If you've ever gone to a restaurant on Valentine's Day you know what a miserable experience it can be. For starters, the place will likely be packed with every kind of couple, ranging from the pair that can't keep their hands off each other to the duo who clearly got into a fight on the way to dinner. To add to that, the menu is pretty much guaranteed to be pre-set and overpriced (think: $95 for overdone steak, a mixed green salad, and blistering-hot chocolate lava cake).
All this to say, my favorite way to spend Valentine's Day—whether it's solo, with my best friend, or my boyfriend—is cooking at home. There's just something far more relaxing and intimate about preparing one of my favorite dishes for someone I really care about (and yep, that someone can also be just me).
Instead of scrambling for a reservation this year, maybe you'll want to do the same. And if that's the case, you might want some dinner inspiration. So, here are 32 of our best Valentine's Day dinner recipes—from the creamiest, cheesiest fettucine alfredo to vegan enchilada casserole. As for dessert, we've got you covered there, too.
Personally, I would be very impressed if someone made me this perfectly cooked steak (perfectly cooked, as in medium rare) coated in a brown sugar and bourbon rub.
This braised onion sauce takes at least two hours to simmer down into jammy, complex, onion-y perfection, which is why I only make it for people I love.
If a classic roast chicken is good enough for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, then it's good enough for you and me.
This contest-winning short rib ragu takes a few hours to prepare, so whoever's lucky enough to be eating it will know you put plenty of thought and preparation into dinner.
Don't let the idea of whole-roasting a fish intimidate you—if you let the fishmonger do most of the work (cleaning and descaling) for you, it's actually quite easy.
Cauliflower is the base for a very-creamy, very-satisfying baked pasta that just so happens to be vegan.
A pink meal on Valentine's Day? No, it's not cliché. In fact, I think I'd be positively charmed if someone served me this beetroot risotto with dollops of tangy goat cheese (plus, a glass of rosé).
You could use the caramelized pork from this recipe any which way (over rice or with noodles, for starters), but it shines in a crunchy bánh mì sandwich with pickled vegetables and pâté.
Make 'breakfast for dinner' the theme of your Valentine's Day and I bet you money it will be a hit. Serve this damn good French toast with whipped cream, strawberries, a side of bacon, and a couple of mimosas.
It doesn't get more classic—or crowd-pleasing—than this "really good," "super tasty," "amazing no matter what" spaghetti bolognese.
11. Vegetarian Ramen
This vegetarian ramen packs just as much of an umami punch as its meat-centric counterparts thanks to a pitch-perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors.
According to reviews, the smells of this roast pork is "intoxicating as it roasts throughout the night," which sounds like a great way to set the mood for Valentine's Day.
If you aren't a salmon fan, fear not: you can use this slow-roasting technique on your favorite type of fish—it's pretty much universally delicious.
Since there's a good chance you'll be opening a bottle of red wine anyway, you might as well use a splash in this Instant Pot chicken.
If you're in the mood for lighter, brighter fare, consider this easy-to-assemble salad with sweet-tart strawberries, quinoa, goat cheese, and a runny poached egg.
This contest-winning soup makes a lovely starter, but it can also double as a main, especially when it's served with thick, crusty bread.
Ina Garten can do no wrong in my eyes, particularly because every recipe or cooking tip she's ever handed to me has been a success—and this creamy, roasted tomato pasta is no exception.
For something a bit more hands-on, whip up these coconut-lime pork tacos and lay on all your Valentine's favorite toppings, from black beans and avocado to mango salsa and sour cream.
Simple to prepare, yet very elegant-looking, this classic chicken piccata is worthy of any Valentine's Day dinner.
Whether you make these sticky ribs for Valentine's Day or another occasion, listen to the reviewers and make sure to save the broth for an "unbelievably delicious" ramen.
This miso-mushroom pasta has been called "the ultimate comfort food," and I think that makes it more than qualified to be the star of your Valentine's Day dinner.
The best (and easiest?) way to marinate flank steak? Marinate after you grill it, so the meat maximally soaks up allllll those bright, tangy flavors.
If it's chilly where you live on Valentine's Day, serve up these pan-seared pork chops with a few wintry-feeling additions: crisp diced apples and sage-infused brown butter.
Vegans and non-vegans alike will have a hard time not falling in love with this enchilada casserole that's easy to make ahead of time and pop in the oven when you're ready.
I find it hard to believe that you could miss having a meaty main dish for dinner when this showstopping whole-roasted cauliflower is sitting in front of you.
Spring peas aren't in season yet, but that's OK—frozen will work just fine in this lovely seared scallops recipe that'll get you very excited about the fact that warmer weather is just around the corner. Well, almost.
This fettucine alfredo is one of the best in town and that's all I'm going to say about it.
With just a little bit of planning, this fresher, brighter take on Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken is ready in just a few minutes.
This vegetarian chickpea bowl makes a great guest star on a plate of grilled chicken, roasted salmon, crispy tofu, you name it.
There's nothing quite as romantic as a cheese pull (at least to me, anyway), so you can bet your bottom dollar this Martha mac and cheese will be on my Valentine's Day dinner table.
Speaking of romantic cheese pulls, fondue is another excellent option.
32. Rao's Meatballs
For some reason these big, chunky meatballs just scream Valentine's Day. Maybe because they're perfect for sharing.