A common barrier to cooking is seeing a mouthwatering recipe online, only to click and discover it requires double-digit ingredients, two of which you’ve never heard of. It doesn’t have to be that way. Delicious, healthy dishes can be crafted from just three ingredients. Skeptical? Just check out this list and get cooking!
Note: Olive oil, salt, and pepper don’t count as any of the three ingredients since most people have those on hand all the time (along with beer, of course).
Nope, these flapjacks don’t call for boxed mix! Appropriate for paleo and gluten-free eaters, free of added sugars, and spiked with cinnamon, you’ll never used premade mix again.
2. Energy Bars
Let the food processor do all the work to make these soft, chewy treats reminiscent of Larabars. Switch up the nuts and dried fruit (or try fun ingredients like chocolate chips, crystalized ginger, or coconut) to ensure breakfast (or a snack) is never boring.
Colorful and a good source of iron for energy and beta carotene for eye health, this healthier version of hash calls for roasting the potatoes instead of frying them for a sweeter yet still crispy morning dish.
Mixing a piña colada and a green smoothie would likely never happen at a bar (or juice bar), but this virgin drink is a great way to start the day off with some iron, healthy fats, and bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme in pineapple.
Take everything that’s amazing about broccoli and cheddar soup and turn it into a morning meal you can eat with your hands. Genius.
One negative about most packaged granola bars: Those wholesome oats can be spiked with overly generous amounts of sugar. Take control with this recipe, adjusting the honey as necessary so it compliments the almond butter perfectly.
The idea of baking something already soft seems odd—until you eat it and realize how amazing warm, creamy avocado is. Especially when topped with an egg and bacon.
Put ham, egg, and cheese in a bowl, and what do you get? This super speedy and super tasty meal that anyone can make.
This drink gets nice and thick using avocado and banana. Use more or less milk to create your desired consistency, whether that’s drink-through-a-straw or eat-with-a-spoon.
The name sounds odd, but these banana and egg muffins, bursting with whatever other fruit you decide to add (strawberries seem like a perfect ingredient), come out sweet and juicy. Pack an extra for an afternoon office snack.
11. Plantain Waffles
Plantains, a starchy cousin to bananas, are delicious savory or sweet—and this recipe results in both. Pick soft, yellow ones with black spots for the best flavor.
We’re never one to turn down cookies, but when you eat them in the morning, they'd better be healthy—and quick. Mash bananas and oats, fold in currants (or other dried fruit), and bake. Then take one for the commute to work.
We kind of have a thing for sweet potatoes. And with 4 grams of fiber, more potassium than a banana, and only 103 calories per medium baked, who wouldn’t? Tangy BBQ sauce contrasts delightfully with the subtly sweet tater.
No need for mayo to whip up creamy chicken salad! Mash up avocado with the protein instead, add some cilantro (or other herbs), and dig in or serve on bread or greens.
A little cream never hurt anybody, especially when it’s used to create a luscious sauce for otherwise basic chicken breast. Plus, the sun-dried tomatoes pack more lycopene than raw ones, in addition to adding richer flavor.
You have two minutes prep work plus two minutes of shredding, while your slow-cooker works for four to eight hours. We like that trade off! And since this really only requires two ingredients (chicken and salsa), you can wrap it up in a tortilla, put atop quinoa, or serve with avocado (or anything else!) as the final ingredient.
That’s right, a Sunday night dinner can be made from three ingredients. (Though for complete balance, add some side vegetables if you have time.) And it’ll only cost you around $13!
Known for its powers to calm a queasy stomach, fresh ginger also packs a lot of flavor, tempered here by salty soy sauce. Let chicken marinate in the Asian combo in the fridge while you’re at work, that way dinner just needs to be cooked when you walk in the door.
Those fresh mozzarella balls sold in flavored oil are perfect for this, as the oil becomes the marinade and dressing. Now that’s savvy (and scrumptious) cooking!
It may bring back memories of preschool snacks, but apple juice (we’re talking pure, unsweetened juice) is not solely for kiddos. It cooks down to a sweet, thick sauce similar to Chinese sauces—but is much healthier.
When comfort food cravings hit on cold winter days, cook up some ground beef and add a can of chili beans and chili-ready tomatoes, and spoon up some warm-you-to-the-bone-and-soul food.
How in the world does a fancy-looking dinner come together from only three ingredients? By using the corn and peppers for both the sauce and salsa. The various textures—and the protein from the beef—will leave you satiated, not stuffed.
23. Prime-Rib Roast
Rubs are an excellent (and super simple) way to infuse meat with loads of flavor. Here, coffee and vanilla (yes, we’re talking dinner, not breakfast) lend a rich, slightly sweet hint to your roast.
Great for those meat and potatoes nights, this marinade balances savory and sweet, and works for any cut of steak.
OK, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind, but when you think about it: What doesn’t go with peanut butter? Or bacon? So why not put them together between bread (or enjoy open-faced)?
Serve this when guests come over to keep cooking simple. Though it’s only pork, sesame seeds, and hoisin sauce, it looks and tastes impressive.
28. Pulled Pork
Normally we don’t advocate soda, yet cooking with it in a slow-cooker pretty much guarantees sweet meat that’s never dry—meaning there's less of a need to pour on extra sauce (and often sodium and sugar).
Three ingredients and one pot are all you need for this healthy, melty dinner. Pick your favorite cheese or use whatever you have on hand.
Why limit broccoli slaw to, well, coleslaw? It can stand in for noodles, too: Lightly steam and mix with marinara and shrimp, a source of the trace mineral selenium, which may help prevent some cancers and heart disease.
31. Tuna Salad
While fresh food is always best, sometimes it's easier to turn to meals that come from a can. But we’re not talking high-sodium soup. Tuna, relish, and mayo make for a super quick and satisfying meal or snack.
This fish gets sweet and tender in the oven with a touch of tangy from the hoisin sauce, a mix of soy, sugar, miso, vinegar, and spices often used in Asian dishes. Make the side Brussels sprouts (only five ingredients!) for a complete meal.
Mayo comes in so many flavors now, making it easy to take boring tuna salad to the next level in minutes. Stuff it in a pepper (choose red for more immunity-boosting vitamin C), and bake.
Vegetarian and Vegan
An Italian meal doesn’t always have to include pasta. Polenta is a delicious carb, and it turns up nice and crispy in this dish with kale, which provides the carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin to keep eyes healthy.
Kale salad doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple break down the fibrous leafy green with some avocado and lemon, and you have a delicious lunch that’s great to brown-bag.
Feel fancy biting into this gourmet grilled cheese filled with buttery, gooey mascarpone and soft, sweet peaches. (Drooling yet?)
38. Cauliflower Soup
It makes sense: Cauliflower can stand in for creamy mashed potatoes and hide in super fudgy brownies, so of course the veggie turns into thick, puréed soup. Plus, it’s a source of sulforaphane, a phytonutrient that appears to protect against cancer Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Li Y., Zhang T. Future Oncology, 2013 Aug;9(8):1097-103.Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention. National Cancer Institute..
39. Tomato Soup
Granted, this isn’t really a recipe—it’s more of a formula for perfect tomato soup. But technically it’s three ingredients: allium (a.k.a. onion, garlic, or shallots), olive oil (which we consider a staple), and tomatoes (plus water)—all things likely to be in your cabinet. Pair with the grilled cheese above for easy, soul- and body-nourishing lunch or dinner.
What’s green and white and delicious all over? This simple yet flavor-packed pizza. And if it’s too cold to grill, fire up the oven!
Mac and cheese doesn’t have to come from a box—but you already knew that, right? This recipe lets you take control, plus it takes no longer than the there’s-no-way-that’s-natural orange stuff. Simply cook whatever noodle you’re craving in your milk of choice and stir in your favorite shredded cheese. Then devour.
Power foods unite in this creamy, slightly salty dish that also makes a wonderful gluten-free side. There’s plant protein, healthy fats, and cheese (OK, not a power food, but c’mon, it’s cheese!). It’s equally as great for using up leftover quinoa as it is for giving you reason to make a new batch of the superfood.
43. Black Bean Soup
Though the ingredients list is minimal, this soup is a nutritional knockout: Black beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, B6, and magnesium (which your body needs for only 300-some biochemical reactions).
How can three ingredients—none of which is sugar—taste like Snickers, which has 11 ingredients, including corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and artificial flavors? No idea, but after one bite, you won’t care!
Crisp doesn’t require flour for the topping. According to Adrienne, the recipe creator,, baking coconut butter gives it the consistency of shortbread, making it perfect for cobblers and anyone who eats paleo or gluten-free. Toss with apricots (or another fruit) and some honey, top with the butter, bake until golden-brown, and let chill to set.
46. Nutella Muffins
Next time the temptation strikes to eat Nutella straight from the jar, mix it with some eggs and flour, and bake up these mini muffins. It’s much better for portion control!
If you haven’t tried to make gluten-free, dairy-free, no-sugar-added “ice cream” from frozen bananas yet, this will have you pulling out the blender or food processor. Top with the two-ingredient chocolate caramel sauce and crushed peanuts to fancy it up.
48. Raw Brownies
High in fiber and potassium, dates are a common binder (and natural sweetener) in vegan and raw desserts. Process them with antioxidant-rich cacao and heart-healthy walnuts for this no-bake number.
Free of flour (oh hey, gluten-free friends!), these cookies are dense, chewy, and only require stirring. And pressing down with a fork, if desired, to create the distinguishable lattice pattern on top.
There’s no need to add sweetener when you make popsicles from whole, natural ingredients like frozen bananas, strawberries, and pineapple juice. Healthy, beautiful, and they taste just like summer.
51. Chocolate Mousse
Easy, gorgeous, and healthy is our kind of sweet! Simply combine melted high-quality dark chocolate and coconut-almond (or other) milk, pour into jars, and let chill in the fridge. The third ingredient for garnish is up to you!