Menu Ideas for Cooking for a Crowd

Cheryl Cirelli
Cooking For a Crowd

Whether you are cooking for 10 or 100 people, there are a plenty of menu ideas that have both variety and flavor and are suitable for crowds. There is no need to stress over cooking when the menu and preparation can be kept simple and stress-free.

Sample Menus for Crowds

It can often be helpful to look at sample menus when planning for your own party.

Small Group Formal Menu

This menu works well for groups of 15 to 20 and can be served sit-down style.

Appetizers

Allow for 3-4 appetizers per person.

Salad Course

  • Salad of mixed field greens with crumbled blue cheese and candied walnuts served with raspberry vinaigrette (prepare individual salads)
  • Assorted bread and rolls (approximately 2 per guest)

Main Course

Grilled rack of lamb (approximately 6 ounces per guest)

Side Dishes

Dessert

Cheesecake with fresh berries (1 slice per guest)

Large Group Casual Menu

This menu is ideal for up to 50 people and can be served buffet style. For groups of 100, simply double the portions.

Appetizers

  • Vegetable tray (two 12 inch trays)
  • Cheese and cracker tray (2 pounds of cheese and at least 200 crackers)

Salads

Main Courses

Side Dishes

Desserts

  • Full sheet cake
  • Assorted cookies and brownies (6-7 dozen)

Additional Large Group Course Ideas

Appetizers

Appetizers set the stage for the rest of your culinary event. They let your guest know the mood of the party whether it is simple and elegant, fine dining, or light and fun. Some ideas for appetizers include:

  • Bread sticks
  • Deviled eggs
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Vegetable platters

Main Course

When cooking for a crowd, you can keep it simple and offer one entrée or you can offer multiple options. Some simple main course ideas include:

Side Dishes

Side dishes can be cooked before the big day and then reheated on the day of the dinner. Include favorites such as:

Drinks

Since you will be serving a crowd, you will want to keep it simple and only offer a few options. Drinks such as lemonade and iced tea can be made in large amounts and prepared ahead of time. You can also offer coffee and hot tea as beverage choices. For alcoholic options, keep it simple and offer wine or beer. You can also prepare a punch and allow guests to help themselves.

Desserts

Small pastries are a great idea to serve to a crowd. They not only can they be made in a large number with ease, your guests can eat a few of them while feeling both decadent and happy that they are just small bites of dessert. Some other crowd-friendly desserts include:

Cooking and Menu Tips

When cooking for a crowd, planning ahead is essential. As with any dinner party, the first thing you have to do is write down the number of people and what food options you are planning, as well as the formality of the party. Take your menu one step at a time. Double check your ingredients before you start cooking and whenever possible, cook or prepare your food ahead of time. The more you can get done before the day of the party, the more time you can spend with your friends.

Menu Ideas for Cooking for a Crowd