26 Deceptively Easy Dishes to Serve at Your Fancy Adult Dinner Party

Hello and welcome to this thing we’re doing where we help you figure out what you’re gonna put in your mouth this week. Some of these are recipes we’ve tried, some of these are recipes we’re looking forward to trying, all of them are fucking delicious. Tell us what you want to put in your piehole or suggest your own recipes, and we’ll talk about which things we made, which things we loved, and which things have changed us irreversibly as people.

for food lists

Nothing says “level up adulting” like throwing a dinner party for your friends. Put on some mood-setting music. Throw some fresh cut flowers in a vase. Don your apron and get to it!

So what are you gonna serve? This isn’t a potluck. It isn’t a picnic. This is a dinner party, goddammit.

If you’re like me, you’re really good at cooking the same 10 okayish meals over and over. But none of your staple meals really show off your (somewhat limited) culinary skills or, at the very least, need to be rounded out with some tasty sides and a kick-ass dessert. If you’re like me, you’re also not a particularly talented or patient cook and you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen working on a single dish. (So like the opposite of Soggy Bottoms, basically.) I’ve got you.

Here are some ideas for a five-course dinner party menu that 1) will be appropriately impressive to your dinner guests, 2) use ingredients you can actually find at your grocery store, and 3) are suitable for an everyday regular amateur chef with an everyday regular kitchen!


Vegan Arancini

Cranberry and Feta Pinwheels

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Three Color Hummus

Garlicky-Pepper Tofu Bites with Chili Dipping Sauce

Soups and Salads

Vegan Chickpea Soup

Asparagus, Tomato and Feta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing


Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Lemon, Dill and Feta

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

Vegan Paella

Add the vegan protein of your choice to this to make it even entree-er.

Perfect Pot Roast

One-Pan Chicken with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce


Zucchini Ribbons with Parmesan, Lemon and Mint

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Parmesan Spinach Orzo

Honey Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sweet Corn Spoonbread


Dessert Tulipes (Add Your Own Ice Cream, Sorbet, or Non-Dairy Treat)

via Delish

via Delish

Mini Vegan No Bake Chocolate Mocha Fudge and Coconut Tarts

The Easiest Cappucino Souffle

Salted Caramel Strawberries

Tortilla Nutella “Crepe” Cake

via Delish

via Delish

Rainbow Cake Trifle


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KaeLyn is a 39-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, over-caffeinating herself, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 229 articles for us.


  1. Thank you so much for this KaeLyn, I now really want to host a dinner party rather than just attend them. As always, thanks for the vegan inclusions (some clearly marked, others vegan when I go on them, others still easy to veganise). Cruelty free dinner party here I come!

  2. I love this! Thanks for the mix of options for all kinds of dietary situations! Dinner parties are my favorite way to hang out with friends when winter arrives. Can’t wait to bust out some of these recipes and some games.

  3. I love to cook but with a newborn of my own I have limited time and often lack ideas so this is perfect.

    Also, my girlfriend always talks about how she wants to host dinner parties even though the closest we get is my sister coming over in her pjs so this is great timing for summer in Australia.

  4. I adore this! A debt of gratitude is in order for the blend of alternatives for a wide range of dietary circumstances! Supper gatherings are my most loved approach to hang out with companions when winter arrives. Can hardly wait to break out some of these formulas with bead cutlery and a few amusements.

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