Plan a date night at home dinner for a special anniversary, a just-for-fun Friday night, or to impress your favorite date of the moment with these easy dinner ideas. Plenty of make ahead recipes and romantic dishes to share with your favorite person.
When we were just dating, a date night at home meant pulling out all the stops for a fancy dinner to either cook together or spoil my boyfriend.
When we were newlyweds, a date night at home meant a budget-friendly meal that was a little more special than our average weeknight fare.
As new parents, a date night at home involved something easy to prepare that focused on delicious quick nibbles and wine.
Over the last couple of years, we've done date night at home because our favorite restaurants were closed, we couldn't go out, and we wanted a taste of our favorite restaurant dishes and had to make them ourselves.
The common denominator? I spent each of those evenings with my favorite guy and we made time for one another with a special date night for just us.
These easy date night dinners run the spectrum between fancy and fun. I hope they spark plenty of clever ideas for you and your special one to enjoy a tasty time together.
- What Makes a Great Date Night Dinner?
- The BEST Date Night Dinners to Cook at Home
- 1. Easy Cheddar Snack Board
- 2. Macadamia Encrusted Halibut
- 3. Marinated Steak Tips
- 4. Spaghetti & Meatballs
- 5. Romano Chicken Meatballs
- 6. Baked Chicken Parmesan
- 7. Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
- 8. Instant Pot Apricot Chicken
- 9. Saucy Bourbon Chicken
- 10. Chicken Spinach Alfredo Pizza
- 11. Mediterranean Shrimp and Rice
- 12. Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet
- 13. Oven Roasted Salmon
- 14. Oven Baked Turkey Burgers
- 15. Easy Taco Skillet
- 16. Fresh Tomato Pasta Toss
- 17. Caprese Salad
- 18. Pasta Rosa with Sausage
- 19. Citrus Salad with Pistachios and Goat Cheese
- 20. Roast Beef Crostini with Horseradish Sauce
- 21. Peach Blueberry Salsa Bites
- 22. Fresh Peach Pizza with Pancetta & Basil
- 23. Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloin
- 24. Pork Loin with Green Peppercorn Sauce
- 25. Cranberry Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloins
- 26. German Sauerbraten
- 27. Cozy Stovetop Beef Stew
- 28. College Favorite: Pokey Sticks
- 29. Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
- 30. Easy Tiramisu
- 31. Strawberry Cheesecake Dip
- 32. Roasted Cherries
- 33. Triple Berry Sauce for Cheesecake
- 34. Chocolate Flourless Torte
- 35. Sweet Amaretto Sauce
- 36. Southern Peach Cobbler
- 37. Peppermint Brownies
- 38. Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet
- 39. Blood Orange Mojitos
- 40. Prosecco Pomegranate Punch
- Do a Picnic Date
- More Romantic Tips for Couples
- 💬 Comments
What Makes a Great Date Night Dinner?
As you plan your date night at home dinner menu, there are a few things I'd suggest you keep in mind:
- The Mood: Are you looking for playful and fun? Fancy and elegant? Interactive cooking session you do together? I have great recipes that fit each of these, but keep your goal in mind!
- Easy Prep: These date night dishes focus on prep-ahead things to help you get the work out of the way the day before or earlier in the morning. If your dinner requires a little more work, be sure your date is on board!
- Consider the Details: The difference between a date night at home and just a regular dinner is all in the details. Plan a fun cocktail or appetizer. Definitely plan for dessert. Pick up a special bottle of champagne. Think about what you'd want from a restaurant and recreate that at home.
- Set the Table: This definitely sets the tone for your evening. Grab a bunch of Trader Joe's flowers if you're on a budget. Light some candles. Stream some music. Pull out the good dishes and pick up some fancy napkins.
Beyond that? HAVE FUN! Remember, this is supposed to be a fun date night!
The BEST Date Night Dinners to Cook at Home
Here we go, 40 of my husband's and my favorites from our over 20 years together. These are some of our favorite ways to enjoy a meal together just us two.
1. Easy Cheddar Snack Board
When we had to celebrate our anniversary at home, I pulled together a snack board of all our favorites and grabbed the champagne bottle and flutes.
We took it out to the patio and enjoyed an easy going evening of memories and chatting while enjoying this tasty charcuterie tray.
2. Macadamia Encrusted Halibut
For a super-special date night for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, or maybe a birthday, you can't go wrong with my prep-ahead macadamia halibut.
This is an easy to make restaurant-quality dish that my whole family goes crazy for. If you're cooking for just two, it is easy to scale.
Serve it with roasted asparagus and a wild rice pilaf. They pair great with the lemon butter cream sauce drizzled over the top.
3. Marinated Steak Tips
My husband requests this for his birthday dinner every year. This was definitely one of the first date night dinners I made for him when we were dating and it is still a huge hit.
Serve it with simple buttered penne and glazed baby carrots.
4. Spaghetti & Meatballs
Channel your inner Lady & The Tramp and serve spaghetti and meatballs with a big bottle of chianti. Don't forget the tiramisu recipe at the bottom of this post.
5. Romano Chicken Meatballs
Love meatballs but want something lighter? This delicious Romano chicken meatball skillet is filled with tender asparagus and could be eaten on its own or over pasta or rice.
6. Baked Chicken Parmesan
Missing your favorite Italian restaurant? This make-ahead chicken parmesan lets you prep everything in the morning and just bake it before dinner time.
Serve with a fancy green salad and a homemade vinaigrette and your favorite pasta.
9. Saucy Bourbon Chicken
Crank up the jazz and make this sticky bourbon chicken. You could eat it over pasta or rice. Don't forget a good cocktail!
10. Chicken Spinach Alfredo Pizza
Take pizza night to the next level and make your own homemade pizza with gourmet toppings instead. This chicken spinach alfredo pizza can be prepped in advance and then just assembled and baked during your date.
You'll both have fun getting your hands in the dough!
11. Mediterranean Shrimp and Rice
Pour a tall glass of chilled white wine and enjoy a plate of this Mediterranean shrimp and rice. You could serve it small plate style or as a big rice bowl for heartier appetites.
12. Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet
If your date doesn't mind getting their hands dirty, you'll love digging in on this rich and delicious garlic butter shrimp skillet. Romance is all about the senses and this one will force you to engage with your dinner date.
14. Oven Baked Turkey Burgers
Forget the take out burgers, for date night pull out all the stops and make these amazing Italian burgers with caramelized onions, fresh arugula, and slices of provolone cheese. Pair it with a bag of gourmet frozen tots and your favorite fry dip.
15. Easy Taco Skillet
I love a hands-on interactive dinner for date night. Pour the big margaritas and pile a bag of salty tortilla chips into a fancy bowl and set them alongside this utterly delicious taco skillet.
Eat the dish by scooping the chips right into the pan. Perhaps you'll find yourself feeding each other instead??
16. Fresh Tomato Pasta Toss
No one wants to be over stuffed on date night. If you want to keep things fresh and easy, especially in the warmer months, this fresh tomato pasta toss is a perfect hit.
It pairs really well with your favorite wine and the freshest produce you can get.
18. Pasta Rosa with Sausage
When we had to celebrate another anniversary at home, our kids decided to spoil us with a fancy dinner that they made for us. They set the table and prepared this easy pasta rosa with sausage for our dinner and it was amazing.
No kids to cook for you yet? If my kids can make this, so can you.
20. Roast Beef Crostini with Horseradish Sauce
Want an easy going nibble plate for your date night? This hearty roast beef crostini with horseradish sauce is amazing when topped with in-season fresh tomatoes.
It would pair perfectly with your favorite cocktail and plenty of conversation.
21. Peach Blueberry Salsa Bites
My husband and I can easily make an entire meal out of this drool-worthy peach blueberry salsa with goat cheese and crispy crostini.
I set the salsa out in a pretty bowl and then we have fun assembling our individual bites as we enjoy our date.
22. Fresh Peach Pizza with Pancetta & Basil
Is your date on the adventurous side for flavors? This fresh peach pizza has so much going on -- a deliciously creamy white sauce, fresh basil, and savory pancetta on top of a crispy homemade pizza crust.
24. Pork Loin with Green Peppercorn Sauce
This elegant pork loin with green peppercorn sauce would be perfect for a double date night with friends. But if it sounds good and you're just cooking for two, you could always plan to use the leftover pork in my husband's favorite saucy pork and noodle bake another time. Serve the pork loin with mashed potatoes and green beans.
25. Cranberry Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloins
This impressive stuffed pork tenderloin has a creamy blue cheese filling with chopped dried cranberries. You can roll the pork and stuff it earlier in the day and then just bake it at dinner time. Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or my favorite sweet potato casserole.
26. German Sauerbraten
Want to prove to your date that you were really thinking of them in advance?? This German sauerbraten marinates for up to 7 days in advance. This is the ULTIMATE prep-ahead recipe!
28. College Favorite: Pokey Sticks
Our college days are long gone but my husband and I love to reminisce about the days in our 20s when we were dating.
One of the silly things we did in college was to enjoy Friday night take out pizza from Gumby's Pizza and there was ALWAYS an order of Pokey Sticks to go with it.
I learned how to make these Copycat Pokey Sticks at home to surprise him and we had such fun enjoying them all over again.
29. Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
If you're trying to impress your date at a restaurant, you just know there's going to be dessert. So at home, why not plan something super fancy to enjoy?
This make-ahead vanilla bean creme brulee can be made up to 24 hours in advance and you and your honey could have fun lighting up the night and torching the caramelized sugar toppings together on your date.
30. Easy Tiramisu
If you're planning an Italian themed dinner for date night, you for sure cannot forget the classic tiramisu! This easy prep dessert is always a huge hit and can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
31. Strawberry Cheesecake Dip
Is your date night more the champagne, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream kind of evening? Why not add this sweet strawberry cheesecake dip with mini chocolate chips?
32. Roasted Cherries
For a truly elegant and easy dessert, these simple roasted cherries could be served over a scoop of vanilla gelato or enjoyed in a stunning cocktail glass with liqueur drizzled over the top.
33. Triple Berry Sauce for Cheesecake
I picked up a plain vanilla cheesecake from Costco for our anniversary and then made this easy triple berry sauce to drizzle over the top. It was a huge hit with my husband.
35. Sweet Amaretto Sauce
Maybe your date just wants an after dinner coffee to have the energy to stay up late? Treat them to a sweet swirl of this amaretto creamer that is one part coffee creamer, one part dessert sauce.
36. Southern Peach Cobbler
If you want a down home dessert that is sure to help you catch a keeper, this southern style peach cobbler is one they'll be sure to remember. Be sure to serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for good measure.
37. Peppermint Brownies
If you planned something spicy or garlicky for dinner, don't fret. Just plan to make a batch of these peppermint brownies for dessert! Loaded with York candies, they're sure to help you freshen up for a little smooch.
38. Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet
What makes date night at home different than just your weeknight dinner?? COCKTAILS.
Plan something new and different and enjoy them while you cook together or while your date waits for you to finish up in the kitchen.
I'd swoon if my guy handed me a brandy old fashioned sweet just the way I like them. Cherry on top for sure.
39. Blood Orange Mojitos
Need something a little lighter? These blood orange mojitos are filled with lots of fresh mint and would be perfect for a hot night.
Do a Picnic Date
Want to mix things up? Instead of cooking and dining at home, take your date night to a picnic blanket near you.
You could find a local outdoor spot or even set up in your own backyard for something different.
Learn what to pack for a picnic here: