These romantic recipes for Valentine’s Day will let you turn out a restaurant-quality meal without going anywhere and at a fraction of the price, and you get to make exactly what you want. Who said being housebound is unromantic and boring?

Images of Valentine's day food--A plate of oysters, a bowl of pasta, steak frites, and chocolate truffles.

If you’ve been with someone long enough, Valentine’s Day eventually loses some of that pulse-racing headiness of new love.

Well, at least that’s what I always thought…until this year. The One’s and my 30th VD together.

David and The One photo.

But, alas, it won’t be “together.” This will be our first Valentine’s Day apart. And not just apart but half a world away from each other. For all of February, he’ll be vacationing in Uruguay, an early retirement present to himself. So, while he’ll be basking in the hot summer sun, I’ll be freezing up here in Connecticut.

He hasn’t left yet, and I never knew you could ache for someone so much after three decades.

To lessen the distance, we’ve decided to WhatsApp every day and occasionally prop our phones in front of us and enjoy a meal together. That’s what I plan for us to do on Valentine’s Day.

An interior of a restaurant in Uruguay.
: David Leite

Of course, we won’t be sharing the same meal–he’ll be feasting at some fabulous parrilla (pronounced puh-REE-zhuh), a restaurant specializing in grilled meats. Me? I’ll probably be chowing down on mac and cheese.

A scoop of creamy baked mac and cheese with crunchy topping being lifted from a casserole dish.
: Andrew Thomas Lee

What’s important, though, is the connection. One even 5,406 miles can’t diminish.

I hope there are mere inches between you and your love this Valentine’s Day as you enjoy a special meal. Raise a glass of bubbles, toast each other, and think of my beloved The One so far away.

The word "David" written in script.
A tall aperitif glass filled with hanky panky cocktail and an orange twist on the rim of the glass.
Daniel Krieger
1 of 8

Hanky Panky Cocktail

This hanky panky cocktail recipe is similar to a martini, with a slightly sweet edge. Perfect for Valentine's Day or date night.
Recipe

Could there be a more appropriately named cocktail to enjoy on the most romantic day of the year than this seductive riff on a martini?

A plate with two shucked oysters on ice, with microgreens, a lemon wedge, and a small dish of mignonette sauce on the side.
Jim Henkens
2 of 8

Raw Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

These raw oysters with champagne vinegar mignonette are the perfect party food for any gathering. Mignotte, a mixture of vinegar and shallots, is the best, most sharply acidic friend freshly shucked oysters ever had.
Recipe

Even if you don’t believe in the aphrodisiac properties of oysters, this elegant appetizer is guaranteed to impress your date.

An oval plate topped with lobster fra diavolo and a spoon resting on the side.
Christopher Hirsheimer
3 of 8

Lobster Fra Diavolo

This lobster fra diavolo is made with spaghetti tossed in a spicy tomato sauce with lobster, white wine, and chile pepper. Easy, elegant, and so very impressive.
Recipe

Love the lobster fra diavolo recipe! Delicious and tasty! Even my Chinese wok can barely hold all the lobster, seafood, and pasta!!! Love it!!!–Queenie


Pieces of steak frites on a metal plate with a side of sautéed onions and mushrooms and garnished with parsley.
Quentin Bacon
4 of 8

Steak Frites

While hanger steak is just starting to gain a cult following here, it's always had a place on menus across Europe as an affordable, meaty, flavorful cut of beef. Served with a jumble of shallots, mushrooms, and fries, it's quick and tasty.
Recipe

What’s more romantic than a classic French bistro meal?

A red Le Creuset pot filled with red wine onions, that have been slowly cooked together.
David Loftus
5 of 8

Red Wine Onions

Red wine onions is a magic amalgam of caramelized onions, red wine, a bit of brown sugar, and chile pepper flakes cooked low and slow. So incredibly jammy and unforgettable.
Recipe

Finding a side dish that you can call “romantic” is a little tricky, but the sweet flavor and dark red hue of these slow-cooked onions will have you swooning.

Fifteen Linzer heart cookies being dusted with confectioners' sugar
Quentin Bacon
6 of 8

Linzer Heart Cookies

These Linzer heart cookies are made with raspberry preserves sandwiched between cinnamon-scented hazelnut sugar cookies that are quite like shortbread. Perfect to gift or share on Valentine’s Day. Or, hell, any day.
Recipe

Cutting anything into the shape of a heart automatically makes it worthy of Valentine’s Day. These cookies are a delightful ending to your meal, but why stop there? Pancakeswafflespizza, and grilled cheese can all be made heart-shaped to impress your sweetie.

A red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting on top.
Molly Hauge
7 of 8

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

These red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are gonna change your notion of red velvet because rest assured, these are smoooooooth. Here’s how to make them.
Recipe

These aren’t your ordinary red velvet cupcakes. There’s a special ingredient that makes them perfect for Valentine’s Day. Or any day.

A sheet of parchment paper topped with chocolate truffles and a sifter of cocoa powder on the side.
Ellen Silverman
8 of 8

Spiced Chocolate Truffles

At last, spiced chocolate truffles made with dark chocolate that taste delectable, are easy to make, and—believe it!—nutrient dense. Our prayers have been answered.
Recipe

Valentine’s Day Food FAQs

Which foods are considered romantic?

Foods like oysters, chocolate, truffles, caviar, and wine are considered aphrodisiacs; however, many other foods symbolize love. Fruits, particularly apples, figs, and pomegranates, have long been considered symbolic of love. Figs in port, anyone?

What are some popular Valentine’s Day treats?

Whether you’re making a sweet treat for your beloved or doling out treats to a class full of students, small, hand-held bites like chocolate-covered strawberries, peanut butter cups, and meringue kisses will always be popular.

Whether you are splurging on fancy ingredients to make a show-stopping meal or putting together the perfect dessert for your sweetheart, we’ve got a recipe for you. If you need more inspiration, check out our entire selection of Valentine’s Day recipes. And remember, when in doubt, bake a chocolate cake.




About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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6 Comments

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day to my two favorite men (after my husband, of course). Love you to the moon! El