Sample Funeral Food Menus: Buffets to Appetizers

Published September 14, 2020
group of people on funeral buffet

The funeral food menu you select for the reception should fit the style and tone of your event, your budget, your season, and of course, take into consideration what the deceased love one may have wanted. Plan something comforting to give mourners.

Funeral Food Menu Ideas for Buffet Receptions

When planning the funeral reception food, you want to pick something that everyone will enjoy and foods that complement each other. Compare sample menus to pull it all together. On buffets, plan to have hot foods in roasters, slow cookers, and warming plates; cold foods can be kept on ice. Pre-slice anything that may be difficult for people to do with one hand.

Brunch Menu

If your reception will be held mid-morning, it's a bit too early for a full reception luncheon but too late for a breakfast menu. Instead, combine the two into a lovely menu suitable for everyone's tastes. Include:

  • Gourmet muffins in flavors like chocolate cinnamon cashew and raspberry caramel streusel
  • Cut fruit salad, dressed with a little light whipped cream and lemon juice
  • Spinach quiche
  • Lobster souffle (can substitute crab)
  • Hashbrown potato breakfast casserole
  • Sliced ham and/or sliced beef roast
  • String beans with garlic or almonds
  • Hot buttered corn
  • Assorted coffee cakes; some with different fruits and some with cinnamon and/or cream cheese
Brunch buffet table

Appetizer-Only Menu

Sometimes people do not want to eat a full plate at a reception meal. In this case, plan funeral food that allows people to take some small bites without getting too full. This also works well if you're having the funeral and reception on a weekday when people may need to return to workplaces.

  • Baked Brie with fruit toppings and pita bread slices
  • Fruit tray with assorted marshmallow fluff dips
  • Cucumber slices with dill cream cheese and smoked salmon
  • Parmesan and asparagus flatbread
  • Antipasto skewers, with meats, cheeses, and olives in a marinated Greek dressing
  • Slow cooker meatballs
  • Mini crab cakes on small dinner rolls
  • Finger sugar cookies and dessert bars, like brownies or lemon bars, cut into two-bite pieces
Crispy golden crab cakes

Simple Church Menu

When the service is held at a church, the family may choose thoughtful funeral foods that are comforting to all who mourn. Often, the church will have menu options or provide desserts themselves as part of their funeral services. Check into what they offer before making your own menu.

Rice broccoli corn casserole

Outdoor Barbecue Menu

At an outdoor event, you'll find that people look for classic picnic and backyard barbecue foods, even when in honor of a deceased loved one.

  • Potato salad
  • Macaroni pea salad or Texas pea salad
  • Baked beans
  • Fried chicken
  • Country style ribs
  • Cornbread with butter and honey
  • Assorted cream pies, like French silk, banana cream, and coconut cream
country style ribs

Hearty Winter Menu

Chilly weather means hot dishes. Put together a buffet that features foods to warm the heart and soul after a funeral.

buffalo roasted cauliflower

Menu Options for Served Funeral Meals

Planning a funeral reception with a served meal means you can pick messier and more complicated dishes since you won't be making or serving it yourself. A served meal is a good option if you have a large budget, all ready served finger foods at the wake, or want a more formal reception in honor of your loved one. The caterer you select will also have suggestions for the best menu within your budget, too.

Four-Course Pasta Menu

Pasta is a great option for a low-budget served meal. Offer mourners a couple options for each:

Cheesecake with cherry sauce

Classic Dinner Menu

Classic dinner menus look great plated and mourners will appreciate the familiar foods. Again, offer a couple options for the meal:

  • Salad - Green salad with assorted dressings
  • Soup - French onion soup, vegetable soup
  • Meat - Stuffed chicken breast, oven roasted pork loin with sauce, beef Wellington
  • Potatoes - Baked potatoes with sour cream, garlic mashed potatoes
  • Vegetables - Brussels sprouts, steamed zucchini with carrots
  • Dessert - Creme brulee, dark chocolate cake
French onion soup

Plan Your Funeral Reception Menu

Hosting a reception after the funeral is not required, but appreciated, by mourners who attend. Plan the menu to meet the time of day and consider including a favorite dish or two of the deceased loved one to personalize it.

Sample Funeral Food Menus: Buffets to Appetizers