A group of people sitting at a picnic table

How to Feed a Crowd and Not Go Broke

Graduation parties, rehearsal dinners, family reunions—it’s the season for large gatherings. If feeding lots of people has you in a panic, relax. I’ve got you covered with great big recipes for enough fabulous food to feed a crowd that won’t bust the budget.

A group of people sitting at a picnic table


Crockpot Chicken BBQ

  • 4 pounds chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (any type)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 28 ounces (3 1/2 cups) bottled
  • barbecue sauce
  1. Place chicken, water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and cumin in slow cooker set on “Low.” Cook for 6 hours. Drain juices. Shred chicken right in the slow cooker using two forks to pull it all apart. Pour in barbecue sauce, stir to combine. Cook on “Low” for an additional hour. Serve on buns with coleslaw. Serves 16.

Baked Ziti

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 26-ounce jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces Provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, about 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain. In a large skillet, brown the onion and ground beef over medium heat. Drain. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Can be frozen at this point for up to four months if well wrapped in quick-release foil.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 14-16.

Chicken Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound dry pasta (your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (OR 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese)
  • 1 cup red wine vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 cup Ranch salad dressing
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  1. Bring two pots of water to a boil. Into one pour the dry pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and return pasta to the pot, tossing with the olive oil. Set aside. Drop the chicken breasts into the other pot, reduce to simmer, cover and allow to cook for about 20 minutes, or until no pink remains. Place the chopped vegetables and garlic in a large bowl with half the salt, half the pepper, and half the dressings. Mix with large spoon. Remove chicken breasts from pot, drain and cut into one-inch cubes. Toss with the rest of the salt and pepper. Add to the bowl along with the pasta and balance of the salad dressings. Add the cheese. Mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. This is a big salad and serves 12-16.

Texas Sheet Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 10×15-inch sheet pan (like a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides). In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in sour cream. Beat in the eggs. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter, then stir in the water and 5 tablespoons cocoa. Bring mixture to a boil, then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then stir cocoa mixture into the sour cream mixture, mixing until blended.
  1. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  2. Icing: In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cocoa and butter. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, then fold in the nuts, mixing until blended. Spread frosting over hot cake as soon as you remove it from the oven. This is imperative. Serves 35.

Easy Punch for 100

  • 7 quarts water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 12-ounce cans frozen orange juice
  • 2 12-ounce cans frozen lemonade
  • 2 46-ounce cans pineapple juice
  • 4 packages unsweetened strawberry Kool-Aid
  • 4 quarts ginger ale
  1. In a large pot combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Add orange juice, lemonade, pineapple juice and Kool-aid. Transfer to a large container and chill well. Can be made ahead and stored for days. When ready to serve, add ginger ale. Serves 100.

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11 replies
  1. Gehugh says:

    I’m sure vegans, vegetarians, lacto/ovos, microbioticics and airologists can all figure what works for them in this diverse world we live in. The author of ths blog wrote what she wrote. Anyone can take it in any direction they’d like and make substitutions however they please. I just don’t understand how the cake recipe can serve 35! ; )

    • Toast Points says:

      Yes, I thought that was a stretch, too. Maybe it’ so sugary sweet, only a postage stamp size square can be tolerated.

      • Gehugh says:

        That must be it….1″ x1″ square….should satisfy that sweet-after-savory craving thing,
        ( for some) but in the real world I need at least 3″ x3″ for my Texas sheet cake serving.

  2. Anita says:

    I am South East Asian and we would cook noodle with veggies and meat in wonderful sauce. And also rice is a wonderful meal to cook for a crowd, there a variety of ways to cook rice!

  3. drkaarendouglas says:

    How about BBQ beans without the pork, coleslaw, Veg burgers and buns. I am facing a BBQ graduation party, and as someone who only eats plant-based, I need options. Meat is an expensive ingredient none of us need in our diets. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

    • Bananna says:

      I generally have to follow a recipe to the “T” but I bet the pasta salad could easily be adapted by just increasing the amount of the pasta and vegetables and eliminating the chicken. And maybe the Baked Ziti too, by increasing the pasta and adjusting the other ingredients a bit?

      • drkaarendouglas says:

        I have a great recipe from Dr Dean Ornish for Indonesian Noodles that I put baked tofu in that every one thinks is cheese. It has been a terrific dish to take to a summer potluck as a cold pasta salad.

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