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Here's What Pro Chefs Cook When They're Feeling Lazy

Cook like a pro.

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Listen, even people who love cooking need a night off...

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And this is especially true for people who literally cook all day for a living (food bloggers, chefs, and pro bakers). So we asked 18 pro foodies what they make for dinner when they're just not in the mood to cook.

1. Bagel Dog/Pizza Bagel Salad

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—Molly Yeh of My Name Is Yeh

How she makes it: "I fill up a huge bowl of salad greens and then add whatever chopped vegetables I have on hand (usually cucumbers, radishes, herbs, purple onions, maybe avocados if I'm lucky). Then I heat up whatever carby, proteiny situation that's hiding in my fridge or freezer (a slice of pizza, a bagel dog, a corn dog, last night's schnitzel!), chop it up, and add it on top. I'll typically toss it with yogurt ranch or tahini dressing. Bagel dog salad 4ever."

Get the recipe for her yogurt ranch dressing in her new book here.

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2. Uncle Ben's Fried Rice

Joe Isidori, First Home Love Life / Via firsthomelovelife.com

—Joe Isidori, chef and owner of Black Tap Burgers & Beer

How he makes it: “I always keep a box of Uncle Ben's 90-second rice in my cabinet, just in case. You take all of your leftover scraps and a couple of eggs, add a dash of sesame oil and a little soy, and then you’re good to go.”


Get the recipe for 15-minute fried rice here.

3. Steak and Veggie Stir-Fry

Kristen Kish, Louno_m / Getty Images

—Kristen Kish, author of Kristen Kish Cooking and winner of Top Chef Season 10

"I honestly just order delivery — or if I want something 'homemade' I literally stir-fry steak and vegetables — whatever is at the market. I add lots of black pepper, some vinegar, and sesame oil. I wouldn’t serve it to anyone except for myself. Have I mentioned I absolutely loathe cooking for myself? Because I do."

Get a similar recipe for a simple steak and veggie stir-fry here.

4. Spicy Avocado Toast

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Vallery Lomas, winner of The Great American Baking Show

"Growing up in Louisiana means I’m always reaching for creole seasoning to liven up my meals. One of my go-to meals is spicy avocado toast. I pile on wedges of ripe avocado on warm, toasted bread. I then drizzle some olive oil on top, squirt some fresh lime juice, and top it with a hearty sprinkle of creole seasoning (a blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper). The olive oil on top of the already-fatty avocado is decadent, but the lime juice and creole seasoning cut straight through to balance it all out."

Get a simple recipe for avocado toast here.

5. Kale Salad With a Go-To Tahini Dressing

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Marcela Valladolid, chef, cookbook author, and TV personality

How she makes it: "I’m full vegan unless working (shooting). My go-to is a dressing I make with tahini paste, pickled jalapeño juice, a tiny bit of dijon, lots of salt, and a little water. I grow and ALWAYS have kale (how very California of me), so my go-to quick power meal is finely shredded kale, pepitas, garbanzo beans, avocado, and pretty much anything in my pantry (cranberries, cashews, dates) tossed with plenty of that dressing. P.S. My kids hate it, so I don’t have to share. An absolute win."

Tahini is available in most grocery stores, or online here. For a simple tahini dressing, check out this easy-to-make recipe here (and feel free to spike it with pickled jalapeño juice).

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6. Avocado Quinoa Bowl

Tieghan Gerard, Half Baked Harvest / Via halfbakedharvest.com

—Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest

How she makes it: "It's my favorite thing to make when I'm feeling lazy. I know it sounds so lame, but I always have cooked quinoa and avocados on hand so, on busy nights, I'll warm the quinoa and add some veggies (roasted if I have them or just baby spinach). I top it with an avocado, a generous sprinkle of everything bagel spice, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. I also add whatever kind of cheese I have. If I need something a little more hearty, I normally add a fried egg for some protein."

Get the recipe for Tieghan's summer harvest veggie, avocado, and quinoa bowl here.

7. American Chop Suey

James Beard Foundation, Lil Luna / Via lilluna.com

—Tim Cushman, chef at O Ya and Covina

How he makes it: "When I'm feeling lazy, I'm typically in the mood for comfort food. My mom has a chop suey recipe that I used to always eat growing up. It's made with elbows, tomato sauce, ground beef, and a little Parmesan on top. It's the perfect comforting and lazy dinner."

Get a similar recipe to beef goulash here.

8. Rice With Bacon and Eggs

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—Jordan Andino, chef and owner of Flip Sigi

How he makes it: "My favorite at-home meal is bacon, eggs, and rice topped with Sriracha and mushroom soy. This meal is so easy to make, tasty, filling, and cheap. Whenever I don't know what to make, I take one of the packs of bacon that is always in my freezer and quickly oven-roast it. While that's cooking, I make my rice and three sunny-side-up eggs. I pile everything on top of my plate and garnish with a few tablespoons of Sriracha and mushroom soy."

Get a similar recipe for bacon and egg fried rice here.

9. Kimchi Soup

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—Preeti Mistry, chef and co-owner of Navi Kitchen and author of The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook

How she makes it: "This might sounds a bit complicated, but it's really not if you generally have some of the ingredients in your fridge — which I generally do!

Kimchi Soup

Yellow onion, julienned

Ginger and garlic, minced

Chopped kimchi, with juice

Dark greens (such as kale or chard), chopped

Soft tofu, diced

Red miso, one big spoonful

Sauté onion, ginger, and garlic. Add everything else, with some water to cover, and simmer. Season with salt and Sriracha to taste. Especially great when I'm sick and can't cook much — it helps me get better too!"

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10. Olive Oil-Fried Eggs With Yogurt and Lemon

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— Julia Turshen, author of Small Victories

How she makes it: "My favorite I-don't-feel-like-cooking meal to cook is eggs fried in olive oil served on a plate that I've smeared with a combination of plain yogurt mixed with lemon juice (I like these eggs so much I put them in Small Victories). These are great with thick slices of toasted bread that you've rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil for some crunch and also to mop up the runny yolks and yogurt."

Get the recipe here and check out more of her genius recipes in her cookbook, Small Victories.

11. Hot Green Tea With Rice

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Yoshi Okai, Head Chef at Otoko

How he makes it: "It's a dish called ochazuke, which is made by pouring hot green tea (or water) over rice. Normally I put green onion, bonito flakes, hondashi (fish stock powder), and umeboshi (pickle plum), but you can top it with anything. If I have fish, I'll grill it and put it on top."

Get the recipe for ochazuke here.

12. Sautéed Calamari With Parsley and Garlic

Blue Ribbon Restaurants, Ruchik Randhap / Via ruchikrandhap.com

—Bruce and Eric Bromberg, cofounders and chefs of Blue Ribbon Restaurants

How they make it: It’s an amazingly flavorful and simple dish that only takes a few minutes to make. We actually put it on the menu at our restaurant. For the best result, buy the smallest calamari available. Once you add the calamari to the pan, don’t take your eyes off of it — as soon as it’s opaque, it’s done.”

Get a similar recipe for sautéed squid in garlic butter here.

13. Risotto

Valette Healdsburg, What's Gabby Cooking / Via whatsgabycooking.com

—Dustin Valette, Chef and Co-Owner of Valette Healdsburg


How he makes it:
During the colder months, my family and I love to make simple, wholesome dishes like risotto. I usually use dried wild mushrooms, which are abundant here in Sonoma County, and some local butter cooked with chicken stock and red wine. When the risotto is silky and rich i finish it with Parmesan and prosciutto. During the summer, I harvest from my garden. I pick heirloom tomatoes and esplette peppers off the vine and grab fresh basil from the planter. I slice the tomatoes, toss them with EVO, sea salt, fresh pepper, and vinegar, then I saute the esplette pepper in hot oil to add a little heat to there dish. Then I top the whole thing with basil leaves. If I'm feeling ambitious then I go for fresh buratta and toasted crusty bread. Simple, elegant and super local!"

Get a similar recipe for wild mushroom risotto here.

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14. Middle Eastern Split Pea Chicken Stew

Momotaro, Little Sugar Snaps / Via littlesugarsnaps.com

—Mark Hellyar, chef and partner of Momotaro

How he makes it: "I usually have split pea soup mix so I’ll brown some chicken legs, cover them with the split pea mix and dried aromatics and then simmer everything together in chicken broth. The result is a Middle Eastern–inspired split pea and chicken stew that’s very comforting and easy to make."

Get a similar recipe for split pea chicken soup here.

15. 10-Minute Pasta With Nduja (AKA Spreadable Spicy Pork Salumi)

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Edd Kimber, winner of The Great British Bake Off

How he makes it: "When I want something quick I make a 10-minute nduja pasta, cooking down some tomatoes with garlic and nduja (which I normally have in the fridge), a little lemon juice, and parsley. It cooks in the time it takes to cook the pasta. It's one of those dishes that's also slightly different each time — sometimes made with red wine, sometimes with fennel, but always finished with plenty of freshly grated parmesan."

Get a similar recipe for Calabrian spaghetti with nduja sausage here. If you can't find nduja, feel free to use chopped or puréed pepperoni.

16. Quick Fried Rice

Jon Lavelle, Rasa Malaysia / Via rasamalaysia.com

Jon Lavelle, Executive Chef at The Way Back

How he makes it: "When I wake up after a night of drinking, I tend to lean toward a quick fried rice. I almost always have kimchi, scallions, and lard or chicken fat kicking around my fridge and just fill in the blanks from there. If it’s not a hangover kind of day, spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and chili flakes (spaghetti aglio e olio) is my go-to."

Get a similar recipe for kimchi fried rice here.

17. Turkey Meatball and Vegetable Skillet

Boka, Ocean View Kitchen / Via oceanviewkitchen.com

—Lee Wolen, chef and partner of Boka and Somerset

How he makes it: “When I’m starving and want a quick meal, I love to roast a pan of broccoli and eat a few turkey meatballs with my favorite store-bought sauce: Rao’s Marinara."

Get a similar recipe for turkey meatballs here.

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18. Pasta With Plum Tomato Sauce

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—Jerrelle Guy, author of Black Girl Baking

How she makes it: "I take a big can of whole peeled plum tomaotes and salt, crushed red pepper flakes, one onion (peeled and quartered), two big tablespoons butter, two to three tablespoons olive oil, and the rind of some salty cheese — put it in a saucepan, bring to boil (with lid, or it'll splatter everywhere), reduce, simmer for 30ish minutes or more (go do other things at this point). Then come back to puree with an immersion blender. Squeeze in some lemon juice, adjust seasoning, add some crumbled meatless meat (Gardein crumbles are good), and fold in some freshly cooked pasta (adding some of the salty starchy pasta water). But if I need some greens, I put it over quick-steamed zoodles instead."


Get a similar recipe for penne all’Arrabbiata here.

19. One-Pot Chili

New Waterloo, The Salty Marshmallow / Via thesaltymarshmallow.com

—Amanda Rockman, corporate executive pastry chef at New Waterloo

How she makes it: "If I have to cook at home, I'm making chili — as in a one-pot kind of chili. I smother it with Fritos, cheese, and sour cream. Keeping it classy, Austin.”

Get a similar recipe for slow-cooker chili Frito pie here.

Submissions have been edited for length or clarity.

What's your go-to lazy dinner? Let us know in the comments below!