easy Easter recipe ideas

Easter may be synonymous with ham (or lamb, though usually not rabbit, at least when it comes to the dinner table), but you don’t have to cook low and slow to produce a heavy, meaty main for Easter dinner. You can turn up the heat, high and fast (and healthier) for a lighter springtime meal featuring salmon.

If your family is not one to break with tradition, though, all of the accompanying sides, desserts, and drinks will work just as well with ham or lamb—or roast chicken, for that matter. We propose trying something new, though!

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Herbed Yogurt Sauce

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When it comes to salmon, planking is the way to go. It’s so easy: Soak a piece of cedar—you can get one at any gourmet grocer or fish market—plonk the fish on top, and broil or grill the whole thing. The plank contributes a smoky flavor to the fish and provides a perfect, flat cooking surface. Fresh dill and honey glazes are the most common toppings for salmon, but we go renegade with a tangy yogurt spread flavored with spring herbs. You can also go renegade with the wood: Try oak, cherry, or maple. Just make sure the plank is large enough and that it’s clean, untreated, and about an inch thick. Get our Cedar-Planked Salmon with Herbed Yogurt Sauce recipe.

That salmon goes with a variety of spring dishes, like the ones below. Rustle up a small meal or a big banquet by mixing and matching your main with any of these recipes:

Drinks

Whether you’re doing Easter brunch in the a.m./afternoon or easing into an early Easter dinner, any of these libations would be welcome (but if you love a good theme, consider trying a drink with eggs too).

Mint “Limonata”

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Limoncello mingles with vodka, soda water, and mint, cooled with crushed ice in order to herald spring and all things bright and cheery, including Easter. Get our Mint “Limonata” recipe.

Virgin Bellini

This is a simple mixed drink that will feel fancy, especially if you serve it in Champagne glasses or other nice stemware. All you need is peach nectar and lemon-lime soda. Get our Virgin Bellini recipe.

Yellow Bicycle

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Opposites attract, apparently. Deep into a gritty neighborhood in San Francisco lies a bar named Rye, where they serve this light, bubbly cocktail made with elderflower liqueur, yellow Chartreuse, and Prosecco. Get our Yellow Bicycle recipe.

Mint and Lime Iced Tea

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When the weather warms up, this is a cool, refreshing, perky beverage you want in your hand. It’s nice for special occasions too. Get our Mint and Lime Iced Tea recipe.

Lo Scintillante

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Two Italian spiked beverages join forces for a slightly sweet, dry, bubbly drink with hints of clove and other spices. Get our Lo Scintillante recipe.

Starters

Nibbles and bites before the main event are nice to have—you’ve gotta cushion those cocktails, after all, and you can only eat so much Easter candy.

Goat Cheese Toasts with Asparagus -Mushroom Ragu

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Try these creamy bites of spring with shiitake mushrooms and one of spring’s favorite vegetables, the elegant asparagus. Get our Goat Cheese Toasts with Asparagus -Mushroom Ragu recipe.

Black Pepper-Manchego Cheese Puffs

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French cheese puffs with two cheeses—parmesan and Manchego—are heavenly balls of peppery, cheesy air. Get our Black Pepper-Manchego Cheese Puffs recipe.

Chopped Fava Bean Crostini with Pecorino

Simplicity tastes good. Fava beans are brightened with lemon and fresh mint and upped with the umami of Pecorino Romano. Get our Chopped Fava Bean Crostini with Pecorino recipe.

Sainte-Maure, Basil, and Fresh Herb Terrine

It may be a terrine, but this is not complicated. The instructions have one step, which doesn’t include any cooking whatsoever. Just slicing, spreading, and arranging. Get our Sainte-Maure, Basil, and Fresh Herb Terrine recipe.

Deviled Eggs with Tarragon

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Mustard, mayonnaise, tarragon, and capers make a great classic deviled egg—and yes,  you have to have them. Everyone will be upset if you don’t, even if they don’t say so. Get our Deviled Eggs with Tarragon recipe.

Salads

Get some spring produce into your system, and lighten everything up that much more.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Shaved Asparagus Salad recipe

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Shaved raw asparagus makes for an uncommonly delicious salad, simply bolstered with a lemony vinaigrette, salty cheese, and nuts. Try mixing in white asparagus if you can find it. Get our Shaved Asparagus Salad recipe.

Green Salad with Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette

Cucumber Bibb Lettuce Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

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Crunchy, green, spicy: This is a great simple salad for Easter, especially when you need to focus on many other dishes for a big holiday dinner. Get our Green Salad with Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette recipe.

Crunchy Celery and Romaine Heart Salad

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Crunchy celery and cucumber (English or Persian, it doesn’t matter) tumble together with romaine lettuce in a thyme vinaigrette. The surprise ingredient? Luscious hearts of palm. Get our Crunchy Celery and Romaine Heart Salad recipe.

Fennel, Parsley, and Celery Salad

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Sometimes a salad is just chopping and mixing with lemon juice. Like this salad. Add olives for a salty pop against all that clean, crisp, fresh fennel and parsley. Get our Fennel, Parsley, and Celery Salad recipe.

Caesar Salad

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Add Romaine, Pecorino Romano, and garlicky croutons to this classic Caesar dressing with anchovies and egg yolks. Get our Caesar Salad recipe.

Sides

Glazed carrots are great, and simply steamed or roasted asparagus is ace, but consider a couple more unusual partners for your main dish (fish or not).

Smoked Cheddar Soufflé

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Crusty on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, this slightly smoky soufflé works as a side dish at East brunch or a main course for Easter dinner. Get our Smoked Cheddar Soufflé recipe.

Roasted Baby Carrots with Marmalade

Spring carrots pair beautifully with orange marmalade, which caramelizes in the oven to lend a pleasant punch of both sweet and bitter. Get our Roasted Baby Carrots with Marmalade recipe.

Bacon-Thyme Corn Muffin Tops

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These savory breakfast/brunch/anytime treats are crunchy yet soft, and the best part of the muffin. They’re also the ideal item to dunk in creamy, smooth soup. Get our Bacon-Thyme Corn Muffin Tops recipe.

Farro Risotto with Asparagus and Fava Beans

This risotto is so packed full of fresh spring veggies, it’s all you’ll need to accompany Roasted Rack of Lamb for a light spring dinner or Easter meal. The farro makes it hearty enough to double as a delicious vegetarian main dish as well. Get our Farro Risotto with Asparagus and Fava Beans recipe.

Parker House Rolls

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These folded-over rolls were made famous about 100 years ago at the Parker House hotel in Boston. Although these rolls take some time to make, they are beautifully soft with a chewy crust and will make a lovely addition to your holiday table. (And while they may not be easy, if you pick some of these simple salads and a quick-cooking main, you’ll have time to spare.) Get our Parker House Rolls recipe.

Desserts

Transcend the chocolate bunny (but have one of those too).

Mixed Berry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream

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Celebrate the spring holiday by baking up a few shortcakes, stuffing them with fruit goodness, and topping it all with freshly whipped cream. Get our Mixed Berry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream recipe.

Rhubarb-Almond Bars

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These bars have all the sweet-tart flavors of rhubarb pie with a simple buttery crust, but without the fussiness of rolling out pie dough. And you can still serve them topped with ice cream. Get our Rhubarb-Almond Bars recipe.

Almost Summer Pudding

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The brioche in this pudding doesn’t come out as dark red as the bread in other summer puddings, but rest assured that it is soaked thoroughly and the end result would do any Brit proud. Be sure to start this recipe a day in advance, as the pudding needs to rest 24 hours before serving. And though it looks very impressive, it’s not difficult, because you’r starting with already-baked brioche (preferably from your favorite bakery). Get our Almost Summer Pudding recipe.

Pistachio-Strawberry Ice Cream Cake

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What’s better than a few scoops of ice cream? Layers of ice cream stacked up in a cake. Here we pile up three flavors—fresh strawberry, vanilla bean, and roasted pistachio—and finish everything with a crunchy layer of crushed vanilla cookies, for a dessert that’s quintessential summer. And if you’re not feeling up to homemade ice cream, just sub in good-quality store-bought versions of each flavor. Get our Pistachio-Strawberry Ice Cream Cake recipe.

Get more great Easter recipes, tips, and tricks.

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