Cooking a roast dinner for 10 or more people is really not as hard as you might think.
It might need a bit of willpower, but with our guidance below, hopefully you’ll find cooking your roast for your small army a whole lot easier.
If you can execute cooking a roast for 10, (y’know, only one of the most famous British dishes, so no pressure!!), then there’s not much you won’t be able to achieve in the kitchen.
If you’re not even sure you could cook a roast dinner for two, then you might want to just check out our map of great pubs to eat a roast dinner!
Otherwise, here’s our 10 top tips to cooking a roast for 10 or more people…
Cooking a Roast Dinner for 10 or more people…
Tip 1 – Consider different taste preferences
When you’re cooking for big numbers, there’s obviously more chance that not everyone will like everything that you’re planning to cook.
So, understand who you’re serving your roast dinner to and what they like and dislike. If you don’t know, try to find out.
We’re not suggesting you hire a private investigator or send out a full blown questionnaire to your guests, but you might want to make some general enquiries, e.g. what meat would everyone prefer? Do most people like Brussels sprouts? Or would they prefer cabbage or broccoli?
Consider asking everyone beforehand as to what they like and what they’re not so keen on. Take note while accepting you might have to make different varieties of certain side dishes than you usually would.
Alternatively, just be bold, have a set menu and risk the fussy faces.
Tip 2 – Remember dietary requirements
Trust us, we’ve seen it. Vegetarians and vegans around the table and no meat-free roast alternatives in sight!
It seems the task of cooking a roast for lots of people can be so overwhelming for some that the most crucial menu items can be easily forgotten.
So, remember to plan what alternative to the roast meat you’ll be rustling up (if needed). Cauliflower Cheese is awesome and all, but should be an epic side dish to the main roast, in our humble opinion. The Veggies surely deserve a nut roast or something too!
Luckily, we’ve not seen any life-threatening allergies take hold through careless roast dinner preparation, but any allergies of your guests is obviously something to factor in too.
Tip 3 – Get equipped
Sure, you might need to get mentally equipped, but you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got enough (and suitably sized) kitchen equipment to comfortably serve your roast.
It’s unlikely you’ll suddenly be able to reconfigure your kitchen and add an extra oven, but by simply ensuring you’ve got enough roasting trays, pots, pans and utensils, you’ll manage just fine with some good planning.
Oh, and make sure you’ve got enough plates and crockery for everyone!
If you really live life on the edge, you might want to just get by with the equipment you’ve already got.
But depending on the number of guests, you might need to borrow some equipment, or maybe buy or hire some extra.
Tip 4 – Consider getting help
Ok, so you’ve agreed to make this roast. There’s no getting out of it. But who said you have to do it all yourself?!
If you’ve bet your house on being able to achieve it alone, maybe skip this tip. Getting help will probably be seen as cheating and will have you sleeping rough!
But if the thought of actually cooking for so many is just getting too much, there’s no shame in seeking a bit of assistance.
No one even needs to know. You could just have someone help out with the preparation of the food, have them leave before your guests arrive and know you’ve only got to smash the cooking bit out the park.
If your moral compass just couldn’t live with the guilt, maybe having a more competent or experienced mate to just help with planning your roast is the answer.
Then again, there’s always the option of hiring a private chef for the day (but that really would be cheating).
Tip 5 – Have everyone contribute
We’ve all heard of the families where each person takes on responsibility for a specific part of the roast. So why not give that a go with your guests.
Let’s face it, it could turn out to be disastrous, if Aunty Joan turns up with her flat Yorkshires, Cousin Graham can’t cook to save his life and Grandpa Jim forgets the gravy.
But it’s definitely a conversation starter and a way of making great memories.
Making a bit of a competition out of it too is a great way of encouraging you to blow everyone else out the water with your dish (side note: probably won’t work if you only put yourself on cranberry sauce duty).
Tip 6 – It’s all in the prep!
We can’t stress this tip enough, whether you’re cooking a roast for ten, two or a hundred people.
Get ahead. Get ahead. Get ahead.
Here’s a few key things to have in mind when it comes to the prep…
- Plan what you’re going to cook
- Write a list of everything you need to buy
- Consider writing a cooking plan with rough timescales
- Plan what equipment you’ll use for each element of the roast
- Do the shopping at least the day before
- Also do most preparation the day before (see our step-by-step guide)
- Lay the table before you start cooking
By all means, try doing it all on the same day, but you’ll soon regret it.
Getting as much done ahead of time actually makes the prospect of the cooking part being enjoyable a reality.
Tip 7 – Work in phases
Working in phases should help you break down the otherwise colossal task of cooking your roast dinner (whilst limiting the chances of a nervous breakdown).
We find splitting the overall project into these phases most useful (and no, we don’t think calling it a project is too dramatic!)…
- The planning phase
- The preparation phase
- The blanching / initial cooking phase
- The main cooking phase
- The eating phase!
We find this is especially helpful if you’re cooking for a lot more than 10 people, or if you don’t have loads of equipment.
For example, once you’re past the planning phase, batching all the preparation tasks into a single phase, before even thinking about cooking, will mean all the prep is behind you when the time comes to actually get cooking.
Thinking about each part of the roast as individual elements (that just need to meet each other on the plate at the end), rather than worrying about the roast as a whole, should also help relieve some of the stress you might be feeling.
Tip 8 – Think about service options
The way you decide to serve your roast dinner will be down to personal preference, although it might be dictated by the amount of equipment you have.
There’s a few serving options when it comes to cooking a roast dinner for large groups…
Plated service might make you feel like you’re giving your guests the complete service, but there’s a lot to plate up and the food could get cold before it reaches the table.
A self-service buffet might be a better option if you don’t have the space or equipment to heat the plates.
This way, you can basically serve each part of the roast in the dishes they’re cooked in. Tin foil and lids are your friends here!
Once everything is cooked (or very nearly cooked), you can keep it all warm in a low oven while you finish off the gravy etc. People can help themselves to what they want far quicker than it’ll take you to plate up.
Plated and buffet combo service
A combination of the above two service options would usually involve you plating some of the main items, e.g. the meat and Yorkshire Puddings, with the rest being in dishes for people to help themselves.
Just be comfortable with the option you choose.
Timing of service
Also, we’d suggest not setting a specific time to serve your roast. Instead, give everyone an approximate time or a one or two hour window, e.g. “around 2pm” or “between 1-3pm.”
Despite all good intentions, there’s often some form of hiccup with timing all the elements of a roast dinner perfectly.
Tip 9 – Cook more than enough
We know, cooking a roast dinner for 10 or more is sounding pretty traumatic, but possibly also quite expensive.
But just imagine not having enough of your perfectly cooked Yorkshire Puddings, immaculate stuffing, or worse, your juicy roast meat.
Also, what if people want seconds?
There’s always at least one gannet looking for thirds!
The feeling of falling short on quality is one thing, but if you fall short on quantity (especially if the quality is there), will leave you and your guests feeling empty, figuratively and quite literally.
So make sure you do some calculations to avoid any embarrassment.
Remember, when everyone’s gone home, you might even have a decent amount of leftovers to tuck into the following day.
Tip 10 – Buy the best quality you can
It’s one thing to disappoint one or two folk with a mediocre roast dinner, but with 10 or more people around the table, you’re open to much more criticism (but also potential praise).
We’ve got no doubt about it, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to quality of food. Especially for a one-off occasion, it’s worth impressing by stepping up the quality of what you buy.
This obviously comes down to individual affordability, so you might want to set a budget first and work out what you can get from there.
If you can’t afford to go all-out on everything, maybe just try to get the best quality meat you can, with this being the star of the show.
Prioritise the main elements of the meal. In other words, if you’re going to spectacularly screw something up, try to make sure it’s not the meat, Yorkshire Puddings, roast potatoes, stuffing or gravy (i.e. most peoples’ favourite parts of the roast).
Ok, that doesn’t actually leave many elements left to screw up. But you get the point. If you’re going to take your eye off the ball with something, try to make it something most people will get over!
Your guests should realise you’ve taken on what is a mammoth task and so will most likely be forgiving of some under-seasoned veg or something. If they’re not, then we know who’s on washing up duty!
So, ready to cook a roast dinner for 10?
We did only say cooking a roast dinner for 10 was easier than you might think. We didn’t say it’s a doddle!
But, it largely comes down to the right mindset and not letting the little things bother you.
British Grub Hub
The home of great British food.