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38 Easter dinner ideas for a fresh spring feast

These recipes focus on spring's bright green bounty.
/ Source: TODAY

Easter Sunday can be one of the most fun feasts to plan. Don’t get us wrong — Thanksgiving is a wonderful food-focused event to host — but the menu planning for Easter brunch, dinner and dessert just feels extra special with the warm weather approaching.

Perhaps it’s where the holiday falls in the solar calendar — either on the cusp of spring or shortly after it begins. By the time mid-winter rolls around and the whole “new year, new me” hoopla has ceased, we begin dreaming about spring. We want to feast on the bounty of the season ahead: asparagus, peas and all the greens and herbs. We can just smell the fresh tulips and daffodils and begin planning events where we can entertain outdoors again.

This year, Easter occurs after the spring equinox on Sunday, April 17. The days will be longer, the weather will begin to warm and whether Easter turns out to have the chill of a damp day or all sunny skies, Easter dinner is an opportunity to make everyone at the table feel rejuvenated and hopeful — like a spring chicken.

To make menu planning as easy as it exciting, here are some of our favorite recipes for Easter supper. Bake a ham in a sweet glaze or try something savory like roast lamb cooked in a sauce that evokes its natural earthiness. Serve a show stopping vegetarian entrée, such as risotto or pasta filled with al dente green vegetables. When it comes to side dishes and salads, look to recipes that feature fresh produce and herbs from the spring harvest, from crisp asparagus to colorful greens, plus some cozy classics like scalloped potatoes and creamed spinach.

Easter sides and appetizers

This veggie-packed appetizer is light, fresh, flavorful and will leave everyone going in for seconds (and thirds).

Spring Rice Pilaf with Tzatziki Sauce

Bright and perfect to serve for any spring celebration or Easter brunch, this rice dish is warm yet refreshing in flavor. The zesty tzatziki sauce adds creaminess and extra freshness to rice and seasonal vegetables.

A quick dip in an ice water bath after boiling keeps the green vegetables crispy and delicious in this vibrant salad that masters the ideal balance between sweet and acidic.

A lighter salad is a must-have at a big feast, with bitter arugula, sweet spring carrots and plump, sweet tomatoes. The protein-rich grain in the dish makes it a great for vegetarian or vegan diners.

This easy recipe rolls all the best flavors — fresh herbs, eggs and asparagus — into one satisfying bite.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Add a nourishing and vibrantly colored carrot soup to your spread to celebrate springtime with the Easter bunny's favorite food. It's also packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to help balance out the indulgent dishes.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

These smaller, slender potatoes cook quickly and pair perfectly with Easter ham, lamb and more.

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

Geoffrey Zakarian

There's truly nothing more comforting than thinly sliced potatoes baked between layers of crisp breadcrumbs and sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Spring Pasta Salad with Shrimp

Even though this is a pasta dish, it is light, fresh and perfect for spring.

Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

This three-ingredient side dish is so simple, but it will look so beautiful on your Easter table.

These carrots are just as good served warm or at room temperature, so they’re ideal for buffets, potlucks and, of course, Easter, where they can sit out on the table for a bit while you prepare everything else.

Kimchi Creamed Spinach

Kimchi Creamed Spinach

Gerald Sombright

In this take on a classic side, kimchi gets added to the mix for a sour and spicy crunch — a wonderful contrast to the creaminess.

This dish definitely scratches the itch for mashed potatoes, but the cauliflower and yogurt make it feel much lighter and like something we could easily incorporate into our regular rotation.

Simple Spring Asparagus

It's in the name: simple! You don't need to do much to make spring's darling vegetable shine. Adding lemon juice right before serving really makes the asparagus pop.

Giada's Grilled Melon Salad and Asparagus

This recipe screams that spring is here! It is fresh and colorful, making it just as pretty to look at as it is delicious to eat.

Roasted Asparagus with Almonds

This quick and easy recipe adds a hint of garlic and nuttiness, but lets the full, fresh flavor of the asparagus shine through.

Twice-Baked Potato Bites

Crispy potato chips add extra crunch to these delectable, bite-sized potatoes. Ideal for when you can't choose between mashed potatoes and baby roasted potatoes, this unique recipe merges the two without requiring each guest to eat a large, overly filling serving.

Easter entrees

Lamb and Squash Stew

Lamb and Squash Stew

Lidia Bastianich

Not only is this recipe versatile, it also keeps well in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for over two months, and it reheats really well, too.

Fresh herbs and cool yogurt with an earthy beet flavor make the perfect, colorful accompaniments to a juicy roast leg of lamb on your Easter table.

Awaken your taste buds with this spin on traditional roast ham. The glaze is sweet, slightly tangy and filled with warm spices like anise and cinnamon. It pairs beautifully with an array of side dishes, so it's easy to plan the menu.

This recipe makes it easy to cook lamb for a crowd. You get your meat and potatoes and vegetables cooked all in one pan, which means less cleanup. The end result is a balanced, tender, earthy lamb cooked to perfection.

It’s hard to believe that six ingredients could combine to make such a knockout roast. The marmalade is citrusy, sweet and a little bitter, the Sriracha is tangy and peppery, the ginger is sharp and spicy, and the lemon juice balances out the sweetness of brown sugar with just the right amount of sour.

Spring Vegetable Pasta Casserole

Whether Easter Sunday is sunny and gorgeous and you just want to eat all the green vegetables in sight, or it's cold and damp and you just need baked comfort, make a dish that satisfies both cravings. This spring vegetable baked penne is it! Creamy ricotta mixes with tender spinach, zucchini and spring onions for a luxurious casserole that still lets you get your greens.

The bracing acidity from the lemons and bright brininess of the olives and capers makes this a standout dish. It's perfect for a casual weeknight dinner but special enough to serve for any occasion.

Ultimate Holiday Prime Rib Roast

Cooking a large prime rib roast can be intimidating, especially when you're making one for a lot of guests. This standing rib roast recipe will impress without the stress! Just make this easy prime rib recipe for Easter that will have guests coming back for seconds, thirds and even next-day leftovers.

This flavorful risotto practically screams springtime. The seasonal fava beans, savory pancetta and freshly grated cheese make this the perfect entrée for an Easter celebration.

"I really love lamb and braised meat in general, so this is a favorite," Al Roker says. "This slow-cooker meal is one I make for my family on Sundays. It's perfect because you can prep in the morning, spend time with the family and then have a finished meal waiting for you eight hours later."

Cola Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze and Jezebel Sauce

This ham gets marinated in a sweet brown cola, zesty orange and spicy mustard. Served with a vibrant yellow marmalade-based sauce, it will quickly become a holiday favorite.

Five 5-Ingredient-or-Less Ham Glazes

You get the ham, Sunny Anderson will provide the glazes. Here, the celebrity chef whips up five different glazes made with five ingredients or less to suit whatever flavor profile you're hoping to achieve.

A casserole is always a solid choice for entertaining a crowd. This one features spaghetti (though most any type of pasta shape works well), diced ham, Italian seasoning and a melty cheese mixture of mozzarella, Parmesan and cream.

Slow-Cooker Glazed Ham

Serving a ham for your Easter buffet doesn't have to be hard work. Use your slow cooker to do the heavy lifting. This so-simple method ensures a centerpiece dish that's tender and full of flavor — never dry or overcooked. Topped with a sweetly spiced mustard glaze, every slice is dressed to impress.

This tart is surprisingly quick to put together, even though the rows of asparagus lining the creamy filling look elegant and elaborate. The bright flavors from the lemon and herbs complement the tanginess form the goat cheese — making this tart light but satisfying.

A springy vegetarian option with fragrant pine nuts and sweet peas is a versatile main that folks can enjoy in addition to roast meats or without any at all.

Use shelf-stable staples to throw together a glaze for a sweet, smoky ham. Sandra Lee whips up a fabulous recipe with some sugar, pineapple preserves and a can of cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving — it brightens everything up for a little extra tanginess. That's the beauty of canned foods: It takes a long time for them to expire.

Spring Vegetable Stew with Parmigiano

Filled with fresh seasonal veggies and so satisfying, this stew is versatile and easy way to utilize spring produce. It's a perfect centerpiece when you're looking for a fresher, lighter option that still boasts the warm, delicious qualities sought after in a spring feast.

A whole chicken (or two) roasted with spring vegetables and fava beans is a wonderfully nourishing centerpiece for an Easter dinner. Whether you keep things simple and serve with some crusty French bread or decide to add more side dishes, this is a tried and true crowd pleaser. Oh, and did we mention it only takes 15 minutes to prepare?

This recipe has all the flavor and comfort of traditional chicken piccata, but it's a whole lot lighter.

Springtime Pasta Bake

Springtime Pasta Bake

Alex Guarnaschelli

This is a great springtime pasta bake. Even in the lighter, warmer months of the year, we're always looking for my kitchen to be a source of comfort food, and this dish fills that important place. You just pull the pasta out of the oven and place in the center of the table. It's got springtime vibes galore but also feels so homey and familiar.