Our best potluck ideas for when you are asked to bring a plate to a casual gathering, weekend barbecue or festive party include everything from homemade dips and crackers, and hand-pies and sausage rolls to meatballs and potato salads, and frittatas and fried rice. We also have tips for potluck first-timers – or first-time pot-luckers.
Dinner parties are out and potlucks are in, it seems. Just as the Great Depression gave rise to the potluck in the USA in the 1930s, inflation, a cost-of-living crisis and imminent global recession appear responsible for a resurgence in popularity of the potluck – a communal gathering where guests are asked to bring a dish to be shared.
If you’re not aware of the phenomenon, the formerly hyphenated ‘potluck’ is both an adjective and a noun: potte lukke, when it emerged in the Middle Ages in Europe, evolved into a pot-luck meal or just potluck for short. And you may not be familiar with potlucks.
Because while potluck dinners are a custom in many countries, having become an integral part of American society in the mid-20th century, the concept is foreign to many cultures where culinary traditions are rooted in hospitality.
For instance, while it might have been perfectly acceptable to take gifts of chocolates or flowers for the host, and contribute a bottle of vodka or wine to the table, my Russian-Ukrainian grandmother would have been insulted had guests brought a dish to lunch or dinner. The only time it would have been acceptable to bring a plate is to a wake.
My mother would never have dreamt of asking guests to bring anything to a weekend barbecue, but it was customary for close friends to come with a bowl of coleslaw or potato salad, or even extra sausages if their kids were big eaters, but I remember her being asked to bring a plate to friends’ homes in Sydney in the 1970s.
Likewise, my Australian friends were a mixed bunch. One couple, of Greek heritage, took pride in hosting guests and even a bottle of wine was not expected, while bringing a plate was customary with another group of friends with whom we occasionally dined, who always asked that Terence bring his addictively delicious profiteroles.
Now before I tell you more about our best potluck ideas, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve used and like our recipes, please consider supporting Grantourismo by supporting our original, epic, first-of-its-kind Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon for as little as US$5 a month. Or, you could buy us a coffee. We’ll use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing instead.
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Best Potluck Ideas For When You Are Asked to Bring a Plate
Our best potluck ideas include homemade dips, crackers, finger food, pies and sausage rolls, breads, frittatas, salads, and fried chicken. When it comes to keeping your potluck dishes warm or cold, we recommend taking your food in something like this Coleman portable cooler.
If you don’t have time to cook anything, you could buy a beautiful lettuce or two, punnets of cherry tomatoes, a good bottle of extra virgin olive oil, a jar of capers, tin of Ortiz salted anchovies from Spain if you can get hold of them, and a jar of juicy Kalamata olives and assemble this salad when you arrive.
Our Best Potluck Ideas
Potluck Dips and Crackers
Taking a few homemade dips and crackers is one of our best potluck ideas because nothing beats homemade, they’re a cinch to make, easy to transport, no cutlery is required, and it takes no time to lay them out when you get there. Browse this post for more homemade dips recipes.
Homemade Traditional Hummus
Everybody loves hummus and this easy authentic hummus recipe makes a homemade traditional creamy hummus that a Lebanese friend taught Terence when we lived in Abu Dhabi. If you have a can of chick peas in the cupboard, hummus is one of the best potluck ideas. So easy to make and so delicious.
Authentic Mexican Guacamole
This authentic Mexican guacamole recipe makes a genuine Mexican guacamole that’s made table-side at good restaurants in Mexico but you can certainly make it ahead. It’s all about the creamy luscious texture and full flavour of perfectly ripe avocados. Make it just before you leave home. Serve with homemade tortilla chips or store-bought corn chips for one of the best potluck ideas.
Easy Mexican Tomato Salsa
This easy red tomato salsa recipe makes a spicy Mexican salsa that we’ve been perfecting since we returned from our first big trip to Mexico and the USA way back when we first began travelling. Like the guacamole, it’s perfect for tortilla chips or corn chips.
Chilli Con Carne Dip
While this chilli con carne recipe makes a good old bowl of chilli for those who like their chilli hot and smoky, this chilli con carne is also terrific eaten cold as a dip with homemade tortilla chips or corn chips. You’ll need to put this on the stove the the day before your potluck dinner, as it takes a few hours to make. It’s another of our best potluck ideas.
This sourdough starter discard crackers recipe makes a crispy cracker that’s a little salty, a tad spicy, a tiny bit tangy, and utterly addictive, and it’s another of our best potluck ideas. Triangular in shape, they’re perfect for scooping up dips and they’re probably the easiest crackers you’ll ever make, so should inspire you to test out more sourdough starter discard recipes.
Homemade Pita Chips
Homemade Sourdough Bread Loaf
There are few things better in life than a homemade sourdough bread loaf, still warm from the oven, and there’s nothing like sharing a loaf or two with friends. This simple sourdough bread recipe is essentially a beginner’s guide to baking sourdough bread. If you don’t have a sourdough starter ready to bake, you’ll also find a simple sourdough starter recipe in the post.
Simple Sourdough Batard for the Baguette’s Lesser Known Cousin
This simple sourdough batard recipe makes the French baguette’s lesser known cousin, the bâtard. This oval-shaped loaf is not as long or as narrow as a baguette but it’s longer than a round sourdough boule and is therefore infinitely more practical for making sandwiches with less bread going to waste.
Olive Sourdough Bread with Rosemary, Thyme and Sweet Red Capsicum
This olive sourdough bread recipe with Kalamáta olives, rosemary, thyme, and sweet fire-roasted capsicum makes a deliciously moist sourdough bread that is fantastic for sandwiches or toasted and spread with toppings such as ’nduja or just dipped into virgin olive oil and sea salt, and it’s another of our best potluck ideas. Bake a few loaves if you can and everybody will be very happy.
Potluck Finger Food and Hand Pies
It’s hard to beat finger food and hand pies for potlucks. They transport well and no cutlery needed to wash up afterwards. Just don’t forget the hand sanitiser, napkins and ‘Wet Ones’.
My devilled eggs recipe makes very moreish Russian stuffed eggs with a creamy filling of the yolks of hard-boiled eggs mashed with mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, dill pickles, purple shallots, and perfumed dill. They may have been a feature on the zakuski buffets before the elaborate banquets of Russian emperors but they’ll travel well in a plastic container to your potluck dinner.
Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream
This Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe makes blini with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish. These are cocktail size blini that are perfect for snacking and entertaining, and while this is a savoury topping you could also spread these little pancakes with jam and cream. For potlucks, we recommend transporting the components in separate containers and assembling at your host’s home.
Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps
This spicy chicken lettuce wraps recipe makes a Southeast Asian take on the Chinese lettuce cups from Southern China and Hong Kong, popularised in Chinese-Australian restaurants. Our minced chicken lettuce cups take inspiration from northern Southeast Asia, from both savoury larbs (minced meat salads) and the local custom of wrapping street food snacks in lettuce. This is perfect potluck food and another of our best potluck ideas.
Traditional Scotch Eggs with a Thai Twist
This traditional Scotch eggs recipe for the classic British picnic snack has a Thai-influenced twist inspired by the Thai stir-fry favourite, pad kra pao or pad gaprao. Scotch eggs are traditionally made with a boiled egg wrapped in seasoned sausage meat, which is crumbed and deep-fried. Here, Terence has given the minced pork a pad kra pao flavour. These are a perfect potluck contribution.
Russian Piroshki Minced Meat-Filled Hand Pies
This Russian piroshki recipe makes perfect savoury minced meat-filled pastries, also known as Russian hand pies. Eaten as a snack or with borscht, my baboushka also served piroshki as one of an array of Russian dishes for family gatherings. While we preferred deep-fried piroshki, these can also be baked. They’re another of our best potluck ideas.
Vietnamese Fresh Prawn and Pork Spring Rolls
This Vietnamese fresh prawn and pork spring rolls recipe is a classic recipe for traditional gỏi cuốn – which is a cold spring roll of cold cooked prawns, unseasoned pork belly, cold vermicelli noodles, and fresh aromatic herbs, wrapped in damp dry rice paper sheets. They’re light, zingy and refreshing and are perfect for potlucks.
Vietnamese Pineapple Omelette and Prawn Summer Rolls
This Vietnamese pineapple omelette and prawn summer rolls recipe makes the fresh spring rolls found in tropical Southern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta and Southern Cambodia that can be served as a healthy snack, light appetiser, part of a shared family-style meal or as finger food for a Southeast Asian feast, barbecue or potluck.
Cambodian Fried Spring Rolls
This classic Cambodian fried spring rolls recipe makes a crunchy deep-fried egg roll filled with minced pork, dried shrimp, carrot, garlic, and daikon radish or taro, seasoned with fish sauce, Kampot pepper, sea salt, and palm sugar. We also have a Cambodian fried spring roll dipping sauce recipe to go with it.
Vietnamese Deep Fried Spring Rolls
Our Vietnamese deep fried spring rolls recipe for nem ran as they’re known in Hanoi and Northern Vietnam is a classic and it’s easy to make. Crunchy and chewy with a bubbly surface, these Hanoi-style fried spring rolls are eaten with bun cha or wrapped in lettuce and fresh herbs.
Cambodian Pork Meatballs for Wraps, Rolls and Sandwiches
This Cambodian pork meatballs recipe makes a juicy meatball that’s flavourful and fragrant from some of the quintessential Cambodian ingredients used in a Khmer kroeung or herb and spice paste: shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Small in size, they’re perfect for wraps and rolls, soups, salads, and sandwiches, in the form of num pang, Cambodia’s baguette.
Potluck Frittatas and Tortillas
Frittata with Chorizo and Caramelised Onions
Frittatas are perhaps the best of the best potluck ideas and this frittata recipe with chorizo and caramelised onions makes an especially fantastic potluck dish. People can eat it on its own, with a salad, or with a crunchy baguette.
Spanish Tortilla de Cebolla
This tortilla de cebolla recipe makes the best Spanish potato omelette with onions, which, like the frittata above, is delicious eaten on its own or with a salad or in a baguette, and is another perfect dish for a potluck dinner.
Mexican Migas Tortilla
This Mexican migas recipe with a twist makes a ‘Migas tortilla’ made with homemade crispy tortilla chips. In Mexico, migas is a scrambled eggs dish that uses up stale corn tortilla or wheat flour tortillas made into crispy tortilla chips. We created a migas tortilla inspired by the Spanish tortilla and, it’s fab for potlucks.
Traditional Australian Sausage Roll
Sausage rolls and meat pies are some of the best potluck ideas and it’s hard to beat homemade traditional Aussie sausage rolls. These are adapted from a recipe by our friend Jane Lawson, from her wonderful nostalgic cookbook Milkbar Memories.
Curry Beef Pie Recipe Made With Cambodian Saraman Curry
This Cambodian-inspired curry beef pie recipe is filled with a Cambodian Saraman curry, the richest and most complex of Cambodian curries and one of the few that uses beef as the base protein in a country that loves its pork, chicken, fish, and seafood.
Curried Beef Sausage Rolls Recipe Made With Cambodian Saraman Curry
This homemade curried beef sausage roll is made with the same Cambodian Saraman curry, above, and the puff pastry of a normal sausage roll, but instead of the traditional sausage roll spices, we’ve used Cambodian Saraman curry paste to flavour the beef.
Homemade Chicken Curry Pie Recipe Made with Cambodian Chicken Curry
This chicken curry pie recipe uses the classic Cambodian chicken curry to make a flavourful spicy chicken pie. Unlike the classic curried chicken pie which uses curry powder to flavour the chicken filling, this recipe uses the classic Cambodian chicken curry with potatoes, long beans and Asian eggplants, which we’ve included to create a really hearty chicken pie.
Pepper Steak Pie Recipe for a Cambodian Beef Lok Lak Meat Pie
This pepper steak pie recipe makes a Cambodian beef lok lak meat pie inspired by one of Cambodia’s most popular street food-style dishes. This pepper steak pie recipe is authentic in essence, making a very traditional beef lok lak that’s been tweaked to serve as a hearty meat pie filling. While you could use any pepper, try to get your hands on Cambodia’s excellent Kampot Pepper, available online on Amazon for authentic Cambodian flavours.
Fried Chicken and Roast Chicken
Southern Fried Chicken
A platter of fried chicken is one of the best potluck ideas. This Southern fried chicken recipe by Belles Hot Chicken’s chef Morgan McGlone makes some of the best fried chicken in the spicy Nashville-style of chicken outside of the USA. Australian chef Morgy McGlone learnt to make it during his time in the South, where he immersed himself in learning how to make and perfect the South’s famous hot chicken. It’s fantastic warm or cold.
Best Burmese Fried Chicken
This Burmese fried chicken recipe makes the gently spiced fried chicken drumsticks, which are a popular street food snack in Myanmar. The finger-licking fried chicken pieces are sold at roadside stalls to take away or eat at plastic tables set up around the stall, we make these finger-licking fried chicken pieces at home and dip them into homemade sweet chilli sauce.
Roast Chicken with Aromatic Cambodian Herb Butter and Stuffing
Sure, you could pick up some rotisserie roast chickens from the takeway en route to your potluck dinner, but our roast chicken recipe makes a fragrant, flavoursome and moist roast chicken thanks to a Cambodian inspired herb butter and a stuffing made with yellow kroeung, an aromatic Khmer herb and spice paste pounded from fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime zest, galangal, turmeric, garlic, and shallots. We recommend roasting your chook on the morning of the potluck and carving it when you arrive.
Most salads don’t travel well. Cucumbers and tomatoes go soft and herbs and lettuce go soggy. The exceptions and the best potluck salads are potato salads and coleslaws, both of which taste better after they’ve sat for a while.
Russian Potato Salad
This Russian potato salad recipe for the Olivier Salad makes an old Russian salad that was popularised in the 20th century during the Soviet period, and would then go on to travel the world, becoming known as ensalada Rusa everywhere from Madrid to Mexico, Barcelona to Buenos Aires. The typical Soviet-era Russian potato salad ingredients list included potatoes, carrots, onion, peas, gherkins, and mayonnaise.
Russian Beet Potato Salad
Potato salads are the best potluck ideas. This Russian beetroot potato salad recipe makes vinegret, a creamy pink potato and beetroot salad that is fragrant with dill and delightfully tangy, thanks to the gherkins and capers. Based on my baboushka’s recipe, it was a staple at family meals, holiday feasts, Sunday lunches, and picnics. It can be a pale pink like the salad below or a deep dark ruby-pink in this photo. Fresh beetroots always result in a more vibrant colour than tinned beetroots.
Thai Corn Salad
Our Thai corn salad recipe makes a simple tossed corn salad that’s inspired by a popular som tam style salad that’s pounded in a mortar and pestle. While we do love a good classic Thai som tam (recipe above), for us this salad works best as a tossed salad. For those nice char marks and smoky aroma, we do the corn cobs on a griddle pan or a stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan if we’re cooking inside or grill it over a traditional clay brazier if we’re cooking out.
Mexican Grilled Corn Salad
One of my best potluck ideas, this Mexican grilled corn salad recipe makes a terrific salad for a potluck meal. You can serve it as a traditional tossed salad in a big bowl or you can serve it individually.
Grilled Corn Salad With Lime, Chilli, Lemongrass Mayo and Sourdough Croutons
If you enjoyed the Mexican grilled corn salad, you will love my grilled corn salad with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons, which is one of my all-time favourite salads and definitely one of our best potluck ideas. Terence makes the croutons with the crunchy end of near-stale sourdough.
Cambodian Pork Larb
Our Cambodian pork larb recipe makes laab sach chrouk, a stir-fried minced pork salad that’s combined with fresh fragrant herbs, infused with the delightfully funky flavour of fish sauce, dusted with toasted rice powder, and served with crunchy vegetables. We like to stir-fry our larbs in a round bottomed wok. The larb – or larp, laab, laap, lab, and lap – is found right across Southeast Asia but likely originated in Cambodia.
Thai Chicken Larb for Larb Gai
This Thai larb gai recipe is one of my best potluck ideas. It makes a classic spicy minced chicken salad from Thailand that is super easy to cook, comes together in minutes, and is very versatile. Adapted from chef David Thompson’s chicken larb recipe from his Thai Street Food cookbook, this is a gently-spiced ground chicken salad, however, you can easily heat things up with more chilli flakes which you can take along in a shaker. Make sure to sprinkle on some toasted rice powder or ground roasted rice called khao khua.
What are your best potluck ideas when you are asked to bring a plate? Let us know in the comments below.