Table filled with various delicious meals


Cooking for a Crowd

Are you looking for great, easy recipes that you can prepare for a large group? Read on, because we can help! We get many queries from our whatsfordinner fans asking for delicious dishes that can be prepared for events such as weddings, funerals, church socials, fund-raisers and school functions.  Here are some of our expert tips for cooking for a crowd. Don't forget to go to the bottom of this page for our top recipe suggestions!

1. If you’re planning a function for many people, the secret to success is to choose easy dishes that can be prepared well in advance. We advise, if you’re catering for more than 8-10 people, that you choose a buffet-style meal, so that guests can help themselves from long tables. A sit-down dinner for a large number of people is difficult to achieve unless you have a huge budget, an enormous kitchen and lots of waiters!

2. Your choice of dishes for the buffet will depend on the time of year, and the formality of the occasion. If it’s summer, and the weather is good and warm, go for fresh, substantial salads, as well as platters of tasty hot and cold snacks, with plenty of fresh bread and a variety of sauces and dressings. 

3. In the cold months, it’s best to choose hot, simple and, comforting dishes (such as soups, stews, curries and casseroles) that can be made well ahead of time and kept warm on hot trays or burners. Serve these with rice, pap, mashed potatoes or couscous to make them go further!  Read to the end of this article for some great recipe suggestions for both hot and cold weather. 

4. When you’re planning your buffet menu, make sure that there is something for everyone. Include at least one or two vegetarian recipes (such as Vegetarian Pasta, or Vegetable and Chickpea Biryani. If you’re expecting kids at your function, be sure to include some child-friendly dishes, such as Mac and Cheese, Beef Skewers or small hamburgers.

5. Steer clear of dishes that are usually considered to be 'acquired tastes', or that will upset picky or allergic eaters. Depending on your culture, it’s wise to avoid dishes containing shellfish, offal, a lot of chillies, and so on.Find out in advance if any of your guests have special dietary requirements allergies or aversions.

6. A great idea for a celebratory buffet is to provide a selection of ‘finger foods’ – hot and cold snacks – that can be made several hours or a day ahead of time.  Here are some examples of delicious finger foods:

Spicy Red Tilapia Fish Cakes

Fried Pecan Okra

Broiled Butterflied Chicken

Chorizo and Apple Sausages

Honey Mustard Chicken

7. When you’re planning your buffet, ensure that your serving tables are long enough to cater for a crowd. You don’t want your guests to have to stand in long queues for hours. It’s best, for a big function, to set up the tables in a U shape, with a ‘copy’ of each dish on either side, so that  two lines of people can start at opposite ends of the tables and work their way inwards. 

8. You will need to increase the number of ingredients and scale up our W4D recipes so that they’ll cater for the number of people that you are feeding. If the recipe serves four, for example, and you need to feed 20, you must multiply every ingredient by five. So one onion will become 5 onions, one Royco Cube will become five cubes, two cups of water will become 10 cups, and so on.

Tip: it’s important not to overcrowd your oven when you’re cooking or reheating a large quantity of food, as this may cause the temperature to drop below its optimal level. Increase the temperature of your oven, or ‘borrow’ a neighbour’s oven! Sharing the cooking with your friends will take all of the hassle out of catering. 

9. Another secret to creating a successful meal for many people is careful advance planning. Make detailed lists of everything that you need, and write out a cooking schedule. Ask your friends and relatives to help you with your preparation, and borrow or rent plates, knives, forks and everything else that you will need. Don’t forget serviettes, salt and pepper, and fresh flowers for your tables!

10. Prepare your feast up to two days in advance, but use your common sense so that the food doesn't spoil. Salads containing long-lasting ingredients that won’t wilt (such as Potato Salad) can be made a day ahead. Stews, curries and soups often taste better the day after they’re made, so prepare these the night before, keep them cold, and reheat them at the last moment. (Chicken dishes should never be left to stand at room temperature but must be cooled, then thoroughly chilled until it’s time to reheat them.).


Peanut and Chicken Stew

Kenyan Beef Stew

Spicy Matumbo Stew

Durban Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Peas

Peri-Peri Flattened Chicken

Pasta with Chicken, Tomatoes, Cream and Mustard

Three Cheese Pasta Bake


Classic Macaroni Salad

For more delicious dinner ideas have a look through the whatsfordinner Kenya website’s recipes section.