42 delectable birthday dinner ideas and recipes

A crowded table top with baked potatoes, caviar on ice, parsley, sour cream, and many mismatched glasses and taper candles, plus the hands of people partaking in the meal.
Paperless Post BlogBirthday > 42 delectable birthday dinner ideas and recipes

Whether you’re celebrating your own birthday or someone who’s near and dear, having your favorite people around is one of the best ways to mark the occasion. Enter the birthday dinner party. The variety of birthday dinner ideas is as diverse as the range of birthday invitations available at Paperless Post (and that’s a lot!). When considering hosting a birthday dinner party, party size will always be a big factor. Planning an intimate dinner party menu with a small group of five or even eight people is quite different from feeding a big group of guests. 

Whether you’re searching for birthday meal ideas at home or at a restaurant, you’ll find dozens of terrific options below for all tastes and budgets. So before you blow out those candles and dig into the cake, take a look through our worthwhile tips.


Birthday dinner ideas for a small group

When you plan a birthday party with a smaller guest list, you can choose to be a bit more elaborate with your recipe choices. While birthday dinner for kids may be as simple as hot dogs or a pizza party, adult birthday dinners can be a little more sophisticated. That said, simple recipes are equally appropriate (and appreciated) for smaller gatherings, too. Here are some recipes that serve two to six guests.


1. Classic moules-frites

This savory main dish originates in Belgium and consists of mussels in a wine-based sauce, served with French fries.

Serves: 4

Total time: 25 minutes

Allergens: Contains shellfish and wine

Get the recipe from Food Network.


left: An off-white invitation with a minimalist drawing of a wine glass, constructed of circles and lines, on the right. Right: A dish with beef Wellington and mashed potatoes with twinkle lights around it.
Stemware” by Paperless Post; Image via Plays Well with Butter.


2. Beef Wellington

Popularized by Gordon Ramsay and his cooking competition shows, this dish consists of tenderloin steak coated with pâté and duxelles and wrapped in a puff pastry. A beef Wellington birthday dinner pairs well with a classic dinner party invitation.


Total time: 105 minutes total

Allergens: Contains egg

Get the recipe from Simply Recipes.


3. Julia Child’s coq au vin 

This traditional French dish involves braising chicken in red wine, along with bacon, mushrooms, and brandy, if you’d like.

Serves: 4

Total time: 75 minutes 

Allergens: Contains wine

Get the recipe from The Endless Meal.


4. Schweinshaxe German pork hock 

Looking for a recipe that’ll wow the crowd? Crispy German pork hock rarely disappoints.

Serves: 4

Total time: 3 hours 35 minutes 

Allergens: Contains beer

Get the recipe from Craft Beering.


5. Skillet gnocchi with sausage and broccoli rabe 

The great thing about this rich and hearty dish is that all you need is a large pot and skillet to get it done in about half an hour. 

Serves: 6

Total time: 30 minutes

Allergens: Contains dairy

Get the recipe from Pure Wow.


6. Gamjatang pork bone soup 

Perfect for cooler winter evenings, this Korean soup warms the soul through and through. 

Serves: 2-3, double the recipe for a party of 6.

Total time: 2 hours

Allergens: Contains fish sauce

Get the recipe from Maangchi.com.


7. Sake steamed sole with spicy slaw

If you’re looking for restaurant-quality ideas you can cook at home, sake steamed sole is hard to beat. 


Total time: 35 minutes

Allergens: Contains alcohol

Get the recipe from Taste of Home.


Left: A plate with three barbacoa tacos, lime pieces, and cilantro. Right: An invitation with a minimalist taco image surrounded by small geometric shapes referencing tomatoes, beans, greens, and cheese and the words “It’s taco time!”
Image via Downshiftology; “Taco Placeros” by Paperless Post


Birthday dinner ideas for a large group

Large gatherings can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re throwing a surprise party. If you’re planning on hosting a gathering with more people, sticking with easy birthday dinner ideas might be a smart choice. Dish out a delicious meal that can feed 10 or more guests—double any recipes below if you need more servings, and maybe even leave room for seconds (and leftovers)! 

Particularly for bigger groups, timing is an important consideration to keep in mind. These recipes can all sit in the oven or on a warmer for a bit if the guest of honor is running late—and they’re best served with a few bottles of your favorite vino.


8. Slow cooker barbacoa tacos 

Add to the fun (and reduce your workload) by getting everyone to assemble their own tacos, complete with a salsa bar.

Yields: 8 to 24 tacos

Total time: 10 minutes to prep, 8 hours to cook

Allergens: Contains avocado, dairy (optional)

Get the recipe from Downshiftology.


9. Greek roast lamb 

Don’t be too intimidated! Roast lamb can be on your list of easy birthday dinner ideas, too.

Serves: 8

Total time: 15 minutes to prep, 1 hour 45 minutes to cook 

Get the recipe from BBC Good Food.


10. Seafood paella 

You’ll need an extra large pan, and even bigger if you’re serving more people. Paella is a hearty dish that begs for a heavy, dense, crusty bread and a perfectly chilled white.

Serves: 10 

Total time: 45 minutes

Allergens: Contains fish and shellfish

Get the recipe from the New York Times (paywall).


11. Best meatloaf recipe 

Meatloaf doesn’t have to be boring. It’s a sweet, nostalgic choice, especially if the birthday person misses their childhood favorite.

Serves: 8

Total time: 10 minutes to prep, 1 hour to cook

Allergens: Contains wheat and dairy

Get the recipe from Spend with Pennies.


12. Sheet-pan buttermilk chicken thighs

Make as many or as few thighs as you need to serve everyone. This recipe scales beautifully to fit the guest list. 

Serves: 6 to 8

Total time: 8 hours 

Allergens: Contains dairy

Get the recipe from Pure Wow.


13. Make-ahead beef bourguignon 

For a recipe you can prepare well in advance, beef bourguignon rests in the pot for as long as you need—in the fridge, if you make it the day before, or the stovetop if you start early the day of.

Serves: 12

Total time: 45 minutes to prep, 3 hours to cook
Allergens: Contains wine

Get the recipe from The Café Sucre Farine.


14. Vietnamese vermicelli noodle bowl

Portion everything out into individual bowls or, like the tacos above, set out the ingredients so everyone can personalize their own noodle bowl. This idea deserves a fun, unique invitation.

Serves: Up to 20

Total time: 2 hours 

Allergens: Contains fish sauce

Get the recipe from Joyous Apron.


Cheap and easy birthday dinner ideas

No need for evening dresses and three-piece suits. Sometimes, a casual birthday party is the way to go, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. The most important thing is to have a great time with friends and family, and the ideas below are sure to deliver big smiles and full tummies—on a budget.


15. Spaghetti and meatballs 

Make as much or as little as you want, and serve it up with crusty bread and your favorite red.

Serves: 4

Total time: 1 hour

Allergens: Contains egg and wheat

Get the recipe from Delish.


16. Pineapple pork chops 

The jury is still out on whether pineapple belongs on pizza, but there’s no doubt pineapple and pork go hand-in-hand. These pork chops gain a bright, tropical flavor with this recipe variation.

Serves: 4

Total time: 25 minutes

Allergens: Contains soy

Get the recipe from The Endless Meal.


17. Grilled tequila lime chicken 

Kick it with a bit of Southwestern flair with chicken that’ll remind dinner guests of a lime margarita.


Total time: 20 minutes

Allergens: Contains tequila

Get the recipe from Once Upon a Chef.


18. Sloppy Joe tater tot casserole 

Who doesn’t like sloppy Joes and tater tots? For this tasty, satisfying dinner, go for a quirky Flyer.

Serves: 6

Total time: 1 hour

Allergens: Contains dairy

Get the recipe from Back to My Southern Roots.


An online invite with a photo of a plate flanked by a fork and knife on a light blue cloth and an illustration of the words “Birthday bites.”
Birthday Bites” Flyer by Paperless Post.


19. Pulled pork mac and cheese sliders

Handheld food is great for birthday dinner parties because guests can keep mingling without necessarily sitting at the table.

Yield: 12 sliders

Total time: 40 minutes 

Allergens: Contains dairy 

Get the recipe from Family Fresh Meals.


20. Grilled beer brats with kraut

Think easy birthday dinner ideas should be light on the number of ingredients? This one only has 10 on the list, many of which are optional if you want to do without. 

Serves: 12 

Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes 

Allergens: Contains beer

Get the recipe from Taste of Home.


21. Classic shepherd’s pie

Fill up those happy stomachs with mashed potatoes and ground beef or ground lamb, topped with a savory gravy for a true comfort food classic.


Total time: 20 minutes to prep, 50 minutes to cook

Allergens: Contains flour and dairy

Get the recipe from The Wholesome Dish.


Vegan birthday dinner ideas

Plant-based meals are growing in popularity. You may have guests who are vegan and you want to respect their dietary wishes without singling them out with a separate dish just for them. Or, you want to introduce more plant-based cooking for everyone to enjoy. Whether you dine in the garden or just use its bounty, these flavorful vegan birthday party dinner ideas are sure to be a hit. 


Left: A birthday party invitation with colorful chevron stripes around the border that appear to be embroidered on. Right: A bowl of mushroom risotto.
Party Stripes” by Coral & Tusk for Paperless Post; Image via Rainbow Plant Life.


22. Miso butter mushroom risotto 

Mushrooms are packed with umami flavor, and when you swap out the parmesan and butter you normally find in risotto with miso butter, you won’t even know they’re missing. 

Serves: 6

Total time: 1 hour 

Allergens: Contains wine 

Get the recipe from Rainbow Plant Life.


23. One pot Impossible stroganoff 

Impossible makes a terrific ground beef substitute. Swap traditional egg noodles for ruffled wheat pasta and this vegan pasta dish is a scrumptious birthday dinner.

Serves: 4

Total time: 45 minutes 

Allergens: Contains wheat

Get the recipe at Hot for Food Blog.


24. Chana masala 

Many great Indian curries happen to be vegetarian already. This chickpea curry is one of the best-known. Serve it with jasmine rice or vegan naan.

Serves: 8

Total time: 30 minutes 

Allergens: None

Get the recipe from Holy Cow Vegan.


25. Vegan taco casserole 

It doesn’t matter if the birthday isn’t on Tuesday, because this taco casserole is a party any day of the week. 

Serves: 9

Total time: 10 minutes to prep, 40 minutes to cook

Allergens: Contains flour

Get the recipe from Rabbit and Wolves.


26. Vegan stir fry

This colorful stir-fry dish is a feast for both the eyes and the stomach. The vibrant colors suit the excitement of a birthday celebration perfectly.

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes  

Allergens: Contains nuts (optional)

Get the recipe from Nora Cooks.


27. Buddha’s Delight lo han jai

A traditional vegetarian dish commonly consumed by Buddhist monks, Buddha’s Delight is full of vegan delights that you can customize to your tastes and the availability of ingredients. 


Total time: 1 hour to prep, 15 minutes to cook

Allergens: Contains soy

Get the recipe from The Woks of Life.


28. Creamy vegan pasta 

For this vegan take on mac and cheese sans the cheese, enjoy a tangy blend of white beans and lemon juice. 

Serves: 4

Total time: 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook 

Allergens: Contains nuts (optional)

Get the recipe from Love and Lemons.


Birthday cake & dessert ideas

A birthday isn’t complete without at least a sweet treat or two, right? Don’t forget about birthday cake and dessert. If cake isn’t the birthday person’s cup of tea, there are plenty of other awesome birthday desserts to serve at your dinner party. Cap off the meal the right way with one or more of these birthday cake and dessert ideas.


Left: A lemon raspberry tiered cake with fanciful frosting and edible flowers on a wood cake stand. Right: A birthday invitation with bright and colorful flower doodles forming a wide border around the center.
Image via Teak & Thyme; “Elderberry” by Liberty Fabrics for Paperless Post.


29. Classic birthday cake

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Serves: 12

Total time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Allergens: Contains eggs and dairy

Get the recipe from My Recipes.


30. Bisquick strawberry shortcake 

That quick mix isn’t just for breakfast pancakes, you know.

Serves: 6

Total time: 32 minutes

Allergens: Contains dairy

Get the recipe from Insanely Good Recipes.


31. Birthday brownies

Rich and delicious chocolate brownies are a great way to celebrate a birthday.

Serves: 9

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes 

Allergens: Contains eggs and dairy

Get the recipe from The Cagle Diaries.


32. Key lime cake 

Take the classic flavors of a key lime pie, put them in cake form, and voila. 

Serves: 18

Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Allergens: Contains eggs and dairy

Get the recipe from All Recipes.


33. Confetti layer cake 

With this cake, you get all the fun of confetti without having to sweep it all up afterward.

Serves: 12-14

Total time: 4 hours 

Allergens: Contains eggs and dairy

Get the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.


34. Hojicha creme brulee

Bring out the wow factor with this fun birthday party dinner idea—the torch is a great bit of showmanship.

Serves: 4

Total time: 4 hours 35 minutes 

Allergens: Contains eggs and dairy

Get the recipe from Proportional Plate.


35. Unicorn doughnuts 

Doughnuts after a birthday dinner are a joy for both the young and the young at heart.

Serves: 12

Total time: 42 minutes 

Allergens: Contains eggs and dairy

Get the recipe from The Spruce Eats.


Birthday drink ideas

Fill those glasses with delicious libations to toast the birthday person. These birthday drink ideas include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions that are sure to whet your guests’ whistles. 

36. Black Manhattan 

A more bittersweet variation on the classic Manhattan. Contains alcohol.

Get the recipe from Liquor.com.


37. Sparkling raspberry Champagne float 

Because bubbles aren’t just for New Year’s Eve. Contains alcohol.

Get the recipe from Modern Farmhouse Eats.


38. Midori shochu sour 

Made with melon liqueur and a Japanese spirit similar to soju. Contains alcohol.

Get the recipe from Food and Wine.


left: A birthday invitation with a black and white photo of a woman in a circle, surrounded by colorful doodles of stars and squiggles. Right: A birthday cake martini in a stemmed glass with sprinkles on the rim and whipped cream on top.
Confetti Fete Photo” by Paperless Post; Image via A Classic Twist.


39. Birthday cake martini 

White chocolate liqueur adorned with colorful sprinkles. Contains alcohol.

Get the recipe from A Classic Twist.


40. Margarita mocktail 

A classic lime margarita with a zero-proof twist.

Get the recipe from Liz On Call.


41. Funfetti milkshake 

No alcohol, but as much extra whipped cream as the birthday person wants.

Get the recipe from Recipes.net.


42. Roy Rogers 

Similar to a Shirley Temple, but made with cola.

Get the recipe from The Mindful Mocktail.


Birthday dinner ideas at a restaurant

Don’t feel like cooking? No problem! Book a birthday party at a favorite restaurant and order tried-and-true classic dishes. Or, for more adventurous restaurant birthday dinner ideas, try something entirely new. As you look for unique restaurants in your area, consider exploring international cuisines or more experiential dining options. 


An online invite with a bowl of spaghetti and the words “BDAY WISHLIST: CARBS.”
Birthday Carbs” Flyer by Paperless Post.


  • Classic American steakhouse: The fine-aged cut of meat may be the star, but the remarkable sides are what make the meal. 
  • Bar and grill with karaoke: Make a true birthday party—emphasis on party—by getting the birthday person to sing their favorite song for everyone (or serenade them, yourself).
  • Korean BBQ restaurant: There’s something about the communal experience of sitting around a grill, cooking up LA galbi and bulgogi.
  • Fondue: Go hands-on with a delectable spread you skewer and dip in a vat of molten cheese.
  • Japanese hibachi restaurant: The theatrics of hibachi chefs really are second to none, making for a great restaurant birthday party idea.
  • Winery restaurant: For a more classy affair, pair a wine tasting at the local winery with dinner at the on-site restaurant, too.
  • Tiki bar and restaurant: The Polynesian theme and elaborate cocktails are exactly what’ll encourage partygoers to let loose and be themselves. 


Birthday dinner parties are better with Paperless Post

Think of Paperless Post as your mise en place for cooking up a fun birthday dinner party. Whether you plan on wowing guests with a perfect coq au vin or you want to dial up the comfort with shepherd’s pie, set the stage and cook up the vibe with an invitation that’ll have them counting down the days. 

Send invitations via email, text message, or a shareable link, and track RSVPs right from the app. Don’t forget the decorations—Paperless Post Party Shop’s selection of birthday party supplies includes everything you need, from disco balls and cake stands to shatter-proof Champagne glasses and swizzle sticks. There’s no better way to host a birthday dinner party than with Paperless Post.


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Hero image via Graydon Herriott.