Going out for a fancy meal with your partner is always fun – but there’s something even more romantic about an at-home date night. Cooking a meal for the special someone in your life is a great way to show how much you care, and it’s easier to pick a meal you know they’ll love, too. Plus, cooking at home is cheaper than eating out, so if you’re watching the pennies it makes sense.
Whether your idea of a romantic dinner is steak, seafood, pasta, or a plant-based creation, there’s a perfect main course for every couple – and sharing a dessert together (or enjoying one each!) just makes it more special.
So if you’re planning an at-home date night, light those candles, put on your favourite romantic music, and get inspired with these delicious and romantic date night recipes.
Main courses for an at-home date night
1. Elevated mac and cheese
Macaroni cheese can seem like a simple, comforting dish – but it can also be incredibly decadent, luxurious, and romantic.
Even the most basic macaroni cheese is usually delicious – creamy, hot, and gooey – but if you want to make it super special, there are many ways you can elevate this dish.
Probably the most elegant way to give macaroni cheese a boost is to add lobster. This lobster mac and cheese recipe by The Kitchn has an aromantic base of minced shallots and garlic, a rich, creamy cheese sauce made from cheddar, gruyère and parmesan, and succulent pieces of seasoned lobster.
If you don’t fancy elevating your macaroni cheese with lobster, there are many other ways to upgrade this delicious dish. Why not try this truffled mac and cheese from BBC Good Food – or, if you’re a bit of a cheese fiend, why not try Delia’s souffled macaroni cheese recipe?
Vegans don’t have to miss out on this dish either. This vegan cauliflower macaroni cheese by chef Jackie Kearney uses cashew nuts and almond milk to create a thick and creamy sauce, a dash of whiskey adds a subtle spiced kick, and the crispy fried capers on top are the perfect final touch.
2. Mexican-inspired tacos
Tacos are pretty much universally adored, and thanks to their versatility and how fun they are to put together, they’re the perfect date-night meal.
When it comes to what to put in your tacos, the sky’s the limit. You can fill bowls with as many different fillings as you like and have fun trying new creations.
You can put in as much (or as little!) effort as you like. If you have time, you can use fillings that take a little longer to make, like pulled pork or roasted cauliflower. Or, if your date night was more of a last-minute idea, you can use ingredients that are quick to prepare, like beans or pre-cooked meat.
If you’re going all out to impress, you can lay the table with lots of colourful bowls of food and allow your date to choose what they want to put in: purple cabbage, deep-brown beans, red salsa, yellow and orange peppers, and pale green guacamole will be a treat for the eyes as well as the tongue.
There’s a taco recipe for every diet and taste preference. If you’d like to make meat tacos, why not try these steak tacos by Damn Delicious? If you prefer fish, try these fish tacos by Delish. If you’d like to make veggie tacos, try these refried bean tacos from Cookie + Kate, or these Jamaican jerk tacos by Love + Lemons.
3. Seafood spaghetti
Seafood pasta is a classic combination. There’s a certain romance about it too because it often evokes images of sultry summer holidays in the Mediterranean, and delicious seaside lunches under the blazing sun. But seafood pasta is also a great recipe for a date night at home.
There are all kinds of seafood pasta recipes you can make – creamy linguine with mussels and scallops, spaghetti and shrimp in spicy tomato sauce, sardine pasta with lemons and chilli – but if you’re looking for a classic dish, you might want to try spaghetti alle vongole – spaghetti with clams.
What makes this Italian dish so special is the fact that while it’s quick and easy to knock up, the deep, savoury flavours released by the seafood produce a stock that emulsifies with the pasta starch, creating a sauce that coats every strange of spaghetti, and releasing a tantalising aroma of the sea.
To make spaghetti alle vongole, you might want to try this recipe from Jamie Oliver.
Pizza is one of those dishes that pretty much everyone loves. Though it started as food eaten mostly by peasants in 18th century Italy, pizza has gone on to become one of the world’s favourite foods, and there are countless variations, styles, and flavours.
If you love pizza, why not make some together with your partner? Not only will this mean you’ll get to enjoy delicious homemade pizza for dinner, but it’ll also mean you get to spend quality time together. From stretching the dough to choosing the toppings, making pizza from scratch can be a lot of fun.
The secret to perfect pizza is in the dough, not the toppings. If you’re pushed for time or don’t fancy making your own, you can buy decent pizza dough from bakeries – but making your own with your partner, perhaps over a glass of wine and with music playing, is far more enjoyable.
Choosing your toppings is also fun to do together; you can make a different pizza each and see which turns out better!
To learn more about making the perfect pizza from home, have a read of our guide to pizza making. For more inspiration on delicious and unusual pizza toppings, check out this article by RecipeTin Eats.
5. Steak dinner
Rich and expensive, steak is often a go-to date-night meal – but you don’t need to head to a posh restaurant to enjoy a good steak dinner. When paired with lots of vegetables, a steak dinner can be a perfectly balanced meal, and there are plenty of tasty recipes to choose from.
For something fancy, why not make this fillet mignon with roasted broccolini and mashed sweet potato by Eating Well? The colourful, healthy vegetables balance out the tender steak, and it’s an impressive but easy-to-make meal that’s perfect for a date night at home.
For something a bit lighter and more summery, Good Housekeeping’s recipe for steak with grilled green beans, fennel and farro is ideal – as is this steak, beetroot, horseradish and warm lentil salad recipe by BBC Good Food.
If you don’t eat meat or are trying to reduce how much you eat, there’s no need to miss out on this classic date night dinner. This vegan seitan steak by It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken looks and tastes incredibly meat-like – or celebrate pure vegetables by making this cauliflower steak by Cookie + Kate.
6. Romantic risotto
Risotto might be a simple meal at its core, but it also manages to feel pretty special and romantic. The fact that it’s cooked with wine gives it a luxurious, grown-up edge, and having to constantly stir the rice means it’s a true labour of love!
Because of the patience that’s involved, risotto is the ideal meal to cook with someone by your side – that way, you can chat together, perhaps with a glass of wine in hand, as your risotto comes together. Risotto is also enormously versatile, so there’s an ideal recipe for every couple.
For a risotto that looks just as good as it tastes, you might want to try making this risotto nero with squash and burrata by Food & Wine. The black, glossy grains look seriously striking and served with butternut squash puree and creamy white burrata, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Risotto doesn’t have to be made with rice, either. Using the ancient grain farro gives this classic dish a tasty twist – plus some extra health benefits.
Desserts for an at-home date night
Even if you don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, a date night dinner feels much more special when it’s followed by dessert.
Whether you’re into sticky puddings or light, summery desserts, there’s a date night dessert to suit everyone – and sharing it makes it even more romantic.
Here are a few of our favourite date night sweet treats.
7. Chocolate tart
Chocolate desserts are the go-to option for a romantic dinner – and for good reason. Rich, delicious, and luxurious, chocolate is also considered to be an aphrodisiac – plus dark chocolate has some powerful health benefits.
If you’re looking for an extra special chocolate dessert, what about chocolate tart? Chocolate tart looks and tastes incredibly indulgent – and there are also endless variations of it, so it can be adapted to your precise taste preferences, whether that’s super sweet, dark, nutty, creamy, or zesty.
If you’d like to make a rich and creamy chocolate tart, why not make this Italian-inspired florentine tart by Saveur? Also known as torta al cioccolato, this decadent dessert uses digestive biscuits as a base, which gives the crust a deliciously crumbly texture.
If you like orange chocolate, you could try this chocolate orange tart from The Happy Foodie, and if you prefer white chocolate, why not try this white chocolate and raspberry tart from Good Housekeeping?
Cheesecakes also make a great date-night dessert – plus, many of the best cheesecake recipes don’t require baking, which removes much of the hassle. Another plus is that because they’re set in the fridge, they can be made a day in advance, so you have more time to enjoy your evening.
There are all different kinds of no-bake cheesecake recipes – just have a look at the selection on BBC Good Food for inspiration!
If you like fruity cheesecakes, you might want to make this triple-layered berry cheesecake, and if you like chocolate, try this chocolate hazelnut ice cream cheesecake. For a fresh, zingy dessert, this triple ginger cheesecake is delicious.
Cheesecakes are notoriously creamy, but if you’re watching your weight or trying to eat healthier, there are plenty of lower-fat cheesecake recipes that are delicious. Why not make this healthier New York cheesecake from Delicious Magazine or this WeightWatchers strawberry cheesecake?
If you don’t eat dairy, you don’t have to miss out on the delights of a cheesecake either. There are all kinds of delicious plant-based cheesecake recipes online, from Gaz Oakley’s NYC style baked cheesecake, to this mouth-watering no-bake vegan cheesecake by Nora Cooks.
There’s something incredibly alluring about a soufflé. If you think this light, fluffy dessert can only be enjoyed in elegant restaurants and not at home, think again – because making a perfect soufflé is quick and easy to whip up at home.
Despite their fancy reputation, soufflés are surprisingly simple. Eggs are separated into yolks and whites, and where the yolks are whisked into a rich base, the whites are whipped into peaks. In the oven, the air inside the egg whites expands, creating the dish’s famous foamy texture.
Chocolate soufflé is arguably one of the most heavenly desserts around, and if you’re looking to make one at home but feel a bit intimidated at the thought, this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction is ideal for beginners and will prove to you that making soufflé from scratch isn’t too tricky at all.
If you’re not a big chocolate fan, why not make this simple vanilla soufflé by The Spruce Eats, which uses only seven ingredients? Or, keep things fresh and zingy with this chilled lemon soufflé recipe by Delicious Magazine, which is perfect for summer.
10. Crème Brûlée
Another classic dessert to serve on a date night is crème brûlée. It’s a staple on the menu in fancy restaurants, which leads many people to believe it’s not something you can make at home. But, just like soufflé, making crème brûlée is actually pretty easy – and it doesn’t require a blowtorch, either.
While making crème brûlée does require a bit of time, it’s absolutely worth the effort. There’s something wonderfully special about shattering the brown sheet of sugar with your spoon, and then digging into the creamy vanilla custard. Each mouthful is crunchy and smooth, toasty and sweet.
If you’d like to make a classic crème brûlée – and you want to use a blowtorch! – try this recipe from Saveur. Or, if you’re feeling uncertain about making crème brûlée from scratch, have a read of this handy guide by The Kitchn, which doesn’t need any fancy equipment. Alternatively, if you want to make a cheat version of a crème brûlée, you could try their instant pot crème brûlée recipe.
Though classic crème brûlée may contain egg yolks and cream, that doesn’t mean vegans can’t get involved. This vegan crème brûlée recipe by Bianca Zapatka uses coconut milk and cornstarch to make a creamy custard, and the garnishes of raspberries, redcurrants, and pomegranate seeds add a vibrant touch.
If you’re planning a special date night, we hope these recipes prove that you don’t need to go to an expensive restaurant or spend a lot of money to enjoy delicious, romantic dishes.
Whether you want to make a dish that feels luxurious, like lobster mac and cheese or spaghetti vongole, or would rather make something you can enjoy creating together, like pizza or tacos, there’s a main course out there for every couple – and every dietary requirement too.
And if you rarely eat dessert, an at-home date night is the perfect excuse to treat yourself. Sharing it with your partner just makes it even more romantic!
If you’ve got everything you need for your perfect date night apart from the person sitting opposite you, then you might want to check out our Rest Less Dating site – where you can start meeting like-minded individuals and making connections.