18 Delicious Recipes That Require Very Little Cleanup

Fruity breakfast bowls, hearty chicken dinners, chocolate desserts and more — these recipes prove good food and dirty dishes do not go hand in hand.

March 03, 2022

Photo By: Teri Lyn Fisher

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Photo By: Armando Rafael

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Copyright 2015

Photo By: Matt Armendariz

Photo By: Brian Kennedy ©(C) 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Armando Rafael

Don't Worry About the Dishes

You’re hungry and willing to cook, but you’re already dreading the cleanup afterward — we get it! It might sound too good to be true, but you can create something amazing in the kitchen without filling the sink with dirty dishes. Typically, slow-cooker dishes, Instant Pot favorites and air fryer recipes all require little cleanup. But you aren’t limited to using those gadgets either. Skillets and casserole dishes can also help you get a meal on the table with minimal mess. The stovetop-to-oven cast-iron skillet technique in this recipe is our go-to for achieving crispy, juicy chicken thighs. If you’re tight on time, the chicken is delicious without the butter sauce. But to truly impart restaurant-worthy flavor, try your hand at the classic white wine and butter sauce known as beurre blanc in French.

Get the Recipe: Skillet Chicken Thighs with White Wine–Butter Sauce

One-Pot Lemon Ricotta Spaghettoni

This dish is cooked in just one pot (no need to bring water to a boil beforehand!), so it's a super quick and easy choice for weeknights. We top it off with creamy ricotta, salty Parmesan and bitter lemon zest for a bold but balanced finish.

Get the Recipe: One-Pot Lemon Ricotta Spaghettoni

Air Fryer Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter

The air fryer truly is a lifesaver when it comes to easy-cleanup recipes, including steak! Thicker cuts, like sirloin, are best in the air fryer — they’ll brown nicely on the outside without overcooking.

Get the Recipe: Air Fryer Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter

Ranch Egg Salad

Molly’s ranch dressing-infused egg salad takes a mere five minutes to throw together, and you’ll dirty just one bowl and a couple of utensils.

Get the Recipe: Ranch Egg Salad

Sheet Pan Caprese Chicken

Your dishwasher will thank you for this easy one-sheet weeknight dinner — no prep bowls needed! Juicy roasted tomatoes and cheesy chicken breasts get a hint of brightness from fresh basil and a balsamic reduction.

Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Caprese Chicken

Fudgy One-Pot Brownies

Mix these 5-star brownies together in a medium saucepan, then bake in a 13-by-9-inch pan — the hardest part is waiting until they’re ready to eat.

Get the Recipe: Fudgy One-Pot Brownies

Alfredo Shrimp Scampi Dump Dinner

Just dump a box of pasta, a bag of shrimp and a few other pantry staples into a dish and bake. Right before serving, stir in the heavy cream and top with grated cheese and fresh parsley for a rich and creamy weeknight dinner in a flash.

Get the Recipe: Alfredo Shrimp Scampi Dump Dinner

Healthy Grilled Chicken-and-Rice Foil Packs

Move over, burgers and dogs. This low-fat chicken dinner is ready in just 30 minutes, and we love how you don't need to worry about doing any dishes afterward.

Get the Recipe: Healthy Grilled Chicken-and-Rice Foil Packs

Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

Treat yourself to this tropical-inspired smoothie bowl and all you’ll have to clean up afterward is the blender and a bowl. OK, you’ll have to wash your spoon, too, but you get the point!

Get the Recipe: Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

Hotdish (Tater Tot Casserole)

Hotdish is an easy, one-dish dinner often served in Minnesota at such large gatherings as family reunions, potlucks or church suppers. The combination of cream of mushroom soup, corn, green beans, beef and a delightful crispy potato topping (the more taters, the better!) is universally likable.

Get the Recipe: Hotdish (Tater Tot Casserole)

One-Pot Bucatini Bolognese

Not only is this a one-pot wonder, but it also shaves a significant amount of time off of making a traditional Bolognese (a slow-braised tomato sauce with meat).

Get the Recipe: One-Pot Bucatini Bolognese

Sheet Pan Sausage Supper

This is the recipe that takes "throwing something together" to the next level. Ree’s sheet pan sausage dinner involves placing your seasoned veggies onto a baking sheet with some Italian sausages, then putting the whole thing in the oven. Dinner? Done.

Get the Recipe: Sheetpan Sausage Supper

Pressure-Cooker Shrimp and Saffron Risotto

Creamy risotto really can be part of your weeknight rotation. Thanks to your pressure cooker, this easy and elegant dish is ready in a snap, and you won’t dirty a whole bunch of dishes.

Get the Recipe: Pressure-Cooker Shrimp and Saffron Risotto

Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Walnut Stuffed Apples

A slow cooker is a great way to make a meal (even dessert!) without filling your sink with dirty dishes. Use large baking apples such as Rome or Golden Delicious in this cinnamon-spiced treat; they'll have just the right tenderness.

Get the Recipe: Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Walnut Stuffed Apples

One-Pot Caprese Pasta

This dish tastes just like your favorite summer salad, only heartier. If you haven't tried a one-pot pasta yet, now’s the time: It's a great timesaver, from the cooking to the cleanup.

Get the Recipe: One-Pot Caprese Pasta

Foil-Packet Salmon with Mushrooms and Spinach

Foil-pack dinners are a convenient way to quickly create a flavorful, easy-to-clean-up dish. In this foil-pack, the salmon and vegetables are simply cooked, then finished with a bright, assertive ginger-scallion butter.

Get the Recipe: Foil-Packet Salmon with Mushrooms and Spinach

5-Ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

We love multi-purpose kitchen gadgets that make life easier, so that's why the Instant Pot (a slow cooker, pressure cooker and stove-top stand-in, all in one) is a go-to for quick meals. And after it's been gobbled up, you'll only have one pot to clean!

Get the Recipe: 5-Ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Chocolate Caramel Mug Cake

Why mess up the kitchen when you’re making a dessert for one? Simply mix, microwave and eat!

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Mug Cake