Throwing a party can take a lot of energy and effort, especially when it comes to those of the dinner variety. But it's also totally worth it—and pretty painless—if you know how to make things easier on yourself in the kitchen. In fact, if you want to enjoy your next dinner party as much as your guests do, the key lies in opting for recipes that look and taste gourmet without requiring master chef skills. If you're a natural pro, by all means, go ahead and whip up that homemade foodie favorite from memory (and please save us a seat).
But if you're looking for something a little low-key that'll still leave your dinner guests satisfied and impressed, you're in the right place. We curated a menu of four appetizers, four side dishes, four main courses, and four desserts so you have plenty of options to choose from. Scroll through the 16 easy dinner party recipes that'll please the meat lovers, vegetarians, gluten-free eaters, and whoever else gathers around your next feast.
SMALL BITE: Garlic Grilled Shrimp
Finger food is always an ideal option at a dinner or cocktail party. These smoked paprika and garlic shrimp skewers from Spoon Fork Bacon will definitely hit the spot. Just be sure to make enough since your guests will likely come back for seconds.
SMALL BITE: Walnut Beet Caviar Spread
This walnut beet caviar spread boasts a vivid magenta hue that looks almost as good as it tastes. And more importantly, it only takes 10 minutes of your hands (though total, it takes an hour to make). It's gluten-free and vegan, so it'll make all of your guests happy, regardless of their dietary restrictions. With beets (to state the obvious), dates, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and walnuts, it's the perfect spread to start an evening of delicious eating.
SMALL BITE: Antipasto Platter
Cheese, veggies, fruit, olives, spreads, and meat. What else could you want in this life? Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but we can't think of anything that'd satisfy us more at a dinner party.
SMALL BITE: Raddichio Cups
Vibrant ingredients like radicchio, avocado, and sprouts are perfect if you're looking for something that promises pretty presentation. And like we mentioned earlier, finger food is always a good idea when it comes to shared plates and casual bites. Even better, these don't require any cooking at all.
SIDE: Brie-Stuffed Artichokes
How good do these brie-stuffed artichokes look? For something decadent and delicious that's easier to make than it appears, look no further. Each bite of artichoke has the perfect balance of flavors and textures, complete with crunchy sourdough breadcrumbs, creamy brie cheese, and a dash of honey.
SIDE: Cornbread and Butter
While there's no shame in opting for grocery store–bought baguette, toast, or biscuits, there's nothing quite like freshly baked cornbread. So if you want to go all out on the homemade train this time around, we highly recommend whipping up this delicious cornbread recipe. It also includes a recipe for a flavorful bacon lime chili butter if you want to get even fancier.
SIDE: Quinoa Crusted Squash Rings
If you've never tried toasted quinoa, you're in for a treat. It adds the perfect crunch to the brown butter roasted squash rings. The pomegranate adds a beautiful pop of color to the dish, and the rosemary garnish completes the plate, making it the perfect recipe to make when entertaining.
SIDE: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Calling for just five ingredients, these cauliflower mashed potatoes are a breeze to make. Plus, they're super comforting and wholesome while still being healthier than traditional takes on the dish, making them perfect for a fall or winter get-together.
MAIN: Grilled Flank Steak
Grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce is a classic dish that any meat eater will devour. It pairs nicely with a variety of side dishes, too, so you won't have to worry about creating a super-specialized lineup of dishes that revolves around a niche main course.
MAIN: Eggplant Spaghetti
When in doubt, make spaghetti (especially if you don't know what to make when vegetarians are on the guest list). This roasted eggplant, crispy garlic, and fresh basil spaghetti recipe from Salt and Wind is simple, easy, and always satisfying for a crowd of hungry guests. This is not your average pasta: It's doused in a rich tomato sauce that's actually pretty original and topped with crumbled goat cheese.
MAIN: Oregano and Lemon Grilled Chicken
This oregano and lemon grilled chicken recipe is a classic for a reason. It's also pretty unassuming… Though it looks like a simple main course, it's surprisingly tangy, intriguing, and full of flavor. The best part is you probably already know how to make it (and if you don't, it's super easy to learn).
MAIN: Citrus Scallops
These citrus scallops en papillote with an herb emulsion are inspired by a meal at Fig & Olive. And while they look like an intimidating recipe to whip up in a hurry, they're actually quite easy to replicate at home and only take about 50 minutes, which is shorter than it takes to make some meat dishes.
DESSERT: Molten Lava Cake
DESYour favorite molten chocolate lava cake to order for takeaway just got a lot easier to make at home, thanks to this recipe from Half Baked Harvest. Rich, creamy, and decadent, it will fully please your guests.
DESSERT: Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles
Are you hosting this dinner party as a pregame for your night out on the town? These Vietnamese coffee popsicles are the perfect way to end the meal (whether or not you plan on staying out late).
DESSERT: Crispy Rice Treats
When you want to make dessert from scratch that doesn't involve an extravagant pie or cake, these crispy rice treats swoop in and save the day.
DESSERT: Grain-Free Vegan Berry Crisp
For something on the lighter side that isn't just a boring fruit salad, here's your solution: grain-free fruit crumble. It only requires 10 ingredients and a bowl to prepare, so the cleanup is also easy, something you'll thank yourself for once the guests file out the door. It's super warm and comforting, naturally sweetened, and healthy, though it tastes indulgent because of the crispy crumble top.