Potluck Recipes That Even the Worst Cooks Can Make

Potlucks. Depending on your point of view, these holiday gatherings are either an opportunity to show off your fabulous cooking skills or a cause for serious anxiety as you stress about preparing a dish that other people will actually want to eat. If you’re in the latter camp, it can be tempting to just pick up something from the grocery deli counter and call it a day. Why waste those hours in the kitchen when you can outsource the hard work to someone else?

Well, it turns out that you can still get into the potluck spirit even if you’re not a whiz in the kitchen. Here are seven easy potluck recipes you can bring to your next party.

1. Garlicky Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm

spinach dip

Spinach dip | iStock.com

Skip the store-bought chips and dip, and try this hearty spinach dip with homemade tortilla chips instead. The dip can be assembled a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, let it come to room temperature and then cook in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Recipe from Health.


For the chips

  • 22 (6-inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 8 wedges
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the dip

  • 1¼ cups (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese, divided
  • ½ cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (6½-ounce) tub light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

To prepare chips, arrange tortilla wedges in a single layer on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat wedges with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with salt. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until wedges are crisp and lightly browned.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (if baking dip immediately).

To prepare dip, combine mozzarella, ¼ cup Asiago, sour cream, and remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1½-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Asiago. Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm with chips.

2. Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad


Broccoli | iStock.com

Pasta salads are potluck favorites, and for good reason. They’re tasty, easy to prepare, and hold up well even after they’ve been sitting on a buffet table for an hour or two. This simple salad has just a handful of ingredients, including broccoli, feta cheese, and olives, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Recipe from The Kitchn.


  • 1 pound tri-color pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped into ½-inch florets
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Flaky salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Directions: Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil until coated.

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the broccoli, and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until tender-crisp. Add to the cooked pasta, and toss to combine.

Stir in the olives, then crumble the feta cheese into the pasta. Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar, and toss with the pasta and broccoli mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Orange-Infused Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad


Kale salad | iStock.com

Cranberries and oranges give this kale and Brussels sprouts salad a festive air. Plus, the healthy eaters in your group will appreciate having a delicious potluck option that won’t force them to blow their diet. Recipe from Destination Delish.


For the salad

  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts (about 35 to 40 sprouts)
  • 4 cups of kale
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup chopped and toasted pecans

For the dressing

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot or onion
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: Place the Brussels sprouts in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse about 15 to 20 times, until finely shredded. Transfer shredded sprouts to a large salad bowl. Repeat the same process with the kale, and then add to the bowl with the Brussels sprouts. Top the shredded sprouts and kale with the cranberries and feta cheese.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor. Blend until smooth and combined. Pour over salad, and toss to combine. (If bringing to a potluck, wait until just before serving to dress the salad.)

4. Honey Mustard Chicken Wings

chicken wings

Chicken wings | iStock.com

These sweet and savory chicken wings are sure to be a hit at your next potluck. Even better, this dish is incredibly simple to prepare: Just put the wings in a pan, cover with the glaze, and bake. This recipe from Taste of Home yields about 3 dozen wings — more than enough to feed a crowd.


  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • ½ cup spicy brown mustard
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pans with foil; grease foil. Using a sharp knife, cut through the two chicken wing joints; discard wing tips. Place remaining wings in prepared pans.

In a small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour over wings, turning to coat. Bake 30 to 40 minutes on each side or until wings are glazed and chicken juices run clear.

5. Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese | iStock.com

You’ll win the office potluck if you bring a dish full of this creamy macaroni cheese. Using Velveeta simplifies the sauce preparation, and cooking everything in a crockpot means you have a dish that’s easy to transport and reheat. Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.


  • 12 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions: Coat the inside of a 3½- to 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the macaroni to al dente, and drain. Transfer pasta to the slow cooker, and add the butter. Stir until melted.

Stir in the evaporated milk, half and half, 2½ cups of the cheddar cheese, Velveeta, salt, and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours. (Decrease the cooking time if your slow cooker is larger.) In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheddar cheese. After macaroni and cheese has finished cooking, turn the slow cooker setting to warm until ready to serve.

6. Quinoa Enchilada Casserole


Enchilada casserole | iStock.com

Enchilada casseroles are a potluck staple, and you can give yours a healthy makeover by swapping out carb-heavy tortillas for nutritious quinoa. Plus, prepping this dish takes just 10 minutes, since you don’t have to mess with rolling or layering the ingredients. Recipe from Damn Delicious.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4½-ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • ½ cup corn kernels, frozen, canned, or roasted
  • ½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook quinoa according to package directions. As quinoa cooks, lightly coat a 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the cooked quinoa with the enchilada sauce, green chilies, corn, black beans, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in ½ cup cheddar cheese and ½ cup mozzarella cheese.

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Garnish with avocado and tomato, then serve.

7. Easy Mocha Fudge

Chocolate fudge

Chocolaty fudge | iStock.com

Holiday candy making can be a complicated endeavor, but this recipe for mocha fudge is easy enough for anyone to prepare. All you have to do is stir together the ingredients over the stove top, pour into a pan, and wait. The result if rich, delicious fudge that will have people visiting the dessert table for seconds. Recipe from Chowhound.


  • 2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1½ pounds (24 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon flaky finishing salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel

Directions: Cut a 16-inch-long piece of parchment paper, and fold over the edges so it measures 8 inches wide. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with the parchment, seam-side down (the 2 long ends will hang over the edges). Fit the parchment as smoothly as possible into the dish, snugly creasing it into the corners; set the pan aside.

Place the milk, chocolate, espresso powder, and fine salt in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth, about 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with the flaky salt. Place the pan on a wire rack, and let it cool at room temperature until the fudge is set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

To remove the fudge from the pan, run a knife along the 2 exposed edges. Grip the parchment hanging over the edges, and pull it out of the dish. Transfer the fudge to a cutting board, remove the parchment, and discard it. Hold a long, sharp knife under hot running water, wipe with a towel, and slice the fudge, repeating heating and wiping the knife after every slice until you have 64 (1-inch) pieces. The fudge can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.

Follow Megan on Twitter

More from Culture Cheat Sheet: