Whether you are planning a small dinner with friends, a weekend party or a lavish wedding, you want to be proud of the food you serve your guests. Finding a balance between preparation and expense can be a challenge for meal planning. You want to spend your time socializing with your party guests, rather than spend your time preparing food in the kitchen.

Some careful planning with your catering menu can give you peace of mind and the opportunity to enjoy the party. Whether you are serving a small group or a large crowd, your dessert table is one place you can save time and introduce variety. There are many dessert buffet ideas that offer plenty of fun and a little something for everyone.

Here are nine delicious dessert buffet ideas that you can serve at your party:

Buffet Idea #1: Gourmet Cookies

Almost everyone loves cookies, making this one of the most popular dessert buffet ideas for parties. Serving a variety of cookies at your dessert buffet can be an eye-catching, delicious staple. Consider serving go-to flavours such as chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin and shortbread, as well as something more exotic, like pistachio cookies with sea salt, caramel with pecan or cinnamon roll with caramel drizzle.

If your event is planned for an occasion or holiday season, be sure to include theme cookies, as well—personalized sugar cookies with the names of the bride and groom, glittery Santa cookies or something in between.

Buffet Idea #2: Bite-Size Cupcakes

Cupcakes have been a favourite dessert buffet idea for many years. Packing just enough sweetness and flavour, cupcakes can be an excellent choice for your dessert buffet. Whether you use full size cupcakes or choose the bite size version, make the most of your colour options.

Icing can generally be made to match room decorations, party themes or simply the rest of the table.

Buffet Idea #3: Macarons

Macarons offer a delicious, light treat, making a sweet, colourful addition to your dessert table. These tasty, bite-size treats can also be made in a wide range of flavours, allowing you to offer something unique.

You might be most familiar with lemon, chocolate, coconut and caramel macaron flavours. However, you can take these dessert buffet ideas to the next level, with flavours such as salted caramel and praline, blueberry cream cheese, chocolate peanut butter or spicy chai.

Buffet Idea #4: Tiny Crème Brûlée

While not everyone appreciates the flavour of traditional crème brûlée, it is a treat for those who love it, especially because it is notoriously tricky to make and not commonly served as dessert in someone’s home. Offering tiny servings of crème brûlée, whether you make them yourself or have catering assistance, is sure to be a hit with guests.

Buffet Idea #5: Cheese and Fruit

Because not everyone loves something sweet after dinner, cheese and fruit trays are an excellent choice for your dessert buffet. Be sure to include a variety of colours and ensure that the fruit appears fresh and plentiful. For cheese, include a wide selection of hard and soft options, with plenty of crackers and napkins nearby.

Buffet Idea #6: Chocolate Bar

A small piece of chocolate makes people happy. Offering bowls of colourful, bite-size chocolates is a beautiful, tasty way to dress up your dessert bar. If the chocolate is not wrapped individually, be sure to include a spoon and small cups for your guests to easily help themselves.

Buffet Idea #7: Popsicle-Style Marshmallow Dips

The beauty of serving popsicle-style treats at your dessert table is that you can serve fun, sticky treats without handing your guests sticky fingers. Consider dipping marshmallows in colour-coordinated sprinkles or dip toppings such as caramel or chocolate.

If you have room and don’t mind the clean-up, you can also allow your guests to dip their own marshmallows in their favourite toppings.

Buffet Idea #8: Mini Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie is a colourful, fan favourite dessert, with just the right balance of sweet and tart. Consider serving key lime pie in small glass dishes to show off the beautiful layers and irresistible crust. Top with a dollop of fresh whip cream and garnish with tiny pieces of lime peel.

For these dessert buffet ideas, make sure you have plenty of these tasty mini-treats on hand—your guests are sure to come back for a second serving.

Buffet Idea #9: Layered Cakes

For some, a dessert buffet isn’t complete without cake. This is one of the popular dessert buffet ideas, because your guests will love the opportunity to try cake flavours they wouldn’t make on their own. Consider offering small pieces of gourmet layered cakes, including decadent flavours such as sticky toffee, caramel gingerbread, coconut lemon and orange or peach vanilla. Your guests won’t forget the tastes of your party!

Serving a large crowd can be a daunting task. You want the food to be fantastic, without the stress of last-minute preparation. Whether you prepare the food yourself or use the help of a trusted caterer, a buffet can be a crowd-pleasing option that offers variety and fun. We hope this list of dessert buffet ideas gives you some inspiration for your next party or event.