Hosting a dinner party doesn’t need to be intimidating. While this cherished tradition has its roots in the early 20th century, it has since shed formalities, embracing a more inclusive approach. Strict rules and dress codes are out (unless that’s your thing), and relaxed family-style dining is in.


We have helpful tips and tricks to guide you through creating a dinner party menu to suit any occasion, whether you want to make someone feel special for their birthday, or you’re just having a casual get-together with friends. You can make this dinner party menu as impressive as you like. We have included recipes to serve between four and six people. Each recipe can be adjusted to your required number of servings, but if you know you will be entertaining a larger crowd, then our feed-a-crowd recipes are a good place to start.

If you want inspiration for throwing a summer dinner party, check out our summer dinner party recipes. Or, if you would like to enjoy an evening with friends without sacrificing your health goals, check out our healthy dinner party recipes.

Friends laughing around a dinner table

Tips for how to plan a dinner party menu

1. Prioritise simplicity

Aim for deliciousness over impressiveness.

2. Set the theme and tone

Casual or elegant? Are you sticking to one cuisine? Use that as a guide.

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3. Consider the setting

Buffet or plated? Seated or standing? Opt for dishes suited to the setup.

4. Address dietary restrictions

Politely enquire in advance and accommodate accordingly.

5. Structure your menu

Include starters, mains, sides and dessert.

6. Add an after-dinner treat

It’s unlikely that people will have any room, but it’s a nice touch to have some small after-dinner treats to go with a coffee.

7. Play with food presentation

Vary colours and textures for visual and sensory appeal.

8. Balance flavours

Pair complementary tastes and avoid ingredient overload.

9. Prepare ahead

Strive for a menu that allows for advanced preparation to enjoy the party.

10. Keep it fresh

Avoid repeating the same menu too often to keep things exciting for your guests. Track preferences and past menus for future reference.

Easy dinner party menu


1. Roasted vegetable soup with halloumi ‘croutons’

Bowl of roasted vegetable soup next to a smaller bowl of halloumi croutons

Whip up this hearty vegetable soup with ease, utilising storecupboard staples. Quick and straightforward, this recipe is keto-friendly and elevated with the addition of savoury halloumi 'croutons'. The halloumi imparts a sophisticated saltiness, perfect for both casual weekday dinners and elegant dinner party starters.

Discover more vegetarian starter recipes.

2. Smoked mackerel on toasted crumpets

Smoked mackerel on toasted crumpets

This effortless smoked mackerel starter requires just 15 minutes of preparation and can be made well in advance, allowing you to chill it until your guests arrive. When the time comes, simply toast the crumpets, layer on your filling, and garnish with crisp cucumber, radish slices and chives for a burst of flavour.

Check out more smoked mackerel recipes.

3. Easy pork & chive dumplings

Plate of pork and chive dumplings

Enjoy these Chinese-style dumplings brimming with succulent pork and fragrant chives. Surprisingly simple to prepare, they are fun to assemble, so are great for a relaxed dinner gathering.

For more starters that are great for dinner party entertaining, check out our dinner party starter recipes.


4. Harissa cauliflower pilaf

Tray of harissa and cauliflower pilaf next to a plate with a spoon

Transport yourself to the Middle East with our veggie harissa cauliflower pilaf, boasting a rich fusion of fruits, nuts and aromatic spices. Baked in the oven, it yields irresistibly fluffy rice. It's a versatile and flavourful dish that shines as the centrepiece of any meal or as an addition to a lavish feast alongside favourites like tabbouleh salad, zeljanica, and fatteh makdous.

For more vegetarian recipes ideal for a dinner party, check out our vegetarian dinner party recipes.

5. Spiced aubergine bake

Tray of aubergine in a tomato sauce topped with almonds

Relish the epitome of vegan comfort food with this dish. Stack layers of aubergine with spicy coconut milk and tomato sauce for a deeply satisfying meal. It’s a perfect vegan dinner party main as it generously serves up to six guests and can be prepared in advance and frozen.

For more vegan recipes perfect for serving at a dinner party, check out our vegan dinner party recipes.

6. One-pot chicken chasseur

One-pot chicken chasseur

This French bistro classic is easy to make at home and fabulous with creamy mash or crusty bread. It requires only 10 ingredients, so it won’t break the bank, and one-pot so there won’t be a tonne of washing for after your guests leave.

For more mains to make while entertaining, check out our dinner party mains recipes.


7. Free-from butterscotch pie

Butterscotch pie topped with crushed pecans

Our dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and gluten-free butterscotch pie is a delight that everyone can relish without worry. Add extra crunch with a generous sprinkle of nuts. For an indulgent treat, serve alongside a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream. Plus, this will keep chilled for up to two days, so you can make ahead for less work on the day.

Discover our best-ever, triple-tested, vegan dessert recipes.

8. Ultimate lemon meringue pie

Ultimate lemon meringue pie

Indulge in the timeless delight of a classic lemon meringue pie—where a tangy lemon filling meets soft, billowy meringue peaks, creating the perfect harmony of flavours. Despite its stunning presentation, our recipe is surprisingly simple, though it does require a bit of time. To streamline your preparation, consider making the base a day before your dinner party, allowing you to focus on enjoying the festivities on the day.

For more centrepiece desserts, check out our dinner party dessert recipes.


9. Mojito mocktail

Two highball glasses of mojito mocktail with mint and straws

Discover the refreshing twist of a non-alcoholic mojito cocktail, perfect for gatherings where alcohol is optional. This vibrant blend retains all the zesty flavour of the classic mojito, minus the rum.

Try our mocktail recipes if you're entertaining without alcohol.

10. Limoncello

Bottle of limoncello in front of a slate with a shot glass and lemon

Craft a batch of our simple homemade limoncello – a boozy lemon-infused treat perfect as a digestif after your dinner. You could also decant into mini bottles to give as a parting gift. While it only takes 15 minutes to prepare, patience is key as it requires two weeks to develop its full depth of flavour.

Discover more of our cocktail recipes to get your party started.

After dinner snacks

Two bowls of mint ice cream topped with an after dinner mint chocolate

Extend the evening's enjoyment with a sophisticated touch – treat your guests to an espresso paired with delicate sweets such as our after-dinner mint cream, chocolate fudge crinkle biscuits, or timeless classic fudge. For those seeking a savoury option, try a curated cheeseboard or grazing platter.


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