It’s that time of year when our graduates take the stage with caps and gowns and march off to get their diplomas and take on the world! Graduating is a great milestone and it’s something that should be celebrated.
But planning a graduation party menu can feel a bit overwhelming. Feeding a crowd can be a lot of work, and picking a menu that pleases everyone isn’t always easy. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Whether you are looking for a casual feast in the backyard, a pizza party, or a special sit down family dinner after your Grad gets home, these ten menu ideas will inspire you with some fun ideas and make planning your meal easy and fun. There’s plenty of different kinds of meals to fit all kinds of personalities and preferences, and I must say that they all have me drooling.
Don’t forget to read to the bottom for all the dessert and cookie ideas! Instead of adding one idea to each menu, you can pick your guest of honor’s favorite…or make it a dessert bar and serve a few!
1. Easy and Casual BBQ Feast
Super easy BBQ Peach Pulled Pork in the slow cooker, or any other easy slow cooker BBQ sandwich for that matter!
The pork can be made ahead of time and frozen, then heated in the crockpot. The baked beans cook in the crockpot and are easy to put together. The only thing that will have to be done the day of the party is tossing the dressing on the Asian Broccoli Salad.
Pair this with favorite sides like these:
Add desserts and probably potato chips and perhaps some cut fruit!
2. Grill Out
Get out the grill and make it a backyard party! Serve any of these and your crowd will be raving.
And when you pair these smoky meats with some classic sides, you have the makings of a winning combination!
- Delicious layered Slaw or a super simple Quick Cole Slaw
Plus, you can get more backyard barbecue side dish ideas in this post here!
3. Nice Family Dinner
If you are thinking a nice sit-down dinner at home after the ceremony is the way to go, these recipes are mouthwatering and so easy!
To make this meal easy and special, pair the tenderloin or chicken with:
- Steamed asparagus
- A salad of spring greens
- Garlic Cream Cheese Smashed Potatoes
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper
- Brie with Pecan Syrup – There’s no photo to go with this. I found the recipe on Tasty Kitchen and I’ve made it twice. It is out of this world wonderful! Serve this with Honey Crisp apple slices.
4. Enchilada Buffet
Make a buffet of a couple big pans of different kinds of Enchiladas and let everyone serve themselves!
Some of our family favorites include:
Serve these with fresh things like:
- Summer Corn Salad,
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- Homemade Guacamole
- chips and several types of store-bought salsas.
- Add simple wedge salad too!
Need more side dish inspiration? Check out this post about what to serve with Enchiladas!
5. Build-Your-Own Fajitas or Tacos
Cook up meat in your crock pot or instant pot. Set out the meat, grilled veggies and a plethora of favorite toppings and let everyone build their own fajita or taco!
You could also grill up some chicken breasts in advance or buy a few rotisserie chickens and have them all prepped and ready to go for the big day to make one of these tasty options.
Serve them up with:
- salsa and chips
- an easy 5-minute salad or wedge salad
- A nice melon salad is a good idea too!
6. Teens Party Menu
Convert this snackadium into a teen’s dream meal! Both of these strombolis were part of a meal I made for super bowl, but with a few little tweaks it’ll be a great “main course” for your graduate and his or her friends.
Keep it simple and add a variety of chips and dips, chilled drinks and cookies and candy. Anything they can grab, munch and head back out to dance or talk with friends.
7. Sandwich and Salads Buffet
Make up some easy sandwich trays that your crowd can pick and choose from!
- Get a bag King’s Hawaiian rolls or other small buns to make a plate of small ham sandwiches and a bag of croissant rolls for Chicken Salad Sandwiches. You can get Virginia Brand ham in the deli section and have it shaved.
- We love this easy Peach Chutney Chicken salad for sandwiches. So delicious and moist!
Serve these with a plate of assorted cheese slices, mayonnaise and mustard and almost homemade pickle slices.
Round out your menu with an easy pasta salad, a veggie tray with dip and some chips.
8. Pizza Party
Whip up a bunch of homemade pizza and make a party out of it! You can make this easy dough in advance, and even make super easy awesome pizza sauce. Or buy your favorite premade crust and sauce and top the pizzas in any way you like. Here’s a few of our favorite pizza combos.
- Chicken Alfredo Pizza
- Pesto Tomato Pizza
- Veggie Pizza (scroll down on the snackadium post for the recipe).
- There’s even a super easy Gluten Free BLT Pizza!
Serve this with a veggie tray with ranch dip, and a fresh fruit tray and fruit dip and some favorite chilled drinks. I love root beer floats as a dessert option with pizza!
9. Spaghetti Feast
Cook up a bunch of pasta and serve it with one of these easy and delicious homemade sauces and meatballs! These meatballs are freezer friendly so you can make up a big batch in advance and they are absolutely delicious!
Round out the menu with garlic toast and an easy salad! Here are a couple more side dish ideas, too.
10. Brats or Dogs Your Way
Cook up a bunch of dogs and brats on the grill or stove top and let your people go to town topping them however they like.
- Cheater Chili dogs are a favorite here.
- Cook up a bunch of these easy slow cooker Beer Brats and load them up however you like!
You can serve this with:
- Spicy Tomato Jalapeno Slaw or any any coleslaw
- Potato salador even
- Baked Beans
- Mac n Cheese
Add a bowl of chilled melon balls or just an easy plate of watermelon slices and cantaloupe chunks.
Want to have a few snack foods on hand for easy munching? Here are a couple of our favorite snack mixes and other snack ideas that are really easy to make!
- Butterscotch Snack Mix
- Sweet Heat Chex Mix
- Brownie Biscoff Puppy Chow
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
Clearly no celebration is complete without dessert! Or better yet – desserts! Make one or more of these and your graduate will feel like the party is complete.
- Kentucky Chocolate Nut Pie for the Derby – These are a family favorite and since my son graduates on Derby Day, we’ll be having a couple of these pies for his party.
- Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake
- Coconut Cream and Chocolate Dessert
- Peanut Butter Fluff Pie – This can be made ahead and frozen. You can even serve it frozen.
- Peach Pie Squares
- Peanut Butter Brownie Pie
- Tuxedo Bars – Double Chocolate Cake Bars with Buttercream Frosting.
- Coffee Toffee Ice Cream Pie
- S’mores Pie
School color cupcakes – Blue Velvet Cupcakes, Red Velvet, Green Velvet, Orange Velvet, Purple Velvet
Here’s a handy tip on how to cut cake to feed a crowd!
- Cookie Butter Cookies
- Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
- Double Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies
- Butterscotch Cookies
Narrowing down your favorite recipes to include in your menu is sure to be easier than choosing a college major these days. Especially since any of them will leave you at the top of the class when it comes to a graduation party!
Pin this post!
Kim of Mo'Betta says
Congrats to the upcoming graduate!
Thanks! Two down, two to go!
The Better Baker says
This is such a great post Tiffany! Some folks can really get ‘stuck’ trying to figure these things out. I think you are very clever. And no doubt, you’re busy getting ready for your own graduation party. Oh how quickly they grow up huh? : /
Tiffany thanks for linking my orange velvet cupcakes! This is definitely a list I will keep in mind for future graduation parties. Belated Congrats to your grad 🙂
Thanks for these delicious graduation menus.
Rena McFarland says
My son is also graduating from high school in less than a month. I too have been thinking about doing the BBQ pulled pork. I was wondering how will you serve the BBQ ? Will you make the sandwiches yourself and place them on a platter ? Also what drinks will you have ? Ugh. Just trying to get all this figured out and I appreciate your help .
Rena, I did this last year for my son’s party. I let people make their own sandwiches. For drinks, I went classic with iced tea, lemonade, water and some sodas too.
Rena McFarland says
Tiffany, Thank you so much for your help !
Amy Ruth says
Hey there, great lists. I’m looking for ideas for my own grad this spring and any help would be appreciated. I am doing an evening event (not supper) and I know that I would like Ukrainian paska. What else can I add to the ‘menu’?
This was so helpful! I like the spaghetti feast and the enchilada ideas best!
How do you estimate the amount of food to have? We are inviting almost 200 people, all will not come. Everyone who does come will not eat a whole meal since they might attend several parties on the same day. We had way too much food for my older daughter’s party and don’t want to repeat that mistake.
That’s always a tough question, Cheryl! There are a few factors that would cause people to eat less – smaller plates, serving finger foods instead of a sit-down meal, serving at an in-between meal time or if you know there are multiple parties that your guests will be attending. I would search “How much food to prepare for a party” or something similar and there are several tips and portion calculators that should help you figure out how to prepare. And congratulations to your graduate!!