The Perfect Dinner Party Menu

If like me, you’ve often thought that you’d be a natural on Come Dine With Me, you probably love hosting dinner parties, and why not? Certainly less formal than they used to be but still so much fun, a social gathering centred around food is never a bad way to spend an evening. The only stumbling block is deciding what to cook.

I’ve come up with a pretty foolproof dinner-party menu, so take a look and let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed.

Before the party 

Before you write a list and head to the supermarket, make sure you’ve been a gracious host and asked all confirmed guests about any food allergies or dietary preferences. With more people going gluten-free and/or vegan than ever, for example, being forewarned is forearmed.

Most major supermarkets have a ‘free-from’ section that makes shopping for gluten-free items extra simple, though with a little research you’ll find that cooking for any dietary need can be straightforward and needn’t mean that you have to buy a lot of specialist ingredients.

The starter 

I always think it’s best to start with something fairly light, neutral in flavour and unfussy for a starter. Bruschetta, with a selection of self-service toppings, never fails to please and you can easily use gluten-free bread if you have an allergy sufferer in the group. Avoiding pre-loaded bread rounds will let your guests stick to the toppings they like, without seeming picky.

Potential toppings could include: 

  • sun-dried tomatoes with capers
  • coarse meat pâté
  • chargrilled artichoke pieces
  • olive tapenade
  • flaked peppered salmon
  • soft cheese, such as mascarpone, topped with nuts

The main course

I suggest preparing two main course dishes and then having a large selection of vegetables as accompaniments, so that veggie guests and meat-eaters need not feel segregated.

For the main course, I would try to make similar things, with a meat base for one. A firm favourite for me is risotto, as you’ll need to nurse your rice, so why not have two pans on the hob at the same time and tackle them both together? A simple lemon and asparagus, or mushroom risotto is ideal for non-meat eaters and you can simply add some quality chicken breast pieces or salmon for everyone else. With vegetables on the side, a modest portion will suffice and will leave plenty of room for dessert.  Or if you have all meat-eaters, why not try a French bistro classic Chicken Chasseur, made in a slow cooker. The tender meat will melt in your mouth and the rich wine sauce is a definite crowd-pleaser. 

When it comes to the vegetables, I’d say that fresh, seasonal produce is best, simply steamed to retain all the flavour and goodness. A little garlic butter might be a good optional extra, but being able to toss everything into a steamer makes things easy. You could also serve up a guaranteed crowd-pleaser: roast potatoes. Make it easy on yourself by using McCain gastro roasts, as nobody will know you haven’t slaved over a peeler all afternoon, but they will dive back in for seconds. Everybody loves a perfect roastie! 

The dessert

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that you can never go wrong with a chocolate dessert. That being said, for dinner parties, I like to put a few different options out so that everyone can choose whether they’d like something rich, a lighter finishing note or even a savoury end.

My top three dessert choices are:

  • Chocolate cheesecake. Simpler to make than you might think, it can be done the night before and left in the fridge to set perfectly. There are plenty of recipes for the perfect chocolate cheesecake, but you can put your own stamp on things by changing up what you use for the base, or adding something extra special to the top. I like to add a border of halved chocolate truffles for the ultimate indulgence or pile on fresh strawberries or raspberries on top.
  • An anything-but-boring fruit platter. The thought of fruit salad at the end of a dinner party sounds terribly 1970s, but a large platter of carefully selected fruits that can be picked at is perfect. Try to choose things that are easy to handle and nibble at, like pineapple wedges, berries and more exotic elements such as star fruit, coconut chunks and lychees. You could even put out some dishes with dipping sauces if you’re worried that plain fruit is a little dull.
  • A selection of cheeses. Not everybody considers cheese to be a dessert or the best way to end a meal, but there are plenty of savoury fans out there, so offering a truckle or two along with some proper biscuits won’t go unnoticed. I like to try and cover all bases with a soft, hard and a blue option. Some people think that cheese is a course all on its own and comes after dessert, so be sure to buy enough in.

When you’ve set upon your final dinner-party menu, you can choose accompanying drinks and one final tip from me is to ask guests who wish to bring something, for their favourite wine that will best match the food. 

So here are my dinner party menu tips. Do you like entertaining? What is your favourite dinner party food?

*Collaborative post.


  1. Oh now I want to host a dinner party!

    My normal go to is a huge chilli, both meat and vegetarian, lots of Salad, tacos, wedges and it’s

    1. Chilli is good especially when you have all the extras like tacos

  2. Heck of a starter you've got there. Can't go wrong with bruschetta I always feel!

  3. Yum! This post is making me hungry and it I wouldn’t mind an invite to your party. Risotto looks so good and that chocolate

  4. Oh my goodness! These are just perfect. Who would't love to try all these in the menu?

  5. What a perfect menu indeed, we are slowly looking forward to planning something this Christmas.