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4-Ingredient Dinner Recipes for Busy Families

Perfect for the nights when you open your pantry and realize it's pretty much empty, these easy dinner recipes come together with just 4 ingredients (not including basics like salt and pepper!).

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Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches

My husband is a huge fan of pulled pork sandwiches, so my sister shared this incredibly easy recipe with me. At potlucks and family dinners, nobody can get enough of this root beer-braised version. —Carolyn Palm, Radcliff, Kentucky

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Air Fryer Crispy Curry Drumsticks Exps Ft19 234619 F 1119 1 4

Air-Fryer Crispy Curry Drumsticks

These air-fryer chicken drumsticks are flavorful, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Sometimes I’ll add some red pepper flakes in addition to the curry powder if I want to spice them up a bit. I like to serve them with chicken-seasoned rice and boiled broccoli. —Zena Furgason, Norman, Oklahoma
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Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon Exps Ft21  39940 F 0902 1 9

Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon

You won’t need to fish for compliments from your dinner guests when you serve this spectacular honey mustard salmon! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Skewered Ginger Shrimp With Plums Exps Sdjj19 167537 C02 07 2b 1

Skewered Ginger Shrimp with Plums

Sweet, simple and sensational, these shrimp skewers boast loads of flavor with just four ingredients. Throw them on the grill for a quick dinner or tasty potluck dish. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Margarita Chicken Exps Ft20 48807 F 0729 1 2

Margarita Chicken

Marinated in flavors of garlic and lime, this tangy margarita chicken is ready to go whenever the coals are hot! Serve with roasted corn on the cob and lemonade. —Kelly Bruneman, Cedar Park, Texas
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Ranch Pork Roast Exps Hca21  41326 B01 29 4b 14

Ranch Pork Roast

Our Test Kitchen created this simple Savory Pork Roast with a mild rub that’s perfect for new cooks. The leftover meat is tender and flavorful enough to be used in countless recipes.
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Slow Cooker Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwiches Exps Tohesodr21 142407 E02 17 1b

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

“Foolproof” is a perfect way to describe my barbecue pork recipe. With just four ingredients and a slow cooker, you can make these fabulous sandwiches with very little effort. —Sarah Johnson, Chicago, Illinois
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Saucy Grilled Pork Chops Exps Sdam19 92782 E12 11 4b 3

Saucy Grilled Pork Chops

My mamaw in Kentucky used this "dip," as she called it, on many grilled meats including chicken and steak. —Misty Schneider, Bayport, Minnesota
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Sesame Cilantro Shrimp

On days when I don't feel like spending much time in the kitchen, I reach for shrimp. I can have a hot meal in the table in 10 minutes. —Tami Penunuri, League City, Texas
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Apple-Glazed Chicken Thighs

My “pickatarian” child is choosy but willing to eat this chicken glazed with apple juice and thyme. I dish it up with mashed potatoes and green beans. —Kerry Picard, Spokane, Washington
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Ham and Cheese Pockets

These unique sandwich pockets are filled with ingredients both kids and adults enjoy. —Callie Myers, Rockport, Texas
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Pesto Rice-Stuffed Chicken

Juicy stuffed chicken is perfect for basil fans, but I've just as easily used shredded cheese in place of the pesto for my pickier eaters. —Rachel Dion, Port Charlotte, Florida
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Maple Pork Ribs Exps Cf2bz19 38781 C12 18 2b 15

Maple Pork Ribs

A luscious maple-mustard sauce will take your next plate of ribs to a new level. —Phyllis Schmalz, Kansas City, Kansas
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Breaded Pork Tenderloin

Meat is a hard sell with my teenage daughter unless I make it look like a restaurant dish. Drizzle ranch dressing or barbecue sauce on top and it's a home run. —Donna Carney, New Lexington, Ohio
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Dixie Lamb Chops Exps Sddj17 137556 D08 03 4b 3

Dixie Lamb Chops

These saucy lamb chops may seem fancy, but mine work for special occasions as well as busy evenings. We love them with spinach salad and good bread. —Barbara Burge, Los Gatos, CA
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Pistachio Salmon Exps Sddj17 191006 16 C08 04 5b 3

Pistachio Salmon

This simple salmon gets its crunch from a coating of crushed pistachios, panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add steamed veggies and rice and it's dinnertime! —Anthony Oraczewski, Port St. Lucie, FL
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Spinach And Turkey Pinwheels Exps Thso18 166355 D01 18 10b 3

Spinach and Turkey Pinwheels

Need an awesome snack for game day? My kids love these easy four-ingredient turkey pinwheels. Go ahead and make them the day before—they won’t get soggy! —Amy Van Hemert, Ottumwa, Iowa
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Fast Baked Fish Exps Diyd20 9049 B01 16 1b 2

Fast Baked Fish

We always have a good supply of fresh fish, so I make fish recipes often. This recipe is my favorite because it is moist, tender and flavorful. —Judie Anglen, Riverton, Wyoming
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Grilled Buttermilk Chicken Exps Bfbz19 193422 B01 16 4b 2

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

I created this recipe years ago after one of our farmers market customers, a chef, shared the idea of marinating chicken in buttermilk. The chicken is easy to prepare and always turns out moist and delicious! I bruise the thyme sprigs by twisting them before adding them to the buttermilk mixture; this tends to release the oils in the leaves and flavor the chicken better. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Gourmet Barbecue Beef Sandwiches Exps Sdjj19 74198 E02 07 4b 12

Gourmet Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

These beef sandwiches were a tradition in my family on winter vacations after a long day of snow skiing, but they're a hit anytime we make them. Serving the savory barbecue beef on croissants with melty provolone cheese makes the sandwiches a little more special. —Katie Anderson, Vancouver, Washington
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Sugar Glazed Ham Exps Ghtjm17 709 B03 14 8b 20

Sugar-Glazed Ham

This old-fashioned ham glaze gives a pretty, golden brown coating—just like Grandma used to make. The mustard and vinegar complement the brown sugar which adds a tangy flavor to this glazed ham recipe. Be prepared to serve seconds! —Carol Strong Battle, Heathville, Virginia
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Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Pull out your ovenproof skillet for this juicy balsamic pork tenderloin that goes from stovetop to oven. Balsamic vinegar gives it a tangy glaze. —Lisa Moriarty, Wilton, New Hampshire
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Pigs in a Blanket

These baked hot dog sandwiches appeal to kids of all ages. Even my husband, Allan, admits to enjoying every bite! We like to dip them in ketchup and mustard. —Linda Young, Longmont, Colorado
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Slow Cooked Hoisin Pot Roast Exps Thfm17 97745 D09 21 3b 1

Slow-Cooked Hoisin Pot Roast

One day my husband commented that he loves plums and meat. The next time I put a roast in the slow cooker, I added some plums. He was onto something! —Jackie Cole, Dunnellon, Florida
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Chicken Pesto Roll Ups Exps Thfm17 95733 B09 21 4b 6

Chicken Pesto Roll-Ups

One night I looked in the refrigerator and pondered what I could make with chicken, cheese, mushrooms and pesto. This pretty dish was the result. Add Italian bread and a fruit salad for a complete meal! —Melissa Nordmann, Mobile, AL
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Lemon Feta Chicken Exps Sdfm19 34449 B10 19 3b 4

Lemon Feta Chicken

This bright, Greek-inspired chicken has only five ingredients—it's a busy-day lifesaver! My husband and I prepare the dish often, and it’s a hit every time. —Ann Cain, Morrill, Nebraska
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Rosemary Pork Loin Exps146220 Thhc2377559b01 06 2bc Rms 2

Rosemary Pork Loin

I started growing rosemary in my garden after I discovered this pork recipe. My husband and I think it’s restaurant quality, and we look forward to making it after work. —Judy Learned, Boyertown, Pennsylvania
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Golden Apricot-Glazed Turkey Breast

Basted with a simple glaze, this wonderfully moist and tender turkey bakes to a lovely golden brown. Make it the centerpiece of your holiday table; guests will be glad you did. —Greg Fontenot, The Woodlands, Texas
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Hoisin Honey Glazed Salmon Exps103476 Sd143203b10 16 6bc Rms 4

Hoisin & Honey Glazed Salmon

Now that I have this recipe, my husband and I always look forward to the fresh wild salmon season. You can find hoisin sauce in the international foods aisle at the grocery store. —Cheryl Rein, Orlando, Florida
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Spaghetti Squash & Sausage Easy Meal

My son’s favorite dish uses homegrown spaghetti squash, kielbasa, and pico de gallo or salsa. —Pam Mascarenas, Taylorsville, Utah
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Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes

This entree is a fantastic way to savor fresh tomatoes, especially during the warm summer months. It’s quite simple, but the sweet, tangy tomato glaze is so good. —Karen Gehrig, Concord, North Carolina
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Cider-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

This is a super easy recipe full of sweet fall flavor. The maple flavor really shines through. —Susan Stetzel, Gainesville, New York
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Skillet Chicken with Barbecue Onion

Barbecue chicken is a sure bet with guests, but it’s also messy at times. My stovetop BBQ chicken recipe lets you savor that flavor without a pile of napkins. —Evelyn Cleare, Miami, Florida
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Turkey-Cranberry Bagels

Use deli meat or take care of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey in a way your family loves. It's good with all sorts of cranberry sauces and chutneys, so have fun playing around. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Crispy Dill Tilapia Exps Sdam18 165650 B12 01 5b 17

Crispy Dill Tilapia

Every week I try to serve a new healthy fish. With its fresh dill and delicious panko bread crumb herb crust, this dish with mild tilapia is a winner. —Tamara Huron, New Market, Alabama
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Slow Cooked Turkey Breasts With Cranberry Sauce Exps Thjca17 16443 C09 15 5b 1

Slow-Cooked Turkey Breasts with Cranberry Sauce

This is a very tasty and easy way to cook a turkey breast in the slow cooker. Ideal for holiday potlucks, the sweet cranberry sauce complements the turkey nicely. —Marie Ramsden, Fairgrove, Michigan
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Garlic Toast Pizzas

Between working full-time, going to school and raising three children, finding time-saving recipes that my family likes is one of my biggest challenges. These quick pizzas pack a huge amount of flavor. —Amy Grim, Chillicothe, Ohio
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Zesty Grilled Ham Exps Sdam17 830 C12 09 5b 5

Zesty Grilled Ham

If it's ham, my kids will eat it, but they like this kicked-up recipe best of all. Even the small ones eat adult-sized portions, so be sure to make plenty. —Mary Ann Lien, Tyler, Texas
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Caesar Chicken with Feta

My tomatoey chicken is the perfect answer on those crazy days when supper has to be on the table in 30 minutes, tops (doesn't hurt that it's delicious, too). —Denise Chelpka, Phoenix, Arizona
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Just Peachy Pork Tenderloin

I had a pork tenderloin and ripe peaches that begged to be put together. The results proved irresistible! This fresh entree tastes like summer. —Julia Gosliga, Addison, Vermont
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Balsamic-Seasoned Steak

This simple recipe ensures a tender steak without a long marinating time. Steak sauce and balsamic vinegar are a great team, and you can’t go wrong with melty Swiss on top.
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Dogs in a Sweater

For a new twist on an old favorite, try these skewered hot dogs wrapped with breadstick dough and baked. They're fun to dip in ketchup, mustard or ranch dressing. The dressed-up dog recipe comes kid-tested from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Ham and Bean Stew

You only need five ingredients to fix this thick and flavorful stew. It's so easy to make and always a favorite with my family. I top bowls of it with a sprinkling of shredded cheese. —Teresa D'Amato, East Granby, Connecticut
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Pizza Chicken Roll-Ups

I love the chicken roll-ups my mom made for special occasions, filled with spinach and cream cheese. My own kids wouldn't eat those, so I came up with a pizza-flavored variety the whole family enjoys. —Tanja Penquite, Oregon, Ohio
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Easy Glazed Salmon

It takes only four ingredients and a few moments to make this delightful main dish. —Tara Ernspiker, Falling Waters, West Virginia
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Cheeseburger Pockets Exps13674 Ff2282132d03 02 5bc Rms 2

Cheeseburger Pockets

Ground beef is my favorite meat to cook with because it's so versatile, flavorful and economical. Refrigerated biscuits save you the trouble of making dough from scratch. —Pat Chambless, Crowder, Oklahoma
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Hot Dog Roll-Ups

Not only do my grandchildren love these cheese-filled hot dogs, they enjoy helping put the meal together, too. It's the perfect solution when you need a last-minute lunch. —Lyletta Searle, Morgan, Utah
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Spicy Chicken Nuggets

We devour these spicy chicken nuggets at least once a week. If you want to tone down the heat, skip the chipotle pepper. —Cheryl Cook, Palmyra, Virginia
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Slow-Cooker Meatball Sandwiches

Our approach to meatball sandwiches is a simple one: Cook the meatballs low and slow, load them into hoagie buns, and top them with provolone and pepperoncini. —Stacie Nicholls, Spring Creek, Nevada
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Cheeseburger N Fries Casserole Exps 13x9bz19 7899 E10 05 6b 2

Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

Kids love this casserole because it combines two of their favorite fast foods. And I like the fact that I can whip it up with just four ingredients. —Karen Owen, Rising Sun, Indiana
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Spicy Apricot-Glazed Chicken

Looking for a new chicken idea? Save yourself a trip to the store and check the fridge first. I found out chili sauce, mustard and apricot preserves for a sweet, hot flavor. —Sonya Labbe, West Hollywood, California
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Easy Stuffed Shells

I threw this recipe together one day when we had unexpected guests. It was an immediate hit and is now a family favorite. Get the kids involved when putting together this simple, savory dish. —Dolores Betchner, Cudahy, Wisconsin
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Beef Teriyaki Noodles Exps73367 Sd143204c12 10 4bc Rms 2

Beef Teriyaki Noodles

At our house, we love to combine fresh ingredients with a pantry product. This version starts with beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms, since we always have them on hand, but make the dish your own—bring out your inner chef! —Richard Robinson, Park Forest, Illinois
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Dijon Pork Chops

A crumb coating is all you need to turn pork chops into a wow-worthy family dinner. Try the breading on chicken breasts, too. —Chris Rentmeister, Ripon, Wisconsin
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Weeknight Ravioli Lasagna

My husband and I love lasagna, but it's time-consuming to make and we always end up with too much. Using frozen ravioli solves everything. —Pamela Nicholson, Festus, Missouri
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Pesto Halibut

The mildness of halibut contrasts perfectly with the robust flavor of pesto in this recipe. It takes only minutes to get the fish ready for the oven, leaving you plenty of time to get started on your side dishes. Nearly anything goes well with this entree. —April Showalter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.