Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult time. If you also have to plan their funeral, the task can be overwhelming.
Due to their somber atmosphere, funerals can be difficult to organise. Walking the fine line between emotional tribute and social occasion is often challenging.
There’s also the issue of what is culturally appropriate. For people of Anglo & Irish backgrounds, the deceased is usually farewelled the a ‘wake’ and food (and drink!) and an important part of the day. For other cultures, just a few snacks and a cup of tea may be all that’s required.
Because of this, it can be hard to decide what food to provide after the service, as certain foods may seem inappropriate for this sad time.
However, food can help people to overcome their grief, as certain dishes provide the warmth and comfort they need. So if you want to serve delicious funeral catering food, then you have come to the right place.
In this article, we have compiled a list of 20 catering food ideas for funerals. Hopefully, these dishes will help to both comfort your guests as they remember their lost friend, and give them something to focus on as they deal with their grief.
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Sometimes it’s easier to serve small appetisers instead of large dishes, as this will give you more time to catch up with family and friends. However, this does not mean that the food has to be uninspiring, as even simple snacks can be delicious:
1. Cuban Sliders
Cuban sliders are perfect for funerals, as they are loaded with delicious ingredients and can be served as a small snack. In basic terms, sliders are essentially bread rolls that have been baked in the oven and filled with ham and cheese.
The result is a delectable sandwich that can be served warm with pickles and other condiments.
See our definite list of Finger Catering Foods Ideas for more delicious options
2. Deviled Eggs
When it comes to classic appetisers, there’s nothing more iconic than the humble deviled egg. This classic remains a staple at parties around the world and is usually particularly popular with older guests. These delicious snacks are simple to make and can be stuffed with a variety of savoury fillings.
However, the most common features a combination of mustard and mayonnaise. Our Top Tip – dust them with cayenne for some extra heat.
Find yourself with Leftover Egg Yolks? Try our recipes.
3. Cheese Board
If you want things to be simple, you can prepare your own cheese board, which is always a great way to feed lots of people.
The best cheese boards often feature a range of different cheeses, as well as cold meats, crackers, and relishes. You can even garnish the board with fresh and dried fruit and nuts.
Are you expecting lots of people? Check out our Catering Ideas For Large Groups
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If serving finger food doesn’t sound ideal, then you can make things easier by serving a range of tray dishes. Most tray dishes are the definition of comfort food, which makes them perfect for funerals and other somber occasions:
1. Macaroni Cheese
When it comes to comforting dishes, there’s nothing better than a creamy mac and cheese. Loved by one and all, it remains a popular dish at funerals across the country.
Made from macaroni pasta that has been baked in a tray with cream and shredded cheese, this gooey meal can be served with a variety of other dishes. In fact, it pairs especially well with fried chicken.
Not certain how many trays of food you need? See our post, How Many Catering Trays?
2. Chicken Noodle Bake
Casseroles are perfect for funerals, as they can feed starving guests and provide them with some comfort in their sadness.
While you can make any casserole you want, we personally adore a classic chicken noodle bake.It features succulent chicken chunks, soft noodles, and a decent amount of cream and cheese. Yum!
Do you often have Leftover Chicken when you roast a bird? Take a look at our recipes.
3. Cheesy Potatoes
If you plan on making a variety of different dishes, then we recommend adding these cheesy potatoes into the mix. Not only do they pair well with fried chicken and other classic dishes, but they also taste great on their own and promise to put a smile on everyone’s faces.
All you need to do is smother diced potatoes in a cheese sauce and bake.
Are you stressed about keeping dishes warm? Check out our article on Ways To Keep Food Warm For A Party
4. Tuna Casserole
Tuna casserole is another iconic dish that is perfect for funerals, as it requires little skill is easy to serve. What’s more, it has a comforting old-fashioned appeal.
The hearty dish is also extremely filling, which means you won’t have to worry about making an abundance of side dishes to go with it. Just combine tuna with pasta, cheese, and cream – delicious!
Do you want to serve crowd-pleasers? Our rundown of Popular Catering Dishes has the answers
5. Pasta Bake
Yet another popular tray dish, pasta bake can be made with a variety of different ingredients and can even be customised to your preferences.
Like the other catering foods we have mentioned, this dish can be made in large quantities, making it one of our top catering food ideas for funerals. It can also be paired with other dishes such as a simple green salad or homemade garlic bread.
Is all this talk of pasta making you hungry for Italian this evening? See out guide to the Best Italian Restaurants in Brisbane.
Even funerals need a little sweetness, especially if you want to distract the guests from their grief. To do this, you can serve a variety of delicious goodies, from brownies and lemon bars to sponges and sheet cakes.
Baked goods can help to relax the atmosphere at a funeral and make it easier for the guests to relax:
1. Lemon Bars
They are also extremely easy to make and often prove to be a crowd-pleaser when presented to a room full of people, which makes them perfect for alleviating negative emotions.
2. Chocolate Chip Blondies
Blondies are very similar to cookies, even though their construction is reminiscent of a classic brownie. However, this does not make them any less delicious, as most blondies are bursting with caramel, chocolate, and vanilla.
Sometimes it’s the sweet things in life that take our minds off how we’re feeling and these amazing baked goods promise to do just that and much more.
Is gluten a problem for you? We have an amazing sweet potato blondie recipe in amongst our Gluten Free Sweet Potato Recipes
3. Chocolate Brownies
There was no way we could present you with catering food ideas for funerals and not include a brownie.
When it comes to baked goods, there’s nothing more iconic than the chocolate brownie, which is still adored to this day. Brownies are the very definition of a sinful snack, as they combine melted chocolate with a smooth and rich batter.
The final result is a thick square bursting with sweetness, which can be served with a chocolate glaze or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Want more gluten-free chocolate treats? Check out our Chocolate Chia Cake Recipes
4. Lemon Pound Cake
Lemon pound cake is an ideal dessert for most gatherings, as it is simple to make and can be easily cut up and shared amongst the guests. Once the service is over, you can serve the cake to your guests with coffee, which will give them some time to wind down after their emotional day.
5. Peanut Butter Sheet Cake
As you can see, we love our sheet cakes. Not only are these cakes easy to make, but they can also feed an entire room, which makes them ideal for funerals and various other occasions.
While there are countless sheet cakes available, we personally adore this chocolate and peanut butter option. It features a light chocolate sponge and a thick peanut frosting.
Struggling to decide how much food to supply? See our piece on Calculating Food Portions For Catering
Another great way to cater a funeral is by making gourmet sandwiches, which can then be left out for the guests to choose from. In many ways, sandwiches are the perfect funeral food, as they are filling and do not require too much skill.
And at the end of the day, everyone always has room for a sandwich – whether it’s your elderly aunt or 2 year old nephew.
1. Layered Picnic Sandwiches
In basic terms, this is a giant sandwich that can be cut up and distributed among the guests.
Most picnic sandwiches are made from thick crusty bread, which is then layered with cheese, cold meats, tomatoes, and various greens.
2. Finger Sandwiches
If you are searching for something a little more delicate, then you can serve finger sandwiches instead. These bite-sized sandwiches first gained traction in the UK and have become a sign of sophistication around the world.
While traditional finger sandwiches usually contain cucumber, you can make them with any filling you want, whether that be BBQ chicken or tuna-mayonnaise.
Do you have to organise a Christmas gathering this year? Check out our Catering Food Ideas For Christmas Parties
3. Toasted Sandwiches
Sometimes cold sandwiches may not seem like enough, which is why many people prefer to serve toasted sandwiches instead. Not only are toasted sandwiches great for filling bellies, but they also meet your hot food quota and can be made with a variety of different ingredients and fillings.
Have you ever thought about starting a catering business? See our article, Is A Catering Business A Good Idea?
Of course, not all of our catering food ideas for funerals are heavy. When it comes to more nutritious funeral food, you can never go wrong with a refreshing salad:
1. Three-Bean Salad
The first salad we would like to showcase amongst our catering food ideas for funerals is a classic three-bean. This is one of the heartier options available. As the name implies, this salad is made from a combination of 3 different beans, which are then smothered in a balsamic vinaigrette and served either warm or cold.
Keeping dishes cold can be an issue, especially on a hot day. Read our post, Keeping Deli Meats & Fruit Cold At A Party for some advice
2. Lemon Quinoa Salad
For the health enthusiasts out there, we recommend this refreshing lemon quinoa salad, which can be served on its own or with other dishes.
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Want to know more about the wonders of Quinoa? You can here.
3. Fruit Salad
While this particular salad is often classed as a dessert, it still makes for a welcome addition to any funeral, as its vibrant taste promises to put a smile on everyone’s face. For a more decadent alternative, you can also try making an ambrosia salad, which features cream and desiccated coconut.
Perhaps you are organising something in the morning? If so, take a look at our Brunch Catering Foods Ideas
4. Pasta Salad
If you want a salad that promises to keep your guests full, then we recommend making a classic pasta salad, as this is a much heartier alternative. Pasta salads are also easy to make and can be made in large batches.
And there we have it, those were 20 catering food ideas for funerals. We hope that this article inspired you and that you will use our recommendations to ensure your guests are fed as they bid farewell to their lost friend.