40 Big Family Dinner Ideas

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40 of the best big family dinner ideas for delicious family meals any night of the week or for a special family gathering for a holiday or party.

The photo collage shows a big family dinner table with everyone raising a glass for a toast next to 3 recipe photos.

If there are lots of mouths to feed at your nightly dinner table, you need all the big family dinner ideas you can get!

But sometimes smaller families have to feed bigger families during the holiday seasons or for special milestones like college graduations or first communions.

Or it is quite possible you're looking for a big family dinner idea that will let you cook a big batch of food you can freeze and reheat later OR split in half and share as part of a meal train dinner.

No matter your reason, these awesome family dinner recipes are easy to scale for whatever size you need.

Double batch, triple batch, or prep ahead and freeze, you'll be ready to feed an army of loved ones for a special meal.

Jump to:

Very Easy Dinners

Feeding a big family night after night can feel exhausting.

Be sure to rely on these very simple dinner ideas, they're perfect for sprinkling into your meal plan all month long.

Chili Bar Hot Dogs

This thick chili is perfect for topping a hot dog and it could be made ahead and frozen. Just thaw and heat and serve with the hot dogs.

Or just do the chili bar itself with a big double-batch of the chili and plenty of toppings.

Ground Beef Chili Bowls
This super-thick ground beef chili bowl recipe is delicious served with Frito chips for dunking but also makes an excellent chili dog topping or baked potato filling.
5 from 50 votes
A white soup bowl filled with thick ground beef chili topped with shredded cheese and sliced green onions. There's a spoon and a pile of potato chips on the side.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

This is my recipe for my favorite Italian meatballs in tomato sauce but you could easily use a giant bag of frozen meatballs and prepared jars of your favorite tomato sauce instead.

HINT: If serving kids, be sure to offer a short noodle like penne or farfalle, it is so much easier for them to eat.

Italian Meatballs
Make a batch of these easy Italian meatballs and you'll have enough to serve over pasta with tomato sauce one night and make a batch of Italian wedding soup on another night. The meatballs can be prepped and stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for later.
5 from 1 vote
A skillet filled with meatballs and tomato sauce sprinkled with Italian herbs.

Crockpot Sloppy Joe's

Pop this easy sloppy joe mix into your slowcooker for a satisfying meal your whole family will love.

Pair it with any of the simple side dishes mentioned at the bottom of the post and a pile of buns.

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
Prepare this Crock Pot Sloppy Joes recipe for a make ahead dinner on a busy night or freezer meal for dinner down the road. Serve it on hamburger buns, over a baked potato, or with tater tots for a family-friendly dinner.
4.41 from 5 votes
A sloppy joe sandwich on a soft bun has some filling dripping onto the plate and potato chips on the side.

Taco Night 

Tacos are super popular but could be tricky to make for a big family unless you do things in big batches.

My Mexican pulled pork carnitas would be an excellent choice. Then just stock up on store bought salsa, tortillas, and toppings.

Mexican Pulled Pork Carnitas
Slow roast this tender Mexican pulled pork carnitas recipe and then shred the meat for the most delicious street tacos you've ever had. This large roast makes a generous amount of meat that you can serve for a party or freeze in smaller portions for easy family dinners.
5 from 35 votes
The shredded pork has been added to street taco tortilla shells. Green onions are sprinkled over the top and wedges of limes are on the side.

My homemade Mexican rice would be a perfect side dish:

Homemade Mexican Corn Rice
Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice (also known as Spanish Rice), filled with sweet corn and other kid-friendly vegetables that give it extra texture. So easy to make and tastes like it came straight from your favorite Mexican restaurant. This is the best side dish for tacos or any Mexican entree.
4.63 from 8 votes
A white baking dish is filled with baked Mexican Rice. The tomato sauce base gave the rice a yellow-orange color. Hot sauce is drizzled over the top and fresh green onions are sprinkled for garnish.

Meatball Subs

You could serve this as sandwich bar and put all the meatballs in a big slowcooker to keep warm and just serve the sub rolls on the side.

Baked Meatball Subs
This delicious and heart meatball sub recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight. You can have a hearty meal on the table in just minutes.
5 from 46 votes
A blue plate has a long baked meatball sub with tomato sauce and melted cheese.

Chicken Chili

This healthy red chicken chili (with no beans) makes a giant serving you could easily freeze half or share with friends.

I love to serve it with sour cream, shredded cheese, and big bowls of tortilla chips for dunking.

Red Chicken Chili with No Beans
Light and healthy red chicken chili with tons of tomatoes and fresh peppers but no beans. Top it with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and serve with tortilla chips for dunking.
4.43 from 28 votes
A white bowl of tomato-based chicken chili has shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream on top.

No Cook Dinners

When the temperature rises or you're going to have an especially busy night, rely on an easy no cook dinner.

Simply place the food out for your family in a big buffet line and let everyone help themselves.

Salad Bar

Just chop up a wide variety of raw veggies for the ultimate garden salad bar.

Add these tasty extras:

Deli Sandwiches

Head to the grocery store and pick up a fun variety of fresh sliced breads (rye, sourdough, white, honey whole wheat) along with a variety of deli meats and cheeses.

The key to this is all in the presentation and wide variety to make it interesting.

Use my list of finger sandwich recipes as an inspiring place to start.

Then, splurge on some unique condiments like horseradish sauce or this easy spicy sandwich spread or pickled sandwich toppings, too.

Ultimate Snack Board Night

Snack boards are so fun for a big family because you can plan a much bigger variety of items on the board when you've got plenty of people to help you eat it.

Start with my cheddar snack board but then consider adding a hot dip like my jalapeño artichoke dip or this Swedish meatball sausage dip, they can both be prepped in advance and just popped into the oven.

Don't forget something sweet like my best cannoli dip with buttery cookies.

Make Ahead Dinners

Freezer friendly make ahead meals are excellent choices for the busy work week but I love them even more come holiday season.

I always prep ahead some of these casseroles and easy dishes for easy entertaining of our big family during the holiday season.

It's also nice to have a frozen casserole to share with a friend in need during a last minute emergency.

Make-Ahead Sausage Lasagna

You can freeze this awesome sausage lasagna in advance or make it a few days before you want to serve it and store it in the fridge.

Serve with homemade garlic bread and a big green salad.

Easy Sausage Lasagna
This delicious make ahead lasagna is perfect for beginners to bake for a holiday feast or Sunday family dinner. Several easy shortcuts make this classic dish quick to prepare.
4.50 from 2 votes
A slice of lasagna sits on a festive holiday plate with a green salad and slice of garlic bread.

Make-Ahead Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Surprise your family with a "breakfast for dinner" option. You could prep these burritos ahead and freeze them.

Serve with a batch of my Mexican corn rice, a pan of street corn casserole, chips and homemade salsa, and a big bowl of strawberry mango salsa and cinnamon pita chips.

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos
This big batch of spicy egg and sausage breakfast burritos are perfect for feeding a crowd or keeping on hand for busy weekday mornings.
4.49 from 127 votes
A blue plate has a stack of breakfast burritos, one is sliced open to show the sausage, eggs, and potatoes inside.

Classic Beef Bolognese

My hearty bolognese recipe isn't quick and easy but it does freeze really well.

Spend a lazy Sunday prepping it and freeze the whole batch in a big casserole pan or separate it into two smaller pans so you have one to share.

Serve with pasta, gnocchi, or as a chili with fresh bread for dunking.

Bologonese Sauce
This stovetop classic bolognese sauce features ground beef with fresh vegetables cooked slowly to enhance the flavor. A hearty meat sauce for serving over pasta, this recipe can be split and frozen for future meal prep.
4.41 from 5 votes
Bolognese Meat Sauce has been served over large rigatoni noodles and a fork is stirring them together.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Tetrazzini

We have a strict "no mushrooms" rule in our family, so this version of the classic make-ahead casserole is always a hit!

For a big family, you could make two pans and freeze them.

Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole
This rich and creamy easy chicken tetrazzini casserole is a big hit with kids. Creamy pasta with shredded chicken and sweet peas is a freezer-friendly casserole you'll make over and over. A “mommy meals” staple.
4.86 from 7 votes
A blue baking dish has a spoon scooping out a serving of chicken tetrazzini pasta with peas.

Freezer Friendly Tater Tot Casserole

You can completely assemble this Minnesota tater tot hotdish recipe and freeze it.

Bake it from frozen for an easy family dinner.

Minnesota Tater Tot Hotdish
This old fashioned hamburger tater tot casserole has been a family favorite in Minnesota for generations because it is so easy to prep and is a hearty dinner for a cold night. You can make it ahead and freeze it to get prepared for a busy night.
4.96 from 44 votes
The tater tot casserole has a spoon scooping a serving, you can see the ground beef, green beans, and corn with golden brown tater tots on top.

Stovetop Beef Stew

This freezer-friendly stew tastes amazing over mashed potatoes.

You could freeze it in advance and then buy refrigerated potatoes at the grocery store or plan to make my slowcooker mashed potatoes.

Easy Weeknight Beef Stew
This easy beef stew only takes a few minutes of hands-on time to cook and can easily be frozen for busy weeknights.
5 from 48 votes
A blue dutch oven has a wooden spoon stirring beef stew.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Spaghetti

The kids will thank you when you pull a pan of this hearty casserole out of the oven! You can prep it ahead and freeze it.

For big families, you could make two pans and freeze them. Serve with a pan of my easy roasted broccoli and carrots for a healthy side dish.

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
This make-ahead chicken spaghetti casserole is perfect for stashing in your freezer for a busy night. Split the dish into two 8x8-in pans for a small serving dinner or easy side dish.
5 from 1 vote
A square pan of chicken spaghetti is ready to be frozen in aluminum foil wrap.

Make Ahead Chicken Enchiladas

These easy chicken enchiladas could be made in assembly line fashion and frozen in advance or prepped earlier in the day for baking at night.

As long as you have the assembly line going, it is just as easy to make two pans.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken enchiladas are always a hit with kids who love Mexican food but they usually take a lot of time to prepare. This fast and easy recipe comes together quickly with several busy-parent shortcuts.
4.97 from 51 votes
A baking pan filled with tomato sauce covered chicken enchiladas.

Freezer Friendly Sausage Pasta Casserole

My mom is famous for this easy pasta casserole with spinach and sausage. It is always a huge hit with a crowd.

Serve it with fresh pineapple, trust me it works.

Italian Sausage Pasta Casserole
This delicious Italian sausage pasta casserole mixes Jimmy Dean bulk sausage with fresh spinach for a perfect make-ahead dinner.
4.60 from 45 votes
A pan of baked Italian sausage pasta casserole has a pair of oven mitts in the background.

Crockpot Dinner Ideas

Focus on time spent with your family, not time spent cooking! Pop these easy dishes into the slowcooker and let dinner cook itself.

Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches

You could actually plan to cook this Italian beef ahead of time, shred it, and freeze it in a large 9x13 aluminum pan.

Plan for fresh rolls and pickled peppers for topping. Personally I think, my chow chow recipe would be perfect.

Crock Pot Italian Beef
This zesty shredded Italian beef gets incredibly tender with a long, slow cook in the Crockpot. Serve it on toasted buns with melted cheese and spicy peppers for a deliciously easy dinner for a crowd.
4.92 from 49 votes
Italian beef sandwich has toasted bread, melted provolone cheese, and pepper relish on top of the shredded beef.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

You could easily double (or triple!) the chicken and sauce and let it cook in the slowcooker while you make a double (or triple) batch of the pasta in a big pot on the stovetop.

Slowcooker Tuscan Chicken Pasta
This creamy Tuscan chicken pasta with sundried tomatoes and baby spinach tossed together with tender farfalle or penne is an easy dinner for a busy night.
4.72 from 7 votes
A CrockPot has a batch of Tuscan chicken with sundried tomatoes and spinach.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Plan a barbecue sandwich or platter night with cornbread, slaw, and baked beans.

If you're not a fan of pork, these slowcooker bbq chicken thighs would be a good alternative.

You could also make these slowcooker sweet potatoes for an easy side dish that tastes great with the meat piled up on top.

Pulled Pork
This is the best pulled pork recipe for the oven or slow cooker. Seasoned with a delicious pulled pork rub before it is cooked, enjoy it with or without BBQ sauce drizzled over the top.
5 from 2 votes
A barbecue pulled pork sandwich is on a plate next to potato chips.

Crockpot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya with Rice

You could make this dish with or without the shrimp depending on your family's preferences and budget. Frozen shrimp works just fine!

Serve it alongside my easy jasmine rice or even this simple herb butter rice.

Slowcooker Jambalaya
This hearty chicken jambalaya features spicy sausage and tender shrimp and plenty of savory vegetables. To stretch the meal even further, stir in cooked rice for a comforting stew your family will love!
5 from 1 vote
The cooked sausage and peppers and celery in a slow cooker.

Open Face Turkey Sandwiches

These awesome turkey sandwiches start with my favorite slowcooker turkey breast recipe that would be super easy to pop into a Crockpot!

It's a fun way to serve turkey to the family, just used jarred gravy if you don't want to make it from scratch.

Open Face Turkey Sandwich
These open face turkey sandwiches with gravy are the perfect way to use up leftover turkey breast and Thanksgiving gravy but also make a delicious and easy dinner any night of the year.
5 from 32 votes
A piece of sourdough bread has chunks of turkey meat and gravy on top.

Crockpot Spiral Ham

Spiral hams come in such large sizes, they are the perfect fit for a big family.

Serve it with big pans of roasted mini potatoes or trays of cheesy cornflake potatoes.

Crockpot Spiral Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze
This easy Crockpot spiral ham recipe is the perfect way to cook your holiday dinner while your family is out of the house at church on Easter morning or Christmas eve. Come home to a hot ham ready to be glazed and broiled for the picture perfect finish in just 10 minutes. Choose a traditional sweet brown sugar and mustard glaze or use hot honey for a delicious sweet and spicy spin on a holiday classic.
4.98 from 49 votes
The spiral ham is on a roasting rack so it can be broiled to make the brown sugar glaze crispy.

Teriyaki Meatballs with Rice

Get a giant bag of frozen meatballs and pop them in the slowcooker with your favorite teriyaki sauce.

Hint: My homemade teriyaki recipe is thick and perfect for this and only takes a minute to mix together.

Serve them with fresh pineapple or my easy roasted peppers and pineapple side dish that would be easy to scale for a big family or split and share with friends.

Pineapple Teriyaki Meatballs Stir Fry
This quick and easy dinner recipe uses Aidells pineapple and teriyaki chicken meatballs from Costco with a few simple ingredients to make a delicious family dinner in minutes.
4.96 from 47 votes
A serving of teriyaki meatballs with pineapple and vegetables over rice.

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Everyone's favorite classic soup for good reason. Let this one simmer away in the slowcooker while you're busy doing other things for your family.

Serve with a smorgasbord of fresh breads, biscuits, or crackers.

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
This delicious and easy crockpot chicken soup is an easy healthy dinner to make on a lazy weekend afternoon or busy work night for your family. Tasty chunks of fresh vegetables and yummy egg noodles make this a big hit with kids.
5 from 1 vote
A white bowl of chicken noodle soup sits on a blue plate. There are wavy egg noodles and fresh parsley peeking out of the broth.

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken

Another fantastic chicken recipe you could double to fit your big family's needs.

Serve this saucy Crockpot bourbon chicken with a batch or two of herb butter rice or wavy egg noodles.

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken
This sweet and sticky bourbon chicken is cooked in a crock pot for an easy weeknight dinner. Serve the shredded meat over a bowl of rice and spoon some of the delicious spicy-sweet sauce over the top.
5 from 1 vote
A bowl of rice is topped with shredded bourbon chicken from the crockpot.

Sandwich Buffet

Pick one or two of these Crockpot sandwich recipes to serve buffet-style to give your family options.

Instant Pot Dinners

Since Instant Pots come in various sizes, you'll love these easy recipes that let you double the quantity as you need.

These are perfect dishes for last-minute cooking at the end of the day.

The Instant Pot "Keep Warm" setting helps buy you all the time to gather the family that you'll need.

Apricot Chicken with Herb Butter Rice

Start with my Instant Pot apricot chicken and serve it with this easy herb butter rice.

Just add a green vegetable like green beans or asparagus to round out the meal.

The sauce for the apricot chicken makes a lot, you could definitely add more chicken to help it stretch even farther.

Instant Pot Apricot Chicken
This sweet and savory apricot chicken is fall-apart tender and a very easy weeknight dinner. Serve it over herb butter rice with the apricot sauce drizzled over the top.
5 from 35 votes
A baking dish is filled with saucy apricot chicken sprinkled with fresh herbs.

Instant Pot Ground Turkey Soup

This is one of my family's favorite soups and it can easily be scaled to fit your big family's needs.

Add a few loaves of fresh bread or biscuits.

Instant Pot Ground Turkey Soup
This rich and hearty ground turkey soup is filled with tender vegetables and tastes like it has been slowcooked all day but takes less than an hour with your Instant Pot. Serve with fresh bread.
4.92 from 50 votes
The finished ground turkey soup is ready to be served from the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

If your big family likes things a little on the spicy side, this would be a fun alternative to the classic recipes on this list. Even my kids love this classic Indian dish!

Serve it with big platters of naan bread and bowls of jasmine rice.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken
This family-friendly Instant Pot recipe is the perfect introduction to Indian flavors for kids. Not too spicy and kids will love dipping warm naan bread into the sauce.
5 from 2 votes
A dinner bowl has a serving of butter chicken spooned over jasmine rice. Fresh cilantro is sprinkled over the top.

Easy Side Dishes

Once you have your menu set, keep the side dishes extra easy and rely on easy to find staples:

  • Fresh Bread
  • Bagged Salad with a Dressing
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Fresh Fruit: wash and present it in big bowls or pretty on platters
  • Bags of Potato Chips
  • Frozen French Fries or Tater Tots
The photo collage shows a big family around the dinner table next to a collage of 4 of the recipe photos.

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