Hello, fellow parents of 2023 grads! My second oldest son is graduating in just a few days, which means two things - it’s time to stock up on tissues and food.
I want to spend the day celebrating my son’s achievement and socializing with loved ones, not cooking and cleaning endlessly like I typically do when hosting.
These graduation party recipes are wide ranging in flavors and styles, and many can be made in advance to spare you time during the busy graduation week.
Below you'll find great finger foods, main dishes, desserts, and snacks to please your guests and make your graduate feel like the awesome person they are!
Congratulations to you and your loved one!
Pretzel Dogs Recipe
An awesome and easy spin on plain old hot dogs in a roll, these pretzel dogs taste a thousand times better. Bonus! They are prepped and ready to go as-is, and will satisfy guests of all ages. Serve with warm cheese sauce, mustard, and ketchup for dipping. The combination is playful and fun - perfect for graduation.
Funfetti Sugar Cookie Bars Recipe
If you or your graduate love Funfetti cake or cupcakes, these Funfetti sugar cookie bars bring that same energy to the snack table without the mess of cutting and serving cake squares. Bright, cheerful and celebratory, the pair a thick sugar cookie base with fluffy buttercream frosting and all the sprinkles.
Frito Taco Pie Recipe
Casseroles are a simple, one dish treat that makes serving guests dinner easy - especially great when you're serving a crowd at a graduation party! This Frito taco pie recipe is easier than preparing and cleaning up after tacos, but with the same delicious Tex Mex feel. Beef, tomatoes, cheese and Fritos - oh my!
Pioneer Woman Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is the perfect main dish to serve up at parties! Easy to make ahead, favored by almost everyone, and perfect to reheat as leftovers, mac and cheese is a no-brainer. This copycat Pioneer Woman mac and cheese recipe is rich, creamy and always a crowd favorite whenever we serve it up.
Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos Recipe
Super easy to throw together last minute and enjoy hot and fresh from the oven, these sheet pan chicken nachos can be made with rotisserie chicken to save you even more prep time. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole so everyone can eat what they love! The crowd will go wild over these nachos.
Chocolate Strawberry Milkshakes Recipe
With a five minute prep time and a presentation that looks tasty, classy, and fun, these chocolate strawberry milkshakes will remind you and your grad of their childhood while celebrating their rising adulthood! Awesome to cool down with after a warm outdoor ceremony or yard party, these milkshakes are so fun.
Pesto Chicken Pull Apart Sliders Recipe
Go a step beyond sandwiches with these pull apart sliders that are small enough to handle as finger food but filling enough to serve as a main dish. These pesto chicken sliders are tasty with melted mozzarella cheese and can be reheated if you have leftovers. These taste great alongside fruit, veggies and chips!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes Recipe
These tasty peanut butter and jelly cupcakes can be prepared in advance, though I strongly recommend making them the day before so they taste fresh and retain that fluffy, soft texture your guests will love. This is an awesome idea for grads that grew up on the classic sandwich combo. Don’t forget to buy cupcake liner in school colors to match your theme!
BBQ Chicken Wings Recipe
A classic favorite, BBQ chicken wings taste great and are easy to prepare and serve. You can customize the sauce recipe to skip out on hot sauce if you’re serving small children, or add more if your grad is a lover of spice like mine! These chicken wings are easy to make and guaranteed to fire up the crowd.
Teriyaki Meatballs Recipe
This extremely simple teriyaki meatballs recipe will taste like you spent hours in the kitchen while preserving your time for other things, like cleaning bathrooms before guests come - I didn't say they were fun things. Make sure you grab toothpicks so you can serve them on a platter without any mess.
Gluten Free Cake Batter Fudge Recipe
Fun, vibrant, bright, and cheerful, this gluten free cake batter fudge recipe is an awesome option to offer for company that can’t indulge in cake, or for anyone at all! I love to provide some gluten free options for guests with sensitivities or allergies so they can be included in all the fun and this fudge checks the box.
Popeye's Chicken Recipe
Fried chicken is a party food option that is perfect for hosts and guests alike. You can prepare and serve large amounts of fried chicken with relative ease, and most people who love chicken are more than happy to take it off your hands! This recipe is a perfect Popeyes copycat and will be a favorite.
Banana Sheet Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe
The peanut butter and banana combo you’ll find in this banana sheet cake with peanut butter frosting is reminiscent of my family’s favorite fun sandwich. Because it's made and served as a a sheet cake, is very easy to prepare and frost. I think this is an awesomely unexpected addition to any party!
Pretzel Toffee Bark Recipe
Crunchy, sweet, and lightly salty, this delicious pretzel toffee bark recipe breaks down into yummy bite-sized treats that will be an unusual but welcome addition to your party table. Serve alongside salty chips for a delicious sweet and salty combo. This bark is wildly simple to make and can be kept cold until serving.
Oven Fried Pickles Recipe
Fried pickles are amazing and delicious, and this oven-fried pickles recipe boasts the same crunchy and delicious flavor without large amounts of oil. This recipe calls for a spicy sriracha ketchup, but ranch dressing is another tasty option. If you want the crowd to go wild, serve them these crunchy pickles.
Bean Dip Recipe
I adore serving bean dip for parties! It’s filling, pairs well with just about anything, and can be customized to add flavor profiles and spicy heat. You’ll love this served with salty corn chips! Top with fresh sour cream and jalapeños. Guests will go crazy for it so you may want to make a double batch for larger parties.
Toaster Oven Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese Recipe
Easy, delicious, and even unexpected ingredients (like honey and cornflakes) combine to make this jalapeño popper grilled cheese sandwich an unusual but very welcome surprise for your taste buds. This is awesome for your grads who love spicy, cheesy goodness - and for moms like me who do, too!
Ranch Pulled Chicken Sandwich Recipe
Chicken, slaw, and white barbecue sauce are the base ingredients in this ranch pulled chicken sandwich that can easily be made as a slider and will absolutely become a warm weather favorite. Introduce your guests to new flavors and textures! Make the chicken ahead of time and freeze or reuse the leftovers.
Cookie Monster Brownies Recipe
These cute, fun blue Cookie Monster brownies will be the highlight of your dessert table at your graduate's celebration. They’re delicious, have that brookie vibe that every sweets-eater loves, and are downright adorable. This is the perfect treat for sentimental moms who remember the Sesame Street days.
Buffalo Chicken Pizza Recipe
You’ll love this Buffalo chicken pizza with an amazingly refreshing blue cheese avocado dressing drizzled on top. Divvied up into small, party-sized slices, your guests will love to snack on this as a side. Fry up extra chicken, toss in Buffalo sauce, and mix up extra dressing for dipping the next day!
White Lasagna Recipe
Simple prep, amazing flavor, and a filling main dish - this delicious white lasagna checks all the boxes. The recipe is so easy to toss together and really classes up a dinner table without a lot of fuss. The no-boil lasagna noodles the recipe calls for will save you some time and stress as well! Make a double batch.
Carne Asada Steak Tacos with Fries Recipe
These carne asada steak tacos are a zesty, unique dish that are handheld to make it so much easier to enjoy them standing around and socializing at a party! Sprinkled with fresh toppings and, as a bonus, French fries, these tacos will cause quite the stir at your gathering, in only the best ways!
S'mores Brownies Recipe
These skillet s'mores brownies are topped with mini marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers for the s’mores feel without the huge to-do of making s’mores around a campfire. You can fire up the grill for these tasty treats or prep them in your oven. The result is a nostalgic treat your graduate will love.
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