The Best Summer Recipes to Feed a Crowd
This year's summer season looks promising in more ways than one. With beautiful weather that has boasted cooler-than-usual temperatures (at least, in some parts of the country) as well as relatively bug-free evenings, it's time to break out the checkered tablecloths and citronella candles for summer gatherings.
While hosting large groups of family and friends can be fun, it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when prep requires hours over a hot stove while also trying to wrangle your family into party mode. To help you out on your quest for stress-free, easy summer entertaining, we've rounded up recipes that feed a crowd across a variety of tastes and needs that won't require serious sweat in the kitchen. These easy meals for large groups provide ample nutrition to keep your guests full and happy and are packed with flavor to keep everyone's taste buds cheery.
These crowd-friendly recipes range from vegan taquitos and Jamaican chicken curry to wholesome American burgers, so there's a little in here for every group's needs and desires. No matter what you cook, make this summer the best one yet as you sit on the porch with friends, family, and loved ones from all over, sharing delicious food — and perhaps some spritzy drinks — that will make you the highlight of the summer party season. Find plenty of recipes for a crowd ahead.
— Additional reporting by Erin Cullum and Lauren Mazzo
Cold Noodle Salad
This cold noodle salad is any picnicker's dream. Made with fresh (or frozen) veggies like edamame, onions, and bell peppers, this dish is not only full of nutrients but also refreshing and perfect for summer crowds. The best part about this recipe is its easy storage and upkeep in the fridge. These noodles make a great meal-prep option or can be made ahead of a large gathering and easily stored for later — just save the crunchy rice noodles to add right before you serve.
Mushroom Swiss Burger
Kick your backyard grilling up a notch with these mushroom swiss burgers. They combine the savory and full-bodied flavors of baby bella mushrooms, swiss cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. To amp up veggie consumption and add flavor, use caramelized onions as a delicious burger topper.
Shrimp and Avocado Salad With Dill Dressing
Fresh shrimp and yogurt are the key ingredients to this delightfully refreshing summer shrimp and avocado salad. By creating a creamy texture using mayonnaise and yogurt, you can avoid loading up on unhealthy fats, while through avocados and eggs, you ensure you're receiving ample nutrients like magnesium or iodine. To boot, this recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to serve large gatherings and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with its dill dressing that spans many taste palates.
Beer-Brined Grilled Chicken Breasts
Lighting up the grill is one of the easiest ways to cook for a large group, and it lets you be outside with your guests while prepping the meal. This recipe for beer-brined grilled chicken breasts is the perfect level up from burgers and hot dogs — just make sure to prep the chicken and start marinating either two hours ahead of cooking or overnight.
Keto Chicken Pesto Cauliflower Casserole
Within 30 minutes, this keto chicken pesto cauliflower casserole can be ready and on the table. Casseroles make for such an easy and delicious option when looking for a low-maintenance, hearty recipe for a crowd. This recipe combines high-protein chicken with vitamin K-loaded cauliflower, which will keep you full and satisfied without the heavy starches typically found in casserole recipes.
Tomatillo Poblano White Bean Soup
This hearty white bean soup is simultaneously comforting yet summery and will feed the whole family and beyond. Thanks to an Instant Pot, this recipe is super hands-off and can be made in 40 minutes or less — so you can save precious energy and heat proximity as temperatures climb. (If you don't have an Instant Pot, there are also instructions on how to make this on the stovetop.) Soup is an easy and relatively inexpensive meal for large groups, and this poblano white bean soup is a Mexican classic that can be easily made with plant-based ingredients for those following a low- or no-meat diet.
Curried Rice Salad
This light and refreshing curried rice salad is a great option if you're looking for an inexpensive side dish or meal for a large group. Rice is a source of protein, iron, and manganese and a universal base for a variety of global flavor palates. This recipe calls for low-fat plain Greek yogurt and a variety of spices that will kick your nutrition consumption into overdrive. This dish is also great for storing if you need to make it the day ahead of an event and can be eaten throughout the week by your whole family, or just for yourself (we won't tell if you don't share!).
Cheesy Baked Vegan Taquitos
Many of us crave that cheesy deliciousness found in many Mexican dishes but just can't seem to stomach the uncomfortable side effects like gas and bloating. This cheesy baked vegan taquitos recipe can be easily made with either lactose-free or vegan ingredients, making it the perfect go-to for large crowds with potential dairy sensitivities or who don't eat animal products. (Don't know where to begin? Violife and Daiya offer some great-tasting plant-based shredded-cheese options.)
This Mediterranean pasta recipe comes with an added nutritional kick as the noodles are made with chickpeas, which are full of fiber and folate. Add lots of seasonal veggies and, if desired, a protein like chicken or fish, and you've got a quick option for dinner that feeds a crowd. The best part is, the ingredients found in this recipe are very filling and relatively cheap, making it the perfect inexpensive meal for large groups and families.
Jamaican Curry Chicken
This spicy Jamaican curry chicken is a Caribbean comfort food perfect for a flavorful dinner for large groups — and the best part is that all leftovers (if there are any) can be easily frozen and kept for up to six months. Combining ingredients like curry powder, allspice, and turmeric gives this dish a deep and potent flavor that's sure to be a summer hit among your guests. For further bulk — and perhaps a little spice relief — quickly steam rice as an easy dish base or side.
Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry
With green onions in season during the early summer months, chicken stir-fry is a great option to get your daily vitamins and minerals while also serving the masses. Really, you can use any vegetables in a stir-fry, though this is the perfect time of year to use seasonal fresh veggies. You can also take a peek in your pantry to see what's close to its expiration date and toss it in — the more, the merrier.
Crispy Chicken Tacos
These crispy chicken tacos are assembled and then baked — so you get those crispy, lacy cheese edges — so they're easy to prep in big batches for a crowd. Use lean chicken breast to make this meal heart healthy and high in protein, and offer black beans (canned or fresh) as a protein option for any vegans or vegetarians. Add veggies like lettuce (swap iceberg for romaine or other dark leafy greens), jalapeños, and onions for depth — and a squeeze of fresh lime goes a long way.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
Some TikTokers are calling it "pasta-salad summer," and you can fully lean in with this sun-dried tomato pasta salad. With any small pasta of your choice and this zesty sun-dried-tomato dressing (made in a blender or food processor), you'll have a flavorful, crowd-friendly dish for any gathering.
Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos
Cook the meat for these slow-cooker carnitas tacos ahead of time, then set up a build-your-own-taco buffet — it makes less work for you and accommodates for any variety of food sensitivities and tastes. (In case you need to brush up on your taco vocab, here's the difference between carnitas, al pastor, barbacoa, and more.)
Asian Salmon and Veggie Kebabs
These Asian salmon and veggie kebabs cook in just five to seven minutes on the grill, and it's easy to prep them in big batches — making this a great summer recipe for a crowd. Tweak the fruit and veg according to what you have or like, and you can even swap the salmon for chicken breast or tofu.
Tomato Salad With Chickpeas, Avocado, and Cucumber
For a fresh, summery side dish perfect for large groups, try this tomato salad with chickpeas, avocado, and cucumber. Feta cheese and fresh parsley are the final touches on this recipe, along with a herby lemon dijon dressing.
Grilled Shrimp With Lemon
Looking for a simple way to cook a lot of shrimp — and fast? Try this simple recipe for grilled shrimp with lemon, which requires just a couple of ingredients and cooks in about five minutes on the grill.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Quinoa Primavera
Whether you serve this as a main dish for a smaller group or a side dish for a larger group, a slow cooker makes this recipe for chicken quinoa primavera as hands-off as it gets. Use what's left of fresh spring produce — that is, asparagus and peas — to add a nutritious green pop to your summer meal.
Postgrill Marinated Skirt Steak
Grilling meat is an easy way to serve up a protein for a large crowd, but if you forget to marinate ahead of time, you might be worried it'll lack flavor. This recipe for postgrill marinated skirt steak will save you: you simply give the steak a postgrill "bath" during its resting period, then serve.
Grilled Summer Salad With Corn, Peppers, and Chili-Lime Dressing
This super-summery grilled summer salad with corn, peppers, and chili-lime dressing pairs fresh greens with smoky bell peppers, purple onions, and corn — adding so much depth and flavor, even salad haters will get on board. It's an easy veggie side-dish recipe to make for large groups when you're already firing up the grill for a protein or main dish like burgers.
Watermelon Caprese Salad
Caprese is the unofficial flavor combination of the summer season, and this watermelon caprese salad adds a sweet twist that allows you to use even more fresh seasonal produce. Buy a whole watermelon and crack it open to easily whip up this summer side-dish recipe for a crowd — then use any extra melon to make these refreshing watermelon mojitos.
Grilled Fish Tacos
If you want to serve a DIY taco bar at a large group gathering this summer but don't want to slow-cook your meat, opt for these grilled fish tacos, which let you prep all the protein at once on the grill. They pair perfectly with Chardonnay and warm evenings with friends or family.
Garlic Butter Shrimp and Quinoa
Whether you serve this garlic butter shrimp and quinoa as a main dish for about eight people or as a side dish for many more, be warned: this buttery, garlicky seafood dish will have guests going for seconds (or thirds).
Caprese Mac and Cheese
You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who's not excited about mac and cheese at a summer picnic. Sneak in some extra veg and adult-ify the flavor with this recipe for caprese mac and cheese. Grab plenty of fresh and in-season basil and cherry tomatoes from the store, and make one or two casserole dishes' worth of this recipe to serve a large group as a side or hearty main.
Bacon and Arugula Flatbread
Ready-made refrigerated pizza dough makes serving a crowd's worth of flatbreads easy, and you can customize the toppings as needed, depending on your group's taste. That said, we're partial to the bacon, arugula, and blue cheese flatbread — trust, it's a winning combo.