Potluck Ideas That Are Crazy Delicious! - Fun Cheap or Free (2023)

Potlucks are one of our favorite ways to get together with friends and family. They help take the financial burden and prep off one person and make it fun for everyone! Use these easy potluck ideas the next time you have one come up!

Potluck Ideas That Are Crazy Delicious! - Fun Cheap or Free (1)

You know we are all about making connections with our friends and family. We love a good game night, fun party with friends, or an outdoor get together. The only way it could be better is to make it a potluck so it's easier on the hostess. It's always fun to see what dishes everyone will bring and it's a great way to try your loved ones' favorite recipes!

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We've rounded up the best main dishes, sides and desserts that won't disappoint. These potluck ideas will help you feed a crowd and are budget-friendly, too! Use our tips to choose the right food and you'll be ready for your next potluck when the time comes! First, let's start with…

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HOW TO ASSIGN POTLUCK FOODS

Potluck Ideas That Are Crazy Delicious! - Fun Cheap or Free (2)

If you're the one throwing the potluck, then it's always a good idea to assign the type of food you'd like each family to bring. While we are ALL about the desserts, you don't want to have one main dish, side, and then a ton of desserts! Okay, would that be the end of the world?? Maybe, maybe not… 😉

Once you know who all is coming, you could easily ask each family to bring a certain type of dish. You could also break it down by last name (or first if you all have the same last name!). For example, families A-H bring a main dish, I-R bring a side and S-Z bring a dessert.

Pro Tip: Make sure the names are broken down evenly! If there are 12 families bringing a main dish and only 3 bringing a dessert, you obviously need to even it out. Focus on making sure there's enough of the right kinds of food to serve everybody!

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD

When you're cooking food for a potluck, serve something that won't melt easily. The best foods are those that don't have to be kept ice cold, but can be served cool or warm. Also keep in mind the company that will be eating the foods! Don't make something that's crazy spicy or really out there if the majority of your group doesn't eat that type of food.

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Remember, people will be holding their plate in one hand, while serving with the other. So make something that can easily be served with one hand. They don't necessarily have to be finger foods, but it's best if the food is easy to grab or spoon out one-handed.

Pro Tip: Be sure you take whatever serving utensils you need! Don't count on the hostess to provide serving spoons, spatulas, tongs or forks. If you're worried about somebody else walking away with your things on accident, use painter's tape! Write your initials on some and stick it on your dish and utensils.

POTLUCK MAIN DISH IDEAS

Potluck Ideas That Are Crazy Delicious! - Fun Cheap or Free (3)

Good food and good company is all you need to have a successful potluck! These main courses are pretty darn simple to throw together and they are all delicious. People will be lining up to ask you for the recipe on these bad boys, which is why they're some of our favorite potluck ideas!

  • Ham and Cheese Sliders – I Heart Naptime has come up with the most incredible recipe that makes for a great potluck meal!
  • Chicken Salad – This is one of the easier potluck ideas that you don't even need a recipe for! Start with some canned or shredded chicken, hard boiled eggs, mayo and relish as a base and work your way up from there. Add in diced fruit, such as apples and grapes, if you like it sweet. Or take it savory and add in chopped nuts (as long as nobody is allergic) and onions.
  • Crockpot BBQ Lil Smokies – This one doesn't take many ingredients at all! Line your slow cooker and add in a few packs of lil smokies and your favorite barbecue sauce until they're all coated. That's all it takes! You can also add in some grape jelly for an extra kick, but it's not needed if you're using a sweet barbecue sauce like Sweet Baby Ray's.
  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs – Go oriental with these deliciously easy meatballs!
  • Enchiladas – This is one of those potluck ideas you can clean out your fridge and pantry for! Grab some tortillas, cheese, beans, veggies, cooked meat and anything else you want to add. Roll them up, put some sauce (enchilada, cheese, salsa verde, etc.), more cheese and bake them until they're warm and gooey. To serve more people, pre-cut them in the dish and cut them in half.
  • Sloppy Joe Casserole – Take your favorite Sloppy Joe recipe, add some tater tots and cheese and you've got a casserole that's out of this world and will feed a crowd.
  • Pinwheels – Here's another great idea that allows you to basically use what you've got. All you need is tortillas, cream cheese, some seasonings to make it your desired flavor, lunch meat and cheese. Roll it all up in the tortilla, cut them into slices and you've got a great finger food!
  • Sausage Cheese Balls – A few ingredients and a few minutes and you've got some potluck favorites right here! We suggest making a lot ahead of time and freezing them until you need them. This will make it easier on you the day of.
  • Ham – There's nothing simpler than cooking up a ham in the slow cooker, slicing it up and taking it to a potluck!
  • Taco Pasta Salad – Bulk up your pasta salad and turn it into a unique and different main course with this easy recipe.

Pro Tip: If your recipe calls for adding something that needs to stay crispy and not get soggy, like mixing in chips or adding a garnish on top, don't add them until right before the food is served!

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BEST POTLUCK SIDES

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Give those main dishes a run for their money with these easy potluck side dishes. They all make a ton and are a great way to feed a crowd.

  • Scalloped Potatoes – Cheese + potatoes = YES PLEASE. You won't be disappointed with this quick and easy recipe.
  • Coleslaw – Shredded cabbage, carrots, seasonings and slaw sauce come together quickly to make an easy and refreshing side dish that goes with just about everything.
  • Homemade Salsa – Who doesn't like salsa?! That's why it makes the perfect side dish. Whip up a batch of homemade salsa and take some chips to go along with it. Super easy and everybody will love it.
  • Baked Beans – Beans are cheap and are a great way to feed a crowd! Grab a couple of cans from the store or make your favorite from scratch. Either way, everybody will love them!
  • Potato Salad – You can't go wrong with a delicious potato salad to feed a crowd!
  • Strawberry Spinach Salad – Keep it on the lighter side with this easy and fruity salad. You can make your own dressing or use store-bought, whichever is easier for you!
  • 7-Layer Dip – This is one of our favorite potluck ideas to take it south of the border! You can't go wrong with this dip and it feeds so many people.
  • Mac and Cheese Cups – Macaroni and cheese is always a great idea for a potluck and you really can't go wrong with it. But if you want to take something that's a little more finger food-friendly (say that 5 times fast!), then make it into hand-held cups using this delicious recipe.
  • Tortellini Salad – Now this is a salad we can get behind! You can whip this one up in a breeze and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
  • Twice Baked Potato Casserole – What's better than plain mashed potatoes? Not much, except maybe this twice baked recipe that amps up the flavor by like 1,000!

Pro Tip: If your food needs to stay cold, take it in a cooler full of ice and don't take it out until right before it's time to eat!

EASY POTLUCK DESSERT IDEAS

Potluck Ideas That Are Crazy Delicious! - Fun Cheap or Free (5)

Okay, let's be honest, these are all what we're really here for! Make it a point to save some room, because you don't wanna miss out on these great potluck ideas.

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  • Strawberry Oatmeal Bars – Well Plated has created a delicious and healthier fruit dessert that won't disappoint!
  • Cool Whip Fruit Salad – Sneak in some goodness in this fruit salad recipe that everybody will love.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies – Get rid of your leftover candy in this crazy easy cookie recipe from yours truly!
  • Fruit CobblerA cobbler is a great way to feed a crowd and you can make it during all seasons, using whatever fresh fruit is available. You also can't go wrong using canned!
  • Brownies with Frosting – If you're a brownie and frosting lover, then this one's for you!
  • Chocolate Bundt Cake – A bundt cake is one of our favorite potluck ideas because you can slice it small enough for everybody to get a piece.
  • Snickers Apple SaladThis recipe is not only refreshing, but terribly delicious, too!
  • Banana Bread – Do you prefer banana bread as a breakfast or dessert? Regardless, it's always a crowd pleaser and it's simple to throw together.
  • Regular Brownies – For all you plain brownie lovers, this one's for you!
  • Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies – There's always one in the crowd who doesn't like chocolate (yeah, we don't get it, either!). These copycat cookies are a great way to please them, and anyone else, for that matter!
  • Pie – These are so easy to throw together and no matter what kind you make, they're always gone in a flash! Fruit pies are probably the easiest to make and you don't have to worry about keeping them cold.

Pro Tip: If there's something you can pre-slice to make it easier, do it! This also keeps people from getting too much. It's totally okay to slice them really small, those who really want more can grab a second piece. This will help cut down on waste and make it easier for people to grab with one hand!

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Now that you've got some great potluck ideas, you just have to figure out which one you want to make first! What's your favorite dish to take to potlucks? Let us know in the comments!

Potluck Ideas That Are Crazy Delicious! - Fun Cheap or Free (6)

Want more?

  • Buy your potluck essentials, such as disposable trays and serving utensils at the dollar store! We've got a few more tips on what to buy, and skip, at the dollar store that you don't wanna miss.
  • A baked potato bar is the ultimate cheap and easy party food!
  • Get the kids in the kitchen and make some desserts together!

FAQs

What do you bring to a potluck when you have nothing? ›

The easiest way to contribute to a potluck if you can't cook is by bringing store-bought finger foods like chips, dip, cheese, crackers, potato salad, or a dessert. If you don't mind doing a little prep, chop up whatever fruits are in season and toss them together to make a quick fruit salad.

How can I feed a crowd cheaply? ›

Feed a Large Group for Cheap
  1. Go vegetarian. Not only is it usually cheaper to skip the meat, but you also can make just one meal that will include vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, which makes your life easier.
  2. Grains are your friend. ...
  3. Legumes for the win. ...
  4. Don't make meat the main event. ...
  5. Use cheaper cuts.
13 Oct 2022

What can I bring to a potluck last minute? ›

17 Quick & Tasty Potluck Recipes
  • Kimchi, Shrimp & Soba Salad. ...
  • Mango Cucumber Chile Salad. ...
  • Sriracha-Lime Corn Salad. ...
  • Tomato Salad with Corn, Summer Squash & Roasted Onions. ...
  • Freekeh Salad with Fennel and Mint. ...
  • Southwestern Quinoa Salad by Way of the Pantry. ...
  • Roberto Santibañez' Classic Guacamole.
18 Aug 2019

How do you make a potluck fun? ›

8 Rules for a Successful Potluck Party
  1. Assign people categories, not dishes. ...
  2. Consider a theme. ...
  3. Let everyone know what to expect. ...
  4. Keep it causal. ...
  5. Ready your serving tools. ...
  6. Don't forget the booze. ...
  7. Have extra add-ons on hand. ...
  8. Label and return dishes.
1 May 2019

What can I bring to a potluck without refrigeration? ›

Tailgating Food That Doesn't Require Refrigeration
  • Texas Caviar. Serve this tasty mix of black-eyed peas, bell peppers, pickled jalapenos, and corn (above) as a side dish or with tortilla chips for dipping.
  • Tortelloni-and-Grilled Vegetable Salad. ...
  • Country-Style Three Bean Salad. ...
  • Lemony Potato Salad.
15 Jun 2017

What to bring to a party when you dont have time to cook? ›

33 Delicious No-Cook Dishes To Bring To A Holiday Party
  • Pimento Cheese and Crackers. ...
  • Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwich Canapés. ...
  • Cranberry Almond Rum Balls. ...
  • Persimmon and Burrata Carpaccio. ...
  • Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw. ...
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites. ...
  • Endive Boats. ...
  • Raw, Vegan Chocolate Walnut Fudge.
17 Dec 2013

What should I get for a potluck? ›

Hot Work Potluck Dishes
  • Meatballs. Meatballs are easy to make and travel well. ...
  • Potatoes. Potatoes are an easy food to work with and you can make a variety of dishes with them. ...
  • Dips. Hot dips are a great option. ...
  • Pasta. ...
  • Macaroni and cheese. ...
  • Baked beans. ...
  • Pulled pork or chicken. ...
  • Pierogies.
20 Sept 2022

What is the cheapest food to make for a party? ›

Here are some simple party food ideas on a budget:
  • Soup.
  • Loose meat sandwiches.
  • Baked potatoes.
  • Pasta.
  • Tacos.
  • Make-your-own-pizzas.
  • Cheese and crackers.
  • Vegetables and dip.
6 Aug 2019

What is the cheapest food to make? ›

Meals to Make When You Have No Money
  • 1.) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This one's a bit obvious, but PB&J is a classic staple and a REALLY simple meal. ...
  • 2.) Pasta and jarred sauce. ...
  • 3.) Bean and cheese burritos. ...
  • 4.) Pancakes/waffles. ...
  • 5.) Grilled cheese sandwiches. ...
  • 6.) Chili cheese dogs. ...
  • 7.) Sloppy Joes. ...
  • 8.) Goulash.
27 Oct 2021

What are five finger foods? ›

Here is a short list of the more popular finger foods served at parties:
  • chicken tenders.
  • finger chips.
  • tea sandwiches.
  • fish sticks.
  • mini quiche.
  • onion rings.
  • breadsticks.
  • potato chips.
22 Jun 2021

How do I keep my potluck food warm? ›

Pick up some Chafing Dishes

Chafing dishes are specifically designed to hold your food warm for hours. Although having a set might seem like a luxury, they're not as expensive as you might think. And you can reuse them for so many occasions: Superbowl parties, potlucks, backyard barbecues or dinner parties.

Is it rude not to bring food to a potluck? ›

The official definition of a potluck is “a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish,” not a meal or party to which bringing a dish is optional. The latter is called a dinner party. Offering to bring a dish or a bottle of wine to a dinner party is polite, and you should always do that, too.

How do you keep party guests entertained? ›

Party Tips to Entertain your Guests
  1. TIP #1: Do Not Plan It All by Yourself!
  2. TIP #2: An Attractive Guest Group!
  3. TIP #3: An Energetic Music Playlist!
  4. TIP #4: Pensive Details!
  5. TIP #5: Delicious Food Servings!
  6. TIP #6: Super Sizzling Cocktails!
  7. TIP #7: A Surprise Element!
  8. TIP #8: Activities for Group Bonding!
15 Jul 2021

What to cook for lots of guests? ›

52 Big-Batch Dishes to Feed a Crowd
  1. White Pesto Spinach Lasagna (10 servings) ...
  2. Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas (10 servings) ...
  3. Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni (8 servings) ...
  4. Caramelized Shiitake Mushroom Risotto (8 servings) ...
  5. Korean Beef Tacos (12 servings) ...
  6. Healthy Instant Pot Turkey Chili (8 servings)
19 Oct 2022

What to bring to work with no microwave? ›

15 Easy No-Heat Lunch Recipes You Can Turn to Every Day of the Week
  • Healthy Pesto Chicken and Veggies. ...
  • Avocado Tuna Salad. ...
  • Roasted Sweet Potato Salad. ...
  • Mediterranean One Pot Pasta. ...
  • Chicken Bacon Pressed Picnic Sandwiches with Raspberry Honey Mustard. ...
  • Greek Salmon Salad Bowls. ...
  • Korean Beef Power Bowls.
24 Apr 2022

What foods last a long time without refrigeration? ›

Dried beans, oats, frozen poultry, peanut butter and frozen fruits and vegetables are some examples of nutritious items that have long shelf lives. These foods can be stored in the pantry, freezer or fridge for many months, which is why purchasing them in bulk is a smart choice.

What is the most popular party snack? ›

Our 12 Best, Most Reliable Party Snacks
  • Extreme Meat Pizza Dip. ...
  • No-Bake Peanut Butter Snack Bars. ...
  • Candied Pecans and Cranberries Snack Mix. ...
  • Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels. ...
  • Hummus Cups with Zucchini and Tomato. ...
  • Chocolate Caramel Bacon Popcorn. ...
  • Jalapeño Popper Bread. ...
  • Sweet and Salty Chex™ Mix. Ingredients: 5.
21 Jan 2020

What to bring to a dinner party when they say don't bring anything? ›

If they say, bring nothing, and if you decide to come empty-handed (which is fine!), show up and be helpful. Offer to help pour drinks, clean up dirty plates or empty bottles, or wash and put away dishes. Even though you're not bringing anything, you're contributing by helping them enjoy the party they're hosting.

What to serve for a casual get together? ›

Whether it be an alfresco lunch or a light snack, hosting a casual get-together is a breeze with these fresh and delicious recipes.
  • 1Smoky cheese and bacon dip. Entertaining is easy with this smoky cheese and bacon dip.
  • 2Chinese pork sliders. Entertain with ease with these flavoursome Chinese pork sliders.
  • 3Perfect scones.

What is the cheapest food to serve at meetings and events? ›

The cheapest food to cater is any rice or noodle-based cultural cuisine. Mexican, Indian, and Thai dishes are delicious and affordable. Or, if you're hosting an event during the day, serve brunch and breakfast items.

What food can you bring on a place? ›

Bread. Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible.

How much should you spend on a potluck? ›

Make sure the amount of servings you make is still enough for all of the guests to try a bite, but most nights it shouldn't cost you more than $30 to make your dish. Even if you do have to go out and pick up something for the party, you can still grab something delicious for a reasonable price.

What is a traditional potluck? ›

A potluck is a communal gathering where each guest or group contributes a different, often homemade, dish of food to be shared.

What are the 4 main food types that should be on your plate? ›

Color-coded sections — green for veggies, red for fruits, orange for grains, purple for protein, and blue for dairy — show at a glance how much of these foods to eat. MyPlate reminds us to: Choose variety: The best meals have a balance of items from different food groups.

What are four items that are commonly requested by guests? ›

10 Essential Guest Room Items
  • Extra towels, blankets, and pillows. Everyone has different needs. ...
  • Wastebasket. ...
  • Clock. ...
  • Space for clothes. ...
  • Door hooks (over-the-door or door-mounted ones) ...
  • Iron. ...
  • Tissues. ...
  • Basic toiletries.
13 Dec 2018

What to do to impress guests? ›

Ways to Impress Your Guests
  1. Make Your Porch Presentable. The porch, or your entryway if you live in an apartment building, is the first thing guests see. ...
  2. Keep Everything Clean and Neat. ...
  3. Have a Hangout Area. ...
  4. Prepare the Food Ahead of Time. ...
  5. Make a Signature Drink. ...
  6. Set a Beautiful Table. ...
  7. Serve Snacks. ...
  8. Put up Decorations.
11 Sept 2017

What do you feed an out of town guest? ›

Leave a basket of grab-and-go snacks.

Fill a little basket with foods like crackers, trail mix, granola bars, pretzels and bottles of Bai drinks so people can grab things on their way out the door.

What is the #1 snack in the world? ›

As this infographic shows, Cookies are the most popular snack food, with 59 percent of snackers saying they eat the sugary comfort food regularly. Potato chips came in a close second (58 percent), far ahead of their healthier vegetable cousins at just 24 percent.

What is the cheapest thing to cook? ›

Meals to Make When You Have No Money
  • 1.) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This one's a bit obvious, but PB&J is a classic staple and a REALLY simple meal. ...
  • 2.) Pasta and jarred sauce. ...
  • 3.) Bean and cheese burritos. ...
  • 4.) Pancakes/waffles. ...
  • 5.) Grilled cheese sandwiches. ...
  • 6.) Chili cheese dogs. ...
  • 7.) Sloppy Joes. ...
  • 8.) Goulash.
27 Oct 2021

What do you grab for a potluck? ›

53 Easy Potluck Ideas for Work Gatherings
  • Chips and dip. Chips and dips are always safe options. ...
  • Vegetable tray and dip. Most food stores sell prepared vegetable trays with dips. ...
  • Fruit tray. ...
  • Sandwich platter. ...
  • Cheese tray. ...
  • Cookies. ...
  • Cupcakes. ...
  • Drinks.
20 Sept 2022

What can you cook for $5? ›

10 MEALS for $5 – Quick and Easy Cheap Dinner Ideas
  • Cinnamon Roll French Bread Bake. ...
  • Sloppy Joes. ...
  • Broccoli Cheddar Soup. ...
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. ...
  • Breakfast Quesadillas. ...
  • Sausage and Sweet Potatoes. ...
  • English Muffin Bagel Pizza: ...
  • Easy Baked Potatoes:
3 Aug 2022

What is the cheapest food to survive on? ›

Cheapest Foods to Stock Up On
  1. Rice. Rice is a staple for over half the word and for good reason. ...
  2. Beans. Like rice, beans are another staple dish enjoyed by most of the world. ...
  3. Pasta. Another classic staple dish, pasta is popular because it keeps very well and is easy to cook. ...
  4. Lettuce. ...
  5. Spices. ...
  6. Potatoes. ...
  7. Frozen Chicken. ...
  8. Oats.
15 Aug 2022

What store bought item to bring to a potluck? ›

If you don't have time to cook, there's a world of store-bought food that is acceptable to bring to a potluck. Cheese and crackers, a veggie tray from the produce section or a box of cookies from the in-house bakery are all good options.

How do you have a successful potluck? ›

  1. Assign Guests Categories of Food. This is arguably the most critical potluck party tip. ...
  2. Make Sure You Have Enough Drinks. ...
  3. Bring Food That Travels Easily. ...
  4. Plan on Smaller Portions. ...
  5. Pack Food in Ready-to-Serve Containers. ...
  6. Bring the Utensils. ...
  7. Bring a Ready-to-Serve Dish if You Can. ...
  8. Be Aware of Dietary Restrictions.
30 Jul 2022

How much food do I need for a party of 20? ›

The easiest rule is the “One Pound Rule.” Provide one pound of food for each adult guest (not including drinks or dessert).

Do you bring a gift to a potluck? ›

Potlucks. ‍If you're bringing food to share, no need to bring an additional hostess gift. That said, you can never go wrong offering your host something small to show your gratitude.

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