Mother's Day

38 Mother's Day Dinner Ideas That Say 'I Love You'

Breakfast for dinner, risotto, grilled pork, and a few desserts too!

May  3, 2022
Photo by Mark Weinberg

It seems strange that there's only one day a year dedicated to celebrating moms—the women who taught us how to tie our shoes and blow our noses. They feed us, clothe us, and (when we're grown) share a drink with us to recall all the times they almost lost it while taking care of us.

Mom, it's time for us to return the favor: with a meal that shows just how much we appreciate you. We'll act like the responsible adults you raised us to be; we'll make a grocery list three days out, prep the sides the day before, and set the table that morning.

Here are 38 recipes that say “I love you” on Mother's Day (and also, “thank you” and “I’m sorry for being such a pain in the—!”).

Breakfast for Dinner, Anyone?

1. Smashed Potatoes With Bacon & Eggs

Are they breakfast? Are they dinner? Who cares! This egg-topped smashed, baked potato from former Food52-er (and Nickel & Dine columnist) Rebecca Firkser is creamy, salty, rich, and just a little bit spicy if you want—and it feeds four, for less than $10 total.

2. 3-Ingredient Pancakes

From Big Little Recipe columnist, Emma Laperruque, comes these quick and easy, accidentally gluten-free pancakes. Mashed banana and beaten eggs are bound with nutty almond flour—the resulting pancakes are delightfully fluffy and bouncy. Now whether you go classic with a fresh squeeze of lemon, sweet with fresh berries and honey, or extra nutty with tahini and pomegranate molasses is all up to Mom.

3. Savory Potato & Onion Knishes

These knishes, from contributor Asha Loupy, come stuffed with caramelized onions, pillow potato, and tangy cream cheese, and sprinkled with everything bagel spice. Take these handheld, compact bundles of flavor with you and mom on a springtime stroll.

4. Croissant French Toast

As our co-founder Merrill writes, this french toast isn’t just for any old morning. It’s special. For an Occasion with a capital "O." And what better occasion than one where you get to treat mom (and yourself)? Split croissants get bathed in a custard, and fried until the edges get lacy-crisp. Just add syrup or mascarpone and berries.

5. Radish & Butter Tartine

Or, opt for a light and springy fresh breakfast with a slice of good bread, topped with good butter and translucent-thin radish coins. As recipe developer Marian Bull says: “Don’t mess with perfection.”

6. Moroccan Merguez Ragout With Poached Eggs

This recipe from community member, epicureanodyssey, features eggs gently poached in a tomato-y, merguez sausage sauce. Hosting a small Mother’s Day brunch? Assemble these baked eggs in a wide, shallow pan, and serve them straight from the pan with plenty of crusty bread to dip.

Starters & Light Dinners

7. Radish & Arugula Salad With Pecorino & Lemon

Merrill's simple salad celebrates spring in all its glory: bitter radishes, peppery arugula, sour lemon, and salty pecorino

8. Eric Korsh's Farm Lettuces Salad With Dill Vinaigrette

What better way to spend Mother’s Day morning than perusing spring's bounty at the farmers' market? This Genius recipe for a creamy (but cream- and mayo-less), herby dressing works just as well in a potato or chicken salad, as it does on springy greens.

9. Warm Butter Bean Salad with Roasted Bell Peppers

From Bryant Terry’s book, Vegetable Kingdom, comes this vibrant, creamy butter bean salad. Warm beans are laced with pili pili oil, and made a complete meal with charred pepper slices and peppery arugula.

10. Bryant Terry's Caramelized Leek & Seared Mushroom Toast

Another luxe, plant-forward recipe from Terry, this Caramelized Leek & Seared Mushroom Toast tastes way fancy despite being a breeze to assemble. Avocado, who?

11. Tonnato Toast With Colorful Radishes

“Tonnato originally hails from Piedmont Italy, made possible with tuna caught from nearby coastal Liguria,” writes Food52 Resident Melina Hammer. “The original sauce consisted of tuna, pounded with anchovies, capers, and olive oil to render it creamy.” Doesn’t that sound like a dream slathered on toast with a layer of peppery radishes? We think so too.

12. Smoked Trout & Avocado Salad Toasts

The only thing better than one fancy toast? Two fancy toasts.

Main Dishes

13. Tangy Baked Salmon With Calabrian Chile

This lemony, garlicky, tangy-spicy baked salmon is the reason you do in fact need another baked salmon recipe. To make it a full dinner, toss in small waxy potatoes and some sliced broccoli to roast in the spicy salmon oil.

14. Ranch Chicken Cutlets

What do you get when you cross buttermilk-brined chicken with heftily-seasoned panko breadcrumbs? Ranch chicken cutlets, of course! (Cue the applause.) Slice this crispy chicken over salad, smash a fat slice between a bun with cabbage slaw, eat it with your fingers straight from the pan—just follow your heart.

15. Sam Sifton's Pasta With Parsnips & Bacon

From Sifton’s cookbook, See You on Sunday, comes this entertaining friendly pasta with a surprising guest: parsnips. When cooked down until caramelized, they add an unparalleled earthy, nutty note to the dish.

16. Broccoli Rabe Risotto

Double this Table for One cheesy, salty-nutty, bright risotto for you and mom, or share the solo portion for a light first course.

17. Aromatic Poached Salmon With Rye & Caper Breadcrumbs

"When I think of stale bread, bread pudding is always my first thought. It is one of my favorite comfort foods, sweet or savory," gingerroot writes. "However, my family recently enjoyed delicious Spaghetti with Sardines, Dill and Fried Capers from Gourmet—a riff off the Sicilian classic Pasta con Sarde—and it immediately gave me the idea to shower a salmon fillet in seasoned breadcrumbs. From there the rest was easy, choosing accompanying flavors that pair well with salmon and a technique that is so easy, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Gin imparts more fragrance than flavor, delicately perfuming the fish with juniper goodness."

18. Grilled Pork Chops, Fennel & Orange

What better way to impress mom than to feed her an entire orange—skin and all? In this recipe from Emma, fennel wedges and orange wheels get charred until slouchy and juicy, the perfect saucy accompaniment to pork chops. No grill? No problem. Just use a grill or griddle pan.

19. Tikka Masala Macaroni & Cheese From Preeti Mistry

Chef Preeti Mistry’s recipe was first featured in in Julia Turshen's cookbook Feed the Resistance, writing “this macaroni and cheese is on the 'Comforting' menu at my restaurant, where we give a dollar from every bowl to a particular non-profit organization.” I can’t think of anything I’d rather share with my family for dinner.

20. Instant Pot Risotto

Not that we’re saying Mom should cook her own dinner, but give her a brand new Instant Pot for Mother’s Day and she’ll immediately want to use it to make this ultra-creamy risotto. The multi-cooker makes quick work of transforming arborio rice into the classic rice dish, so she doesn’t have to spend her special day standing over the stove.

21. Steamed Clams with Grilled Bread

This flavorful, brothy preparation of clams works well as an appetizer or an entrée for a Mother’s Day dinner. Serve each bowl with a slice or two of really crusty rustic bread to sop up the broth, which is infused with garlic, dried chile flakes, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon.

22. Grilled Romesco Shrimp

The weather in early-mid May can be hit or miss—it might be 50℉ and rainy, or it might feel like a glorious summer day. If it’s the latter, make shrimp on the BBQ with a romesco purée that doubles as a marinade and a dipping sauce.

23. Crock-Pot Brown Sugar & Balsamic–Glazed Pork Tenderloin

We love using a Crockpot to cook holiday meals because of their “set it and forget it” technology, which means that something as delicious as this sweet-and-umami pork tenderloin can cook while you shower Mom with love.

24. Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re sharing this fried chicken recipe from Food52 founder Amanda Hesser’s own mom. Her family loves it so much that they’ll devour it whether it’s hot and crispy or cooled off for hours.

25. Slow-Roasted Alaska Halibut With Citrus & Smashed Olives

“In this recipe, briny Castelvetrano olives and vibrant citrus are an ideal foil to flaky, tender wild Alaska halibut that’s roasted low and slow in the oven,” writes recipe developer Rebecca Firkser. It’s an upgraded version of a basic oven-baked fish dinner and Mom will love it.

26. Pasta With 10-Minute Tomato Sauce

You’ll never believe that this pasta dish, which is so flavorful, comes together in just 10 minutes. The sauce is made with a combination of sundried tomatoes, tomato paste, and canned cherry tomatoes for a really intense (in a good way!) tomato flavor.

27. Seared Steak With Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Baked Potatoes

Want to make the mother figure in your life feel really special? Serve her a steakhouse-style dinner from the comfort of her home. Go the extra mile by dry-brining the steak overnight in a combination of salt and crushed pink peppercorns.

Sides Dishes

28. Baby Purple Artichokes Fried in Olive Oil

"This hardly counts as a recipe," Greg Henry writes, "but it's certainly one of the most delicious way to eat artichokes I can imagine. Besides learning to prep but the baby artichokes in the manner I have described allows the hearts to cook properly without frying the leaves to death."

29. Dan Leader's 4-Hour Baguette

"This recipe is the aggressive, no-more-excuses shove that you need to start baking your own bread," Genius columnist Kristen Miglore writes. "It will only take you 4 hours of intermittent attention, and won't require a starter nor any equipment you don't already own—and it will rival your favorite bakery's."

30. Chilled English Pea Soup With Garlic Cream & Pickled Ramps

"A chilled soup that (finally) feels like soup," Kristen sighs, "thanks to a clever blanching technique and some seductive spring trimmings.


31. Ketmer (Pistachio, Cream & Rose Baklava)

Brought to us by Honey & Co.’s Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, these sweet snails are a fun (not-too-demanding) kitchen project to tackle with mom. Phyllo dough gets filled with lime- and cardamom-scented mascarpone, toasted and chopped pistachios, and a heady rose syrup.

32. Coconuttiest Shortbread Cookies

"This is a take on my Scottish Shortbread recipe, which usually calls for brown rice flour to add a crumbly texture," Hilarybee says. "I find coconut flour adds both texture and a lovely, nutty flavor. The butter and coconut oil ensure that the cookie is still crispy and durable, just as a shortbread should be. For a twist, roll the cookies in lime-infused sugar. I like to stamp my shortbread with springerle molds to make them extra special. I also like to use this dough to make press-in tart dough; one batch of this recipe will yield one 10-inch shortbread tart crust." For an extra toasty, nutty flavor? Swap brown butter in for the regular butter.

33. Rhubarb & Gin Sorbet With Rose Cream

"This dessert is simple to put together, but tastes surprisingly complex," Yossy writes. "It is cool and tart, floral and herbal, creamy and sweet, all in one. If you don't like the idea of flowers in your food, feel free to leave the cream off. The sorbet is delicious as is."

34. Our Best Carrot Cake

Some carrot cakes feel more like rabbit food—essentially a nut and seed granola tenuously bound by batter. This one here goes back to basics—a relatively austere, spiced cake frosted with a tangy cream cheese icing, that’s elegant enough for a Mother’s Day brunch, but comfy enough for a tea for two. Add nuts and raisins back in—if you/mom wishes.

35. Vegan Triple Coconut Cake

“A light and fluffy coconut cake—without any eggs or dairy? It’s not as hard as you might think,” says Food52 resident Murielle Banackissa. Extra coconutty thanks to oil, milk, and extract (plus coconut whipped cream on top too if you want!) there’s no way you’ll guess this cake is vegan—but what a pleasant surprise it is.

36. Preserved Lemon Bars

Change up your lemon bar routine with this salty, tangy riff, which calls for pureed whole preserved lemon in addition to fresh zest and juice. With a buttery shortbread crust, it’s mathematically impossible to eat just one of these puckery bars.


37. Best Irish Coffee

Irish coffee has gotten a bit of a bad rap—too sweet, strong, intense—and this version here would like to change your mind. Coffee gets sweetened by toasty brown sugar and spiked with a nip of whiskey, and the cream gets whipped to softly billowy peaks.

38. Aperol Spritz

This sweetly pink cruiser of a cocktail plays well with any and all party spreads. The bubbles complement salty, crunchy snacks, and the bittersweet Aperol acts as a perfect foil to hard cheeses.

What will you be treating Mom (or the motherly figures in your life) to this year? Tell us about it in the comments.

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This roundup was updated in May 2022 by our editors with even more delicious Mother's Day recipes.

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Julie Myers

Written by: Julie Myers

Perpetually hungry. Will travel for food.