Quick Recipes for Last-Minute Guests

May 12th, 2022

Delicious, and less than half an hour to prepare


Don't panic when guests arrive unexpectedly at your door. These 10 problem-solving quick recipes take less than half an hour to prepare.

It’s a dreaded feeling to walk into your kitchen and realize that you have nothing in the fridge and no time to make dinner. But you know what makes this situation less terrible? Quick recipes! The best part is that these dishes are all simple enough for anyone to make – even if you haven’t cooked in years! There’s no need to panic when your guests arrive at 8 p.m. on Saturday. We’ve found 10 problem-solving quick recipes that will take less than half an hour of your time and (most importantly) feed more than one person.

10 Easy, Quick Recipes

1. Frozen Key Lime Popsicles

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 cup limeade concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Mini-marshmallow (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, stir until sugar dissolves, then freeze. Serve slushy or room temperature. The recipe can be doubled to make more than four popsicles.

2. Caramel Apple Dip

What You’ll Need:

  • 8-10 apples, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup caramel sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Cook apples in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water until tender, at least 15 minutes. Using a blender or food processor, purée the cooked apples in batches until smooth. Combine the apple purée with caramel sauce and butter; mix well. Transfer to individual serving dishes and chill for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

3. Gingerbread Trifle

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
  • Three egg whites
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients into a bowl, add coffee, and serve. You can add whipped cream or yogurt to the top of the trifle if desired.

4. Homemade Pizza Crust

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or less if you like)
  • 2 cups of warm water

Coat a silicone mat with nonstick cooking spray and put it on a bench. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough for five to ten minutes. You will know the dough is done when it is springy to the touch. Transfer dough to the silicone mat and roll out evenly into a large circle or rectangle. Place pizza sauce, ham, bell peppers, and mozzarella cheese on top of your crust. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted.

5. Cranberry Juice Cocktail

What You’ll Need:

  • Two bottles of cranberry juice
  • One tablespoon of orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3-4 fresh mint leaves

Place all ingredients into a pitcher, stir well and serve with ice. Garnish with mint leaves. The recipe can be doubled to make more than one drink.

6. Chocolate Bread Pudding

What You’ll Need:

  • One loaf of bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Microwave bread for 4 minutes, then pierce pieces with a fork. Alternatively, toast bread in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Place cubes and syrup into a bowl, combine well and refrigerate until cool. Serve with pudding sauce and fruit of choice.

7. Chocolate Truffles

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler; stir in the flour and sugar until thoroughly combined (don’t overmix!). Refrigerate until firm, then roll into small balls and refrigerate again until hardened. The recipe can be doubled to make more than one batch.

8. Spaghetti

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound cheese (we recommend a “raw” mozzarella), diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pesto sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir gently to combine. Pack into serving bowls and serve immediately. The recipe can be doubled to make more than one dish.

9. Pancake Batter

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan; then reduce heat so that the mixture is simmering but not boiling. Pour into a medium bowl. Whisk the eggs, flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Once the hot milk mixture is added to the eggs in the bowl, quickly whisk them together until thoroughly combined. Pour batter evenly into a non-stick skillet and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side or until done to your liking. The recipe can be doubled to make two pancakes at least 8 inches in diameter with easily-distinguishable edges or served as one large pancake.

10. Almond Raspberry Cheese

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The recipe can be doubled to make more than two servings.

Tips & Tricks When Cooking Last-Minute Quick Recipes

Cook Ahead of Time:

Meal prep is the best way to cook quick recipes when you’re pressed for time. Cook once and use ingredients in different meals throughout the week. Cook a whole chicken and eat it for lunch with a side of rice or pasta – you don’t even need to add more seasoning! Or, cook up a bunch of quinoa and throw different toppings on top for an easy meal that tastes great. Follow this rule or just use services like Dinnerly and have healthy meals delivered straight to your home. Meal prep is also the best way to utilize leftovers. There’s no point in cooking a big meal just for leftovers.

Don’t Overcook Your Meat:

This might seem like common sense, but undercooked meats (like chicken) can be easier to digest because they haven’t been subjected to high heat during cooking (this is also why we cook chicken with the skin on). Overcooked meats, like beef, can be tough to digest.

Eat Off the Bone:

Just because it comes off the bone doesn’t mean it should go into the garbage disposal! Bags of bones make great freezer staples for later use. Store them in a bag (if possible) and then put them into the freezer to be used later on when you’re cooking for a large group (make sure to take out frozen bags of bones at least 48 hours before you plan on using them).

Conclusion

We hope you have found this article about last-minute recipe ideas for your next big dinner party or another event useful. It’s fascinating to learn how cookies were one of the first foods British settlers ate when they landed in North America and how popular recipes like bread pudding and chicken casserole appeared when Halloween became a national holiday. We can’t wait for the day when you remember this article because we will be sitting down to dinner with your guests. After all, it’s not every day when someone pulls off a last-minute dinner party!

More from Boomer

Diner-Style Breakfast at Home

By JeanMarie Brownson | May 22, 2024

5 Cheaper Proteins for a Summer BBQ

By Lauren Wicks, EatingWell.com | May 17, 2024

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

By Katie Leaird, America’s Test Kitchen | May 15, 2024