There’s nothing quite like showing love through food, and while a date night out feels glitzy, we love the intimacy of date night at home. You could make your special someone their favorite food, or pick a recipe that you’d normally reserve for a special occasion. Will you plan multiple courses and finish with a decadent dessert for two? Or, perhaps you’ll keep it simple: Light a few candles and dig into a creamy bowl of pasta.
There’s plenty of people to cook outside of a romantic partner, too. Treat your family to a better-than-weeknight dinner or invite over your closest pals and toast your friendship. Our date night menu suggests at-home cocktails to start your date, an epicurean dinner, and indulgent sweets to bring a restaurant-worthy experience to your candlelit table–no awkward small talk required.
Date Night Cocktails
Anything sparkling feels celebratory. The french 75 requires minimal ingredients (and you can use cheap bubbles, too!) but inspires maximum sophistication.
The sparkling theme continues with festive spritzes. Plus, the low proof cocktails means you can sip it on a weeknight without fear of a rough morning. Spiced orange ginger ale brings hints of winter spice to this date night drink.
Love at First Bite
A creamy, hot dip oozes decadence. And, while spinach-and-artichoke or buffalo-chicken dip feel rather party-worthy, the crab meat gives this recipe date-night elegance.
Oysters with Apple Mignonette
Forget the oyster bar—oysters at home are easy to prepare and even more fun to slurp. Dress them up for date night with a homemade apple mignonette and whipped celery root (also super easy to make). You can make the toppings in advance and wait until your date arrives to shuck the oysters—extra hands will make quick work of the process.
We know that risotto requires incessant stirring, but your date is worth it. Bursts of trumpet mushrooms and fresh shrimp give this dish cheffy vibes, despite taking less than an hour to prepare.
Clam and Pancetta Pasta
If you want to shower your significant other, your family, or yourself with some love, pasta with clams gets the job done. The clam liquor coats the noodles in a rich, umami-packed sauce. Go the extra mile by making the pasta yourself (this recipe breaks it down for you), and it can be done well in advance.
Wow your date with tender, little rolls of gnocchi that you made and shaped by hand. Letting the butter-based sauce brown brings out caramel notes that give a sweet touch to this savory dish.
Sweet Endings to Date Night
It wouldn’t feel like a date if you skipped dessert. A deep, dark chocolate bread pudding finishes the meal with melty decadence. Topping it with a whiskey-spiked cream makes this date night dessert extra indulgent.
Individual servings for these pots de crème mean you don’t have to share. It definitely needs no additions, but, because it’s date night, feel free to finish it with a thick drizzle of salted caramel sauce.
Caramel Ginger Cheesecake
Skip the cheese course and go straight for dessert cheesecake. Instead of a graham cracker crust, this recipe calls for letting sugar caramelize in the pan before adding the batter. This results in a light, airy cake with a crisp, crème brulée-like top.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay
- by Emily Havener
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Beth D’Addono