Simple and Easy Dessert Recipes for a Crowd

Simple and Easy Dessert Recipes for a Crowd

When hosting a large gathering, whether it’s a family reunion, a holiday party, or a casual get-together, having a selection of delicious desserts that can be easily prepared is essential. These recipes not only save you time and effort but also ensure that everyone leaves satisfied and impressed. Here, we explore a variety of simple and easy dessert recipes perfect for serving a crowd, ensuring you can enjoy the event without being stuck in the kitchen.

Criteria for Crowd-Pleasing Desserts

When planning desserts for a crowd, it’s important to choose recipes that are easy to make with minimal ingredients and can be scaled up or down to fit your needs. Variety is also key to cater to different tastes and dietary restrictions. Let’s dive into some classic favorites, no-bake options, make-ahead treats, and healthy alternatives that will delight your guests.

Classic Favorites


Brownies are a timeless favorite that can be made quickly and easily in large batches. They require just a few basic ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and cocoa powder. Here’s a simple recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
    • In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, stirring until well combined.
    • Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix until smooth.
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
    • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    • Let cool before cutting into squares.
  • Tips:
    • For fudgier brownies, reduce the baking time slightly.
    • Add-ins like nuts, caramel swirls, or chocolate chips can elevate your brownies.


Cookies are another crowd-pleaser that can be baked in large quantities with ease. A classic chocolate chip cookie recipe is always a hit:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
    • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
    • Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
    • Stir in the chocolate chips.
    • Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
    • Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
  • Variations:
    • Substitute chocolate chips with white chocolate, butterscotch chips, or dried cranberries.
    • Add oatmeal or peanut butter for different textures and flavors.

No-Bake Desserts

No-Bake Cheesecake

No-bake cheesecakes are perfect for when you want a creamy, decadent dessert without turning on the oven.

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Instructions:
    • Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill in the refrigerator.
    • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.
    • In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the cream cheese mixture.
    • Pour the filling over the crust and spread evenly.
    • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, until set.
  • Flavor Variations:
    • Add a fruit topping, such as strawberry or blueberry.
    • Swirl in some melted chocolate or caramel for a marbled effect.

Rice Krispie Treats

These are a nostalgic favorite that can be made in large quantities quickly and easily.

  • Ingredients:
    • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
    • 1 (10 oz) package mini marshmallows
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Instructions:
    • In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.
    • Remove from heat and add the Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.
    • Press the mixture into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Cool and cut into squares.
  • Variations:
    • Add chocolate chips, sprinkles, or peanut butter for extra flavor.
    • Use cookie cutters to shape the treats for special occasions.

Make-Ahead Desserts


A trifle is a visually appealing dessert that layers cake, pudding, fruit, and whipped cream.

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 pound cake, cubed
    • 2 cups vanilla pudding
    • 2 cups mixed berries
    • 2 cups whipped cream
  • Instructions:
    • In a large trifle bowl, layer half of the pound cake cubes.
    • Spread half of the pudding over the cake.
    • Add half of the berries, then half of the whipped cream.
    • Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients.
    • Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Flavor Combinations:
    • Use chocolate cake with chocolate pudding and cherries for a Black Forest trifle.
    • Lemon cake, lemon pudding, and blueberries for a refreshing summer trifle.

Pudding Parfaits

Pudding parfaits are simple yet elegant desserts that can be prepared in advance.

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 cups prepared pudding (any flavor)
    • 1 cup granola
    • 1 cup fresh berries
  • Instructions:
    • In individual serving cups, layer pudding, granola, and berries.
    • Repeat layers until cups are filled.
    • Chill until ready to serve.
  • Tips:
    • Use clear cups to show off the beautiful layers.
    • Substitute granola with crushed cookies for added crunch.

Healthy Options

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a refreshing and healthy dessert option that can be easily scaled for a crowd.

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 cups diced pineapple
    • 2 cups diced watermelon
    • 2 cups sliced strawberries
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Instructions:
    • In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and lime juice.
    • Drizzle the dressing over the fruit and toss gently to coat.
    • Chill until ready to serve.
  • Presentation Tips:
    • Serve in a hollowed-out watermelon for a fun and festive look.
    • Add a sprinkle of mint leaves for extra freshness.

Yogurt Bark

Yogurt bark is a quick and easy healthy treat that can be customized with various toppings.

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 cups Greek yogurt
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 cup mixed berries
    • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • Instructions:
    • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    • Mix the Greek yogurt and honey in a bowl until well combined.
    • Spread the yogurt mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet.
    • Sprinkle with berries and nuts.
    • Freeze for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
    • Break into pieces and serve.
  • Storing Tips:
    • Keep the yogurt bark in an airtight container in the freezer.
    • Serve immediately after removing from the freezer to prevent melting.

Crowd-Specific Tips

When serving desserts to a large group, keep these tips in mind:

  • Portion Sizes: Estimate the number of guests and adjust the recipes accordingly. It’s better to have a bit extra than to run out.
  • Keeping Desserts Fresh: Store desserts properly to maintain freshness. For example, keep no-bake cheesecakes refrigerated until serving.
  • Dessert Table Setup: Arrange desserts on a dedicated table with labels and serving utensils. This makes it easy for guests to help themselves.


Having a repertoire of simple and easy dessert recipes for a crowd can make hosting gatherings much more enjoyable. From classic favorites like brownies and cookies to no-bake treats, make-ahead options.

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