Hosting a dinner party is a great way to bring friends together when you don’t feel like overspending on a night out (drinks + dinner + dessert + tip = $$$). And a dinner party doesn’t have to be all-out Betty Draper. Keep it casual and take advantage of the more intimate setting to enjoy time together. Hosting at home also gives you a chance to get creative in the kitchen.

Understandably, for some people, the idea of hosting brings on serious stress — but it doesn’t have to! Adding beans to your dinner party menu is one way to make it way easier. There are so many recipes that won’t take you 17 hours to make; will satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters alike; and are downright delicious.

Beans also add plant-based protein and are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can cook with them in a variety of ways, from blending them into hummus to tossing them into a rich, brothy soup.

Here are three colorful, crowd-pleasing Mexican-inspired dishes to liven up your next dinner party. On the menu: avocado hummus, taco salad, and pumpkin quinoa chili. Whip up a few pitchers of aguas frescas and fire up the Spotify. You’re done!

You’ll want to dip just about everything in this zingy, creamy starter! Traditional hummus ingredients like tahini and garbanzo beans combine with avocado and cumin for a delicious twist on a classic.

Serves 6–8 as an appetizer


  • 1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, with 2 tablespoons liquid reserved
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

For serving

  • Paprika (optional)
  • Olive oil for drizzling (optional)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 1 bag tortilla chips


  1. Combine all hummus ingredients in a food processor. Process until completely smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. (You may need to scrape down the food processor bowl a few times to ensure even blending.)
  2. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.
  3. Serve with sliced cucumber, baby carrots, and tortilla chips for dipping.

Boring mixed greens at your dinner party? No way! This taco salad is packed with fresh veggies, crispy tortillas, and zesty flavor. Wait until just before serving to add the tortilla strips, so they don’t become soggy.

Serves 6–8


For salad

  • 4 corn tortillas, sliced into ½-inch-thick strips
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, not drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 2 scallions, sliced

For dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place tortilla strips on sheet pan and spray with cooking spray. Flip tortilla strips and spray again. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12–15 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. Set aside.
  2. Combine remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk oil, lime juice, vinegar, honey, and shallot together until cohesive. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss salad with dressing until well combined.
  5. Just before serving, top salad with tortilla strips.

Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will absolutely love this chili. It’s thick, hearty, and full of vegetables. Using preseasoned beans makes it easier to get that classic chili flavor just right.

Serves 6–8


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of black chili beans, not drained
  • 1 (16-ounce) can of pinto chili beans, not drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 3 scallions, sliced


  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and cook for 2–3 minutes, until translucent.
  4. Add garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes.
  5. Add chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, paprika, and cayenne and stir to thoroughly coat onion and garlic. Cook for 1–2 minutes, until fragrant.
  6. Add bell pepper and zucchini and stir to coat with spice mixture.
  7. Add tomatoes and water. Stir, bring mixture to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in black chili beans, pinto chili beans, pumpkin purée, spinach, and cooked quinoa. Cover pot and let simmer for 5 minutes, until everything is thoroughly warmed through.
  9. Serve warm, garnishing each bowl with sliced avocado and scallions.

Beans make a nutritious and tasty base that works equally well for lots of dinner party-worthy dishes. Here are some other showstopping recipes to try:

  • Best Black Bean Salad: This vegetarian-friendly black bean salad is light and zesty. Serve it with chips for dipping or as a side dish.
  • White Chili Bean Salsa: Serve this easy salsa alongside the avocado hummus as an appetizer. The recipe calls for just 5 ingredients, and it’s brimming with fresh flavor.
  • Tuscan-Style Tomatoes: These grilled tomatoes are stuffed with tons of savory ingredients and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. They’re a beautiful and impressive yet simple side dish for your next dinner party.