Lunch ideas for entertaining friends: A full weekend menu of recipes and different food ideas

If you're hosting, get some inspiration for your menu from our lunch ideas for entertaining friends. Including starters, mains and desserts for a range of dietary requirements and food preferences

Three different Lunch ideas for entertaining friends
(Image credit: Future)

Expecting friends this weekend and unsure what to cook? We've got a variety of superb lunch ideas for entertaining friends for you to try, and while these recipes will leave guests really impressed, they won't take anywhere near as long as you'd expect to cook.

Instead of getting out all your best cook books this weekend, scroll through our recipe ideas below instead; from starters, to mains and then desserts. Whether you want to cook a vegetarian, meat or fish dish this weekend for your friends and family we've got the menu sorted so that you can focus on the quality time spent with loved ones instead.

See our expert guide for more dinner party desserts, or we also have a guide with even more vegetarian dinner party recipes should you need more inspiration.

Lunch ideas for entertaining friends


Grilled Goats' Cheese and Beetroot Salad Recipe

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We love the colours in this grilled goats' cheese and beetroot salad,. A real show stopper of a starter when you're entertaining, you can't beat starting a menu with a lovely salad. 

Get the recipe for goats' cheese and beetroot salad.

Seared Scallops with Chorizo Recipe

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Kick things up a notch when entertaining, starting with these seared scallops with chorizo. They look divine plated up, but are really minimal hassle to make.

Get the recipe for seared scallops with chorizo.

Beetroot and Gin Cured Salmon

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There's nothing better to get people talking and get into the swing of things than a shared board of beetroot and gin cured salmon to start. With a really stunning, vibrant colour to it, it makes the perfect way to start a lunch or supper.

Get the recipe for beetroot and gin cured salmon.


venison casserole with button mushrooms

(Image credit: Future/Laura Edwards/Woman & Home)

Try this venison casserole with button mushrooms (pictured). It makes a pleasant change to a classic beef casserole and because it's leaner, venison makes for a slightly healthier meat option. When it's been cooked for a few hours it not only infuses with everything it's been cooking with but it becomes melt-in-the-mouth perfect too. We love how tender the venison becomes in this casserole and it goes great with the button mushrooms.

Get the recipe for venison casserole with mushrooms.

Asparagus Tart with Brie and Black Olive Dressing

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A delicious cheesy asparagus tart with brie and black olive dressing, this recipe is perfect for spring and summer entertaining. You can use a variety of cheeses if you don't like brie. The best to choose are soft cheeses like Camembert, as these will melt, whereas if you opt for halloumi this will remain unmelted, but will brown.

Get the recipe for Asparagus Tart with Brie and Black Olive Dressing.

A Moussaka with a spoonful served from it

(Image credit: Clive Streeter/ Woman & Home)

Just as tasty as the traditional dish, this lighter moussaka recipe contains slightly less fat than the original because it uses Greek Yoghurt for part of the recipe. We continued the light theme in this dish by charring the aubergines in a non-stick pan. Char-grilling the aubergines gives this moussaka dish a lovely smokey flavour and cuts down on the oil used in cooking too. Serve with a Greek salad and warm pitta bread.

Get the recipe for Lighter Moussaka.

Korean Lamb Roast Recipe

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Nothing brings people together like a roast does, so give this Korean Lamb Roast recipe a go. Served with new potatoes and green beans, it puts a bit of a twist on the classic roast recipe, and it's a real delight. Roasts are always a big hit when you're entertaining and they're especially easy to make, as once you've done all the prep you don't have to worry about them too much once your meat is in the oven. Serve with a sparkling rosé or your best Crémant.

Get the recipe for Korean Lamb Roast.

Slow Cooked Beef in a casserole pot

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The flavours in this slow cooked beef with mushrooms and red wine come together so elegantly thanks to the fact that it's slow cooked. If you give it the time it deserves this dish will really impress family and friends. Dishes made in a slow or multi cooker are a great choice if you're looking for lunch ideas for entertaining friends, as they're low-hassle and while they're cooking you can either get on with the starter or dessert.

Get the recipe for slow cooked beef with mushrooms and red wine.

Overhead view of a part carved roasted chicken on an oval plate.

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Sometimes classic is best, so why not try a fail-safe roast chicken recipe? This 'beer can' roast chicken is incredibly moist and the beer gives it a delicious malty flavour.

Serve with roast potatoes and carrots when you want to take things back to basics, or for a spring/summer alternative, served with buttered greens with just a pinch of rock slat scattered over. 

Get the beer can roast chicken recipe.

Broccoli and Bacon Frittata

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This lighter lunch dish serves up to six people and takes just half an hour to make. Tasty bacon and delicious parmesan help to flavour this easy dish – so you know you’re getting a speedy meal that’s super simple and tastes great, too. 

Get the recipe for the broccoli and bacon frittata.

Multi-Veg Cottage Pies with Sweet Potato Mash

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Catering to vegetarians? These multi-veg cottage pies couldn't be simpler and they taste delicious. Plus, as you can make them in individual dishes, they're a brilliant solution if your entertaining friends with multiple dietary requirements, as you can just make enough to cater for those who don't eat meat. 

Get the recipe for vegetable cottage pies with sweet potato mash.


Rhubarb and Lemon Tart

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Finish off a delightful meal with this rhubarb and lemon tart.  Particularly in summer when rhubarb is in season, this makes a great dessert. 

Get the recipe for Rhubarb and Lemon Tart.

Chocolate Mousse With Honey Hazelnut Praline served in three individual storage jars on a blue tablecloth.

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For a really impressive dessert give this chocolate and hazelnut mousse cake a go. Finished with a sprinkling of honeycomb, it looks truly stunning and tastes just as good. Serve in bowls, ramekins, or clean jars for a rustic finish. 

Get the recipe for chocolate mousse with honey hazelnut praline.

Meringue roulade with passion fruit

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For a really simple but impressive dessert, give this meringue roulade with orange and passion fruit a go. It's the perfect combination of flavours and textures. 

Get the recipe for meringue roulade with orange and passion fruit.

A chocolate florentine torte served on a cake stand next to two glasses of wine

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For a dessert that features everyone's favourite flavours, try this delicious chocolate florentine torte. Guests will be left asking for seconds...and maybe even thirds!

Get the Chocolate Florentine Torte recipe

coffee Panna Cotta with Honeyed Pecans

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Everyone loves a coffee to finish a good meal, so delight guests with this impressive coffee panna cotta. Finished with honeyed pecans, it's a real treat to enjoy at the weekend. 

Get the recipe for coffee panna cotta with honeyed pecans.

Samuel Goldsmith

Samuel has a BSc in Food from the University of Birmingham and nearly 16 years after he began his professional food career, his work has featured in national and international publications including Waitrose Food, Australian Delicious, and the LAD Bible Group. 

He was also a nutritional consultant for BBC’s Eat Well for Less. Throughout his career he has specialised in recipe writing and has produced many recipes for woman&home. Samuel is also Co-Vice Chair of the Guild of Food Writers and a Trustee of 91 Ways CIC.