When I’m Hosting a Holiday Party, These Are the 13 Recipes I Always Return To

When I’m Hosting a Holiday Party, These Are the 13 Recipes I Always Return To

On of my favorite holiday traditions is the annual dinner party that Adam and I host for a few of our closest friends in the lead-up to Christmas. It serves as a chance to get dressed up and enjoy an adults-only evening in the midst of the holiday craziness. But this year, we decided to change things up and invited everyone to bring their kids! Which means endless fun, plenty of chaos, and lots of mouths to feed. So as I plan my menu, I’ve been sorting through my favorite holiday party recipes to feed a crowd. These 13 recipes are simple but festive—prerequisites for any holiday dinner party menu (especially if you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen and/or lose your mind in the process.)

Thanks to the fact that I started my career in catering (combined with the countless dinner parties I’ve thrown over the years), I’ve assembled quite a collection of main dish holiday party recipes to feed a crowd that check the boxes. All of these holiday party recipes are:

  • Crowd-pleasing dishes that almost everyone loves.
  • Leverage large-batch cooking, like a sheet pan or grill, so that I’m not laboriously sautéing 16 individual fish fillets or frying 12 eggs to top salads.
  • And most importantly, I can do almost all the prep in advance so that by the time my guests arrive, I can join the party with them.
holiday cocktail party

13 Festive and Easy Holiday Party Recipes to Feed a Crowd

I divided this post into recipes that I make for dinner parties with 4-6 guests (due to the cooking techniques, or the fact that they incorporate pricier ingredients), and the recipes that are really easy to double or triple to feed a true crowd. These leverage larger cuts of meat, build-your-own components that let guests adapt to their dietary needs, and less expensive ingredients so your party budget doesn’t get out of control.

The next time you find yourself hosting a holiday party and wondering what to make, bookmark this post for 13 easy holiday party menus to feed a crowd. Trust me: all these recipes will leave your dinner guests happy, satisfied, and waiting for when their next invite arrives in the mail.

Holiday Dinner Parties for 4 – 6 Guests

roast chicken with lemons and salsa verde

The Best Roast Chicken with Tomatoes, Lemons, and Salsa Verde

What makes it holiday-party-ready: If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at a whole roast chicken, this recipe is the best place to start. With mouth-watering roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh garlic, this may be the most flavorful holiday recipe that everyone is bound to love.

Make it a feast:

pesto pasta alla vodka

Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka

What makes it holiday-party-ready: A good pasta dish is always a dinner-party favorite, especially when its partner is a sauce that’s this delicious. This is Half-Baked Harvest’s Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka that Tieghan made when she came for dinner a couple years back, and I’ve made it countless times since. A dish like this is the perfect option to whip up for an intimate gathering.

Make it a feast:

Roasted Salmon with Cucumber Salsa

Roasted Salmon with Spicy Cucumber Orange Salsa

What makes it holiday-party-ready: The benefit of a lighter holiday party recipe is that it leaves room for delicious sides (and not feeling totally over-stuffed at the end of the night.) This roasted salmon recipe is cooked to perfection with a cucumber salsa topping that’s gorgeous and delicious.

Make it a feast:

sheet pan halibut

Sheet Pan Halibut With Italian Salsa Verde And Asparagus

What makes it holiday-party-ready: Halibut is an elevated and elegant holiday party recipe to feed a crowd. The salsa verde brings zest and freshness.

Make it a feast:

sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

What makes it holiday-party-ready: Gnocchi’s cozy, satisfying qualities make it perfect for the holiday season. It’s not too heavy and just the right amount of sweet and savory. Sweet potato gnocchi has been on repeat this winter for all my dinner-party endeavors, and this recipe is the perfect opportunity to indulge.

Make it a feast:

orange-glazed chili pork tenderloin

Orange-Chili Glazed Pork Tenderloin With Carrot Pesto And Grilled Carrots

What makes it holiday-party-ready: A pork tenderloin is always a fan-favorite recipe for the holidays, and this flavorful take is the only recipe you need. It’s a great opportunity to heat up your grill during the winter and a great excuse to reserve the oven for other flavorful additions to your holiday table.

Make it a feast:

  • Turn it into an Italian dinner by pairing with a veggie-packed pasta like this Lemon Ricotta Pasta (that’s also a great main dish for any vegetarians in attendance.)
  • For dessert, keep it simple with a big batch of your favorite Christmas cookies.

Holiday Dinner Parties for a Crowd

braised short ribs

Sweet and Spicy Braised Short Ribs

What makes it holiday-party-ready: These sweet and spicy short ribs never get old. I could serve them every year for my family and friends, and no one would be sad about it. The fall-of-the-bone meat makes it easy to divide up and share simply with a group. And the best part? These are hanging out in the oven way before guests arrive, and you get to be (basically) hands-off until it’s time to eat.

Make it a feast:

winter vegetable lasagna

“Damn That’s A Keeper” Winter Vegetable Lasagna

What makes it holiday-party-ready: Lasagna is a go-to dish for large crowds for good reason. This vegetable lasagna is a lighter take on the classic dish, and the scratch pasta is worth the effort and time. The filling can be prepared for the day before, making for more time to spend with your dinner party crew.

Make it a feast:

lamb meatballs tomato sauce

Lamb Meatballs In Tomato Sauce With Fresh Ricotta

What makes it holiday-party-ready: Meatballs are an underrated holiday dinner party dish that can makes for a total crowd-pleaser—and these feel really special. Seasonal flavors come together for a savory mean that’s also so easy to serve buffet-style.

Make it a feast:

holiday bruschetta board

Holiday Bruschetta Board

What makes it holiday-party-ready: This bruschetta board has it all—juicy roasted tomatoes, nutty pesto, and fresh pomegranate seeds. Slice up a fresh baguette and your guests will be grazing for hours on this fresh and flavorful board.

Make it a feast:

  • The point of a “grazing board” party is that it’s a meal in and of itself! For a really big group, pair it with another type of snacking board like this gorgeously festive crudité platter with dips.
  • For dessert, keep it simple by pre-baking a big batch of your favorite Christmas cookies.
pork carnitas tacos

Gaby’s Pork Carnitas Tacos

What makes it holiday-party-ready: In Texas, we love to incorporate Mexican flavors throughout the holiday season. It doesn’t feel like Christmas until I eat a tamale! These pork carnitas from Gaby Dalkin’s cookbook are ultra-simple and filled with rich flavor. And this particular cut of meat is made for serving a big crowd.

Make it a feast:

rosemary burbon glazed ham

Rosemary Bourbon Glazed Ham

What makes it holiday-party-ready: Nothing feels more festive for a party than a big bone-in glazed ham. And bonus points that it’s the perfect main to let everyone serve themselves throughout the evening. This recipe does the traditional glazed ham justice with the perfect hit of rosemary and an irresistible bourbon glaze.

Make it a feast:

vegetarian chili recipe

Vegetarian Chili

What makes it holiday-party-ready: Throwing together a pot of chili is never a bad idea during the cooler months. To keep things a little lighter, this vegetarian chili is the perfect option and fits just about every dietary restriction you can think of. Dress it up with all of your favorite chili toppings, and enjoy!

Make it a feast:

  • Serve this chili with a pan (or three) of cornbread
  • My Holiday Jewels Chopped Salad adds a welcome hit of freshness—and it can hang out on the buffet for a couple hours without wilting.

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