Anyone in the catering industry will be able to tell you that getting orders for large groups of people can be stressful.
Not only does catering for large groups mean that you have to produce large quantities of food, but you also have to figure out how to do this without going over budget.
That means putting a lot of thought into portion sizes, preparation times, and the ingredients that you choose to incorporate.
If you have received a major catering order for an event, here are 20 inspiring catering food ideas for large groups. From crowd-friendly finger foods to hearty and inexpensive one-pot dishes, we have suggestions for every occasion.
Curry is an almost universally loved dish. Importantly, it’s easy to prepare in large batches, making it the perfect choice when catering to big groups of people.
One way to make your curry even more cost-effective is to choose a vegetable curry recipe like this one from BBC Good Food. It’s packed with peppers, zucchini, eggplant, potato, and squash. The best thing is you can freeze it in advance so you don’t have to worry about keeping it fresh.
A pasta bake is a dish many of us have prepared for ourselves when we want something satisfying and easy. Well, the same principle applies to catering.
Just because a pasta bake is a quick and easy catering option, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be exciting. This recipe uses red wine, smoked paprika, and balsamic vinegar for flavouring. And the results are absolutely delicious.
Do you live in Melbourne and are you hungry for a good bowl pf pasta? See our guide to the Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne.
Creating a simple finger food platter is a great way to minimise the stress of preparing and serving appetisers when catering for large gatherings.
This beetroot hummus platter looks visually dynamic and tastes just as good. It’s more exciting than regular hummus, and while this recipe recommends specific vegetables and toasted bread for dipping, you can adjust it to whatever you think will work best.
Love the flavours of the Middle East? Check out our rundown of the Best Lebanese Restaurants in Sydney.
Chicken parmesan casserole is a hearty, warm, and filling dish that’s sure to be a major success at any dinner party.
You can prepare 5 servings of chicken parmesan casserole at a time in a regular baking dish. Because this bake is safe to freeze for up to 2 days, you won’t have to rush to produce dozens of servings on the day.
Ever find yourself with Leftover Chicken? Try our recipes
Another platter we recommend serving as an appetiser if you’re catering to a large group is this platter of baked camembert and doughballs.
Admittedly, camembert isn’t the most budget-friendly cheese option out there, but hopefully, you can make up for it with the other courses. This indulgent platter is so easy to prepare and the guests will be impressed by the quality of the food from the very start of the meal.
Do you prefer to keep things plant-based? Our article on Vegan Cheese may interest you.
If you’re catering a large but relatively informal event, these grilled chicken sandwiches will make the perfect entree.
What makes this particular grilled chicken sandwich recipe so good for large catering orders is the fact that they only take 20 minutes to cook. They do take 2 hours to marinade, but you can use this time to prepare for any other courses. What’s more, the honey balsamic sauce is definitely worth the extra prep time!
Knowing the quantities of food that you need to prepare can be hard. See our post, How Much Food Do I Need For A Party for some advice.
Cinnamon rolls are a beloved classic dessert, and because you can prepare them quickly and cook them in batches on baking trays, they work really well for group catering.
If you follow this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie, you can prepare a tray of cinnamon rolls in less than 30 minutes. Plus, this recipe gives you several options for glazing the buns, including cream cheese and coconut butter frostings.
Adore all things coconut? See our Easy Coconut Milk Recipes
Somewhere on our list of catering food ideas for large groups are had to sneak in some kind of pizza.
Mini pizzas are quick and easy to make, and you can bake a number of these bite-sized appetisers on a single tray, saving both oven space and time. They’re also incredibly budget-friendly, only calling for a few ingredients.
Best of all, mini pizzas are a party classic that you simply can’t go wrong with. So if you’ve been looking for a safe appetiser for a large group, this is it.
Feel like a pizza? These are our favourite spots to grab a slice in Perth
Another classic that we recommend as an entree for large groups is chilli con carne. This Tex-Mex staple is widely loved, and since this recipe shows you how to do all the prep in just 10 minutes, it’s a real time-saver.
Although this dish takes an hour to cook, most of that time is dedicated to simmering, so you can get on with prepping your other dishes while your chilli takes care of itself.
Craving some authentic Mexican dishes? See our guide to the Best Mexican Restaurants in Sydney
Lasagne is an easy dish to make for large groups of people as long as you have a few baking dishes. However, it has a reputation for taking a long time to prepare.
Luckily, if you opt for vegetarian skillet lasagne instead of the traditional recipe, you can save money as well as time.
There are some great Italian Restaurants in Brisbane. Here are some of our top picks.
Moussaka is a delicious Greek dish that’s perfect for when you’re cooking for a crowd. This is another recipe with a relatively short prep time (30 minutes) and a longer cooking time (approximately 2 hours).
However, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s often beneficial to have a dish on your menu that takes longer with minimal interference as this gives you time to focus on other dishes.
Not sure what will go down well? Our list of Popular Catering Ideas is full of winners.
It’s always worth considering putting a soup, especially when you need catering food ideas for large groups. Soup is easy to prepare in bulk and can often be refrigerated or frozen if you make it in advance.
This Mexican bean soup packs a real punch of flavour, and because it’s full of beans and chunky vegetables, it’s filling enough to work as an appetiser or entree.
How you considered having a ‘theme’ to your food? Check out our piece on Mexican Catering Foods Ideas
You might be thinking that a pavlova sounds like an ambitious dessert for a large group.
However, by following this berry pavlova recipe from VJ Cooks, you can prepare 16 servings of indulgent pavlova on a single tray. Plus, it only takes an hour to cook, which is much quicker than most pavlova recipes.
Whilst we’ve talking about trays of food, check out our post on How Many Catering Trays
If you’re not limited by a tight budget, this BBQ Salmon recipe with green beans is the ideal fish course to serve at an event with many people.
It takes just 15 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of cooking to make a few servings of this dish. And the combination of Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and brown sugar is a taste experience your clients will remember for a long time.
We have some wonderful suggestions for great Seafood Restaurants in Brisbane
If you’ve been tasked with producing bite-sized hors d’oeuvres for a large group of people, why not try these ham and cheese croquetas?
It’s easy to multiply the recipe to cover the number of guests you have to feed, which makes it a great inclusion in our rundown of catering food ideas for large groups
These finger foods are based on a classic flavour combination that guests will love, and you can easily serve them on trays with skewers. Additionally, you can freeze these croquetas ahead of time to minimise stress on the day.
If food like this appeals to you, check our Finger Catering Foods Ideas for more.
Fish pie is the perfect warming comfort dish for events held in the colder months. This recipe is particularly creamy and indulgent, with a cheesy mash topping.
It takes just 1 hour and 10 minutes in total to make this fish pie, and it’s safe to freeze for a couple of days. Alternatively, you can refrigerate it for up to a day.
Rocky road is a low-effort dessert, but it doesn’t look or taste like it when you get it right, which is ideal when catering to lots of people.
This easy rocky road recipe by BBC Good Food has a 15-minute prep time and a 5-minute cooking time, perfect for preparing on the day.
Is gluten an issue? See our Gluten-Free Desserts for some help
Did you know that you can prepare seafood paella in large quantities in just 30 minutes? Paella is a warming, familiar recipe that guests will love, and with this recipe, you can make it in no time!
You don’t need many ingredients, and you can even use frozen seafood if you’re on a strict budget.
Alternatively, you could feed everyone by throwing a Paella Catering party.
Yet another classic, comforting crowd-pleaser in the world of catering is chicken potpie.
We love this chicken potpie recipe for large groups because it shows how to prepare and bake 2 entire pies in just 1 hour and 15 minutes. Simply multiple the ingredients to make as many pies as you need. It’s so easy – especially if you have a large oven.
Stuck working out how much food per person? Our post, Calculating Food Portions For Catering has lots of info
Lemon tart is a recipe that almost never fails to please. However, caterers are sometimes intimidated by it because getting the crust just right and setting the filling can be a challenge.
That’s why we recommend this quick and easy French Lemon Tart recipe from Recipe Tin Eats, which takes just 25 minutes to make in total. It’s refreshing, zesty, and palate-cleansing at the end of a meal.
Are you organising a wedding banquet? See our Catering Food Ideas For Weddings
Thank you for consulting our recipe recommendations for crowd-pleasing catering.
Hopefully, whether you’re catering for a more informal event or a more sophisticated affair, you’ll find inspiration in these catering food ideas for large groups