We all want to cook more rather than getting takeout or eating ready meals every weeknight. For a lot of us, the problem isn’t that we can’t or don’t want to cook, it’s that we can’t face washing all the different pots and pans we used afterwards.
However, there is a simple way to minimize this thankless struggle – cook one pot meals. Cooking a meal where you only need one pot to cook it means that all you need to wash later is that pot, your plate, and your knife and fork.
If you can’t face doing it the same night, just a few things won’t look terrible in the sink, so just leave them to soak overnight and do them the next day! Let’s get into our list of the best one pot meals.
We kick off the list with a warming, wonderfully seasoned stew that’s a perfect winter favorite. It’s not exactly a quick meal, but it’s not difficult either, it just takes some time to cook.
It’s a fairly simple dish – chicken legs stewed until tender in a delicious tomato and paprika sauce with some bell peppers, onions, and parsley – but it tastes absolutely delicious and goes equally well with rice or mashed potatoes.
If you want to leave the carbs out, it’s hearty enough to stand as a meal on its own, too. What could be better?
Unlike the last recipe, this one is quick to make – once you’ve had a bit of practice, you’ll be able to have the whole thing done in ten minutes!
The dish is an explosion of joyful flavors – hot chili peppers, Thai basil, garlic, salt from the soy and fish sauces, and a hint of sweetness from the shallots.
You can substitute other meats for the chicken if you like – pork is a popular variation, but beef would work nicely too. Serve it over rice, if you like.
Pork goes excellently with mustard and apples, and those are the two flavors that it’s paired up with here. The recipe calls for wholegrain mustard, but if you like your mustard smoother, you can try your favorite kind as well.
The apple seasoning comes from hard cider rather than apples themselves (they’d get a bit mushy in the slow cooker) but you can substitute apple juice and stock.
The result is a wonderful marriage of the apple and mustard, which balances the sweet fruitiness of the apple with the earthy richness of the mustard in a way that perfectly complements the pork.
On a list of the all-time greatest comfort foods, mac and cheese would be sure of a spot somewhere near, if not at, the very top. It’s also an ideal dish to look to if you’re in need of a one pot dinner.
The secret is to cook the macaroni in the milk that you’ll later use to make the sauce – no separate pan of boiling water, no need to rinse after it’s cooked.
It sounds too good to be true, but this is reality! Even better, it’ll only take you about 15 minutes. The result will be a macaroni with a delightfully thick, creamy, cheesy sauce.
You’ll feel like you’ve cheated to get food this good in 15 minutes with only one pan to wash afterwards, but all’s fair in food and war!
This delicious Cajun rice dish has the helpful bonus of including the rice as part of the recipe, so you won’t need to prepare any carbs separately to accompany it.
The bold flavors are a heady mixture of smoked andouille sausage, mixed Cajun spices, and the Cajun holy trinity: onion, celery, and bell peppers.
It’s alive with color, too, making it a feast for all the senses. It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to make in large amounts for big gatherings and is always a hit at parties, where the lively flavor combinations add to the festive atmosphere.
This is even better than a one pot meal – it’s two meals in one pot! This recipe nets you a delicious, creamy risotto, along with some wonderfully crispy roast chicken.
It’ll only take 5 minutes of prep, too, so it’s perfect for weeknights. The fat in the chicken renders and soaks into the rice, giving it a lovely meaty flavor, and its skin crisps up beautifully too.
Unlike some oven risotto recipes, this one isn’t overbaked with mushy rice – it’s perfectly creamy with an ideal bite to it.
Biryani is a mixed rice dish that comes from the Indian subcontinent. It can be made in several different ways with all kinds of different ingredients – the only real constant is rice. This is a simple version with chicken as the protein of choice.
It’s a tender, juicy dish with caramelized onions and a mixture of Indian spices to give it a rich depth of flavor. Feel free to do a vegetarian version if you like, biryani is an endlessly adaptable dish that can accommodate just about any ingredients.
Korean culture has been taking the world by storm for the last 10 or so years, so you might have heard of bulgogi already. If your knowledge of Korea only extends to K-Pop or Korean soap operas, bulgogi is a type of thinly sliced, marinated Korean beef.
This dish sees it used as the star ingredient in a delicious, hearty stew. The recipe also calls for mushrooms and tofu along with several other vegetables.
The tofu is great at absorbing flavor and the vegetables add excellent texture. Trusted for bringing comfort and warmth in the harsh Korean winter, this stew is a dish you’ll want to come back to at any time of year.
Laksa is a kind of spiced noodle soup originating from Southeast Asia and it just bursts with bright flavors. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll agree that there’s nothing else quite like it.
Chili, lime, cilantro, and a whole galaxy of other herbs and spices combine to make this unique taste. The addition of noodles makes it very substantial, and you’ll find that laksa makes a fine meal without the need for anything extra.
It’s curry and soup, the best of both worlds!
Trinidad is a Caribbean island with an interesting history and a sumptuous culinary tradition. Just one example of that is this dish: Trini Pelau, as it’s casually known.
It showcases several Trinidadian/Caribbean flavors, most notably green seasoning (a complex mixture of vegetables and herbs that’s similar to sofrito but spicy) and burnt sugar (don’t worry, it’s not actually burnt, just caramelized).
The huge range and depth of flavor in the dish makes it another one that’s great for parties or happy gatherings, since the bold flavors will add to the atmosphere of the occasion.
Shakshuka is a dish that’s huge in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s often considered a breakfast dish, but you could eat it at any kind of day, really. It’s a flavorful mixture of tomatoes with spices (garlic, paprika, cumin, chili) cooked up together and topped with eggs.
The eggs are just cracked straight into the pan and cooked atop the sauce mixture. Quick, simple, and delicious. It’s usually not particularly spicy, but feel free to crank up the heat if you like things hot.
Kung pao chicken is a takeout staple in the US. While you’re probably not surprised to learn that most American takeout joints aren’t serving up totally authentic Chinese food, you might be surprised to hear that most US kung pao chicken isn’t a million miles away from a Chinese original.
This version is designed to come as close as possible to the original dish, which originates from China’s Sichuan province. The recipe includes Sichuan peppercorns, an ingredient with a unique flavor that numbs the mouth.
It’s usually combined with chili peppers in Sichuan cuisine to create a flavor called málà (literally “numbing spice”).
Málà is the central flavor in this dish, though it’s helped along by other Chinese staples like Chinkiang vinegar and Shaoxing wine. A delicious, quick meal for any weeknight.
13. One-pan Pasta
A simple take on an Italian classic. The pasta is cooked with the other ingredients, meaning that there’s no need for a separate pan to boil it in. The sauce is a flavorsome, classic tomato sauce with an onion base.
It’s livened up with a hint of chili, though you can feel free to add more than the recipe suggests for extra heat. Once you’ve made pasta this way, you won’t want to go back!
You can use whatever kind of white fish fillets you like for this simple, nutritious dish. It’ll be accompanied by cannellini beans, capers, and pine nuts for a wonderfully Mediterranean flavor, which is capped with a squeeze of lemon juice.
You might not believe that all of this will come together in just one pot, but you’d be surprised. It works as a meal for one, but also for a whole family, as long as you have a large pan.
This one could hardly be simpler – if you don’t include the oil, salt, and pepper, it only has 5 ingredients! It’s a rustic, warming stew of lamb seasoned with rosemary with olives, pickled onions, and plum tomatoes – exactly what you need on any winter night.
It takes a couple of hours to cook, but once all the ingredients are mixed together, it doesn’t really need any attention until it’s done. It’s also very easy to make a large batch so that you’ve got leftovers for the next day, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a one pot recipe?
A one pot recipe is a recipe where all the ingredients are combined together in one pot (or pan) to cook. This means that you only have that one pot to wash after the cooking’s done, saving you time.
One pot recipes can be found in virtually every world cuisine so whether you’re craving Spanish or Sri Lankan, there’s a one pot recipe for you.
Can you cook one pot pasta?
You can indeed cook one pot pasta! There are even a couple of one pot pasta recipes on this list – check out the recipes numbered 4 and 13 (mac and cheese and one-pot pasta) for some inspiration.
Is risotto a one pot dish?
Not all risotto recipes are one pot, but some are, as it’s a pretty easy dish to keep to one pot. There’s a one pot risotto recipe on this list – have a look at recipe number 6.
This list should have given you enough one pot recipes to last you for quite a while. Now you can eat delicious food and be free of the tyranny of cleaning up after yourself. Go forth and begin your life anew!