My compilation of easy one pot meals for a simple mid-week dinner includes recipes that use one pot, wok, skillet or Dutch oven for when you’re too tired to cook a complicated meal and the last thing you want is to spend sofa time at the kitchen sink. While minimising mess, these one pot recipes maximise flavour. They’re all incredibly delicious.
This short list of my favourite recipes for easy one pot meals is for myself as much as you. By the time Wednesday’s here, we might have spent two days testing and photographing recipes, which means we’ve washed and dried a few sinks overflowing with dishes and props – no fancy dishwasher in this home – so I’m well and truly ready for a one pot meal.
The beauty of one pot meals is less mess and more counter space for a bottle of wine and nibbles. Because in my view a one-pot dinner doesn’t necessarily need to be quick, it just needs to be easy, fuss-free, and not use every pot and pan in the cupboard, leaving very little to clean up.
I don’t mind if my easy one pot meals take an hour to make from prepping to plating, with time to fill in between, as that’s time I can spend pottering around the apartment with a glass of vino in hand, watering the plants, thumbing through cookbooks, or playing with Pepper.
And if my one pot dinner requires that I don’t stray too far from the stove, that’s fine, too. In between giving the pot an occasional stir or taste for seasoning, I can leisurely clean out the veggie crisper, do a stock-take of the fridge and pantry, make a shopping list, or just make a negroni.
While some of my easy one pot meal recipes might call for ingredients to be added in stages, there are no tricky techniques or no time-consuming tasks to be performed. So put on some music, open a bottle of vino, and take time for you as the wonderful aromas permeate your home.
Now before I tell you more about my 5 favourite recipes for easy one pot meals, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or other content on the site, please consider supporting Grantourismo. You could buy us a coffee and we’ll use that donation to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing or you could contribute to our epic original Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon.
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Easy One Pot Meals – 5 Recipes for Minimal Mess, Maximum Flavour and Me Time
These are my 5 favourite recipes for easy one pot meals for an uncomplicated mid-week dinner. Each recipe uses one soup pot, wok, skillet or Dutch oven, so you have very few dishes to do and more time for you.
Easy Vegetarian Chilli Recipe for Chilli Con Carne Sin Carne (Without Meat)
Chillies are the absolute best one pot meals – along with soups, stews and curries – and my easy vegetarian chilli recipe makes a chilli con carne sin carne (without meat). It’s vegan if you eat it without sour cream and cheese.
While this bean chilli is a breeze to make and comes together quickly, it’s full of so much flavour thanks to the spices that even meat-lovers won’t miss the beef mince. (But here’s Terence’s chilli con carne (with meat), just in case.)
Like a bowl of congee, a chilli is best enjoyed with a variety of toppings and garnishes so each person can customise their bowl to their liking – jalapenos, guacamole, pickled onions, red salsa, lime quarters, Mexican cotija, and so on. Sure, that means extra dishes, but they’re little dishes.
Double the batch and you’ll have leftover chilli to make nachos or spread on quesadillas the next night, which means another minimal mess dinner. This veggie chilli is another one of my favourite easy one pot meals. Make classic margaritas or micheladas to wash it down with.
Classic Ribollita Soup Recipe for a Hearty Tuscan Style Bean, Kale and Bread Soup
This classic ribollita soup recipe makes another one of my favourite easy one pot meals, especially if you love soups as much as I do – warming winter soups, cold summer soups, fish soups, chicken soups, noodle soups, chicken noodle soups, I love them all. You too? Then you’re going to adore this ribollita recipe using stale sourdough bread.
The Tuscan bean, kale and bread soup, which is actually more like a stew, was invented to use up leftovers, including stale bread. ‘Ribollita’ means ‘re-boiled’ in Italian and traditionally this hearty vegetarian broth was made with leftover soup, such as minestrone or white bean soup that was re-boiled with old bread.
It’s a perfect example of a dish of Italy’s ‘cucina povera’, literally ‘poor cooking’, a traditional cuisine of the countryside that was born out of poverty and frugality and was all about stretching out ingredients and dishes, and making use of everything in the kitchen, so that nothing went to waste.
While you only have to devote an hour or so to watching this one-pot meal do its thing, authentic Italian recipes call for slow-cooking ribollita soups for at least a few hours. If you can let it simmer on the stove while you put your feet up, you’ll get an even richer and more delicious soup.
Gently Spiced Sweet Corn Soup Recipe with Ginger, Turmeric and Chilli Oil
Soups don’t get much easier to make than Terence’s sweet corn soup recipe with ginger, garlic, turmeric, and chilli oil. It’s another of the easiest one pot meals you can make and it’s also infinitely adaptable.
Terence created this soup just a few months into the pandemic when we were staying at home and quarantine cooking – that is, using ingredients to stretch out dishes or components of dishes over multiple meals to extend the time between stressful shopping trips.
One of Terence’s motivations for making this sweet corn soup were the contents of our fridge – the fresh ginger, galangal and turmeric we had sitting in the vegetable crisper, as well as the last of the homemade chilli oil Terence had made a few months earlier that he wanted to use so he could make another batch.
Another of Terence’s inspirations was Chinese egg drop soup which we only recently shared a recipe for… that’s delicious, too, and also only uses one pot. If you enjoy this corn soup, you should also like the corn chowder recipe I posted yesterday. Although it requires two pots…
Chorizo Cabbage and Three Bean Stew Recipe for a Spicy Take on a Traditional Eastern European Stew
This hearty chorizo cabbage and three bean stew recipe makes my spicy take on a traditional Eastern European stew my Russian grandmother cooked called kapustniak, kapustnyak or kapusniak in Russia, Ukraine and Poland, respectively, and it’s another of my favourite easy one pot meals.
This stew is typically lighter and more like a soup than a stew. It was originally made with kielbasa and sauerkraut in Ukraine and Poland, both of which claim to be the source of the dish that’s now found all over Central and Eastern Europe.
My Ukraine-born grandmother used a spicier Hungarian-style sausage – one no doubt seasoned with smoky paprika – which I’ve replaced with Spanish chorizo, for even more spice and colour and a greater depth of flavour.
If feeding a big family, make a bigger batch. This stew will definitely keep in the fridge for a few days. You should also feel free to water it down and turn it into a soup rather than a stew if you prefer, as it is served in a thinner consistency in Europe.
When you do serve it, provide more fragrant fresh dill for garnishing, and some dishes of homemade dill pickles and pickled cabbage, and sour cream, along with salt and pepper, and slices of rye bread or sourdough. A Russian garden salad is nice on the side, although that’s an additional dish to prepare…
Burmese Indian Style Chicken Curry Recipe for a Rich Curry Fragrant with Ginger, Turmeric and Garlic
This Burmese Indian style chicken curry recipe makes a rich curry fragrant with ginger, turmeric, garlic and chilli that has a homemade Burmese curry powder on its concise list of ingredients, and it’s another easy one pot meal – despite that list of ingredients.
I adapted this wonderful Burmese Indian style chicken curry from a charming cookbook I picked up in Yangon years ago. Dating to 1978, it’s by Mi Mi Khaing and it’s called Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, and it’s a treasure as much for its insights into Burmese home-cooking and entertaining in the Seventies as for Mi Mi Khaing’s delightful turn of phrase.
Mi Mi Khaing uses a homemade curry powder blend, as most Burmese women do, which includes cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander, peppercorns, bay leaf, and poppy seeds, which I’ve shared with a couple of tweaks, however, you could certainly use a store-bought curry powder.
Cooking the chicken pieces in a covered pot is crucial to keeping the chicken moist and tender, but for the final stage you need to remove the lid so that the sauce can really reduce. You will have to keep an eye on it so don’t go too far.
This curry is fantastic with Burmese coconut rice, which you should make in the rice cooker (one less pot), and a salad such as this Burmese raw cabbage salad or Shan tomato salad recipe, which are easy to make and don’t use many dishes, I promise.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make any of my favourite recipes for easy one pot meals as I’d love to know how they turn out for you.