23 Inexpensive Meals for Large Groups That Everyone Will Love

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By Sohaib

Confession: I sometimes lose sleep the night before hosting a dinner party. I blame it on a combination of excitement and nerves, but wow, entertaining can be stressful. As part of my mission to solve my hosting anxiety, I’ve compiled a list of delicious, easy, and inexpensive meals for large groups that I always return to—and that every guest will love.

These recipes solve the dilemma of deciding what to cook for large groups but avoid the hefty price tag that can often come with group dinners. As we know, cooking for more than four people can get real pricey, real fast. The bottom line? Impressive doesn’t have to mean expensive. These meals utilize grocery store staples, store-bought ingredients, and affordable meats—without sacrificing flavor or quality.

Read on for my go-to inexpensive meals for large groups, plus Camille’s tips for cooking for a crowd.

Camille’s Top Tips for Cooking for a Crowd

Do all possible prep in advance so that you can enjoy the evening, too. Anything that can be made beforehand is key. It takes the stress out of your day-of prep and makes sure you get to enjoy the party yourself. Soups, sauces, and salad dressings can be made entirely in advance so when the clock strikes happy hour, you’re ahead of the game. It’s also helpful to do any knife work in advance and store your chopped goods in the fridge. That way, when it’s time to cook, you’ve already done a lot of the grunt work.

Choose crowd-pleasing dishes that everyone can enjoy. When you’re cooking for a group, it’s important to consider your guests’ dietary needs. Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan recipes fare well for large groups. That way, everyone can savor the moment together. Comforting foods are also always a hit at dinner parties. If it’s something you love, the odds are high that your guests will love it, too!

Leverage batch cooking and “build-your-own” components. Sheet pan recipes, informal spreads, and topping bars are heroes when it comes to assembly. Prep the main components and let your guests build their finished pieces. Not only does this make your job easier, but it’s a great way to spark conversation and creativity!

Meat & Chicken Recipes for Large Groups

Carne Asada Tacos

Why We Love It: These simpler-than-they-seem Mexican-inspired tacos are one of Camille’s favorite summer meals for weeknights and entertaining. Thanks to a zesty marinade and the perfect mix of garlic, herbs, and spices, they pack plenty of bold and bright flavor. Plus, they use flank steak—a delicious but relatively cheap cut that makes for tasty tacos. Simply add toppings of your choice and enjoy!

Hero Ingredient: Tacos are nothing without their toppings. I opt for plenty of cilantro and salsa verde. And don’t skimp on the guacamole.

Serve With: 4-Ingredient Watermelon Mint Margaritas, please.

yogurt grilled marinated chicken

Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Chicken With All the Herbs

Why We Love It: Camille took this classic method of preparing chicken and turned the volume up with a twist. Marinating chicken in yogurt tenderizes the meat, lending tons of flavor and creating a delicious crust. It makes for the perfect inexpensive meal for a large group because you can simply scale up as needed, marinate ahead of time, and throw your chicken on the grill. No stress!

Hero Ingredient: This recipe is about as easy and simple as it gets. With so few ingredients, what’s included all plays a key role. That being said, the lemon infuses your marinade with fresh, summery flavor.

Serve With: The Best Simple Green Salad and a crisp, cold glass of rosé.

sheet pan harvest hash_inexpensive meals for large groups

Sheet Pan Harvest Hash

Why We Love It: There are so many reasons why I love this simple sheet pan dinner. It’s faster than takeout, filled with plenty of whole and nutritious ingredients, and tastes simply divine. It also happens to align with various diets due to its exclusion of grains, processed ingredients, and added sugars.

Hero Ingredient: Any recipe with goat cheese has my heart.

Serve With: Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia

slow cooker tikka masala

Slow-Cooker Tikka Masala

Why We Love It: This saucy chicken and veggie meal gets better the longer it marinates, and it’s the perfect flavorful meal for more than two. This recipe can be made with chicken breasts or thighs and a variety of inexpensive spices and pantry staples. Serve over a bed of white rice for that cozy, home-cooked meal you crave all day.

Hero Ingredient: Coconut milk gives this slow-cooker meal an added creaminess.

Serve With: Baked Chili Miso Broccoli

chicken tortilla soup_inexpensive meals for large groups

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Why We Love It: Soup is one of the best things to serve to large groups because it’s inexpensive and most of the cooking time is hands-off. Plus, as long as you have a big enough pot, it’s easy to double. To this day, this Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of Camille’s most popular Instagram recipes, so if you haven’t made it yet, this is your sign. It’s the perfect serve-yourself recipe for big gatherings as well.

Hero Ingredient: The homemade tortilla strips are next-level.

Serve With: Skillet Vegetarian Cornbread Stuffing

lemony sheet pan chicken with artichokes and spring veggies

Lemony Sheet Pan Chicken With Artichokes and Spring Veggies

Why We Love It: Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs get the low and slow treatment in this simple sheet pan recipe. They’re roasted alongside artichokes, red onions, cherry tomatoes, garlic, lemon slices, and green olives until golden brown and delicious. The best part? All you have to do is throw everything on a sheet pan and roast for an hour. This is one of those recipes that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.

Hero Ingredient: If you think slow-roasted chicken is bland—think again! The key is to crank up the oven for those last ten-or-so minutes to crisp up the skin.

Serve With: This is a complete sheet pan dinner on its own, but if you really want to round it out, these crispy potatoes are perfect.

lime-y chicken tacos

Lime-y Chicken Tacos With Jicama, Avocado, & Mint

Why We Love It: These tacos are one of my favorite recipes for the simple prep and flavors that are anything but. You can make the chicken beforehand and chop all of the veggies in advance. All you have to do is char the tortillas and serve. You don’t even have to build the tacos yourself—let the guests assemble their own.

Hero Ingredient: The lime-y chicken is affordable and addictive.

Serve With: Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Shallot Vinaigrette, Camille’s Classic Margarita

the best roast chicken with tomatoes, lemons, and cilantro salsa verde_inexpensive meals for large groups

The Best Roast Chicken With Tomatoes, Lemons, & Cilantro Salsa Verde

Why We Love It: This roasted chicken recipe yields the juiciest bird with the crispiest golden brown skin. And all you need is olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few supporting actors to make that dream a reality. The cherry tomatoes, garlic, and lemon slices that roast alongside the chicken create the most amazing sauce that flavors the bird beautifully. Then, a salsa verde elevates the entire creation even more.

Hero Ingredient: The garlic caramelizes to pure perfection and is delightfully spreadable.

Serve With: Make-Ahead Vegan Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata and Whipped Feta, or Apple Walnut Salad

roasted chicken & vegetable confit

Roasted Chicken & Vegetable Confit

Why We Love It: Talk about a showstopper! This roast chicken recipe is just as delicious as it is visually appealing. It features Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, green olives, carrots, and copious amounts of garlic and olive oil. The chicken roasts to perfection while the veggies underneath create a decadent sauce all on their own. It’s the hands-off masterpiece your next gathering needs.

Hero Ingredient: Don’t you dare waste any of that liquid gold. Transfer those pan juices into some sort of vessel or pour straight over the chicken before serving—you’ll be glad you did.

Serve With: Kale Italian Chopped Salad, No-Knead Olive & Rosemary Focaccia

Pasta Recipes for Large Groups

simple zucchini pasta_inexpensive meals for large groups

Simple Zucchini Pasta 

Why We Love It: This zucchini pasta recipe celebrates the season’s best flavors. Summer squashes, nutty parmesan, zesty lemon, and aromatic herbs come together for a tasty and simple pasta recipe that every dinner guest will love. It’s the Italian countryside meal you’ll start to long for when summer rolls around.

Hero Ingredient: Grated Parmesan is a top-tier topping.

Serve With: Simple Green Salad, Summer Cheese Board

green sauce pasta

Green Sauce Pasta

Why We Love It: An entire serving of greens in pasta form? Sign me up. This silky sauce that lovingly coats each noodle is my new favorite way to eat greens. With only five ingredients, this make-ahead sauce is the king of inexpensive meals for large groups. Simply prep your sauce, choose your favorite noodle and accompanying veg, and top with lots of finishing touches.

Hero Ingredient: Burrata, toasted breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and flaky salt make excellent topping choices.

Serve With: Grilled Peach and Asparagus Salad with Spicy Pepitas, Cashew Mozzarella, and Goji Chipotle Dressing

lemony spring pasta salad with olives, artichokes, and bacon_inexpensive meals for large groups

Lemony Spring Pasta Salad with Olives, Artichokes, and Bacon

Why We Love It: I love the idea of serving a big bowl of pasta salad for a laid-back gathering. This recipe couldn’t be tastier but isn’t fussy—both impressing your guests while also making them feel right at home. The briny, fruity flavors of the olives and artichokes are pure Mediterranean vibes. And when combined with a little crispy bacon, beautiful things happen. (Feel free to leave the bacon out and keep a bowl on the side for extra sprinkling if you have vegetarian guests.)

Hero Ingredient: Cavatappi is key in this recipe. Its short, twisted shape soaks up all the good green dressing.

Serve With: This is the perfect one-dish meal, but we love starting with this Ricotta with Pears and Honeyed Pistachios and enjoying a sweet and tart Salty Dog cocktail alongside.

rigantoni with brussels sprouts and kale pesto

Rigatoni With Brussels Sprouts & Kale Pesto

Why We Love It: We all love a good pasta dinner party, and this recipe is infinitely customizable and easily doubled. In fact, Camille lays out all of the possible swaps and her best tips for cooking this for a crowd in the recipe post. Aside from the simplicity of making this dish, it has all of my favorite things: rigatoni, pesto, and crispy Brussels sprouts. If you’re looking for a no-fuss, show-stopping pasta for a large group, this is it.

Hero Ingredient: The caramelized, crispy, garlicky Brussels sprouts taste even more indulgent than the noodles.

Serve With: Because this is a one-pot meal, any of these refreshing kombucha cocktails would bring a nice, funky twist to the experience.

skillet eggplant lasagna_inexpensive meals for large groups

Skillet Eggplant Lasagna

Why We Love It: This eggplant lasagna is a cozy one-pot dinner that guests of all ages and palates will love. It’s vegetarian, which is a plus for dinner parties where guests have dietary restrictions, and it’s comforting all the same. The icing on the cake? Store-bought marinara makes prep a breeze.

Hero Ingredient: Since it’s in a skillet, you can place the entire creation directly on the table and serve it up family style.

Serve With: Roasted Heirloom Carrots With Wild Rice And Tahini

Vegetarian Recipes for Large Groups

spring potato pizza with asaparagus and burrata

Spring Potato Pizza with Asparagus and Burrata

Why We Love It: If you’re not putting potatoes on your pizza, take this recipe as a sign. I’m obsessed with the crispy-creamy texture play created by the melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and burrata set against the thin, crunchy crust. It’s a great option for large groups with a light ingredients list and shortcut tricks to make it all the easier. Talk about hostess with the mostess.

Hero Ingredient: I will never, ever say no to burrata. It does creaminess to perfection.

Serve With: Warm Spinach-Artichoke Salad with Quinoa Crunchies

cauliflower tikka masala

Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Why We Love It: Minimal effort meets maximum flavor in this vegetarian tikka masala. It has all the flavor of your favorite take-out meal and can easily be scaled up to accommodate any-sized group. Again, it’s great to set out in “serve yourself” fashion and is easy to double as well.  

Hero Ingredient: The Greek yogurt deserves a medal for making this so creamy.

Serve With: Warm naan is crucial—and if you really want to throw a party, this Vegan Flatbread with Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Hummus is a crowd-pleaser.

butternut squash pizza with arugula & almond ricotta_inexpensive meals for large groups

Butternut Squash Pizza With Arugula & Almond Ricotta

Why We Love It: If I’m invited to a pizza dinner party, 10/10 times I’ll accept. Everyone loves a good pizza, and this recipe will be ready faster than Domino’s can deliver. If you’re looking to make this meal the main event of an evening, you can also let couples customize their own pizzas.

Hero Ingredient: Homemade almond ricotta, while delish, leans this pizza toward the more expensive side. If you aren’t entertaining a plant-based crowd, feel free to swap out with store-bought whole milk ricotta.

Serve With: A few salads are key. Go all in with this Grapefruit, Avocado, and Golden Beet Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas and Feta or Carrot, Kumquat, and Golden Beet Salad.

samosa stuffed bell peppers

Samosa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Why We Love It: Spiced potatoes stuffed into soft bell peppers make for a magical dinner. These are lighter than traditional samosa, but delicious all the same. It’s such an easy make-ahead dinner because the filling will keep overnight. When the time comes, simply roast your bell peppers, stuff them with filling, and let guests top accordingly.

Hero Ingredient: Chutney, fresh herbs, yogurt, and red onions make delicious finishing touches.

Serve With: Chaat Masala Citrus Salad

vegetarian chili_inexpensive meals for large groups

Vegetarian Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

Why We Love It: Soups are a great way to feed a crowd without stretching your wallet. You get a lot more out of them than you put in, which is pure magic. This sweet potato and black bean chili exudes all the fall flavors with stick-to-your-ribs veggies that make it hearty and healthy. It’s loaded with black beans, flavorful veggies, and lots of spices that keep it warm and comforting. Just a quick sauté of those veggies and a slow simmer takes this recipe from pot to bowl in under an hour.

Hero Ingredient: As with any comforting soup recipe, the key is in the presentation. Lay out all of your toppings and let guests build their masterpiece!

Serve With: Cheesy Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits

Seafood Recipes for Large Groups

grilled shrimp tacos with grapefruit salsa_inexpensive meals for large groups

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Grapefruit Salsa

Why We Love It: These grilled shrimp tacos are a summer obsession. With a short and sweet ingredient list and a main protein on the cheaper side, it’s a great batch of ingredients for hot days and grilling outside. Change up your toppings with anything from slices of creamy avocado to bits of fresh cilantro and a few squeezes of fresh lime.

Hero Ingredient: Pico de Gallo is always a winner with these tacos!

Serve With: Guacamole, Spicy Mezcal Paloma

spicy tuna tostadas

Spicy Tuna Tostadas

Why We Love It: Camille picked up this recipe from Contramar in Mexico City and we’ve been changed ever since. It’s extra compatible for large groups as the components can be quickly prepped in advance. When everyone is ready to dig in, just set out the tostadas and toppings and let everyone build their own!

Hero Ingredient: Avocado mellows out this recipe’s spicy and savory flavor blend.

Serve With: Mexican Chopped Salad, Margarita on the Rocks

grilled salmon with stone fruit salsa

Grilled Salmon with Stone Fruit Salsa

Why We Love It: My family has a tradition of indulging in salmon for at least one night of our summer vacation. This salmon recipe has only five ingredients and comes together in a snap. The peach salsa brings all the summer fruit flavors, while chile lime seasoning adds a kick of zest to this grilled fish.

Hero Ingredient: Peach salsa, need I say more?

Serve With: Salt & Vinegar Potatoes, Vegan Red Pepper Pasta

chimichurri fish tacos

Chimichurri Fish Tacos

Why We Love It: What’s better than a taco bar after a long day of poolside or backyard fun? These chimichurri fish tacos are one of my go-to inexpensive meals for large groups, and they can be topped with various flavorful additions that all guests can pick and choose from.

Hero Ingredient: Cilantro is the hero of this chimichurri sauce.

Serve With: Mexican Street Corn Salad

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