How To Choose The Right One-Pot Meal For Your Dinner Party

When planning a dinner party, one-pot meals can be a lifesaver. They offer simplicity, convenience, and the opportunity to create a delicious and hearty dish that will impress your guests. But how do you narrow down your choices? While it's important to choose a recipe that will have folks coming back for seconds, you also have to be practical and consider the size of the dish.

First, do a headcount and determine the number of guests you will host. Next, choose a meal that ensures there's enough food for everyone without excessive leftovers or running out of servings. Melissa Clark, author of "Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals," told Martha Stewart that sheet pans and smaller skillets are great for intimate gatherings with a guest list of two to four people. There will be just enough for everyone to get seconds. If you're looking at a party of six, choosing a recipe that uses a Dutch oven, 12-inch skillet, or casserole dish will be safer.

For larger gatherings, soup pots and Instant Pots are designed to accommodate six to eight people. If you're throwing an all-out bash and have 10+ folks swinging by, double up on the cookware. Use two casserole dishes, two sheet pans, or two Instant Pots to ensure everyone is well-fed. By considering the size of your one-pot meal, you can ensure that you have the right amount of food to satisfy your guests and make your dinner party a success.

Other considerations to keep in mind

Have you pinned down the size of your one-pot recipe but are still overwhelmed with choices? Keep a few more considerations in mind to help narrow down your dinner party menu. The beauty of a one-pot meal is that it keeps the hosting experience relatively stress- and fuss-free. To ensure that's how it stays, next consider the complexity and preparation time of the recipe. Choose a dish that aligns with your cooking skills and the time you have available. Look for recipes with clear instructions, few ingredients, and relatively simple steps to ensure you stay unharried in the kitchen.

Also, take into account the practicality of cooking and serving the one-pot meal. Ensure that the pot or pan fits comfortably on your stovetop, in the oven, or on your counter and that it can be easily transferred to the table for serving. For example, if you don't have much counter space, firing up multiple Instant Pots might not be the most practical choice. In that case, choosing a skillet recipe might be better. Or if you're worried it will be unwieldy, maybe the 17-pound Dutch oven isn't the best option, and you might feel more comfortable lugging around some sheet pans. Weighing these factors will ensure a smooth hosting experience.