Good Dishes to Take to a Potluck Dinner

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When preparing a dish to bring to a potluck dinner, whatever you make should be easy to transport. It should also taste and look good after sitting on a table for what may be several hours. The dish ought to appeal to a range of people, and it should not require more than warming up, at most, once it arrives at the party. Here are some ideas for dishes to take to a potluck dinner.

A variety of ethnic dishes on an outdoor table.
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Appetizers and Finger Foods

Some dishes work well for appetizers or finger foods at a potluck dinner. A savory cheese ball with some crackers to accompany it can be an excellent choice. Try homemade hummus with pita bread or Brie cheese topped with a fruit sauce. An antipasti platter can also be transported easily to a potluck dinner. The platter can include pitted olives, cherry tomatoes, pieces of Italian sausage, cubes of provolone cheese, slices of sweet red and yellow peppers, and other vegetables, all arranged on a bed of lettuce.

A close-up of hummus, pita bread, carrot sticks and chickpeas.
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To keep them fresh, salads should be prepared as close as possible to the time when they will be served. The exception is potato salad. Salads are, however, good for potluck dinners because they travel well and do not require heating. Two of the best salads for potluck dinners are spinach salad with mandarin oranges and Italian potato salad made with olive oil instead of mayonnaise, no eggs, thinly sliced sweet onion and fresh basil. Cold cooked asparagus salad made with pineapple is also a good choice.

A close-up of a spinach salad with mandarin oranges.
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Main Dishes

Although dishes like casseroles and shepherd's pie can be tasty, they are also predictable. People bring them to potlucks time and time again. For something different, try Mexican lasagna, which is made in the same way as Italian lasagna, except that it is made in a round pan. Instead of lasagna noodles you use tortilla shells, and salsa instead of tomato sauce. Stack layers of cooked ground beef, salsa, sour cream if desired, refried beans, tortillas, tomatoes and cheese. Try to make two layers of each ingredient. Cover the top in cheese and bake it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until it is bubbly. Many Italian dishes are also good for potlucks. For instance, you could take tortellini in a tomato sauce with caramelized onions and fresh basil.

A close-up of a Mexican lasagna in a glass dish on an outdoor table.
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Numerous desserts are good to take to a potluck. Fruit cobblers and crisps, for example, are well-liked, nutritious and easy to prepare. Fruit salad with a separate container of whipped cream is also a good choice. Bundt cakes and carrot cakes are excellent for potlucks because they are well-liked and easy to transport. An alternative to the usual cake would be a selection of cupcakes; children love them and they are much easier to serve than pieces of regular cake.

Fruit salad served in bowls made from watermelon rinds.
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  • “Taste of Home: The New Potluck”: Taste of Home Editors; 2006
  • “Yankee Magazine's Church Suppers & Potluck Dinners: Cookbook”: Yankee Magazine; June 18, 1996
  • Sunset: Top Ten Potluck Desserts
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