Easy but impressive recipes

party food

Been invited to a bring-a-dish event and want to impress with your efforts – without actually doing any hard work? Mumsnetters have just the recipe in mind

Yes I actually did make this dip

spinach dip

“Try this creamy spinach and artichoke dip. I'm not renowned for my cooking, so friends and acquaintances have a real look of surprise when they taste this and hear I made it.”

Truly impressive pate

duck rillettes

“Try rillettes of duck by Delia. All the hard work happens before the party. It takes a while to prepare but it is truly impressive. Read through the recipe and you'll see the jobs you have to do are manageable.”

To die for dip

smoked oyster dip

“My smoked oyster dip is to die for and so easy. Get two tins of smoked oysters, oil and all – add to that 500g Philadelphia cream cheese and the juice of one lemon. Whiz with a hand blender or mash with fork and then serve with crackers/biscuits of your choice.”

Tinned pear salad


“There is a very nice salad which combines mixed leaves, sliced tinned pears, crumbled Roquefort, walnuts and a dressing made of olive oil and red wine vinegar with a bit of whole grain mustard and honey.”

Low effort cheese starter

goats cheese with pomegranate

“Try this easy goat's cheese dip. I made it for a dinner party starter once and by the time I'd taken my pinny off 3/4 of it was gone. I have never admitted how low effort it was!”

Budget chicken drumsticks

chicken drumsticks

“Slow cooked chicken drumsticks – marinate in a dry rub like peri peri or jerk, spread on a tray, cover in foil and roast on 140C in a fan oven for 1.5-2 hours. Uncover for the last 20 minutes. All the gristly fatty bits melt away so it also works with cheap chicken.”

Make two, eat one tarts

tomato tart

“Puff pastry, spread with onion chutney, scatter over chopped chillies, cherry tomatoes and chunks of feta. Top with a bit of Parmesan if you like. Bake. Chop into squares. Best do two, one to eat straight out of oven and one to take. Seriously deeeelicious.”

Amazing reheatable traybake

chicken and lemon tray

“This traybake is bloody amazing. It is incredibly easy and has knocked the socks off everyone who has tried it. You just add things to an oven tray every 20 minutes. Top tip: leave it in the oven with foil over for another 20-30 minutes after the recipe says you're done. The potatoes are meltingly soft, the gravy is amazing and the chicken is incredibly tender. Also reheats beautifully in the microwave.”

Zero effort tacos

pulled pork tacos

“I do a pulled pork which takes zero effort and comes out fab. Lob a chunk of pork shoulder in the slow cooker, poke slits into it, chuck in some cumin, salt, about a bottle of BBQ sauce and cook on low for eight hours. Shred with forks and serve with soft tacos and salsa (you could be fancy and make a pineapple or mango salsa).”

Blissful potato bake

potato dauphinoise

Dauphinoise potatoes. It's just potato, cream, milk, garlic and seasoning yet it manages to be pure bliss.”

Impossible to f*** up cake
clementine cake

Nigella's Clementine cake is really easy to make and impossible to f*** up. Even when I had a shitty oven that couldn't heat frozen chips reliably, this always came out fine.”

Easy AND boozy trifle

brownie trifle

“Brownie trifle is great. In a suitable dish, layer chunks of really good bought brownies, bought luxury creamy fresh custard, and berries. I did this in individual glasses as a pud at my brother's wedding. You can add some booze to the custard – a lovely one is Chambord raspberry liqueur if you use fresh raspberries for the berry element.”

Always-gets-compliments pie

key lime pie

“My go-to is always key lime pie. I use Nigella's chocolate key lime pie recipe which has a biscuit base. You just whip up the filling and splat it in. Add a bit of lime zest and grated chocolate, and Bob's your auntie's live-in lover. Always gets compliments, and is truly easy. Last time I used her Oreo biscuit base from another recipe and that added another level of wow, but you can't make that too far in advance or it goes soggy.”

Big fat gypsy dessert

gypsy tart

“My emergency go-to is a Kent speciality called Gypsy Tart which is possibly the easiest dessert to make. Whisk up brown sugar and evaporated milk for 15 minutes, then pour into a (blind baked) pastry case and bake for 15 minutes.”

Caribbean fridge sweet

sugar cream

“Barbados Cream is my one. Put organic full fat yogurt into individual glass dishes. Sprinkle the top with soft, dark brown sugar and leave in the fridge overnight. It is delicious and so easy.”