Holiday
Easy Easter Recipes for Smaller Celebrations
Easter dinner must go on. And with these recipes, it will—whether you’re an experienced host or cooking for the first time.
04-06-2020
Hannah Fenton
Hannah Fenton

There’s no doubt that Easter this year is going to feel a little different—churches are closed, Easter egg hunts will be cancelled, and traveling to see family is out of the picture. One thing that can’t be cancelled, however, is Easter Dinner. If one thing can bring comfort and joy in this uneasy time it’s food, and plenty of it.

Luckily for my roommates, they won’t have to do any of the cooking as I tend to like to take charge of most holiday meals. But if you will be cooking Easter Dinner for the first time or for a smaller group than usual, here are some recipes to add to your Easter menu. Here’s why these made the cut:

  • They use simple ingredients. I know that going to the grocery store can be very daunting right now and even when you do go you may not come out with everything you had on your list. So these flexible recipes use basic ingredients that you might already have in your pantry.
  • They serve fewer people and/or create leftovers than can be used in different ways. Fridge space is a hot commodity right now, so I opted for recipes with smaller yields than you would typically make for a big holiday. However, if there are leftovers, they can easily be repurposed for different meals if you’re looking for a change.
  • They’re realistic given the current situation. Let’s face it, as much as we all may want a ham for Easter, an entire glazed ham probably doesn't make sense given our space constraints and the small group I'll be cooking for. A roast chicken or leg of lamb are just as Easter-worthy and more feasible options for smaller gatherings.
More Easter Ideas

25 Recipes for Small Easter Celebrations

If your Easter celebration is a little smaller that usual this year, we have you covered.

Classics

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Garlic, Herb, and Bread Crumb Crust; Fluffy Dinner Rolls; Carrot Snack Cake

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Garlic, Herb, and Bread Crumb Crust
This simple and delicious roasted leg of lamb is a showstopping dish. It serves 4 to 6 people so is a great centerpiece for a smaller Easter celebration.

Fluffy Dinner Rolls
Have you been meaning to hop on the bread-making bandwagon? This is the perfect time and there’s no better recipe than these Fluffy Dinner Rolls. This recipe uses a tangzhong paste inspired by Asian cooking which gives the rolls a soft and fluffy texture in addition to extending their shelf life (lamb sandwich leftovers, anyone?).

Carrot Snack Cake
For most people (including me), it’s just not Easter without carrot cake. America’s Test Kitchen has a lot of carrot cake recipes in its recipe archives, but this recipe just about blew me away. The cake gets soaked with a buttermilk syrup after coming out of the oven which creates a flavorful and very moist cake that keeps up to a few days (if there happens to be leftovers). It also has “snack” in the title, which gives you permission to eat it at any time of the day.

Simple Sides

Charred Beet Salad, Modern Cauliflower Gratin, Skillet-Roasted Broccoli

Easy Mashed Potatoes with Parsley and Lemon
This mashed potato recipe was made for this year’s Easter. Serving about 4 people, these quick and easy mashed potatoes get an upgrade with the addition of parsley and lemon. The recipe is also flexible and can be made with Yukon Golds or russet potatoes in case your grocery store’s potato options are limited.

Charred Beet Salad
I made this recipe a couple years ago for Easter and it was a welcomed addition to the table. If you have a sous vide machine, this is a great time to pull it out as the beets really benefit from the slow and gentle cooking. But there are also instructions for roasting them as well. Beets and radicchio are both hearty vegetables that can stand up to the dressing and make for great leftovers.

Modern Cauliflower Gratin
This ingenious recipe utilizes the whole cauliflower head by employing cauliflower’s natural ability to form a creamy puree to bind the florets together. It serves 8 to 10 people but can easily be halved; look at the instructions in the headnote to see how to do it.

Braised Spring Vegetables
This is a quick and easy vegetable side that brings out the flavors of spring vegetables—asparagus, radishes, and (frozen) peas—with citrus, thyme, and tarragon.

Skillet-Roasted Broccoli
If your oven is tied up with other dishes, this recipe uses an innovative cooking technique to achieve that caramelized flavor of oven-roasted broccoli on the stovetop—and in half the time. There are also a few variations—one with a sesame and orange topping, one with a smoky sunflower topping, and one with a Parmesan and black pepper topping—if you’re looking to spice up this side.

Main Dishes

Slow-Roasted Beef, Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy, Spice-Roasted Chicken

Slow-Roasted Beef
This mostly hands-off recipe transforms an inexpensive cut of beef into a holiday-worthy roast. Plan ahead because the beef gets salted overnight. This roast is great on its own or served with an herb or horseradish sauce. (It also makes great leftover sandwiches on the Fluffy Dinner Rolls.)

Ham Steak with Red-Eye Gravy
This year is anything but traditional—why not try something new? If a full ham isn’t on the menu this year, get your pork fix with this southern classic that requires very few ingredients but still packs a lot of flavor.

Spice-Roasted Chicken with Dill and Garlic
Who says a chicken can’t be the star of your holiday meal? There’s nothing more comforting and delicious than a perfectly roasted chicken. This recipe also has a couple different spice variations—one with chili and oregano and one with fennel, coriander, and lemon—depending on what you have hanging out in your pantry.

Desserts

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp, Banana Pudding Pie, Coffee Mug Molten Chocolate Cake for Two

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
Nothing signifies the beginning of spring quite like rhubarb, so if you are lucky enough to find fresh rhubarb at your grocery store right now I highly recommend making this crisp. However, if the fresh fruits are unavailable, frozen fruit can be substituted for an equally delicious dessert. This recipe serves six so is great for a smaller Easter celebration and I know from experience that it’s just as great eaten cold the next day.

Banana Pudding Pie
While it may not be the most traditional Easter dessert, this pie definitely deserves a spot at your table. It is made with a Nilla Wafer crust (you don’t even have to pull out your rolling pin!) and the filling can be assembled the day before. To top it all off, the mountain of meringue gets torched and I don’t know about you, but I love the smell of toasty sugar. And OK, this recipe serves 8, which might be more than you’re cooking for, but the leftovers would make a nice doorstep drop-off for some lucky neighbors.

Coffee Mug Molten Chocolate Cake for Two
If there are just two people at your Easter dinner then a comforting chocolate molten cake in a mug might just be the dessert for you. You can dress it up with ice cream, fruit, whipped cream, or whatever else you might have on hand.