There’s no doubt that cooking for a crowd requires planning, as even 10 people can constitute a “crowd” if you’re only used to cooking for two. Chicken is a great choice because most people like it, you can cook it in myriad ways and it’s tasty even when it gets cold. Give some thought to your venue – indoors or outdoors, formal or casual – and even consider outdoor grilling or indoor slow-cooking to keep the chicken on a low flame while your party heats up.
Heed Expert Advice
Choose chicken recipes that are good to eat at virtually any temperature: hot, lukewarm and cold. If your big crowd intends to arrive at different times of the day, having an adaptable dish or two negates the need for a formal, sit-down dinner time. In this case, consider grilled chicken breasts, breaded chicken or chicken fajitas.
Serve chicken on sticks, in the form of a kabob. A fun and portable dish, chicken kabobs can go even further if you intersperse them with vegetables or potatoes on a skewer.
Make simple accommodations if nothing but hot food will do for your big crowd. Press your slow cooker and chafing dishes into action or purchase tea lights that double as candle holders to keep your chicken warm but continually moist for an extended period of time.
Prepare as much of your chicken dish -- or dishes -- the day before since you probably want to enjoy your big crowd and not spend the entire day cooking for them. Clean and cut up the chicken and prepare the marinade, if any. Or brown chicken that you plan to put in a slow cooker or Dutch oven the next day. Cut up any vegetables and accompaniments. Store all the food in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Tape short notes with cooking instructions on the ingredients so that you can hit the kitchen floor running the next day.
Tasty Chicken Crowd Pleasers
Go the distance with a simple but tasty grilled dish, like balsamic-glazed chicken. Make your own marinade or use a good store variety and let the chicken soak up the flavors overnight. Grill the chicken on a medium-high flame – a task you can do hours before your big crowd arrives, if you choose. Grilled balsamic chicken is versatile: It can be eaten at any temperature, served with either hot or cold potatoes, wedged between two pieces of Italian bread as a hearty sandwich or sliced and placed into a salad.
Prepare a sumptuous one-pot dish like chicken Marsala dish in a Dutch oven or slow cooker. Heat some diced tomatoes, chicken broth and Marsala wine on high for one hour. Then, reduce the temperature to low and add your browned chicken – chicken breasts or chicken thighs – garlic cloves, Italian seasoning and chopped onion. Cook for four hours on high or for eight hours on low.
Topping bars are great for gatherings, and can kick up crowd pleasers like chicken sandwiches and Mexican eats. Tempt your big crowd with an equally big pan of chicken fajitas, which you can grill and cut up the day before to save time. Set up a “fajita station” where you can place a platter of grilled fajitas next to a tower of flour tortillas. Then let your guests go to town on the accompaniments, including red and yellow peppers, shredded cheese, creamed avocados, lettuce, salsa and sour cream.
- Almanac: The Party Planner: Cooking for a Crowd
- Betty Crocker: Amounts of Food for a Crowd
- Food and Wine: Cooking for a Crowd: A Master's Tips
- Dallas News: Caterer's secret for cheap way to feed masses? Chicken breasts
- The Right Recipe.org: Make-Ahead Chicken Fajitas for a Crowd
- Eating Well: Recipes for a Crowd: Iberian-Style Sausage & Chicken Ragù
- Slow cookers can be a god-send for large crowds. Ask your friends or neighbors to loan you theirs if you prefer not to grill. Remember that you can make virtually any chicken dish in a slow cooker that you normally prepare in the oven by simply converting the times and temperatures.
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images