How to make your 10 favorite takeout meals at home
Just because you’ve always ordered pad Thai from a restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t cook it yourself. The same goes for takeout classics like General Tso’s chicken, tikka masala and even sushi. Now you have no excuse to turn to GrubHub when you have the time to cook — and little money to spend on pricey meals and delivery fees — because we have all the recipes for your favorite takeout orders right here. Plus, we guarantee ours contain fewer calories, less fat and — in the case of Chinese food — no MSG.
Thai: Pad Thai
Easily the most well-known and popular Thai dish, pad Thai consists of rice noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts, green onions, cilantro and — depending on your preference — chicken, tofu and/or shrimp. This recipe from Williams-Sonoma hits the spot when you’re experiencing that occasional Thai food craving — and reviewers swear it’s even better than takeout. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the myriad of ingredients; the directions are easy to follow, and it takes less time than you would expect. Stick to just tofu for a vegetarian version.
Indian: Chicken tikka masala
We found ourselves in a bit of a dilemma with this one: Tikka masala is definitely the Indian food favorite among the average takeout-eater — even though we personally prefer the spinach-packed chicken saagwala — but we didn’t want to feature a recipe for a dish with so much fat that it also goes by the name of “butter chicken.” As always, Skinnytaste had a solution. After multiple attempts, they found a way to lighten up the meal without losing its classic taste by using fat-free yogurt and low-fat milk as a substitute for the high-fat cream. In addition to being low-fat, it’s also nutritious, thanks to the yogurt, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and turmeric.
Japanese: California roll
We’re going to be honest: We mainly chose this recipe because of the pretty pictures — even though the recipe itself is also perfect for a first-timer. The site walks you through each tiny step of making a California roll with a photo so it can’t be any simpler. And trust us: If you’re an amateur sushi-maker, you’re going to want the step-by-step pictures. It takes some getting used to. Invest in one of those cool bamboo mats, and we recommend splurging on the King crab meat instead of that imitation stuff if you can. Have fun and get rolling!
Yes, burritos and tacos are probably No. 1 when it comes to Mexican takeout, but we have enough faith in you all to assume you can put together a burrito or taco without a recipe. So we moved on instead to enchiladas, and chose these roasted vegetables enchiladas from Eating Well because, quite frankly, this list is full of meat dishes and we were starting to feel bad for the vegetarians out there — plus, this is a kick-ass recipe. Packed with fresh roasted bell peppers, pinto beans, mushrooms and onions, this muy bueno meal offers both nutrition and a cure for your Mexican takeout craving. For more healthy Mexican recipes, click here.
Chinese: General Tso’s chicken
Well, folks, it’s official: You can lighten up any food — even, apparently, General Tso’s chicken, that sweet and spicy Chinese takeout favorite that’s been battered and deep-fried enough to rival even Paula Deen’s worst recipes. Thankfully, Martha Stewart saved the day once again with a healthier take on the traditional dish. As you may have guessed, the chicken is sautéed rather than deep-fried, and she added snow peas to make sure you don’t forget your greens. Bonus: no MSG!
Italian: Chicken Marsala
We love just about anything covered in mushrooms, but chicken Marsala’s one of our favorites. Cooking Light managed to tweak the original Italian formula enough to make it significantly lighter without sacrificing the flavor. Not a fan of this Italian classic? Try making pasta at home with one of these healthier recipes for all your go-to pasta sauces, including alfredo, Bolognese, puttanesca and vodka.
Vietnamese: Banh mi (aka roast pork Vietnamese sandwich)
Vietnamese sandwiches have stolen our hearts — and our taste buds — in the past few years, with the banh mi stealing the show. Skip the Vietnamese deli for once and bring the sandwich craze to your kitchen with our recipe, which guides you through making the roasted seasoned pork, as well as the pickled daikon radishes and carrots that top it.
French: Coq au vin
One of Julia Child’s favorites, coq au vin is traditionally made with chicken, wine, lardons — aka pure, unadulterated fat — mushrooms and garlic. This recipe from the New York Times eliminates some of the calories and fat by — you guessed it — literally eliminating the fat from the ingredient list. Bacon-lovers, hear me out: This dish is still to die for. Plus, you can sip on some of that red wine or Cognac while you’re whipping the meal together.
Greek: Lamb kebob
We dare you to say “mint yogurt sauce” and not immediately want this lamb recipe. These lamb kebabs are perfectly seasoned with fresh tarragon, thyme, rosemary, cumin and garlic, then served with the aforementioned yummy yogurt sauce. Perfect for barbecues — or cooking on a grill pan if you don’t have a grill. For the Greek-loving vegetarians out there, try these six different ways to make hummus at home.
Middle Eastern: Falafel
We couldn’t leave out the falafel, a Middle Eastern favorite among carnivores and vegetarians alike. This recipe from Veggie Num Num doesn’t get any easier: Process all of the ingredients — which include chickpeas (obviously), multigrain bread, garlic, fresh mint, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and seasonings — in a food processor, mold the mixture into balls and fry them up. We recommend serving these with that mint yogurt sauce we mentioned in the lamb kebob recipe.