It may be customary to celebrate Valentine’s Day with an upscale dinner, but it’s one of the absolute worst nights of the year to eat out. You’re much better off eating at home, and it gives you the perfect excuse to try out those luxurious dishes you’ve had your eye on: lobster, steak, you name it. Whether you want to make the ultimate steak, homemade pasta, or a decadent seafood dish, here are 27 recipes to help you show your partner how much you love them. Can’t find the right one? Head over to our Valentine’s Day page to find a whole host of other romantic recipes.
The jury’s out on whether or not oysters are actually an aphrodisiac, but they’re definitely an elegant way to kick off a Valentine’s Day meal. You could keep them raw or bake them with cream and spinach to make oysters Florentine. Ask your fishmonger for large, extra-briny oysters for this recipe.
As much as oysters have their fanatics, lobster reigns supreme when it comes to luxury seafood. For a preparation more interesting than a steamed lobster tail, try this Colombian-style ceviche. We parboil the lobster for just a couple minutes before tossing it in a lime juice marinade flavored with shallots, jalapeño, and cilantro to finish the cooking.
Baking a round of brie is one of the best ways to elevate your cheese board. In this version the cheese is topped with fig jam and thyme leaves and wrapped in puff pastry before baking. You can also try wrapping the brie up with apple and pear compote or getting rid of the puff pastry and serving it with honey and pistachios.
Strawberries and cheese are both romantic foods (I’m not the only one who thinks cheese is romantic, right?), so it’s only appropriate to serve them together on Valentine’s Day. This tangy dip combines goat cheese with cream cheese and honey. We bake the dip until golden and melty, and top it with a mixture of fresh strawberries, basil, and a balsamic reduction.
Fanned out like flowers, these artichokes are a step above your average fried fare. We double-fry them, so the insides tenderize and the exteriors get crispy. For the most traditional flavor, fry the artichokes in olive oil, but use a neutral oil if you want the flavor of the artichoke to come through more clearly.
Not interested in double-frying artichokes? These artichokes à la barigoule, one of the most famous dishes from France’s Provence region, are a wonderful alternative. The artichokes are stuffed, wrapped in pancetta, and gently braised until tender and succulent.
This creamy beet gratin is a lovely pinkish-red color, perfect for Valentine’s Day. Earthy beets are sliced thinly, layered, and submerged in a chili-spiked cream. The mixture bubbles until the cream has cooked down and the beets are tender. The final dish is topped with a crunchy, salty mixture of pistachios, panko bread crumbs, and a pinch of sugar to balance the chili’s slight heat.
Lobster bisque isn’t an everyday soup, but it’s perfect for a romantic dinner for two. The bisque is deeply rich and flavorful, packed with tender chunks of lobster meat. It takes some work to get this on the table, but it’s well worth the wait.
Rack of lamb is a little pricey, so if I’m going to cook it, I want to cook it right. The easiest way to ensure your lamb is a rosy medium-rare from edge to edge is to cook it sous vide. After the lamb is cooked through, sear it in a blazingly hot cast iron skillet. Make sure to open the windows and turn on the vent—there’s going to be some serious smoke.
If you really want to splurge for Valentine’s Day, no ordinary rack of lamb will cut it. No, the ultimate way to show your partner you love them is with a massive dry-aged ribeye steak. Like with the lamb, the best course of action is to cook the meat sous vide and then sear it in a hot pan. If you want to get an even better crust, use a blowtorch!
Don’t have the cash for dry-aged steak? Short ribs are an alternative that feel like a treat but aren’t quite so hard on your wallet. In this recipe we slowly cook the ribs with a Chinese-inspired mix of soy sauce, orange zest and juice, ginger, and five-spice powder. You can make them in a Dutch oven or a slow-cooker—either way they’ll come out amazingly tender.
Beef shanks are an even more budget-friendly option for Valentine’s Day. Cooked in red wine, this rustic, comforting cut becomes tender and flavorful. Once the shanks are done, you can reduce the braising liquid and aromatics down to a rich sauce. Even better, the bones are filled with buttery marrow.
This simple pork tenderloin looks and tastes special, but it only takes 30 minutes to make. The pork is cooked entirely on the stovetop and served with a sauce made with bourbon-soaked figs, whole grain mustard, maple syrup, and gelatin-enriched chicken stock.
Mussels feel like a treat but are remarkably affordable. They’re also easy to prepare all sorts of ways. Here we go with a classic moules marinières, cooking the bivalves in a broth flavored with shallot, leeks, garlic, and white wine (or dry cider). Mix garlicky aioli into the broth to thicken it and make sure you have a crusty baguette on hand to sop it all up.
You don’t need meat or seafood to have a romantic dinner—homemade pasta says “I love you” even better than an expensive steak. For Valentine’s Day, make our simple fresh egg pasta and dye it pink with beet purée. The purée is vividly colored but mild enough to work in any recipe—if you really want to taste the beets, roast them before puréeing.
If you’re already comfortable with basic pasta-making, you can be a little more ambitious—these homemade tortellini are a manageable next step. They look difficult to make, but all you need are a cookie cutter and some patience. We fill them with a mushroom purée flavored with Parmesan and shallots—you can use something else, but keep the filling pretty dry so that the tortellini don’t burst.
Your date will be plenty impressed by tortellini, but uovo in raviolo—big ravioli filled with a soft egg yolk cradled in a ring of ricotta—is an absolute showstopper. They look like something you’d only find in a high-end restaurant, but if you take it nice and slow, you’ll be able to make them just fine.
This savory cheese soufflé isn’t nearly as daunting as you might imagine. Yes, you can open the oven door; no, you don’t need to tiptoe around your kitchen while it’s baking. Beaten egg whites meet Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a pillowy, salty soufflé perfect for your romantic dinner.
This classic French dish is sure to impress your special someone. The recipe calls for a whole duck, so you’ll also have plenty of decadent duck a’lorange leftovers. The glossy, rich sauce is balanced by a combination of orange and lemon juice, and it cuts through the rich duck meat.
This pan-roasted quail dish is an elegant, impressive answer to a romantic dinner. The quail cook very quickly, and a simple plum sauce finished with butter and honey ties the dish together.
Valentine’s Day should be all about your romantic dinner—not sweating over pots and pans in the kitchen. This broiled steak with mushrooms and chive sour cream comes together in a single skillet. What looks and tastes like a labor-intensive dinner will be ready in a snap.
The key to elegant (and easy) roast fish is keeping things simple. Here, we use the broiler to blister and crisp the outside of a whole porgy, while leaving the flesh tender and sweet. There’s almost no prep work, and that means this fancy-looking dinner requires very little clean-up.
This dish matches moist, juicy steak with peach wedges and wilted dandelion greens. Instead of wasting all of the flavorful fond that builds up in the pan while the steak is cooking, we scrape it up to coat the peaches and greens. The best part? This easy, colorful dinner will be on the table in 15 minutes.
Served with a few simple, delicious sides, a roast chicken with perfectly crisp skin is about as romantic as it gets. Cooking the chicken under a heavy object (whatever oven-safe weight you have on hand) means it will cook more quickly, with more surface area getting browned and crispy.
Steak au poivre is one of those classic bistro dishes we usually leave to restaurant chefs. But our in-house pro (thanks, Daniel Gritzer) assured us this dish isn’t as complicated as we’d thought. The peppercorn-crusted steak is served in a flavorful, tangy, slightly creamy pan sauce. No bistro reservation necessary this Valentine’s Day.
This comforting pasta is about as simple as it gets. Cooked pasta gets tossed with brown butter, sage, and butternut squash, before it’s taken off the heat and finished with a generous amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
When it comes to easy-as-can-be pastas, this Roman classic is not to be ignored. Pasta alla Gricia features rigatoni dressed in an emulsion of rich guanciale fat and starchy pasta water, along with a generous helping of Pecorino Romano. That’s it.
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