17 budget dinners that require just 5 ingredients

Cooking on a budget isn’t always easy. You spot a recipe, head for ingredients and before you know it, that basket is filling up. One way to keep the shopping list inexpensive (and the cooking time short) is by using fewer ingredients. Enter: our 5-ingredient recipes.

We’ve pulled together 17 easy, healthy and budget meals that only require 5 ingredients (excluding olive oil, salt and pepper and herb garnishes… please, we are not magicians). From whole fish dishes to Italian classics and fancy-looking soufflés, there’s something to suit all tastes here. As you will see, minimal ingredients does not a dull dinner make!

17 budget dinners that require just 5 ingredients

The flavour packed ingredients to have in your arsenal

There are a few storecupboard staples that offer a tonne of flavour when you need it, so it’s handy having these at home. We recommend investing in a jar of harissa and mustard, a block of ‘nduja, and a wedge of hard Italian cheese (be it Parmesan or Grana Padano) as these can instantly elevate any dish, be it a meaty dish or something vegetarian. Keep lemons on hand to bring that all-important acidity to brighten dishes, and whatever herbs you like best will make for great garnishes. Lastly, the importance of salt cannot be understated! Its power to draw out flavour from anything it touches is second-to-none.

17 recipes using just 5 ingredients

Orzo carbonara

Italian’s know that turning a few simple ingredients into something truly special is always a good idea. Enter: carbonara. Bacon, egg, and cheese come together in the most glorious harmony. We’ve used orzo in our recipe because we are not scared of backlash…

Orzo carbonara

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Pea and prosciutto gnocchi

When in doubt, a pack of frozen peas can be a godsend. This gnocchi dish adds the simple touches of crispy prosciutto and parmesan to a bowl of pesto gnocchi for a 20-minute winner.

Find the recipe here

‘Nduja and mascarpone pasta

This easy 15-minute meal is quick enough for a midweek fix yet elegant enough to impress whoever you’re cooking for. Spicy ‘nduja, creamy mascarpone and healthy spinach… you can’t go wrong.

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Cheesy mushroom danish pastries

In just half an hour, a batch of these smoky, rich, burnished gold savoury Danish pastries could be yours. They’re topped with juicy mushrooms and plenty of black pepper and with a side salad make a wonderful main.

Mushroom danishes

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Pomegranate and sweet potato chicken tray bake

Just five ingredients, one tray and minimal washing up; this chicken traybake is sweet, salty and good for you too. Are you convinced yet?

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Carrot and ginger soup

We love this bright, flavoursome carrot and ginger soup that’s ideal for batch cooking as you can freeze any leftovers to enjoy as an instant midweek meal.


Find the recipe here

Sardines with watercress salad

Tinned fish are cheap, tasty and nutritious, so keep some in your cupboard for when you need a meal in minutes. This recipe heroes tinned sardines to create a light and summery salad, paired with avocado, watercress and radishes.

Find the recipe here

Mediterranean pesto and cheese tarts

Puff pastry is a gift from heaven when it comes to 5-ingredient recipes, and these tartlets are topped with pesto, goat’s cheese and sun blush tomatoes. Why complicate it?

Mediterranean tart

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Artichoke panzanella

A main-meal veggie salad that takes just 15 minutes to throw together. And with soft artichokes, crispy croutons and crunchy almonds in every bite, this hearty dish delivers on flavour and texture.

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Cacio e pepe with asparagus

We’ve used asparagus in this quintessentially Italian dish, but feel free to use any seasonal greens you prefer.

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Whole seabass with chilli and broccoli

The joy of cooking whole fish is that you don’t need to do much to it for a delicious meal. This recipe sees the fish grilled for a crispy skin, then roasted and served alongside broccoli that’s been drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.


Find the recipe here

Mackerel and beetroot salad

This cheffy-looking dish needs just 5 ingredients! With protein from fish and nuts and minerals from the beetroot, it’s incredibly good for you. All you need to add is some crusty bread or a serving of rice to make this a complete meal.

Mackerel beetroot

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Egg-fried rice and veg stir-fry 

Use this easy egg-fried rice dish as a base for your own creation. Add fried chicken or prawns for extra protein, opt for tofu to keep it veggie, mix up the vegetables or add fresh chilli for extra heat.

Find the recipe here

Asparagus and gruyère soufflés

A box of eggs, a bunch of asparagus and a mound of cheese is the basis for this one-dish wonder. It’s a great one for dinner parties too, as it looks properly impressive! And it makes your kitchen smell divine to boot…

Find the recipe here

Spaghetti aglio e olio

There’s 5-ingredient meals and then there’s this famous 4-ingredient pasta from Naples. Aglio e olio means garlic and oil, two things that come together in harmony every time. It’s the speediest, tastiest spaghetti dish, trust us!

Aglio e olio

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Caramelised onion baked beans

This Serbian dish called Prebranac is made with butter beans, slowly caramelised onions and plenty of garlic for a one-pot dinner that’s perfect served simply with crusty bread.


Find the recipe here

Spinach and ricotta pizza

Pizza is inexpensive to make at home and these are topped with spinach, ricotta and a just-set egg for that classic Florentine combination. The pine nuts and chilli flakes are optional – just a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of salt will bring these alive.

Find the recipe here

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