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What is cooked for Easter dinner?

Easter is a major holiday that revolves around a large celebratory meal. Different cultures and families have their own traditional Easter dinner menus, but there are some popular dishes that frequently make an appearance.

Main Dishes

The centerpiece of most Easter dinners is often a large roasted meat. Some of the most common choices are:

  • Baked ham – This classic Easter entrée is served glazed, spiral cut, or smoked.
  • Leg of lamb – Lamb is considered a traditional Easter meat due to its religious symbolism.
  • Roast beef – Top round or prime rib both make delicious roasts.
  • Turkey – An Easter turkey is stuffed and roasted whole.
  • Rack of lamb – These elegant lamb chops are seasoned and grilled.

In some cultures, whole fish or seafood entrees are popular for Easter such as salmon, cod, or lobster. Vegetarian mains like a veggie roast or mushroom wellington can also be served.

Side Dishes

Easter dinner menus also shine with an array of spring vegetable dishes, grains, and salads including:

  • Asparagus – Grilled, roasted, or wrapped in prosciutto.
  • Spring peas – Fresh or in a salad.
  • Potatoes – Mashed, scalloped, or roasted.
  • Rolls and biscuits – Fresh baked with butter.
  • Stuffing or dressing – Baked in the turkey or on the side.
  • Cranberry sauce – To accompany ham.
  • Tossed salad or spinach salad – With spring veggies.
  • Quinoa or rice pilaf – Herb seasoned grains.
  • Green bean casserole – A hearty vegetable bake.


Easter meals are always finished off with something sweet. Here are some traditional desserts:

  • Hot cross buns – Spiced buns with an icing cross.
  • Bread pudding – Cozy and warm, loaded with fruit.
  • Easter cupcakes – Fun decorated cupcakes.
  • Lamb cake – A lamb-shaped cake.
  • Carrot cake – Moist cake with cream cheese frosting.
  • Chocolate eggs – Hollow chocolate eggs.
  • Simnel cake – A fruitcake with marzipan.

Kids’ Favorites

Easter dinner should have fun dishes the whole family can enjoy. Kid-friendly recipes include:

  • Deviled eggs
  • Jell-O eggs
  • Stuffed eggs
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Loaded baked potato
  • Fruit salad
  • Rolls with butter
  • Chicken fingers
  • Chocolate bunny cake

Regional Easter Traditions

Different regions and cultures also have their own unique Easter meal customs. Here are a few examples:

Region Traditional Easter Meal
Italy Lamb, tortellini al forno, pastiera pie
Greece Roast lamb, avgolemono soup, tsoureki bread
Poland Ham, beet salad, babka cake
Mexico Fish ceviche, tamales, bunuelos fritters

Make Your Own Traditions

While ham, lamb, and all the trimmings are Easter classics, you can also create your own unique traditions. Try out new spring recipes or ethnic dishes that your family will look forward to each year. Focus on fresh ingredients, beautiful presentations, and most importantly, celebrating together.


Easter dinner brings families together over food, fun, and making happy memories. Though classic main dishes like baked ham and leg of lamb are customary, many cultures and families have their own beloved traditions. Fresh spring vegetables, grains, salads, and sweets also abound. Kids love deviled eggs, mac and cheese, chocolate bunnies and more. However you choose to celebrate, may your Easter meal reflect the joyful spirit of the holiday.