In the hustle and bustle of daily life, finding time to cook elaborate meals can be a challenge, especially on weeknights when you are already short on time. One-pot meals are a great solution for busy people and families, making cooking easier and offering a straightforward solution to this dilemma.

Not only do they promise a delicious outcome with minimal effort, but the single pot means washing up is a breeze, leaving more time to relax.

Let’s dive into some quick and easy one-pot wonders that won’t take much time to make but will still taste great.

1. Classic Beef Stew

There’s something inherently comforting about a bowl of beef stew. Its rich, hearty flavors and tender meat, combined with a medley of vegetables, make it a staple one-pot meal.

To begin, brown chunks of beef in a large pot, adding a layer of flavor that’s essential for a deep, savory broth.

Once browned, remove the beef and sauté onions, carrots, and celery in the same pot, taking advantage of the residual fat for added taste.

Return the beef to the pot, pour in beef stock, and add potatoes. Let it simmer until the beef is fall-apart tender.

2. Chicken Tortilla Soup

For a dish that brings warmth and spice to your dinner table with minimal fuss, Chicken Tortilla Soup is unbeatable.

Start by sautéing onions, garlic, and bell peppers until soft. Add diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, and green chilies for a flavorful base. Add boneless chicken breasts or thighs into this mixture, pour in chicken stock, and season with cumin, chili powder, and salt.

Let the soup simmer until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Serve with crispy tortilla strips, avocado, and a dollop of sour cream for a complete meal that’s both satisfying and incredibly easy to prepare.

3. One-Pot Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is traditionally a dish that requires precise timing and technique, but it’s possible to simplify it into a one-pot meal without losing the essence of this Italian classic.

The key is to cook the pasta in just enough water to absorb and become al dente.

Start by rendering pancetta or bacon in a large pot, then add garlic to infuse the fat with flavor. Add the spaghetti directly to the pot along with the water, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Once the pasta is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and quickly stir in beaten eggs and grated Parmesan cheese, using the residual heat to create a creamy sauce without scrambling the eggs. The result is a comforting bowl of Carbonara with a fraction of the usual cleanup.

4. Vegetarian Chili

A hearty vegetarian chili can be just as satisfying as its meat-based counterpart, packed with beans, lentils, and a rainbow of vegetables.

Start by sautéing onions, bell peppers, and garlic in a large pot. Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils, followed by vegetable stock to bring everything together. The spices—chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika—provide depth and warmth, while a dash of cocoa powder adds an unexpected richness.

Simmer until the vegetables are tender, and the flavors meld together.

Serve with fresh cilantro, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime for a nutritious meal full of flavor and texture, proving that quick and easy doesn’t have to mean boring or bland.

5. Quick and Easy Jambalaya

Jambalaya, a hallmark of Creole cuisine, typically conjures images of slow cooking and complex flavors, but it’s entirely possible to whip up a simplified one-pot version on a weeknight.

Begin by sautéing diced onion, celery, and bell pepper—the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking—until softened. Add sliced andouille sausage and chicken pieces to brown, infusing the pot with rich flavors.

Stir in rice, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and a generous helping of Cajun or Creole seasoning for that signature kick. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Quick, easy, and packed with flavor, this one-pot jambalaya brings a taste of Louisiana to your table with minimal cleanup.

6. Thai Green Curry with Vegetables

For those craving something exotic with minimal effort, a Thai green curry is a go-to.

In a large pot, simmer coconut milk with green curry paste to awaken the flavors. Add chunks of chicken or keep it vegetarian with a variety of vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Bamboo shoots and Thai basil add authenticity and crunch.

The curry comes together as the vegetables soften and the sauce thickens, creating a richly flavored, creamy dish.

Serve over steamed rice for a complete meal that transports you to the streets of Bangkok on a busy weeknight.

7. Simple Shakshuka

Shakshuka, a North African and Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs in a simmering tomato and pepper sauce, is surprisingly straightforward to make in one pot.

Start by cooking down onions, bell peppers, and garlic until they’re soft and sweet. Stir in canned tomatoes, cumin, paprika, and a hint of cayenne for heat, creating a thick sauce. Gently crack eggs into the sauce, cover, and cook until the whites are set but the yolks remain runny.

Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley and serve with crusty bread for dipping into the flavorful sauce.

8. One-Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

For a comforting dish that feels indulgent but is deceptively simple, creamy mushroom pasta fits the bill.

In a large pot, sauté sliced mushrooms in butter until golden and fragrant. Add garlic and thyme for aromatic depth, then pour in broth and heavy cream, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Stir in uncooked pasta, allowing it to cook directly in the sauce and absorb all the flavors.

As the pasta finishes, it releases starches that thicken the sauce, creating a rich and creamy texture.


The beauty of one-pot meals lies in their simplicity and the ingenuity with which they combine flavors, textures, and ingredients to create something truly special out of an ordinary weeknight dinner. From the deep, developed flavors of a classic beef stew to the exotic appeal of Thai green curry, these dishes prove that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen or clean up a sink full of dishes to enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal.

Whether you’re in the mood for something comforting, like creamy mushroom pasta, or something with a bit of spice, like chicken tortilla soup, there’s a one-pot meal that can satisfy your craving.

Mom holding baby and stirring a pot on the stove making a one pot meal for dinner. Text reads 8 one pot meals simplify dinner for busy moms.