25 Main Dish Dinners for People Who Claim They Can't Cook

August 17, 2016

Our all-staff Slack room is where we instant message (and constantly distract) each other for the entirety of the day. It's full of ho-hum office ins-and-outs (leaking sinks, urgent desk clean-ups), but also lots of fun food-related questions and answers that—here's a wild guess—probably don't come up at many other companies.

Like this one, from our Operations Manager Olivia Bloom: "What would be your #1 Food52 recipe to suggest to your little brother who doesn’t cook?" Requirements: Must include meat. Doesn't necessarily have to be impressive (but hey, that helps).​

Here's the list we came up with, adding in some seafood, too. (And a special shout out to Merrill, whose recipes appear here over and over again.) Share the list with your little brother—or older brother, or aunt, or friend—who doesn't cook. Then invite yourself over for dinner (but bring a bottle of wine).


If you don't have a grill, use a big, heavy skillet or grill pan to make this steak:


This could be you:


Cook these chops on the stove (best option: in a grill pan) if you don't have access to a real live grill.


Beginners, you don't have to choose the 3-hour smoking option—simply bake the cod at 350° F for about 20 minutes skin side down, then broil the top for 2 minutes:​

What recipes do you suggest to friends and relatives who don't cook? Tell us in the comments below!

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The Dynamite Chicken cookbook is here! Get ready for 60 brand-new ways to love your favorite bird. Inside this clever collection by Food52 and chef Tyler Kord, you'll find everything from lightning-quick weeknight dinners to the coziest of comfort foods.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Georgia Scharff
    Georgia Scharff
  • Olivia Bloom
    Olivia Bloom
  • barbara manolache
    barbara manolache
  • Nancy
  • SGSF
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Georgia S. October 3, 2016
I read through several of these recipes. They sound great, and not hard for an experienced cook. For a beginner? No.
Olivia B. August 22, 2016
Update: He made the Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema—they were a hit! He didn't use a grill, and just pan-fried them ((not)recipes moment). The only snag was navigating the grocery store: "Where do I find buttermilk?"
barbara M. August 21, 2016
Thank you for the wonderful array of dishes - I can cook (well) but always welcome a list like yours. I'm hoping Oliver now wants sides and dessert too. You folks are always great!
Nancy August 21, 2016
Yes, veggie ideas, too, please!
SGSF August 21, 2016
Yes, was surprised to not see a single meat-free option in 25 dishes.
Sarah J. August 21, 2016
This collection was meat-based, per Oliva's request, but we'll definitely do another list of veg mains, too. Stay tuned! :)
IsabelleG August 21, 2016
I would love an equivalent list for vegetarian mains. We eat some meat but mostly vegetarian, and I do not the majority of the cooking. I think my husband is a good cook but he doesn't have much confidence with new recipes. I'd love a list like this for him!
Sarah J. August 21, 2016
We'll work on it!
Kitty M. August 18, 2016
What about for vegetarians who hate to cook?
My boyfriend basically lives off pb n j unless I'm making the meal.