11 Best Cuts Of Meat To Serve At A Dinner Party

So, you want to host a dinner party? Hoping to gather all your closest friends and family to eat and enjoy each other's company under the warm and welcoming grace of your impeccable cooking and impressively inviting home (and have everything go off without a hitch)? Well, be under no illusion — such a task is easier said than done. After all, it's easy to wake up one morning and say, "I'm going to feed a table of 17 people!" But actually accomplishing such a feat, well, that takes practice and the right cut of meat. And, in your case, forethought; every detail matters, especially when it comes to dinner parties. 

How many guests will you have, how hungry are they, and are there any dietary restrictions or abject dislikes? What's your budget, the ambiance, or the occasion? Do you have enough drinks or the right cheap cut of meat to satiate the culinary cravings of your guests as well as your wallet?

Feeding a crowd requires more than enthusiasm and skill in the kitchen. It's a feat of exemplary time management, planning, organization, preparation, social grace, mise en place, and oh so much more. But with preparation and practice, even the most inexperienced host can ace an at-home dining occasion like a professional chef. By knowing the best cuts of meat to serve for a dinner party, you can put the right foot forward with the entire planning process and give yourself and your guests a memorable meal.

Prime rib roast

In the world of dinner parties, one cut of meat reigns supreme: the prime rib roast. That's right — this melt-in-your-mouth, ultra-tender, super juicy and overall amazing cut of rib-in beef is exactly the kind of meat you should be serving up to your guests at a dinner party. Just imagine, everyone gathers at the table and sits down to see a prime example of beef, roasted rare served up alongside delicious tidbits such as the classic baked potato, creamed spinach, and horseradish accouterment.

To find the perfect prime rib recipe, just know that you're looking for low and slow with simple seasonings and sides you can make well in advance. The crowning glory of a prime rib dinner party is that this cut of meat cooks all day and can essentially sit while you tend to ... whatever other dinner party chores you have to attend to.

All in all, a prime rib roast is an impressive and irresistible centerpiece for a dinner party that no one should pass up. Just make sure you're up to the challenge of absolutely nailing a somewhat difficult cut of meat. The only thing more important than the meal at a dinner party is the ambiance, so there's no point in stressing yourself out about prime rib when other options abound.

Ribeye steak

When it comes to creating a memorable dinner party menu, steak is always a great way to go. And a good ol' fashioned ribeye steak is chief among them for its fat content, texture, and fabulous flavor profile. And once you know your steak cuts and nail that cooking technique, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from giving your dinner party guests a bit of ribeye razzle-dazzle.

Making a perfect ribeye steak is simple. First, select a ribeye that has an even distribution of fat throughout. Some ribeyes come with a thick strip of fat through the center of the steak, which is mostly a matter of preference (so have at it, fat lovers). When it's almost time for dinner, let the steaks rest at room temperature for at least five minutes before they hit any sort of heat. This relaxes the meat's texture and ensures an overall better steak experience. Pat dry and season to taste with salt, pepper, and whatever other kinds of steak seasonings float your boat. 

After all that, just sear the ribeye on medium-high heat for about four minutes on each side so that the outside is browned and crispy and the inside is medium rare but warm enough to have melted all that intravenous fat. Toss in or brush the steak with a bit of butter (and some garlic and herbs, if desired), then baste, remove, and let it rest before serving it up to those dinner party guests.

Rack of lamb

Rack of lamb is such a classic cut of meat to serve at a dinner party, and there's a good reason — it's the most sophisticated finger food you can get away with in polite company. And it tastes amazing, when done right, of course. Something about a perfectly pink medallion of meat poised at the end of a delicate lamb bone screams fine dining experience, and that's equally as true in fancy restaurants as it is at fancy dinner parties. And since rack of lamb is no inexpensive cut of meat, it's important to know how to get results that taste as indulgent as possible.

Rack of lamb can be a tricky cit to work with for the uninitiated, but there are a few simple tips and tricks for cooking lamb at home that can save you from certain dinner party disasters. First, be aware that lamb is on the gamier side of meat, especially since many grocery stores have, can, and will continue to pawn mutton off as lamb. Though it may sound counterproductive to buy more, smaller racks of lamb for a dinner party, that is exactly what you should do since the smaller the rack, the more likely it is that you're buying genuine lamb.

After your lamb is acquired, simply follow a reliable crusted rack of lamb recipe down to the letter, invest in a meat thermometer for good measure, and (as always) remember to let the lamb rest before the big dinner.

Pork rib chops

Pork rib chops are an underrated cut of meat, and probably not the first thing to pop into your mind when you think of proteins to plate up at your dinner party. But here's the thing, the only reason pork chops aren't wildly popular is that it is easy to accidentally overcook a pork chop, leaving it texturally dry and overall lacking that wow factor you want for impressing guests.

To add more flavor to pork chops and ensure they stay juicy and delicious even after a hard sear ... well, it's dead simple. You soak them ahead of time in a classic salty and sweet brine. Not only does this imbue an impressive amount of flavor evenly throughout the meat, but it also helps to tenderize and lock in all those delicious pork juices as it sears. The result? A bone-in pork chop so powerfully delicious, your dinner party guests will probably take the bones home.

The best brine for pork has an equal amount of brown sugar to salt dissolved into boiling water and complemented by any add-in ingredients you please including (but not limited to) bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, juniper berries, and more. The play of salty and sweet works wonders for pork, and the sugar goes a long way in adding that quintessential carmelizing effect everyone wants when it comes to eating pork.

Chicken wings

Chicken wings are an underrated hero in terms of meat cuts you should be serving up at your dinner parties. And the fact that these amazing meaty treats are more or less restricted to game day, sports bars, or a naughty night home alone with your air fryer is, well ... it simply isn't right. Especially when you remember that not all dinner parties have to inherently emulate a fine dining extravaganza, so don't be shy when it comes to serving up some of America's favorite finger food at your next soiree!

To throw your own wing-themed dinner extravaganza, all you need is chicken wings and a recipe. After that, it's as simple as deciding between crispy baked chicken wings, fried (air or otherwise), or possibly smoked outside. Then there are the wing sauces, which can range all the way from island sweet to melt your mind hot, then back to a more mild garlic and Parmesan sauce, and on to the million and one other ways you can dress up a chicken drum or a flat. However, it's hard to beat a buffalo chicken wing served with a side of bleu cheese dip and some celery sticks.

So, the next time you have hungry masses to feed, consider chicken wings. They're that perfectly casual cut of meat that's easy to portion out, can hold up to a ton of different kinds of sides, come in every flavor you can imagine, and, most importantly, they're gosh darned delicious.


Tri-tip is one of the best kinds of meat cuts out there when it comes to serving up dinner for friends and family. It's super flavorful, large enough to feed a family of eight, and has a tapered shape that caters across the doneness scale (encompassing rare beef eaters and well-done diners alike). And it just so happens to be one of the easiest cuts of beef to cook correctly, which makes it an even more tempting dinner party protein pick.

To make tri-tip, begin by selecting a well-marbled cut of beef, ideally from your local butcher. If you're cooking the tri-tip over an open flame, trim some of the fat cap to avoid oil fire flare-ups. Otherwise, treat a tri-tip as you would any other cut of beef. Let it rest at room temperature before cooking, pat it dry, season it well, and sear it on each side until nicely browned and cook through to your desired doneness. 

The only essential detail to keep in mind with the tri-tip is that it must be cut against the grain once the beef has rested and is ready to serve. After that, it's up to you. There are a ton of top-notch tri-tip recipes out there and even more sides that complement this easygoing cut of meat. A personal favorite tri-tip meal that's never failed a dinner party is tri-tip with Caesar salad and garlic bread. Simple, delicious, and easy enough to pull off under pressure. 

Beef short ribs

Oh, the joy of hosting an event with the ever-present smell of simmering beef short ribs growing stronger with each minute the clock ticks closer to dinner party time. How, oh how can there be a more delightful dish to serve to guests than slowly braised beef ribs in red wine with lots of thyme? In short, it's pretty hard to beat slow-cooked wine and beef, and since short ribs come jam-packed with flavor from all that fat, meat, and bone ... well, don't be surprised if your guests start wandering in the direction of the kitchen sooner than you'd want or expect.

Beef short ribs are that perfect mix of elegant and hearty, with enough flavor to impress anyone with functional tastebuds and a beating heart. It doesn't hurt that they're a relatively inexpensive cut of meat and absolutely fantastic served over creamy mashed potato. Sidenote, the best mashed potatoes are those finished off with a dollop of sour cream and some chives stirred in at the end (you're welcome).

Lamb shanks

Lamb shanks make for an excellent and ultra-unique cut of meat to serve as a centerpiece for your next dinner party. Just make sure your guests are partial to lamb, then serve up some of these shanks slow-roasted with a side of blackened veggies over a bed of couscous. For a twist, try adding red wine, tomato, peppercorns, bay leaves, and/or some spicy harissa to the lamb shanks as they simmer. Lamb can take a lot of flavor, so don't be afraid to get bold like this Moroccan lamb shank recipe and really let your culinary creativity shine.

By the time your guests have arrived, the lamb will already be just about done, fork tender, and emitting a terribly enticing aroma. One can only hope you don't end up with more guests than you planned for if you so much as open the windows and let your neighbors know what's on the stove. 

All in all, lamb shanks are a low-stress and high-reward cut of meat for anyone hosting a dinner party. After all, the best dinner party foods are the kinds you can set on the stovetop in the morning, forget all day, and serve in the evening.

Pork shoulder

Pork shoulder is best cooked low and slow, gently roasting until the meat is so fork tender that it falls off the bone if you so much as look at it too intensely. This cut of meat is perfect for dinner parties, and even better than perfect when you remember that all those pork drippings (the fat, juices, and flavor), well, they're just sitting at the bottom of the baking sheet, waiting for succulent bits of pork to fall down and almost melt into itself. 

And to add to the pot, pork shoulder is a sizeable piece of meat that can serve a party of 15 or more. It's also ridiculously affordable given how gosh darned delicious it is to eat, and for how hands-off the cooking process is (especially if you use an easy pulled pork recipe). And there are so many diverse and delicious ways to dress up this popular dinner party cut, from BBQ to taco night and to all the unadorned bites eaten straight from the pan in between.

New York strip steak

New York strip steaks are a classic cut of meat that can complement just about any carnivorously-inclined dinner party. Honestly, it's one that you really can't go wrong with (unless the party is vegan; then you've made a rather flagrant faux pas). But what is it that makes New York strips a perfect dinner party steak? Well, it's as simple as being available, affordable, and reliable in terms of texture and flavor. Most grocery stores and butcheries will have New York strip steaks available any time of the year, anywhere, for any occasion. And since beef can get kind of expensive, it's good to have a cut of cattle in your dinner party repertoire that won't break the bank. 

Some more snobby steak savants may turn up their noses at this particular cut since it can be a bit on the chewier side, but don't believe the New York strip slander campaign, especially when tons of celebrity chefs outright adore this cut — Jacques Pepin included.

Whole cornish game hen

If you really want to make a statement at your dinner party, then serving up some cornish game hen is honestly a good way to go. After all, there's a singular sort of excitement that comes with getting your own, single personal portion-sized chicken at dinner. And if you can get a proper crispy exterior and juicy interior, then there's nothing from stopping this bird being the top dinner party protein.

Cornish game hen, as the name implies, can have a slightly gamier flavor when compared to the more mild flavor profile of a typical grocery store chicken. But don't let that stop you — it's nothing a good cornish game hen recipe and some aromatics won't fix. Marinade, brine, strongly season, or otherwise adorn that bird in some flavor and you'll be absolutely fine. 

In fact, a properly seasoned cornish game hen is (in many ways) superior to chicken, especially for dinner parties. More than anything, giving each guest their own bird prevents that awkward moment that almost every American who has shared a big Thanksgiving dinner party knows ... that split second when it's time to serve up those turkey legs and three or more people want one. Rather than dueling over drumsticks and waging war over wings, give your dinner party guests a cornish game hen each and watch as everyone learns the pleasure of enjoying a whole bird to themself.