Easy Potluck Dishes

A group I belong to recently had a potluck dinner. Several members asked for suggestions for dishes to bring that don’t require a lot of cooking or prep work. Say you do not like to cook, but you want to contribute something besides ice and bottled drinks to the party. Note that many of these ideas say “take out” or “from the deli.” Many perfectly delicious dishes are available directly from the grocery store, says an article on “No Cook Potluck Contributions.” A potluck is a fun time to share dishes and favorite foods, not to stress out about a particular dish. Food is the context for the friendships.


  • Cheese tray (2 to 3 kinds of cheese)
  • Chex Mix (any kind)
  • Chinese appetizers (take out): pot stickers, fried won tons, shu mai, or other
  • Deviled eggs or hard-boiled eggs
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Hummus and pita bread
  • Jarred marinated goodies: Artichoke hearts, olives, pickles, roasted red peppers, or mushrooms
  • Garlic Feta appetizer: Unwrap and drain a brick of feta cheese. Place feta in a microwaveable bowl, cover it thickly with a layer of jarred minced garlic, and microwave for a couple of minutes so the cheese is just runny, nice, and soft.
  • Mozzarella balls with fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, and olive oil/balsamic dressing
  • No-fuss spreads: Hummus, spreadable cheese (such as Boursin), flavored cream cheese (buy at a bagel shop or mix your own), or goat cheese
  • Smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumber, and cocktail breads
  • Spiced nuts and dried fruit
  • Tortilla chips served with salsa rose: mix equal amounts of chunky salsa and sour cream
  • Wrap breadsticks with smoked salmon, thin slices of cheese, or deli meat

…Main dish

  • BBQ chicken (take out)
  • Chicken wings (take out)
  • Cold cooked meat (sliced): ham, prosciutto, salami, or sausage
  • Pizza (take out) — a few people could chip in to buy some
  • Pre-cooked turkey sausage (kielbasa) heated with barbecue sauce
  • Prepared quiche
  • Roasted chicken from the deli
  • Shrimp cocktail ring
  • Sushi platter (take out)
  • Pasta with red sauce
  • Pinwheels: Layer burrito-sized flour tortillas with your choice of deli meats, sliced cheese, veggies and spreads, then roll up and slice. Tasty pinwheel ideas:

•    Cream cheese, chopped scallions, dried cranberries, and smoked turkey
•    Cream cheese, sliced black olives, and canned green chiles
•    Prosciutto (thinly-sliced ham), goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil leaves
•    Roasted bell peppers, sliced kalamata olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and hummus
•    Turkey, Swiss cheese, avocado, and carrots

…Side dishes

  • Broccoli slaw
  • Chickpea salad with feta cheese
  • Good, bakery-fresh bread (baguette) and butter
  • Green beans
  • Green mixed salad (such as two bags of Trader Joe’s salad with cranberry/blue cheese) in a bowl
  • Raw vegetables (washed and up to a uniform size (ready-to-eat baby carrots, radishes, cucumber, celery, red and yellow peppers) with a dip
  • Rice salad
  • Salads from the deli


  • Apple pie (from the bakery)
  • Bakery treats
  • Cheesecake topped with pie filling
  • Fresh fruit (seedless grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, chunks of pineapple, or seedless tangerines)
  • Yogurt dip: Stir together vanilla low-fat yogurt, a couple of tablespoons of honey, and a half-teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Optional: add a few shakes of cinnamon powder. Refrigerate yogurt for at least an hour and serve with fruit.
  • Ice cream: A couple of pints of Ben & Jerry’s and store-bought cookies
  • Thick pretzel rods with vanilla frosting and a bowl of M&M’s (guests dip the pretzels in the frosting and the M&M’s)