Meal Plan

3-Ingredient Recipes That Are as Easy as 1-2-3 (Get It?)

Your next cooking project calls for more relaxation and downtime.

August 28, 2017
Photo by Rocky Luten

Meals should not be brief. We like to linger at the table, sneaking cold potatoes with our fingers and refilling our wine glasses and talking and talking and talking. But recipes? Those can be brief—and maybe they should be, letting the ingredients or the technique speak the loudest. Simple recipes like thick, buttery salad dressing that make a salad into a real side dish. Simple and delicious light biscuits easy enough to make any morning of the week. Super-creamy ice cream that's no-churn to boot. For these 31 easy recipes with no more than 3 ingredients, the magic is in their simplicity. Peruse our 31 favorite 3-ingredient recipes (dashes of salt and pepper don’t count), and find a new addition to your minimal effort repertoire (a very important repertoire to have).

1 ingredient

1. The Kitchn's One-Ingredient Ice Cream 

One bunch of super ripe bananas is all you need to make creamy, sweet “ice cream.” Add flecks of chocolate or a few spoonfuls of peanut butter to the mix to change up the flavor while still keeping it at under three ingredients.

one ingredient ice cream 

2. Sugarfree Grape Jam (Scrucchiata)

Sweet, dark grapes like concords work best for this one-ingredient jam. The fruit cooks for hours, bringing out its natural sweetness and concentrating the flavor as it thickens.

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grape jam

3. Frico

Few things are simpler and more delicious than crispy cheese. Frico are made by baking grated cheese in little mounds so that salty and savory little crackers are formed. Use good-quality cheese, since it’s the only ingredient.


4. Valrhona Caramelized White Chocolate

Use good chocolate with plenty of cocoa butter to make this beautifully caramelized sauce that’s so much better than plain white chocolate. Sandwich it between shortbread cookies, drizzle cupcakes, dip doughnuts, or use to top chocolate ice cream.

caramelized white chocolate

5. Apple Chips 

Use your favorite variety of apple to make crisp and naturally sweet apple chips. This recipe is a great way to use up a glut of fruit from apple picking.

apple chips

6. Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse

A nifty science trick allows you melt chocolate into water, whisk it as it cools, and just like that you’ve made a creamy vegan mousse. The better the chocolate, the better the mousse—we recommend around 70 percent.

herve this chocolate mousse

2 ingredients

7. Homemade Crème Fraîche

If you have trouble finding crème fraîche in your local grocery store or balk at the price tag, you can make your own at home with just two ingredients. Plan ahead since the mixture needs to sit about 24 hours until thick and creamy. 

homemade creme fraiche

8. Brown Butter Tomatoes

If you’re lucky enough to have your hands on some perfectly ripe summertime tomatoes, don’t bury them in a sandwich or pasta. Slice them just so and drizzle with browned butter straight from the pan before devouring.

brown butter tomatoes  

9. Magic Shell

Pour this melty chocolate and coconut oil mixture over ice cream and watch it form a crispy, cracky shell right before your eyes (like… magic!). It’s as simple as melting the ingredients in the microwave, and leftovers can be reheated again for later use.

magic shell

10. Cookies and Cream Bars 

Melted white chocolate and crushed Oreos form a crunchy, creamy bark that kids and adults will love. Make a big batch and store excess in the fridge for an anytime treat.

cookies and cream bars

11. Everyday Avocado Dressing

Avocado and lemon juice are blended with a little water to make a creamy, healthy dressing that you can drizzle on salads, grain bowls, or vegetable side dishes. Customize the recipe by adding spices like cumin or fresh herbs.

avocado dressing

12. King Arthur Flour's Never-Fail Biscuits

For when you need biscuits right now, mix up this two-ingredient recipe and enjoy the warm, fluffy results in mere minutes. Self-rising flour already has the leavening agent built in, so all you have to do is add heavy cream.


13. Torrone Siciliano (Italian Almond Brittle)

Sweet, crunchy, nutty, and chewy—with just two ingredients, almond brittle is more than the sum of its parts. Watch carefully when making the caramel, and don’t stir it once melted, or risk ending up with a crystalized mess.

almond brittle

14. Baby Purple Artichokes Fried in Olive Oil

While deep frying can lead to some fussy moments in the kitchen, these little artichokes are simply trimmed, added to the hot oil, and cooked without the need for batter. Starting at a lower temperature and then cranking up the heat yields crispy leaves and tender interiors.

baby purple artichokes

15. Carlo Middione's Polenta Facile

The techniques used in this recipe is key to perfectly smooth polenta. You can swap some of the water for stock or milk or even add cream, but there’s no need. Serve as a base for saucy stewed meat or bolognese.

polenta facile

16. Patricia Wells' Fake Frites

These fries are steamed first before being tossed with a little oil and finished in a high-heat oven, making them tender inside and crisp on the outside. Season to taste with salt and serve with plenty of ketchup.

fake frites

17. Roasted Red Peppers

Roasting red peppers intensifies their flavor while mellowing out their bite. They’re a cinch to make and can be tossed in salads, added to sandwiches, blended into soups, or used to make sauces and dips.

roasted red peppers

3 ingredients

18. Peachy Buttermilk Sherbet

Tangy, creamy buttermilk is the ideal counterpoint to sweet, juicy peaches in this no-fuss sherbet. No ice cream maker needed—simply combine the sugar and buttermilk and add to a food processor along with frozen peaches.

peachy buttermilk sherbet

19. Carta Musica (Semolina Crackers)

Ultra thin and crispy, these homemade crackers will make your next appetizer spread or snack time extra special. Roll them out super thin and then enjoy watching them puff and brown through the oven door.

sardinian crackers

20. Torrone Sardo (Sardinian Nougat)

You only need a few ingredients to make torrone, and no special equipment is required—just plenty of patience. The key is to cook it slowly over a bain marie while stirring until it achieves that perfect nougat texture.

torrone sardo

21. Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter


Home gardeners know that peak summertime means you’re often swimming in squash and zucchini. Turn the vegetable into a buttery spread (without any actual butter) that you can spread on toast, pizza, or sandwiches.

zucchini butter  

22. Homemade Frozen Yogurt

Making your own frozen yogurt is as simple as whisking together plain yogurt, sugar, and salt and churning the mixture in an ice cream maker. Pretend you’re at the froyo shop and load it up with toppings.

homemade frozen yogurt

23. Calabrian Walnut Cake (Torta di Noci)

Walnuts, eggs, and sugar are all it takes to make this moist, nutty cake. Line your pan with parchment or use a springform pan and let the cake cool completely before removing for the best results.

calabrian walnut cake  

24. Pretzel Shortbread Cookies

For Molly Yeh's salty-sweet take on shortbread, use pretzel flour (pretzels ground up into a fine, flour-like powder). To make uniform, perfectly sized bites, press the mixture into a mini muffin tin.

pretzel shortbread cookies

25. Roasted & Whipped Bone Marrow 

Swap out boring old butter with whipped marrow for a burst of beefy, fatty flavor on toast, pasta, roasted veggies, or steak. Have the butcher canoe the bones for you for easy access to the marrow.

roasted and whipped bone marrow

26. Raspberry Fruit Roll-Ups


Swap the store-bought stuff for fruit leather made with just fresh fruit, honey, and lemon. You can swap out the raspberries for other fruit like peaches and blueberries.

raspberry fruit roll-ups

27. Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte

Have you ever eaten a truffle and thought “I wish I could eat an entire slice of this?” Then make this rich torte that has the texture and flavor you’re looking for but on a (thankfully) larger scale.

chocolate oblivion cake 

28. Arrosticini (Barbecued Lamb Skewers)


Cooked over a hot grill with a hint of rosemary, arrosticini are delightful served as an appetizer or as part of a dinnertime spread. Add a pinch or two of chili flakes for a little heat.

lamb skewers

29. Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter


Made with fresh tomatoes, butter, and onion, this recipe is an internet favorite for good reason. Use the best tomatoes you can get, whether they are fresh or canned, like whole San Marzano tomatoes.

marcella hazan tomato sauce

30. Watermelon Pudding (Gelo d'Anguria)


This cheery pink vegan pudding has a delicate, summery flavor that’s refreshing on a hot day. Use a ripe, sweet, juicy watermelon for the best tasting dessert.

watermelon pudding

31. Dorie Greenspan's 3-Ingredient Almond Crackle Cookies


Whip up these gluten-free crackle cookies when you need a last-minute sweet. You can bake them in muffin tins to keep them perfectly round or let them go more freeform on a baking sheet.

almond crackle cookies

Have you found any magic 3-ingredients-or-fewer recipes? Let us know in the comments! 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • melissa
  • BarbaraJoy
  • boulangere
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


melissa September 30, 2016
My go-to dinner when I can't be bothered: boil soba noodles; rinse under cold water; toss with soy sauce and sesame oil. That's the minimum. If you want, you can add whatever's on hand (I love roasted red cabbage, sesame seeds, cilantro, etc).
BarbaraJoy September 5, 2015
Roxanne Gold has been my trusted cookbook author for 3 ingredient recipes for years. She has changed the way I cook eat and the way I eat! It definitely is a whole food approach and much healthier and very tasty!
boulangere September 4, 2015
If one prepared all of these at once, they wouldn't add up to a meal, with the possible exception of Marcella hazan's pasta sauce. X number ingredients or less recipes seem to be designed to get one out of the kitchen, not invite one into it.