Shut the computer down and prepare for a binge watching marathon. Your weekend begins with these easy Friday night dinner ideas. Simple Asian comfort food recipes you can make in under 30 minutes. From savory stir fried veggies to teriyaki fish to spicy Szechuan chicken. No delivery fees – and flavor for days. Better than takeout!
Sometimes at the end of an exceptionally busy work week, I can’t wait to order takeout, flip on the TV and melt into the sofa. Because there’s nothing more relaxing than movie night surrounded by to-go containers brimming with my favorite comfort foods. But, with rising food costs, takeout and delivery is more expensive than ever. Friday night dinners shouldn’t deplete your hard earned paycheck with crazy delivery fees and fuel surcharges! Well, not every weekend anyway.
Weekend Dinner Ideas Inspired by Asian Takeout Menus
I’ve always been drawn to Asian takeout and delivery. And Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese food is what I end up craving most when I close my laptop on Fridays. Sure, I love pizza, pasta, tater tot casserole and a faux steak sandwich smothered in mozzarella cheese and bell peppers as well. But, when I consult the drawer full of takeout menus, I’m usually thinking quick stir fry from the wok – not time consuming sheet pan or crockpot recipes.
If that’s how you roll as well, you’ll definitely find some easy dinner ideas that will please you and your family. Plus, everything on this list is ready in under 30 minutes. Because preparing delicious food shouldn’t cut into your binge watching too much!
Chinese Broccoli With Garlic Sauce
When I’m at dim sum, you better believe I’m ordering gai lan. But this Chinese broccoli – quickly stir fried with garlic, oyster sauce and sesame oil – has also been on pretty much every delivery order I’ve ever placed. Luckily, it’s so easy to make at home with a small handful of ingredients. And the tender stalks and leaves taste best fresh out of the frying pan anyway. So save your money – and whip up this Chinese restaurant classic when Friday movie night rolls around.
Easy Japchae – Korean Glass Noodles
With chewy glass noodles, sweet and savory sauce – and colorful vegetables – Japchae is the perfect meal to serve to noodle lovers. The slippery Korean glass noodles are actually made from the starch of sweet potatoes. And the whole thing is ready in less than 20 minutes from start to finish.
Chinese Eggplant With Garlic Sauce
Like I said, when I’m needing inspiration for home cooked Friday night dinner recipes, sometimes I turn to my drawer full of to-go menus. If it sounds like something I’d like to order – then it’s definitely getting made! This Chinese eggplant recipe is one of those dishes I always order (so I make it all the time haha). If you’ve got eggplant and ginger in the fridge that you don’t know what to do with, this one is for you. Check this video to see how simple it is to make this takeout favorite in under 20 minutes at home.
Filipino Garlic Rice (Sinangag)
When it comes to decadent delivery, fried rice obviously beats salad. But this Filipino garlic rice recipe has a few things that make it stand further apart from the pack. 1) Vampire safety amounts of fried garlic goodness. 2) No egg means it’s a vegan fried rice recipe. 3) In the Philippines, sinangag is actually typically eaten for breakfast! But don’t worry. It is delicious anytime. And it’s one of the easiest Friday dinner ideas of all time. Ditch the slow cooker – and grab the wok. 10 minutes is all you need from start to finish.
Garlic Shrimp With Chili Crisp
I get fired up when a recipe I’ve made at home beats the flavor of a similar dish from a restaurant. And while I don’t know if any restaurants are making this exact combination – it definitely wouldn’t seem out of place in a takeout container next to a side of egg rolls. This garlic chili shrimp is smoky, salty, nutty and has just enough heat to make you reach for a spoonful of steamed rice. I don’t say this often… but it’s insanely delicious!
Easy Pan Fried Tofu With Gochujang Sauce
Pan fried until crispy, these tofu steaks are then coated in a gochujang based sauce. It’s smoky, sweet and spicy. And it’s the perfect example of tofu doing its magical shapeshifting act: tasting exactly like whatever you prepared it with. This is one of those easy Friday night dinner ideas that still happens to pack a punch in the protein department as well.
My eyes are drawn to this delicious combination of words almost every time I look at a delivery menu. Seriously, I could look at a 3 panel takeout menu (with small writing) and find szechuan chicken in 0.02 seconds. And that’s because it’s so yummy. Well, with a handful of spices, veggies and protein – you can make this delicious stir fry at home. Works super well with your favorite plant-based meat alternatives too.
Scallion Pancakes (Pajeon – 파전)
These crispy, chewy Korean scallion pancakes are so addictive! Whip up the quick batter, chop your scallions and move on to your Friday night chilling. Oh, and remember to serve your green onion pancakes with the soy sauce and rice vinegar based dipping sauce. 10 minutes to prep. 10 minutes of cook time. All completely worth it.
The Best Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)
Kids love Japanese okonomiyaki. Especially when you tell them you’re making ‘Japanese pizza’ for dinner on Friday. Aside from being a savory pancake topped with Japanese mayo and okonomi sauce – bonito flakes (katsuobushi) dance and sway from the heat of the completed dish. There’s definitely an element of theater when you place the plate on the dinner table (or on the TV tray in your living room).
Spicy Vegan Sichuan Noodles
Friday night sometimes seems like the perfect time for pasta. Rice noodles are brilliant when I’m craving pasta, but want to keep it on the lighter side. Smoky, spicy and with a punch of umami, these spicy vegan Sichuan noodles will keep you coming back for more. And mushrooms actually step in for the more traditional ground beef or pork. Plus, the entire recipe only requires 8 ingredients and is ready in 10 minutes!
Crispy Honey Sriracha Tofu
Honey and sriracha go together so well, you’d think they were old friends. And that sweet heat works with everything from honey sriracha salmon filets – to roasted chickpeas to this crispy stir fried tofu recipe. Tastes just like Chinese take out (think sweet and sour but with a chili sauce kick). Ready in just 15 minutes.
Drunken Noodles – Pad Kee Mao
When tender shrimp and wide rice noodles get together in the wok, you have my attention. Once you add Thai chilis, kaffir lime leaves, basil, fish sauce and Thai dark soy sauce I’m probably staring slack-jawed at the mixture and wondering how soon I get to dig in. Turns out, 16 minutes. That’s how long pad kee mao takes to make from start to finish. And drunken noodles is one of the best Friday night dinner ideas that doesn’t require a phone call or delivery app.
Teriyaki Arctic Char
Friday night was fish night growing up at my place. But that doesn’t mean my mom went for fish and chips every week. Sometimes, Friday also signified teriyaki night as well. Teriyaki is a cooking method where food is grilled or broiled in a simple combo of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. It acts as a glaze – and produces a glossy, lacquer-like shine. Delicate (and sustainable!) arctic char is the perfect vehicle for this delicious Japanese sauce. Worried that making this at home might take too long? Don’t sweat it! You only need 10 minutes.
Chinese Restaurant Style Stir Fried Napa Cabbage
Simple stir fried dishes are oftentimes the sleepers. Because they have a humble ingredients list – but still manage to pack a serious punch in the flavor department. This napa cabbage stir fry mimics a classic Chinese stir fry from your favorite neighborhood spot – and even has the trademark thick and glossy sauce (thank you cornstarch!). If you’re sitting in front of the TV and wish you had a takeout container of something smoky, umami and delicious – this is the one for you.
Ochazuke – お茶漬け
This is one of those simple Japanese concoctions that tends to be, in actuality, repurposed leftovers. Ochazuke is cooked shortgrain rice, covered in a broth made of green tea or dashi (or sometimes both), then topped with whatever you have handy. I think it’s best with leftover shiozake (salted salmon) or umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums). But use what you have handy! Savory, comforting and above all… easy to make on a lazy Friday night!
Kitsune Udon – きつねうどん
Need a little comfort food that isn’t too heavy? Kitsune udon is a traditional udon noodle soup that hits the spot (and is way better for you than a packet of instant ramen). The noodles are served in a delicate, salty, and umami broth and then topped with sweet inari age (fried tofu) pouches, fish cakes and chopped scallions. It’s delicious and ready in 15 minutes.
Chinese Tomato Egg Stir Fry
Easy and affordable – and only 17 minutes to make. This simple home-style Chinese dish is savory, sweet and tart, and becomes the ultimate comfort food when served over rice. It’s one of my Friday night favorites when I’m watching my budget, but still want to welcome the weekend with some great Asian comfort food. This is also one of the few Chinese recipes where I sometimes sub out the cooking oil for the decadence of butter. Now… fire up Netflix and veg out!
Have you tried any of these easy Friday night dinner ideas? Are there changes you made that you’d like to share? Sound off! Share your recommendations, tips and tricks in the comments section below.