Is having people over for a last-minute dinner party stressful? It is for me. Our kids’ toys are always scattered around the house. Remnants of breakfast lay bare on our kitchen counter all day. Plus, the words last minute and dinner party don’t fit together in my brain—I can’t serve an impressive dinner without lots of time to plan, prep, and cook!
But what if it didn’t have to be impressive or perfect? What if I ordered delivery pizzas and served them with a giant salad and a refreshing cocktail? What if I left the LEGOs on the floor and simply warned our guests to avoid stepping on them because they are the devil? I bet my friends and family would be happy to be together regardless of what we eat and what my house looks like.
At Simply Recipes we don’t strive for perfection, we are going for togetherness. So crank up the tunes and bring out all the mismatched chairs you own—let’s have an imperfect gathering. We are here to help you throw together easy, breezy, and speedy recipes—nothing fancy, just good, honest dishes we want to share with people we love. Plus, we are leaning on leading hosting experts, like Ina Garten, Zoë François, Anna Stockwell, and Natasha Feldman, for their amazing recipes, brilliant tips, and words of encouragement.
Let’s make this a summer we’ll remember not for the time we spent cooking but for the time we spent hanging out with the people we love. We can’t think of anything more delicious than that.
— Myo Quinn, Senior Editor
What do you get when you combine blind confidence, Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, and a group of patient and loving friends? A six-hour dinner party where hilarity and some drama ensues. Writer Thao Thai tells the story of her first time hosting friends for a meal.
Read the story: The Biggest Lesson Julia Child Taught Me After Hosting My First Dinner Party
There is no doubt that Ina Garten is the queen of dinner parties. She’s spent nearly 20 years hosting gatherings with loved ones on TV and in cookbooks. So we were excited to ask Trent Pheifer, a superfan that spent seven years cooking through Ina’s 1,272 recipes, to reveal his top ten favorites.
Read the story: Ina Garten’s 10 Best Recipes, According to Her Biggest Fan
“It doesn’t matter if people are late, it doesn’t matter if the food has a theme. The dinner party is really just the act of having people around the table and enjoying yourself,” says dinner party expert Natasha Feldman. Here are her six dinner party survival tips.
Read the story: Cookbook Author Natasha Feldman Shares Her 6 Rules For Better Dinner Parties
Why add more to your do-to list by cooking appetizers, when you can simply serve fresh fruit and potato chips on your fanciest dishes and call them the best pre-dinner snacks ever? Cookbook author Anna Stockwell reveals her brilliant tricks for how to swing it like an expert host. Swoosh!
Read the story: Forget Fussy Appetizers—Serve These Dinner Party Snacks Instead
Spend 30 seconds with Zoë François on Instagram and you’ll understand why we had to ask her to curate a dinner party playlist for Simply Recipes. Here are 15 songs that will help you relax, chitchat, dance, and laugh with your guests. And as a bonus, Zoë shared an idea for a super simple dessert (her expertise) you can make for last-minute guests.
Get the playlist: The Ultimate Soundtrack for a Dinner Party
Crowd-Pleasing Summery Pastas in Under 30 Minutes
The fastest route to a simple but fancy dinner is pasta. Boil the pasta, make a quick and easy sauce, and toss them together. These summery pasta recipes take almost no time to make—well, 30 minutes or less. That means more time to absorb the setting sun and heartfelt conversations with those you love.
- Fresh Corn Pasta
- No-Cook Tomato Basil Pasta
- Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- Creamy Miso Mushroom Pasta
Easy Sheet Pan Dinners Everyone Will Love
Sheet pan dinners make feeding a crowd so easy, so rewarding, and with minimal cleanup—you may even get to leave the kitchen the moment the party ends. Line the sheet pan with foil and rather than transfer the food onto a serving platter, I’d bring the whole sheet pan to the table as is. These sheet pan dinner recipes are anything but boring:
- Sheet Pan Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
- Loaded Sheet Pan Nachos
- Sheet Pan Salmon with Miso Butter
- Meat Lovers’ Sheet Pan Pizza
- Loaded Sheet Pan Quesadillas
Make It a Fun Build-Your-Own Taco Night
Taco night is always a perfect night. I listed five taco recipes below in order of how long they take to make—from 20 minutes to almost four hours. Take your pick depending on how much time you have. Then set out the tortillas, filling, and fixings (tomatoes, onions, cheese, cilantro, shredded cheese, etc.) for your guests to build their own tacos. A giant bowl of tortilla chips and extra salsa is never a bad idea.
- Easy Fish Tacos
- Summer Veggie Tacos
- Spicy Grilled Chicken Tacos
- Tacos al Pastor
- Birria Tacos
Easy Summer Bliss Cocktails & Lemonades
Whether full of spirit or alcohol-free, hand me an ice-filled glass of not water and I know it’s time to chill out. Here are five ultra-refreshing cocktails and lemonades recipes, hand-picked by our very own cocktail-loving team members Emma Christensen and Laurel Randolph. (Psst! Jennifer Garner loves our lemonade so much, she endorsed it on Instagram.)
- Strawberry-Basil Moscow Mule
- Classic Paloma
- Watermelon Rosé Mimosa
- The Perfect Lemonade
- Strawberry Lemonade