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Two grey bowls filled with prawns in a red chilli garlic sauce and topped with chopped parsley

Effortless summer dinner party ideas

Published: June 20, 2022 at 3:57 pm
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Try our easy recipe ideas for your next get-together to host the ultimate dinner party, from easy-to-assemble mains and make-ahead desserts to fruity cocktails you can whip up in minutes

Looking for easy summer dinner party ideas? Fancy serving an elegant dinner party menu to friends in your garden? We've come up with plenty of ways to create an effortless summer dinner party with our alfresco entertaining ideas. Serve an Italian-inspired feast, an effortless BBQ or tapas-style table. Try our ideas below, then check out our effortless entertaining recipes, picnic food recipes and BBQ recipes.

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Effortless summer dinner party ideas

Italian summer dinner party

A simple but effective Italian-inspired feast will always win over dinner party guests. Start your elegant summer dinner menu with burrata and tomato salad and a plate of gorgonzola and grape flatbreads. For mains, our truffle pasta mafalde uses shop-bought pesto to cut corners, while our super-easy Sicilian aubergine pizzas – using crème fraîche instead of a tomato base – are made for entertaining. An elegant coupe glass will transform any drink or dessert – your dinner party guests will never guess our strawberry sgroppino takes just five minutes to prep. Serve with a deceptively easy negroni sbagliato, requiring just three ingredients, or take a look at our best spritz recipes for tipples which can be whipped up in minutes.

A white oval platter filled with burrata, olives and tomato salad on a whitewashed wooden background

The beauty of a picnic summer dinner party is that it allows you to make all dishes ahead of time. For starters, our easy crudités with chipotle aioli only takes 15 minutes to prep and serves six, while our simple and quick Italian picnic loaf sees ciabatta stuffed with an olive salad, salami, roasted red peppers and mozzarella. Other make-ahead ideas include our muffuletta squares, black bean crunch wraps and honeyed fig and curd cheese tart. Turn a handful of storecupboard ingredients into date flapjacks for a sweet finish, and make sure to serve our portable, make-ahead contessa cocktail bottles and elderflower and raspberry mocktail bottles for summer sipping.

A wooden board on a grey stone background flled with vegetable crudités and a small pot of chipotle aïoli with red rippled through

Effortless summer BBQ

A perfect side to your summer BBQ, all you'll need is five ingredients to make our harissa-honey sausage skewers, ready on the table in just 30 minutes. Our recipe for BBQ prawns with roasted gooseberry salsa might steal the show – whip a pleasantly sour salsa, pair with a plate of juicy grilled prawns and let your guests tuck in. Veggies don't have to miss out – our super simple and easy-to-make spiced halloumi and watermelon skewers are seasoned with coriander, sumac, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Watch them disappear in seconds. For dessert, simply buy shop-bought buns to make our super-easy brioche ice cream sandwiches, a truly effortless sweet treat.

A silver tray topped with juicy pink prawns with a green sauce on the side

Crowd-pleasing summer dinner party

Tiger prawns with garlic, chilli and lemon can be whipped up at the last minute with no fuss and minimal prep. Plus, they look restaurant-worthy when served with chilli, garlic and charred lemon. Alternatively, get the party started with our easy-to-prep blue cheese dip, which is crying out for some potato wedges or chicken wings for dipping. For a crowd-pleasing main, our effortless crab mac ’n’ cheese is bound to sate hungry guests, or go veggie with our five-ingredient classic mac ’n’ cheese. Wet your whistle with a large jug of raspberry frosé or one of our effortless jug cocktails. Wrap things up with our cheat's version of Swedish cardamom buns – bread mixes are a genius shortcut.
A white oven dish willed with golden mac and cheese on a blue cloth with a silver fork

Tapas-style summer party

Make entertaining easy with a tapas-style spread of simple, quick dishes: serve piquillo pepper salad, grilled padron peppers and chorizo skewers with honey drizzle, chorizo al vino and everyone's favourite tapas staple, patatas bravas. Perfect for entertaining, our super-easy prawns pil pil with crusty bread takes just 10 minutes to assemble. Pair your tapas with a jug (or two) of sangria, or switch things up with our white wine sangria, boasting seasonal fruity flavours.

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Prawns pil pil

Long summer lunch

Make-ahead salads, breads and dips are perfect for a leisurely lunch where guests can nibble on throughout the afternoon: serve a big bowl of Tex-Mex-style sweetcorn salad with warm pittas for scooping, our cheat's shortcut celeriac chimichurri salad, orzo deli salad and a simple dish of tiger prawns with garlic, chilli and lemon. Another creative idea is a build-your-own wrap or kebab station to keep guests busy. For a sweet finish, cleanse your palate with our no-churn pomegranate ice cream – it couldn't be easier to make and requires just four ingredients. For a thirst-quenching drink, nothing says summer quite like a refreshing round of gin fizz, right?

A black bowl filled with a green chopped salad with feta and croutons

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