Fifteen-minute dinners from the pantry. Shakshuka and ragú you can make ahead to take the angst out of having friends over. Shortcut recipes filled with things you don’t have to do, like babysit beans, slow-scramble eggs, peel squash, or knead bread dough.
These are the sorts of Genius recipes that welcome beginners and soothe busy cooks. Below are 52 essentials, broken down by needs from speedy workday breakfasts to no-special-equipment desserts (there are loads more like them in the Simply Genius cookbook, with extra riffs, how-to photos and illustrations, and tips for fixing the oopses). Share with graduates, newlyweds, weary new parents, and all those in your life who could benefit from such magical intel—then tuck them into your back pocket, too.
This one goes out to anyone who’s ever told you custardy scrambled eggs have to be slow-stirred for at least 15 minutes. Try 15 seconds. Food52 Resident Mandy Lee adds a little potato starch to the mix to ensure “speed, and creaminess, all together,” as she writes.
Fried eggs without a flip, and as many flavor possibilities as you have spices in your pantry or random herbs in your fridge.
Samantha Seneviratne teaches us that any oatmeal will cook down quicker and creamier in a nonstick skillet—and not leave a sticky pot soaking in the sink. But this is the variation you might not be able to quit. (Don’t miss the comments section.)
This revolutionary granola from Jenné Claiborne bakes in 15 minutes, with only one stir. Here’s a clue: You’ll see no oil in the ingredients—only tahini.
You’re just going to have to trust us on this one. Bananas and avocado? Shockingly perfect together. And no, with the lime, honey, and chile flakes, you really won’t need salt.
Many will tell you the fluffiest pancakes come from separating eggs, whipping the whites
into a foamy cloud, and folding them gently into the batter. But a) this is a lot to take on at 8:00 a.m. and b) the batter often starts tall and proud but, by the end of a big batch, deflates like a melted milkshake. Great news: This recipe requires only stirring in the egg whites at the end. The cakes are just as fluffy as if you’d whipped them (I checked).
“Instead of cooking the eggs quickly in a hot oven,” Andrew Feinberg says, “I cook them slowly in a low oven and the result is a very custardy and creamy texture that traditional frittata do not have.” It’s confusing that we didn’t think of this before.
One way to stop feeling anxious about poaching eggs? Don’t! In the shakshuka of Sami Tamimi’s childhood in Palestine, the eggs were gently scrambled right into the sauce. Cooked this way, they resist overcooking and practically shout when they’re done.
These scones have all the comforts of banana bread, with more crunchy edges and fluffy, chocolate-pocketed middles. Plus, since they bake fast and don’t need to cool long, they’re ready in about half the time.
You can make these featherlight waffles the moment you want them, unlike the overnight yeasted kind. Your insurance against runaway gluten and tough, chewy waffles: a little cornstarch in the batter.
Smart meal-preppers keep these soy sauce-marinated eggs—a riff on the Japanese ramen shop staple ajitsuke tamago—in their fridge for sturdier, more savory rice and noodle bowls, sandwiches, salads, and snacks.
That sack of dried beans in your cupboard you just keep…not cooking? This well-behaved oven technique, based on a Tuscan tradition, will essentially do it for you (and make them especially creamy and flavorful). This method works even without soaking your beans; it may just take a bit longer.
Tender, rotisserie-like meat, with the crispiest skin imaginable—thanks to one of the wilder Genius tricks we’ve seen. It’s very hard to overcook and very easy to carve, eliminating the most stressful parts of roasting a chicken.
With a big batch of cooked farro or other whole grain on hand, you don’t need to eat the same hefty grain salad every day. Instead, sprinkle just enough of the grains to add texture to other salads and sides that tip the proportions toward vegetables of all kinds.
Getting started making your own bread doesn’t sound so off-limits when you’re told not to knead, but to simply fold—right?
In traditional cacio e pepe, dry, grated pecorino Romano and starchy pasta water notoriously don’t gravitate toward one another easily. But a swirl of miso, butter, and chicken stock do—effortlessly—and make a very fine impression on the real deal.
You’ll first notice the vibrant color of this soup, which looks a lot like green juice, if green juice was allowed to keep its structural integrity. But the color doesn’t let on that it cooks nearly instantly, with no flour or potatoes to bulk it up (only tahini).
One of the most famous burger-making myths: Never smash the patties down or the juices will run free and they’ll turn dry and tough. But! Smash your burger to maximize crisping while the meat and fat are still cold, and there won’t be any juices (yet) to lose.
The barest ingredients create maximal comfort in this soupy stew—quickly, and with all water, no stock necessary. The keys are plenty of olive oil, well-caramelized tomato paste, and garlic toasted until it’s browned and nutty.
With all the ease of cracking open a box and shaking out the foil packet, in 15 minutes you can instead have a gooey cheddar sauce that tastes like real, sharp, molten cheese.
Once you’ve prepped a handful of ingredients, this recipe will be done in under 10 minutes, the kitchen will stay cool, and dinner will be delicious—thanks to some of Grace Young’s surprising stir-fry tricks.
Mayo, yes, mayo, is the secret to tastier, faster, less-likely-to-burn grilled cheese sandwiches. It won’t char or stick to the pan, and it crisps up more evenly too.
At Night + Market, chef Kris Yenbamroong’s pad Thai uses ingredients you’d find at most supermarkets—not because it’s easier, but because that’s how his grandma Vilai has always done it and it’s how he wants pad Thai to taste.
Louisiana barbecued shrimp isn’t actually barbecued, but it is a magical sort of dish that’s both deeply flavorful and lightning-quick to cook, once you’ve spent a few minutes revving at the spice drawer.
This is the most famous tomato sauce on the internet (and probably the most famous before the internet, too). You won’t need to chop or sauté a thing; you only need tomatoes, an onion split in half, and butter.
All the joys of Korean fried chicken—without the frying (or the chicken). Memorize Eric Kim’s sweet-spicy yangnyeom sauce and you won’t want to stop at chickpeas.
This salad’s brilliance starts with a dressing that’s also a marinade (that you don’t have to leave to marinate, or even wipe off before searing), and incorporates a slew of other tricks that will redefine what you look for in Caesar salad.
Slow-roasting makes for tender, not-the-least-bit-dry fish that happens to be hard to overcook. And slow-roasting is a misnomer; your dinner will usually be done in 15 minutes.
This is the most flavorful, joyfully textured sheet-pan dinner, thanks to heavy-hitting ingredients, paired brilliantly by Hetty McKinnon. Packaged gnocchi make up the crisp-chewy base, a spoonful of chili crisp knocks out the seasoning, and scallion sour cream cools and brightens it all.
Coconut water makes a surprisingly apt substitute for rich bone broths (that happen to be vegan). This swap will quickly give a backbone to any soup or stew, but this ABC soup—the Malaysian version of a classic, simple chicken soup—is a great place to start.
The secret to the crispiest chicken thighs? Leave the chicken alone, skin-side down, in an only modestly hot pan, flipping once. The skin renders and becomes impossibly crisp, and will sate even your most intense fried chicken cravings.
Why cube and tediously brown hunks of meat for a braise when the goal is for it to fall to smithereens by the end? Andy Ward and Jenny Rosenstrach call this the “Instant Dinner Party” because you can make the ragu entirely ahead, but your time spent actively cooking is nearly instant, too.
This recipe proves that you can make excellent hummus at home in much (much) less time than it would take to go buy a tub at the store.
Shishito peppers can be pricey and tricky to find, especially when they’re not in season. This clever, swift-cooking stand-in—the humble green bell pepper—is neither, and will quickly become your new go-to quick green side.
These crackly, molten dates are just about the easiest party snack you can muster from the pantry, and a very good match for a bubbly drink.
If you boil baby potatoes in a wide, shallow pan in a single layer, with no lid and a lot of sea salt, you’ll find yourself with a head-turning new appetizer.
Roberto Santibañez crushes only enough of the avocado to render it dippable, but leaves the rest intact, bathing it in a vividly flavored chile sauce. This guacamole will make you both an absolute guacamole snob and a very popular host.
Here’s the easiest way to peel and cube a butternut squash: Don’t peel and cube a butternut squash. Yotam Ottolenghi never does—he just slices them in rugged hunks and positions their skins to blister against the hot pan.
A surprisingly simple technique (steam, then roast, all in one pan) makes sweet potatoes the best version of themselves.
The key to the finest roasted potatoes? Boiling in salty water first seasons the potatoes all the way through and brings some of the potatoes’ gelatinized starches to the surface, so they get even crispier in the oven.
Even though it was one of only two seemingly non-negotiable ingredients, coconut milk was always gumming up Andrea Nguyen’s coconut rice, so she ditched it. To the rescue: coconut water, plus a couple spoonfuls of virgin coconut oil to bring back richness without all the heft.
Adam Roberts once called this “The Best Broccoli of Your Life” and promised that at least one person liked it more than steak. He wasn’t wrong.
This is the summer side you can make whenever you have 15 minutes, then completely forget about. With the zucchini first seared and relaxed, the marinade seeps in more quickly and thoroughly than had things gone the other way.
Unless you’re approaching the proportions used for pickles, brine is just a contained burst of acid, salt, and mulled spices and seasonings that together work magic in the background (here, on mushrooms).
Austere as this salad might seem, it has a trick that will make you better at making salads: Infuse the vinegar with chopped red onion for an hour, then quietly remove it. The dressing is left with a richer, more complex flavor, and will taste downright expensive.
How to make good on even rock-hard peaches, with just a shake of sugar and salt to gloss them up, plus some brightening olive oil, fresh mint, and black pepper.
Unlike in the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag, Tara O’Brady pulls butter straight from the fridge and melts it for a denser, chewy-crispy cookie (that happens to be easier to make the moment you want one, without an electric mixer).
This yogurt cake is so simple, in France it’s typically measured by scooping up flour, sugar, and oil right in the yogurt container. Pinching the citrus zest and herbs into the sugar is a Genius trick to send good smells floating through your batter, your kitchen, and, ultimately, your cake.
Despite their hunky, granola-like ingredient list and simplest-possible technique, these crumbly bars have the lightness of a fine, sandy shortbread cookie. Any combination of jams and nuts will work, and give this delicate granola bar-ish template new character.
This recipe from Dori Sanders only asks you to juice, zest, and stir. The lemon juice naturally thickens the cream, and you get a smooth, scoopable sweet-tart ice cream—no ice cream maker needed.
This incidentally vegan cookie can rest entirely on its own soft, chewy, caramelly-crisp, chocolate-puddled merits. As a bonus, there are no wacky ingredient substitutes here, only omissions.
This sweet-salty twist on a classic North Carolina lemon pie is as lazy and beachy as summer should be, thanks to a crust of buttery crushed Saltine crackers and a scattering of flaky salt on top.