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76 Easter dinner ideas for a fresh spring feast

Bring on spring's bounty with these holiday-ready recipes.
RECIPE: Spiced Cider Glazed Ham
RECIPE: Spiced Cider Glazed HamTheodora Kaloudis
/ Source: TODAY

The beauty of an Easter dinner spread is that you have a lot more freedom than other holidays. When it comes to planning your holiday menu, most of the dishes are likely to revolve around the main course. Glistening honey-baked ham is a classic centerpiece. Not only is it popular amongst almost everyone, but it’s already fully cooked, making your meal prep a little bit easier. But ham isn’t the only option. Roasted leg of lamb, porchetta or simple roast chicken are all worthy alternatives, and they’ll pair with pretty much anything. You can even embrace the abundance of fresh spring produce when planning your Easter dinner menu. We’ve included recipes like spring green lasagna and risi e bisi, which both incorporate vegetables such as asparagus and spring peas into the mix, for vegetarian mains.

Just like other holidays, the side dishes are really the most important part. We have everything from cheesy scalloped potatoes and yeasted dinner rolls to lighter dishes like glazed carrots and leafy green salads that will play a prominent part on your dinner plate.

And don’t forget dessert. Depending on how many guests you’ll be hosting this year, at least one or two desserts are mandatory. We don’t make the rules, we just encourage you to follow them. No-bake and make-ahead desserts are always an easy sell — just like with any other holiday, the less time we have to spend in the kitchen on the big day, the better. You can opt to indulge in rich cheesecakes and chocolate desserts or keep things light and springy with all things lemon.

Easter dinner mains

The glaze on this ham is simple, but it uses three powerhouse ingredients — gochujang (a spicy fermented Korean chili paste), honey and cola. The glaze, which becomes sticky on the surface of the ham, is sweet, salty and spicy. And what’s better than a spiral ham on the big day? Leftovers for many days to come — pile extra slices of meat into sandwiches or add bite-sized pieces to fried rice or soup.

This ham is delicious on its own, but it’s really all about what you serve it with. Assemble all of your favorite sandwich fixings, such as mayonnaise, mustard, pickles and baby greens alongside slider buns so guests can make their own ham sandwiches. The flavor combination of maple syrup and black peppercorns is simple enough that it will pair well with whatever you choose.

Lamb is a staple when it comes to Easter dinner. For this recipe, the lamb cooks in the same vessel as the potatoes, which become its side dish. While the meat and potatoes roast, you’ll have plenty of time to whip up a quick yogurt sauce to complement the classic Greek flavors of the lamb.

Spring Vegetable Lasagna

This sky-high vegetable lasagna is loaded with seasonal flavor, thanks to the use of spring peas and spinach. Some of the spinach and peas are layered among the lasagna noodles, while the rest are blended into a vibrant green pesto. These are then layered with creamy bechamel sauce, lemony ricotta and lots of Parmesan cheese.

With so few ingredients, the true, rich flavor of the meat is able to stand out in this recipe. The meat roasts with some beef broth and fresh thyme, which creates a lovely aroma. It’s the perfect blank slate for any side dishes you want to include on your Easter menu.

 Lemon Tarragon Chicken

Nothing beats a simple chicken dish, even for Easter dinner. Chicken thighs are nearly impossible to overcook, so you can be sure to get the skin nice and crisp without worrying about drying out the meat. As for flavor, a finish of fresh tarragon and lemon zest make this dish feel perfect for the spring season.

Lamb and mint are a power couple when it comes to flavor pairings. The fresh, cool flavor of mint helps mellow the gamey flavor of the lamb. Plate each serving with a hefty dollop of a vibrant beet yogurt sauce.

Slow-Cooker Glazed Ham

Short on oven space? Let your slow-cooker finish the ham, which will keep the meat moist until you’re ready to serve. The sweet and tangy glaze will soak into the spiral-cuts of the ham.

Risi e Bisi (Italian-Style Rice and Peas)

This simple Venetian dish is similar to risotto, where warm broth is slowly incorporated into glutinous rice to make it smooth and creamy. What makes this dish extra special is the addition of peas. While the peas themselves add sweetness and a pop of color to the rice, the pea pods simmer with stock to infuse it with even more fresh flavor.

Spiced Cider Glazed Ham

Hot cider is for more than just nursing on a cold winter’s day. When combined with brown sugar, mustard and plenty of warming spices, it creates a deliciously sticky-sweet glaze for Easter ham. Cloves are optional, but they add flavor and add visual appeal.

If the weather is agreeable, why not fire up the grill to do some of the cooking on Easter? Make a quick marinade with fresh mint, lemon, garlic and pepper flakes — save some for serving and use the rest to marinate a tender leg of lamb. The acidity from the reserved dressing helps add some freshness to the lamb’s chargrilled flavor.

Herby Honey-Baked Ham with Citrus

Ham and citrus are a match made in heaven. This is a great way to incorporate some late-season oranges into your menu — the citrus brings out the floral notes in the honey glaze. Carve up what you need for dinner and save the rest — leftovers make a killer Cubano sandwich.

Roast chicken isn’t the most traditional Easter dish, but it certainly is a crowd-pleaser. Hefty hunks of potatoes roast under the bird, catching plenty of its flavorsome drippings. The rest of the drippings are thickened with a touch of flour to create a simple gravy.

The crackling skin of this succulent pork roast isn’t even the best part. It’s stuffed with a filling made of ground pork, sweet-tart apples and plenty of herbs and spices. Serve it alongside braised cabbage, apples and turnips to make it a complete meal.

A side of salmon is an easy way to feed a crowd. It cooks quickly and only needs a handful of ingredients to make it taste wonderful. This one is baked on a sheet pan and coated in a glaze made of mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar and a handful of fresh herbs.

Ina Garten's Baked Virginia Ham

The glaze for this ham has one slightly untraditional ingredient — mango chutney. Along with brown sugar and orange, the chutney adds a mellow sweetness to the glaze. Bonus: you can serve extra marmalade and mustard alongside for guests to dip in.

Lamb and Squash Stew

If you still have some winter squash kicking around, this hearty lamb stew is one way to put it to good use. Lamb shoulder is a rather tough cut of meat, so it takes some time to braise and become tender. Let it simmer away on the stovetop while you prep the rest of the meal.

Here, plump spears of asparagus are nestled into a bed of lemony ricotta and goat cheese. It all sits upon a base of flaky pastry that puffs and browns in the oven. It’s a lovely vegetable-forward addition to the likes of spiral ham and lamb.

Spiral Ham with Pineapple-Aleppo Glaze

Since store-bought spiral hams are already fully cooked, it can be fun to play around with the glaze. This one has a tropical spin, pairing pineapple juice with maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, Aleppo-style pepper and other pantry spices. A touch of miso and mustard is added to the glaze once it comes off the heat, adding the perfect amount of umami.

This roasted pork tenderloin has a lot going for it — it’s moist and succulent, flavorful and it’s made with just six ingredients. The tenderloin spends some time marinating in salted yogurt, which helps flavor the meat while also tenderizing it. The whole thing is rolled in a mixture of garlic powder and herbs de Provence before being seared and finished in the oven.

Cola Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze and Jezebel Sauce

The syrupy sweetness of cola is the perfect ingredient to use in glaze for ham because as it melds with the other ingredients, it forms a sticky syrup. What sets this recipe apart is something called jezebel sauce. Named because it’s both sweet and a little spicy (wink, wink), it’s made with apple jelly, marmalade, mustard and a generous amount of horseradish.

If you want to serve ham without the whole to-do, consider incorporating it into a frittata. The hearty egg dish is sometimes considered a breakfast food, but it’s just as delightful for dinner. It can be served at room temperature, and any leftovers can be made into sandwiches the next afternoon.

This one-pot meal is the ultimate recipe for entertaining. A roasted leg of lamb will feed a lot of people, and the fact that all of the vegetables roast in the same pan earns it some bonus points. Top it off with a drizzle of spicy and smoky green harissa sauce, made with fresh mint and parsley, jalapeños, lemon and garlic.

Why should turkey be reserved exclusively for Thanksgiving? This recipe is made porchetta-style, swapping the pork for leaner turkey meat. The citrus, fennel and rosemary give it a uniquely Italian flair.

This hearty dish is the definition of a ‘meat and potatoes’ meal. The racks of lamb and potatoes are both seasoned as simply as can be with olive oil, salt and a few cracks of black pepper. The potatoes roast to perfection on a sheet pan, while the lamb chops are seared on the stovetop to develop a golden-brown crust.

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of cutting into a roast chicken that’s not quite cooked through, it’s time to give spatchcock chicken a try. Since the bird is pressed flat, it roasts much more evenly and there’s little room for error. Throw some potatoes and your favorite vegetables onto the pan while you’re at it — they’ll absorb some of the chicken’s juices as they roast.

Honey-Baked Salmon

Move over, honey-baked ham. Salmon has joined the chat. Buttery portions of salmon get the honey-baked ham treatment and roast with a sweet and savory glaze that’s amped up with smoked paprika and warming spices. It’s comforting and fresh all at the same time.

Easter side dishes

Spring carrots are the sweetest and most tender ones you’ll find. They’re an underrated vegetable, capable of so much more than being the base of a soup. Toss them with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and you’ve got yourself a quick side dish in about 30 minutes.

Cheesy Potato Gratin

Easter is not the time to skimp on the good stuff — potatoes, cheese and cream in particular. This easy potato gratin layers thin slices of buttery gold potatoes with caramelized onions, heavy cream and Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses.

Best Popovers

Popovers are an American take on the British Yorkshire puddings, which are usually made with beef drippings. So it’s not a far reach to say that these pair well with any Easter meat of your choice, whether it be a spiral ham or a roast chicken. You can also use them instead of regular bread the next day to make leftover sandwiches.

Mashed potatoes are such a simple, beloved dish; everyone will be thrilled to see them on the dinner table, even for the most elegant feast. Roasted garlic is a great way to give the potatoes an instant upgrade. Even with a whole head of garlic, the flavor is subtle, so those sensitive to the ingredient will still be able to enjoy the potatoes.

Air Fryer Potatoes

Not only does this recipe free up much-needed oven space, it also cooks the potatoes in about half the time it would normally take. Potatoes crisp up beautifully in the air fryer, thanks to the extra heat circulation. Keep the flavors simple by adding some spices and finishing them off with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

There’s nothing like a dish of macaroni and cheese to bring people together. Stovetop recipes are great, but baked and bubbly is the winner in our book. This recipe incorporates cavatappi pasta and sharp cheddar cheese into a silky bechamel and is baked with a buttery breadcrumb topping.

Mashed potatoes are best known as a Thanksgiving side dish, but smashed potatoes are claiming their rightful place at the Easter dinner table. We absolutely love the texture of the red potatoes. Sour cream and plenty of Parmesan cheese are stirred in for good measure.

It’s always a good idea to add one or two green vegetables to your Easter dinner menu. There’s no better way to cook perfectly in-season asparagus than by simply roasting it. We add a dash of Pecorino Romano cheese and a few hefty cracks of pepper to bring the cacio e pepe vibes.

Biscuits are so much better than dinner rolls — change our minds. Each buttery layer is perfectly flaky, and you’ll be happy to have leftovers. You can fill them with leftover ham, cheese and a fried egg to make a breakfast sandwich the next morning.

Brussels sprouts are thought of as a cold-weather vegetable, but they can usually be found year-round. The best way to get that restaurant-quality crispiness is to cook them in the air-fryer. The air circulation, combined with the honey that coats each sprout, helps them caramelize in all the right places.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Just because winter is over doesn’t mean soup season has to come to an end. Carrots become even sweeter and earthier when paired with the likes of fresh ginger and garlic. The key to a really flavorful soup is to roast the carrots until caramelized before simmering them in the broth with the rest of the ingredients.

Whoever said vegetables can’t be indulgent clearly didn’t know what they were talking about. Here, tender blanched green beans bake in a creamy mushroom sauce that’s flavored with a good helping of Parmesan cheese. And of course, no green bean casserole would be complete without a final sprinkle of fried onions.

Alison Roman's Bitter Leafy Salad

A simple salad is always a welcome addition to any menu, especially one that revolves around heavy foods like meats, cheese and potatoes. Bitter greens like escarole and radicchio add a pleasant crunch to this salad (and they don’t wilt as quickly as a lot of other greens). Herbs play a prominent role here too — there’s almost as many herbs as there are leafy greens.

Holiday Corn Pudding

It’s not quite corn season, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying creamy corn pudding. Canned creamed corn and whole kernels are mixed into a rich batter. Once baked, everything melds together to create a custard-like scoopable pudding.

Roasted broccolini is as delicious as it is elegant looking. The slender stalks are similar to broccoli but with a slightly more peppery profile. All they need is a quick turn in the oven with salt, pepper and a good glug of olive oil.

Potato Salad with Ramp Dressing

Ordinary potato salad is great for a picnic, but Easter dinner calls for something a little more special. This recipe strays from the usual mayo-heavy potato salad and instead dresses the warm potatoes with a light and mustardy ramp dressing. Ramps impart a pungent garlicky flavor to the dressing, so grab a bunch at the farmers market while they’re still in season.

Snap Peas with Feta and Mint

The contrasts between flavors and textures in this dish are what make it holiday-worthy. Fatty mayonnaise and salty feta pair wonderfully with spicy hot paprika and acidic lemon juice. Raw snap peas add a crunchy element, while fresh mint tempers any lingering strong flavors.

This is a vibrant green dish that you can feel great about eating. Fresh basil and parsley are blended with garlic and pistachios to make a quick homemade pesto. Pro tip: Preheat the baking sheet for a few minutes to ensure that the asparagus roast in just about five minutes.

Cheesy potato gratin meets French onion soup. This side dish is so impressive, it might be mistaken for the main course. Sweet Vidalia onions are hollowed out and baked with a creamy potato filling flavored with Gruyère cheese and spicy horseradish.

Pommes Chef Anne

This classic French dish isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Countless layers of paper-thin potatoes are cooked in an even greater amount of butter until they are tender enough to melt in your mouth. It’s given an Italian spin with the addition of Parmesan cheese.

Cranberry sauce pairs with more than just turkey. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart flavors, so it goes well with honey-baked ham and gamey lamb loin. This recipe doctors up canned cranberry sauce by adding grated apple, orange, pecans and raisins.

Hot Cross Buns

These not-too-sweet yeast rolls are a must-have on the Easter dinner table. Before they bake, the traditional cross pattern is piped onto each roll with a pasty mixture of flour and water. Any leftover buns are delicious for breakfast, warmed with some salted butter and honey.

Basic Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are always the first thing to go (and for good reason). This recipe is devilishly simple, leaving you free to play around with the toppings. Keep it classic with a dash of smoked paprika or a sprinkle of chopped chives, or opt for a crumble of salty bacon or blue cheese.

Easter desserts

Each layer of this carrot cake is light, tender and perfectly sweetened with a combination of white and brown sugars. Shredded carrots not only add an earthy flavor, but they also help keep the cake layers moist. Frost the cake with traditional cream cheese icing or opt for something a little different like marshmallow fluff.

No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie

This lemon-kissed icebox pie is bursting with fresh spring flavor, but what wins us over is the fact that you don’t have to turn on the oven to make it. A pillowy lemon cream cheese filling is piled into a buttery shortbread crust. The whole pie is crowned with a few swoops of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Coconut Bliss Cake

Each component of this cake is deceptively simple, but the end product is a stunning black and white number. The coconut cake layers are made with cake flour (which keeps the texture delicate) and whipped egg whites (which keeps the layers light and airy). The entire cake is layered and frosted with a foolproof coconut Swiss meringue buttercream, then finished with a glossy fudge drizzle.

Spoiler alert: graham cracker crusts are just as buttery and delicious when they’re not baked. Flecks of vanilla bean seeds can be seen throughout the velvety smooth cheesecake filling, hinting at the flavor before you even take a bite. Take it one step further by drizzling each bar with a quick stovetop raspberry sauce.

This simple dessert takes carrot cake back to its roots. Instead of the variety of ingredients that are sometimes folded into the batter (such as raisins, walnuts and shredded coconut), this recipe sticks to the basics — shredded carrots and pineapple. Staying true to tradition, it’s frosted with a smooth and tangy cream cheese frosting.

These adorable cupcakes will make kids and adults alike jump for joy. The best part is that you don’t need to spend all day baking and decorating — these cupcakes are made using all store-bought ingredients. Pair your favorite store-bought cupcakes and frosting, then decorate each one with chocolate chip eyes, a jelly bean nose and snipped marshmallow bunny ears.

The only thing more beautiful than an actual sunflower is one that is entirely made of cake. Frost your favorite cake with your chocolate frosting of choice, then get to decorating. A piped line of green frosting represents the lush spring grass; chocolate chips stand in for sunflower seeds; and a ring of peeps mimic the flower’s bright yellow petals.

Peeps Rice Krispies Treats

Give ordinary crispy cereal treats an Easter spin by using Peeps instead of regular marshmallows. As the multi-colored Peeps melt and mingle with the Rice Krispies, you’ll see a whole rainbow of pastel colors appear. Cut them into squares or use bunny-shaped cookie cutters to create fun shapes.

Classic Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies sandwich whipped buttercream frosting between fluffy cake-like cookies, resulting in a near perfect cake-to-frosting ratio. The classic combination of chocolate and vanilla can’t be beat. Cocoa powder and buttermilk flavor the cakes, while heavy cream makes the filling silky smooth.

Boston Cream Pie

Common misconception: Boston cream pie isn’t actually a pie. The buttery cake layers are made by mixing a warm milk mixture into whipped eggs and sugar. The result is a cake that is delicate and tender, but sturdy enough to contain the layer of pastry cream and chocolate ganache topping.

Carrot Halwa Bars

In this delicious no-bake dessert, traditional Indian halwa joins forces with an Easter classic — carrot cake. Shredded carrots, dates, nuts and spices are blended and formed into a dense loaf that sets nicely in the freezer. Top it off with a thick layer of vegan cashew coconut frosting and a pinch of crushed green pistachios.

Sugar Cream Pie

With its buttery crust, sweet and smooth custard filling and light dusting of nutmeg, sugar cream pie is something that everyone can enjoy. The flavors are simple, but when made right, it’s one of the best pies out there. The most important step is blind-baking the crust — this will ensure that the crust remains firm and flaky, despite the creamy filling.

Best Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate lovers will go crazy for this dessert. As the silky mousse sets up in the refrigerator, it continues to develop its light-as-air texture. A touch of espresso powder helps bring out the rich flavor of the dark chocolate.

Banana Cream Pie

This no-bake pie is one you’ll be making year-round, but it’s particularly great for entertaining. Everything from the vanilla wafer crust to the simple stovetop banana pudding filling is super simple. Don’t skimp on the best part — the whipped cream topping.

French Silk Pie

French silk pie really lives up to its name. While not distinctly French, the decadent chocolate mousse filling is as smooth as pure silk. One way to make it even more luxurious is by topping the pie with a towering layer of whipped cream.

Strawberries are just starting to come into season around Easter, so there’s no better time to make strawberry shortcake. Billowing dollops of whipped cream mingle with lemony macerated strawberries as they sit atop fluffy biscuits. It’s a not-too-sweet way to end the meal.

This old-school dessert doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves, but it’ll make everyone at the dinner table feel a little nostalgic. Each slice has an airy, almost weightless texture, and the snow white interior color is unmistakable. Serve it however you like — with whipped cream, fresh berries or a drizzle of lemon curd.

This icebox cheesecake is the ideal make-ahead dessert for the Easter holiday. Its light lemony flavor is a perfect palate cleanser after a heavy meal. Even better, you don’t have to turn on the oven to make it. The crust, filling and whipped cream all set up in the refrigerator overnight.

Can’t decide on dessert? This two-in-one treat is the best way to end Easter dinner. The cheesecake itself replicates the cream cheese frosting, and it sits on top of a layer of carrot cake batter. A little extra batter is swirled into the top to create a festive pattern.

Instead of assembling individual shortcakes, try your hand at a strawberry biscuit sheet cake. These sugar-topped biscuits morph into a frostable layer as they bake. Just spoon a few dollops of whipped cream over the top of the sheet cake and top it with the macerated berries (and a drizzle of their juices).

Classic Sour Cream Cheesecake

In addition to the usual cream cheese, this cheesecake filling is bulked up with plenty of sour cream. Both the cream cheese and sour cream give it a tangy flavor that is nicely balanced with just enough sugar. The graham cracker crust remains traditional and is mixed with butter and sugar until crumbly.

Lemon and Blackcurrant Stripe Cake

This dazzling dessert tastes as good as it looks. Strips of buttercream-basted sponge cake are rolled together to create a cylindrical shape. More black currant buttercream is used to frost the outside of the cake, but if you can’t get your hands on black currants, blackberries are a good substitute.

Lemon Velvet Cake

You’ve heard of red velvet cake; now it’s time to meet lemon velvet cake. The buttermilk batter is similar, minus the red food coloring, and the cake is frosted with the tried-and-true cream cheese frosting. Both the cake and frosting have a bright lemony kick, thanks to the addition of lemon juice, zest and extract.

These brownie bars are inspired by Black Forest cake and combine the flavors of rich chocolate, boozy cherries and cream. The fudgy brownie layer is studded with maraschino cherries and flavored with a splash of almond extract to bring out their fruity flavor. Even more cherry is added by swirling cherry preserves into the cheesecake layer.

Most carrot cakes are flavored with dried spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. This recipe embraces fresh ginger instead. The slightly spicy flavor and aroma is present in every bite of moist, fluffy carrot cake.

Martha Stewart's Lemon Mousse Cake

Meringue may sound mysterious to some, but it’s an easy way to create a stunning dessert. Here, the fluffy whipped egg whites are piped in concentric lines around layers of lemon cake and custard, then torched until lightly toasted. Golden raspberries keep the cake within a golden color palette, but red raspberries will work too.