Fast, Healthy 4-Ingredient Dinners

Fast, Healthy 4-Ingredient DinnersBy Michelle Edelbaum, EatingWell Digital Editor

With two little boys at home, I'm on a mission to streamline my dinner routine. My focus? Simplify. One of the awesome parts of working as the digital editor at EatingWell Magazine is that I'm surrounded by amazing healthy food every day. The problem is, I think I can go home and cook all of these awesome recipes on a weeknight, when what I really need to do is just get a healthy, simple meal on the table so my family can still have some time to enjoy our night.

Recipes to Try: 20-Minute 5-Ingredient Dinner Recipes

I combed EatingWell's recipe database and found these healthy, super-simple 4-ingredient dinners to help me eat well but cook simply. (I didn't count kitchen staples like salt, pepper, oil, flour, sugar against my 4-ingredient limit.) And they're all ready in 30 minutes or less of cooking time, most in 20 minutes-plenty of time to steam a vegetable on the side and make instant brown rice or quinoa.

The other bonus of these 4-ingredient dinner recipes? They'll minimize my grocery shopping too!

Pork Chops au PoivrePork Chops au Poivre

Turn your dining room into a French bistro when you dress up pepper-crusted pork chops with a rich, creamy brandy sauce. Serve with roasted sweet potato slices and green beans.

Apple, Sauerkraut & Cheddar QuesadillasApple, Sauerkraut & Cheddar Quesadillas

This combination may seem unusual-until you try it. The sweet-tartness of the apple, creaminess of the cheese and bite of the sauerkraut work together beautifully in this easy hot sandwich. Serve with oven-roasted potatoes or a green salad.

Grilled Steaks BalsamicoGrilled Steaks Balsamico

A simple marinade of pureed dried figs and store-bought balsamic vinaigrette adds intense flavor to steak. This recipe is adapted from Lori Welander's grand prize-winning recipe from the 2003 National Beef Cook-Off.

Mustard-Crusted SalmonMustard-Crusted Salmon

This updated French bistro dish makes a simple dinner any night of the week. You might want to consider doubling the batch and using the remaining salmon in a tossed salad the next day, or even as the salmon topper in the Warm Salmon Salad with Crispy Potatoes.

New England Fried ShrimpNew England Fried Shrimp

Who doesn't love a crunchy fried shrimp? This version takes virtually fat-free shrimp out of the deep fryer and pan-fries them in a little bit of oil instead. With 9 grams of total fat and 213 calories per serving, you can feel good about enjoying them.

Stir-Fried Spicy Chicken Tenders (pictured above)
Active time: 15 minutes | Total: 30 minutes (including 15 minutes marinating time) | To make ahead: Prepare through Step 1 up to 1 day ahead.

A bag of frozen peppers and onions can be a quick start to a stir-fry; here, it's combined with almost fat-free chicken tenders for a speedy dinner. Serve this dish with warm polenta rounds or brown rice.

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, cut into 2-inch pieces (see Variation)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 16-ounce package frozen bell pepper and onion mix

1. Combine sugar, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes or overnight.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pepper-and-onion mix and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the spice-rubbed chicken and cook, stirring, until no longer pink in the center, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings, 1 cup each.
Per serving: 196 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 66 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 2 g fiber; 392 mg sodium; 292 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (24% daily value)

Make Stir-Fried Spicy Beef by using 1 pound of stir-fry beef or thinly sliced top round steak instead of chicken in this dish.

What are your best 4-ingredient dinner recipes?

By Michelle Edelbaum

Michelle Edelbaum

Michelle is the digital editor for EatingWell Media Group. She puts her background in journalism to work online at and in each issue of EatingWell Magazine, authoring The Fresh Interview with interesting people in the world of food and health.

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