Favorite quick weeknight recipes from 2023

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We’ve just published our list of the 50 most popular recipes of 2023, and I’d like to compliment you on your excellent taste. The tinto de verano! Dumpling tomato salad with chile crisp vinaigrette! Mochiko chicken! Cacio e pepe and white lasagna! And the banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery in New York, which I think far outshines its famous cupcakes.

I’ve picked five recipes from the list to feature, dishes I feel are particularly good for a fast dinner.

1. Gochujang Buttered Noodles

Gochujang Buttered Noodles. These garlicky, buttery noodles are perfect for when you need a stellar pantry meal lickety-split. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. (James Ransom/The New York Times)

These garlicky, buttery noodles are perfect for when you need a stellar pantry meal lickety-split. A packet of fresh or even instant ramen speeds up the meal prep and is ideal when cooking for one (see Tips). Honey and sherry vinegar round out gochujang’s deep heat into a mellowness that’s at once sweet, savory and tangy. The brick-red butter sauce, emulsified with a splash of the pasta cooking water, coats spaghetti here, but you can use whatever noodles you like.

By Eric Kim

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/4 cup gochujang paste (not sauce; see Tips)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup sherry vinegar or rice vinegar

Finely chopped cilantro or thinly sliced scallions (optional)


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the spaghetti and return to its pot.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-low. Add the garlic and season generously with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to soften but not brown, 1 to 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the gochujang, honey and vinegar, and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reduces significantly, 3 to 4 minutes; when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan, it should leave behind a trail that stays put for about 3 seconds. Remove from the heat.

4. Transfer the sauce to the pot with the spaghetti and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Vigorously stir until the butter melts. Add splashes of the pasta cooking water, as needed, to thin out the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Top with the cilantro or scallions (if using) and serve immediately.

Tips: To make a single serving, follow the recipe using 4 to 5 ounces fresh or instant ramen noodles; 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 tablespoon to fry the garlic and 1/2 tablespoon for the sauce at the end); 3 garlic cloves; 1 heaping tablespoon gochujang; 1 tablespoon honey; 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or rice vinegar. Decrease the cook times throughout by 1 to 2 minutes.

Be sure to purchase plain gochujang paste, not gochujang sauce, which often includes additives like vinegar and sugar. To easily measure out gochujang, swipe the inside of a measuring cup with a little neutral oil, which will get it to slip right out.

2. Ginger Chicken With Sesame Peanut Sauce

Ginger Chicken with Sesame Peanut Sauce. You can make this recipe with tofu if you don’t eat meat; try cashew butter if you can’t eat peanuts. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. (David Malosh/The New York Times)

In this crisp-skinned chicken dish, full of bold, zesty flavors, chicken legs are flavored with toasted sesame oil, garlic and ginger, then roasted until golden brown. They’re served with a creamy peanut-sesame sauce that’s spiked with even more ginger and garlic, which can be quickly whisked together while the chicken legs cook. Be sure to save any extra sauce; it will keep for a week in the fridge and is terrific with cut-up vegetables as a snack or spooned onto roasted or fried tofu.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 45 minutes, plus at least 1 hour’s marinating


For the chicken:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more as needed

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks

1 tablespoon grapeseed, safflower or other neutral oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

For the peanut sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more to taste

1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced

1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably natural


1. Prepare the chicken: In a small bowl, mix together sesame oil, salt, ginger and garlic, and smear mixture all over the chicken and underneath the skin. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet (or plate), preferably on a rack to allow air to circulate, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the rack under the chicken if you’ve used one. If the chicken isn’t on a rimmed baking sheet, transfer it to one (you can line it with parchment to make cleanup easier, but it’s not necessary). Pat the legs dry with a paper towel. Drizzle chicken with the neutral oil. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.

3. While chicken is in the oven, make the peanut sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and ginger until combined, then whisk in sesame oil and honey. Add peanut butter and whisk until smooth. If the mixture is very thick (and this depends on your brand of peanut butter), whisk in a few tablespoons of cold water until it becomes a thick but pourable sauce.

4. Transfer chicken to a serving plate and carefully pour any pan juices on the baking sheet into the bowl with the peanut sauce. Whisk until combined. Taste the sauce and add more soy sauce, vinegar or honey if you’d like.

5. Drizzle or brush some of the peanut sauce all over chicken pieces, reserving some sauce for serving. Garnish with scallions and serve with reserved peanut sauce.

3. Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos. You could lean into wintry weather, if you’re somewhere cold right now, and simmer some stew. Or you could make this beachy recipe, which comes with a side of sunshine. Food Stylist: Roscoe Betsill. (Kelly Marshall/The New York Times)

Spiced shrimp and quick-pickled red cabbage fill corn tortillas for dressed-up tacos that are easy to put together and sure to be a favorite. The seasoned shrimp is cooked in a heated skillet for a slight char, but resist the temptation to move the pieces before the contact side is properly browned. You can keep the add-ons simple with slices of creamy avocado, bits of fresh cilantro and acidic bursts from lime slices. Or bulk up with dollops of guacamole, chunky pico de gallo and sour cream. The choice is yours!

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 Servings

Total time: 35 minutes


1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola

Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (1/4 small cabbage)

2 limes

12 corn tortillas


Sour cream or crema

Pico de gallo

Cilantro leaves


1. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the cumin, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, black pepper and 1 tablespoon oil. Season the shrimp lightly with salt. If you have time, you can refrigerate the shrimp to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Squeeze 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime. Slice the remaining lime into wedges for serving. In a small bowl, quick pickle the cabbage by combining the shredded cabbage with the lime juice and a pinch of salt. Toss together and set aside.

3. Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium. Warm a tortilla in the dry skillet, flipping once, until soft and pliable, about 30 seconds. Place in a dish towel to keep warm. Repeat until all the tortillas are warmed, stacking and wrapping them in the dish towel until ready to use.

4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high. Add half of the shrimp and cook without stirring until the contact side is browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Flip to cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes, until the shrimp is fully cooked. Move to a plate and cook the remaining shrimp, heating up the remaining tablespoon of oil before adding the shrimp to get a nice sear.

5. To assemble, spread some guacamole down the middle of each tortilla. Divide the shrimp among the warm tortillas and top with crema, pico de gallo, quick pickled cabbage and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with lime slices for squeezing.

4. Rosemary White Beans With Frizzled Onions and Tomato

Rosemary White Beans with Frizzled Onions and Tomato. “Frizzled” is such a great word, a vivid and visceral melding of “fried” and “sizzled.” Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. (David Malosh/The New York Times)

A speedy, pantry-friendly dish, canned white beans braised in olive oil and tomatoes become stewlike and creamy. Pinches of fresh or dried rosemary, chile flakes and lemon zest add complexity to the mix, while a topping of frizzled, browned onions lends sweetness and a chewy-crisp texture. Serve this with toasted country bread drizzled with olive oil or over a bowl of rice or farro for an easy, satisfying weeknight meal.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons

Fine sea salt

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, more for serving

2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or butter beans (preferably canned with salt), drained and rinsed

1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, more for garnish


1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil until it shimmers over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned all over, 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, transfer half of the onions to a plate and season lightly with salt.

2. Add remaining 6 tablespoons oil, the garlic, rosemary, red-pepper flakes and a pinch of salt to the onions in the skillet. Cook until garlic is pale gold at the edges (don’t let the garlic turn brown), 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Add beans, chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup of water and 1 teaspoon salt to skillet; stir until beans are well coated with sauce. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until broth thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Stir in lemon zest and parsley, and taste, adding more salt if needed. Garnish with reserved onions, more parsley, olive oil and red-pepper flakes, if you’d like. The beans thicken as they cool, but you can add more water to make them brothier if you like.

5. Coconut Saag

Coconut Saag. This recipe is a particularly luxurious play on saag paneer, with a can of coconut milk added for richness. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. (Kelly Marshall/The New York Times)

Saag paneer is a classic North Indian dish — but it’s also endlessly riffable. Swap out the paneer for feta or halloumi, the mustard greens for kale or spinach, and so on. This is a particularly stellar riff, in which coconut milk enriches an already aromatic and verdant sauce that can be paired with either the traditional paneer or extra-firm tofu. The final hit of coconut oil infused with smoky cumin seeds and red chile powder adds loads of depth, making this dish quite possibly the most luxurious way to eat a pound of greens.

By Priya Krishna

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

3 green cardamom pods or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (freshly ground is best)

1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound mustard greens, tough ends trimmed and greens roughly chopped, or fresh baby spinach (10 to 12 cups)

1/2 lime, juiced

1 small Indian green chile, serrano chile or Thai bird’s-eye chile, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (such as Morton)

1 (13-ounce) can coconut milk

1 (12-ounce) block extra-firm tofu or 1 (8-ounce) package paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional, but really fantastic)

1/4 teaspoon red chile powder, such as cayenne or Kashmiri

Rice or roti, for serving


1. In a large, deep pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil. Once it shimmers, add the coriander and cardamom and toast the spices until fragrant and starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.

2. Add the mustard greens, a large handful at a time, and cook until just wilted and still bright green. Don’t overcook the greens!

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice, chile and salt. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend into a chunky paste. Return the mixture to the same pan over low heat. Stir in the coconut milk, then gently stir in tofu. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes more, until the tofu is warmed through and has soaked up some of the sauce.

4. While the tofu cooks, in a small pan or butter warmer over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the cumin seeds, and once they start to brown and dance around in the pan, about 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the asafetida, if using, and red chile powder.

5. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the saag, and serve with rice or roti.

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