9 Tips for Nailing a Steak Dinner for a Crowd

updated May 1, 2019
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There are few things that can impress a dinner party crowd quite like serving steak. If you can boil water, you can serve pasta. If you’re spending a lot of money on your guests, you can boil lobsters. But for the combination of an indulgent, generous dinner party that takes a little bit more skill in the kitchen? Steak is the one item that consistently wows.

However, I think we can all agree that serving it can feel more than a little bit daunting. There are so many variables: Will I get the right cut? Will it be tender enough? Will I cook it to the perfect doneness? Will there be enough? Will people wish we’d just ordered pizza?

These nine tips will ensure everyone is stuffed and happy by the end of the night. And isn’t that all that really matters?

1. Set the mood.

While not every steakhouse looks the same, they all have similar elements that make them decidedly steakhouse-y. And you can get a close-enough effect without redesigning your entire dining room. For starters, invest in some cloth napkins. Then follow these steps to getting romantic steakhouse-style lighting.

Get the Look

2. Buy enough meat.

Obviously, the biggest key to not having everyone want pizza is to have enough food to actually feed them. The secret to this lies in just a little bit of simple math.

3. Give the plates some extra attention.

We’re not talking about fancy plating with tons of unnecessary garnishes — we’re talking about two times it’s crucial to heat or chill your plates before serving.

See What We Mean

4. Go big with your sides.

If your garlic mashed potatoes have earned you major bragging rights over the years, your mom’s maple Brussels sprouts are an often-requested recipe, or your sautéed mushrooms are a staple at every holiday, now is the time to bring them out.

You don’t need a ton of everything — the key is variety. Consider this the Thanksgiving effect: Being able to grab a little bit from around the table makes people feel like they had a heartier, more enjoyable meal than if they just worked through the same green beans and piece of meat all night. Aim for at least three sides.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

5. Don’t be afraid of sauces.

You know how fancy steak restaurants often let you choose your piece of meat, as well as the sauce you want alongside it? Replicate that experience by putting a simple aioli, a red-wine shallot sauce, or a simple steak sauce on the table. Purists can keep things classic, while others will have options.

Get Some Ideas

6. Serve it family style.

If you don’t want to buy individual cuts for everyone on the guest list, consider buying one larger hunk of less expensive meat (think: brisket, flank steak, or skirt steak). You can slice it up in the kitchen and serve it family style or even pre-plate a few strips for each guest.

This way, it’s also no big deal if you don’t have enough steak knives for everyone! Want to buy some steak knives?

7. Put a little surf in your turf.

Surf and turf is incredibly impressive and delicious. Luckily, you don’t have to have lobster tails to take it to that level. Buy a few pounds of fresh or frozen shrimp and no one will complain they’re not eating lobster.

Get Some Shrimp Help

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

8. Serve some nice cocktails.

Red wine is a must at a steak dinner, but part of what makes the steakhouse feel so special is the old-world charm. Maybe you’d order a martini while waiting for your table, or sip a Manhattan after you’ve ordered. Make a pitcher of whatever your favorite steak libation is, and let guests choose between something a little bit fancy and that perfect red you picked out.

Get the Best Recipes

(Image credit: Quentin Bacon)

9. Remember the dessert.

Again, one of the things that everyone loves about a steakhouse is that it feels like a splurge — right down to dessert. Ideally, this dessert is chocolate. Do not forget this.

Load Up on Chocolate