Hot Cross Buns

Easter Dinner Ideas

In this article we give you a few traditional Easter dinner ideas to whet your appetite.
Hot Cross Buns

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Need some ideas for a traditional Easter dinner?

So the lovely spring warmth is beginning to slowly purge the persistent cold that has inhabited your joints and bones throughout the long cold winter. As your brain begins to thaw, you suddenly realise that your partner has invited all your friends around for Easter dinner. You are going to need some Easter dinner ideas quickly! So to help you out a bit, here are a few traditional Easter dinner ideas to whet your appetite.

No matter whether you are cooking for a few friends, or a large group, entertaining can be daunting enough without having to spend hours looking up ideas for dinner. And if you’re not exactly Jamie Oliver when it comes to whipping up exciting culinary delights, fear not, a traditional Easter dinner need not be so complicated.

Like the vast majority of holiday feasts, much of the food people eat at Easter is local seasonal fare, such as: ham, boiled eggs, roast pork or lamb. Other, more savoury delights come in the form of Hot Cross Buns, and Simnel Cake.

So here are a few simple Easter dinner ideas:

Easter Breakfast Ideas

Easter Eggs:

Okay, so in modern times most of us are used to having that cute, if rather odd, tradition of the Easter Bunny bringing us chocolate eggs. Obviously, the Easter holiday period has been a time of celebration since ancient times. Therefore this more contemporary, if mildly sinful, Easter dinner custom derives from the ancient tradition of eating boiled eggs.

Colourful Painted Easter Eggs
Colourful Painted Easter Eggs

Since the dawn of time eggs have been a symbol of life, fertility and new beginnings. The early Christians saw the egg as the sealed tomb of Christ, from which he will be reborn. The empty shell symbolises his rebirth. In Mesopotamia, the Christians painted the eggs red to represent the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. This tradition perpetuated over the coming centuries and evolved into a custom of painting boiled eggs with a variety of bright colours. This was more to symbolise the brightness of spring.

Naturally, being a common breakfast food, the idea of serving up eggs for Easter breakfast or dinner is centuries old. Painting the eggs yourself is the most enjoyable way. But if you are feeling lazy, or just don’t possess the artistic flair, you can always nip to your nearest supermarket and buy some ready-painted eggs, and plop them all in a nice big cooking pot, especially if you are planning a healthy alternative to the tradition that all children love: the Easter egg hunt.


Meat that had not been consumed over the winter was typically cured and consumed around springtime. Therefore, cured ham from leftover pork was pretty much in abundance come Easter. Being the perfect accompaniment to eggs, cured ham is often served up for breakfast or for a starter to a meal.

Cooked Ham
Cooked Ham

Although, you can eat cured ham cold, if you are feeling a little tickle of adventurousness, you could always roast a nice juicy, but healthy, joint of ham in a dish or flat tray. If you want to know how to cook the perfect roast ham, Jamie Oliver can show you how:

Main course ideas:

A starter of ham and eggs may present a mildly interesting diversion for your guests. However, amid the occasional soft belches of delight and mutterings of “hmmm, delicious!” someone will likely utter. “What’s for dinner?”

Roast lamb is a typical Easter dinner in many countries, as the holiday falls in spring. The tradition predates the Easter holiday to the first Jewish Passover. A nice juicy stuffed leg of lamb is often a good choice with side dishes such as roast potatoes, spring cabbage and vegetables. Of course, don’t forget the red wine. Mind you, feel free to add your own little spice of inspiration to this dish, so feel free to experiment with a few ideas of your own. Or check out this recipe: Roast lamb studded with rosemary and garlic.

Roast Lamb
Roast Lamb

Hot Cross Buns for dessert:

Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns

What would a holiday be without a little baking? While we normally eat them on Good Friday with lashings of warm butter, many households also serve up Hot Cross Buns at the dessert stage of the meal. In ancient times, families baked these small wheat buns in honour of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of fertility and springtime. The word Easter is actually a derivation of Eostre, in case you’re interested. The round bun is a symbol of the moon, and the cross is symbolic of its four quarters. As the pagans were slowly Christianised they converted the Hot Cross Bun into a similarly Christian tradition. The cross, naturally, symbolises the crucifix.

“But what are they?” I hear you ask. The Hot Cross Bun is a sweet and spicy mix of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sultanas or currants. They are surprisingly easy to make and Hot Cross Bun recipes are bountiful throughout the Internet. Here is one:

The Forbidden Fruit: Simnel Cake

Easter comes after the 40-day fasting of Lent. So it goes without saying really that you might feel the irresistible urge to stuff your face with pretty much everything that has been denied you during this time. Being rich with fruit, spices and marzipan, the Simnel Cake, represents all the face-stuffing you could wish for, in one mouth-watering portion. For a recipe, ask Nigella Lawson here.

Simnel cake. A traditional Easter fruitcake made with marzipan
Simnel Cake - Photo by James Petts. (Wikimedia commons)

Make your own, or search our directory for restaurants or caterers

So you see it’s not too difficult to come up with Easter dinner ideas. Whipping up a traditional Easter Dinner is not as overwhelming as it first appears. And by sticking to the traditions, pretty much everyone around your table will leave with loosened belts and, over a symphony of groaning bellies, will shuffle slowly out the door graciously thanking their host for a delightful Easter meal.

Of course, if you prefer to either eat out or hire a catering company, then check out the list of places in our directory here:

By Ian Middleton

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The Old Farmhouse at FortyAcres

Holiday Accommodation and Short Breaks in Daingean, County Offaly, Ireland. Cycling. Kayaking. Self-Catering.