40+ Graduation Party Food Ideas and Themes 2020

You’ve walked across the stage, taken your diploma, moved your tassel right to left and thrown your cap into the air. Now, it’s time to celebrate! Graduating is a major accomplishment, and you deserve to have the party of your dreams whether you’re planning a college graduation party or a high school graduation party. That includes an amazing graduation party menu that incorporates all of your favorite dishes. If you’re having trouble deciding what foods you want to serve at your party, we’re here to help. Whether you’re planning on hosting a late morning party with brunch or an afternoon bash filled with appetizers and graduation desserts, we’ve got plenty of ideas for you. So, get out your graduation checklist, hang up your cap and gown, and get ready to celebrate with these tasty graduation food ideas.

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Party Food Themes

When you’re ready to start planning the menu for your graduation party, you’ll want to decide on a theme. A theme will help guide your food and drink selection, and it gives the party a more cohesive look. Take inspiration from the party food theme ideas below:

  • A Few of Their Favorite Things: Make a menu out of the graduate’s all time favorite foods. Whether that’s pizza or loaded baked potatoes, it’s sure to be a fun crowd pleaser.
  • Brain Food: If you’re already looking to feature a healthier menu, consider a theme of “brain food.” This ties in perfectly to their academic achievement and makes for a guilt-free menu.
  • Sweet Victory: Opposite from the “brain food” theme, this theme is all about sweet treats and desserts. Think cookies, cake-pops, and all your grad’s favorite candies.
  • Classic Backyard BBQ Party: Backyard barbecues are a long standing graduation party classic for a reason. The menus are delicious. If you know your graduate loves hot dogs and burgers more than anything, this may be the perfect graduation party food theme.
  • Hats Off to You: Add decorative graduation caps and diplomas to the foods to accomplish this fun food theme. From graduation cap cupcakes to diploma cookies, everyone’s sure to love anything on your menu.
  • School Colors: Simple and classic, create a menu that features foods in the colors of your graduate’s alma mater.

Best Appetizers And Party Snack Ideas

This list of finger food ideas are fun and affordable. Most of these apps can be made ahead of time, which helps make your life much easier on the day of the party. With easy party food like this, you can’t go wrong!

1. Soft Pretzel Graduation Caps

graduation cap pretzel for party snacks

Source: Hungry Happenings

Twist homemade pretzels into the shape of graduation caps to create a fun and memorable graduation party snack. To make these caps, all you need is a can of Pillsbury Classic pizza dough, water, baking soda and pretzel salt. Follow Hungry Happenings’ instructions for how to twist your dough into a unique graduation cap shape.

2. Baked Blooming Onion

fried onion appetizers for a party snack

Source: Gimme Some Oven

This baked blooming onion looks and tastes like the one you’d get at Chili’s or Outback Steakhouse, but because it’s baked, it’s much healthier for you than the restaurant version. The blooming onion looks beautiful on your food table and your guests will enjoy pulling off petals and dipping them in a delicious sauce.

3. Graduation Popcorn Boxes

popcorn in snack backs with graduation hats on them

Source: Crafts Unleashed

Popcorn boxes can be easily customizable to fit the need of every graduate. To make your boxes truly pop, affix them with three-dimensional black paper rosettes, and place a circle of white scrapbook paper in the center of each rosette for contrast. Then, decorate the rosettes with graduation cap and diploma stickers, and fill each box with your favorite type of popcorn.

4. Guacamole: Chipotle Style

Chipotle guacamole recipe

Source: Cullinary Hill

If you constantly get cravings for Chipotle’s signature guacamole, you’ll like this copycat recipe. Put out a big bowl of guacamole with some tortilla chips for dipping, and let your guests dig in. You’ll be amazed at how similar this guacamole tastes to Chipotle’s, and you won’t even have to pay extra for it!

5. Garlic Parmesan Knots

yummy butter garlic bread recipe for a party appetizer

Source: Damn Delicious

Garlic knots are always a crowd pleaser, and this version of the Italian classic won’t disappoint. The garlic knots are easy to make, and the results are completely delicious. These garlic knots will bring back nostalgic memories of the many pizzas you ordered during late-night study sessions.

6. Cheesy Tater Tots Breakfast Bake

Cheesy tater tot recipe for breakfast or lunch

Source: Chew Out Loud

Who would have guessed that tater tots are perfect for breakfast? This breakfast bake will make everyone’s mouth water with bacon, cheese, sausage and eggs. If you’re planning on serving brunch at your graduation party, be sure to serve add this to the menu.

7. Oven-Roasted Potatoes

oven roasted potato recipe for breakfast

Source: The Chunky Chef

No brunch graduation party is complete without a heaping bowl of breakfast potatoes. This recipe by The Chunky Chef mixes potatoes with bacon and smoked paprika—an absolutely delicious combination. Don’t be surprised if your guests go for seconds or thirds of this breakfast dish.

8. Caprese Pasta Salad

summer caprese past salad recipe with tomatoes and mozzarella

Source: Chew Out Loud

This fresh and cold Caprese pasta salad is full of herbs and vegetables, and it’s perfect for a spring or summer graduation party. Making this Caprese pasta salad is as easy as can be—Chew Out Loud has the instructions for their tasty version of this Italian classic.

9. Cucumber Canapes

veggie apps and party snacks using cucumbers

Source: Two Peas & Their Pod

Canapes are a classic party appetizer, and they’re a great addition to your graduation party menu. These cucumber canapes, created by Two Peas & Their Pods, will bring a pop of color to your food table. Whip together feta, lemon juice and cream cheese, and place a dollop on each canape. Add sundried tomatoes and basil to your cucumbers for extra flavor.

10. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

veggie party snacks using buffalo cauliflower bites

Source: Begin With Nutrition

Looking for a healthy alternative to classic buffalo wings? Buffalo cauliflower bites are just what you need. Tasty and nutritious cauliflower bites are the perfect healthy dish to balance out your heavier appetizers.

11. Feta and Olive Mediterranean Layered Dip

unique party dip using Mediterranean cuisine

Source: Dinner at the Zoo

Bring the delicious flavors of the Mediterranean to your graduation party with this feta, cream cheese and olive oil-based dip. Sprinkle feta, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives over your dip, and let your guest scoop up hearty amounts with vegetables, crackers and pita chips.

12. Cheddar Bay Biscuits: Red Lobster Style

red lobster cheddar bay biscuit recipe

Source: Damn Delicious

Everyone knows that Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits are addictively good, and Damn Delicious’ copycat recipe is just as good as the original. If you don’t have much time to bake before your party, don’t worry—these biscuits only take twenty minutes to make.

13. Buffalo Chicken Tortilla Pinwheels

party apps buffalo chicken wrap recipe

Source: Home Cooking Memories

While buffalo wings are delicious, they can be a mess at a party. These buffalo chicken tortilla pinwheels give you all of the flavor of buffalo wings with none of the mess. Home Cooking Memories shows you how to create tortillas that will look great on your graduation party food table.

14. Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

breakfast recipe for an egg casserole

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

This breakfast casserole can be made up to two days ahead of time, and then you can just pop it in the oven on the morning of your party. It’s also completely customizable to your tastes—you can substitute your favorite vegetables, cheeses and breakfast meats until you’ve created the perfect casserole for you.

15. Texas Caviar Dip

unique texas slaw recipe

Source: The Pretty Bee

Although this appetizer has “caviar” in its name, there are actually no fish eggs in this dish. In fact, the healthy and tasty appetizer is perfect for the vegans and vegetarians at your party. The dip features a variety of Southwestern flavors, including black beans, corn, bell peppers and spicy tomatoes.

16. Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

the best mashed potatoes recipe for a party

Source: Number 2 Pencil

The morning of your graduation party will be busy, and that’s why these make-ahead mashed potatoes are the perfect side dish. Make the potatoes a day or two before the party. On the day of the party, just stick them in the oven for an hour and they’ll be ready to go!

Main Course Recipes for Graduation Parties

Ready for the main course menu? A delicious party menu will help bulk up the atmosphere, set the tone, and fill all of your guest’s hungry bellies. Pick your favorite party meals, and serve them as an accompaniment to your tasty party apps. While not a requirement per say, some main course food is highly recommended, especially for a graduation dinner party.

17. BBQ Pork Sliders

easy cheap affordable BBQ sliders recipe for a party

Source: Table For Two

In terms of the best graduation party food ideas, these miniature pork sliders are always a hit. They are super easy to make&mdah;just place two pounds of pork in your crockpot, set the crockpot on low for six hours and let the pork cook. Then, toss the pork in BBQ sauce, assemble your sandwiches and that’s that! The mini BBQ pork sliders will definitely be a crowd pleaser.

18. Oriental Salad: Applebee’s Style

copycat recipe for an oriental salad from Applebee's

Source: Lil’ Luna

With this copycat version of Applebee’s Oriental salad, you’ll be eatin’ good in the neighborhood. The salad was created by Lil’ Luna, and it looks and can easily scale to the size of your graduation party. Your guests will love chowing down on this flavorful salad.

19. Baseball Themed Hotdog Bar

graduation party food ideas

Source: Atta Girl Says

Is your graduate a baseball player? If so, you’ll love this baseball-themed hotdog bar. Grill up some hot dogs, and put out a variety of condiments, including relish, mustard, grilled onions and pickles. This hotdog bar is sure to be a homerun.

20. BBQ Grilled Chicken

grilled chicken for a graduation party food

Source: Cook the Story

If you’re looking for graduation food ideas, consider making grilled chicken coated with a homemade BBQ sauce. Everyone loves a good piece of barbecued chicken, and it’s easy to create a large amount for a big party. Cook the Story has the instructions for their version of grilled chicken and BBQ sauce.

21. Sandwich Graduation-Cap Sliders

sandwich ideas for a party

Source: Tiny Prints Blog

These cute graduation cap sliders are a great addition to your appetizer table. You can assemble the sliders up to 24 hours ahead of your party, and then just stick them in the oven until the cheese melts. After your sliders have cooked, place a halved grape tomato button and a string cheese tassel on top.

22. Oven Baked Spicy Tacos

grilled chicken taco recipe for a big party

Source: The Cookie Rookie

Turn your graduation party into Taco Tuesday with these spicy chicken tacos. The tacos are customizable to your tastes—you can make some extra hot for your spicy food-loving guests, and you can keep some mild for everyone else.

23. Chicken Nuggets: Chick-Fil-A Style

copycat recipe for Chikfila restaurant

Source: Budget Savvy Diva

If you like Chick-Fil-A’s chicken nuggets, try creating your own version for your graduation party. To make Chick-Fil-A’s unique marinade, combine pickle juice and milk in a bag and soak the chicken in it. It may sound odd, but the results are tasty. As Chick-Fil-A’s cow mascots say, “Eat mor chikin.”

24. Burger Bar: In-N-Out Style

in-n-out burger recipe with condiment ideas

Source: The Seaside Baker

Celebrate your success animal-style with this In-N-Out burger bar. This burger bar features copycat recipes for In-N-Out’s classic burgers, including monkey-style burgers with fries on top and animal-style burgers made with secret sauce. To learn how to make your own version of In-N-Out’s famous burgers, fries and sauce, head over to The Seaside Baker’s blog. Graduation party food ideas like this one, always go over well with a big crowd.

Graduation Dessert Ideas

From glam graduation cakes to unique graduation cupcake ideas, this assortment of desserts will be fun to recreate for the party. Our list includes an array of treats, such as chocolate covered fruit to creamy milkshakes, so no matter who’s on the guest list, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Your sweet treats can have graduation themes which utilize an edible graduation hat, or be simple, timeless desserts.

25. Graduation Cap Cupcakes

cupcakes with graduation hats on top

Source: Anna & Blue

Bake a batch of cupcakes, and decorate them with mini-graduation decorations, including a graduation cap and a tiny rolled-up diploma. Anna & Blue shows you how to create these clever decorations out of chocolate and candy. These cupcakes are as cute as can be.

26. Apple Streusel French Toast Bake

apple tarte recipe for a party

Source: Deliciously Sprinkled

This delectable dish is great for a brunch party, and it can double as one of your graduation desserts. The sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg, warm apple pie filling and flaky crust mixed with pecans will all remind you of the upcoming fall semester.

27. Graduation Pretzel Pops

sweet graduation party food ideas using a graduation cap

Source: Hungry Happenings

These festive pretzels can be served as graduation desserts, or they can be handed out to guests as favors at the end of the party. Be sure to place the tassel on the left side of the graduation cap to show that these pretzels are true graduates!

28. Chocolate Dipped Satsumas

Source: My Fussy Eater

Add a little vitamin C to your graduation party menu with these chocolate dipped satsumas. These satsumas are dipped in dark chocolate to keep the sugar content low and the healthiness high. Sprinkle the satsumas with desiccated coconut for a nice crunch.

29. Graduation Cap Topper and Straws

vanilla cupcakes topped with a cute graduation cap

Source: Lil’ Luna

These adorable graduation cap toppers add a festive flair to your cupcakes and straws. To make them, cut out a circle and a square from black construction paper, and hot glue them together. Then, for the straw toppers, punch a hole in the middle of the cap. Hats off to Lil’ Luna for coming up with this creative idea.

30. Miniature Pancake Muffins

strawberry pancake muffin recipe

Source: Crunchy Cream Sweet

At first glance, these look like typical muffins. But when you bite into one, you’ll be hit with a surprise: they taste exactly like pancakes! Fill the muffins with your favorite pancake toppings, like chocolate chips, blueberries or strawberries. Your guests will love these tasty muffin-pancake hybrids.

31. Graduation Peanut Butter Cup Push Pops

graduation push pops with peanut butter and chocolate

Source: Bake at 350

This delicious peanut butter and chocolate push pop is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. Layer homemade chocolate cake and creamy peanut butter. Then, place a graduation cap made out of a peanut butter cup and a chocolate square on the top of the pop. Finish by adding a little candy tassel to your graduation cap.

32. Shamrock Shake: McDonald’s Style

McDonald's green shamrock milkshake copycat recipe

Source: Crème De La Crumb

Bring the luck of the Irish to your graduation party with this homemade version of the famous McDonalds shamrock shake. To create your shake, mix together ice cream, milk, mint extract and chocolate syrup. Add in a few drops of food coloring to make your shake that iconic green shade. You’ll definitely be lovin’ this delicious milkshake.

33. Candy-Filled Graduation Cap Cookies

graduation dessert ideas using graduation caps and candy

Source: Hungry Happenings

Underneath each of these black graduation cap cookies, you’ll find a colorful surprise! Your guests will love seeing a splash of color underneath their cookie. They’ll also love the chocolate cookies themselves, molded into the shape of a graduation cap and affixed with a white tassel.

34. Diploma Cookies and Graduation Push-Pops

themed graduation cookies for a party

Source: Love the Day

One of the most exciting parts of graduation day is the moment the graduate is handed their diploma. These rolled-up cookies celebrate that all-important moment. These diploma cookies pair perfectly with graduation donut push-pops that are topped with graduation caps.

35. Graduation Cap Cake

graduation cake with a graduation cap on top

Source: Cake Whiz

This beautifully decorated graduation cap cake will amaze your guests. The cake is artfully decorated with an edible graduation cap and a diploma made out of a paper towel roll wrapped in white fondant. There’s no better way to celebrate your accomplishments than with a homemade cake.

36. Golden Graduation Desserts

white and gold graduation cake

Source: Pretty My Party

You deserve gold on your special day, and these desserts deliver. You and your guests will love the sparkling graduation cap cookies, shiny meringues and shimmering vanilla cake. At your graduation party, all that glitters is gold.

Graduation Mocktail Recipes

These tasty graduation party drinks are sweet, colorful, and free of alcohol. You can pick up these ingredients at any grocery store, and are great to make in a big batch. These easy ideas for Non Alcoholic drinks will knock your guest’s socks off.

Tip: When it doubt, always default to some yummy punch recipes.

37. Sunrise Shirley Temple

sunrise orange red mocktail with Shirley temple flavors

Source: Shannon Acheson, AKADesign.ca

Looking for drink ideas for your graduation party menu? Try this version of the classic Shirley Temple. AKA Design’s Shirley Temple recipe mixes Sprite, grenadine and cherries with orange juice, giving you a drink that’s colorful and flavorful. Top your glasses off with a fresh orange slice for a festive finish.

38. Strawberry Limeade Punch

easy strawberry punch recipe for summer

Source: Dairy of a Recipe Collector

Strawberry limeade punch is great for a summer graduation party. Diary of a Recipe Collector’s recipe features frozen limeade concentrate and strawberry kiwi juice. The drink is topped off with a handful of frozen strawberries, and it’s beautifully decorated with a few slices of lime.

39. Watermelon Punch

watermelon punch recipe for summer

Source: The SITS Girls

Watermelon is synonymous with warm summer days, and so, if you’re planning on hosting your graduation party outdoors, this is the perfect drink choice for you. This punch mixes watermelon with pink lemonade, lemon-lime soda and sparkling grape juice, creating a delicious and refreshing drink.

40. Italian Soda Bar

Italian soda flavors for a party

Source: Tidy Mom

With this Italian soda bar, the drinks at your graduation party will be just as memorable and special as the food. To create this customizable soda bar, all you need are some bottles of flavored syrup, carbonated water and a bit of whipped cream to put on top.

Resources Related To Graduation Party Food Ideas

Now that you have ideas for the menu at your graduation party, do you have your guest list in place? Browse our array of graduation announcements and custom party invitations for the big celebration! And make sure to order any other necessary party supplies well in advance.