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23 Graduation Party Food Ideas

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Graduation can be one of the happiest days of your life. You’ve worked hard to achieve your goals and now you’re going to be recognized for all of your efforts. As a result, you will likely be ready to party when all is said and done.

23 Graduation Party Food Ideas

So, if you’re going to have a graduation party – you can’t forget about the graduation party food! But you need to bear in mind that there are a number of factors that come into play when planning a graduation party menu. 

Luckily for you though, we’ve made all that hard work disappear. You won’t need to rack your brains for ideas now, because we’ve got plenty of graduation party food ideas that can make your party superb! 

Ready to find out a lot more? Then read below for all of the answers! 

The Best Graduation Party Food 

Without any further delay, let’s dive right into the best graduation party food that you and your guests will absolutely love. These will make you hungry right away! 

1. Buffalo Wings

Nothing says party more than buffalo wings. For almost all kinds of happy gatherings, buffalo wings are something that gets the guests mouths’ watering and heading right for the plates.

Not only are buffalo wings incredibly delicious, but they’re the perfect size.

Instead of being giant wings, buffalo wings are just the right size to eat time after time without getting too full – which of course could spoil your beverages! On top of all this, buffalo wings can be made to your specifications.

Many people choose to spice up their buffalo wings with hot sauce, or even use Jamaican jerk seasoning. However, we’ve always thought that you should leave that choice up to the guests and simply leave the sauces and seasoning on the table.

2. Vegan Chocolate Traybake

Let’s sweeten things up a moment and consider a gorgeous chocolate traybake which is ideal for all guests due to its vegan construction.

Most people would agree that when you go to a party, sometimes you crave something chocolatey and sweet – and this is definitely the case when you’re at a family friendly party, which many graduation parties are! 

After you have had your fill on savory bites, you will likely turn your attention to something like this, so be sure to choose this vegan chocolate traybake and make all of your guests happy that there’s a chocolatey option right at their fingertips!

3. Smoky Veggie Nachos

Nachos are one of the most popular types of party food. They’re quick and easy to prepare and serve, but all of the guests can simply pick at them when they want something small to fill the hole in their belly! 

Nachos have that amazing crunch which very few other party foods have, which is one of the main reasons that they are so popular. However, another reason for their popularity is because they can be dunked into your favorite dip choice! 

Luckily too, this particular recipe for nachos is entirely vegetarian friendly – so almost all of your guests have the perfect option for their hunger needs. Just be sure to place some salsa, garlic and sour cream dip nearby! 

4. Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is highly sought after when it comes to graduation parties – especially if the weather is hot! Pasta salad can be made in a way that pleases everybody, it’s quick and easy – and it’s very filling, but not too heavy on your gut.

On top of this, we’ve always found that a great thing with pasta salad is guests can make it their own. It’s easy to pick all of the other options around and stick them with your pasta salad to make something more tailored to your liking. 

This is an especially good thing for graduation parties because it means that anybody can chow down without needing to worry about vegan or vegetarian requirements.

All you need to do is add some meat or potatoes on the side for other guests who want them. 

5. Coleslaw

Coleslaw is pretty iconic when it comes to party food. It’s highly popular and when you’re making it at home, you can tailor it to your own liking or to the guests’ liking.

This includes adding your own vegetables, peppers and mayonnaise in the batch in terms of serving size.

One of the best ways to enjoy coleslaw as a party food is to serve it with crackers, chips, nachos or large potatoes on the same table for your guests to have something to add the coleslaw to. 

While there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying a spoonful of coleslaw on its own, coleslaw should really be used as a side to something else, or as a topping. Our next pick on this list is one such food item that you could have coleslaw with! 

Remember though, if you’re going to serve coleslaw and you’re making it yourself for a graduation party, be sure that you know any dietary restrictions that some of your potential guests may have. Coleslaw can contain many potential allergens! 

6. Mini Cheeseburgers

As we mentioned a moment ago, if you’re looking for something that you could serve alongside with coleslaw, you can’t look a lot further than mini cheeseburgers.

With their perfect size and gorgeous, flamy texture and aroma – guests will fall in love with them! 

Mini cheeseburgers are an ideal choice for a graduation party, but even more so if you are hosting your party outdoors.

You can barbeque them and serve them on small paper plates, allowing your guests to wander around and talk to others without being restricted.

Another fantastic thing about mini cheeseburgers is the fact that they are pretty versatile. You can add your own sauce, salad items, extra meat or whatever else you may want which will enhance your party food experience. 

For any vegans, you should consider serving vegan burgers – but make sure you’re not cooking them in the same place. It may also be worth sourcing some vegan cheese for both vegans and lactose intolerant guests. 

7. Appetizer Hot Dogs

There are so many occasions where you might want to break out the appetizer hot dogs, and when it comes to a graduation party – this is no exception! These are the perfect size and you can have as many or as few as you want! 

Now, while this specific recipe wants you to lather the tiny hot dogs in a barbeque sauce, you do not need to do this. In fact, there’s a really good way that you can cater for many tastes here by simply having bowls of various sauces on the side. 

Additionally, you do not need to be restricted to using just hot dog buns. You can have some gluten free bread or even wraps on the side for your guests to choose their favorite options! 

8. Italian Meatball Subs

One of the best party foods that is often overlooked are Italian meatball subs. They are aromatic, delicious and certainly filling! Of course, one of the major drawbacks you will find is the difficulty to cater to vegetarians with this. 

However, there’s nothing stopping you from providing a vegan or vegetarian option for Italian meatball subs on the side. There are plenty of recipes out there that will cater to this, and they’re relatively inexpensive to make. 

Of course, you will need to gauge how many guests will require this option though to try to keep your costs down to a minimum and reduce food waste – but this is just a minor problem which won’t take a lot of time to resolve.

9. Sandwiches

Let’s face it, when it comes to any kind of gathering or party, you kind of expect sandwiches to be served. Sandwiches are budget friendly to make and you can cater for literally anybody with sandwich options. 

In fact, one of the best things that has been done before with graduation parties when sandwiches were on the menu is leaving the ingredients on the table and allowing the guests to simply put together their own creation.

You can leave ham, tuna, cheese, jelly, peanut butter, bacon, sausage, shrimp, egg mayonnaise and a whole lot more. Don’t forget to provide different kinds of bread or tacos on the side too! 

One major thing to remember here is, if you’re going to leave bread on the side – be sure that you only butter a few slices and then leave the butter nearby.

Vegans may not be sure if your choice of butter is vegan friendly, so this is the easiest way to cater for everyone.

10. Potato Salad

No party would be complete without some amazing potato salad on offer. Huge numbers of people love potato salad, and when it is made with a lot of care – potato salad can literally be the best part about the food on offer.

As with coleslaw though, potato salad needs something else nearby to enjoy it with. Consider adding potato salad to your burgers, hot dogs or sandwiches for instance and really make a great meal out of something relatively simple. 

Of course, potato salad is not usually vegan friendly, so you may wish to make another batch using vegan mayonnaise or something similar. 

11. Pizza

People who think of big parties like graduation parties may automatically turn their attention to pizza.

Pizza is one of the easiest party food ideas because it does not usually require a plate, can easily be eaten on the move and slices are ideal in terms of size.

Pizza can of course be tailored to a lot of different dietary needs and tastes. Vegans and vegetarians will need to be thought off and catered for, along with people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to things like seafood.

However, even with all of these things considered – it’s pretty inexpensive to provide all of these and you will find that many guests will enjoy multiple different pizzas. Come on – who doesn’t like pizza at a party?!

12. Kabobs

Kabobs are possibly the easiest food to make for a party, and you can quickly switch them up to create meat kabobs or veggie kabobs. Of course, if you are grilling these on a barbeque, it’s imperative that you use different grills for each.

However, once you have done this – your guests will fall in love with these as a food option at the party. Kabobs on skewers are easy to walk around with and they’re quite a social food option, allowing you to talk when you let them cool down from the grill. 

Remember to have some excellent sauces on the side for your guests though. Kabobs are best enjoyed when you can dip them in something like hot sauce or garlic sauce.

It’s also critical that you season the meat kabobs with some amazing salt and pepper. 

13. Summer Fruit Salad

When it comes to party foods, it may not sound so fancy or fun, but summer fruit salad can be a really big hit. This is especially true when the weather is sweltering hot and the sweat is beaming down your face! 

Fruit salad can provide a sweet and cooling break from the heat and most people will love it. Of course, there are many fruits which people may be allergic to, so it’s very important that you leave a note on the side for which fruits are included.

Once again, although this may sound a little silly – it can be quite difficult to spot what fruits are included in the salad, depending on the size. So by providing a small note, you should be able to save yourself from a whole lot of trouble! 

14. Curly Fries

There are few people out there who would say they dislike curly fries. With their gorgeous seasoning and easy to reach and eat nature, curly fries are a smash hit with party guests. Indeed, they’re great when there’s a lot of dips around to choose from too! 

You can season curly fries to your own liking, but again you will need to consider your guests dietary restrictions.

Curly fries are quick and easy to make, and they will be piping hot when you’ve just got them out of the oven – so be sure to tell your guests to be careful! 

Curly fries go excellent with things like burgers, pizzas, hot dogs or even potato salad and coleslaw. Really, there’s few restrictions when it comes to this party food option – so why not make up a big batch for a big hit! 

15. Onion Rings

Onion rings are a popular choice when it comes to a whole variety of different parties and there’s plenty of reasons for this. One of the reasons is because they are so quick and easy to make – but let’s not forget about how tasty and filling they are! 

On top of all this, they can go perfectly well with plenty of other foods, like burgers for instance, and you can happily add your favorite dip to them for a gorgeous burst of flavor in your mouth. 

Something that some guests have done before is use the skewer from their kabobs to pick up piping hot onion rings and use this to dip them, or even pick up multiple hot onion rings at once! 

16. Ribs

You can’t really go to a party and see ribs on the menu and feel bad about it! Ribs are absolutely stunning and a huge hit at parties. Ribs, when they are cooked just right, will fall right off the bone and warm you up.

But the key to the perfect ribs is where you get them from and how you prepare them. Be sure to head to a reputable butcher and lather your ribs in barbeque sauce or hot sauce, along with rubbing oil, salt and pepper. 

If you want to know the absolute best way to cook your ribs though, ask the butcher for their recommendations or speak with a smokehouse chef. 

17. Noodles

These 10 minute noodles are not only quick and easy to make, but they pack a punch with party guests. They can be relatively filling and certainly inexpensive, but our favorite thing about these noodles is how versatile they can be.

You can leave some additional extras out for your guests to make their own bowl of noodles perfect for them, such as leaving out soy sauce, hot sauce, peppers, onions and a whole lot more! 

You may want to leave some meat products out, like chicken or pork, so you can allow vegetarian guests to simply pick up a bowl. Meat loving guests can easily add their own choices, including as much or as little meat as they like.

18. Cupcakes

Turning our attention to something sweeter now, you should certainly consider cupcakes as a viable option when it comes to choosing graduation party foods.

Cupcakes are loved by so many people and they’re just the right size to enjoy without piling on the pounds! 

Cupcakes are pretty easy to make too, and it’s perfect for when you have a lot of baking ingredients leftover in your cupboards and need to do something with them before they expire! 

Of course, you will need to pay attention to what ingredients you are using for some of your guests – but you can easily make vegan friendly cupcakes for no massively inflated costs on top.

19. Graduation Cake

You can’t have a graduation party without a graduation cake! Your graduate and your guests absolutely need to be provided with a slice of this gorgeous, chocolatey and creamy cake – perhaps with a side of cream or ice cream. 

You don’t need to make your own graduation cake, as there are plenty of stores out there that will sell them alone. Of course though, if you’re hoping to add your own spin on things – then certainly you can feel free to make your own! 

You may even need to make a second, smaller graduation cake which caters for vegans and people with lactose intolerance. Just be sure to make these cakes separately and do not use the same pans to avoid contamination.

20. Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is a party food option that always brings smiles to the faces of the guests. Garlic bread has the most amazing aroma that gets your mouth watering and makes you want to just dive right in for a bite. 

To ensure the perfect garlic bread though, you need to make sure that you are not burning the bread and allow it to be easily pulled. If you can’t easily tear the garlic bread, you don’t have the perfect garlic bread! 

Additionally, it’s important to provide some dip. Garlic bread is excellent on its own, but there are plenty of people out there who will want to add a little extra to the bread to avoid dryness. 

21. Fried Cheese Sticks

Speaking of party food that the majority of people like, you can’t look much further than fried cheese sticks for that. These gloriously flavored cheese sticks have a superb taste, an amazing texture and they are just the right size in terms of a portion. 

A lot of people enjoy dipping their fried cheese sticks in hot sauce or barbeque sauce, so be sure to have some dips around. 

Fried cheese sticks can be served with other party foods too, including burgers, hot dogs and pizza, or something like coleslaw on the side. Really, it all comes down to the party guest! 

22. Chicken Nuggets

You do not need to head to your nearest McDonald’s restaurant to enjoy the most amazing nuggets. You can easily make them yourself and provide them at a graduation party, which almost everybody will love! 

These tender, chunky and gloriously tasty chicken nuggets are best enjoyed with some nearby barbeque sauce for dipping, and maybe even with an additional side of fries or coleslaw! 

While chicken nuggets are obviously not vegan friendly, you can make some vegan friendly versions at home too. Just check online for an incredible recipe that can cater for vegans, and you can serve both batches which pleases everybody! 

23. Shrimp Cocktail

For people who like shrimp, they will go crazy for shrimp cocktails. It’s a favorite among party-goers, and this applies to graduation parties too. Of course, you’re going to need to supply small bowls for this – but that’s a small detail.

You can add your own twist to the recipe, perhaps by adding more lemon juice, chili powder or other herbs – but you will find that following this recipe is tasty enough. 

Shrimp cocktails go great with crackers or chips on the side too, so be sure to get some extras when you’re feeling particularly peckish! 

One of the biggest things to remember when it comes to shrimp cocktails though is the allergens. Many people are allergic to shellfish, so be sure to ask your potential guests if they have such an allergy before they arrive at the party.

The Bottom Line 

And that’s all you need to know about party food ideas for graduation parties! We hope you enjoyed our list and you have found some amazing ideas ready for the big day! Just be sure to remember dietary restrictions and you will be fine. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

We will now cover some of your most frequently asked questions. Hopefully we answer everything you wanted to know! 

Is It Easy To Cater For Everybody?

For some party food choices yes, but for others no. All you need to do is provide small notes of information which explains everything that goes into each dish. That way, your guests will know if they can eat them or not. 

Is Food Important At Graduation Parties?

Some graduation parties are almost entirely centered around the food, but some do not matter so much. Really it depends on the graduate and your own plans! 

Is A Graduation Party Expensive?

You can easily provide for a graduation party at a low cost, especially if you make your own dishes at home.

Just do not spend needlessly and try to use as much of your ingredients you already have in order to save as much money as possible!

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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