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20 Recipes Nearly as Easy as Boiling Water

Do you have two left spatulas when it comes to cooking? Fear not—these recipes couldn't be easier!

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Woman taking home baked meal out of oven10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Yes, you can cook

It’s no secret that cooking can be intimidating, especially if you’re not used to it. Most of us recently found ourselves without our usual eating-out spots, which means that even if you weren’t cooking before, you probably are now.  But worry not, as some recipes are probably way easier than you think—and not just notoriously low-effort recipes like pasta and scrambled eggs. And for some of them, you will need certain kitchen apparatus such as a Dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet. But the ingredients, and the combination thereof, are pretty much as easy as it gets. And should you run into trouble, we’ve got 17 fixes for the most common cooking disasters.

Shrimp cocktailCappi Thompson/Getty Images

Shrimp cocktail

If you want to make this super-simple, delicious appetizer, you probably head to the store for a jar of cocktail sauce. But you might not realize how easy it actually is to make from scratch. For this recipe you will need a Dutch oven—if you don’t have one yet, we like this one. But putting the recipe itself together is crazy easy! You combine eight super-simple ingredients, including onion, parsley, salt, and thyme, in a Dutch oven and simmer them with the shrimp. Making the sauce is easy too: All you have to do is combine the ingredients (including chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and cayenne pepper) and chill them!

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taste of home cheeseburger quesadillasTaste of Home

Cheeseburger quesadillas

Looking for a fun lunch idea? Put an American twist on a favorite Mexican staple! The beauty of this recipe comes from the fact that while it looks complicated, it really is not. Looking at the ingredient list might be a bit intimidating at first but don’t worry, it’s guaranteed that you have everything you need in your fridge already. And it takes less than half an hour to come together. Check out some more tasty appetizer recipes that are ready in 30 minutes or less.

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taste of home vegetable soupTaste of Home

Vegetable soup

Nothing beats a scrumptious hot soup on a chilly day. It’s certainly tempting to just pour the contents of a can into a stovetop pan—and, full disclosure, you’ll still be doing that for this recipe. But this ultra-simple veggie soup adds some homemade flair to a regular ol’ can of minestrone, which you combine with frozen veggies, corn, beans, and tomatoes. These recipes are super simple, but if you really want to hone your cooking skills, check out these cooking tricks that are taught in culinary schools.

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taste of home egg drop soupTaste of Home

Egg drop soup

Egg adds some heartiness to this traditional chicken soup, which requires only five ingredients, one of which is water. You just need to boil broth, add cornstarch and water, boil again, cook, drizzle in a beaten egg, and add sliced green onion. And perhaps the best part? You’ll get four full servings out of it!

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taste of home easy glazed salmonTaste of Home

Easy glazed salmon

This good-for-you fish is super simple to whip up. All you have to do is prepare the (few) ingredients and bake them; the most time-consuming part is probably greasing the foil on the baking pan. And that’s your first step. After that, you just have to combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, and soy sauce and spoon the combo over the fish. Bake the fish for 20–25 minutes and baste it with the juices from the pan, and you’ve got a scrumptious fish feast. Nothing fishy about it! But make sure you watch out for these ways you’ve been cooking fish wrong without realizing.

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taste of home sweet tangy pulled porkTaste of Home

Pulled pork

A delicacy that has entire restaurants centered around it, pulled pork is a cinch to whip up at home. You will need a slow cooker; we recommend this one. Once you have a slow cooker, cook a boneless pork shoulder butt roast in it for eight to ten hours (while very easy, this recipe is time-consuming). The sauce requires only apricot preserves, onion, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard. And all you need to do to get the pork to have that “pulled” look is pull it (shocker) apart with a fork.

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taste of home poached chickenTaste of Home

Poached chicken

The word “poached” might be enough to scare away tentative home chefs—but it shouldn’t! All you do is add all of the ingredients—chicken breast halves, wine, a few “aromatic” garnishes like peppercorns and herbs, and salt—to a saucepan, add water, and cook at a couple of different temperatures. Seriously, there’s only one step on Taste of Home‘s recipe for poached chicken. It doesn’t get easier than that! But even with these ultra-easy recipes, you run the risk of making these cooking mistakes that can ruin your food.

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taste of home chicken and goat cheese skilletTaste of Home

Chicken & goat cheese skillet

You’ll need a cast-iron skillet for this delicious comfort food combo—we think this one is a great deal. In it, you’ll sauté chicken breasts until they’re no longer pink and then separately heat up asparagus, tomatoes, milk, goat cheese, and garlic. You’ll have to keep an eye on the time for some of the steps, but you’re actually putting in minimal effort for a yummy, rich meal. Serve it with rice and you’re good to go!

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taste of home parmesan risottoTaste of Home

Risotto

Risotto, though you’ll find it in fancy Italian restaurants, is actually hilariously easy to whip up! This is another one where a Dutch oven will seriously help you out; it’s where you’ll cook your onion, rice, garlic, and wine. The rest of the recipe is just adding some broth that you’ve heated up in a saucepan and then adding garnish like cheese and parsley. The tricky part is keeping an eye on the texture and making sure the liquid has time to absorb, but that really just consists of watching and stirring, and it’s easy to master! So are these brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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taste of home ginger poached pearsTaste of Home

Poached pears

Yup, poaching again! If you didn’t know that you could poach fruit, now you do—prepare for deliciousness. Again, with this one, it’s only the preparation of the fruit—which needs to be cored, peeled, and sliced—that presents a potential challenge. The only other ingredients are ginger ale, honey, ginger, and chopped pecans. And all you do with those is cook them in a saucepan and pour them over the pears in different combinations.

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taste of home lemony turkey rice soupTaste of Home

Lemony turkey soup

Here’s another super-simple soup recipe that you can make in minutes. You start with an already-prepared can of cream of chicken soup and take it to the next level with chicken broth, rice, cornstarch, and (of course) diced turkey. You also add some flavor with lemon juice, pepper, and (if you’re so inclined) cilantro. You’re really just mixing these ingredients and bringing them to a boil at various intervals. We told you these were (nearly) as easy as boiling water! If you’re ready for a step up, try your hand at the most delicious potato recipe from your state.

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taste of home sweet chili orange chickenTaste of Home

Sweet chili & orange chicken

Love Trader Joe’s orange chicken? So do we, but we bet you never knew that you could make orange chicken at home, too! And guess what: It’s easy. You just need to cut up chicken breast into one-inch pieces, toss them with salt and pepper, cook ’em up good with some butter, and then just toss them with the good stuff. The “good stuff,” in case you were wondering, is sweet chili sauce and orange juice concentrate. That’s it!

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taste of home ham and scalloped potatoesTaste of Home

Ham and scalloped potatoes

Is anything better than a steaming plateful of cheesy scalloped potatoes? What about cheesy scalloped potatoes with some savory ham? Here’s another super-simple skillet dish that’ll have you craving more. Once you’ve sliced the potatoes, cook them in butter, then add water to boil them. Lower the heat and simmer, and you’re basically there. Of course, you’ll need pre-cooked, cubed ham, but all you’re doing with that is tossing it in the skillet! To make your sauce, you just need to mix together milk, onion soup mix, Velveeta cheese, and parsley. Are you drooling yet?!

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taste of home stovetop cheeseburger pastaTaste of Home

Stovetop cheeseburger pasta

Do you like pasta? Do you like cheeseburgers? So why not put these two dishes you love together? Despite the name, this dish actually is not more complicated than your classic mac and cheese. The twist comes from the ground beef, tomatoes, and green pepper. It also only takes half an hour to prepare! And if you end up with leftovers, here’s how to heat them up.

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taste of home one pot dinnerTaste of Home

One-pot dinner

Are you a fan of no-hassle recipes? Then this one-pot dinner recipe is for you. You cook this recipe by pretty much bringing all the ingredients together in a large skillet. It only takes half an hour and even better—costs 72 cents per serving. And it tastes incredible! Did you know that you could also make these 7 egg dishes using your skillet?

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taste of home easy swedish meatballsTaste of Home

Easy Swedish meatballs

You don’t have to take any trips to the store to make this recipe, because chances are, you already have all the ingredients necessary! In fact, these meatballs don’t even need to be cooked on a stove—a microwave does just the trick. After you make your meatballs and toss them in the microwave to cook, you might want to make your favorite noodles on the side to get a classic meal out of it. Surprised you can cook meatballs in the microwave? Wait until what other tricks your microwave could do.

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taste of home basil tomato grilled cheeseTaste of Home

Basil-tomato grilled cheese

Grilled cheese is not a “fancy” food by all means, but this recipe with a fresh twist will surely make you feel like you’re eating a gourmet meal. The recipe has less than 10 ingredients and takes only around 20 minutes to make. The basil, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar are what set it apart from a classic grilled cheese recipe. Here are some other sandwich recipes you should be making at home.

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taste of home apple yogurt parfaitsTaste of Home

Yogurt parfait

Breakfast can get boring real fast if you’ve been eating the same thing a couple of days in a row. That’s what makes this refreshing yogurt parfait so special. It takes only 10 minutes to make and all you need is applesauce, granola, yogurt, and some nutmeg. Mix applesauce and nutmeg in a separate bowl, then layer your cup with 1/3 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup applesauce. Don’t forget to use some nutmeg for topping, and you’re done! If you’d like to make your applesauce yourself, here’s how you can make applesauce and many other store staples at home.

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taste of home sausage and egg casseroleTaste of Home

Sausage and egg casserole

With the perfect combination of eggs, sausage, bread, and cheese, this dish will make anyone who loves a hearty breakfast swoon. Start by browning and crumbling the sausages, and then mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Let the breakfast mix sit in the fridge overnight, then toss it in the oven for 40 minutes the next morning. Your family will be so impressed.

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taste of home ground beef spagetti skilletTaste of Home

Ground beef spaghetti skillet

This spaghetti dish will make you forget all the pasta dishes you’ve been used to eating before. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list, as you most definitely have all of them in your kitchen already. While this hearty dish looks like you might need a lot of prep time, it actually is pretty straightforward. It only takes 30 minutes to make, and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy. And once you master these, you might be ready for the 35 recipes you should definitely know by age 35.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.