The golden rule for a dinner party: Don’t overdo it. Try to avoid making any extravagant meals you’ve never cooked before and inviting absolutely everyone you know. Intimate dinner parties are easier to host and you’ll have the opportunity to build more meaningful memories with a smaller group.
If you’re trying a new recipe, you may want to test it a couple of weeks before so you can iron out any mistakes beforehand. Even still, it’s usually a good idea to stick with relatively easy meals.
Are you ready to be the hostess with the mostess? Blow your guests away with these easy, healthy and totally delicious dinner ideas:
For vegetarian guests: Meatless heaven
Don’t worry if you’re cooking for vegetarian guests – you can serve them way more than a salad. Cauliflower steaks are simple to make and look fabulous on the plate. All you have to do is cut the cauliflower head into roughly ½ inch-thick pieces, drizzle with olive oil, season them and roast in the oven. You can have fun with different salsas or sauces to add extra flavor, too. This recipe from the Food Network calls for pine nuts and raisins, while these cauliflower steaks from Cook Republic are made with olive and caper salsa.
For the kids: Toppings galore
The trick to pleasing picky young eaters is giving them plenty of options without needing to make completely separate meals. You can make a main dish, then set out extra ingredients for the kids to create their own meal. Think tacos, pizza or pasta bowls. Homemade mac and cheese is a great candidate for hosting a dinner party with lots of kids. You can set out peas, broccoli, bacon, ham, bread crumbs, extra cheese and other toppings to add to the mac and cheese. Follow up with an ice cream bar for dessert and the kids – and adults – will be happy to indulge. Here’s some topping inspiration from The Spruce to pair with various flavors of ice cream.
For light and easy cuisine: Grilled fish
As your guests are likely to show up with appetizers, it can be a good idea to serve a meal that’s on the lighter side. Plus, you don’t want everyone to feel overstuffed and sluggish by the time the meal is over. That’s why grilled fish makes a perfect dinner party main course. Choose a mild fish that your guests are likely to enjoy, such as salmon, tilapia or cod. If you need inspiration, here are some easy grilled fish and shrimp recipes from Real Simple. Pair it with a side of grilled veggies and quinoa, or with a hearty salad. Try something new with these dinner party salad ideas from Genius Kitchen.
For plenty of portions: Pasta dishes
For an easy meal that goes a long way, choose a pasta dish. While you may need to give in to the carbs, you can use fresh vegetables, light sauces and quality ingredients to make sure you’re still serving up a nutrient-rich dish. This Garlic and Herb Roasted Cherry Tomato Carbonara with Crispy Prosciutto and Burrata from Half Baked Harvest is a great option. If you’re feeding a crowd that isn’t afraid of vegetables, you can even use a spiralizer to make veggie noodles for carb-free pasta alternatives. Check out these swoon-worthy spiralizer recipes from Cooking Light for inspiration. cheese
For less stress: Your tried-and-true classics
This one’s all you! If you’re worried about the food tasting good, go for one your own go-to meals. Whether it’s your grandma’s baked chicken recipe or your healthier rendition of mac and cheese, your guests will appreciate that you shared a personal dish with them. Plus, you won’t be checking and double-checking recipes or freaking out about making any mistakes. After a few dinner parties, you may even become known for your signature dish.
You’ve got this – Bon appetit!