This Winter Dinner Party Menu Has Everything You Need to Host a Cozy Soirée for 6 People, from Drinks to Dessert

We adore hosting our friends and family for dinner parties. What’s more satisfying than gathering everyone we love around one table and serving them delicious food? But we’ll admit that the colder months can make the whole planning and cooking thing a drag. The solution? A little seasonal produce and a few effortlessly elegant recipes, naturally.

With this winter dinner party menu—which includes everything from cocktails to seasonal appetizers, side dishes and dessert for six people—you’re all but guaranteed to convince your guests to leave their cozy couches and come on over. If you throw in a few bottles of wine, you’ll really seal the deal.

17 Easy Dinner Party Recipes for Stress-Free Entertaining

winter dinner party menu cat
Ren Fuller/Katherine Gillen/Nico Schinco

Shopping List:


1 to 2 ruby red grapefruits
2 to 3 lemons
6 mandarin oranges
1 crisp-tart apple (such as Honeycrisp)
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 garlic clove
2 scallions
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 medium fennel bulb
1½ pounds baby potatoes
1 pound trimmed slim carrots (preferably multicolored)

3 ounces prosciutto (or another thinly sliced cured meat)
One 3- to 4-pound whole chicken

Two 4-ounce balls burrata
¼ cup grated pecorino Romano
12 ounces buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces goat cheese from a log

2 pieces flatbread or naan
1 sheet frozen puff pastry

Canned and Packaged Goods
16 ounces red vermouth
1 bottle Angostura bitters
Marcona almonds
¾ cup sliced almonds
3 cups blood orange juice

Pantry Ingredients: honey, extra-virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, balsamic vinegar, flaky sea salt, granulated sugar

Cocktail: Ruby Vermouth Spritzers

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

You’re playing host, not bartender, so set yourself up for success with a low-effort beverage that’s as refreshing as it is easy to make. This one is a wintry twist on the Aperol spritz, and all you have to do is pour seltzer on top of red vermouth, no shaker required.

Appetizer: Charcuterie-Board Flatbread

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

A gorgeous charcuterie board is a dinner party no-brainer, but we like to switch things up. Serve these individual flatbreads and wow your guests when they get a a bit of salty, savory, creamy, crunchy and sweet in every bite. Bonus, this app is no-cook and can be customized to your tastes, whether you want to eliminate the meat for a vegetarian version or garnish it with balsamic glaze instead of honey.

Salad: Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Fennel and Mandarin Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, make ahead, gluten free

In our humble opinion, winter salads don’t get nearly enough love. Show off the season’s best produce with this bright, fresh mixture of Brussels sprouts, fennel and juicy mandarin slices. The salad and dressing can both be made up to three (3!) days in advance—just dress it right before you’re ready to serve to keep it crisp.

Main Course: Skillet Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 5 hours, 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, gluten free, <10 ingredients

For the pièce de résistance, make a main that looks impressive but is foolproof for all skill levels. Most of the work for this lacquered bird is completely hands-off: You’ll marinate it in buttermilk the night before for juicy, tender meat and that gorgeous, golden crust, then plop it in a skillet and let the oven do the rest. The potatoes are optional, but they make a nice starchy addition to the menu (and the way they soak up those chicken juices is *chef’s kiss*).

Side Dish: Carrot Tarte Tatin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, vegetarian, special occasion–worthy, crowd-pleaser

Just because you’re pulling out all the stops with your entree doesn’t mean you have to neglect the sides. This savory tart is a lesson in stunning your guests with zero stress on your part. It’s bolstered by a layer of goat cheese, but if you want to serve it on the side for dairy-free (or picky) guests, go right ahead.

Dessert: 3-Ingredient Blood Orange Granita

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes + freezing time
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, gluten free, dairy free, vegan

Cap off your extravagant, effortless winter dinner party menu with the most refreshing, elegant dessert this side of a polar vortex. It’s entirely make-ahead, and it comes together with three ingredients and will satisfy everyone at the table, since it’s vegan and gluten free. (If you want to kick it up a notch further, add scoops of vanilla ice cream or top each glass with a pour of Champagne.)

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Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...