55 Birthday Dinner Ideas Guaranteed to Make Their Day

·13 min read

It’s the big day, so you’re pulling out all the stops. What better way to celebrate than with a delicious, home-cooked meal? You bring the candles and gifts—we’ll take care of the menu. From homemade pizza to whole roast chicken, here are 55 birthday dinner ideas that the special person in your life is bound to love.

RELATED: 30 Best Foods to Make for Your Kid’s Birthday Party

1. Moules-Frites (Mussels and Fries)

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, Insta-worthy

Sure, it’s not a round-trip ticket to Paris, but it’s definitely the next best thing. Don’t skimp on the lemon-herb aioli…or the white wine.

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2. Whole Roasted Chipotle Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours and 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Gluten-free, dairy-free, Insta-worthy

A surefire way to impress? Roast a whole bird. Ina Garten and her hubby would be so proud.

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3. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

  • Time Commitment: 7 hours and 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free

Because a pot of fall-apart-tender pork is guaranteed to make anyone feel loved. Use the meat for tacos, nachos, burritos or rice bowls.

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4. Rodney Scott’s Honey-Butter Fish

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free

Summer babies, fire up that barbecue. Take your pick of trout, catfish, red snapper or branzino fillets.

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5. Chrissy Teigen’s Cheesy Chicken Milanese

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

If you’re going all out, who better to lend a hand than Chrissy Teigen and her crispy, indulgent chicken?

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6. Cheater’s Spicy Sausage Pizza with Burrata

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

All we want on our birthday is a creamy puddle of burrata and a fork.

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7. Perfect Meatballs with Cherry Tomato Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

These juicy, tender meatballs are even better than reservations at a fancy Italian restaurant.

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8. Fried Chicken BLT with Jalapeño Honey

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, dairy-free, Insta-worthy

This sandwich needs no introduction. Make it for the comfort food-obsessed guy or gal in your life.

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9. Flank Steak Tacos with Cucumber Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free

One year older? That means you can eat one more taco than last year. Don't forget the guac.

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10. Cheater’s Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours and 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, Insta-worthy

Trust us, no one will know it only took you ten minutes of prep. Happy birthday to you.

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11. Sticky Asian Meatballs with Udon Noodles

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, dairy-free

Nothing against regular spaghetti and meatballs, but you can eat those on any old Tuesday.

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12. Lobster Risotto

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, Insta-worthy

A birthday is just the excuse you were looking for to make this fancy risotto dish, wasn’t it?

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13. The Ultimate Chicken Potpie

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

Love is assembling and baking a chicken potpie from scratch (and telling absolutely no one you used store-bought puff pastry).

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14. Easy Skillet Linguine with Trumpet Mushroom ‘Scallops’

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian

These “scallops” have a secret: They’re actually mushrooms, sautéed until delightfully golden and crisp.

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15. The Ultimate Pasta Pie

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, Insta-worthy

Who knew your trusty springform pan could do all this? Feel free to mix it up by trading marinara for pesto or Italian sausage for chopped meatballs.

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16. Slow Cooker Korean Short Rib Tacos

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours and 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, dairy-free

These drool-worthy ribs only taste like you stood by the oven all day. The secret? Your trusty slow cooker.

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17. Cheater’s Sicilian-Style Pizza with Jalapeños and Honey

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

We got you a gift…in the form of cheese pulls and pepperoni cups. You’re welcome.

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18. Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian

Our two favorite pasta dishes wrapped up in one? Aww, you shouldn’t have. (But we're so glad you did.)

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19. Pistachio-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Escarole Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free

This is not your mother’s pork tenderloin. (Sorry, Mom.) Instead of dry and bland, it’s tender, delicate and practically melts in your mouth.

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20. Pomegranate-Maple Glazed Lamb Chops

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free, Insta-worthy

These lamb chops have all the celebratory vibes, but are as easy to cook as chicken. We won’t tell if you won’t.

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21. Pan-Roasted Chicken with Shallots and Dates

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free

If we could eat only one dish for the rest of forever, this caramelized roasted chicken skillet just might be it.

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22. Cheater’s White Wine Coq au Vin

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free

Julia Child-level flavor without all the fuss. Look for a dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, to really bring out the flavor in this meal.

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23. Skillet Steak with Asparagus and Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free

With a dish this impressive (that’s also surprisingly foolproof), we might never go back to restaurant steak again.

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24. Pork Scallopini with Lemon, Capers and Radicchio

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

A recipe that only requires 20 minutes and five ingredients allows you plenty of time to make a homemade dessert.

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25. Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

They’ll probably ask if you spent all day making this. Just nod and say yes.

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26. Cheater’s White Pizza with Béchamel Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian

Some nights call for salad. This is not one of those nights.

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27. White Risotto with Corn, Carrots and Kale

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, vegetarian

If you’re looking to give someone a hug in a bowl, look no further than this veggie-packed risotto.

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28. Smoky Eggplant Pasta with Pounded Walnut Relish, Mozzarella and Basil

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 2 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian

Don’t be surprised if this one gets requested again next year. You can thank the rustic eggplant sauce, not to mention all that cheese.

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29. Salmon and Fennel Dinner Salad

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free

Don’t be fooled by the name: This roasted salmon dish is hearty, filling and downright sophisticated.

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30. Ina Garten’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Eggplant

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

A cozy, cheese-laden baked pasta from the Contessa herself? Don’t even bother with a separate present.

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31. Whole-Wheat Feta Tart with Caramelized Onions and Herbs

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Vegetarian, Insta-worthy

If you can’t eat a pie made of two different types of cheese on your birthday, when can you?

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32. Cheater’s Skillet Paella

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free, Insta-worthy

You make the paella, we’ll bring the wine. Everyone else is on gift duty.

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33. Cacio e Pepe

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian

Simple can also mean show-stopping, and this five-ingredient dish is proof.

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34. Foolproof Cheater’s Confit

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours and 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, Insta-worthy

Tonight’s the night to go out of your way and find duck legs. We promise it’s worth it.

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35. Ultimate Cheese Plate with Roasted Grapes

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian, Insta-worthy

It’s their party and they can eat charcuterie for dinner if they want to.

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36. Grilled Flank Steak with Lemon-Herb Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free

The marinating time is a solid excuse for a pre-dinner cocktail...just sayin'.

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37. Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, Insta-worthy

You could order tacos from your fave local cantina—or you can pull 'em off yourself, no messy frying required.

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38. 30-Minute Cheater’s Beef Stroganoff

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

Feeding six people in just a half-hour? It's easier than you think.

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39. The Ultimate Party Sub

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, no-cook

Picnic party, anyone? We'll bring the prosecco.

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40. Ravioli Lasagna

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

Casseroles are our BFFs when it comes to feeding the fam. And this cheesy pick is sure to become one of your kids' favorites after just one bite.

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41. Mexican Street Corn Dip

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian, gluten-free, Insta-worthy

Picky party guests? Tortilla chips smothered in Monterey Jack cheese sauce will save the day.

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42. 30-Minute One-Pot Cheater’s Bouillabaisse

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, dairy-free

One slurp and voilà, you're in Provence. (What's equally awesome is what little clean-up is required after you've cooked the big birthday meal.)

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43. Baked Quinoa Chicken Nuggets

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, dairy-free

Go ahead, give the kids what they really want, only make it a little healthier.

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44. Italian Bruschetta Bar

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: Easy, Insta-worthy

Don't fuss over how it looks: A random arrangement is the best way to convey that "relaxed afternoon in a vineyard" vibe.

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45. Salmon Burgers

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

Our philosophy? Light and tangy coleslaw tastes good on everything.

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46. Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, Insta-worthy

Many a memorable meal has begun with a whole roast bird. Wow the whole table with this five-ingredient recipe that screams celebration.

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47. Crispy Cauliflower Tacos

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, vegetarian

Don't sweat it if the guest of honor is a vegetarian. These tacos, filled with baked cauli florets, homemade queso and scallions, just might convert the rest of you anyway.

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48. Pan-Seared Scallops with Citrusy Corn Succotash

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, Insta-worthy

Scallops might feel intimidating, but they're actually a cinch to prepare. This recipe only calls for a two-minute sear per side, so you'll spend minimal time in the kitchen on the big day.

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49. Mini Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, dairy-free

The only dish more classically comforting than meatloaf? A personal mini meatloaf wrapped in bacon, duh. Don't forget the mashed potatoes.

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50. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Vegetarian, Insta-worthy

Personally, we'd rather receive a bouquet of Parmesan-kissed phyllo rosettes than real flowers. (But on our birthday, we'll take both.)

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51. Antoni Porowski’s Strip Steak with Harissa Butter and Parsley Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, Insta-worthy

This elegant, satisfying steak dinner comes together in a flash (and it'll change how you see parsley forever).

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52. Sheet Pan Buttermilk Chicken Thighs with Plums, Shallots and Honey

  • Time Commitment: 8 hours and 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free

Sure, you can roast a whole chicken and wow the crowd...but these impossibly tender thighs are just as luxurious and half as fussy.

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53. Seared Scallops with Citrus-Shallot Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy, gluten-free, dairy-free, Insta-worthy

The key to an impeccable outer crust is thoroughly drying the scallops before they hit the pan.

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54. Tandoori-Inspired Roast Cauliflower Bowls with Tahini

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, Insta-worthy

This plant-based spin on tandoori chicken will make any veggie-loving guest of honor feel the love.

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55. Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce)

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Easy

Gather round the table for this simple-yet-fancy family-style meal. Serve plenty of dinner rolls to soak up the lemon-kissed garlic butter.

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RELATED: 30 Birthday Cake Recipes That Are Actually Easy to Pull Off

For even more great recipes, check out our first cookbook, Only the Good Stuff.