14 Easter Dinner Ideas That Break from Tradition
Get creative with your Easter dinner recipes this year by trying these fun, healthy, and fresh takes on the holiday's traditional fare.
Radish and tart-apple salad
This twist on a traditional green salad celebrates the spring radish and can be served before the main meal to whet guests’ appetites. “The apple [in the recipe] is the perfect sweet-tart complement to the peppery radish,” says Libbie Summers, chef and creative culinary director for Terra’s Kitchen, a healthy meal delivery service.
3 cups radishes, cut into matchsticks (approximately 12 radishes)
1 cup green apples, cut into matchsticks (approximately two small apples)
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, divided
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium mixing bowl, toss the radishes and apples with 1 teaspoon of the grapefruit juice and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, vegetable oil, honey, and fresh ginger. Stir in mint. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over radish and apple mixture, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Sweet pea soup
“This is quite possibly the most beautiful spring soup in all the land,” says Summers about her sweet pea soup that is ideal for vegetarians at your Easter dinner feast. “Garnished with spring strawberries and served in simple China cups, this soup is the perfect first course for Easter.”
2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks (white and light green parts), roughly chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
Flake sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Pea shoots, sliced strawberries or chopped chives for garnish (optional)
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add butter, leeks, and onion. Cook, stirring until onions are translucent and leeks are tender (about five to ten minutes). Add chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and boil. Add peas and honey, cooking for three minutes, until peas are tender. Remove from heat, and add mint with salt and pepper to taste.
Process mixture in a blender. Just before serving, warm over low heat and stir in yogurt. Spoon into bowls and garnish with pea shoots, sliced strawberries, and chopped chives.
Bacon and chive deviled eggs
Instead of serving your guests the traditional deviled egg, try this new take, which makes the filling a bit more special for Easter, from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen in the book Cooking at Home with Bridget and Julia. The recipe adds chive and cayenne pepper for spice and bacon for a smoky, savory flavor.
2 slices bacon, chopped fine
6 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Cook bacon in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 1 tablespoon fat.
Slice each egg in half lengthwise with paring knife. Transfer yolks to bowl; arrange whites on serving platter. Mash yolks with a fork until no large lumps remain. Add mayonnaise and mustard and use a rubber spatula to smear mixture against the side of bowl until a thick, smooth paste forms, after about one to two minutes. Add reserved bacon fat, chives, vinegar, salt, and cayenne and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in three-quarters of chopped bacon.
Transfer yolk mixture to a small, heavy-duty plastic bag. Press mixture into one corner, and twist top of the bag. Using scissors, snip 1/2 inch off filled corner. Squeezing bag, distribute yolk mixture evenly among egg white halves. Sprinkle each egg half with remaining bacon and serve.
Chocolate deviled eggs
If you want to be even more daring with your deviled eggs, surprise guests with a chocolate rendition of the classic recipe. The Ohio Poultry Association recommends it as a sweet twist that’s very tasty and makes for great conversation around the Easter dinner table.
Crispy oysters with pickled green tomato tartar sauce
Executive Chef Adam Close of Blossom’s restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, suggests oysters as a Southern-inspired side dish, which he says are common at Charleston Easter meals. Instead of fresh, however, he fries them with a unique version of traditional tartar sauce.
Green Tomato Tartar Sauce (yields 1 pint)
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup pickled green tomatoes (drained and minced)
2 lemons (juiced)
1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon celery salt
1/4 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried dill
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients, store in an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps for up to five days.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cracker meal
3 tablespoons Old Bay
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
6 to 8 fresh oysters (any variety)
An electric fryer is the easiest and safest option. Otherwise, use a heavy cast iron pan with minimum 4-inch sides and a high-temperature thermometer. Coat the oysters in breading. Bring oil to 375 degrees to get oysters crispy. Remove with mesh strainer. Drain excess oil on paper towels. Always buy oysters that are contained in their liquid, which helps the breading stick to the oyster.
Zucchini noodles with cilantro pesto
Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” are a popular way to enjoy “noodles” without all the carbs for a healthy Easter dinner idea. Try serving them as a side dish with this recipe from Chef Melissa Eboli, owner of Via’s Kitchen, a personal chef and catering company focusing on clean eating. She describes the dish as versatile, delicious, nutritious, and very easy to make.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
Dash garlic powder & sea salt
Using a handheld or electric spiralizer, spiralize zucchini into long strips. (You can also use a grater.) Dice garlic and heat with olive oil in pan on medium. Add zucchini. Coat with garlic powder and sea salt, cook three minutes and remove.
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
2 ounces water
5 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups spinach
3/4 cup cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Toss with zucchini noodles.
Cider mac and cheese with ham
It might be a little too exotic for the kids, but this spin on mac and cheese from Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni of Barilla U.S. adds an Easter favorite—ham—along with hard cider and artichokes for a comfort food side that will certainly please most of the adults around your holiday table.
Savory galette pesto
When it comes to Easter dinner ideas involving bread, you might as well throw on as many vegetables as possible to add to the nutritional value. Julie Nickerson of the Savory Tooth blog serves a hearty galette, which is a French round bread, topped with veggies galore. “This galette is a fun way to remind ourselves that spring is coming; it uses garden vegetables, such as tomatoes, as well as basil pesto for a delicious [dish].”
Smoked salmon with herbed crème fraîche
This elegant and easy option for an Easter dinner appetizer is a great item to set out while prepping the main holiday meal, comes from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen in the book Cooking at Home with Bridget and Julia.
“Lemon, chives, and dill add a fresh element to tangy creme fraîche, and when served with good-quality smoked salmon, and crisp, kettle-cooked chips, it comes together in minutes,” says Bridget Lancaster, host of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country by America’s Test Kitchen TV shows.
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup crème fraîche (look in your grocery’s gourmet cheese section)
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
Salt and pepper
12 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut crosswise into 2- to 3-inch-long pieces
1 (9-ounce) bag kettle-cooked potato chips
Microwave cream cheese in bowl until very soft, about 20 to 25 seconds. Whisk in crème fraîche, dill, chives, lemon zest, and juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Serve alongside salmon and potato chips. (Dip can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 24 hours; season with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper before serving.)
Need to keep the kids busy while you’re cooking, too? Check out these entertaining Easter games.
Sesame soy-smoked salmon crostini
Another way to serve your dinner guests salmon is with this impressive, but simple crostini from the Killing Thyme blog and Simply Avocado, which also brings in the traditional elements of bagel and lox. Equal parts elegant and effortless, the crostinis are topped with creamy avocado spread, crunchy cucumber, and smoked salmon.
Jalapeno peach glazed ham
If you do want to serve the classic Easter ham as your dinner entree, consider some new ways to prepare and serve it that will surprise and delight guests. Melissa Cookston, a seven-time world barbecue champion who also owns several southern barbecue restaurants, likes this version of a Smithfield bone-in ham seasoned with BBQ rub and cooked in a Big Green Egg or another smoker. She then glazes it with jalapenos, peach preserves, and orange juice. Here are the myths and legends that sparked Easter traditions.
Ham and brie lasagna
If you want to skip serving a full ham, but still want that traditional element at your Easter meal, this hearty entree from Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni of Barilla U.S. combines ham, brie, and peas in a lasagna. Chef Boni says it’s also a great make-ahead dish (prep it up to 2 days ahead of time and bake right before serving), because lasagna only gets tastier as it settles.
An alternative to ham, this meatloaf uses common ingredients that are likely already in your kitchen. “It’s worth straying from the traditional holiday menu, because this dish is not only filling and comforting, but also incredibly easy to prepare,” says Vera Stewart, author of The VeryVera Cookbook: Recipes from my Table.
1⁄2 pound ground beef (80/20 ground chuck recommended)
1⁄4 pound hot pork sausage (Jimmy Dean® recommended)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium Vidalia onion,chopped
1⁄2 cup marinara sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1⁄2 cup marinara sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix all meatloaf ingredients together until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix together sauce ingredients, and set aside. Press the meatloaf mixture into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Drain fat, and cover with sauce. Bake an additional five to ten minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest for ten minutes before slicing.
Homemade peach ice tea
With all this delicious food, your guests will need something just as tempting with which to wash it all down. Instead of just another soda or lemonade, try this refreshing and fruity tea from Annessa Chumbley, RDN, that’s simple to prepare in the morning before friends and family arrive.