48 Quick Dinners for Surprise Guests

Got an impromptu guest? Have no fear! Cook them up one of these easy company dinners that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

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Tortellini Carbonara

Bacon, cream and Parmesan cheese make a classic pasta sauce that’s absolutely heavenly. It’s a delightful option for company! —Cathy Croyle, Davidsville, Pennsylvania

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Pork Chops with Parmesan Sauce

Tender skillet chops make a speedy weeknight meal. These ones are finished with a creamy and flavorful Parmesan sauce. Here’s a new family favorite! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Creamy Dill Sauce for Salmon

There's nothing like fresh salmon, and my mom bakes it just right so it nearly melts in your mouth. Plus, the sour cream dill sauce is subtly seasoned with horseradish so that it doesn't overpower the delicate salmon flavor. —Susan Emery, Everett, Washington
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Beef and Mushrooms with Smashed Potatoes

I was inspired to make this recipe after I couldn't stop thinking of a similar dish served in my elementary school cafeteria more than 50 years ago! I like that it's quick to make, and my husband and grandchildren love it. —Ronna Farley, Rockville, Maryland
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Cauliflower & Tofu Curry

Cauliflower, garbanzo beans and tofu are each subtle on their own, but together they make an awesome base for curry. We have this recipe weekly because one of us is always craving it. —Patrick McGilvray, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Creamy Salmon Linguine

Extra Pesto Grilled Salmon gives this creamy pasta toss a luxurious taste and texture. We love it as is, but you could easily sub in any veggies you have on hand for the broccoli. —Jacob Kitzman, Seattle, Washington
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Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Rice

I like the challenge of inventing recipes with ingredients I have on hand. This easy-peasy meal fits the bill. —Colleen Doucette, Truro, Nova Scotia
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Rosemary Lamb Chops

My father loves lamb, so I make this rosemary lamb chop recipe whenever he visits. It's the perfect main course for holidays or get-togethers. —Kristina Mitchell, Clearwater, Florida
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Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

I'm a new mom, and my schedule is very dependent upon our young son, so I like meals that can be ready in as little time as possible. This all-in-one chicken stir fry recipe with a hint of sweetness from honey is a big time-saver. —Caroline Sperry, Allentown, Michigan
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Fettuccine Carbonara

When a man at church found out how much my family likes fettuccine, he shared his Italian grandmother's carbonara recipe with us. I've made it my own over the last 25 years. Grated Parmesan cheese works just as well as Romano. —Kristine Chayes, Smithtown, New York
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Spicy Lemon Chicken Kabobs

When I see Meyer lemons in the store, it must be spring. I like using them for these easy chicken kabobs, but regular grilled lemons still add the signature smoky tang. —Terri Crandall, Gardnerville, Nevada
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Deconstructed Pear Pork Chops

You’ll be tempted to eat this main dish right out of the pan but try to resist. These chops are sure to wow guests at the dinner table. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Creole Shrimp & Sausage

Add diversity to weeknight meals and get a taste of low-country cuisine with this simple take on a Louisiana Creole classic that uses bulgur instead of rice. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Saucy Thai Beef Noodles

This stir-fry has been a family favorite for some time. I like to double the recipe and add extra vegetables. —Janelle Lee, Appleton, Wisconsin
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Creamy Sausage-Mushroom Rigatoni

In Rome, we dined near the Pantheon. The amazing restaurant is now history, but its memory lives on in this tasty pasta with mushrooms and sausage. —Barbara Roozrokh, Brookfield, Wisconsin
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Pepper Steak with Squash

Serve this colorful stir-fry with savory strips of flank steak and plenty of veggies over rice for a satisfying supper that's on the table in less than half an hour. —Gayle Lewis, Yucaipa, California
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Meatball Pizza

I always keep meatballs and pizza crusts in the freezer to make this specialty on the spur of the moment. Add a tossed salad and you have a delicious dinner. —Mary Humeniuk-Smith, Perry Hall, Maryland
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Curry Shrimp Linguine

Curry, cilantro and coconut milk make this dish an exciting change of pace. It's also good with Thai rice noodles or spaghetti. —Jana Rippee, Casa Grande, Arizona
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Creamy Herb Grilled Salmon

I have a huge herb garden and love using herbs in almost everything I cook. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we eat a lot of wild-caught salmon, so I use fresh herbs in this moist and delicious grilled recipe. On cooler days, bake it instead. —Michelle Glassmeyer Wunsch, Bothell, Washington
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Thai Red Chicken Curry

I recreated a favorite red curry chicken dish from a restaurant, and now I cook it almost weekly for my family. On a busy night, frozen stir-fry veggies really speed things up. —Mary Shenk, DeKalb, Illinois
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Italian Sausage & Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Flavor-packed sausage and sun-dried tomatoes are sure to liven up any simple pasta dish. I have a feeling that once you've tried it, it'll become a family favorite!—Dawn Singleton, Eighty Four, Pennsylvania
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Shrimp Fajitas

I’ve lost 50 pounds recently and my husband, Jere, has lost 65. We’re always looking for tasty ways to keep the weight off. I think working moms would love it as much as we do because it's so quick and easy. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida
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Cashew Chicken with Ginger

There are lots of recipes for cashew chicken, but my family thinks this one stands alone. We love the flavor from the fresh ginger and the crunch of the cashews. Another plus is it's easy to prepare. —Oma Rollison, El Cajon, California
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Gnocchi with White Beans

Here’s one of those no-fuss recipes you can toss together and cook in one skillet. Ideal for a busy weeknight, it’s also good with crumbled Italian chicken sausage if you need to please meat lovers. —Julianne Meyers, Hinesville, Georgia
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Vegetable Pad Thai

Classic flavors of Thailand abound in this fragrant and flavorful dish featuring peanuts, tofu and noodles. New to tofu? It gives the entree its satisfying protein, for a delicious way to introduce it to your diet. —Sara Landry, Brookline, Massachusetts
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Chicken with Red Wine Cream Sauce

My creamy chicken tastes like a five-star restaurant dish but takes only minutes and few ingredients to make. Use fresh rosemary. Trust me. —Sarah Campbell, Terre Haute, IN
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Southwestern Pork Chops

This recipe came out of necessity! I love to cook but hate to grocery shop, and one day I found myself with nothing but some pork chops, canned black beans and canned tomatoes. This is the dish I came up with, and my husband loved it.—Vicki L. Blaine, Plymouth, Michigan
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Bow Ties with Gorgonzola Sauce

The name may sound fancy, but this pasta dish is comforting and simple to prepare. Add a mixed green salad to make it a complete meal for any occasion. —Nadine Mesch, Mount Healthy, Ohio
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Beef & Spinach Lo Mein

If you like a good stir-fry, this beef and spinach lo mein will definitely satisfy. I discovered the recipe at an international luncheon, and it's now a favorite go-to meal. —Denise Patterson, Bainbridge, Ohio
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Turkey Curry with Rice

When I have leftover turkey and a hankering for non-holiday food, I make turkey curry with carrots, cauliflower and mango chutney to spoon over rice. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Easy Fish Tacos

Searching for a lighter alternative to traditional fried fish, I came up with this crispy, crunchy fish tacos recipe. It's a hit with friends and family. —Jennifer Palmer, Rancho Cucamonga, California
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Whole Grain Chow Mein

My kids are picky eaters, but teriyaki and hoisin sauces work wonders with them. They love the meatballs, and I swap the noodles for whole grain pasta. —Kelly Shippey, Orange, California
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Ham with Pineapple Salsa

A dear friend shared this recipe when she moved from Hawaii to Colorado. Now it’s one of my favorite ways to eat ham. I get lots of requests for the recipe when I make it for guests. —Dawn Wilson, Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thai Beef Stir-Fry

A distinctive peanut sauce complements this colorful combination of tender sirloin strips, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms. I like to dish it up over spaghetti, but you could use fried noodles instead. —Janice Fehr, Austin, Manitoba
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Lemon-Parsley Baked Cod

After trying a few baked cod recipes, this was the first fish recipe that got two thumbs up from my picky meat-only eaters. The tangy lemon gives the cod fish some oomph. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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Steak with Chipotle-Lime Chimichurri

Steak gets a flavor kick from chimichurri. This piquant, all-purpose herb sauce is so versatile, it complements most any grilled meat, poultry or fish. —Laureen Pittman, Riverside, California
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Tortellini with Asparagus & Lemon

This is a terrific warm-weather dish, loaded with fresh flavors. I make mine meatless, but some sliced grilled chicken on top would be awesome, too. —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Saucy Beef with Broccoli

When I’m looking for a fast entree, I turn to this beef and broccoli stir-fry. It features a tantalizing sauce made with garlic and ginger. —Rosa Evans, Odessa, Missouri
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Saucy Pork Chop Skillet

Skillet pork chops make easy comfort food. We have them with a salad and fruit. If you've got fresh green beans or steamed broccoli, go for it. —Donna Roberts, Manhattan, Kansas
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Spinach-Artichoke Rigatoni

I love pasta and so does my family, but they are not so keen on their veggies. This a one-pot meal that gets us all eating our spinach. —Yvonne Starlin, Hermitage, Tennessee
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Ravioli with Snap Peas & Mushrooms

Topped with the toasty texture and flavor of hazelnuts, this pasta makes an easy, earthy weeknight dinner. I serve it with an herb and lettuce salad and white wine. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida
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Maple-Pecan Pork Chops

For a standout holiday dinner, start with this change-of-pace entree. Begin by simmering the chops in apple juice, then drizzle with sweet maple syrup and top with crunchy pecans. —Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Crispy Orange Chicken

We enjoy these tangy nuggets so many ways—over noodles or rice, in sandwiches, even on top of lettuce and cabbage. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Asparagus 'n' Shrimp with Angel Hair

We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so when I plan a romantic dinner, this shrimp asparagus pasta with angel hair is one dish I like to serve. It is easy on the budget and turns out perfectly for two. —Shari Neff, Takoma Park, Maryland
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Blue Cheese-Crusted Sirloin Steaks

My wife adores this steak—and me when I fix it for her. She thinks it’s the ideal dish for Friday night after a long workweek. —Michael Rouse, Minot, North Dakota
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Sea Scallops and Fettuccine

This luscious and lemony pasta dish is so easy, it's become one of our weekly meal mainstays. But it's also elegant enough to serve to guests. —Donna Thompson, Laramie, Wyoming
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Makeover Beef Stroganoff

I trimmed the calories, fat and sodium in a classic stroganoff, and my comfy, cozy version still tastes like a Russian masterpiece. —Candace Clark, Connell, Washington

Caroline Stanko
Caroline has been with Taste of Home for the past seven years, working in both print and digital. After starting as an intern for the magazine and special interest publication teams, Caroline was hired as the third-ever digital editor for Taste of Home. Since then, she has researched, written and edited content on just about every topic the site covers, including cooking techniques, buzzy food news, gift guides and many, many recipe collections. Caroline also acts as the editorial lead for video, working with the Test Kitchen, videographers and social media team to produce videos from start to finish. When she’s not tip-tapping on a keyboard, Caroline is probably mixing up a killer cocktail, reading a dog-eared library book or cooking up a multi-course feast (sometimes all at once). Though she technically lives in Milwaukee, there is a 50/50 chance Caroline is in Chicago or southwest Michigan visiting her close-knit family.