Graduation Party Food Ideas

High school graduation is a great time to have a party with crowds of people and lots of delicious food.

We have made several of these recipes to share with friends as they celebrate this life milestone. Here is a list of budget friendly Graduation Party Food Ideas that home cooks can make to share with loved ones!

Collage of graduation party food ideas including side dish and main dish recipes.

Easy Food Ideas For A Graduation Party

As we help kids celebrate the completion of high school it can be great to feature a couple of their favorite foods on the buffet.

Having a mixture of hot and cold food with a variety of desserts always enhances the meal.

Spending plenty of time planning all of the recipe, ingredients, storage and serving details will make for a more organized and relaxed party.

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Choose how many foods to serve by considering the size of the serving area. I’m the type of person that always makes too much food, but I hope you benefit from all of the graduation party food ideas we have to share.

Party Planning and Considerations

Plan the layout of each pan or appliance in the order the food will be served. Drawing a diagram of the serving tables ahead of time will save a lot of stress the day of the party.

Another important consideration is to allow for appropriate refrigeration space as this may affect what foods are served. Planning ahead and potentially asking relatives or neighbors to use some refrigerator space is important too.

Collage of recipes for a home cook to make for a graduation party buffet.

When using a combination of electric roasters and slow cookers make sure you have extension cords available to be able to plug into different electric circuits.

Having plenty of ice to keep sides like Macaroni Salad cold by setting the pan of salad in a pan of ice is important for food safety in hot temperatures.

Also plan to have someone available to monitor the serving line. Using a roaster is a bit different than traditional home cooking. The food needs stirred often, a helper can watch that the spoons don’t fall in the roaster, adjust the temperatures, etc.

Our Best Recipes For A Graduation Party

Good food that’s affordable will make a party or graduation open house more fun for everyone involved.

While making big batches for a crowd certainly takes more effort than feeding your family we have tested each recipe in our kitchen and written long lists of tips and tricks in each recipe to make planning easier.

We hope that you find some recipes to help make your celebration more enjoyable!

Mac and Cheese For A Crowd
Our most popular recipe for a graduation party buffet, mac and cheese goes with pulled pork, shredded chicken, beef sandwiches or a deli tray! It's so versatile, filling and everyone loves it!
Check out this recipe
Serving spoon of cheesy and creamy macaroni for a crowd
BBQ Pulled Pork
So easy to make ahead and reheat while maintaining an excellent quality and taste. Serve with a variety of BBQ sauces so guests can personalize their flavor.
Check out this recipe
Pulled Pork Sandwich on white plate with potato chips, broccoli and glass of milk
Cheesy Potatoes For A Crowd
A classic American side dish, we have a tried and true recipe to make in an electric roaster to serve 100 people! This one is popular and gets positive reviews regularly!
Check out this recipe
Cheesy potatoes on a white plate and red plaid napkin
Pasta Salad For A Crowd
So simple to make a couple days ahead, visually attractive and universally popular this big batch of pasta salad is one of our most popular recipes on Pinterest for good reason!
Check out this recipe
Tri colored rotini pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese, bell peppers and Italian dressing
Baked Beans For A Crowd
Our first graduation party request was from our beloved family babysitter. Her daughters remembered my mom making these baked beans and asked for enough to feed 250 people. I'm so glad that she asked and that we were able to help!
Check out this recipe
Spoonful of the best meaty baked beans
Loaded Baked Potato Bar
Having a variety of toppings for loaded baked potatoes is one of my favorite ways to make a customizable party buffet. Just make sure you have enough space and dishes for all of the toppings and can keep some of them chilled if necessary.
Check out this recipe
Close up DIY baked potato toppings for loaded potatoes
Brisket In A Roaster
A premium item to share at a graduation party, but one that people are sure to remember this recipe is easy enough for the home cook to make and save quite a bit over purchasing or catering.
Check out this recipe
Close up roaster cooked and shredded beef brisket
Macaroni Salad For A Crowd
Creamy, tangy and delicious this is another popular side dish that goes great at a party, cookout or barbecue.
Check out this recipe
Close up serving spoon full of the best macaroni salad with celery, green peppers and shredded carrots
Shredded Beef
There's a secret ingredient that the meat simmers in and becomes so delicious and tender! I love how it's so common, yet creates these wonderfully memorable sandwiches that reheat very well!
Check out this recipe
Generous pile of shredded beef piled on a fresh bun on a white plate resting on a red and white plaid napkin.
Fruit Salad For A Crowd
Using a variety of fresh fruit to make a delicious fruit salad compliments most meals and makes a nice lighter option for dessert too.
Check out this recipe
Long handled silver serving spoon with freshly chopped mixed fruit being lifted above a pan full of fruit salad that was made a day ahead of time for a crowd at a party.
Vegetable Tray Ideas
A great way to give people healthy options to compliment all of the other delicious dishes we have tips on how to offer a great Vegetable Tray as part of a party buffet.
Check out this recipe
Easy vegetable tray idea with colorful vegetables like baby carrots, yellow peppers, white cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
Sloppy Joes For A Crowd
A simple recipe to make ahead of time and reheat for the party this saucy and meaty mixture holds well in a slow cooker while being served.
Check out this recipe
A hearty sandwich generously filled with saucy sloppy joe meat on a fresh bun with ripple potato chips on the back of the white plate and a slow cooker in the background.
Deli Meat and Cheese Tray
Another great food tray that gives guests a lot of variety and options to guests to have their own finger food, snack, slider or sandwich.
Check out this recipe
Overhead view of rolls of deli meat and circles of cheese neatly arranged around the outside of a tray with salami laid in the circle in the middle on a red and white napkin.
Corn For A Crowd
Creamed corn has a few add ins that enhance the flavor and make corn very enjoyable to serve at parties all year around. This side dish is very affordable.
Check out this recipe
Long handled wooden spoon stirring corn for a crowd of 100 in a roaster.
Green Beans and Bacon For A Crowd
Frozen green beans cook to tender and are enhanced with simple spices and meaty bacon to make a very popular side dish that is economical to share.
Check out this recipe
Plate full of big batch of green beans with bacon
Big Batch of Coleslaw
Super easy to toss together this is great to served with shredded meat and a generally popular potluck item in America.
Check out this recipe
Overhead view of a wonderful creamy coleslaw for a crowd in an aluminum pan on a yellow and white plaid napkin.
Ham In A Roaster
Two to three hams can easily be made in a roaster. Slicing a boneless ham and heating in a roaster and serving along side slices of cheese is popular and easy!
Check out this recipe
Close up of tender ham fanned out on a white platter on a red and white napkin.
Spaghetti For A Crowd
If your graduate really loves spaghetti then this is the perfect recipe to use for a big party!
Check out this recipe
Spaghetti and meat in a roaster for a crowd of 50 people.
Chicken and Noodles For A Crowd
A delicious comfort food meal for cool weather and winter college graduation parties this is a dish guests love eating.
Check out this recipe
Tender shredded chicken in a rich and creamy sauce with tender noodles in a bowl of chicken and noodles sitting on a red and white plaid napkin.

Sheet cake is the most popular graduation party dessert, but we have a few other recipes that can be made to serve 30 to 50 people out of one pan.

Dirt Cake For A Crowd
We share all the tips on how to make one of America's favorite dessert in a really big batch.
Check out this recipe
Spoon full of dirt dessert above a 9 x 13 dish filled with the creamy pudding mixture and topped with a generous amount of crushed Oreos.
Banana Pudding For A Crowd
We made this really big batch for Vacation Bible School volunteers and the pan was clean super fast!
Check out this recipe
Long handled silver serving spoon in the corner of a big batch of banana pudding in a large foil pan on a bright blue and white napkin
Cherry Cobbler For A Crowd
A warm cherry cobbler in a commercial sized pan is perfect to serve with vanilla ice cream!
Check out this recipe
Large serving spoon full of Easy Cherry Cobbler over top of a large pan made to feed a crowd

We have also helped provide some of our favorite cookies or handheld desserts. The recipes come from our website or from friends that have great baking recipes.

An assortment of cookies is a popular way to enhance dessert offerings.

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