These Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes Will Save Your Weeknights

Photo: Courtesy of Five Ingredient Recipes.
What's the last thing we want to do after a long day at the office, other than commute or go to the gym? Come home and prep a dozen different ingredients for one measly meal. But lucky for us, there are culinary masterminds out there who also share in our lack of energy for multitasking on a Monday night — and so they've invented the perfect solution: five-ingredient recipes. Four ingredients may be too little, and six one too many, but five? Five is just right. It's the magic number that's enough to get some good flavor profiles going and so little that you won't be sous chef-ing your life away while that new episode of The Bachelor waits in vain.

And thanks to Philia Kelnhofer's brilliant cookbook, Fast & Easy Five-Ingredient Recipes: A Cookbook For Busy People, we've rounded up eight winning fivers for all your weeknight needs. Lasagnas, tacos, and even some dessert options, these fast and easy recipes have it all (including time for tuning into Nick Viall's latest crying clip).
1 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Turkey Taco Salad
Serves 4

1 cup salsa, store-bought or homemade, divided
1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey (see notes)
6 to 8 cups romaine or greens/lettuce of choice
1 cup shredded cheese (I use Mexican blend cheese, Cheddar, or pepper Jack)
2 cups tortilla chips

1. Pour 1/2 cup of the salsa into a large skillet. Add the ground turkey and cook on high heat, breaking it up as it cooks, for 15 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through.

2. Place the lettuce in a large bowl or four small bowls.

3. When the turkey is done, spoon on top of the lettuce, pour the remaining 1/2 cup of salsa on top of the turkey, then add the cheese and tortilla chips (I like to crush some of the tortilla chips).

4. Mix the salad and enjoy.

Instead of using ground turkey, you could make salsa slow cooker chicken as a topping: Simply put 1 lb of chicken breast in a slow cooker and cover it with 1/2 cup of the salsa and a pinch of salt. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours, then shred when done. This salad is good served with either warm or cold cooked ground turkey. If making this salad for eating at a later time, just cook the ground turkey and salsa and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. You could use a number of add-ins with this salad; for example, a dollop of sour cream or some olives — the possibilities are endless.
2 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Stuffed Peppers
Makes 4 stuffed peppers; serves 4

4 bell peppers
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (8.5-oz) microwave packet whole-grain medley, brown and wild rice
1 cup shredded marble jack cheese, divided
1 cup sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce or marinara sauce (see notes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and reserve, remove the seeds and innards carefully, and then run a knife across the bottom to take little pieces off (it’s as if you’re removing the “feet” of them) so that the peppers stand. Place the peppers upright in an 8 in square baking dish (see notes). Cut the sides of the reserved bell pepper tops into little pieces.

3. In a medium skillet over high heat, combine the beef, salt, black pepper, and little pepper pieces. Cook,stirring occasionally, until the beef browns, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain if there is liquid in the pan, and transfer to a big bowl.

4. Microwave the grain medley according to the package instructions and add to the cooked beef.

5. Add 3/4 cup of the cheese and the sauce. Stir until combined, then stuff each bell pepper with the rice mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top of the filling.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

7. If freezing, allow the stuffed peppers to cool completely before wrapping each pepper individually in plastic wrap and then placing in a labeled resealable plastic freezer bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

These peppers are good when made with homemade Marinara Sauce or Alfredo Sauce but I always like to use pre-made sauce because it keeps the prep time minimal. I like stuffed peppers with a little crunch to them. If you prefer your peppers on the softer side, you can put them in the oven as soon as you preheat it, while you’re prepping the filling ingredients, then when the filling is done, remove them from the oven, stuff them, and then return them to the oven.
3 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Oven-Toad-In-The-Hole Pizza
Serves 4

4 slices whole-wheat bread
4 large eggs
3 slices provolone cheese
1/2 Roma tomato, sliced into
4 slices (see note)
1 tsp Italian seasoning, store-bought or homemade
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

2. Place the bread slices on the prepared baking sheet. Press a small glass or biscuit cutter into the center of a bread slice, run a knife around it, then remove the circle and place it next to the slice of bread on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the slices of bread have an empty hole in the middle.

3. Crack each egg into a hole.

4. Break or cut a slice of cheese into four to six pieces, then place the pieces around the edges of each egg-filled bread slice, reserving a little piece of cheese to place on a cut-out circle of bread. Place a tomato slice on each cut-out circle of bread. Repeat for the remaining bread.

5. Season the egg-filled pieces of bread and circles with the Italian seasoning and salt.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes and serve.

If you don’t have a tomato, you could use a dollop of marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade) on the little circles of bread.
4 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Marinated Yogurt Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/4 tsp Mediterranean spiced sea salt, store-bought or homemade
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (see notes)

1. In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, and Mediterranean-spiced sea salt and stir. Add the chicken tenders and stir so that the chicken is covered in themarinade. Put in refrigerator.

2. Let marinate for 20 minutes (or up to an hour).

3. Heat a large skillet over high heat for 1 minute (see notes), then add the chicken tenders, gently shaking off any excess marinade as you put them in the pan. Discard remaining marinade.

4. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain off the liquid and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Remove from the heat, serve, and enjoy.

If you don’t have chicken tenders, simply slice chicken breasts into strips (I usually get three or four strips out of one chicken breast). I like making this on the stovetop because the cook time is 10 minutes, but you could also bake it in a baking dish (20 minutes at 400°F).
5 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Pork Carnitas Tacos
Makes 20 to 24 tacos; serves 12 (see notes)

24 small tortilla shells (corn tortilla shells work great)
1 recipe Soda Pulled Pork (see notes)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (from 1 bunch cilantro)
4 limes, sliced into wedges, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the edges start to curl up. Remove from the oven and set on a plate.

2. Put the shredded pork, cilantro, and lime wedges in individual bowls for taco assembly.

3. To assemble the tacos, put a few forkfuls of pork into a tortilla shell, add a pinch of cilantro, and squeeze some lime juice on top. Repeat until all the tacos are assembled, then serve and enjoy.

This recipe is easily scaled down: Simply make as many tacos as desired and save the remaining pork and tacos for leftovers. When I expect to make Pork Carnitas Tacos, I typically don’t add the red onion when cooking the pork.

Soda Pulled Pork

1 (3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound) pork shoulder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, sliced (optional)
3 cups full-flavored cola soda, such as Coke or Pepsi

1. Place the pork shoulder, fat side down, in a slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

2. Place the red onion in the slow cooker around the pork.

3. Pour the soda over the pork. Cover the slow cooker and set on low. Cook for 8 hours, then transfer the pork to a shallow bowl or cutting board with a lip and, using two forks, shred it.

4. To store, place the shredded pork in an airtight container and pour some juices from the slow cooker over the meat. This pork freezes and reheats very well. To freeze, place the shredded pork in a resealable plastic freezer bag and label with the date when it was made.
6 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Spinach Alfredo Lasagna
Serves 12

1 (15-oz.) jar creamy Alfredo sauce, store-bought or homemade, divided
1 (9-oz.) package oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 (24-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach
1 (15-oz.) container part skim ricotta cheese
2 tsp salt
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese, or shredded plain low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Spread 1/4 cup of the Alfredo sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (see note). Place a layer of noodles down on top of the sauce. If the noodles don’t fit, break them up to create an even layer.

3. Microwave the spinach in a microwave-safe bowl, 5 minutes on high, and drain away the liquid. Mix in the ricotta cheese and salt.

4. Spoon half of the spinach mixture into a layer on top of the noodles, sprinkle with a handful of the shredded cheese, then lay another layer of noodles on top.

5. Spread remaining half of the spinach mixture on top, then sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheese and a few spoonfuls (4 to 5 tablespoons) of Alfredo sauce on top.

6. Lay another layer of noodles on top, and spoon the remaining Alfredo sauce on top.

7. Fill the empty sauce jar one-quarter full with water (about 1/2 cup) and pour on top of the noodles. Spread around so that the sauce is distributed evenly, then sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly on the top around the edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, slice into 12 pieces, and enjoy.
7 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Sugar Cookies
Makes 24 Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks; 8-oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sanding sugar (see note)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand (or stand) mixer, cream the butter until fluffy, about 1 minute, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

3. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour in the cornstarch and flour and, with a spatula or spoon, gently stir until everything is combined (it might seem like the dough is a little too crumbly; it should be soft to the touch).

4. Place the sanding sugar in a shallow bowl.

5. With a 1 tbsp cookie scoop, scoop a dough ball into the sanding sugar. Gently roll the dough ball so that it gets totally covered in sugar, then place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat to form all the cookies, placing them about an inch apart.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and remove from the oven. Allow to cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool and enjoy.

These can be made with different colored sanding sugars, or natural sanding sugar.
8 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Chocolate Cheesecake Cups
Makes 12 Mini Cups

1 oz. (1 square) semisweet baking chocolate (I use Baker’s brand), plus 1/2 square for topping
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line a mini muffin pan with 12 mini cups or mini muffin liners.

2. Start by placing the 1 oz of chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second on high, then remove from the microwave and stir. Repeat, microwaving for 30 seconds and stirring, until the chocolate has melted (mine takes 1 1/2 minutes, or three intervals of heating).

3. In a bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar, then add the sour cream and beat until smooth.

4. With a spoon, fold in the egg (always folding under) and the melted chocolate and stir until smooth.

5. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop 2 tbsp of the mixture into each cup. Bake for 50 minutes, then turn off the oven and let the chocolate cheesecakes sit in the oven for 30 minutes (see note). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving (2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator).

6. Shave the remaining chocolate and sprinkle over the cups before serving.

Letting the cheesecake bites bake at a low temperature and keeping them in the oven prevents them from cracking.
9 of 10
Photo: Courtesy of Fast & Easy Five Ingredient Recipes.
Fast & Easy Five-Ingredient Recipes: A Cookbook For Busy People by Philia Kelnhofer, $12.09, available at Amazon.
10 of 10