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Skip the restaurants this year and cook an intimate dinner for the one you love. I’ve curated my best collection of Valentine’s Day Recipes, 5 dinners and 5 desserts, to narrow your search. You’ll also find plenty of suggestions for side dishes and drink pairings, in case you need it.
Nothing says “I love you” like a special meal prepared with care, and this is true no matter what stage of the relationship. Whether it’s your first date or your fiftieth anniversary, it’s a great time to celebrate each other.
Going out to eat is common on Valentine’s Day, but I find it a bit busy and impersonal. Creating a dish from the heart is so much more thoughtful and romantic! It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Ina Garten famously makes a roast chicken for her husband Jeffrey every chance she can, and that doesn’t sound like a bad tradition to me.
So whether you want to pull out all the stops with Pan-seared Scallops and Classic Risotto or fire up the grill for some New York Strip Steaks, I hope you’ll find some inspiration to help launch Cupid’s arrow.
Table of Contents
Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter
Tender, juicy Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter are delicate yet impressive. It’s the kind of dish you might order whenever you see it on the menu but never make at home. Luckily, working with scallops is super simple once you know how.
This recipe takes you through all the necessary information, including which scallops to buy, how to prepare them, how to cook them, and how to finish off the dish with a flourish of lemon butter sauce. It goes fast, too! You’ll have your succulent scallops plated in 20 minutes or less.
Serve the scallops with a simple side dish such as Lemon Rice Pilaf or Roasted Cauliflower topped with Roasted Almonds. To sip, consider a pink cocktail such as a Cosmopolitan or a Greyhound.
Grilled New York Strip Steak
If your Valentine loves a good steak as much as I do, then they will love this simple, delicious Grilled New York Strip Steak. Cooking steaks is all about technique, and once you master the basics, you’ll feel more confident with whatever cut of beef you choose.
Start by letting your steaks rest at room temperature before cooking. To really let the steak shine, you need only olive oil, salt, and pepper. Depending on the size and thickness of your steaks, they should be cooked in 10 to 15 minutes, and then you just let them rest at room temperature to really lock in the juices.
Serve your steaks with one or more Compound Butters (there are 6 to choose from), Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions, an air-fryer Baked Potato, and Roasted Broccoli. If you want to start off with soup and salad, I suggest Loaded Baked Potato Soup or a crisp Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing. To sip? Maybe try a classic Manhattan or Martini.
A home-cooked chicken is so simple yet delicious, both comforting and romantic at the same time. This Rotisserie Chicken recipe can easily be made in the oven or skewered for a rotisserie oven.
To mimic Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning from the store, you need just 4 pantry staples: paprika, thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder. Yes, that’s it! I recommend trussing your chicken for even cooking and the juiciest bird possible.
Serve your chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Roasted Carrots with Yogurt Sauce, and soft, fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits. If you’re thinking about a cocktail, white wine goes well with chicken. But make it special and consider a batch of Moscato Sangria, a sweet, fruity blend that will knock her socks off.
To me, nothing says “romance” like a bowl of Risotto. This is a simple, traditional version flavored with onions, chicken broth, white wine, and Parmesan cheese. It’s creamy, chewy, and so delicious to eat.
Risotto has a reputation for being fussy so that only makes your Valentine’s Day dinner more impressive. Luckily, for any Risotto novices, I break down everything you need to know to find success. First, choose the right rice (short-grain, high-starch). Second, incorporate the broth in measured portions, stirring each until incorporated. That’s it! You’ll have this remarkable dish on the table in 30 minutes or less.
Risotto works well as both a main dish and a side dish, so be sure to consider your options. If you choose it as your entrée, consider serving an Italian Antipasto Salad or Caesar Salad, or some Sautéed Asparagus, on the side. An Aperol Spritz might be a great choice for sipping.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Maybe it’s because of Lady and the Tramp, but Spaghetti and Meatballs will always be intertwined with Valentine’s Day in my heart. It’s a cozy, comforting meal, and there’s always a chance for you to share a strand of spaghetti.
Start with tender, homemade Italian Meatballs and simmer them in a luscious spaghetti sauce, then serve over tender, chewy pasta. To lower your day-of stress, you can make the meatballs (and the sauce) in advance and freeze (thaw overnight the day before). You can also make the meatballs in your air fryer.
Round out your Italian Feast with a simple Garden Salad topped with Green Goddess Dressing (perhaps a subliminal message?), Garlic Bread, or a platter of Bruschetta. For drinks, consider a red wine such as Pinot Noir or Chianti.
Frosted Valentine Cookies
Sugar cookies are a cute way to celebrate your Valentine, and you can get super creative with the decorations. Royal Icing and sprinkles are an easy way to go, and you could even decorate them with words or imitate Sweethearts candies (those little hearts with the messages in red).
Sugar cookie dough needs to chill to roll out well, so you can start them in advance (maybe even the weekend before Valentine’s Day). If Royal Icing feels like too much, store-bought frosting is fine too.
If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up, pair these easy Frosted Valentine Cookies with an Espresso Martini.
While Tiramisu is more “intermediate” than “beginner,”, I like to think this recipe is one of the easiest to understand and follow. You can make it a few days ahead of time, too, so that leaves you time and flexibility if needed.
You’ll make mascarpone custard from scratch, but it’s just sugar, eggs, and milk in a saucepan. Once the custard is chilled and your mascarpone (an Italian cheese similar to cream cheese) has softened, you’ll whip them together. Then it’s just an exercise in layering: ladyfingers brush with rum and coffee, mascarpone custard, whipped cream. Rinse and repeat, then dust with cocoa powder.
If you’d like to pair your Tiramisu with a cocktail, consider fruit-based liquors such as amaretto, brandy, and cognac. An Amaretto Sour or Sidecar Cocktail might be perfect.
If you’re feeling spontaneous this Valentine’s Day, Chocolate Fondue is a fun and interactive way to wind down your meal. It can be as simple or over-the-top as you want, and the fondue itself is only 4 ingredients (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla).
For dipping, consider fresh fruit such as strawberries, orange segments, banana slices, and raspberries. Baked goods are delicious, and you can make them yourself or buy everything. Choose one or more cake or bar desserts such as Easy Pound Cake, Brownies, Rice Krispy Treats, or Angel Food Cake. Just cut everything into small cubes. Marshmallows or little crunchy meringues are fun, too.
For dessert drinks, both fruity and chocolate drinks work here. Pirate Punch is full of the flavors of the Caribbean (and has a lovely red hue, too), while a Mudslide is even more chocolate to enjoy!
Cherry Almond Biscotti
These crunchy Cherry Almond Biscotti are a sweet ending to any meal, especially Valentine’s Day. I love the pink color, and you can definitely upgrade the decorations to include sprinkles, candies, and chocolate drizzles.
Biscotti means “twice baked” in Italian, and that’s exactly how you make these easy cookies. First infuse the dough with toasted almonds and maraschino cherries, then form it into short, flat loaves. Once you’ve baked the loaves, slice them into slender bars, lay flat, and bake again. Voilá – twice baked!
These biscotti are perfect for dipping into Irish Coffee or Hot Chocolate, or serve with a cherry-infused cocktail such as a Dirty Shirley.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
This Flourless Chocolate Cake has a moist, fudgy crumb with a concentrated chocolate flavor. The chocolate glaze on top is more like a ganache, and it hardens to a rich, dark shine. The sweet Raspberry Coulis tastes almost tart by comparison, offering an optional (but highly recommended) contrasting flavor.
Since there is no flour in the batter, this cake gets its height from whipped egg whites. It’s another make-ahead marvel and must be made at least the night before so the glaze has time to set. One less thing to worry about on Valentine’s Day!
For an after-dinner cocktail, consider a Whiskey Sour or Brandy Old Fashioned to pair with this rich, chocolatey cake.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.