43 Graduation Party Food Ideas

Take the last-minute hassle out of your menu planning with these graduation party food ideas. We have easy recipes for salads, main dishes, desserts and more.

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Dill Pickle Dip

My love for pickles led me to create this dill pickle dip. It’s an easy graduation party food idea But be warned…it’s addicting! —April Anderson, Forest Lake, Minnesota

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Graduation Sheet Cake

The surface of this graduation sheet cake is perfect for decorating in any way you like. We use it year-round for special events. —Patsy Dean, Sealy, Texas

Check out even more graduation cake ideas.

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Sloppy Joe Slider Bake

Ground beef is turned up a notch in these party sliders that are sure to please your crowd. I love how easy they are! —Rashanda Cobbins, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Southern Mac and Cheese

No down-home meal is complete without Southern mac and cheese. Three types of cheese and a squirt of mustard make this graduation party food idea something special! —Katie Sloan, Charlotte, North Carolina
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Lemon Blueberry Whoopie Pies

These whoopie pies are soft, cakey cookies studded with tart, juicy blueberries and filled with tangy cream cheese frosting. They’re my go-to graduation party food idea. Be sure to continually scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula while making the batter and frosting. —Kathy Martino, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Smoked Pork Butt

Low and slow is the best way to go when cooking pork butt, and it happens perfectly in a smoker. This has very little hands-on time, but you will need to plan for a long cook time. The fantastic thing is the meat freezes very well so you can make it ahead of time and have it ready to go. —James Schend, Pleasane Prairie, Wisconsin
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Ranch-Style Beans

This ranch-style beans recipe is served at all of our graduation parties. It seems most people who live here like spicy, flavorful food, and this fits the bill just right. —Wilma Ruth James, Ranger, Texas
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Pineapple Cheese Ball

Pineapple lends a fruity tang to this fun and tasty appetizer. Instead of one large cheese ball, you could make two smaller ones…one to serve before a meal and one to take to a party. —Anne Halfhill, Sunbury, Ohio
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Tandoori Masala Chicken Sandwiches

This graduation party food idea combines spices from my Indian roots with a modern twist. If you want to add some extra heat to your sandwiches, add half a serrano pepper to the slaw. —Mary Lou Timpson, Centennial Park, Arizona
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Banana Crumb Pudding

Friends and family ask me to make my thick and creamy banana pudding for all occasions. They can’t get enough of the wonderful flavor of the fruit and the vanilla wafer crumbs. You can also top the classic Southern treat with meringue instead of whipped cream. —Yvonnia Butner, Pinnacle, North Carolina
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Bacon Cream Cheese Pinwheels

It's hard to resist a crescent roll, bacon and cream cheese in one bite! Kids, friends, everyone will scarf these cream cheese pinwheels down. Now I bake a double batch whenever we have a get-together. —Krista Munson, Sharpsburg, Kentucky
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Sweet Hoosier Dog Sauce

In our area of Indiana, we love sweet coney sauce on our hot dogs! Our town still has an old drive-in that is famous for its sauce. —Jill Thomas, Washington, Indiana
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Italian Pasta Salad

This zesty Italian pasta salad recipe combines vegetables and pasta in a creamy dressing. Refreshing and filling, this change-of-pace salad is perfect as a graduation party food idea. It’s always popular at a potluck. —Tina Dierking, Skowhegan, Maine
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Strawberry Crunch Ice Cream Cake

While growing up, I loved treats from the ice cream truck that rolled through my neighborhood. This ice cream cake is inspired by one of those crunchy, strawberry novelties. —Lisa Kaminski, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
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Slow-Cooked Barbecued Beef Sandwiches

Chuck roast makes delicious shredded beef sandwiches after simmering in a rich, homemade sauce all day. The meat is tender and juicy and takes minutes to prepare for a graduation party food option. —Tatina Smith, San Angelo, Texas
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Sticky Honey Chicken Wings

This honey chicken wings recipe was given to me by a special lady who was like a grandmother to me. —Marisa Raponi, Vaughan, Ontario
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Avocado Salsa

I was coming up with graduation party food ideas and thought it might be fun to try a different kind of avocado salsa. This recipe was an absolute success. Scoop it up with chips, spoon it over chicken or steak, or eat it on its own! —Susan Vandermeer, Ogden, Utah
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Honey-Citrus Iced Tea

A frozen orange or lemon slice in the glass looks pretty and helps keep this refreshing punch nice and cold. Using honey instead of sugar adds a sweet touch. —Sheila Bradshaw, Columbus, Ohio
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Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

My mom, a former home economics teacher, sent me this recipe. We love it, and so does company I serve it to. —Kea Fisher, Bridger, Montana
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Easy Spanakopita Appetizers

I love having appetizers on hand in the freezer, especially when the holiday season is fast approaching. This easy spanakopita recipe is one of my all-time favorites. Everyone loves them, they’re easy to prep and they bake up in about 20 minutes. —Shannon Dobos, Calgary, Alberta
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Oven-Fried Chicken Drumsticks

This fabulous graduation party food idea uses Greek yogurt to create an amazing marinade that makes the chicken incredibly moist. No one will guess that it has been lightened up and is not even fried! — Kim Wallace, Dennison, Ohio
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Slow-Cooker Beef Barbacoa

I love this beef barbacoa because the meat is fall-apart tender and the sauce is smoky, slightly spicy and so flavorful. It’s an amazing alternative graduation party food idea. It’s also versatile. You can have a soft taco bar and let people make their own—or offer mouthwatering Mexican pizzas or rice bowls. —Holly Sander, Lake Mary, Florida
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Aunt Karen’s Shrimp Salad

If you’re trying to think of graduation party food ideas, this shrimp salad is perfect. It’s quick to put together, too, leaving you more time to spend with your guests. — Karen Moore, Jacksonville, Florida
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Antipasto Kabobs

My husband and I met at a cooking class. We have loved creating menus and entertaining ever since. These make-ahead antipasto skewers are always a hit. —Denise Hazen, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Need to bring a dish to pass this weekend? This make-ahead strawberry pretzel salad will disappear quickly at any potluck. —Aldene Belch, Flint, Michigan
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Peanut Butter Custard Blast

"Ooey, gooey, great!" is how friends and family describe this chocolate-peanut butter dessert. I appreciate the make-ahead convenience. —Marilee Evenson, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
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Loaded Potato Salad

Get a load of this loaded potato salad with sour cream, bacon, shredded cheddar, green onions and more. The ingredients come together to give you all the richness of restaurant potato skins at your next picnic. —Monique Boulanger, Greenwood, Nova Scotia
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Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Dessert

My mother passed this graduation party food idea on to me because she knew I’d want to make it. I love desserts—especially this one! —Mary Wright, Morriston, Ontario
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Iced Raspberry Tea

Frozen raspberries lend fruity flavor and lovely color to this pretty iced tea that's good throughout the year. The recipe calls for just a few common ingredients and offers make-ahead convenience. —Lois McGrady, Hillsville, Virginia
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Corn ‘n’ Cucumbers Salad

This cucumber corn salad was one of my mother’s recipes and I think of her whenever I make it. It’s a nice change from a regular cucumber salad. —Jean Moore, Pliny, West Virginia
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Make-Ahead Sausage Pinwheels

Filled with sausage, sweet pepper and cream cheese, these roll-ups are excellent for unexpected visitors, a cocktail party or a halftime snack. Besides being easy to make, they can be done way ahead and kept in the freezer. All you have to do is pop them into a hot oven! —Cindy Nerat, Menominee, Michigan
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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Hawaiian nuts and melty morsels make a fantastic combination in these buttery white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. —Cathy Lennon, Newport, Tennessee
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Broccoli Salad Supreme

People can't get enough of the sweet grapes and crunchy broccoli in this colorful salad. I appreciate its make-ahead convenience. —Terri Twyman, Bonanza, Oregon
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Cayenne Pretzels

These spicy pretzels were a huge hit at my daughter's graduation party. The longer they sit, the spicier they get! —Gayle Zebo, Warren, Pennsylvania
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Slow-Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Foolproof and wonderfully delicious describe my barbecue pork recipe. Just four ingredients and a slow cooker make a fabulous dish with little effort. —Sarah Johnson, Chicago, Illinois
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Texas-Style Beef Brisket

A friend had success with this graduation party food idea, so I tried it. When my husband told me how much he loved it, I knew I’d be making it often.—Vivian Warner, Elkhart, Kansas
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Scalloped Taters

This creamy, comforting slow-cooked side tastes marvelous with almost any main dish and is a snap to assemble with frozen hash browns. It's a good way to make potatoes when your oven is busy with other dishes. —Lucinda Wolker, Somerset, Pennsylvania
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Turkey Focaccia Club

My family thinks this sandwich is pure heaven thanks to the cranberry-pecan mayo. It's so good that they ask me to make it all year long. —Judy Wilson, Sun City West, Arizona
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Overnight Fruit Salad

I first tasted this rich, old-fashioned fruit salad at my wedding reception many years ago. The ladies who did the cooking wouldn’t share the recipe at the time, but I eventually got it. I’ve made it for many meals, and our daughters copied the recipe when they married. —Eileen Duffeck, Lena, Wisconsin
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Barbecued Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Brainstorming for graduation party food ideas inspired this BBQ chicken salad sandwich. An instant summertime favorite, these dressed-up sandwiches have become a mainstay at our house. —Linda Orme, Battleground, Washington
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Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars

These cheesecake bars layer a buttery pecan shortbread crust with a rich and creamy filling and sweet-tart strawberry rhubarb jam. For larger squares, cut into nine bars instead of 16. —Amanda Scarlati, Sandy, Utah
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Orange Gelatin Pretzel Salad

Salty pretzels pair nicely with the sweet fruit in this refreshing layered salad. It’s a family favorite that is a slam-dunk at graduation parties. —Peggy Boyd, Northport, Alabama