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32 Best Cooking for a Crowd Main Dishes

If you're the one making the main dish for a holiday feast this year, look no further! These recipes are perfect for making dinner for a crowd.

As the holidays begin to roll in, you've probably started planning your menus for the upcoming get-togethers. When it feels like everyone you have ever met finds their way into your home to celebrate, finding the right recipes to serve dinner for a crowd can be one of the most challenging entertaining hurdles. This undertaking seems perilous, but with some proper planning, you can feed an army of relatives and still save some money.

When it comes to serving dinner for a crowd, finding recipes that can be made in bulk is always best. With the temperature dropping, hearty meats and stews will definitely keep your crowd well-fed, and they're usually easy to make in larger quantities. All of the following recipes are easy and stress-free to assemble. Just make sure to double or even triple the amount of the ingredients in each recipe, depending on how many guests you need to serve! Here are 32 main dish ideas for cooking for a crowd you'll be so happy to have on hand. Less stress for you means more time to celebrate the holidays!


Roast chicken

Healthy sunday roast chicken
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Nothing is as ubiquitous during the holiday season as a roast chicken, and this take on the recipe will take you back to your childhood. Packed with flavor, this crowd-pleaser only requires a minimal amount of cooking experience to tackle, and it's a great entry point to more recipes that involve roasting. If you never felt comfortable tackling this classic recipe, look no further than this roast chicken.

Get our recipe for Sunday Roast Chicken.


Chicken under a brick

Chicken under a brick
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Maybe you have roasted a chicken every holiday and need a new take on the classic recipe to impress friends and family. This Italian specialty is the secret to the crispiest grilled chicken you've ever had, all thanks to a creative (and very easy) cooking method.

Get our recipe for Chicken Under a Brick.


Grilled pork tenderloin with pineapple salsa

Pork tenderloin with grilled pineapple salsa
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you start to feel bored by chicken, this pork tenderloin will liven up any celebration. Bright flavors of pineapple liven up the richness of this meat, and it'll be a fun way to serve pork we bet your guests haven't had yet.

Get our recipe for Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa.


Classic beef stew in red wine

Beef stew recipe in black lined glass bowl
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

When you need to make a lot of food for a lot of people, this beef stew will be your new go-to. With borrowed flavors from a classic French coq au vin, you will not only fill your crowd up, but impress them with the complex subtleties of flavor embedded in the soup. Make sure to brown your meat before it goes in to fully ensure the soup is loaded with flavor. Plus, leftovers (if there are any) make for hearty lunches throughout the week.

Get our recipe for Classic Beef Stew in Red Wine.


Slow cooker chicken in red wine

Slow cooker chicken in red wine
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Another slow cooker favorite, this classic coq au vin will be hearty enough for any get-together where you need to feed a crowd. You'll be sure to impress everyone with this classic French recipe (and no one has to know most of the work is done by a slow cooker!).

Get our recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Chicken in Red Wine.


Beer can chicken

Low-calorie beer can chicken
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you haven't had your fill of chicken, this succulent roast will guarantee all of your dinner guests leave stuffed. Have no fear in drying out your bird—cooking the roast with the liquid from the beer helps give the chicken its moist taste, and the even heat distribution from cooking the chicken upright guarantees that moisture will stay lock-in as it cooks.

Get our recipe for Beer Can Chicken.


BBQ pork Shepherd's pie

Paleo bbq pork shepards pie
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

During the holidays, it is easy to get your recipes stuck on loops and repeat the same few recipes for every event. To break the cycle of recipe drudgery, look no further than this BBQ pork shepherd's pie. Your guests will be sure to demolish it, and it feels special enough for the holidays.

Get our recipe for BBQ Pork Shepherd's Pie.


Honey mustard glazed salmon with roasted asparagus

Low-calorie honey-mustard salmon with roasted asparagus
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Preparing a salmon may seem daunting if you're making dinner for a crowd, but this recipe lays out the fish in its barest, tastiest form, only accented by a sumptuous glaze, so it's easy to prepare. Sometimes, the simplest meals are the most memorable, and isn't that what you want around the holidays?

Get our recipe for Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon with Roasted Asparagus.


Mediterranean-inspired baked chicken with tomatoes and capers

Paleo chicken with tomato, olives, and capers
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, you may be craving something bright and cheerful. Look no further than this dish for a taste of fresh produce, tasty chicken, and fresh herbs, thanks to the bright flavors of tomatoes, capers, and basil. With an added flair of olives and pine nuts, this is the perfect meal when you want to embrace a cheerful main meal in the middle of winter.

Get our recipe for Mediterranean-inspired Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers.


Coffee-rubbed steak

Paleo coffee-rubbed steak
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

You may have eaten at restaurants and seen meats coated with a coffee rub and wished you could cook something similar at home. Look no further than this recipe because this coffee-rubbed steak is not only easy and quick, but it pairs with almost any roast vegetables you can imagine, making it the easiest main dish to make if you're serving dinner for a crowd.

Get our recipe for Coffee-Rubbed Steak.


Vegetarian-friendly stuffed tomatoes

Vegetarian stuffed tomatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

These roasted stuffed tomatoes combine everything we love about oven roasts (the roasted taste and the melt-in-your-mouth texture) while enlivening your meal with fresh, plant-based flavors. The feta gives it a nice bite and will have your guests craving more. Plus, these could be a vegetarian-friendly main for your guests who follow a vegetarian or plant-based diet, or they could work as a simple side for your table.

Get our recipe for Vegetarian-Friendly Stuffed Tomatoes.


Moroccan-inspired salmon and quinoa pilaf

Paleo moroccan salmon with quinoa
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Very few other fish come close to being as healthy as salmon, and this recipe pairs this seafood star against a whole grain, bringing a new addition to your holiday table. Brightened with cardamom and cinnamon, the festive flavors in the recipe will put you in the holiday spirit in no time.

Get our recipe for Moroccan-inspired Salmon and Quinoa Pilaf.


Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken

Paleo oven fried chicken
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

As the weather gets colder, it's natural to crave comforting, fried foods—and this crispy oven fried chicken will satisfy that craving. You can make large batches of it if you're serving dinner for a crowd, too!

Get our recipe for Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.


Oven-baked fish and herbed breadcrumbs

Healthy fish with herbed bread crumbs
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Oven-baking over frying always makes meals a breeze, and this flavorful fish favorite will please anyone coming over for dinner. Best of all, it can be made in large batches and saved for later.

Get our recipe for Oven-Baked Fish with Herbed Breadcrumbs.


Classic beef stroganoff

Paleo beef stroganoff
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Beef stroganoff is perfect for cold nights when you want to feed a crowd, and the comfort food is easier to make than you think. This version substitutes Greek yogurt in place of traditional sour cream for a creamier texture.

Get our recipe for Classic Beef Stroganoff.


Roast salmon with lentils

Paleo roast salmon with lentils
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Roasted salmon can pair with a large variety of sides, and lentils might be one of the healthiest options out there. Lentils fortify an already healthy and rich fish that will keep your palate satisfied with its hearty roasted flavor.

Get our recipe for Roast Salmon with Lentils.


Slow roasted pork shoulder

Healthy slow-roasted pork shoulder
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

A slow roaster is everyone's best friend. Its real time to shine comes when you have to cook for a crowd. This luscious pork can be served in a variety of ways and with a plethora of sides, perfect for everything from a BBQ base to a Korean-themed centerpiece. It's so versatile, you can customize the rest of your menu around it.

Get our recipe for Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder.


Classic roast beef with garlic rosemary

Paleo garlic-rosemary roast beef
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

What dish brings to mind the spirit of the holidays more than roast beef? This dish captures the flavor of the meat and enhances it with extra rosemary and garlic. If you have never made one before, this beginner-level recipe is perfect for you! It's the perfect main dish to have when you're serving dinner for a crowd during the holiday season. It's a classic for a reason!

Get our recipe for Classic Roast Beef with Garlic and Rosemary.


Hearty shepherd's pie

Healthy shepherd's pie
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Nothing says winter more than the smell of a shepherd's pie baking in the oven. With a recipe as simple as this one, the crowd-pleasing classic can be the star of your show this holiday season. Sirloin replaces the traditional lamb filling for a leaner take on the classic, and it is a great way to make use of extra vegetables in your fridge.

Get our recipe for Healthy and Hearty Shepherd's Pie.


Short ribs braised in Guinness

Low-calorie short ribs braised in guinness
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Who knew red meat and Guinness were a match made in heaven? The beer ensures that the meat remains moist, while also acting as a great complementary flavor.

Get our recipe for Short Ribs Braised in Guinness.


Herb roast chicken with root vegetables

Paleo her roast chicken with root veggies
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This roast chicken should be a go-to anytime you are craving poultry or need to feed a crowd. Lemon juice and thyme brighten the flavors of the fowl, while roasted vegetables that bake alongside the chicken perfectly round out the meal and keep your menu compact. It's a true one-dish wonder!

Get our recipe for Herb Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables.


Cauliflower curry with butternut squash

Vegetarian curry cauliflower with butternut squash
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

The bright flavors of ginger and jalapeno pair perfectly with coconut and butternut squash in this curry dish. This recipe is sure to impress your friends and brighten your holiday menu with a vegetarian-based meal everyone will love. If you're looking to spice things up this holiday, this is your recipe.

Get our recipe for Cauliflower Curry with Butternut Squash.


Duck breast with balsamic

Paleo crispy duck breast in balsamic
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

While duck is often deemed too fancy or complicated to cook at home, nothing could be further from the truth. This recipe pairs the fowl down to its tastiest basics to ensure any home cook has a fair shot at roasting the bird. It relies on simple French flavors to bring out the subtleties of the duck, making it a great sophisticated dish that'll really impress your friends and family this holiday season.

Get our recipe for Duck Breast with Balsamic.


Herb-roasted turkey breast

Gluten-free turkey breast herb roasted
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This recipe is your go-to if you need to make a lot of food quickly. Because this recipe serves 12 portions, you'll be ready to feed a dozen people at once at your table. For a no-frills but still flavorful main, you can't go wrong with this one.

Get our recipe for Herb Roasted Turkey Breast.


Belgian-inspired beef and beer

Slow cooker beef and beer
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This take on a continental European favorite will easily cement itself in your guests' memories. The recipe just takes 10 minutes of prep time, and it cooks all day in a slow cooker, making it an extremely easy dish to make during the hectic holidays. It's a hearty stick-to-your-ribs recipe you'll turn to again and again.

Get our recipe for Belgian-Inspired Beef and Beer.


Braised brisket with horseradish cream

Low-calorie braised brisket with horseradish cream
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Brisket can be a tough piece of meat to tackle, but this recipe is beginner-friendly, so you will have an easy time when it comes to cooking this cut. The horseradish sauce is also sure to spice up your meal and make it a dish to remember.

Get our recipe for Braised Brisket with Horseradish Cream.


Porchetta-style roast pork loin

Paleo roast pork loin with white beans
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This Italian classic will brighten your whole menu with the flavors of fennel and orange zest. This pork loin will enliven any get-together and ensures your guests will come back for seconds.

Get our recipe for Porchetta-Style Roast Pork Loin.


Fish and chips

Low-calorie fish & chips
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

When the temperature starts to drop, nothing hits the spot like fried food. This perfect oven-baked fish and chips dish has you covered. Plus, oven-baking it instead of frying makes it simple to make for a crowd.

Get our recipe for Fish and Chips.


Classic chicken pot pie

Low-calorie chicken pot pie
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

It wouldn't be a complete holiday season without at least one pot pie. This hearty chicken pot pie will crush your craving, and it's easy enough to prepare when you're making dinner for a crowd.

Get our recipe for Classic Chicken Pot Pie.


Bloody Mary skirt steak

Healthy bloody mary skirt steak
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

When you have guests you need to impress, the most surefire way is to break out the grill. This steak marinades in a bloody mary concoction (minus the alcohol), ensuring the meat will soak up a hearty portion of flavor and lock in the moisture. The spicy mix makes for a surprising complement to steak. It's so good, we think your guests will be asking for seconds.

Get our recipe for Bloody Mary Skirt Steak.


Homemade chicken noodle soup

Healthy mom's chicken noodle soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Nothing is as comforting as a good chicken noodle soup, and this recipe is sure to please anyone on long chilly nights. Not only will this meal serve dinner for a crowd, but you will be sure to have some leftovers for many days later. This would be a great meal to have on hand for the days around the holidays that you have guests staying over—it can easily be frozen and saved in advance, too!

Get our recipe for Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.


Hearty Asian beef noodle soup

Asian beef noodle soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

When you think of soups for the holidays, an Asian beef noodle soup might not be your first go-to. Don't be fooled, though: this hearty soup packs in seasonal flavors like star anise and ginger. This soup will help put you in the holiday mood, and it's even easy to make in a slow cooker.

Get our recipe for Hearty Asian Beef Noodle Soup.

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more
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