It’s time to face the facts – adulthood means a lot of occasions where knowing how to make a crowd-pleasing dish will come in handy. Whether you’re making a casserole as an offering at a private family event or bringing a dish to your company’s summer event, knowing how to make at least one potluck dish is a useful skill to have. Check out these top favorite potluck dish ideas and learn how to take your potluck to the next level.
What Makes a Favorite Pot Luck Dish?
What is it that makes a potluck dish a favorite at every gathering? A favorite pot luck dish is ideally one that is healthy, tasty, easy to make, and easily pleases diverse crowds of people. In other words, your favorite is going to be one that involves very little prep time and one that isn’t so spicy you feel the need to place a biohazard sign on it. It’s also going to be one that accommodates a large enough range of dietary needs that you can pull it out for most crowds.
All that said, there are hundreds of potluck recipes that have been tried and tested, which means you may need to spend some time finding potluck food ideas that match your skill level in particular. But we’ve rounded up five of the ones we believe are the easiest-to-make, crowd-pleasing potluck food ideas, and it’s simple to find a recipe for any of these with a fast Google search.
1. Pine Nut Pasta Salad
Pasta salads can feel dated, which means if you’re opting for a pasta salad, you need to add interest. The easiest way to add interest is to provide plenty of textures and color to give a cold pasta salad an added layer of excitement. Start out with your preferred pasta, cook and rinse in cold water, then add the fun stuff, such as toasted pine nuts, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.
You can get inventive with the salad dressing, too; while most might use Italian dressing, you can use bleu cheese, thousand island, or any other flavor that catches your taste buds. Use gluten-free pasta if necessary to make this a well-rounded crowd pleaser.
2. Three-Cheese Macaroni Casserole
Macaroni is a staple at any potluck for a reason – everyone loves it. Three cheese macaroni is a creamy, super indulgent take on classic macaroni. Simply cook elbow pasta or shell pasta according to the directions on the box and then melt in equal parts Velveeta, white cheddar cheese, and Mexican cheese blend.
You can also elevate a macaroni casserole with additional cheese, bacon, or bread crumbs on top and a quick grill in the oven, or even sneak in veggies like cauliflower and broccoli. Try gluten-free pasta and vegan cheese to make it perfect for any crowd.
3. Black Beans and Rice Salad
Black bean salad is good when it’s cold, which means it’s a smart choice for potlucks. Black bean salad consists of two cans of cooked black beans, long grain wild rice, bell peppers, garlic, onions, olive oil, dijon mustard, cumin, and ground pepper. Just like the pasta salad, you have plenty of room to play around with this recipe to make it your own, such as adding chicken or pork or pumping up the spice with chili peppers.
4. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders
Pulled pork anything is a country favorite for how tender and flavorful the pork becomes after hours of cooking. Slow cookers allow everyone to make the kind of pulled pork sliders that will have mouths watering the moment they’re presented. Start off with a 4 to 6 lbs pork shoulder in the slow cooker, add water, brown sugar, your preferred BBQ sauce, white, red, and yellow onions, chili powder, and then cook overnight on the lowest setting. The pork can then be put on buns with lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes.
5. Slow Cooker Tater Tot Buffalo Chicken Casserole
It’s not a potluck without someone bringing buffalo chicken, which is universally loved by almost everyone. Start with the ground or chopped chicken in the slow cooker, add your seasonings and preferred buffalo chicken sauce, and then add your tater tots and other vegetables, such as cauliflower or zucchini, along with a healthy dose of cheese for a flavorful dish.
Some potluck dishes have reputations. Aunt Lisa’s very dry, very sad brisket that winds up at every family gathering comes to mind. Fortunately, you can put modern twists on old recipes to dial up the interest. From casseroles to mouth-watering desserts, one of these favorite pot luck dish ideas will be right for your next gathering!