Easter dinner ideas don’t typically get too wild. While the menu doesn’t tend to be quite as set in stone as Thanksgiving, most families definitely have a certain list of Easter must-haves that, if they don’t make it to the table, can result in some confusion…or even a minor uproar. So if your group is sticking with the usual ham or lamb plus Grandma Judy’s potato salad, your dad’s famous asparagus, and the carrot cake that’s been served since at least 1994, you’re probably all set.
But! Perhaps you’re the one hosting Easter dinner this year, and have decided it’s time to try something (or a lot of things) new. Or maybe you’re attending a potluck Easter dinner and would like to surprise everyone with an impressive new recipe. Either way, you’ve come to the right place: This list has a wide variety of exciting and yummy Easter meal ideas. These recipes are packed with tasty seasonal ingredients and strike a nice balance between tradition and novelty—they’re decidedly Easter-inspired, but with a tasty twist. Before we get to the recipes, though, let’s talk about some of the foods that more traditional Easter dinners often feature.
What is included in a traditional Easter dinner?
Traditional Easter foods vary based on your culture and where you live. Many of the foods that customarily make it onto the table in a given region have symbolic ties to Christianity, feature seasonal ingredients, or are influenced by the cuisine of the region.
On an Easter Sunday dinner table in the United States, for instance, you’ll commonly see ham or lamb at the center (more on why in a minute), a potato dish (like scalloped potatoes), an egg dish (like deviled eggs), some kind of roll or biscuit (like Hot Cross Buns), seasonal vegetables (like glazed carrots, spring peas, artichokes, or asparagus), and a dessert (like carrot cake).
Why is ham an Easter tradition?
As with many traditions, this one has practical roots—for a long time, serving ham on Easter dinner just made sense. Back in the days of yore, pigs were typically slaughtered in the fall and left to cure over the winter, so they’d be ready just in time for a big Easter feast, according to Martha Stewart. Over the years, it’s become a time-honored tradition.
In a traditional Easter dinner, the only meat competing with ham for popularity is lamb, for both religious and practical reasons. Lamb has significance in Christianity—Jesus is called the “Lamb of God,” and lamb played an important symbolic role in early Passover celebrations, a tradition that Jews who converted to Christianity continued at Easter, History explains. Plus, lambs would’ve been one of the first available sources of fresh meat after a long winter.
What do you eat on Easter Sunday?
What you actually eat on Easter Sunday has to do with all these factors—holiday customs, where you live, your cultural heritage, your religious background, and, of course, any treasured Easter food traditions in your family, conventional or not.
Many countries and cultures have their own special Easter recipes, for instance. A traditional Greek Easter dinner may include a whole roast lamb and/or Magiritsa, a Greek soup made from lamb offal, according to Delish. In Paraguay, Easter often involves chipa, a dense and chewy cheese bread, per Saveur. In the United Kingdom, you might enjoy a type of fruit cake called Simnel cake for Easter dinner dessert; in Mexico you can dig into capirotada (a bread pudding made with spices and sugar syrup); and in Italy, you may enjoy a slice of almond-topped Easter Dove Bread (Colomba Pasquale) or wreath-shaped Italian Easter bread, according to Delish.
Regional, religious, and family traditions aside, what you make for Easter dinner also depends on what dishes actually feel festive and celebratory for you and your loved ones—and how much you want to mix things up this year (or not). Fish or chicken instead of ham? Why not! A fresh take on some classic sides? You got it! Pasta and quinoa? Oh yeah!
Whether you’re looking for a fresh dish to jazz up the usual spread of favorites or revamp the whole thing top to bottom, there are a lot of inspired recipes that will help make your spring holiday feast feel extra special this year. And there’s always some room on the table to try some delicious new Easter recipes. Here are 60 Easter dinner menu ideas, from appetizers to desserts.