Buffet food ideas: 63 easy party foods for special occasions and family get-togethers

Throw the best party yet with these easy buffet food ideas and inspirational party foods...

Buffet food spread with people scooping food onto plates
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From mini trifles to sausage rolls, from cheese and chive scones to pigs in blankets, here are the best buffet food recipes and ideas to serve at a party.

Our selection of delicious, easy buffet food ideas includes both sweet and savoury options. The recipes we've carefully selected cater from 6 to 75 portions so it doesn't matter if it's just you and a couple of friends and family, or you've invited the whole street - you're sure to find a selection of recipes to suit your buffet spread. 

We've got you covered for an array of seasons too - be it street party food for the summer months, or Christmas buffet ideas for when winter rolls around. There are also easy canapes like vol-au-vents and cheese puffs, with quick cheats so you can knock them up in no time. We've also included a collection of afternoon tea ideas, for themed parties and some kids party food ideas too.  

"When it comes to hosting a buffet it's best to include a number of dishes that can be prepared in advance and replenished throughout the day," says Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom. "Salads with dressings will wilt quite drastically so where possible serve with the dressing in a small jug or bowl to the side and allow your guests to help themselves. It's nice to include dishes that cater to all dietary requirements as it makes it less stressful and more inclusive. Dips such as hummus are a great option and can be served with a selection of vegetables, bread, or cured meat on the side so people can choose what is best for them."

Buffet food ideas: Easy party food

vol-au-vent fillings

Bring some 70s nostalgia to your buffet with this retro classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Vol-au-vent fillings

Serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 mins

Make these buffet staples look and taste their retro best with this selection of the most classic fillings. Try the ultimate mushroom vol au vent made with buttery 'shrooms and Greek yogurt (adding garlic and herbs will make it even more delicious) or a chicken version is a great way to use up leftover roast meat. 

Our prawn variety is in a simple cocktail-type sauce, while the ham, cheese, and pineapple filling is gloriously nostalgic.

Get the recipe: Vol-au-vent fillings

Tomato and cream cheese Santa hat

Simple, no-cook and cutely festive – a great one for kids and grown ups alike

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

2. Tomato and cream cheese Santa hat

Serves: 16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins

A simple and effective canapé – basically a fancied-up cheese and tomato on crackers, cutely resembling the big guy's jolly hat. Whip the cream cheese up with pepper, olive oil, and basil, spread on your cracker of choice, add a mini plum tomato, and top with a bobble of extra cream cheese. A great one for kid's lunches too. 

Get the recipe: Tomato and cream cheese Santa hat

Mini clementine pavlovas

These classy sweet canapés look tres sophisticated but are pleasingly easy to put together

(Image credit: Future / PHILIP SOWELS)

3. Mini clementine pavlovas

Serves: 12| Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins

Using cheat's ready-made meringue, these mini fruit pavlovas make great use of the most festive of fruits and can be put together in two easy steps. Whisk mascarpone, icing sugar, and clementine zest together, spoon into meringues, and drizzle over melted dark chocolate. Divine. 

Get the recipe: Mini clementine pavlovas

Triple cheese fondue with mini roast potatoes

Ooof, yes please, don't mind if we do

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

4. Mini roast potatoes with cheese fondue

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins

A proper authentic three-cheese fondue made from Comté, Gruyère, and Emmental, along with white wine, brandy, and garlic, will have you transported up a Swiss mountain in your salopettes. 

A Christmas comfort food, pop our thyme-roasted mini potatoes on a skewer and dip in – though you could also use small chunks of crusty bread. Ciabatta or rosemary focaccia would work wonderfully, we feel. 

Get the recipe: Mini roast potatoes with cheese fondue

canape recipe_Hot and spicy chicken skewers

Light, zingy flavours are a tonic to all those heavy Christmas foods

(Image credit: Future)

5. Hot and spicy chicken skewers

Serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins plus marinating

Perfect low-effort, flavour-packed skewers for when you've got a thousand other things to get done. Marinate sliced chicken breast in teriyaki sauce, add a sweet and sour taste from the maple syrup and lime, then grill and serve with a zesty dip made with spring onions, sweet chilli, and lime.

Get the recipe: Hot and spicy chicken skewers

pigs in blankets

For life, not just for Christmas dinner

(Image credit: Future)

6. Pigs in blankets

Serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Pigs in blankets are an iconic part of Christmas dinner, but they also make wonderful winter buffet food. Roast, stick them on cocktail sticks, and serve them with a mustard dip and some chutney, or even serve in mini rolls for a more substantial hot dog style canapé. 

Get the recipe: Pigs in blankets

goat's cheese and cranberry tartlets

(Image credit: Future)

7. Goat's cheese and cranberry tartlets

Serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

A super quick cheat's tart and a very clever use for leftovers. That pickle or chutney and the cheeseboard remnants – both goat's and blue cheese work wonderfully – can find a new home in this simple buffet canapé. Just pop it in the oven until the cheese bubbles. Yum.

Get the recipe: Goat's cheese and cranberry tartlets

mini lamb kebabs

A Middle Eastern-inspired lamb skewer with a refreshing tzatziki dip

(Image credit: Future)

8. Mini lamb kebabs

Serves: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Flavoured with ground cumin, coriander, garlic, and mint, mould onto skewers and grill, before serving with cooling tzatziki and perhaps some hummus on the side. 

Perfect with a tabbouleh salad, or a bowl of couscous flavoured with mint and pomegranate. A refreshing change from the overload of traditional Christmas flavours.

Get the recipe: Mini lamb kebabs

canape recipe Spicy salmon and guacamole cones

(Image credit: Future)

9. Spicy salmon and guacamole cones

Serves: 16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins, plus marinating

A taste sensation, if ever there was. The juicy, flaky roasted salmon pairs perfectly with the zesty lime, chilli, and onion mix, complemented perfectly by a generous dollop of creamy guacamole – all the better if it's homemade. A smudge of sour cream would work well too.

Get the recipe: Spicy salmon and guacamole cones

Peanut butter caramel slice

Didn't think you could better a millionaire's shortbread? You're welcome…

(Image credit: Future)

10. Peanut butter caramel slice

Serves: 48 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

Giving posh Snickers vibes, these irresistible sweet treats will be hoovered up in record time – almost as quickly as they take their place on the buffet table, there'll be nothing but crumbs. A nutty twist on a millionaire's shortbread, they're simply delicious. We'd hold a bit back to have a restorative cuppa the next day if we were you…

Get the recipe: Peanut butter caramel slice

halloumi dippers

Next-level halloumi treats with courgette and harissa dips

(Image credit: Future)

11. Halloumi dippers

Serves: 40 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 mins

An absolute smash hit on any buffet, halloumi is pretty darn tasty just as it is when grilled, but it's taken to the next level when coated in a crispy mix of breadcrumbs and spices like paprika and sumac, before frying… 

And to elevate things even further, these dippers are served with a harissa yogurt dip, to really pack a flavour punch. 

Get the recipe: Halloumi dippers

Espresso Martini chocolate pots

(Image credit: Future)

12. Espresso Martini chocolate pots

Makes: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins plus setting time

For adults only, these boozy Espresso Martini chocolate pots are a great choice if you're looking for something fancy to serve come buffet dessert time. Dark chocolate, double cream, and Kahlúa liqueur made up the mousse - topped with coffee-infused cream cheese. 

If you're having a party outside and want to be extra safe, make these pots in plastic glasses so you can still get the impressive finish without the worry of smashing glasses.

Get the recipe: Espresso Martini chocolate pots

Sticky chicken skewers with coconut and mango

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Food styling: Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

13. Sticky chicken skewers with coconut and mango

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Perfect for sharing, you can make eight of these tasty, flavor-packed chicken skewers in just one go. This recipe consists of five ingredients to ensure the chicken is tender and tasty including mango chutney, coconut cream, garlic, coriander seeds, and red chili. 

Serve with fresh coriander leaves and a slice or two of lime for drizzling. A great buffet, party food, BBQ, or even summer picnic choice.

Get the recipe: Sticky chicken skewers with coconut and mango

Cheese and chive scones

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Food styling: Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

14. Lancashire cheese and chive scones

Makes: 16  | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 mins

These savory scones are infused with Lancashire cheese and freshly snipped chives. Perfect served with shop-bought (or homemade!) tomato chutney, or simply spread thick with butter. A great make-ahead buffet choice that will take 40 minutes of your time, making a batch of 16 scones in one go. 

Get the recipe: Lancashire cheese and chive scones

Swiss roll raspberry pots

(Image credit: Future)

15. Swiss roll raspberry pots

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

If you're looking for a sweet option to serve at your party which is guaranteed to impress - but doesn't take ages to make, say hello to these jam jar pots. Swiss roll raspberry pots are so simple to make using just six ingredients; butter, raspberry jam, icing sugar, Swiss roll (shop-bought), and raspberries. 

They can be made in advance, especially if you choose to make them in jam jars as you can pop on the lid to keep them airtight and store them in the fridge the night before.

Get the recipe: Swiss roll raspberry pots

Pork and chorizo plait

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Food styling: Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

16. Pork and chorizo plait

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Medium| Total time: 1hr 20 mins

Beef Wellington and sausage roll fans are going to love this hearty pork and chorizo plait. Easy to slice and share, this recipe is made to serve eight. The meaty filling is made with pork mince, and pork sausage meat, and speckled with chorizo crumb. Sun-dried tomato paste brings the meat together as well as the apple which compliments the pork nicely. 

Wrap in readymade puff pastry, cook, and serve. You've certainly got one impressive meat-eater option that is sure to disappear in minutes come buffet opening time.

Get the recipe: Pork and chorizo plait

Homemade red cabbage coleslaw

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Food styling: Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

17. Homemade red cabbage coleslaw

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins

No summer buffet or BBQ spread is complete without homemade coleslaw - especially when it's made with crunchy red cabbage. A speedy choice for the table that takes just 15 minutes to prepare and it doesn't break the bank either as it's mostly made from vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and spring onions. 

Flavored with Dijon mustard for a kick of spice and tossed in a Greek yogurt coating, you can't go wrong with this three-step coleslaw.

Get the recipe: Homemade red cabbage coleslaw 

Eton Mess trifle

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Food styling: Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

18. Eton mess trifle

Serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1hr

The showstopper come party time, this impressive Eton mess trifle brings two classic British desserts together to make one delicious dessert that is sure to be a hit with guests. Layered with raspberry jelly, custard, and heaps of fresh berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, this trifle is loaded with textures and flavors. 

We'd recommend keeping the trifle in the fridge until you're ready to serve it as its best cold so all of the layers keep and the cream on top doesn't spoil. You can add the meringues last minute too, to ensure they are extra crisp when serving.

Get the recipe: Eton mess trifle

White chocolate passion fruit mousse

(Image credit: Future)

19. White chocolate passion fruit mousse

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins plus chilling

These white chocolate and passion fruit mousses are a dinner party favorite that can easily be adapted to your buffet spread for dessert. Certainly, a make-ahead option as you need at least two hours for chilling and setting time. The creaminess of the white chocolate and the sweet, tanginess of the passion fruit work wonders together. A lovely light option that will leave guests rather happy.

Get the recipe: White chocolate passion fruit mousse

Arancini rice balls with aioli

(Image credit: Jules Mercer, Sean Calitz, and Silvana Franco)

20. Arancini rice balls

Makes: 18 | Skill level: Med | Total time: 1hr 35 mins

Make 18 of these delicious pea arancini rice balls using this step-by-step recipe. A little harder to make than some of the other recipes in this buffet food collection, however, they are certainly worth the extra effort as they taste delicious paired with the homemade aioli dip. A combination of risotto rice, white wine, peas, Parmesan, and lemon juice, all rolled in a coating of crisp golden panko breadcrumbs.

Get the recipe: Arancini rice balls

Peri-Peri chicken drumsticks

(Image credit: Future / Silvana Franco)

21. Peri-Peri chicken drumsticks

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 50 mins

Give Nando's a run for its money with these three-step Peri-Peri chicken drumsticks - ideal for picnics, BBQ, or as part of your buffet spread. Red chilies, garlic, sweet smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, and lemon make up the base of this marinade. We've used chicken drumsticks in this recipe, but you could easily use other cuts of chicken like breasts, thighs, or wings - another favorite buffet food choice.

Get the recipe: Peri-Peri chicken drumsticks

Banana peanut muffins

(Image credit: Sean Calitz, Silvana Franco, Props: Max Robinson)

22. Banana peanut muffins

Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins

If you're an avid baker you must make a batch of these deliciously sweet banana peanut muffins ready in just two simple steps. Choose ripe bananas for the best flavor and texture and opt for unsalted peanuts to make sure the muffins aren't overly salty which can be a big no-no for some guests. 

Choose themed muffin cases to bake them in depending on the celebration. You can also make these muffins a couple of days ahead - just leave them to cool fully and then pop them into an airtight container.

Get the recipe: Banana peanut muffins

Vegan blueberry and coconut flapjacks

(Image credit: Future)

23. Vegan blueberry and coconut flapjacks

Serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Your vegan friends and family don't have to miss out on dessert at your buffet thanks to these blueberry and coconut flapjacks. They are really easy to make taking just 10 minutes of time to prepare and 15 minutes of time to cook. 

We've drizzled our flapjacks with purple icing however you could opt for other colors depending on the party theme - or you could leave the icing sugar drizzle entirely, the choice is yours.

Get the recipe: Vegan blueberry and coconut flapjacks

Coronation chicken

A deliciously creamy chicken curry dish that makes a gorgeous, traditional centerpiece.
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

24. Coronation chicken

Serves: 8-10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins

The cornerstone of any street party and the original buffet food. This was invented for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation lunch in 1953. Originally called Poulet Reine Elizabeth, it’s been a hot favorite at royal celebrations ever since. Don’t forget to serve it with little flags or mini bunting sticking out.

Jessica Ransom, says: "This is one of my top buffet dishes as it can be served a number of ways. Try it in wraps, and pitta bread or as a traditional sandwich filling. You can also bulk it out with boiled new potatoes and serve it as a side salad. If you want to make the recipe dairy and egg-free, try swapping the mayo for coconut yogurt."

Get the recipe: Coronation chicken

Stilton, apple and walnut salad

A showstopper salad that vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will love
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

25. Stilton, apple, and walnut salad

Serves: 8-10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins

A salad that should tempt even guests who aren’t usually lettuce nibblers. It’s great buffet food for vegetarians as it’s so filling - more like the main event than a side dish. If you’re not keen on blue cheese, swap it for a crumbly goat’s cheese instead. 

This is ready in just 15 minutes, and you can multiply the ingredients as needed depending on how many you are serving. 

Get the recipe: Stilton, apple, and walnut salad

Spring vegetable tortilla

This Spanish party dish can be made in advance and sliced up into portions
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

26. Vegetable tortilla

Serves: 8-12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1hr 45 

If you’re on a budget this is a brilliant option. Tortillas are packed with potatoes which are cheap and filling. It makes great buffet food because once it's cold you can slice it into portions ready for people to help themselves. Plus it’s another good veggie offering - though make plenty because your meat-eating guests will want some too. 

Although it takes 1 hour 45 to make this recipe, an hour of that is simply baking time. You can make it a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge until needed.

Get the recipe: Vegetable tortilla

Crushed potato salad

Potato salad with a fantastic tangy twist
(Image credit: Future)

27. Crushed potato salad

Serves: 4-6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

It’s quick and cheap to put together, and always popular in summer. It's a great side dish for a barbecue as well. Jessica says; "This is easy to prepare ahead and can be enjoyed warm or cold. It's best not to serve this dish fridge cold so bring it to room temp approx 30 mins before you want to eat it. 

Try serving with flaked hot smoked salmon or trout for a more substantial meal. To make this vegan use a plant-based mayonnaise and be sure to check the mustard label."

Get the recipe: Crushed potato salad

Coleslaw recipe

This homemade version is so easy you won't want to buy the packaged stuff ever again
(Image credit: Future)

28. Coleslaw

Serves: 4-6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

You can buy coleslaw in large supermarket packs but they don't compare to the homemade versions, which have much better crunch and freshness. It only takes 20 minutes to make this, with only three ingredients for the veg and three more for the dressing. 

Serve it with cold meats or picnic staples like pork pies and sausage rolls. Coleslaw is also a great dish if you have guests with dietary requirements, as it's vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Get the recipe: Coleslaw recipe

Pasta Nicoise

A beautifully colourful and tasty pasta salad
(Image credit: Future)

29. Pasta Niçoise

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Based on a classic South of France salad Niçoise but bulked up for bigger numbers with pasta shapes. You can make this well in advance and multiply the amounts as needed. Also, if it doesn’t all get eaten, it’s a great one for packing up for lunch the next day. 

Jessica says, "Budget-friendly and easy to prepare ahead, this is a lovely option for parties and buffets. Try using smaller pasta shapes as they are easy for people to eat when using just a fork or spoon. And it's a good idea to have several serving spoons available so that your guests don't have to wait in line too long."

Get the recipe: Pasta Niçoise

Bowl of hummus with pitta bread and olives

Such an easy homemade dip, it's ready to eat in 15 minutes
(Image credit: Future)

30. Hummus

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins

You won't believe how easy it is to make your own hummus. Serve it up in bowls with teaspoons in, so people can transfer a portion to their own plate. Or lay out some chopped vegetable crudités next to it.

Jessica says, "A great value dish that's easy to make and tastier than shop-bought. If you don't have chickpeas you can also make a dip using cannellini beans. Have fun and experiment with whatever plain beans you have in your cupboard and you might just find a new favourite. To improve the presentation, always serve with an additional drizzle of quality olive oil. You can also top it with toasted seeds, nuts, or a spice mix such as Dukkah or Zaatar." Make this up a day or two in advance and keep it covered in the fridge until needed.

Get the recipe: Hummus

Mediterranean-style barbecue chicken

Great served hot or cold - just have plenty of napkins at the ready for sticky fingers
(Image credit: Future)

31. Barbecue chicken drumsticks

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins

Drumsticks are one of the cheapest cuts of chicken to buy, so you can feed a whole crowd for not too much cash. This chicken is marinated in a really simple dressing, to keep costs down.

If you have a barbecue at your event you can simply make them up in the marinade beforehand - up to 24 hours ahead of time. Then just take them along to be added to the flames. Alternatively, cook them in advance (in the oven or under the grill) and bring them warm, or allow them to cool completely in the fridge before packing them up.

Get the recipe: Mediterranean-style barbecue chicken


Sweet caramelised onion and salty anchovies make a glorious summery combination
(Image credit: Future)

32. French onion tart

Serves: 18 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 45 mins

This French-style picnic staple is called a pissaladière and it’s a cross between an onion tart and a pizza. The topping is made from really slow-cooked onions, which sweeten and caramelize to perfection. Then there’s the salty hit of the anchovies and the sour olives. 

This recipe makes three little pizzas, and you can cut each one into six slices - making 18 small portions. It’s a marmite dish - anchovies are always divisive - but you will find that guests who like this definitely want more than one piece.

Get the recipe: Pissaladière

brie quiche

Homemade quiche is better than anything from a packet
(Image credit: Future)

33. Brie quiche with cranberries

Serves: 6-8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 20 mins

This quiche is a full-from-scratch recipe, but if you want to make it speedier use a pack of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry. We recommend slicing it down yourself into portions to make it easier for people to serve themselves at the buffet. Add some fresh green salad leaves with a light dressing over the top in a big bowl, and it’s a whole mini-meal.

Get the recipe: Brie quiche with cranberries

Tear and share bread being pulled apart

Great to serve with homemade hummus
(Image credit: Future)

34. Tear and share bread

Serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr

Making your own bread might sound like a challenge, but this recipe is pretty simple. It uses a shop-bought bread mix - the art is in the toppings you add. The great thing about taking homemade bread to a buffet is that it goes with so many other dishes, so make plenty. 

"This will look very impressive on your buffet food table and is easy to customize depending on your preferences," says Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom. "We recommend making a vegetarian and meat option to give guests more choices. You can prepare ahead then gently warm in the oven before serving, however, it's also delicious cold."

Get the recipe: Tear and share bread

Gluten-free olive bread

(Image credit: Future)

35. Gluten-free olive bread

Serves: 8-10 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 10

This olive bread uses gluten-free flour. It has so much flavor from the herbs, olives, and Parmesan cheese, it’s bound to be a hit. This recipe contains Parmesan cheese, which is not suitable for vegetarians. However, you can swap these for a vegetarian hard cheese, to make the recipe veggie-friendly.

"If you want to bake one bread that's good for everyone, this is a great choice," says Jessica. "You could slice this loaf into fingers for dipping into hummus or another homemade dip or use the bread to make sandwiches. It's a fantastic option that even those who are not gluten-intolerant will enjoy."

Get the recipe: Gluten-free olive bread

Cheese and bacon scones

Serve these mini scone with small slices of cheese and a tangy pickle
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

36. Cheese and bacon scones

Makes: 25 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins

Scones are an absolute must on a buffet table, and these aren’t the only ones you’ll find on this list. But for a little twist, go for a savory version. The salty bacon and the creamy cheese pair perfectly together. They're the perfect buffet food option as you can make over two dozen in just half an hour.  Serve these with extra chutney and a slice of cheese on the platter, and people can make up their own.

Get the recipe: Cheese and bacon scones

Bloody Mary sausage rolls

Give your homemade sausage roll a party vibe by serving them with this cocktail-inspired sauce
(Image credit: Future)

37. Sausage rolls

Makes: 10-12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 10 mins

It's the quintessential British picnic snack (even if some sources say they originated in France). If you want a classic version, check out all the tips you could possibly want in our ultimate guide on how to make sausage rolls. There's even a video to guide you through the process.

But for something extra special, we love this recipe which makes a dozen sausage rolls, served with their own cocktail-inspired sauce, with tomato, tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce.

Get the recipe: Bloody Mary sausage rolls

Cheese and pickle straws

These cheese straws are so easy to make and always go down a treat with guests
(Image credit: Future)

38. Cheese and pickle straws

Makes: 25 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins

You can buy cheese straws in the shops, but these cheese and pickle straws take things up a notch. Quick to make - only a little over half an hour, they’re always popular at parties. They’re easy to serve up - just stick them in beakers so they stand upright and people can help themselves.

This recipe makes 25 straws each about 20cm long. You can cut them in half before baking and make double the amount of shorter straws. The onion and herb dip is optional, but it makes a great addition if you have time.

Get the recipe: Cheese and pickle straws

Close up of potato cake on a plate topped with cheese and chive

Small but perfectly formed potato bites served with an addictively good dip
(Image credit: Getty Images)

39. Potato cakes with sweet chilli dip

Makes: 16-20 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins

These are simple to make and look so tempting on a serving platter. Spiced up with a hit of sweet chili in the dip, they are always popular with grown-ups. This recipe makes up to 20 cakes but they are really mini, so you’ll probably find people want more than one each. 

Serve hot or cold. If you’re going cold, you can make them up to 2 days in advance and store them in a sealed container in the fridge. It’s also another good vegetarian option.

Get the recipe: Potato cakes with sweet chili Philadelphia dip

Cheese, bacon and coronation chicken vol-au-vents

Two types of homemade vol-au-vents in one recipe - very retro chic
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

40. Cheese, bacon, and coronation chicken vol-au-vents

Makes: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins

A delicious retro option. This recipe includes two different kinds of filling for the vol-au-vents - a classic coronation chicken and melted cheesy bacon. You can experiment with other options though - try smoked salmon mouse and cucumber, or pimento cheese for vegetarian guests. To make them even speedier, buy readymade vol-au-vent cases.

Get the recipe: Cheese, bacon and coronation chicken vol-au-vents

Pork pies

Classic pork pies in a traditional pastry - great at parties or picnics
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

41. Pork pies

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1hr 25 

A little more skilled than some of the recipes on this list, but these are so impressive to serve up. Homemade pork pies are absolutely delicious, and the hot water crust pastry is a fun challenge to make. Unlike most pastry recipes, this one actually contains no milk or butter, so it’s suitable even for people with a dairy intolerance.  Serve with a bowl of Branston pickle or piccalilli, which guests can spoon onto their pies.

Get the recipe: Pork pies

Chicken satay kebabs

Deliciously marinated chicken on sticks
(Image credit: Getty Images)

42. Chicken satay kebabs

Makes: 8 mini kebabs | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

These chicken satay kebabs are given a wonderful flavor from the coriander, cumin, and tarragon rub. You can add the chicken to the marinade in advance and leave it to soak up for a few hours before cooking, or you can do the whole thing in just 20 minutes.

This recipe should be gluten-free - just check the ingredients on the curry paste and peanut butter to be sure. It contains yogurt, so it’s not dairy-free, but you can easily swap this for a dairy-free version if required. 

Get the recipe: Chicken satay kebabs

ham and butter sandwich

The best ham sandwiches ever? We like to think so
(Image credit: Future)

43. Ham sandwiches

Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins

Sandwiches are important for a street party spread: quick and simple to make and they feed a lot of people cheaply. Of course, you can make a selection of whatever filling you fancy - for most options, you won't need a recipe. However, we've included this one because of the fabulous Tewkesbury butter. It's quick to make and the hot horseradish in it gives the sandwiches a fiery kick.

Serve with a selection of other sandwiches including vegetarian and meaty options. Try cucumber, cheese and pickle, and coronation chicken for starters. If you have vegans to cater to, try hummus and cucumber or smashed avocado and sun-dried tomato.

Get the recipe: Ham and Tewkesbury butter sandwiches

Sausage, bacon and mustard pies

Pork pies with added punch - serve with a pot of English mustard or a tangy tomato pickle
(Image credit: Future)

44. Sausage, bacon and mustard pies

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 10

Another take on a pork pie. This recipe uses the hot water crust pastry, so classic for pork pies. However, if you want to make a quicker and simpler version, just use a ready-rolled shortcrust pastry.  This recipe makes six, but you can easily double all the quantities to make a dozen. These pork pies are much heavier in meat than the classics with a combination of both sausage and bacon. Not forgetting a kick of spice too, thanks to the mustard. 

Get the recipe: Sausage pie with bacon and mustard

vegetarian scotch eggs

Scotch eggs are such a summer party staple, but now vegetarians can enjoy them too
(Image credit: Future)

45. Vegetarian Scotch eggs

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 50 mins

"These are a fun meat-free take on the classic which can be prepared ahead of time. Your guests may find it daunting to take a whole Scotch egg so cut into wedges and serve with cocktail sticks for easy snacking," says Jessica.

The prep takes a little time and patience, but once they’re ready to go you can cook a batch in just 10 minutes. For mini versions, you could use quails eggs instead. Serve with some mayo for people to dip in, topped with a pinch of paprika.

Get the recipe: Vegetarian Scotch eggs

Cheese and chive puffs

These little cheesy puffs are like clouds of light choux pastry with a creamy cheese center - and they're easy than you'd think to master
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

46. Cheese and chive puffs

Makes: 16 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 35 mins

These are like a savory version of profiteroles. A light-as-air choux pastry with just a hint of cheesiness, filled with a delicious cheese and chive mousse center. They're ideal buffet food because guests can pick them up without getting greasy hands. For vegetarians, make sure to use Cheddar cheese or vegetarian hard cheese, rather than Parmesan. You could also do a version without cheese and fill them with chocolate cream as a pudding.

Get the recipe: Cheese and chive puffs

Mini quiches

Bite-size quiches always go down well with party guests. Serve warm or cold
(Image credit: Getty Images)

47. Mini Quiches

Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 10 plus chilling time

Sometimes it’s better to have a big quiche people can take their own slice of, but other parties work better with canapés. These make a great miniature option and you get a dozen in a batch.  This basic recipe uses bacon in the filling, but if you want a veggie option you can leave it out, or add in chunks of beetroot or chopped spinach.

Get the recipe: Mini quiches

Beef Wellington Canape

Sunday roast dinner in canapé form - perfect at parties at any time of year
(Image credit: Future Publishing)

48. Beef Wellington canapé

Makes: 12-15 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

These bite-sized beef Wellington canapés are the ultimate fancy option for buffet food. They’re quick and easy to make, but bursting with flavor. Each one is served inside its own mini vol-au-vent case, which you make yourself with ready-rolled puff pastry - cheat and use ready-made ones if you prefer. These work well all year round, from summer street parties to Christmas drinks soirées.

Get the recipe: Beef Wellington canapé

Cheesy stuffed olives

Simple but so pleasing - if you like olives you'll love these cheesy little savoury bites
(Image credit: Future)

49. Cheesy stuffed olives

Makes: 75 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

This is a great recipe if you're serving a big crowd of people. It takes an hour, but you get  75 little bundles of cheesy olives.  These are great on their own but you can also serve them with a cheese and chive dip, or spicy tomato salsa. Plus they’re only 29 calories a pop - perfect if you’re trying not to overindulge.

Get the recipe: Cheesy stuffed olives

Halloumi wrapped in Parma ham

Salty slices of fried halloumi wrapped in decadent parma ham
(Image credit: Future)

50. Halloumi wrapped in Parma ham

Makes: 40 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins

"Quick and easy to cook but best enjoyed warm, you can wrap the halloumi in the parma ham ahead of time," says Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom. "The combination is delicious but might become a little salty if you eat too many - try serving alongside some slices of melon which will act as a good palate cleanser."

This recipe makes 40 canapés and they are naturally gluten-free. Halve the recipe if you’re only entertaining a small number, or double it for more people. Serve up on a platter with crisp fried sage leaves and lemon wedges.

Get the recipe: Halloumi wrapped in parma ham

canape recipe_Mini Parma ham veggie tarts

These pastry-free mini tartlets are naturally gluten-free
(Image credit: Future)

51. Mini Parma ham tarts

Makes: 8-16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

This is a great recipe if you’re catering to a small number of guests, and you need to offer a pastry-free option. The Parma ham is the actual tartlet case, with a quiche-like filling. You need about half a piece of ham for each tart if you’re making them muffin tray size. For a canapé version, use a mini tart tray and cut the ham into smaller pieces.

See the recipe video to find out how easy this dish is to make - it’s one you can even do with kids. Make sure to have plenty of napkins for guests as the ham can be a little oily when it’s cooked.

Get the recipe: Parma ham and vegetable tartlets

Close up of mini Bakewell tarts drizzled in icing and topped with a cherry

These cherry flavour sweet treats are the perfect addition to a street party spread
(Image credit: Getty Images)

52. Bakewell tarts

Makes: 16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

The quintessentially English cherry tarts in bite-size. You get 16 from this recipe and they only take an hour to make, but that includes 35 minutes in the oven. You can leave some un-iced if you prefer, for more choice. Serve them alongside other mini versions of English classics like scones and mini Victoria sandwich cakes, see below.

Get the recipe: Bakewell tarts

Close up of mini Victoria sponge cakes

Sometimes the simplest cakes are the best, like these perfect little Victoria sandwiches
(Image credit: Future)

53. Mini Victoria sponges

Makes: 12-14 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins

There’s nothing wrong with going for a large-format Victoria sponge and cutting it into slices. The only issue is they tend to be too large to hold, so everyone will need a plate and fork. These marvelous mini versions take the hassle of cutting away - the perfect buffet food.

It's probably the easiest cake to make and turning the recipe from 1 large to a dozen small ones doesn’t make it any trickier. Queen Victoria herself used to enjoy these at teatime. Her version uses a layer of jam only, but we like to include the cream as well.

Get the recipe: Mini Victoria sponges

butterfly buns

For a fruity twist, you can swap some of the cake butterflies for sliced strawberries
(Image credit: Getty Images)

54. Butterfly cakes

Makes: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35-40 mins

Just one small step more complicated than a Vicky Sponge and possibly even cuter. We’ve included a video with this recipe so you can see, step-by-step, how easy it is. The traditional recipe includes cream and jam filling, but you can switch things up and create different flavors, using marshmallows fluff, peanut butter, or chocolate spread. As with all the best buffet foods, you can make these more patriotic by sticking little flags on the top.

Get the recipe: Butterfly cakes

Kirstie Allsopp's Royal Wedding celebration cake

A brilliant celebratory centrepiece (and an easy cheat's version)
(Image credit: Kirstie Allsopp)

55. Union Jack Cake

Serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 mins plus decorating time

For a really impressive sweet centerpiece, we just love a Union Jack cake, decorated with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

This cake is quick and easy to make (it's a basic Victoria sandwich recipe). However, if you don't want to make your own, you can totally cheat. Just buy a plain sponge traybake. Carefully remove it from the tray and arrange it on a rectangular serving board. Top it with shop-bought white frosting, adding it to the sides as well if you like. Then add the berries on top yourself. This method has the advantage that you will end up with a rectangular cake that can be easily cut into small squares, to feed even more people.

Get the recipe: Union Jack cake

Eccles cakes

Sweet and spiced mini treats that everyone will love
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

56. Eccles cakes

Makes: 30 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins

Eccles cakes are like a drier version of a mince pie. The Independent newspaper called them a ‘minor British institution: occupying the space between the mince pie and the Garibaldi biscuit in the baker's pantheon.’ They make good buffet food because they're small and fully wrapped in neat puff pastry so they're easy to pick up.

Eccles cakes are not of protected origin - so you can bake them anywhere from Aberdeen to Truro and still ‘officially’ call them Eccles cakes, wherever your party is. This version uses ready-made puff pastry for ease and speed. Make them the day before so the flavors have time to mature.

Get the recipe: Eccles cakes

Blueberry and vanilla scones

Classic afternoon tea scones but with a lovely blueberry twist
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

57. Blueberry and vanilla scones

Makes: 8-14 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

This recipe makes eight scones using a 6cm cutter, but if you’re serving more people, get it to go further using a 4-4.5cm cutter. That should leave you with around 14 cutouts, a perfect buffet food size.

To make preparation easier, Jessica says, "Bake the scones the day before and gently warm them in the oven just before serving. They can be served with cream or soft butter and blueberry jam. Alternatively, lemon curd is a fantastic option with this flavor combination."

Get the recipe: Blueberry and vanilla scones

Portuguese Tarts

Add some fabulous Portuguese flair to your buffet spread with this cool custard tarts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

58. Portuguese custard tarts

Makes: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 45 mins

In Portugal, these are absolute institutions. They are called Pastéis de Nata and bakers across the country vie for the title of best custard tart, a bit like scones in Britain, but without the Devon/Cornwall skirmishes. "These dainty little tarts are an elegant sweet option that kids and adults will like. Traditionally these custard tarts are often dusted with cinnamon but icing sugar would work well here," says Jessica.

Get the recipe: Passionfruit Portuguese tarts

Chocolate honeycomb mousse pots

Cute little personal chocolate pots with an irresistible topping
(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

59. Chocolate honeycomb mousse pots

Makes: 6-18, depending on pot size | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

Just enough chocolate to keep everyone happy, these little chocolate honeycomb mousse pots are the perfect indulgent end to a feast. This recipe makes six ramekins in 125ml pots, but you can get 60ml pots if you want, to make twice as many. Find them on Amazon. 

Or, if you really want to raise your game, why not make your own pots out of chocolate? It’s the most eco-friendly option - there’s no need for washing up or chucking away the pots because people eat them. Use a chocolate cup mold and make sure the mousse is completely cold before filling them. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Get the recipe: Chocolate honeycomb mousse pots

berry cheesecake bites on a platter

These cubes of cheesecake dotted with berries make will make up such a pretty part of your spread
(Image credit: Future)

60. Berry swirl cheesecake bites

Makes: 28 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 45 mins

Our berry swirl cheesecake bites have a warming ginger biscuit base, topped with cream cheese and crème fraîche cheesecake topping. Studded with mixed berries and infused with lemon zest. Because it’s basically a traybake, it’s really simple to portion up into bite-size pieces for your buffet food table. Make these desserts the night before the party so they have plenty of time to set and chill in the fridge. 

Get the recipe: Berry swirl cheesecake bites

close up of strawberry drink in a jar with a straw

The perfect summer drink to make with British strawberries
(Image credit: Future)

61. Strawberryade

Makes: 750ml if served over ice, or 1.5l diluted | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins, plus cooling time

Best refrigerated overnight, whip up a batch of this colorful strawberryade and combine it with lots of ice and fresh strawberries for a lovely refreshing summer drink. You can serve it ‘neat’, over ice. Alternatively, to make it go further and add some sparkle, dilute it 1:1 with fizzy water. It's a great alcohol-free option. This is perfect to make when British strawberries are in season and at their cheapest. You’ll find they are sweeter and much more flavored than the imported versions sold through the rest of the year. 

Get the recipe: Strawberryade

Pimm's recipe

Don't forget the cucumber, strawberries and ice for making this favourite
(Image credit: Future)

62. Perfect Pimms

Makes: 1.6lts | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 6 mins

A clinking glass of Pimms is the ultimate accompaniment to buffet food. And OK, at a street party, it tends in fact to be a paper cup rather than a clinking glass, but that means it’s even more important to get the recipe perfect.

If you’ve got lots of kids around you might find they’re disappointed that the grownups get such a fun-looking drink that’s not for them. In that case, have a non-alcoholic version for them too. Use apple or apple and strawberry squash, and add all the fruit and mint. It can be a nice way to get kids to eat an extra portion or two of fruit as well.

Get the recipe: Perfect summer Pimms

Homemade cloudy lemon and limeade

This traditionally cloudy lemonade also contains lime, for an extra zesty taste
(Image credit: Future)

63. Homemade lemon and limeade

Makes: 1.75l (approx) | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins, plus cooling and chilling time

Light and refreshing, this homemade cloudy lemon and limeade can be whipped up in no time and all you need is some lemons, limes, and a little sugar. The kids will love it and you can always use it as a base for some cheeky grown-up cocktails, too. A great addition to the buffet food spread. Multiply the amounts as needed. Serve in large jugs or from a Kilner drinks dispenser if you have one.

Get the recipe: Homemade cloudy lemon and limeade

What is buffet food?

Technically, it's a food system set up for serving yourself. A selection of dishes is laid out on a large table, you grab yourself a plate and choose what you want (it's also the most acceptable form of eating for going back for seconds, possibly even thirds…). 

Generally, there will be a wide range of savoury dishes, including meat, fish, and vegetable dishes such as salads, cheeses, and some sweet choices. Canapé-style finger foods are popular too on a buffet, as many people stand up and chat while eating, or have their food on their laps rather than sitting down formally at a table.

What foods are good for a buffet?

Foods you can eat with your hands, such as sausage rolls, mini quiches, and anything you can serve on skewers are great fodder for a buffet. Also, foods that complement other dishes – so salads or coleslaws to go alongside cold cuts; or crackers, chutneys, and hunks of bread to pair with a selection of cheeses. 

It's good to offer cold foods, so you don't have to worry about keeping things warm when people are grazing, but, in the winter, some hot dishes in the mix would be most welcome to your guests. Sausages are always a winner – and are still warmly received even when they've gone cold. Warm salmon or prawns are also great warm, but equally enjoyable when cooled down.

Don't forget the sweet stuff too –  choc pots, mini cheesecakes, mini trifles, and even a bowl of chocolates will all go down a storm. 

What is the cheapest buffet food to make for a party?

Sandwiches with inexpensive fillings, such as cheese, ham, or tuna, along with big piles of veggie crudites – such as carrot sticks, cucumber, and celery – with dips like hummus and salsa, and lots of snacks including crisps and breadsticks. Also, try making homemade sausage rolls or quiches with cheese, onion, and veggies like courgette or broccoli. 

Shop for your ingredients in budget supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl. Recent research by Which? showed that Lidl was the cheapest supermarket, with a shop of household essentials costing £74.58, beating  Aldi by just 17p – the same basket of 44 items at Waitrose would have cost 22% more at £91.15.

Read more about how to prepare for your festive feasting with our guide to the most popular Christmas foods.  Learn about how long it takes to cook a turkey for the big day itself and use our step-by-step guide to plan out your Christmas dinner timings

Octavia Lillywhite
Food and Lifestyle Writer

Octavia Lillywhite is an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist with over 15 years of experience. With a passion for creating beautiful, tasty family meals that don’t use hundreds of ingredients or anything you have to source from obscure websites, she’s a champion of local and seasonal foods, using up leftovers and composting, which, she maintains, is probably the most important thing we all can do to protect the environment. 

With contributions from