Meal Planning for Large Groups

Kitchen equipped for a large groupFor many, one of the toughest challenges when finalizing plans for a family reunion or retreat is large group meal planning. We’ve taken the dining location dilemma out of the equation with our large kitchens that feature industrial appliances and allow for plenty of food storage and preparation room, but the meal themes and cooking are up to you. Whether you are planning a barbecue and dining on the deck or an in-house buffet, here are hints and tips to make meal planning easy and fun! Remember, you’d much rather have left-overs for a Smoky Mountain picnic or late night snacks than to run short. Rather not cook? These Gatlinburg Restaurants offer discount group dining rates.

Large Group Dining & Buffet Portion Guidelines

Punch / Tea
• 10 Servings Per Gallon

• 8 Items Per Person, or
• 3-4 Items Per Person of Each Appetizer
Offer a greater variety of items for larger parties

• Lettuce Salad: 5 Servings Per Head of Lettuce
• Prepared Salad/Vegetable: 2-4 oz. Per Person

Pasta Dishes
• 4-6 Servings Per Pound

Meat Items
• Individual Meat Item: 5-6 oz. Per Person
• Multiple Meat Items & Buffets: 4-6 oz. Per Person
If bone-in meats, add more weight per person.

• 1 Full Portion Per Person
If serving multiple desserts, figure less than 1/2 serving for each person.

Recipes for Large Groups

These recipes and more can be found at where you can calculate ingredients based on servings needed. Recipes listed serve up to 25 people.


Fun and Easy Omelet Breakfast – The best idea ever for serving custom omelets to a large group!


  • Eggs (For very large groups, you might want to pre-crack and blend 2 eggs per person in a large bowl and ladle each serving.)
  • Shredded Cheese, Diced Green Peppers, Onions, Ham, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Fresh Spinach, Bacon, etc.
  • Quart Size Ziploc Freezer Bags, Permanent Marker


Set all your fresh omelet ingredients on the counter as if setting up a buffet line. Place a 1 TBSP utensil in each. Have each guest write their name on a Ziploc with the permanent marker, and then place their choice of ingredients inside. At the end of the line, add a ladle of eggs and seal. Drop Ziploc into a large pot of boiling water for approximately 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove Ziploc from pot with tongs, and Voila! A perfect omelet. Remove from Ziploc and serve with fresh fruit, muffins and juice for a fast, fun and nutritious meal. Clean up is a snap too!


Easy, Spicy Nachos This is a pleasant change to your ordinary refried bean dip.


  • 2 (8 ounce) Boxes Zatarain’s Red Beans & Rice
  • 1 (15 ounce) Jar Monterey Jack Queso Sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) Jar Pace Picante Sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) Container Sour Cream
  • 1 Large Bag Nacho Chips


  1. Prepare Red Beans & Rice as directed.
  2. In a small pan/ microwaveable bowl, warm up Queso Sauce.
  3. Place cooked Red Beans & Rice in a casserole dish. Top with an amount of your liking of Queso Sauce and Picante Sauce. Serve sour cream and chips on the side. Yum!

This is a delicious appetizer or movie time snack!

Main Dishes & Sides

Easy Four Cheese Lasagna

Meatless lasagna with cottage cheese, mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan.


  • 3 pounds uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 3 (26 ounce) cans spaghetti sauce
  • 3-1/4 pounds cottage cheese
  • 1-1/2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1-1/2 pounds shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a blender or with an electric mixer, blend tomato sauce and cottage cheese together until smooth. Spoon a little of the sauce mixture in the bottom of (3) 9×13 baking dishes. Place a layer of cooked noodles over the sauce, and sprinkle a portion of the mozzarella, the cheddar and the parmesan over the noodles. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles and cheese; finish with cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden.
Corn Pudding

Excellent side dish to serve with ham or turkey.


  • 2 (15.25 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cream style corn
  • 1 cup margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 (8.5 ounce) packages dry cornbread mix


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a (2) 2 quart casserole dishes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the whole kernel corn, cream style corn, margarine, sour cream, and corn bread mix. Pour into the prepared dishes.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Gatlinburg Group Dining

When you don’t want to be cooking for a large group, consider these Gatlinburg restaurants that offer group dining discounts or in-cabin catering. Restaurants require advance reservations to receive a group discount.

Gatlinburg Restaurants

Bennett’s BBQ Restaurant – Group dining off the menu or from preselected meals. Voted best BBQ several years running! Pick up or delivered catering also available. 800.992.9780

Alamo Steakhouse & Saloon – Group meals for up to 60 people prior to 4 p.m. Terrific selection of steaks, chicken, salad entrees, sandwiches and desserts. 866.299.9295

Gatlinburg Catering

Cupid’s Petals Catering – Catering for groups large and small. Extensive group menu with plated meals, cookouts and themed parties. 866-430-1938

Best Italian – Catering in your cabin, in their banquet room or in a nearby park! Great selection of menu items for groups of 10 or more. 865-430-4090

Pigeon Forge Restaurants

Captain Jim’s Seafood Buffet – Full service buffet offering your favorites from the sea and land too! Open daily in season from 3-9 p.m. and welcoming large groups with discounted dining and ample bus parking. 865.453.0003