massive flavor boost to this unique recipe. Serve with a slice of crusty toast smeared with generous amounts of goat cheese.

#10. Cajun Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

Time to elevate your taco game with these succulent shrimp tacos paired with the most flavorful and vibrant homemade mango salsa. One of the easiest recipes that can be put together in about 15 minutes, this is a simple and satisfying meal that pairs wonderfully with most meat and vegetarian dishes.

#11. Udon Noodle Soup

Perfect for those busy, cold weeknights when you’re craving a warm broth to soothe your soul, this recipe delivers a fast, flavorful, and cozy meal in a bowl. While the fresh bok choy adds a pop of green note to the soup, the mushrooms add a depth of woody earthiness. This hotpot-style recipe would pair great with a ginger kombucha!

#12. Baked Sockeye Salmon

This is a meal you can put together even if you’re not familiar with cooking sockeye salmon. The recipe offers a moist, flavorful, and buttery meal that you can whip up in minutes using an oven or grill. It goes well with sauteed veggies, cauliflower rice, or mashed potatoes.

#13. Garlic Fiesta Shrimp

Here’s a simple way to spice up your dinner with minimal effort. In this easy Mexican-inspired dish, tangy, spicy salsa forms the base while the succulent shrimps nestled in it soak up the essence of the broth. Serve with flatbread and sprinkle with feta cheese for an added zing.

#14. Ginger Beef, Mushroom, And Kale Stir-Fry

If you’re in search of a filling recipe to appease your takeout cravings without having to deal with added calories, this is it. This recipe uses the magic of four ingredients — shiitake mushrooms, fresh kale, veggie broth, and ground ginger — to make a lip-smacking light dinner. Pair with brown rice or quinoa for an even healthier meal.

#15. Sriracha Shrimp

Spicy, sweet, loaded with vibrant flavors, and doused in delicious sriracha sauce, this recipe is easy to prepare and makes for a fabulous last-minute dinner. There’s nothing like succulent and flavorful shrimp when you’re craving something exotic. This dish pairs well with tacos, ramen, pasta, or rice.

#16. Summer Squash Sauté

Want a delicious meal without having to deal with a pile of dirty dishes? Here’s a one-skillet meal that will rid you of that chore. Light, healthy, and stocked with delicious seasonal veggies like cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash, this summer squash sauté is the perfect meal for busy summer nights.

#17. Couscous Summer Salad

Full of flavor and packed with refreshing, juicy veggies, this couscous summer salad is sunshine in a bowl. Crunchy cucumbers, chickpeas, couscous, cherries, and mint combined with juicy nectarines and creamy avocados form this unforgettable dish that you can make in minutes. Perfect for those not keen on turning on the oven!

#18. Baked Orange Chicken

If you’re trying to cut back on your take-outs, this healthy take on a delicious orange chicken would be a delightful change. This baked orange chicken is savory-sweet, scrumptious, and devoid of the unhealthy calories and added efforts of deep-frying. This meal pairs well with roasted broccoli or fluffy white rice.

#19. Pesto Bruschetta Chicken

A gorgeous meal that resembles summer itself with its vibrant colors, this pesto bruschetta chicken recipe combines the goodness of two summer treats — bruschetta and pesto — in one. A delectable culmination of vine ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, this recipe needs only 10 minutes of prep time, and your delicious dinner is ready to be devoured!

#20. Cauliflower Fried Rice

A low-carb, keto-friendly twist on your usual fried rice takeout, this cauliflower fried rice recipe is easy to prepare from scratch with sautéed grated cauliflower immersed in eggs, soy sauce, veggies, and other aromatic spices. You can put together this light and fluffy meal within minutes in the microwave.

#21. Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup

Whether it’s a cold Sunday night or a lazy weeknight, this deliciously comforting recipe with chicken and rice doused in the most amazing homemade broth makes for a cozy meal. The addition of fresh dill and lemon juice is what sets this recipe apart and makes it shine.

#22. Asparagus and Potato Galette

Packed with hearty, filling ingredients, this asparagus and potato galette has balanced flavors and is loaded with nutritious goodness. Fresh greens like asparagus blend beautifully with potatoes and onions to create a savory meal. It looks elegant and is simple and quick to whip up.

#23. Mushroom Bourguignon

If you’re looking for a hearty, warm winter meal that comes together in just an hour and is light on the stomach, you must try this mushroom bourguignon recipe. Carrots, onions, fresh thyme, and red wine blend seamlessly with meaty mushrooms in this vegetarian spin on the classic French beef stew. Serve with pasta or mashed potatoes for a filling meal.

#24. Katsu Pork Cutlet

Cutlets have served as easy and healthy light dinner options for eons, and this crispy, juicy katsu pork cutlet is a delicious take on the traditional version. These crunchy flatbreads topped with ginger-lime cabbage salad are super quick to make and are bound to be an instant family favorite.

#25. Balsamic Veggie Pasta

Tons of fresh veggies sauteed in a delicious balsamic sauce make up this easy pasta recipe — a welcome savior for those busy worknight dinner meals. This quick and comforting recipe is fully customizable, bursting with flavor, and pairs well with garlic bread and roasted broccoli.

#26. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

This Greek yogurt chicken salad recipe is healthy, filling, flavorful, and is a fantastic light dinner option when you just want something quick and tasty. You can also use this salad as a filling for sandwiches or just pile it on top of some toasted whole-grain bread for an easy meal.

#27. Ribbony Shrimp and Pasta Scampi

Ribbons of squash mixed with swirls of whole wheat spaghetti and medium-sized shrimps — this is a delicious dish that’s full of flavor and low in calories. You can also easily customize it for vegetarians by omitting the shrimp and doubling the tomatoes. A squeeze of fresh lemon and a sprinkle of hot pepper and fresh chives on top would be perfect.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.