6 Delicious Dinner Party Recipes You Can Make Ahead of Time
Sometimes the most important ingredient is extra time.
If there’s one thing we can all use a bit more of, it’s time — especially if you're a dinner party host. There’s nothing worse than having a house full of hungry people and having absolutely nothing to feed them because all the food is sitting in the oven. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can mitigate your stress the next time you’re expecting company. The easiest way is to make a few of your dinner party apps, mains and desserts way ahead of time. Best part of all — your guests will have absolutely no idea you put them together the day before or the morning of their arrival. Here are six foolproof recipes that’ll help make your next get-together the chillest one yet!
Green Gazpacho Soup Shooters (pictured above)
We love the idea of starting off your next dinner party with a tray of these refreshing and bright green gazpacho soup shooters from Food Network Kitchen. Not only can you serve them cold — it says so right in the recipe — but these drinkable appetizers will also keep your guests adequately satisfied until your main dish makes an appearance. Putting them together is super easy too — all you need to do is blend all your ingredients, including cucumbers, parsley and toasted almonds, together in a blender, refrigerate and pour. Our test kitchen chefs recommend letting your shooters chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge before serving, so go ahead and make them the morning of your shindig.
Make-Ahead Chicken Tetrazzini (pictured above)
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are hosting a large group of people is deciding to serve a recipe they’ve never made before as their main dish. Though Beef Wellington and Coq Au Vin are impressive, they can be difficult to master, especially if you’re working under a serious time crunch. Choosing to serve a creamy and comforting baked pasta dish as your entree, like this Make-Ahead Chicken Tetrazzini from Valerie Bertinelli is a satisfying alternative. It's loaded up with its fair share of delicious “bells and whistles” including cauliflower florets, cremini mushrooms, peas, diced green chiles, Parmesan cheese and ziti pasta. To save yourself from stress, follow Valerie’s lead and put your Tetrazzini together the night before your dinner party and refrigerate it until an hour or so before your friends arrive.
Antipasto is a no-brainer when it comes to party appetizers, but putting together a company-worthy spread of deli meats and cheeses can be pretty time consuming, especially if you’re trying to stick to a specific color scheme or theme. These bite-sized lettuce cups are a creative and fun way to “do” charcuterie, without actually doing charcuterie. Each handheld cup houses antipasto favorites like salami, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, provolone, chopped artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, green olives and Peppadew peppers. Since these lettuce cups are meant to be served cold or at room temperature, arranging them on a plate or platter and storing them in the fridge or on your kitchen counter 30 minutes or so before your guests are seated is totally fine!
We can all agree that lasagna tastes better when it’s extra bubbly and fresh out of the oven, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put the layers of yours together well ahead of company’s arriving at your door. This ragu-based one from Food Network Magazine is loaded up with delicious and repeating layers of cooked porcini, portobello and shiitake mushrooms as well as frozen spinach, Parmesan, mozzarella, asiago and ricotta cheeses. To make this recipe in advance, go ahead and assemble the lasagna the night before your dinner party and refrigerate it until just before dinnertime the next day. Letting your lasagna sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking it will also help your layers achieve the optimal texture.
Signature cocktails make dinner parties all the more unique and memorable, but making them for each one of your individual guests can be really time consuming. Thankfully this Berry Rosé Sangria from Food Network Magazine is meant to be made — and consumed — by the batch. With a serving size of 6 to 8, it’s the picture perfect libation for your feast with friends. To make it, you’ll combine an entire bottle of your favorite brand of rosé with orange-flavored vodka, elderflower liqueur, sliced strawberries and diced watermelon chunks. Housing the alcoholic mixture in a 64-ounce jar is key here, since doing so will ensure you’ll have more than enough to go around. Since the recipe also calls for your sangria to be chilled for at least three hours or overnight, making it the night before makes the most sense!
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least one dessert on this list, and since dips are the ultimate get-together snack, this Banana Cream Pie version is sure to be a real treat. Though it has some elements that need to be put together on the actual day of your gathering — we’re talking about caramelizing the sliced banana topping specifically — you can still put the pudding portion of the dip together the evening before or the morning of. If you usually find yourself complaining about how much dessert you have leftover after a dinner party, this dip is also a nice way to give your guests a sweet send off without going overboard.