TGIF! As soon as the week winds down, I find myself searching for perfect Friday night dinner ideas.
I like to make Friday’s meal a little more special, too. I’ll often look for easy dinner recipes that seem like a reward for making it through another week!
Let’s be honest; the weekend’s arrival is definitely cause to celebrate.
And this list of 25 fabulous Friday night dinner ideas has everything from light bites to family faves. You can’t go wrong with any of these dishes!
1. The BEST Tater Tot Casserole
This casserole brings back so many fond memories of Friday dinner at home when you’d have pizza and tots. This recipe is a little more grown-up.
If you don’t want to use ground beef, shredded chicken would make a great alternative. You could also swap out those green beans for corn or broccoli.
2. Easy One-Pan Maple Glazed Salmon
I love salmon because it has a beautiful flavor all on its own, but it also takes on other flavors so well. Not to mention, it cooks in minutes!
You’ll need an oven-safe bowl for this, so you can start the fish on the stove and finish cooking in the oven.
The sauce will cook right in the pan, and be sure to baste the fish a few times before serving.
3. Sloppy Joe Pizza
Sloppy joe pizza might sound a little messy, which it can be if you add enough toppings! But it makes so much sense when you think about it.
Seasoned ground beef on top of tomato sauce and light pizza dough? Oh, and a lot of grated cheese? Yes, please!
4. Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
The slow cooker was basically made for pulled pork. It’s a fool-proof way of cooking pork until it’s fork-tender and perfect.
But adding extra flavor just got easier. Cooking meat in soda is tried and true, and when you use Dr. Pepper, you’re guaranteed sweet and spicy in one dish.
5. Nacho Pot Pie
Anytime I can eat nachos for dinner, I’m a happy camper. This will be a sure-fire hit with the kids, too!
Using taco seasoning to make the roux is such a brilliant idea that ensures every bite is more flavorful than the last.
I love the crunch you get from the chips, and I like to use something spicy for an extra kick, but you could add pasta or layer with corn tortillas.
6. Coca Cola Chicken
Remember what I said about cooking meat in soda? Well, here we are again, but with something fun and new.
Not only will the cola add a sweet and sticky coating to the chicken, but it will also soak in, adding flavor and moisture.
All you’ll have to do is add everything to a baking dish and cook.
7. Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas
As much as I love a good fajita, I find myself missing some sauce. That’s what’s so great about enchiladas.
You’ll get lots of cheese and sauce along with all that great filling.
To make these veggie-friendly, you can use any combination you prefer. Anything goes here, from mushrooms to squash!
8. Best-Ever Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Friday night pizza goes back decades and has been a family favorite since I was a kid.
Over the years, we’ve alternated between ordering in and making our own, and last year especially, we got very good at making pizza.
The beauty of the DIY pizza is that you can customize it any way you can dream up.
And with amazing store-bought pizza dough ready to go, it can be ready in under half an hour.
9. Meatball Sub
I’ve mentioned before that when I make meatballs, I always double up the recipe to freeze some for later.
One of my favorite quick meals to use them up is meatball subs.
I like to use a soft roll for mine since they’re pretty hefty, which I always brush with a touch of garlic butter.
Use your favorite marinara sauce and don’t be shy with the cheese.
One way to up your meatball sub game is to throw on some peppers and onions or scatter across a few chilis for a little heat.
10. Old-Fashioned Beef Stew
Beef stew is such a satisfying dish. The only reason it’s not on my table more is that beef isn’t cheap!
But when you can find the right cut for the right price, this is a must-make.
Keep it classic with potatoes and the holy trinity (onions, carrots, and celery), or go a little crazy with some butternut squash, mushrooms, or even lentils.
11. Blackened Mahi Mahi
Mahi mahi is a mild white fish with a lovely, delicate, buttery flavor. Best of all, it has a nice firm texture, which makes cooking with it a dream.
To make this blackened fish, pat dry your fillets and cover them in the spice mix. Cook them in butter, and don’t move the fish!
Let the butter and the heat work into the fish to make a fantastic crust. Some of the spices will seep into the butter, which you can pour over the fish as you serve.
12. Lipton Onion Soup Meatloaf
Who knew that adding something as simple as a dry soup mix could make meatloaf so amazing?!
I love this recipe. The loaf is super moist and tender, and the flavors infused from the soup make it something really special.
I also like to use half the amount of ketchup and add in some BBQ sauce, too.
13. The Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie
From the smell to the taste, shepherd’s pie is so comforting. The creamy mashed potatoes on top of the meat and vegetable mix are one of my favorite winter-warmers.
As much as I love the ground beef mix, I’ve been known to use leftover beef stew. The shredded meat chunks make such a nice change to this classic dish.
14. Bisquick Cheeseburger Pie
This is one of those recipes you have to try to believe.
The magic of baking lets the Bisquick mix sink and bake into both a cheesy, quiche-like filling, along with a tender, buttery crust.
The ground beef works especially well to get that great cheeseburger flavor, but I also like to use sausage meat or bacon.
15. Goan Fish Curry
Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the curry sauces you can find in a jar, but the homemade stuff is always better.
Fish curry is such a light and tasty dish and is an excellent way to get some omega-3s!
The sauce is a simple mixture of coconut milk and spices, and the fish cooks right in the pan, soaking up all that flavor.
16. Homemade Extra Cheese Pizza
Making pizza dough really doesn’t have to be that hard, and this recipe keeps it simple.
There’s nothing like pressing your own dough, getting the thickness of the pizza just right.
I love this extra cheese version, but you can go crazy with whatever toppings you prefer. If you do stick with just cheese, don’t be afraid to experiment.
I like something mature, but you can’t go wrong with a bit of brie.
17. Toad in the Hole Recipe
Toad in the hole is a classic British dish that a lot of people struggle with.
The truth is, plenty of Brits struggle to make Yorkshire puddings, too, so don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out perfectly the first time.
The trick to getting lovely light Yorkshire is to let the batter rest.
My Nanna used to make it in the morning for dinner, leaving it in the fridge until she was ready to use it.
18. Easy Burrito Bowls
I think people stay away from homemade burritos because they’re just never quite the same. Maybe it’s a lack of sauce, or they skip the toasting step at the end.
But there’s no going wrong with a good burrito bowl. All you’ll need to do is layer everything on top of your grains, which can be rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.
This recipe is especially easy because it uses ready-made ingredients like canned black beans and corn.
19. Cheeseburger Soup
Living with a soup-hater is very difficult. For one thing, I love soup and would eat it every day if I could.
For another, it’s such an easy meal to make that will last a few solid days in the fridge.
This recipe, however, will win over any soup-hater. It’s loaded with flavor and full of potato, veggies, bacon, beef, and cheese!
Serve with some crunchy bread and some extra cheese on top.
20. Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe
Stuffed peppers are a tasty, filling, and inexpensive dinner that’s always a hit.
These are satisfying enough to serve as a main course, but they also work well as a side to everything from pork chops to roasted chicken.
21. Baked Falafel Burgers
I’ve had good falafel and bad falafel. It’s easy to make these and have them come out dry, but I promise, with this recipe, you’ll have tender burgers every time.
I like to add some tahini to mine, to ensure flavor and moisture, but so long as you don’t overcook them, they will be perfect.
22. Philly Cheesesteak
There’s no denying the irresistibility of a Philly cheesesteak.
Short of making monthly trips to the City of Brotherly Love, mastering this recipe at home is going to change your weekly dinner routine.
For the absolute BEST cheesesteak, you have to splurge and get some ribeye. Trust me; it’s worth the extra pennies for the end result.
23. 15-Minute Easy Margherita Flatbread Pizza
So you’re in the mood for Friday night pizza, but the thought of making dough – or running to the store to buy some – is too much.
Well, this shortcut version is definitely for you!
Using naan bread is a stroke of genius. It’s light, tender, and makes the perfect base for a quick pizza.
And if you use garlic naan, you’ll get added flavor without having to lift a finger.
24. Easy One-Pot American Goulash
I love the simplicity of this dish. It has everything you want out of a pasta dish, and then some. Plus it’s so easy to modify.
I like to throw in some zucchini instead of bell peppers, and I like to add some chili flakes for heat. You can also roast the garlic before adding it for a kick of flavor.
25. How To Make Poutine
Having lived in both Canada and the UK, I have a deep love for poutine.
The Canadian version, with gravy and cheese curds, is something special, and I used to order it at least once a month when I was in Toronto.
Cheese curds are a must here. They have the stretchy quality of mozzarella with a punchier flavor that is more like a cheddar.
And for a deep gravy, be sure to use beef broth!