31 Crowd-Pleasing Graduation Party Recipes
They've put in the work, and now it's time to celebrate your graduates with a grade-A feast. Trust us, these party-perfect recipes are top of the class.
Perfect for Meatless Mondays, this eggplant parmesan recipe is not only delicious, but also healthy. Make eggplant parmesan instead of lasagna to skip the unnecessary carbs and still enjoy all the cheesy goodness. When breading the eggplant, make sure to use whole-wheat panko instead of regular panko to avoid sogginess. A great crowd-pleaser Italian dish, elevate this eggplant parmesan with our homemade tomato sauce. Don’t skimp on the fresh basil to provide a fresh and earthy flavor to this baked dish. Make sure to save enough cheese at the end to sprinkle on top for the final crispy, cheesy layer.
Strawberries-and-Cream Sheet Cake
Trust us: This simple and swoon-worthy sheet cake will be a keeper in your recipe box. File it under "Springtime Crowd-pleaser."
Jalapeño Popper Bean Dip
Think beyond tortilla chips for this crowd-pleasing dip. You don't want to deny guests the deliciousness of chips, but those can get a little heavy; supplement with veggie dippers to keep things lighter overall. We suggest mini sweet peppers because their sweetness helps offset the heat of the jalapeños.
Strawberry-Cardamom Slab Pie
Got berries? This simple slab pie is the perfect way to put an abundance of summer berries to delicious use—especially if you need to whip up a bright and cheery dessert for a crowd. One of the best things about this strawberry pie (besides the swoon-worthy flavor combo of fresh, summer strawberries with a delicate dose of cardamom) is the no-roll crust… because let’s get real, as great as a slab pie is in theory, the idea of rolling out pie dough to fit a sheet pan is less than thrilling. With this no-fuss crust, all you have to do is dump the dough straight from the food processor onto your greased pan and press it into place. Top the whole shebang with a toasty macadamia nut streusel, and you have the type of dessert that makes you look like a real pastry pro. Feel free to make this pie your own by swapping in some of your favorite flavors. You can substitute other fresh, seasonal fruits (like blueberries, cherries, or peaches) for some or all of the strawberries, and swap the macadamias for your favorite nuts—pecans or almonds would work great in this recipe. We prefer tapioca flour in a fruity pie filling like this as it imparts no distinct flavor and creates a great, silky consistency when combined with the berries’ juices, but you can certainly use corn starch or all-purpose flour as your thickening agent if you don’t have tapioca flour on hand.
S'mores Cookie Cake
This giant cookie is a sweet, indulgent treat that tastes like a traditional campfire s'more. The cookie base is soft and gooey when warm, but firms up after cooling. Bonus: Little kids will be spared a scorched marshmallow or burned fingers.
Quick and Easy Nachos
This platter of goodness represents the lowest-effort end of the nacho spectrum. That said, “low-effort”—by no stretch of the imagination—means a low YUM-factor here. Although this game day-perfect platter of beefy, cheesy nachos comes together quickly and relies largely on store-bought shortcuts, it delivers the classic meld of flavors and textures that you want from everyone’s favorite appetizer. For this recipe, we combine the meat and cheese elements to create a Ro*Tel Dip-inspired, beefy cheese sauce to pour over the nachos. Not only does this guarantee an even distribution of the hearty toppings, but it keeps you from having to crank up the oven. However, if you prefer melted, shredded cheese over a sauce, simply cook your ground beef in a skillet on the stovetop, drain, and distribute over the nachos on a sheet pan. Then, top the platter with shredded cheese and pop it under the broiler until melty and glorious (omitting the can of Ro*Tel).
Sheet Pan White Pizza with Salami and Peppers
This pizza is flat out delicious! Hold the tomato sauce with this easy, one (sheet) pan pizza. Test Kitchen Tip: Preheating the sheet pan is key to achieving a crisp, crunchy, pizzeria-worthy crust at home.
Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts
Our new twist on the classic summer pie starts with puff pastry sheets.
Open-Faced Meatball Subs
Grab a knife and fork for these mile-high Italian subs.
Pineapple Pizza Dip
Whether you’re pro- or anti-pineapple on pizza, we’re willing to bet you’re going to love this pineapple pizza dip. Why? Well, because its delicious balance of salty and sweet, and the savory, ooey-gooey goodness this dip packs makes it irresistible. Give it a try for your next party, potluck, or tailgate and see what we mean.
Sweet Orange-Chili Wings
Skip the mess that comes with deep-frying wings in oil with this smart oven-baking trick: Coat your chicken wings in baking powder. Yep, baking powder—this easy hack makes for exceptionally crispy skin. As soon as the wings are golden brown, toss them in this sweet orange chili sauce to get the party started. The dynamic sauce offers a subtle heat from the fresh ginger and chili flakes, balanced by sweet brown sugar and aromatic orange.
Greek Crab Dip
With the salty richness of feta cheese and brightness from fresh lemon juice and herbs, this is an incredible twist on a classic creamy crab dip. Lump crab meat gives the dip an added touch of decadence, but it could also be made with less-expensive claw meat. Served with warm, crusty baguette slices this savory crab dip is the perfect “something different” to bring to your next potluck or party.
Poached Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini
These elegant toasts, featuring sweet poached cherries and tangy goat cheese, are the perfect pre-meal nibble for a summer dinner party. While the recipe sounds fancy, it’s super easy to prepare. You’re simply simmering fresh cherries in a poaching liquid made by mixing orange liqueur, water, and a few other ingredients.This enhances the stone fruit with sweet, zesty flavor and creates a stunning crimson-hued sauce, perfect for spooning over rich and tangy goat cheese. A toss with fresh herbs and a light sprinkle of black pepper brings mellow earthiness for full harmony in every bite.
Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs
These Southern-inspired deviled eggs say summer fun like nothing else. A picnic-perfect use for leftover fried chicken, these tasty bites are spicy, but not burn-your-mouth spicy. Feel free to increase or decrease the cayenne pepper depending on how much of a kick you like. A sweetness from the chopped pickles, tang from the vinegar and hot sauce, and salty-savory deliciousness from the fried chicken make for a perfectly balanced chicken + eggs-perience.
Tortellini Caprese Bites
Goat Cheese Cheesecake Bites
These simple six ingredient bites are the perfect graduation dessert. Frozen mini phyllo shells make these a super fast treat.
Lemon-Caper Parmesan Potato Salad Bites
Turn "jacket potatoes" into irresistible potato salad bites. Capers offer a twist on traditional relish; they're actually pickled flower buds and add bright, briny flavor to this appetizer.
Parm-Style Chicken Sliders
These Italian-style sliders put a summery spin on Chicken Parmesan.
Smashed Double Cheeseburger Sliders
You can easily make these on the grill instead of the stovetop. Just preheat the grill to high, and set a cast-iron skillet on the grill grate to preheat also. Be careful when touching the skillet, as the handle will be extremely hot. A pinch of sugar in the beef patty mixture helps deliver deep-brown, caramelized crust to the burgers without making them taste sweet.
Skillet Nacho Dip
We combined our favorite elements of cheesy queso dip and loaded beef nachos into one epic skillet dish.
Love Purple and Live Gold Cupcakes
Bake cupcakes up to 1 week ahead of time and freeze. Thaw completely at room temperature before frosting as directed.
Edamame and Shrimp Bruschetta
Give bruschetta a little kick by topping with pureed edamame and shrimp tossed in lemon zest.
Pigs in an Everything Blanket with Cream Cheese Dip
Two finger food favorites collide as pigs in a blanket get an everything bagel makeover. Rather than the traditional canned biscuit or croissant dough, the "blanket" of this playful appetizer is made with fresh pizza dough that is first boiled, brushed with egg wash, and rolled in an "everything" seasoning blend (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried minced onion, dried minced garlic, and coarse salt) before being baked. Using a yeasted dough and this double cooking method is what gives these tailgate-ready bites their bagel personality. Serve them up with a tangy cream cheese dip for a party-perfect snack platter.
Playing off the mass appeal of the perennial party dip, this recipe combines tons of spinach and artichoke hearts with hearty whole-grain bread for an easy, crowd-pleasing breakfast casserole. There’s built-in make-ahead convenience, as the strata needs to refrigerate overnight to allow the bread to soak in all the milk-egg mixture for a creamy texture once baked. In the morning, just let the strata stand at room temperature while the oven preheats, and then bake for 45 minutes. You don’t need to fully blend in the herbed cheese; it’s nice to hit little “pockets” of creamy goodness as you eat the strata.
Our favorite recipe from the Cooking Light column, this lightened-up lasagna tastes every bit as flavorful as the traditional version.
Mini Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas
Everyone loves enchiladas but all that rolling and filling can be a little labor-intensive on a busy weeknight. So we figured out a way to bake up a pan of delicious mini enchiladas in three easy steps! Serve with your favorite green salad (a serving size is three mini enchiladas per person) for a fast and family-friendly meal that will be on your dinner table in 30 minutes.
Mini Filo Cups with Caponata and Feta
Using store-bought caponata, a sweet-and-sour Sicilian eggplant relish, makes creating this smoky appetizer a breeze. While you can buy pre-made filo cups, baking them yourself adds flavor and only takes about 10 minutes. You’ll need a mini muffin pan.
Honey-Ginger Chicken Bites
These bite-sized appetizers are steeped in a mixture of garlic, soy sauce, ginger, citrus, and honey. The marinade is then reduced and used to glaze the chicken.
Family-Style Meatball "Fondue"
We're using the term "fondue" loosely; the idea is that everyone scoops into a skillet of cheesy meatballs with hearty bread slices. The meatballs are more tender than traditional versions because they don't include breadcrumbs; we like the softer texture for this type of dish, where you want them to give way easily on the bread.
Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese
There are few dishes more comforting than classic macaroni and cheese. A casserole dish full of gooey macaroni and cheese finds its way into all sorts of Southern gatherings.
Rosemary-Asiago Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls
Bake these light and tender whole-grain rolls ahead and freeze up to 1 month, or make the dough ahead and bake on the day: Punch down the risen dough to form a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 8 hours or overnight. Return to a bowl and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours before shaping.