Sunday Dinner

21 Recipes to Cook with a Large Group Without Losing Your Gosh Darn Mind

September 16, 2016

Cooking in groups can be a raucous fun-fest—or a nightmarish exercise in stress management: When one person (let's call him the confident expert), grabs the reins and everyone else skulks in the background, the ring leader can end up feeling resentful and overworked, the skulkers dejected and useless.

Doesn't this look fuuuuun? Photo by James Ransom

But let's not forget the first option: the raucous fun-fest! Cooking in groups provides plenty of opportunity to...

  1. Take on a project you might not be so eager to embark on as an individual: Timpano, dumplings, baked Alaska. Assign different members of your groups certain tasks. Then be each other's helpers!
  2. Start a dish that you might make by yourself but that will be made so much easier by the help of others to chop, husk, mince, or mash.
  3. Accommodate preferences by making something customizable, so that your fellow group members can leave out what they don't like (and add more of what they do like).
  4. Bond with friends!

Inspired by hchambers86's Hotline question, here are ideas for wrangling lots of people into a particular a cooking project (and a few suggestions for how to make sure it all runs smoothly!).

Ready, set, teamwork!

First up, snacks! Start by making a snack mix you can eat by the handful if dinner takes longer to prepare than you anticipated:

Make enough dough for multiple grilled pizzas, then make a toppings bar so that your friends can choose their own:

Take turns layering:

Some of you roll + wrap, some of you fry + drain. All of you eat + enjoy:

The people who make the sauce get to drink wine while the other people do the assembly:

Some divide the dough; some make the dough balls into logs; and some shape the logs into twisted loops:

Dumplings—gnocchi, included—require all hands on deck:

Put some people on enchilada sauce duty, some people on filling duty, and some on assembly duty:

Have filling (and dipping) options on hand—as well as multiple types of cheese, why not!—so that everyone can have the sandwich he or she prefers:

Anything that needs to be dredged creates the possibility for an assembly line (and if you serve the fried chicken on biscuits, you can put a small task force on the job of baking them):

Plenty of easy-to-divide responsibilities here: There's pie dough to mix, apples to prep, and caramel sauce to melt:

A taco is a blank corn or flour canvas! Split into groups and tackle different fillings, then come together to mix and match:

Multiple ice cream cakes are probably necessary, right? Different flavors for different folks:

Or, make a big batch of doughnuts and let group members decorate his or her own (just don't make it a competition):

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What's your best advice for cooking in a group situation? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • hchambers86
  • a raisin + a porpoise
    a raisin + a porpoise
  • PHIL
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


hchambers86 September 19, 2016
Just have to say that the Food52 community/staff are such gems. This is so great!
a R. September 18, 2016
Tamales! those are my current group-cooking goal. My best advice for cooking with friends is to make time to do it and keep doing it. A little group that comes together regularly may be hard to establish but it's even harder to live without once you do!
PHIL September 16, 2016
Sorry saw you mentioned it already
PHIL September 16, 2016
Sarah, someone on hotline was just talking about this very situation