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

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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?
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...

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  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:

How to Make Snack Mix Without a Recipe, Savory or Sweet
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How to Make Snack Mix Without a Recipe, Savory or Sweet

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

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Speedy Romeo's Grilled Pizza with Marinated Tomatoes & Ricotta
Speedy Romeo's Grilled Pizza with Marinated Tomatoes & Ricotta

Take turns layering:

Vegetarian Lasagna
Vegetarian Lasagna

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

Beef Flautas
Beef Flautas

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

Timpano
Timpano

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

Pretzels
Pretzels

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

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Dumplings

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Dumplings by Panfusine

Baked Ricotta and Smoked Salmon Dumplings in Gyoza Skin

Baked Ricotta and Smoked Salmon Dumplings in Gyoza Skin by JIN

How to Make Dumplings Without a Recipe
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How to Make Dumplings Without a Recipe
Baked Gnocchi alla Romana (Gnocchi alla Joanie)

Baked Gnocchi alla Romana (Gnocchi alla Joanie) by amysarah

Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi by cdilaura

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

Enchiladas Suizas
Enchiladas Suizas

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:

Ruth Reichl’s Diva of a Grilled Cheese
Ruth Reichl’s Diva of a Grilled Cheese

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):

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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

Apple Dumplings
Apple Dumplings

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

Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema by Alexandra Stafford

Mushroom-Lentil Tacos with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Mushroom-Lentil Tacos with Tahini Yogurt Sauce by Kendra Vaculin

California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw

California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw by Linda Burkhart

Diana Kennedy's Scrambled Ricotta (Requesón Revuelto a La Mexicana)

Diana Kennedy's Scrambled Ricotta (Requesón Revuelto a La... by Genius Recipes

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

How to Make Ice Cream Cake without a Recipe
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How to Make Ice Cream Cake without a Recipe

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

Cake Doughnuts 101: The Completist's Guide to Shaping, Glazing, Frying (& Baking!) Your Own
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Cake Doughnuts 101: The Completist's Guide to Shaping, Glazing, Frying (& Baking!) Your Own

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