Finding party foods for teens that are tasty and easy to make in large batches can be a challenge. Teens are still in touch with iconic childhood foods, but also enjoy a more mature palette so you'll want to find foods that walk the line between both worlds. Let your teens tastes and the type of party you're planning inspire the foods you choose.
Party Appetizers and Finger Foods for Teens
Teens are either eating on the run or snacking while they relax, so teen party appetizers should be easy to eat in a couple of bites and fit in one hand. Look for ways to turn classic main dishes into portable snack-sized versions used as party finger foods. For teens who might have dietary restrictions, look at common snack foods that are also vegan snacks like apples with caramel, Oreos with nut milk or soy milk, and Lay's Original potato chips.
Chips, Pretzels, and Party Mixes
The cheapest and easiest party appetizer for teens is a variety of chips, pretzels, and party mixes that incorporate several types of party snacks. You can buy pre-packaged versions at any store or make your own at home. Upgrade a classic Chex party mix with either ranch, cheddar, or pizza seasoning to appeal to the teen crowd. Create individual servings by pre-packaging your options in zip-top baggies or small paper popcorn bags so teens can snack as they move around the party.
Nothing goes better with classic party appetizers than fun and tasty dips. Offer plastic nacho trays like you'd find at a sports stadium for teens to house their dipping choices in an easy hand-held tray.
Portable Protein-Packed Snacks
If you're only serving up finger foods and appetizers, be sure to offer some protein-packed options to help stave off that insatiable teen hunger. Upgrade classics like chicken fingers by putting them on skewers for easy mess-free eating and offering tons of unique dip options. You can also make tasty beef jerky sticks and strips for simple snacking.
Meals in a Roll or Wrap
Using the burrito as inspiration, roll up other whole-meal combinations for a hearty and portable treat.
- Simple pizza roll-ups start just like making a large rectangular pizza, only you'll roll the entire pizza up and cut it into slices before cooking. Stack a few pizza spirals onto a wooden skewer for a pizza lollipop.
- Teens who more adventurous will appreciate a selection of easy sushi recipes and even vegan sushi.
- Vegetarian quesadillas or those filled with meats offer a whole meal in a small, handheld form.
- Get the feeling of ordering Chinese food in a healthier, portable bite with vegan lettuce wraps.
Main Dishes for Teen Parties
When you're hosting a teen holiday party, quinceanara, or other event that might include a sit-down dinner or dinner buffet, you'll want a couple main dish options most teens love. Think about fast food offerings and look for ways to upgrade those types of items to the formality of your event.
Burgers and Sandwiches
Burgers and sandwiches can incorporate a variety of ingredients, be informal or formal, and typical please teen crowds.
- Make classic hamburgers or homemade veggie burgers then offer a burger-building buffet with different kinds of buns and toppings.
- Serve up a flight of homemade sliders that includes three different kinds of meat and topping combos.
- Wrap a Philly cheese steak in tin foil to make it portable or add the meat and cheese to an individual bag of pretzels for a "walking cheese steak" that tastes like it's on a pretzel roll.
- The club sandwich is one of your heartiest sandwich options since it includes a variety of meats like turkey, ham, and bacon.
Mexican and Italian Meals
Mexican and Italian inspired meals are great for teens because they are typically cheap party foods to make and their flavors appeal to the masses. You can often make these types of food in bulk for very large crowds.
- Make slow cooker carnitas for a make-your-own taco bar, make sure you have ingredients available for vegan tacos too.
- Serve breakfast for dinner with delicious vegan breakfast burritos that are easy to eat with one hand.
- Crockpot meatballs are a great main dish because teens can eat as many as they want and you can make classic Italian style or something more interesting like Asian meatballs.
- Turn a favorite appetizer into a meal with a buffalo chicken pasta bake that's spicy, cheesy, and satisfies hunger.
- A classic lasagna has universal appeal, but you can make it cooler by rolling up individual lasagna noodles with the typical fillings.
- When offering pastas, fettucine alfredo is ideal for teens because of the cheesy sauce and the fact that you can add any combination of meats and veggies. Stuff pasta into a pita pocket for a unique take on dipping bread in your pasta sauce.
If there's one food that defines teen dining, it's probably pizza. There are no limits on what a pizza can look or taste like, so get creative to capture your teen party goers. Learn to make pizza with simple recipes that can be adapted to bite-sized bagel pizzas or expanded into giant party pizzas.
- Mexican pizza combines the love for tacos and pizza into one delicious dish. Replace classic crust with small tortillas to make individual Mexican pizza tostadas.
- Make a basic homemade pepperoni pizza then cut it into small strips for easy dipping.
- A vegetarian pizza offers more nutritional value and caters to those with special dietary restrictions.
Side Dishes for Teen Parties
Whether you're doing tapas or a dinner buffet, side dishes are almost as important as the main dish. French fries are a classic teen side dish favorite, so look for unique ways to present potatoes.
- When cooking for a crowd baked potato casserole or other simple casseroles, such as tater tot casserole, are ideal.
- Get inspired by diner or fast-food sides and serve up some chili cheese fries in a paper cup with a fork.
- Save time and money by making a huge vat of loaded mashed potatoes.
- Use a protein pasta to enhance any vegan pasta salad that includes Greek, traditional, or Asian flavors and works for lunch, snacks, or dinner.
Party Drinks Teens Will Love
No meal is complete without drinks and teens love drinks that are loaded with flavor and sometimes caffeine. Utilize adult drink glasses to make teens feel more mature.
- Make easy iced coffees, delicious strawberry milkshakes, fun non-alcoholic frozen drinks, or vegan pumpkin spice smoothies in Mason jars with lids and keep them in a cooler.
- Serve Harry Potter butterbeer recipes in beer steins for an authentic feeling.
- Get out cocktail glasses to serve up mocktails like Hawaiian non-alcoholic drinks or non-alcoholic tropical drinks in bright colors.
Dessert Options for Teen Parties
As much as teens love savory foods, they also love sweets. While a dessert buffet is your best bet to please teens, there are many types of desserts you can include. You can even set up a candy buffet that includes a variety of popular candies or vegan candy such as Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers, and Smarties.
- Gather up all the obscure mugs you can find from a thrift store and fill them with mug cakes or microwavable brownies in a mug teens can heat up and eat when they're ready.
- Make your own version of classic candy bars such as homemade Mounds bars to get more bang for your buck.
- Turn your favorite chocolate chip cookies into a chocolate chip cookie cake that can replace a kiddie birthday cake.
- Add desert to your breakfast for dinner theme with easy drop donuts featuring a donut glaze. You can even make vegan donuts if needed.
- Whip up a big bowl of cannoli filling recipe then serve with broken bits of cannoli shells for a cool dipping dessert.
- Top vegan brownies with vegan ice cream recipes in small bowls for simple dessert sundaes.
Keep Hungry Teens Happy
To keep hungry teens happy at a party, offer a variety of foods that speak to their typical diet. The flavors of breakfast, pizza, chips, and fries are sure to win over any crowd. Make each dish your own with cute serving options and unexpected flavor additions.