20 Recipes to Serve a Crowd That Won’t Break the Bank

published Apr 19, 2023
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closeup of fork, serving a piece of chicken
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton; Prop Styling: Gerri Williams
Lemon Sumac Roasted Chicken

After some years, we’ve happily settled back into long tables and big, celebratory meals. I don’t know about you, but feeding a crowd has often left me empty. Obviously I feel full from the buzz of good company and conversation, but later I look and I see that I’m low on cash. 

The good news is that there are plenty of large-format recipes that are easy to make when you’re on a budget. Your guests will love it and you’ll encourage them to pack their plates with food without holding back. Here are 20 of our favorite budget recipes that serve a crowd, covering your needs for weekend brunch, holiday dinners, barbecue cookouts, and cocktail parties. 

BBQ and Outdoor Parties

Cheap tricks for the best outdoor cookouts.

1 / 7
Hot Dog Snack Board

The ultimate backyard BBQ doesn't have to be expensive, nor does it have to require too much energy. This snack board leans on very accessible staples from the grocery store to keep summer fun and low-cost.

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2 / 7
No-Cook Dip and Veggie Summer Board

Seasonal produce is cheap and abundant, so take advantage of that fact and include them in this summery no-cook veggie and dip number.

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3 / 7
Instant Pot Pulled Porchetta Sandwiches

Tender Porchetta-style pulled pork gets piled onto crusty rolls and stacked with lots of arugula and slices of quick-pickled Fresno chiles for a sandwich with balanced flavor.

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4 / 7
Chicken Caesar Salad Skewers

Grilling your Caesar salad is one way to mix up a classic. But to take it even further, thread the chicken, the croutons, and the romaine lettuce on skewers for an outdoor salad party.

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5 / 7
Chopped BBQ Chicken Salad

With chunks of BBQ chicken, crisp corn, crunchy cabbage, and a tangy ranch dressing, this chopped salad is in a league of its own.

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6 / 7
Fish Tacos

For a gorgeous platter of fish tacos that won't drown your bank account, look no further than using skinless white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut, snapper, flounder, or tilapia.

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7 / 7
Ice Cream Sandwiches for a Crowd

A huge (and pricey) ice cream cake from the shop isn't the only dessert that can stand out at a party. This sheet pan ice cream sandwich for a crowd will keep everyone cool and content.

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Holiday Dinners

Go ahead, make that holiday main. With these recipes, you’ll still have more than enough to host as many parties as you want during the holidays.

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Baked Potato Bar

Whether cobbled together from leftovers in the fridge for a weeknight dinner, or prepped and served as an over-the-top spread for a holiday party, a baked potato bar is always a crowd-pleaser.

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2 / 4
Extra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder is a cheaper cut of meat that has the power to explode with flavor. Treating it like bo ssam, the Korean slow-roasted pork dish, creates delicate, spice-packed slivers in this version.

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3 / 4
Lemon-Sumac Roasted Chicken

This recipe is an ode to crispy skin — and the first step to getting perfectly crispy skin in every bite is to spatchcock a chicken. Buying and prepping a whole chicken is also easy on the wallet.

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4 / 4
Spinach & Prosciutto Chicken Roll-Ups

This creamy, deeply flavored chicken dish is amazing with any smattering of side dishes it touches on the holiday plate.

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Weekend Brunch

Luxurious meals without the high restaurant price tag.

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Cinnamon Roll Casserole Recipe

We love making cinnamon rolls from scratch, but for an easy, family-friendly breakfast during the holidays, we turn to refrigerated cinnamon rolls from the store. This keeps things low-fuss and low-cost.

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2 / 6
Savory Grilled Cheese French Toast Bake

This budget-friendly morning casserole offers a new twist on the perfect pair you know and love: grilled cheese and tomato soup.

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3 / 6
Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Breakfast Stuffing

A cheesy egg-free breakfast casserole loaded with spinach and mushrooms.

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4 / 6
Light & Fluffy Sheet Pan Pancakes

This one-bowl, no-flipping recipe for sheet pan pancakes is fluffy and tender like a classic sheet cake.

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5 / 6
Cheese Danish for a Crowd

What flaky pastry will you serve for brunch? May we suggest this giant sheet pan cheese danish? It's a no-lamination slab pie filled with the most satisfying cream cheese filling. Best of all, it relies on baking staples you most likely already have in the pantry.

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6 / 6
Mini Quiche

Quiche? In this economy? With this recipe, you get 24 mini quiches using just one egg. Talk about more brunch fun for less.

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Cocktail Party Snacks

Save money, party better.

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Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuff umami-rich mushrooms with cream cheese and then throw them in the oven, and you'll come back to the kitchen to a satisfyingly cheesy, bite-sized appetizers for a party.

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2 / 5
Pigs in a Blanket

Wrap cocktail sausages around puff pastry for a cheap, last-minute appetizer.

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3 / 5
Parmesan Ranch Shortbread Crackers
In this savory cookie recipe, Pecorino cheese and herby ranch seasoning turn traditionally sugary shortbread dough into a decidedly salty treat.
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4 / 5
Cacio e Pepe Popcorn
A quick and easy recipe for popcorn tossed with Pecorino cheese, black pepper, and olive oil — plus the perfect red wine to drink with it.
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5 / 5
Raspberry Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip

Slather raspberry pepper jelly over a block of cream cheese and serve with Ritz crackers for low-cost luxury.

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