panel member doesn’t realize I’m an expert, favorite work potluck dishes, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Panel member thinks I need remedial resources when I’m actually an expert

I’m a young-looking professional who recently had to present to a panel of community members. The context of the panel is that they have to approve something that my client needs approved.

Most members of the panel knew me and my work. I am an area expert in a branch of, let’s say, llama grooming and while I introduced myself as such, I did not go into details about my expertise in the interest of time (I had limited time to present and take questions). One of the panel members who I do not know (turns out she was from another area) was aggressive and skeptical about my expertise during the presentation. I handled it as best I could (and got several compliments after, so I think I did well).

After the panel approved my request (with her dissenting), she contacted me via email with some “resources,” aka very low level training (think “What is a Llama?”) about the subject area I am an expert in. I am mildly amused and slightly offended.

I don’t know how to reply. Saying thank you feels fake and frankly, I may have to deal with her again, so I’d like her to know my expertise. But saying “I know this and in fact teach Advanced Llama Grooming at the local graduate school” feels wrong too. Any guidance? Part of me wants to rub her face in my expertise, but that part of me is not professional.

If you didn’t need to deal with her again, I’d say to just let it go (and not even feel obligated to reply at all). But since you might encounter her in the future, it does make sense to set the record straight about your expertise.

One option: “Thanks for following up with me. I teach Advanced Llama Grooming at X University so I’ll add this to my pool of resources for students new to the subject.”

2. Should I tell my fantastic boss I’m job searching?

My boss is amazing. She is hands down the best boss I have ever had. We have a great relationship. She knows I am unhappy with the way our unit is viewed and paid. She told me as my boss she does not want to lose me but as my friend she wants me to be happy and valued. She shared she has the same feelings as our leader and is treated the same as undervalued, underpaid, and overworked. I have been looking for a new job and have found many paying much more. She has been working hard to get our unit more money.

I don’t want her to be blindsided as I assured her I felt this was where I should be in spite of the issues because it was true at the time but it no longer is the case. I also don’t want to mess anything up if she is able to get us more money and I am unable to find a job I really want. Should I tell her I am looking?

Nope. There’s too much risk of it coming back to bite you in some way — not that she’d necessarily push you out earlier than you wanted to leave (although that is always a possibility, even with a manager who you think wouldn’t do it), but it could affect things like what kinds of projects you get, how much she goes to bat to get you more money, and even whether you end up on a layoff list or not (because managers are humans and can think, “I have to cut someone, and I know Jane is trying to leave anyway but Heather really wants to stay”). If she’s a good boss, she’ll understand why you didn’t take that risk.

If there were issues you genuinely felt your boss could fix if she knew about them, I’d suggest talking to her about those — but it sounds like she knows about the issues and her hands are tied.

3. How to be transparent as a manager when I doubt my company’s commitment to better pay

Ever since I was a junior employee at the company seven years ago, we have been saying that there is a lack of transparency and that decisions are made and discussed at the senior management level, but then don’t get passed down to the people they impact. Since I took on a management position, I have been trying to change that and ensure that when I hear about company news, like new hires, resignations, and changes of direction for the company, I communicate these to my team members and ensure other managers do the same.

The latest thing is salaries. As I am sure is a problem everywhere, the cost of living has massively increased and salaries aren’t being increased to match it. Everyone I speak to is unhappy about it and something needs to change or our recent swath of resignations will continue. Last time we raised this, our head of HR told managers there would be a pay review in a few months time. They said this would be to benchmark against other similar companies and “ensure we remain competitive,” but that’s a joke as our salaries are probably around $10k below market rates across the board, even before the cost of living increase. They said we should communicate this to our teams if it will help with their concerns about salaries.

How do I do this? If I trusted the benchmarking process, I wouldn’t have a problem saying it was happening, and that they could expect to find out in X months how it will impact them. But it might not change anything and we could end up just dangling a pay raise in front of them to keep them here, and then taking it away after our busy period is over. This would probably be worse than saying nothing, but if we say nothing and people continue to leave over salary, then the managers will get the blame for not having told people that there are pay reviews upcoming.

This is just one in a long string of things that “will definitely help” but end up being delivered in a way that is just insulting to staff, and so I really want to avoid that.

You can share the info while making it clear that you can’t promise any particular outcome. For example: “I can tell you that I and other managers have raised the pay issue with upper management and we’ve been told the company will review all salaries in August to ensure our pay is competitive. I can’t promise what, if anything, will come of that, but we’ve been asked to share that it’s coming.” If you want, you can add, “I don’t want to lose you over salary, but I’m limited in what I can do and I fully understand that you need to do what’s best for you and that there might be better opportunities out there.”

4. Simple but popular potluck contributions

What are some good options for home-cooked potluck food for work? I don’t really like to do store-bought (but I don’t mind others doing so, that’s just my own preference), but I often work too hard in cooking something nice (such as Korean bbq, Jamaican jerk chicken, etc). Do you have suggestions for something simpler and less labor intensive that will be a smash hit?

It’s Friday — let’s throw this out to readers for simpler stuff they’ve seen be smash hits at work potlucks!

{ 1,125 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Let’s put all the potluck ideas here. Remember, the idea isn’t just about wildly popular potluck contributions, but simpler ones. Thanks!

    1. Rara Avis*

      I tend to do desserts for potlucks since I’m a better baker than cook, but some suggestions: tortellini with sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes. Deviled eggs. Watermelon feta salad. Caprese skewers. Seven-layer dip. Homemade hummus with pita bread.

      1. Zelda*

        Honestly, just sugar snap peas. I have seen many a crowd plow through bowls and platters of these things because they’re so dang delicious. A little sweet, reasonably nutritious, and a refreshing contrast to all the casseroles. If the LW *wants* to put in a little effort to a special dip to go along with them, homemade hummus is indeed very nice.

        1. Radical Edward*

          I came here to suggest something else but honestly all I want is sugar snap peas and hummus now! (Added bonus: the peas are food allergy/dietary restriction-friendly, and the hummus can be too!)

          1. Double 0 eight*

            Just don’t put tahini in the hummus if you want to be allergy free (tahini contains sesame)

            1. Lana Kane*

              As the parent of a child allergic to sesame, thank you for pointing this out. It’s one of the most prevalent allergies but so many people are surprised when I tell them.

              1. Unaccountably*

                I had no idea it was that prevalent either! I’m glad to know it so I can be more careful.

              2. Ann Perkins*

                Sesame allergy parent here too! I don’t come across other people with a sesame allergy much. Sesame-free hummus would a great addition, though the likelihood of someone having a sesame allergy in an office is pretty slim.

            2. Radical Edward*

              Thank you for the reminder, one of my friends also has a sesame allergy and I honestly forgot about the tahini because we don’t use it! (I use loads of garlic, which some might find undesirable in a potluck dish for a different reason…)

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                Well, it will help you weed out the vampires.

                Though my husband gets fun breathing issues from it. Hmm, maybe I need to put him out in the sun and see what happens…

          2. Chilipepper Attitude*

            I’m a vegan and I’m so surprised to see several recommendations for sugar snap peas. I don’t particularly like them and cannot believe people would eat even one at a potluck!! It goes to show how different our tastes can be!

            I don’t know if you think it is simple but I find “real” max and cheese to be a big crowd pleaser. Like sauce made with a roux and baked with a golden crust. That was my pre-vegan go to for a pot luck.

            1. Minimal Pear*

              Agreed on the nice baked mac ‘n’ cheese. I’m allergic to dairy and I still make a killer baked mac ‘n’ cheese because it’s SO good for when I’m having a dinner party with my friends. It also gives me a great reason to push leftovers on them, since I can’t reuse any of the ingredients except for the pasta! (I am forever trying to find sneaky ways to feed my friends.)

            2. No longer working*

              I’m plant-based and a really easy contribution I’ve brought is a 5 Bean Salad. The beans have lots of protein so it can be eaten as a main or a side. What can be easier than opening up cans of beans? OK, you also chop a few crunchy vegetable and make a dressing. Preparing it the night before lets the flavors meld, and on potluck day you don’t have to worry about heating it up. There are lots of recipes on the internet for it.

              Pardon me if others have suggested this already, I haven’t read thru all the comments yet!

              1. Just Another Cog*

                I would totally eat just the 5 bean salad you brought to a pot luck, No Longer Working!

                1. Just Another Cog*

                  Yeah! That bean salad recipe looks just like the one my Dad made when I was a kid. Out of a family of seven, he and I were the only two who were crazy about it. I will print that recipe and use it. Thanks! Suddenly, I have a craving for bean salad.

              2. Joielle*

                Seconding this! (Or, not sure if mine is exactly the same, but definitely a bean-based salad.) If you google “cowboy caviar” you’ll find lots of recipes for what I’m thinking of. People can eat it as a salad or scoop onto tortilla chips.

                1. Dawn*

                  Yes! This is my go-to for potlucks because it’s so easy and it doesn’t have to stay hot/cold.

              3. nobadcats*

                Moosewood Inn Cooks at Home has a perfect vegetarian/vegan black bean soup recipe that can be easily expanded. I’ve made it for years and it’s only one hour to make. We usually treat it mostly as a dip with tortilla chips, loading avos, yogurt, and cheese on the top and only using a spoon at the end. But you can skip all the add-ons we used if you’re vegan.

                I’ve also had great success with the white bean and roasted mushroom soup I got from

                Also, don’t underestimate the power of a simple batch of lemon rice. Easy to make, and some people might appreciate that as a side (be sure to add a little bit of lemon zest to be fancy).

                1. nobadcats*

                  @tessa, please let me know how you like it! It’s classic, hearty recipe that can serve both veggie and non-veggie friends. I believe the last time I made it was for my parents and my best couple friend. I also made some bread for bruschetta to have on the side with it, as well as having some bread to soak up the broth (no one was gluten-free in that group).

                  You can also use a roasted turnip or parsnip to add more flavor.

            3. pancakes*

              I often see them with dips when they’re in season. They’re delicious and crunchy, I’d be surprised if people wouldn’t eat them if served.

            4. Rockette J Squirrel*

              Agree! I always add a package of the shredded “Italian mixed” cheese to mine. It gets rave reviews. When I make it, I make triple the amount, and divide into thirds – so I can always have it ready. It’s also a good one to take to a grieving/sick family. Easy to eat comfort food!

          3. Frog&Toad*

            FYI, someone in my house IS allergic to sugar snap peas, they are peripherally related to peanuts.

            1. Radical Edward*

              Thank you for pointing this out. I have several close friends with peanut allergies of varying severity, but somehow peas have never been an issue that’s crossed my radar (at least it’s not an issue for them). I will be sure to remember!

          4. AMK*

            Umm…peas and hummus are/contain allergens. My son is allergic to peas, chickpeas, and sesame so this would be an allergic nightmare for him. I think it is great as a contribution to a potluck, but selling it as allergy friendly is inaccurate.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              My friend has a cauliflower hummus she’s made since the ’80s, the cauli is roasted with olive oil (no tahini) and middle eastern spices. She runs it through the food processor and adds pimento and olive oil, or fresh basil and fire-roasted tomatoes from her garden.
              It goes fast.

                1. Jerusalem Artichoke*

                  Pet peeve here: The word “hummus” means “chickpea/garbanzo bean.” If your dip is made out of something else, it’s not hummus. If it’s made with tahini in it, it’s creamy and delicious (and a problem for people with sesame allergies). If it’s made with something else in it in addition to the chickpeas (chocolate? pumpkin spice? beets?)… well… let’s just say there’s no accounting for taste.

            2. Radical Edward*

              You’re right, I’m sorry about that. I was too wrapped up in thinking about egg/dairy allergies (that’s me and a lot of my friends and their kids). I’ll be more careful in the future.

            3. MCR*

              Literally any food can be an allergen. This is why things shouldn’t be advertised as “allergen-free” but rather “top 8 allergen free” or the like. Also goes to show the importance of listing ingredients in a little label on your potluck contribution! I say this as a mom of a son allergic to coconut, which is a rare allergy and used in a lot of dishes labeled “allergen-free.”

          5. JSPA*

            Pea allergies are rare, but can be just as intense as those to other legumes. True for people and pets, and based on the false assumption that peas are always the safe option, It’s getting harder and harder to find pet foods as well as pre-prep vegan dishes for people, that don’t have peas, pea protein, or pea fiber. This isn’t intended as a not everybody can have X– Sugar snap peas are wonderful and you should absolutely bring them– But no food should be promoted as being “non allergenic” (not only is it not true, it is biological nonsense; practically anything can be an allergen.)

        2. Elle*

          Or the even simpler hummus option – store bought hummus decanted into a pretty bowl, drizzled with some good quality olive oil!

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            OP doesn’t want to buy something ready-made.
            But hummus is simple to make: you just put a jar of well-rinsed chick peas, a spoonful of tahini, the juice of a lemon, olive oil, crushed garlic and seasoning into the blender and blend!
            Personally I like to serve it with carrot and cucumber sticks, and I’ll add aubergine caviar, but that’s more of a pain to make.

            1. Justme, The OG*

              That makes grainy hummus. Boil the chickpeas (yes they’re already cooked) in water and baking soda first so the skins soften.

              I’m a hummus snob, I admit. But this way is so much better.

              1. BethDH*

                It’s even easier to put the cooked chickpeas in a bowl of water to cover and sort of rub them between your fingers/palms. The skins just rub off and then float while the cleaned ones fall to the bottom.
                This helps with graininess especially if you don’t have one of those fancy super blenders, but it also seems to create a lighter texture.

              2. spartanfan*

                Whipping the tahini and lemon juice in your food processor for a few minutes by itself adds some nice fluffiness to hummus as well

              3. Calyx*

                My life was changed when I read the Milk Street recipe for hummus. I can never go back. (Not affiliated with them; just a customer.)

            2. English Rose*

              Ooh, I just had to google aubergine caviar – never heard of it/had it before, going to try it this weekend, thanks!

                1. Esmeralda*

                  If you can grill the eggplant it’s spectacular. I oil whole eggplant and throw it on the grill when my hubs is done grilling whatever we’re having for dinner. Turn it once so it chars all over. Let cool.

                2. Anhaga*

                  I was about to mention baba ganoush as well. It can be really good even without tahini added if you’ve grilled the eggplant.

          2. Chapka*

            I often bring big bowls of homemade hummus and baba ghanoush with store-bought pitta to potlucks and it’s always gone in a flash. Especially appreciated by vegetarians, as most people who cook something homemade tend to focus on meat.

            The only time-consuming part of the process is peeling the chickpeas, which is optional but improves the texture.

            1. Derivative Poster*

              I’ve tried peeling chickpeas and don’t know if I could bring myself to do it again. I’d rather spend the time on homemade pita bread, which is easy and blows people’s minds – especially if you can arrange for it to be served warm.

              1. Yay hummus!!*

                See if you can find chana dal – they’re split peeled chickpeas. (Smitten Kitchen tip – not my original idea!)

                Also roasted chick peas and yogurt on grilled eggplant. Yum! Another Smitten Kitchen favorite.

          3. Needs Coffee*

            Baked ziti.

            Or, if your office potlucks include bringing in hardware and you have and Instant Pot or similar, “baked” ziti. Takes about 20 minutes and you can make it from scratch just before the food goes out.

        3. sb51*

          Another really easy and delicious dip that a lot of people might not have had before is muhummara, which is a roasted red pepper dish. (It does require walnuts and bread crumbs so it’s not nut or gluten free but it is vegan as long as the bread used for the crumbs is vegan.)

          I brought it and a fancy dessert to a work potluck a while back and the dip was the one I got tons of comments on.

          If there will be a way to heat it and people will be able to sit down (harder to juggle multiple vessels if it’s a standing party), soups can nice—chili, etc.

          Tortilla pie, which is basically “make enchiladas but layer like lasagna to make it faster.

          1. LPUK*

            I love Muhummara and its a favourite pick at my local lebanese restaurant – have you got a recipe you would recommend?

            1. sb51*

              Mine is:
              1 12-oz jar roasted red peppers (2 peppers if roasting yourself)
              3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
              2/3 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted
              1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
              2 Tbsp Aleppo pepper (or medium heat gochugaru, they are very similar)
              1/2 tsp salt
              2 cloves garlic
              3 Tbsp olive oil

              Add everything except the olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth (it takes a while). Drizzle in oil while blending to desired consistency, amount is approximate.

              I am the sort of person who usually doubles or triples garlic, fyi, but this dip you want to let the other stuff shine, so it’s intentionally not garlicky.

        4. Lucy P*

          Do you just steam them? How do you cook sugar snap peas? Any seasoning?

          We have one person in the office who is vegetarian, no egg, dairy OK (sorry don’t know the technical name for that). It’s often hard to come up with something that is all inclusive. This sounds like a good idea.

          On the other hand, we have a few other people who aren’t vegetarians but lean more towards veggie dishes, but they prefer theirs well seasoned and decorated (not just a plain veggie, but something else mixed with it).

          1. Aldabra*

            Sugar snap peas are meant to be eaten raw, so just wash them. For a potluck I’d take a minute and trim off both ends. It’s much nicer that way, but you won’t see that on a generic grocery store platter, so it gives it that special touch.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              Yes, sugar snap peas are best raw. I like making a pasta salad with cold cooked shells, or rotini, sliced olives, croutons or nuts, paprika, (or any red pepper) onions (scallions!) and either olive oil and cider vinegar or mayo. Fresh sliced mushrooms, and since I’m lazy, a bag of frozen peas. Add the frozen peas to the salad straight from the freezer; they’ll thaw but keep the salad cold.

              Another thing I make is called “Funeral Potatoes”. Here, though, we have to call it “Potluck Potato Casserole”, and I add green onions and peas.

              1. Carol the happy elf*

                Pimento from the little jars or dollar-store roasted peppers is a cheap way to add flavor and color.

            2. MEH Squared*

              I did not know this about sugar snap peas and have always steamed them. I bought some today to eat them raw with hummus. Thanks!

          1. nutella fitzgerald*

            I use a very similar dressing (lighter on the miso and a little dash of sugar, maybe a scant half teaspoon, instead of the honey) and mix it with bagged broccoli/carrot slaw! Like the recipe mentions, I was searching for a copycat recipe for the salad dressing they use at sushi places.

        5. Clemgo3165*

          I would add something similar. My two faves from past potlucks are blanched asparagus with a balsamic drizzle and the display of brightly colored fresh veggies, served standing in what I think was a silverware caddy. The veggies came with hummus and ranch for dipping.

          Now to the store to grab some sugar snap peas!

        6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I tend to go for veggie trays – but I make my own because then you can customize it for your group – more tomatoes, no peppers, more peppers, no carrots, etc. but you always need the peas!

          1. the deal*

            I like to include raw sweet potatoes to my veggie trays. Looks and tastes a lot like a slightly dry carrot, and very healthy.

            1. Mac*

              Wait, what? I for sure thought you had to cook sweet potatoes or else they were poisonous. I feel like I’ve been lied to my whole life.

              1. Nina*

                That’s potato potatoes – raw they’re slightly toxic, green ones are more toxic. It’s the solanine. Cooking breaks it down. Sweet potatoes don’t have solanine.

        7. nutella fitzgerald*

          I was packing my lunch for today and threw in a few SSPs but kept adding more because it didn’t look like enough. Ended up with the rest of the bag and all but 4 made it to my belly!

        8. Meri*

          Or if you want to do something sweet along the same lines, fresh fruits plus some kind of dip are ALWAYS popular.

      2. SG*

        Watermelon feta salad with fresh mint added is something I’ve brought and it’s always a huge hit! Also a simple salad with mixed greens, pear, either fresh chevre or gorgonzola, walnuts (could be on the side for nut allergies) and dress with only olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I like to bring green salads too. They are a popular alternative to heavier (but delicious) casseroles. For large gatherings, I use prebagged greens and sliced/diced veggies to speed prep ( although I always rinse again).

          1. Emilia Bedelia*

            Salads are my go to! I was in the same position as OP as wanting to do something better than just chips or napkins, but then I got bitter about the amount of effort I was putting in.
            A bag of greens, a bottle of dressing and some fun toppings always goes over well, and everyone will eat it (even if it’s begrudgingly taking a spoonful “just to be healthy”). Obviously, leave off any potentially allergenic toppings

        2. Alexander Graham Yell*

          My friend’s dad made watermelon feta salad for her birthday last summer and literally unwrapped it for me early because I’d never tried it and he knew it wouldn’t last. Holy wow it was incredible!

          1. Higher Ed*

            I’ve made a Greek version of the layered Taco dip. It has olives, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and hummus. Serve with pita chips.

            1. Rose*

              Oooo I never would have thought of doing this w hummus. For potluck I usually do a Greek salad with olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, olive oil, and some spices. Fresh, easy, flavorful, vegetarian, gluten free, and somewhat calorie dense (I often struggle to find enough calories w lots of veggie heat vegetarian options).

            2. Andria Dutcher*

              The layered taco dip is always a huge hit, particularly when served with Fritos Scoops.

        3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          I make a very simple dish of watermelon, cucumber and cilantro. Add a tiny bit of salt and toss. Very good.

        4. nobadcats*

          Have you ever tried watermelon feta salad with garlic scapes? Very seasonal, but equally delicious!

      3. Not Your Sweetheart*

        My go-to is a vinegrette Cole slaw. No mayonnaise, so it won’t spoil. Vinegar, sugar, celery seed, black pepper, and ground mustard. Mix over low heat, cool, and pour over cabbage mix (I buy the bags of Cole slaw mix, but you can make your own)

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          And as a person allergic to eggs, I appreciate the vinaigrette versions of salads a lot!

        2. Kiwi*

          I have egg allergies and it never occured to me to look at eggless coleslaw! Oh I am trying this recipe this week, thank you!

          1. Sylvan*

            By the way, for the other commenters with egg allergies, you can also use this vinaigrette in potato salad. My family uses something close to it in chicken salad.

            1. MM*

              My family’s potato salad is also mustard vinaigrette based. This may be a bit out there for some, but when I make tuna salad I make it this way too. (I just don’t like mayo!)

              1. DaisyGJ*

                My husband’s family does a vinaigrette based potato salad that they say is Austrian. It’s just boiled potatoes, thinly sliced raw onion (I tend to use red onion or shallot so it’s not as strong), fresh dill and vinaigrette.

        3. anne of mean gables*

          Higher effort but also delicious – instead of bagged coleslaw mix, buy a whole cabbage, cut into quarters and oil, then char on the grill. Shred the quarters, add shredded carrot/onion (optional) and then add the vinaigrette.

          (also, the “asian coleslaw” version – carrot/ginger/rice vinegar (tons of google-able recipes for this) dressing over the cabbage mix, add green onion, top with sesame seeds. this is in my fridge right now and it’s unbelievably good).

        4. Curmudgeon in California*

          Allergic to celery seed, but the rest sounds great. (I have to avoid Mayo/Miracle Whip since most of it is made with soybean oil, which I’m also allergic to.)

          1. WhodatMajority*

            Trader Joes has a very good mayo made from Canola oil. (from a fellow Soybean allergy)

          2. Never Boring*

            If you have an immersion blender, you can make mayo in about 90 seconds with any oil you want. Just google “immersion blender mayo.” We rarely use mayo, but we always have the raw ingredients in the house (oil, eggs, lemon juice or vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt). Better than anything you can buy in a jar, and you can add herbs or whatever you like.

      4. IAmBaconYou*

        My number one potluck hit is candied bacon. (Obviously ymmv as pork is a no for some). Lay bacon out on a baking sheet (I also put it on a rack) and sprinkle with brown sugar and a little cayenne. Drizzle with a tiny bit of maple syrup. Bake until crispy. Then I just serve it on a platter. It’s a huge hit.

        Side note: a coworker friend refuses to eat work potluck because he can’t be sure who does and does not let their cats walk all over their kitchen counters. I find this to be such a specific reason that I think about it every time potlucks come up.

        1. Something Punny Here*

          I’ve brought in a crock pot, put in a couple packages of hot dogs standing upright no water and set it on low from 8am- 12pm they were perfect by lunch. It was a big big hit.

        2. Esmeralda*

          Haha, yeah, we go to an annual party where I bring that (I am now required to bring it). 1 lb the first year. 2 lbs the 2nd year. I’m holding at three pounds of bacon = I skim off a good handful before taking it to the party. I make some with chile flakes and some without. It’s soooo good with the chile!

        3. Khatul Madame*

          The coworker may be allergic to cats, so the concern is not that weird.
          On the other hand, some people are hung up on the fact that the cat does not wash her feet after using the litterbox, so cats walking on the counters are gross.

          1. None The Wiser*

            As a cat owner (ownee?), it is my policy to assume that the little beasts dance on the counters when I am away, so I always sanitize them prior to food prep.

            1. bananaramafofana*

              Definitely ownee (is that a word? Whatever, it fits.) Knowing my fur beast, it’s safe to assume that the entire house has had a cat wandering around it, so I also clean the counters/island/table and use clean cutting boards when prepping food. I love her but she walks in her toilet, I get why people would be icked by it lol.

              1. Cat Defender*

                In all fairness to felines, they lick their paws constantly with their Brillo like tongues. If your house ain’t dirty, their paws shouldn’t be dirty.

                That said, cats can be trained to not jump on counters.

                1. Christmas Carol*

                  No, but cats CAN be trained not to jump on counters when humans are present.

                2. Cat Defender*

                  Christmas Carol, that’s what I meant, but thanks anyway/s. My cat doesn’t jump on the counters around me but hey, I don’t know what she does otherwise. I imagine there’s little interest in the counter is no cooking is going on. Geez.

            2. Not a mouse*

              Same, mine got on the counters and I never managed to train them not to. They only stopped when they got too old and arthritic to jump that far. So food prep begins with counter cleaning. I have to admit that in general I share that person’s wariness regarding potlucks and other people’s kitchen sanitation, it’s just not cat-specific.

              I think tabouli was the most successful thing I ever took to a potluck. But I don’t cook much so tbh I’m usually the one bringing the cheap-ass rolls.

          2. Unaccountably*

            My cat once straight-up walked out of the bathroom where his litterbox is, flopped down on the bed beside me, and stuck his paw in my coffee. Fortunately the coffee wasn’t that hot, but wow, was he offended when I got up to make another cup and he lost his paw warms.

          3. Princesss Sparklepony*

            Adopt super senior cats. Jumping on the bed or couch is about the most they will do. One of mine liked to be lifted onto both…

        4. PhyllisB*

          I’m the Dessert Queen at my church, too!! (Retired so no more work functions.) However, when I’m pushed for time or just out of ideas, a fresh fruit platter is always a hit. You can make a sweet cream cheese dip to go with if you like. Occasionally I will buy a tray already made up (that’s one thing I don’t mind taking that’s store bought.) Grocery stores with a good deli area can make beautiful ones that are reasonably priced.) Also another thing I’ve made that’s a big hit is chicken salad with green grapes and sugared pecans or walnuts. You can buy canned chicken to make it with, and it’s easy peasy. Set a platter of croissants with it and there you go. One other suggestion, most potlucks are casserole heavy, but there’s not many vegetables or salads. You could make a large green salad or cook a simple vegetable. I live in the South, so peas, butter beans, or snap beans (green beans) are always appreciated. Whatever is popular where you live. Another favorite is baked beans.

          1. nobadcats*

            For a dessert, an easy vegan one is Anthony Bourdain’s blueberry and lime sugar. It’s his Les Halles cookbook. Very little prep, and a refreshing dash in usually heavy potluck choices.

          2. kmd*

            Former dessert queen here too! (former because I now WFH full time). My potluck go-to is either homemade chocolate chip cookies, homemade oatmeal butterscotch cookies, or usually both.

            Another big hit we had at potlucks include crock pots full of meatballs (homemade or store bought, your choice. And a friend does a beef roast in a crockpot, covered in itailan salad dressing, then pull it and put on buns withprovolone cheese.

          3. bryeny*

            World’s easiest dip for a fruit platter: vanilla yogurt, straight outta the container. Greek yogurt is best as it’s thicker. You can fancy it up if you like (fresh mint is nice), but there’s no real need.

        5. Jessica Ganschen*

          There’s always turkey bacon as an alternative! I know it’s not the same texture/fat content, but I think those of us who don’t eat pork either have never had pork to compare it to in the first place or are resigned or indifferent about it.

        6. Bookworm*

          Similar food item: bacon wrapped dates. Get a couple packages of dates (deglet or medjool are the kinds I’ve use) either save yourself some work and get the pitted ones or pit them yourself, wrap each date in bacon (depending on date size you can usually cut your bacon strips in half). Bake in the oven on a wire rack on a baking sheet until the bacon’s done, flipping them over partway if you feel like it. You can fancy this up by stuffing them with something (ex: cheese, nut) or by glazing them with something (ex: herbs and honey) but it’s honestly unnecessary. It’s becoming a tradition of mine to make these as “kitchen snacks” for big cooking holidays like thanksgiving to tide over me and the people doing all the meal prep (and entice people in so they can be pressed into chopping/peeling/dishwashing)

          1. kupo!*

            I’m not sure why, but I’ve never considered making these at home! They’re one of my absolute favorites to get at restaurants, so I guess I always just assumed they’d be trickier to make. Next time I’ve got an event to bring snackies to, I’ll give it a try! (Assuming I remember in time. I frequently end up just stopping into a grocery store with a cheese counter and making a cheese board…)

          2. Umiel12*

            I do these too, but I use prunes instead of dates. I also stuff them with cream cheese and an almond. People go crazy for them. They’re always the first thing to go.

        7. Lemonlime*

          I do the candied bacon, snap them into chunks and put them as a garnish to deviled eggs. They take the Devilled eggs to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL- while spreading the bacon out over lots and lots of servings.

          1. pancakes*

            What time should I come over? Just kidding. I have a box of dates and will be trying this for sure.

          2. pancakes*

            Sorry, somehow I thought you were slicing up dates wrapped in bacon? Also something I’ll be thinking about, hmm.

        8. Lemonlime*

          I make the candied bacon and then break it up and put chunks of it to garnish deviled eggs! It takes the eggs to a WHOLE new level. Obviously for a potluck you can omit the bacon on some if you care to. However my entire extended family has no qualms against bacon and adding it as garnish makes two dozen eggs disappear quickly.

        9. New Senior Mgr*

          Oh my gosh I have a friend who has said the exact same thing. He lives on the Upper West Side NYC. He’s obsessed with people allowing their pets to roam in the kitchen. We could have the same friend? Whenever I go to a party or potluck I think of him. Too funny.

        10. LoJo*

          I totally agree. If one has indoor pets, they think nothing of pet hair floating about or not washing their hands after playing with said pets. I refuse potlucks.

      5. kittycontractor (new job new username!)*

        The two things that always went first at my last office was butter cake and devilled eggs. Even when we had multiples of the eggs, there was typically none left by the time everyone got through.

        1. JustaTech*

          Tip for making deviled eggs easier is to put the filling in a piping bag (or a zip-top bag and snip off a corner). It’s so much easier and faster than trying to fill the eggs with a spoon.

          And if you have a piping bag and fancy frosting tips you can make the eggs look extra fancy.

      6. Annika Hansen*

        I had deviled eggs at my wedding. They were wildly popular. A lot people said that they hadn’t had them in ages and forgot how much they enjoyed them. You can get always make a couple of varieties of them, too. However, one thing I have to say is know your audience. I switched departments several years ago within the same organization. They have completely different tastes. One group liked a variety of foods. The other enjoyed jello (gelatin) “salads.”

        1. Dasein9*

          My silly brain is now picturing a potluck table of nothing but jello salads! Probably very pretty, but not filling.

        1. bananaramafofana*

          I don’t know if anyone mentioned this (and you may very well be replying to it but this chain is loooong), but I like to make tortellini salad for cookouts. Mine is usually cheese and spinach tortellini or sun-dried tomato tortellini, peas, shredded carrot, olives, bell pepper, sometimes finely chopped celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, whatever veg I have at hand really. Topped off by a generous amount of dressing (I like Paul Newman’s Family-Style Italian but literally any dressing, creamy or vinaigrette, would work). Sometimes throw in cheese cubes, bacon, or chopped grilled chicken, but that depends on who I expect to be there and it’s really easy to customize.

      7. PhyllisB*

        I’m the Dessert Queen at my church, too!! (Retired so no more work functions.) However, when I’m pushed for time or just out of ideas, a fresh fruit platter is always a hit. You can make a sweet cream cheese dip to go with if you like. Occasionally I will buy a tray already made up (that’s one thing I don’t mind taking that’s store bought.) Grocery stores with a good deli area can make beautiful ones that are reasonably priced.) Also another thing I’ve made that’s a big hit is chicken salad with green grapes and sugared pecans or walnuts. You can buy canned chicken to make it with, and it’s easy peasy. Set a platter of croissants with it and there you go. One other suggestion, most potlucks are casserole heavy, but there’s not many vegetables or salads. You could make a large green salad or cook a simple vegetable. I live in the South, so peas, butter beans, or snap beans (green beans) are always appreciated. Whatever is popular where you live. Another favorite is baked beans.

        1. Rivakonneva*

          Crockpot sugared nuts! Mix melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon over 4- 5 cups of raw mixed buts in the crock. Stir thoroughly, cook for two hours on low, stirring every 45 minutes or so. Scoop nuts onto a cookie sheet to cool and dry. Bring to work in a large airtight tin, then bring empty tin home to wash. :)

      8. pancakes*

        My go-to deviled egg recipe is the April Bloomfield one. You can easily double it.

        I prefer things not be on skewers because those are often a bit fiddly to assemble and eat. A lot of salads do well in little spoonfuls in endive leaves – crumbled Parmesan, chopped dates, chopped toasted walnuts or pecans, and a light vinaigrette, for example, or small spoonfuls of smoked trout dip, or avocado and bean salad. The slight bitterness of the leaves works well with rich and creamy things, or salty things.

      9. Who is killing the great chefs of Europe*

        Plov, paella, or biryani (all pretty much variations on a theme).

      10. Mazarin*

        I have two potluck standards, that are simple and travel well, they are both vegetarian because it’s sometimes hard to find good basic vegetables at a potluck. The first one is Broccoli salad: Broccoli florets, blanched, with a dressing of soy sauce and grated ginger. Sprinkle roasted cashews on top before you serve, or leave them on the side for people to spoon over if you are worried about nut reactions ( The soy sauce can have gluten in it, so leave than on the side as well if you want- but as a salad its better if the broccoli has had the dressing mixed thru it)
        The second one is almost the same as already mentioned- blanched snow peas. (Sugar snap peas are too expensive here to take to a potluck, but I can buy snow peas)
        For both of these, you can ( I have) blanch them just before serving to make a slightly warm salad, if you have access to a kettle or boiling water- I just take a casserole dish to serve the salad in, and pour boiling water over the top of the peas/broccoli and hold it for a few minutes, then drain.

    2. Cmdrshpard*

      My favorite easy go to recipe is a buffalo chicken dip. There are several variations, I’ve added bacon before. It can be even easier if you buy a cooked chicken think grocery rotisserie chicken.

      2 cups shredded cooked chicken
      1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
      1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce
      1/2 cup ranch dressing
      1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

      PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into shallow 1-quart baking dish.
      BAKE 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Sprinkle with green onions, if desired, and serve with chips, crackers and/or cut up veggies.

      1. Jolene*

        I second this – or some other similar hot dip involving cheese. You can’t go wrong with hot cheesey dip and it’s relatively easy to make.

      2. Goody*

        My version is very similar, except I use cheddar or colby-jack instead of the blue cheese. For potlucks, I also make a finger-food version. Get wonton wrappers (they’re about 3″ square and usually found in the produce section), line mini-muffin pans with those wrappers and put a scoop of the dip in each cup, and then bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes.

        1. pancakes*

          That would probably work with pimento cheese too. I’m not from the south and discovered pimento cheese too late in life. Trying to make up for lost time.

      3. Yvette*

        My grocery store sells shredded chicken in the prepared food section or you can get a whole rotisserie chicken and shred enough for the recipe. At my grocery they are well under $10.

      4. IndustriousLabRat*

        I’ve brought this to several work potlucks and can confirm, it goes fast! The first year I worked here, I brought it to one, and got a bunch of funny looks from people. When I asked if something was wrong with the dip, I was informed that the guy I replaced used to bring it too.

        Gotta love Buffalo dip!

        1. Jzilbeck*

          I’ve done crockpot buffalo chicken dip. It was the first thing to disappear at our last potluck!

      5. Penny Hartz*

        I’ve made a vegetarian version of Buffalo dip by mashing white cannellini beans and mixing them with the cream cheese. No one can tell the difference.

        1. jane's nemesis*

          Chickpeas work too, but I especially love buffalo “chicken” dip made with roasted cauliflower instead of chicken!

      6. GlitterIsEverything*

        I do this exact dip in the pressure cooker (Instapot, for you younguns!). Use the brown setting, toss everything in, stir well, it’s done in 10-15 minutes.

    3. FG*

      For potlucks my go-to is dessert. Something like a Bundt cake – even a good pound cake – never goes uneaten. Or some sort of brownie or bar or sheet cake. I enjoy cooking but these are all single-pan items that don’t have to be fancy to be tasty & appreciated.

      1. Rich*

        This. A cake is easy. Slice and bake cookies are _really_ easy.

        I take my cooking _extremely_seriously_, but I have to remind myself that A) not everyone else does and B) Your contribution will become indistinctive in the chaos of the potluck anyway.

        People will love cookies, and you can knock out a couple of packages to feed a large group in almost no time. “I Made Cookies!”, is never unwelcome.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I make an applesauce raisin cake with melted brown sugar frosting. It’s an old Lee Bailey recipe

      2. BethDH*

        The books “simple bakes” and “one tin bakes” are both full of recipes that are relatively quick but have nice finishing and look fun. SB is all desserts, I’m pretty sure; OTB is mostly sweet but some savory and a wider range of sweetness.
        They’re good for baking with toddlers/preschoolers too!

      3. Llama Wrangler*

        Olive oil cakes are another good bet – very easy, moist, hard to mess up. The NYtimes has a good citrus olive oil cake (for example) and I know a vegan writer has said it’s very easily adapted by using vegan milk alternative and egg alternative.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          Can confirm on the milk alternatives (I’m allergic). Olive oil cakes are one of my go-tos because they keep so well!

        2. pancakes*

          Yes, good idea. Some of the recipes can accommodate just about any type of fruit you want to use, too.

      4. Anon nonnie nonnie nay*

        I describe box mix brownies as the instant ramen of baking. It’s like 5 minutes of effort and they’re always a hit.

        1. BookMom*

          Yes! I have a Ghirardelli brownie mix from Costco at all times for emergency use. Shocking how much people love it… the double batch directions bake up thicker so it doesn’t scream box mix.

          1. Mid*

            I like to add a little cinnamon and replace some of the liquid with black coffee. Everyone thinks it’s from scratch that way.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              I keep instant Café Busto packets on hand solely for baking. Add one to anything chocolate and it enhances the flavor.

          2. WorkLady*

            Same here. I sprinkle a couple handfuls of chocolate chips on the top before baking and people practically fist fight over them.

          3. InsufficientlySubordinate*

            Add some canned cherries instead of water/milk or even the oil (pick one).

          4. JustaTech*

            I like to add a couple of handfuls of dried cherries (also from Costco!) to jazz those up a bit, though honestly they’re really good an better than most of the scratch recipes I’ve tried.

        2. Decima Dewey*

          A circulation assistant who was covering helping out at our branch (preCOVID) used to dress up box mix brownies by adding a couple of Hershey bars before baking.

        3. Not a moose*

          I still use the brownie recipe I learned from my 10th grade English teacher: 1 box mix + 1 handful chocolate chips + 1 tbs instant coffee

          Other box brownie mods:
          -Replace half the liquid with orange juice
          -Swirl the top with a mixture of 2/3 c peanut butter + 5 tbs powdered sugar + 3 tbs heavy cream and sprinkle over with mini peanut butter cups
          -Chunks of white dark and milk chocolate

      5. Miette*

        Ina Garten’s brownie recipe is my go-to for potlucks. it’s super easy and makes a TON. Google it–it’s freely available.

      6. Aitch Arr*

        “Bunk? Boonk?”

        “Eίναι κέικ, Μαρία!”

        “Oh, it’s a CAKE!”

        Sorry, I had to.

      7. Trina*

        Wasn’t there a post from ages back where an OP made a cake that their coworkers were a little too obsessed with? To the point that one described it as “better than sex”? And then OP shared the recipe and I think it was just a standard chocolate cake mix except you substitute the oil with cherry filling.

        1. Mephyle*

          There is a creamy, gooey chocolate dessert whose name is “sex in a pan”. For venues where a different name is more suitable (e.g., church potlucks) it is renamed “Mississippi mud cake”.

          1. beach read*

            MM cake is my go-to for potluck. I have to pre-print the recipe to hand out later.

      8. Joielle*

        I do a bundt cake where you take a box of “extra moist” devils food cake mix, combine with a can of pumpkin puree, and bake according to the box directions. It comes out super fudgy and delicious. If I want to go the extra mile I’ll make a fancy icing with confectioners sugar and brown butter.

        People don’t believe me when I tell them how easy the cake is. It’s really good!

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          I do this with a box of spice cake mix, and it makes great pumpkin bread!

      9. Rain's Small Hands*

        I have a flourless chocolate cake recipe that is SO easy – but not cheap – I will say that anything involving a pound of dark chocolate isn’t cheap. (Its this one: The Cake Bible has been my go to baking book for three decades). This is restaurant fancy without being restaurant difficult. You can bring a little whipped cream or some chocolate sauce, or my go to – thinned raspberry jam – as a topper.

        On the non dessert front, I do a pasta salad that is again really easy. Take chicken or tofu and cook it up in a pan with (a lot of) thyme and salt and pepper in some olive oil. Boil some ziti. Remove chicken from pan, add more olive oil, more thyme and the drained noodles – coat the noodles in the olive oil and thyme mixture, add the protein back in. It keeps well and again, easy. This one is pretty cheap in large batches depending on how much chicken you use. I often do this with tofu so the vegetarians have something to eat.

        For the “low risk someone can’t eat it” (because nearly everything MIGHT be an allergen), squash risotto is gluten free and vegetarian – but its messy and requires bowls and spoons, so it depends on the potluck

        (Always label your likely allergens with a sign “Thyme pasta salad with chicken – contains meat and wheat” “Flourless chocolate cake, contains eggs and dairy” At one time my bookclub contained a vegan, someone with severe dietary restrictions due to kidney disease, someone keeping kosher, a number of non-gluten consumers, someone allergic to nuts, and someone lactose intolerant. We got really good at labeling our potlucks – and once your group exceeds half a dozen or so people you will never make a dish that makes everyone happy.)

        1. AnonToday*

          If anyone wants to make the flourless chocolate cake and lives near a Trader Joe’s, they have “Pound Plus” Belgian chocolate bars (500g) for $4.99 (as of a couple of months ago). They have milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark with almonds, and bittersweet 72%. I won’t vouch for them being the best in the world or anything, but they are definitely good enough to bake with or make fondue, ganache, etc. (I’d say they’re at least Ghirardelli quality?)

          Five bucks for enough chocolate for a cake that would be at least that much per serving at a bakery or restaurant is pretty reasonable.

      10. Al*

        I’ve brought a Bundt cake (the recipe is called Kentucky utter cake, and it’s not too sweet but has a sugar glaze) with fresh berries and whipped cream to potlucks a couple of times to great reviews.

          1. thebeaglehaslanded*

            I was picturing an “udder” cake and wondering where you got the special bundt cake mold…

      11. Glen*

        My usual potluck dish is seven layer bars (aka magic bars, hello dolly bars). Super easy: melt 1 stick butter and pour into 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish (if not nonstick, grease the sides first), sprinkle evenly with 1 cup graham cracker crumbs then with 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, usually), pour over 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and finally top with 1 cup each: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and shredded coconut. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into bars.

        If someone’s allergic or has dietary restrictions, the ingredients can be swapped out – vegan condensed milk, margarine, and chips; crushed pretzels for nuts; gluten-free graham crackers; chopped dried fruit for the coconut (put under the condensed milk instead of on top); different types of chips; etc. Completely customizable and so, so good.

      12. V*

        Trader Joe’s Banana Bread Mix, add chocolate chips, bake. If it’s fall, add canned pumpkin too. My coworkers all LOVED it and would compliment me endlessly on it.

      13. Anna*

        On the dessert front, I highly recommend box brownies. You can dress them up with chocolate chips or other mix ins, but (and I say this as a skilled baker) honestly, box brownies are delicious.

      14. Little My*

        My dad always made homemade rice krispie treats for school potluck events when I was growing up, and they were always gone by the end of the event. They’re so vastly better than the packaged version, and they basically only require melting marshmallows and mixing cereal into them.

        1. pancakes*

          I finally got around to trying those, and they’re pretty good. I got the jalapeño ones and the pretzel burger rolls. Will buy both again.

          1. Unaccountably*

            I didn’t even know they came in more than one flavor until the “cheap-ass rolls” post.

            1. pancakes*

              I think the pretzel ones are very new. They also sell cookies, which I didn’t know.

      1. Jora Malli*

        Yes! My favorite potluck contribution!

        I buy a bag of frozen dinner roll dough, plunk one frozen lump into each well in a muffin tin, let them rise and bake them. Then I bring them into work with plenty of butter (and sometimes cinnamon butter if I’m feeling fancy) and it’s ALWAYS a hit.

    4. reject187*

      Oooh, I am a fountain of easy but tasty potluck recipes.

      1. Dips. My go-to is a pound of sausage (browned) mixed with a can of Rotel (drained) and a block of cream cheese. Combine in skillet until mixed/melted through, serve with tortilla chips. – 10 minutes prep, you can chill it overnight or bring (and make!) it in a crock pot.

      2. Fruit. Cut it up on a platter or put a honey-lime drizzle on it (literally, just mix honey and lime juice) in a bowl for salad. – less than 20 minutes, especially if most of the fruit is berries. Keeps overnight in the fridge.

      3. Dessert. Usually only an hour or less of prep time the night before. I like making Scotcharoo bars. Or fancy up a cake mix.

      1. Snuck*

        I was coming to say “fresh fruit platter”

        And ‘dip and chopped veggies”

        Lots of people like to add a bit of fresh food to their plates!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Veggies and dip are easy and will be appreciated by a lot of people. Homemade sourcream and onion dip, or hummus (easy with a slow cooker), or one of my favourites, yoghurt + Indian lime pickle, and I use kitchen scissors to cut the lime pieces up easily.

          Also good – Greek salad or spicy coleslaw. For the Greek salad, half cherry tomatoes, dice cucumber and red onion, add pre-diced feta, pitted olives (for safety) and a dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and lemon juice. For the coleslaw, buy pre shredded coleslaw mix with purple and green cabbage, grate some carrots, thinly slice green pepper, and toss it all with a dressing made of yoghurt, mayo, adobo sauce and lime juice.

          1. Fledge Mulholland*

            Cole slaw is always an easy option. I do a more vinegar-based one that’s vegetarian and allergy friendly. It’s just sliced cabbage (I buy it pre-sliced), apple cider vinegar, honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              just scratching my head wondering about veggie versions of cole slaw which for me is a combo of shredded cabbage grated carrot with optional finely sliced onion and apple and walnut, all mixed into a generous heaping of mayonnaise?

              1. Justme, The OG*

                Yours definitely isn’t allergy friendly with onion and walnut and mayo (egg). Also, some vegetarians won’t eat mayo because of eggs.

                1. londonedit*

                  It’s vegans who don’t eat eggs – the modern definition of vegetarian includes eggs/cheese/dairy but no meat or fish or their derivatives.

                2. UKgreen*

                  It’s only not ‘allergy friendly’ if you don’t list the ingredients. Otherwise it’s just food.

                3. Justme, The OG*

                  Y’all I know the difference between vegans and vegetarians. Look up the difference between ovo-lacto vegetarians and lacto vegetarians. Some vegetarians as a rule don’t eat eggs.

                4. Snuck*

                  Allergy friendly is complicated if you are trying to meet the masses. Label what your ingredients are, and if you have known specific allergies in the group avoid them if you can AND are feeling generous.

                  I say this as an allergy household… and with allergies that are too complex for most to manage. Coeliac (wheat, oats, barley). Honey, eggs, coconut, banana, avocado, tree nuts (not all, but cross contamination risks means ‘all in a public setting/when not prepared by yourself’) and sesame all cause anaphylaxis in this house. Capsicum, kiwi fruit, chickpeas and several others are risky/suspect/cause moderate reactions (projectile vomiting etc). We tend to pack our own lunch and not eat from the buffet. One allergy here or there is usually ok at a buffet if you aren’t anaphylactic, but people with trace amount egg anaphylaxis (as an example) are highly likely to avoid your carefully created meal because one person double dips a mayo laced something into a second bowl and the game of cross contamination is on.

                  Smile and nod to the allergy people, if there’s someone who you really want to show care to make a safe meal and keep a tub of it separate from the hordes so they can safely eat some without risk, and let them do whatever makes them comfortable/never loudly question them, and never, EVER ‘test’ their allergy. If you aren’t sure about an ingredient being safe tell them ahead of time, and if they decline the food accept it graceiously, even if you’ve gone to effort. Even moderate reactions aren’t worth the risk because moderate includes projectile vomiting, hours of sitting on toilets, rashes that cover large chunks of the body, severe stomach pain, swelling and oedema etc. No one wants that!

          2. Al*

            This super easy corn salsa (recipe link here. The ingredient list doesn’t mention the avocado, but it’s important IMO!) with a bag of good quality tortilla chips has always gone over well.

      2. Kate*

        Fresh fruit is such a good idea! There’s always a dearth of simple, healthy fruit/veg options at potlucks.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Yes. A fruit salad is easy too, basically the same fresh options mixed together in a bowl.

        2. BethDH*

          Someone brought fruit skewers (like cocktail toothpick length) to a potluck and they went super fast and were easy to serve without a bunch of people touching stuff.

          1. Colette*

            I’ve done banana split bites – a skewer with strawberry, banana, and pineapple, spoon melted chocolate on one side and roll in crushed peanuts. Not allergy friendly, but very tasty.

        3. Lime green Pacer*

          Cut-up apples soaked in salt water for 5 minutes, then drained, will not go brown for hours.

        4. Nethwen*

          I often get a 5 lb. bag of mandarin oranges and peel them, but leave the orange whole. Put in a Tupperware-type container, they stay moist and fresh for a week or more, so peeling them a day or two before is no problem. With the peels and membrane strings removed, they are convenient to eat without getting your hands all messy and left whole, you have these pretty glistening orange globes among all the meatball Crockpots and pasta salads. I wouldn’t say that they fly off the platter, but I’ve never been someplace with announced vegetarians, either.

      3. MazMellem*

        Yes to the fruit platter, but put the drizzle on the side. Not everyone will want it, especially people trying to watch their weight or who have diabetes. I know it’s not always possible to cater for everyone’s dietary requirements, but it’s easy enough to leave the drizzle on the side.

      4. Somebody Call A Lawyer*

        Learned a simple fruit dip trick when working for a caterer in the early ’90s: an 16-oz. tub of plain yogurt mixed with honey to taste. For those who like fruit and sweet dip, it’s irresistible.

        1. kitryan*

          Similar vibe – mascarpone mixed with fig preserves. It’s as simple as it gets to just mix them together at about a 60/40 ratio and serve with strawberries or whatever else you like. It’s been a huge hit at every event I’ve brought it to. I got the recipe, such as it is, off a display at Whole Foods nearly 20 years ago now. Slicing the strawberries most of the way through with a wire egg slicer (where it has a bunch of wires on a hinged lid so you can slice a whole egg/mushroom/strawberry into slices all at once) but leaving them joined at the stem end so you can fan them out also looks loads fancy with minimal effort.

      5. a heather*

        That reminds me, one of my coworkers made a really great pepperoni dip. I’d never had anything like it before, and everyone loved it!

      6. AlabamaAnonymous*

        That Rotel dip you is one of my favorites! I’ve made it at home and eaten over rice for dinner :-) but it is always a hit at potlucks! (I usually do it in small crockpot, though.)

      7. Chickaletta*

        Your honey-fruit recipe is very similar to mine, which also includes some poppy seeds. There’s usually a bounty of baked goods,so bringing fruit is a great way to go home without leftovers :). PS – serve it in half a carved-out watermelon shell and you don’t have to worry about bringing home a dish or losing it.

    5. Jessie*

      A woman in my office brings the same thing to every potluck and if she ever stopped, we would all revolt: meatballs cooked in the crockpot with a mixture of grape jelly and bbq sauce. (She buys the meatballs frozen). Google those ingredients and you’ll see lots of recipes! Things in the crockpot are perfect for office potlucks.

      1. Siege*

        Ooh, I do something like this – it’s a bag of frozen meatballs (not spiced!), and a can of jellied cranberry sauce and a bottle of Heinz chili sauce. Throw it all in a pot, cook it till the meatballs are thawed. I don’t even remember what size meatballs, I just get whatever, but you do NOT want a flavored meatball here. It needs to be a meatball-flavored meatball.

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          I use 1 jar chili sauce plus 1 jar grape jelly, heated in a saucepan until the jelly melts, then pour over cooked meatballs or over cooked cocktail sausages (to do the sausages, roast a couple of pounds in a roasting pan, covered at 350 for 45 minutes until somewhat browned, and then pour off the fat before adding the sauce). This dish can be refrigerated overnight, then just heat up the next day in a microwave or crockpot. Can be served with toothpicks if you want.

          1. Umiel12*

            I do the crockpot with cocktail wieners, but I use barbecue sauce and grape jelly. It always amazes me how quickly they get eaten.

        2. Bad Crocheter*

          I got this version (chili sauce and cranberry sauce) from a friend who served it at a birthday party. It’s always wildly popular.

        3. Lego Leia*

          You can also sub in sliced, fried up sausages or cocktail weiners if you don’t have meatballs. The sauce is surprisingly good on chicken, too.

        4. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          I do a meatball dish in a 9×13 with chili sauce, cranberry sauce, sauerkraut, and brown sugar. It gets so sticky and delicious. The sauerkraut tastes completely different.

      2. Shiba Dad*

        Interesting. I used to cook meatballs (bought frozen) in a crockpot, but I did them in marinara sauce. People made meatball subs or ate them bunless (which is what I did).

      3. Blind CC*

        I was going to recommend this. I use grape jelly and chili sauce. Super easy and ALWAYS a hit.

      4. bishbah*

        If you have an Ikea near you, a bag of their frozen meatballs glazed with their lingonberry jam is, well, my jam.

      5. Natalie*


        This is exactly what I came here to suggest. Meatballs in a crockpot with some kind of fruit jelly, and some kind of BBQ sauce. Last time my work had a potluck, I used apple jelly and a brown sugar BBQ sauce, and while the effort was pretty meatball, the meatballs turned out kind of amazing.

        Pretty easy, very delicious, lots of variations. :)

      6. Kes*

        Interesting, what I was going to suggest that I’ve seen is meatballs with Diana (bbq) sauce (cooked in a crockpot). You can get the meatballs frozen. Dead easy and tastes great.

      7. Pengy*

        I was going to post the same thing. It’s crazy easy and always gets eaten.

        I use grape jelly and Heinz chili sauce. At the start it always seems like “there is no way this can possibly work” when you just plop both on top of a mound of meatballs but it does. Sometimes I can’t resist stirring but you really don’t need to.

        I often use Trader Joe’s party size meatballs – they are smaller (and I think taste better).

      8. The OG Sleepless*

        I had a Christmas potluck for my friend group one year, and asked everybody to bring appetizers. Every single person brought meatballs; I think we had one of every one of these meatball suggestions. It was hilarious and delicious. The Meatball Christmas was one of my favorite parties.

      9. Nobby Nobbs*

        I’ve never seen a crockpot full of meatballs in some kind of nice sauce that didn’t empty almost instantly at a potluck.

      10. Nozenfordaddy*

        I made mulled cider in my crockpot (the whole office smelled like mulling spices) for our work thanksgiving potluck every year for years (before COVID), one year I idly suggested I might bring something else and you’d have thought I’d said I wanted to kill the traditional bird myself.

        1. beach read*

          Whenever our place had a potluck there were so many of us, we’d do a breakfast and a lunch. One year I did frozen coffee drinks with coffee and ice cream (one vanilla and one chocolate) in big pitchers. People liked the idea a lot.

    6. AspiringMPA*

      4. – I make cannoli dip often for potlucks at work and it’s a huge smash hit. Takes about 10 minutes to prep the night before and it needs to be refrigerated overnight. I also usually use graham crackers instead of waffle cones. Less work than having to break down the waffle cones. ;)

    7. Aglaia761*

      LW4: I’m a big fan of the crockpot, you can set it and forget it.

      I do crab dip, spinach dip, artichoke dip, taco dip, buffalo dip, you name it…I’ve done it. What’s nice is you can put the ingredients uncooked in the crockpot in the morning, plug it in at work, and by the time potluck comes around it’ll be done.

      Also ribs..both beef and pork. A bit more time intensive though
      I have an electric roaster. I put them in about 24 hours before to cook low and slow. Take them out in the morning. Slather them in sauce and pop them in the oven for about an hour to cook the sauce onto them. If I know there will be sterno’s I’ll put them in a pan…otherwise into the crockpot(s) they go.

    8. Gruntled*

      Baked ziti in a crockpot. It’s adaptable for any dietary restrictions (vegan/vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free) you can make it the night before, mix it all up, refrigerate, then plug in and set on low when you get to work.

      1. Bex*

        Similar but possibly simpler, I’ve had potluck success with a crockpot “lasagna” – put frozen ravioli straight in the crockpot layered with sauce and mozzarella (plenty of sauce since you’re not boiling the pasta first). Takes about 4 hours on high I think, so you can bring the frozen ravioli, jarred sauce, and grated cheese to work and assemble the whole thing there. Sorry I don’t remember a ton of specifics but I’m sure Google can help with this.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Spinach puffs, basically like the mini handheld version of spanakopita. You roll out frozen puff pastry dough, cut into squares, and fold into little triangles with spinach and feta filling, and bake.

      Brownies, pigs in a blanket (the kind that are just lil’ smokies sausages wrapped in crescent roll dough)

      “Annie’s fruit salsa and cinnamon chips” from Allrecipes

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Pocket Spanakopita is so delicious I make it for portable purse sized work lunches all the time. It would make awesome walk-n-talk snacks too. Great call!

      2. Llama Wrangler*

        I know this is basically store bought but I have a friend who gets frozen finger foods like spanikopita triangles or mini pizza bites and they’re always a hit.

    10. ADB_BWG*

      I like to bring cassoulet – vegan and (mostly) common allergy-free. A side of browned ground turkey can be provided if you want offer an addition.

      Basic recipe:
      Sautéed diced carrots, onion, and garlic until softened. Put in bottom of slow cooker. Top with canned (rinsed) cannelloni beans, canned diced tomatoes (with liquid), and tomato paste. Add seasoning of choice. Splash of red wine optional. Cool on low 6-8 hours until vegetables are tender.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I make a salad version of cassoulet: drained, rinsed, white beans, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced or diced yellow pepper, very thinly sliced carrot, cut-up artichokes and/or thingy sliced fennel, a garlic vinaigrette of your choice, and mild crumbled feta or queso, or shaved parmesan. To make it a carnivore’s main dish, add sliced cooked sundried tomato sausages.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Thinly, not thingy! Autocorrupt is revealing my bad vocabulary that I’ve used too frequently.

        2. Dandelient*

          Wow! Cut and pasted that way fast. Easy dinner for stupid weather. Thank you kindly Snoozing :)

      2. Yellow*

        Please make sure you label any dish that has alcohol in the preparation. Alcohol doesn’t cook off as easily as people often think. Some people require zero alcohol – just let them know.

        It’s the unexpected ingredients that cause the most problems. And I know I assume stuff brought to the office doesn’t have alcohol in it unless it obviously does (eg rum balls)

        1. alienor*

          That reminds me, I used to work with someone who often brought rum balls to potlucks around the winter holidays, and those things can be STRONG (or maybe they made them extra powerful). The one time I ate two instead of one, I was lightheaded when I got back to my desk!

    11. Penny Parker*

      Carrot soup, all ingredients can have amounts altered to your taste:
      4 cups carrots, can use either pre-cut frozen or fresh cut
      One or two apples peeled, seeds out, and cut up (hardest part of making this)
      1/4 – 1/3 cup raisins
      1/4-1/3 cup peanut butter
      1 can coconut milk
      pumpkin pie spicing to taste (I use 1 T cinnamon; 1/2 t ginger; 1/2 t nutmeg; 1/4 t clove)
      8 minutes in the instant pot; puree with immersible blender

      1. Laura*

        While this sounds delicious, as someone with a severe peanut allergy I hope you’re calling it something other than just carrot soup, which I wouldn’t typically assume has peanuts

        1. Zelda*

          I knida figure that, with anything I’m offering to a group, Rule #1 is that I write out a complete list of ingredients, including brand names for any commercial products that have more than one ingredient (like baking powder, any flour claiming to be gluten-free, nut butters, etc.). People have a right to know what they’re putting into their bodies, eh?

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            People who think like you and actually write out ingredient lists are my favorite people :)

    12. Lemony Goodness*

      I make a killer lemon meringue pie that is actually the easiest thing ever to make!
      1 cooked shortcrust pie case (can buy them premade/frozen or make your own pretty quickly)
      1 can sweetened condensed milk
      1/2 cup lemon juice (less if using fresh squeezed lemons, I learned this the hard way!)
      2 eggs, separated
      2 tsp sugar

      Place condensed milk, lemon juice and egg yolks in a bowl, mix until well combined.
      In a separate bowl, beat egg whites & sugar until firm peaks hold.
      Place lemon mixture into pie case and spread evenly. Top with meringue mixture and cook in a moderate oven until meringue is browned slightly on top. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.

      1. Zelda*

        Ooh, this sounds like the grown-up version of the lemon bars that were always my contribution to potlucks when I was still a student trying to cook in the cramped and under-equipped kitchens of my early apartments.

        1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
        1 c flour
        1/2 c powdered sugar
        Cream together and pat into a 9″ square pan. Bake at 350 for 10-15 min.

        2 Tbl lemon juice and 2 tsp grated lemon peel (from 1 lemon)
        2 eggs
        2 Tbl flour
        1 c granulated sugar
        1/2 tsp baking powder
        Stir together and pour over crust. Bake at 350 for 20 min, until lightly browned. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into approx 1.5″ x 3″ bars.
        May be doubled and baked in 9×13 pan.

        1. GythaOgden*

          My favourite quick dessert is lemon syllabub squeezed between ginger biscuits (cookies, not scones — they’re very hard gingerbread cookies, not ginger cake). My mum makes it as a quick dessert for dinner parties (here in the UK the equivalent work event is a box of cocktail sausages and a bowl of crisps, so not much cooking involved) and it really is wickedly good. The syllabub is viscous enough to stick the biscuits together (it’s half way between frosting and mousse) but it also softens the biscuits and makes them more like the consistency of cake. Open the packet of biscuits, squidge the syllabub in, smoothe it off and voila, instant cake.

          In the UK it’s dead easy to cater this kind of thing from the local supermarket’s pre-prepared finger food aisle, but I get the impression y’all over the Pond are expected to put more effort into it. That would be my go-to recipe if necessary, but for the very few times I’m expected to do anything (birthdays and maybe if both of us are in over Christmas) I just go and get a tray of cupcakes from Sainsburys and call it a day.

          1. river*

            You can do the same thing but with sweetened vanilla whipped cream instead of syllabub.

            Ginger or chocolate chip cookies (optionally dipped in sherry), sandwiched together with the cream to form 2 logs side by side, then cover it all with cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Leave it in the fridge for a couple hours to soften and you’re good to go. It’s AMazing!

            1. GythaOgden*

              Oh yes! Nice idea. I have a lot of skinny syrups in my cupboard (because I like flavoured coffee but my body can only take /so/ much sugar), so maybe those would work as well.

            2. Chilipepper Attitude*

              I call that refrigerator cake. There are many variations. You can google it to find them.

      2. Mongrel*

        Try adding the finely grated zest of the lemon(s) to the mixture before baking, it elevates it to a whole new level.
        For a fragrant twist use half lemons & half limes

      3. DyneinWalking*

        My mother’s go-to simple cake is similarly easy:
        – pre-baked cake base from the grocery store
        – cream/milk and some variety of vanilla cream dessert powder
        – fresh fruit of your choice (strawberry and/or blueberry work great)
        – matching jam

        Mix the cream dessert according to the details on the package. Spread jam onto cake base to prevent it from soaking, then spread the cream dessert on top. Cut fruit if necessary and put them on top. Done!

    13. Lingret*

      – Ham and cheese sliders
      – sausage and cheese balls
      – cheesy chicken nuggets
      – chicken pot pie puffs

    14. Meganly*

      Two words: pizza wheels. Everyone loves them! You can add veggies so folks can pretend they’re healthy! You take a bag of pizza dough and let rest until room temp (this is important). With a rolling pin, make a large rectangle, the thinner the better. Take your time and let it rest in between rolls. Coat the rectangle in ~1/2 cup pizza sauce. Optionally, add baby spinach and/or pepperoni to cover. Top with 1/2 c to 2/3 shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese mix.

      1. Meganly*

        Sorry, got cut off and couldn’t continue.
        Roll up nice and tight, wrap in plastic wrap, and then refrigerate at least a half hour. Then, take your sharpest knife and cut into 1″ slices.
        Top slices with parmesan cheese, then bake at 400°F for 15-30 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown.
        They taste great warm or cool. Serve with leftover pizza sauce for dipping…. Maybe in individual containers thanks to COVID…

    15. Fanny Price*

      I have a chicken and white bean chili recipe that I got from a work chili cook off. Everything comes out of a can except the ground chicken, and it’s good kept warm for hours in a crock pot. You can probably find it or a similar recipe online – the major ingredients are ground chicken, canned white beans, and sweet cream corn. Limes to squeeze over the top if you feel like getting fancy.

      1. Office Gumby*

        I have an easy chili recipe I do for potlucks:

        1/2kg(1lb) beef mince/ground beef (or any other protein. Can even go vegetarian)
        2 cans chopped tomatoes
        2 cans drained beans (pinto, black, kidney, whatever)
        1 packet onion soup mix
        2 Tbsp cumin
        1 Tbsp cocoa powder
        1/2 tsp chili powder (or a whole chipotle chili, chopped) – adjust this according to your spice level preference. (I’m a three chipotle kind of bird.)
        Salt and pepper to taste. mebbe a tsp each?

        Brown the beef, add everything else, simmer until done.
        Serve however you like to serve chili.
        Halve or double recipe as you see fit.

        Note: this is not competition chili, and will definitely lose any chili-tasting contest, but when compared to chicken casserole, it ain’t bad. But it will never beat a great big bowl of sugar snap peas.

      1. Zelda*

        The successful experiment from this past Memorial Day, an ultra-simple potato salad: Boil small redskin potatoes until tender. Chill overnight. Cut into 1 – 1.5″ chunks. Moisten with vinegar (we used distilled for a friend with an apple sensitivity, but apple cider vinegar on a later batch for ourselves). Stir in kosher salt and a generous quantity of finely chopped garlic chives (regular chives would work too). We’ll be doing this one again!

        1. Former Gremlin Herder*

          I came here to reccomend a very similar recipe! I got mine from NYT Cooking so it’s a little more fussy, but honestly once you get the herbs chopped it’s pretty easy. I cook the potatoes in my Instant pot to make it faster as well. It’s stupid yummy, much more appetizing than traditional potato salads, and keeps super well in the fridge.

          3 pounds red new potatoes
          ¼ cup red wine vinegar
          3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
          ½ cup olive oil
          6 scallions, chopped
          ½ cup chopped parsley
          ¼ cup chopped dill
          Salt and pepper

          Place the potatoes in a large stockpot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. When cool, cut the potatoes in half.
          Combine the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
          Add the potatoes to the vinaigrette, and mix gently but thoroughly. Toss in the scallions, parsley and dill. Salt and pepper to taste.

      2. A Becky*

        I was going to say “mom’s potato salad” (which might be Betty Crocker’s haha)

        4 to 5 medium potatoes, boiled and cut into about 1″ chunks (or smaller)

        1/4 cup clear French salad dressing with spices and herbs
        1 cup chopped celery
        1/4 cup chopped onion (about 2-3 complete green onions)
        4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
        1/2 cup mayonnaise

        Pour French dressing over warm potatoes. Chill 2 hours. Add celery, onion and eggs. Add mayonnaise and mix carefully. Add 1 tsp celery seed, if desired. Chill 4 hours.

      3. new worker bee*

        Yes, pasta salad! One version that my family always makes for potlucks is to cook a few boxes of tri-colored pasta, mix with feta cheese, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, chopped up cucumbers, and salad dressing. (I think it’s Caesar dressing, but you can use whatever sounds good to you.) Done!

      4. MsM*

        Cold sesame noodle salad is my go-to. You can make extra veggies and toss them in the dressing for any gluten-free colleagues.

    16. I laugh at inappropriate times*

      Pasta salad. Fix a box or 2 of Suddenly Salad, then throw in a couple of extras like sliced Olives and diced fresh tomato to fancy it up.

    17. PnlpeWthspn*

      I usually bring a 2 ingredient dip that is addictive.

      Drained jar of bread and butter pickled jalapeños*
      2 blocks cream cheese (low fat if preferred)

      Soften cream cheese. Place jalapeños and cream cheese in a food processor – pulse/run to desired consistency (smooth to chunky your choice). Thin out with drained juice if needed. Chill for a couple of hours.

      * 1) save a couple for garnish on top. 2) save the juice – it makes an excellent brine for chicken among other things.

      Makes a to , so I usually keep some at home when I make it.

      1. Jolene*

        You can even just dump pepper jelly on a block of cream cheese, throw out some crackers, and everyone is happy. (This might be too simple for OP, but it’s always a hit.)

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I had something like that years ago in the UK but the cheese was softer than cream cheese so easier to spread and I’ve never found the topping or a recipe for it. But it was delicious. She had one red and one green.

          1. Picard*

            sounds like red and green pepper jelly – its a classic here in the south. (link in comments)

            1. Chilipepper Attitude*

              I should have said, the pepper stuff did not have the pectin texture or jelly and it had tiny bits or pepper in it.

              It was more the consistency of pickle relish if that makes sense!

          2. Cautionary tail*

            @Chilipepper Attitude, Perhaps the softer cheese was Mascarpone? its ridiculously easy to make and absolutely delicious. Instead of a cheesecloth lined sieve I do it even easier and simply put some paper towels in a strainer.
            h t t p s : / / w w w

      2. Glop is good*

        Speaking of saving the juice, my “pantry/fridge/freezer melange” (like a multi-bean salad, but also heavy on condiments like olives, capers, pickles, jalapeños, artichokes, chopped cilantro, etc., as well as additional veggies like corn, frozen peas, sliced snap peas, leftover salad or cooked veggies of any kind, usw… I just look at all the cans, bags and containers and ask, “Who wants to be food?”)
        … I start my dressings with a scoop or two of green or Kalamata olive brine, pickle, caper or sauerkraut juice, etc., then add mustard, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil and lemon juice and other seasonings like smoked paprika and brewer’s yeast to taste. My condiment liquids never go to waste that way. I live on that combo in heat waves; it’s my summer go-to and goes over great at potlucks. Sometimes it turns into pasta salad, sometimes gets any kind of seed or nut combo and dried cranberries added, sometimes sliced sausage or leftover chicken; variations are infinite. (If the weather chills, leftovers tun into a great soup!)

    18. CatCat*

      Chili is super easy in the crockpot and lots of people love it. You can make it vegetarian/vegan if you know you have such diets in the crowd. Add fixins like cheese, green onions, and sour cream in the side. Tasty and easy.

      1. Jim Bob*

        Seconded. You can just dump everything in the crockpot and simmer overnight, and it’s done.

    19. Laura*

      People are always happy to have something fresh like a green salad, fruit kebabs with a yogurt dip, or some type of a crunchy veggie slaw. Quiche is a great vegetarian option, and for super easy go for beans n franks or another crockpot dish like meatballs in a glaze, dirty rice, chili etc

    20. raincoaster*

      Salad rolls. Cheap, easy, impressive, easy to make vegetarian, and you can put peanut sauce right inside so you don’t need a sidecar of dip.

      1. debs*

        It this like vietnamese summer rolls? Learned to make these over lockdown. They are hella fresh and addictive. (they absolutely must contain fresh basil, mint and corriander). I try to make the veggies as colourful as possible (carrots, mangetout, cucumber, red Cabbage, peppers, radish and mango) I often make mine with shrimp, but they really don’t need it.

        1. pancakes*

          The perfect warm weather food, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been planning to make some this weekend, half with shrimp and half with char siu oyster mushrooms, all with pickled carrots and radishes, grilled scallions, rice noodles, and the herbs. Will link to sauce recipes separately.

        2. pancakes*

          Nuoc cham:

          Links to more info on a vegetarian version & choosing a fish sauce:

          A hoisin-based dipping sauce:

          Peanut sauce / sate sauce:

          even easier version:

    21. Gingerblue*

      For this time of year, how about a cold soup and tiny cups to serve it in?

      If you want something picnic-y, a really simple but great regional dish that a lot of people don’t know is salt potatoes. Here’s a recipe, but really, you just boil tiny potatoes in as much salt as you can get to dissolve in your cooking water so they develop a crust:

      Devilled eggs, especially if you make a couple different varieties with some color contrast between the fillings and/or get fancy about piping the filling in.

      A variety of roasted vegetables and a dip? I’m thinking of the sort of thing where you could cut up a bunch of vegetables, toss them with oil, and roast them all together on a sheet pan without a lot of fuss.

      If you have an air fryer, chicken wings in it are dead simple.

      1. Siege*

        I always used to think deviled eggs were hard, and then I saw a recipe this year, and they are the EASIEST THING ON EARTH, but they have a HUGE wow factor (because of everyone like me who thought they were hard to make).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Extra simplifying tip: put the filling in a ziplock bag and cut off a corner to use it like a piping bag to fill the whites, instead of trying to do it with a spoon.

        2. Screen Porch Office*

          We have a morning birthday celebration once a month at our weekly 8 am staff meeting, honoring all of our employees who have a birthday that month. People usually bring fruit, muffins & breads. I realized I’d really like some protein, so one month I brought deviled eggs. Talk about a hit! Now every month someone usually brings either deviled eggs or a plate of cheese cubes.

        3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          While not difficult, making a lot of them for a large group of people can be time consuming (particularly in peeling the eggs). Good garnishes for them include a little paprika, small sprigs of herbs (fresh mint, parsley, green onions, and thyme are personal favorites), small slices of ham, and crystalized honey.

          1. Legally Bored*

            I’m a big proponent of using the Instant Pot to cook eggs for deviled eggs. The shells slip right off!

          2. Siege*

            I have a weird phobia of opening eggs, so honestly I just buy a bag or two of the precooked peeled eggs.

            1. bryeny*

              Was about to suggest precooked hardboiled eggs, a huge timesaver as they come peeled. Most grocery/supermarkets where I live (New England) carry them, but they also tend to run out frequently. So you might have to try more than one store but it might be worth the trip. :) They come in bags of 6 and cut the time for deviled eggs by more than half.

              Do you still call them deviled eggs if you use an entirely different recipe? I’m not sure what else to call them but I’ve gotten compliments with two variations:

              – Mix yolks with wasabi and soy sauce; garnish with sesame seeds
              – Mix yolks with crumbled gorgonzola; garnish with chives and more gorgonzola

              Sorry I don’t remember measurements, but it wouldn’t be hard to do it by tasting as you go.

      2. DC Kat*

        RE: chilled soups — yes! One year for a 4th of July picnic, I made a gazpacho, and a chilled almond soup, served them out of pitchers with those mini-Dixie paper cups as the bowls. Easy, portable, and utensil-free.

    22. Sara (not my actual name)*

      No crust individual egg and bacon pies. Spray a muffin pan with oil. Line each individual muffin hole with bacon (1 slice per is usually sufficient). Crack an egg into each one. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Into a moderate oven for about 10 minutes. Prep takes no longer than about 10 mins.

    23. Susie the Newbie*

      A pasta salad is great for potlucks because it doesn’t have to be warm to taste good.

      1/2 lb pasta, cooked (I like farfalle)
      I can black beans, rinsed and drained
      1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
      1-2 cups edamame, cooked and cooled
      1-2 cups frozen corn
      1 English or 2 regular cucumbers, pulled and chopped
      2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
      1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
      Green onions, chopped or a small amount of chopped red onion
      Fresh basil, chopped into small pieces
      A good quality vinaigrette (I use Newman’s Own Classic Oil and Vinegar)
      Cavender’s Greek seasoning, or salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

      Mix everything together and chill . Before serving, te-dress the salad with more salad dressing –the pasta will absorb some if the dressing.

    24. Dr. Reginald Saunders*

      Pumpkin spice/chai pudding! It’s just dressed up instant vanilla pudding, takes less than 5 minutes with things you probably already have in your cupboard, and is wildly popular at parties.

      1 packet instant vanilla pudding mix
      2.5 cups milk (non-dairy milk will not work with instant pudding mixes)
      1/2 cup canned pumpkin
      1-2 tablespoons vanilla (less if vanilla extract, more if vanilla flavoring)
      about 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice mix or to taste (I use my homemade chai mix made of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, clove powder, ginger powder, and black pepper)
      dash of salt

      Make the vanilla pudding with the wet ingredients first, then whisk for 3 minutes until soft set. Add spices and salt to taste. Serve with whipped cream.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you use whipping cream instead of milk to make instant pudding, you get a cheater’s mousse and it’s set in like two minutes. This is also excellent for a pudding pie if you put it into a store bought graham cracker crust.

        1. Karstmama*

          My mama’s favorite quick pie is Hershey Bar pie. The part that takes the longest is taking the paper off the Hershey bars. Get a graham cracker crust, a box of 6 regular sized Hershey bars with almonds, and a medium container of Cool Whip. Melt the bars carefully in the microwave, stir in the Cool Whip, put into the crust, and put in your freezer. OMGood!

      2. Waffle Cone*

        Non-dairy milk does in fact work with instant pudding. The Jell-o website has instructions – basically you cut the volume of milk in half.

        1. Miette*

          Also, to my vegan niece’s delight, Jell-o instant vanilla pudding is vegan. So is Pepperidge Farm puff pastry. I have done mini dessert voul-au-vents for her topped with fresh fruit–easy to make ahead and fill onsite. You could also do all sorts of nice things with PF puff pastry like vegan parmesan or cinnamon sugar straws, fruit tarts, apple strudel, etc. too.

    25. Somebody*

      Pasta salad – I use gluten-free pasta

      Cook pasta. Cut up and fry bacon, then mushrooms (I like to use the bacon pan). Leave to cool. Mix everything together with mayonnaise.

    26. New Mom*

      My go-to is homemade guacamole. My recipe is:
      2-3 avocados
      fresh squeezed lemon juice
      sea salt
      2-3 fresh crushed garlic cloves

      And then just bring a bag of tortilla chips.

      Really simple and it’s really a hit. This is one of the few things (maybe the only?) I make where I like mine more than anyone else’s.

      1. New Mom*

        One more, Caprese Salad.

        One ball of large fresh mozzarella
        2-3 fresh tomatoes
        fresh basil
        sea salt
        balsamic reduction

        Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into circles and place a basil leaf on top. Drizzle balsamic reduction on top and add some sea salt. It’s delicious and easy.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I do a Caprese salad, but with cherry tomatoes that have been cut in half and either cut-up string cheese (which is just mozzarella cheese marketed differently) or smaller pieces of mozzarella ball, and with olive oil as well as the balsamic and basil, and everything mixed together in a casserole dish rather than layered nicely.

          It changes it from a food where you’re best off with a knife to one that’s already in bite-size pieces, so it’s nice for the kind of potluck, picnic, or BBQ where people are going to be standing around and eating off of paper plates rather than having a seated meal. It’s also substantial enough that I can eat it as a main dish if I can’t eat most of the rest of what’s on offer, since is frequent due to a “fun” combination of vegetarianism and food allergies.

          I also like it for potlucks because most of the ingredients are visually obvious chunks rather than a bunch of purees, so while it still needs an ingredient label, particularly for anyone who needs to avoid surprise balsamic, most people know whether they can eat it right away by looking at it. (Both the dairy and nightshades are fairly visible, so most people avoiding those can select out without having to read through the ingredients first.)

    27. Viva*

      I prefer taking vegan or vegetarian recipes, simply because there’s never enough veggies at potlucks. They also tend to be cheaper and faster. The blog “Cookie & Kate” is my favourite for vegan/veg recipes, her recipes are easy and have never let me down (no affiliation).

      1. Spanish Rice (my short cut is using a jar of salsa)
      2. Broccoli Salad (from Cookie & Kate). This salad is AMAZING. For vegan, omit cheese and swap maple syrup or pancake syrup for honey.
      3. Crockpot Refried Beans Without the Refry (lots of recipes out there)
      4. Mujadara
      5. Caponata
      6. Vegan Chili (Cookie & Kate), or regular Chili. Add fixings like corn chips, sour cream, etc.
      7. Texas Caviar
      8. Michael Symon’s Butternut Squash and Farro Salad (on
      9. Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta
      10. Tex-Mex Casserole

      1. talos*

        Thank you so much! I’m vegetarian but don’t really have the time/inclination to cook large amounts of a vegetarian entree to bring to potlucks (also none of the vegetarian entrees I like stay presentable enough overnight for me to be non-embarassed feeding them to other people), so a lot of times at potlucks I’m just completely SOL on entrees. Glad to know someone’s looking out for me.

      2. Basque-ing Birdie*

        Seconding Cookie and Kate! The carrot soup recipes have made lunch a no-brainer for a great many weekdays now :D

      3. AcademicBee*

        Yup, I try to always go vegetarian dishes (pasta salads, rice salads, corn salad, watermelon salad) because they’re easy to make, I can make the night before easily and like everyone having options. My fave is take a Corn and Bean Salad (similar to Texas caviar). Bonus is it is both vegan and gluten free, although I’ve been making it before I knew people who were gluten free! Also not dependent on seasonal ingredients if you use frozen corn!

        Corn and Bean Salad
        1 can pinto beans (20 oz) drained and rinsed
        1 pkg frozen whole kernel corn, thawed (10 oz)
        4 pimentos, cut in thin strips
        5 scallions, sliced
        ½ c wine vinegar
        ½ c vegetable oil
        ½ tsp chili powder
        ¼ c chopped parsley
        1-2 c shredded lettuce (I often use more)
        Mix all ingredients except lettuce, cover and refrigerate. Add lettuce right before. I usually double it but don’t usually double the oil/vinegar…just a bit more.

        1. Ruth A*

          I like to make a friend’s similarly simple black bean salad recipe for potlucks of all varieties. People like it and it ensures that there will be some substantial food there that I can eat (I eat vegan and gluten free).

          1 large or 2 regular cans black beans
          1 can corn
          1 can sliced black olives
          1 tomato, chopped
          1 avocado, chopped
          white vinegar
          lime juice

          Drain and rinse the canned things, put them in a bowl with the tomato and avocado, then add vinegar (I probably use around a tablespoon), lime juice (start with the juice of half a lime if using fresh), and salt and pepper until it tastes good. I often make this with more tomato because I like tomatoes a lot and last time I bought small avocados and used two of them, so you can adjust the proportions to whatever tastes best to you. The friend whose recipe it is says it must be eaten immediately and isn’t good after being refrigerated; I always make it at least a few hours ahead and refrigerate it and I think it’s still delicious.

      4. pancakes*

        I’m going to try the broccoli salad. It sounds good and I have all the ingredients.

        Farro salad is a good call because it keeps well at room temp for a while, and just about any recipe for it is going to be flexible in what you can add or substitute. It’s also something you can prep the night before and it won’t be any worse off for that. I’ll link to two recipes I like separately.

    28. Jessica Ganschen*

      I’m a big fan of pasta salad, personally! You can mix it up a lot with various noodles, vegetables, cheeses, and other toppings.

    29. tamarack and fireweed*

      I like to bring a vegetarian dish (even though I’m not one) that’s otherwise low in things people don’t eat, since it may just hit the spot for someone looking for something to eat. A nice salad based on pulses (lentils, chickpeas…) can work.

      Particularly my tabuleh (tabuli) the way I learned it in France. The day before, mix in a bowl: about half/half bulghur and couscous wheat, chopped (fresh) tomato, chopped red onion, chopped cucumber, lemon juice, salt, pepper, a little bit of olive oil. Cover with cling film, put in fridge overnight. The day of: mix well, add chopped mint and parsley, adjust seasonings to taste. Wipe rim of bowl or put in fresh bowl. Super low work, and a very nice summery dish.

      In the winter, I like to bring something baked.

      1. JKateM*

        Tabouleh is a go-to for me too. I make it the way my Jordanian friend taught me, with bulgur wheat (though I do sometimes substitute with quinoa for a gluten-free version), finely chopped cucumber and tomato, LOTS of chopped fresh parsley, and olive oil and plenty of fresh squeezed lemon juice. You can add fresh garlic, finely chopped onion, or mint for different versions.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        Seconding bean salad. 2-3 assorted cans of beans, whatever vegetables you have on hand chopped bean-size if necessary (roasting is a good idea for things like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, etc), and vinegar or lemon juice/olive oil and whatever seasonings go well. I always have a lot of pickles/condiments/olives on hand, so I add things like pickled/roasted peppers, olives, or even salsa. Fresh herbs are great if you have them. Marinate overnight for best results. Quick, easy, cheap, and guarantees I have something vegetarian to eat.

    30. Liquid Goldie*

      I have brought cornbread to lots of potlucks (either traditional or a jalapeño cheese variety depending on the audience) and it’s always been a big hit!

    31. lyonite*

      I make the world’s easiest tomato mozzarella salad and it’s always a hit. Ingredients: One basket cherry tomatoes to one tub mini mozzarella balls, scale to your needs, toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, fresh basil if you have it. If you’re feeling fancy you can cut the tomatoes in half, and if you can get the herbed mozzarella balls (Trader Joe’s has a good one) it takes care of the seasoning. My ideal is one of seasoned, one plain, two baskets tomatoes, good to go.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        My mother once stumbled onto a variety of this that has been a staple food of any of her parties since: Put the salad ingredients (cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, basil leaves) on sticks! That does take a bit of time but it’s meditative instead of stressful, and it’s always an incredibly popular finger food.

    32. Let's go party*

      1) Charcuterie board – super easy to make and you can customize it, from savory to sweet and everything in between.
      2) Pasta salad – many options
      3) Fried rice

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        Ooh, fried rice sounds like a great compromise for OP. Still very homemade but easy.

      2. Siege*

        I did a pork-free charcuterie board for Valentine’s Day that was surprisingly easy! You can also do a vegan one.

    33. Kate*

      This is probably biased by where I grew up but… guacamole. Delicious, easy to make, easy to transport. I’d drop a recipe, but I don’t want to start a war about what should and shouldn’t go into good guac.

      1. Zelda*

        The only caveat to “easy to transport” is that you have to know to press plastic wrap right down onto the surface of the guac, to exclude air so it doesn’t turn brown & slimy. Or chop & mix all your other ingredients at home, but wait on slicing & mashing the avocados until the potluck is actually starting.

        1. Certaintroublemaker*

          Not necessarily. You can avoid most of the browning by sprinkling lime or lemon juice over the top. Mix it in right before serving to flavor the whole bowl.

          1. debs*

            I have a fool proof non-browning guac recipe. It doesn’t even brown overnight. ad the lime as you normally would, but in a small bowl, add 1 tbsp of Mayo, 1 tbsp of oil (i like garlic Oil) and mix. I usually mix in any seasoning i was going to add to this mixture (salt, pepper, garlic powder etc.). then add this to your avocado mixture with anything else you put in your guac. For whatever reason, not sure how, but it doesn’t brown.

    34. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      Oreo Fluff:

      1 package Oreos; crushed
      1 package vanilla pudding
      1 16 oz tub of cool whip

      Make the pudding to directions, once set fold in the cool whip. Then fold in the crushed Oreos.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I just made this for a family potluck: S’Mores Fluff. I pkg instant chocolate pudding, I can sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup water. Stir together until pudding is dissolved (I use a big whisk). Add 1/2 cup sour cream (light works fine), then an 8 oz. container thawed Cool Whip. Purists can try it with whipped cream. Add in about 4-6 oz. semisweet chocolate mini chips and about half a bag of miniature marshmallows and fold in. Refrigerate. Serve in bowls with graham cracker sections to scoop. The marshmallows get soft and meringue-like and it’s all delicious.

      2. Ann Perkins*

        Another fluff variation: pumpkin fluff. Canned pumpkin, cool whip, instant vanilla pudding, and pumpkin pie spice. It’s great with vanilla wafers, Graham crackers, or apple slices.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Or Haystacks! Just melt a bag of butterscotch chips and stir into a cup of peanuts and a 10oz bag of crispy chow mein noodles, then drop blobs onto parchment paper and let harden. So easy, and SO good.

    35. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

      Straight up barbecue. I use a doctored version of Ina Garten’s homemade bbq sauce, bastardized by throwing all the ingredients in a blender, adding a 1/4 cup of molasses and a 1/4 c Jack Daniels, then letting it simmer for an hour or two while I do something else. Add some cooked chicken breast or pork tenderloin in a crockpot, bring in some burger buns, let everyone have at it. Active time on this is about 15 minutes tops, everyone loves it.

      1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

        BTW, barbecue is a fairly simple recipe. There’s a far more complex recipe from the darker place inside that knows Some Potlucks Are About Winning. If anyone wants me to open the grimoire and find the Kahlua Cake Recipe of Showing Everyone Else Up, lmk.

    36. Siege*

      I do one of two things because I hate cooking.

      Pasta salad
      Cook and drain 12 oz rotini. Mix 3 oz olive oil, 2 pkg original Ranch dressing mix and 3-4 roma tomatoes plus any other veggies you want to use (I usually do fresh, uncooked broccoli, but you could use mushrooms or snap peas or whatever. I like something with crunch to it here.). Add enough parmesan to make you happy and mix it all up. My tip is to put the veggies in with the pasta and make the dressing separately, in case that isn’t clear. The wording is a little weird, but it’s because you need the tomatoes and then it’s all optional.

      Minted beetroot salad
      1 kg (approximately 6) beets, washed, boiled, drained, peeled, and cut into wedges. Blend or process 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 clove garlic (chopped), 1 tablespoon tahini, 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves. Serve beets with the yogurt mixture – fill your serving bowl with beets and put the yogurt on the top in the center; it’ll get moved around as people serve themselves. Note that this recipe is from an Australian cookbook, and their tablespoon is 20ml while American standard is 15 ml, so you’ll want to adjust for that.

      Obviously if I’m serving beets at a potluck, I have no friends, but they’re simple, easy recipes that I like that can be scaled up or down as needed. The pasta one will handle a 16 oz box of rotini just fine with no adjustment to the rest of the measurements. I’m also working through recipes from Ahead of Thyme, which specializes in quick, easy recipes, and I will agree that they are quick and easy. I would not make one for the first time for a potluck, however; I’ve made 4 so far and two of them have needed some serious adjustments while the third needed a minor adjustment. All four are added to my repeat list, because I like the recipes with adjustments, I’m just saying you don’t want to serve curried sheet-pan chicken and find out at the potluck that the spice mix needs some help.

      1. Zelda*

        We get lots of beets from our farm share, and there is mint taking over the back garden. BRB, putting tahini on the grocery list real quick…

    37. Jess M*

      Some I have made that were a hit and a search on pinterest brings up the recipes:
      1. Oreo Parfait (no bake and simple)
      2. Slow cooker BBQ chicken (set it and forget it)
      3. Mac and Cheese (I like a baked version with garlic and 3 cheeses and a hint of spice). Simple recipes take 30 mins.
      4. Sliders: pesto, turkey, cheese. Can be cold or hot
      5. Spanish Rice: rice, beans, corn, salsa, ground beef, seasonings of your choice. Mix it all together put in crock pot to keep warm.
      Hope this helps

    38. PotluckAdvice*

      Layer macaroni noodles, canned tomatoes, onions, and cheese in a casserole dish; fill the dish to the top with homogenized milk and bake in oven until the noodles are cooked. Delicious and always a hit

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        geez, I think someone should bring this to MY office. (I work from home. “Someone” is me.)

    39. LoV...*

      Chocolate chip scones. They’re pretty straightforward and they travel well. Also, they’re delicious.

    40. Not that other person you didn't like*

      Coconut fruit salad. Chop up a bunch of whatever fruit (seriously, anything goes) and mix in a can or two of coconut milk.

      It travels and holds up well, plus it’s vegan, gluten free, kosher, halal, healthy and really, really delicious!

      In fact, starting this time of year I’ll make big bowls for us to eat at home!

    41. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have taken a crock pot with kielbasa sausage and onions simmered in beer to several potlucks and it was always a hit.

    42. PollyQ*

      Brownies made from the Ghirardelli box, no adjustments needed. I like the Dark Chocolate & Double Chocolate varieties since they both have chocolate chips. It literally takes longer for my oven to heat up than it does to prepare these, and every time I bring them, people clamor for the recipe.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        The Ghirardelli mix is amazing! When I make boxed brownies, I sub coffee for the water (or add 1 tbsp instant coffee) and call them espresso brownies – everyone raves. If I have them, I top the mix with crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans as a garnish right before the pan goes into the oven.

    43. Brain the Brian*

      Veggies and dip. Buy a couple of different types of dip, chop up your favorite veggie, et voila. There are never enough healthy, light options at work potlucks.

    44. Leigh*

      Sausage rolls! Easy to make vegetarian/vegan, too.
      Puff pastry (store bought works perfectly: Pepperidge Farms in the US at least is vegan), brush some mustard on (yellow or fancy), add sausage. Can do loose ground sausage, bratwurst, or Beyond Sausage. Wrap in pastry (triangles for individual sausages, like pigs in a blanket, or one big one cut into portions for bulk sausage), slice some steam vents in, and bake off. Great hot or cold.

    45. DragoCucina*

      World’s Easiest Shrimp Salad*
      1 bag frozen, peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp defrosted
      1 jar marinated mushrooms, drained
      1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

      Mix together and let sit overnight. The marinades are enough spices and flavoring. You can sometimes catch (ha ha) frozen, medium shrimp at a price less than ground beef.
      *–I have a double layered bowl with a gel lining. It goes in the freezer. I put the salad in that and in stays cold.

    46. wet-coaster*

      I get good reviews of pesto rice salad (This is egg/gluten free but does contain nuts and cheese (in the pesto))

      There are only four ingredients and is especially easy if you have a rice cooker, but either way there is almost no prep and it’s easy to scale because there are no actual measurements.

      – walnuts and any nuts you might use in the pesto. But it’s

      You will need: brown or other whole grain rice (no white rice, you need something that will keep a bit of a bite), your pesto of choice, dried cranberries, and walnuts.

      >Cook the rice.
      >Let it cool a little and add pesto. I added around 50ml pesto to 240ml (uncooked) rice last time I made it but I generally just dump some in, taste, and add more until I like it.
      >Throw in a handful or so of dried cranberries and the same amount of smashed walnuts (I throw whole nuts in a bag and whack ’em a few times with a hammer. ymmv).
      >This is best served room temperature or a little warmer.

      Healthy, easy, and people are always impressed. It’s also easy to get creative: Mix your rice – last time I had a black/red/brown blend. Use sundried tomato pesto. Use a different dried fruit, or different nuts. Try einkorn wheat (no longer GF). What else do you have in your pantry? Go ahead and see how it goes.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I do something similar with pasta – al dente pasta, store bought pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, and grated Parmesan (proportions to taste). Serve at any temperature – it’s delicious (and different) every way.

    47. Formerly Ella Vader*

      To some extent it depends on the co-workers’ expectations: are they adventurous eaters? Do they plan to fill a plate and sit at tables with a knife and fork and napkin? Do they need to have the ingredients labelled?

      Homemade bread or buns, with soft butter.
      Baked macaroni and cheese.
      Some seasonal/local vegetable, maybe roasted and cooled.
      Anything that people can eat very small helpings of standing up: Grape tomatoes. Slices of cheese. Sausage bits. Fresh strawberries. Juicy raw carrots. Crackers. Hummus.

    48. Kit*

      Feta tomato dip with bread is amazing and incredibly easy. You could reheat or put in a crockpot the day of. The base recipe is called “baked feta pasta” from real good foodie, just omit the pasta at the end.

      My personal favorite is homemade rice crispy treats, but I rarely make them for pot lucks anymore. The older I get, the more sugar conscious the people around me are.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Smitten Kitchen did this but she replaced the pasta with chickpeas. Makes it more filling/stretches it more than just cheese and tomatoes.

    49. nodramalama*

      If you want to do a dessert mars bar slice is the easiest thing I’ve ever made and all it requires is mars bars, rice bubbles, chocolate, butter, a microwave and a pan to put it in to chill

    50. BLT Salad*

      I don’t really have a recipe, I use ‘enough’ of each ingredient.

      Spring mix salad greens
      Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
      Crisp bacon, crumbled
      Seasoned croutons

      I mix approximately a tablespoon of the bacon drippings into the mayonnaise, then toss just before serving.

    51. A Genuine Scientician*

      My default potluck dish:

      Poach and shred some chicken thighs (I’ll instead use mushrooms if I want to make it vegetarian)
      Cook some long grain and wild rice
      Mix in some frozen peas and the cooked chicken — heat from the just recently cooked rice will cook the peas.

      In terms of scaling, 6-8 chicken thighs : ~6 cups prepared rice : 1 small bag (8 ounces?) frozen peas.

      From my experience, the keys to popular potluck dishes are:

      – Small number of easily identified ingredients
      – Something that scales and reheats well
      – Some form of protein being included

      1. Buffalogal*

        I do something similar to this, except instead of rice I use thin spaghetti broken in half. With a vinagrette dressing it is equally good cold.

    52. Warrior Princess xena*

      For desserts: if you have any sort of electric mixer, pound cake is super easy. Sugar, butter, eggs, flour. Just be sure that your butter is not cold or it will not fluff up, since the only air the cake will get is what gets beaten into it.

      For non desserts: I’m a big fan of pasta salad! Our family go to is several bags of colorful spiral pasta, artichoke hearts, black olives, sliced bell peppers, and Italian dressing. Serve cold. And pasta salad in general can be tailored to match nearly any food intolerance/allergy, since gluten free pasta is pretty widely available.

    53. rubble*

      (I already commented something for this but my browser glitched out and it doesn’t appear to have gone through, so posting again with an addition)

      two simple ideas: chocolate chip cookies, and a pasta that can be eaten warm or cold.

      my choc chip cookie recipe hasn’t made it online as it’s from an australian women’s weekly cookbook from the 90s (and I’ve modified it myself). you probably have your own anyway! but if anyone wants I can type it up.

      for pasta:
      bought roast chicken, shredded
      fusilli/rotini pasta
      basil pesto from a jar
      sun dried or halved cherry tomatoes depending on the season
      roasted pumpkin cubes (I use butternut, which I understand isn’t considered a pumpkin in america. probably other kinds of pumpkin would also work)

      just take out the chicken if you want vegetarian. could also be done with bacon instead of or in addition to the chicken, I think.

      1. Mami21*

        Yo I wouldn’t mind your choc chip cookie recipe! If you have the time and inclination :)

      2. Siege*

        I LOVE the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks. The beet recipe I shared above is from their Middle eastern cookbook, and I am pretty sure I’ve got the same chocolate chip cookie recipe from the desserts book.

    54. astral debris*

      Guacamole, Salsa, and Queso

      You look like a boss for bringing in 3 things, but really you just roughly chopped some veg and maybe tossed some of it into your food processor.

      Bonus fancy points: roasted tomatillo guacamole. Remove the tomatillo husks and broil them on high for 4-ish minutes, flip them over and repeat, then add to your food processor with the other ingredients.

      1. LibraryScientist*

        Yes. I regularly made guac because I would forget about the potluck until the day of and everyone acts like you are a professional chef or something. Plus since making the guac means making a separate pico de gallo then adding it to the smashed up avocados, if you make enough pico you also have a separate salsa to offer as well.
        My usual go to just involves onion, roma tomatoes, lime juice, salt, and pepper. You can also add cilantro and a jalapeno or 2, but depending on your audience those may not be popular because they may have the cilantro tastes like soap thing and any level of spice at all is too much for some people, respectively. You make the pico, then add it to your avocados a spoonful at a time until you have a mix you like. Get 4-5 avocados did fine because usually people are just taking a scoop of a lot of stuff at potlucks, but you can up your count if you know you’ve got a really big group. There’s a million perfectly good recipes out there though, so feel free to mix it up however you like it.

    55. With a twist*

      Cranberry and [type of] cheese parcels.

      Buy premade filo pastry. Cut into 4-5in squares. Three layers per parcel and brush each layer with a little melted butter. Add a dollop of cranberry sauce in the middle. Then add the cheese of your choice – best would be goats cheese, camembert, brie, but also works with cream cheese. Close the edges of the pasty together so you can twist it closed at the top. Brush again with butter. And bake at about 190C for 15-20 mins. They look more impressive than the effort put into assembling them.

    56. Julie*

      Crock pot. 1 cooked chicken. Shred the chicken. Add 1 bottle of bbq sauce. Heat through. Take along tiny sliders, cheese, fixins in a nice display. You’ll be a star. Don’t forget your extension cord

    57. Owler*

      If you ever get stuck with bringing a main course, I found that sliders made on King’s Hawaiian rolls (not cheap ass rolls…except Safeway often puts them on BoGo sale) are a big hit. Last potluck, I did a ham&cheese 9×13 tray and a buffalo chicken one. It was easy, and the toasted sandwiches went quickly. I read a couple of recipes on the King’s Hawaiian site, modified my own style, and ended up using deli chicken to make it even faster. I bet one could easily do a vegetarian sandwich filling.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Crockpot ravioli
        (Yep. I’ve had a crockpot at my desk for 15 years)
        I used to do rigatoni, but I had to boil it at home, toss it in the crockpot and sauce it up.
        Now I get ravioli and sauce, put them in the crockpot on low when I get to work, stir when the mood hits me at serve at lunch time.

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          In the winter, I’ll often do crockpot (nonalcoholic) spiced cider.

          Literally just a gallon of apple cider, and the standard apple/pumpkin spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice).

          Surprisingly popular, extremely easy, people treat it as somehow more worthy than just bringing couple of 2L bottles of something carbonated.

    58. Emily*

      Scones, flapjacks if you’re baking

      If you want to cook, maybe chana masala, or a pasta bake

    59. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I just made this for a family potluck: S’Mores Fluff. I pkg instant chocolate pudding, I can sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup water. Stir together until pudding is dissolved (I use a big whisk). Add 1/2 cup sour cream (light works fine), then an 8 oz. container thawed Cool Whip. Purists can try it with whipped cream. Add in about 4-6 oz. semisweet chocolate mini chips and about half a bag of miniature marshmallows and fold in. Refrigerate. Serve in bowls with graham cracker sections to scoop. The marshmallows get soft and meringue-like and it’s all delicious.

    60. Taki*

      I’ve never gone wrong with a spinach artichoke dip with an assortment of chips/crackers.
      If you’re looking for something heartier, make up the dip, use a pastry bag to fill big pasta shells with it, and serve with tomato sauce.
      2 8-oz cream cheese
      1 8oz ricotta cheese or cottage cheese or sour cream (all work well)
      10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
      2 6.5 oz jars of marinated artichoke hearts OR 1 12 oz can packed in water.
      (If you go with the water packed, you’ll need to add garlic and a tbs or so of Italian Seasoning and a tbs or 2 of olive oil. I toss the veggies in the food processor and pulse for a few seconds, then toss them into the cheese mixture, and throw in whatever odd bits of white cheese I have laying around. If you’re feeling fancy, caramelize some onions separately and throw them into the dip right before baking. If you think the dip is too thick, add a little milk or cream and stir.)
      Mix, toss in to a baking pan, and bake for 30 min at 350. If you opt for pasta shells, cook the shells, let them cool for a few minutes, cover the bottom of pan in tomato sauce. Fill the shells, cover with the tomato sauce and maybe some cheese and bake, still 350 for about 30 min.

    61. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      Caprese salad looks impressive but can be about as simple as arranging a crackers-and-cheese plate. Get pre-sliced mozzarella log, some tomatoes and basil, some balsamic vinegar glaze, and alternate cheese, leaves, tomato slices, and leaves, and drizzle the glaze over top.

      Fresh fruit (in season) is delightful.

      Homemade chocolate chip cookies are popular.

      My dad’s big win was bringing a huge salad to an office that had been saturated with pizza and doughnuts, though that was less a potluck and more an extended crunch session — a volcano had gone off and the seismic floor of the earth sciences building were pretty much living in the office and were extremely tired of the carbohydrate festival a couple days in.

      1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        My cold-season winner is a log of cranberry (or blueberry) covered goat cheese and canape-sized flat rice crackers. Looks fancy. Tastes fancy. Extremely premade.

      2. the cat's pajamas*

        I know you said you don’t like store bought, but I will often bring drinks since nobody ever thinks of it for potluck. Unless you work somewhere fancy that already provides soda or juice or whatever. You could make a fancier drink like homemade iced tea or punch,or even cut up fruit in water to make it feel more homemade.

        If people sign up ahead of time, I also like to bring something in a neglected category, like a snack or main dish if 75% of the group signed up for dessert.

        Another easy snack is to take a package of cream cheese and blend with taco seasoning. Then, spread a very thin layer on a tortilla, roll up and cut into pinwheels, top each one with a black olive slice.

        1. Picard*

          applause for this!

          Yes I like to bring fancy sparling waters – they usually are popular with our crowd!

          And if I really get inspired, I’ll break out the silver punch bowl and make up a yummy pineapple/ginger punch! There are a million recipes out there but I like the one with the frozen fruit ring and the ginger ale added on site.

        2. Zelda*

          A friend regularly brings homemade ginger ale. We all go wild over it, but he always shuffles his feet and disclaims all the praise on the grounds that it’s too easy to be worth mentioning.

          Peel & chop fresh ginger, simmer in a simple syrup (sugar & water). Cool and transfer to a bottle for transport. Offer next to a bottle or three of seltzer so people can mix their own, from gently perfumed to seriously biting. I haven’t done it myself, so I can’t tell you proportions, but searching ‘ginger syrup’ will get you some good resources.

    62. Yellow*

      Chocolate ripple cake.

      Take 1 packet chocolate ripple biscuits.
      Whip 1 bottle of thickened cream. Add vanilla and sugar to taste.

      Layer the biscuits on their side coating them in cream as you go (cream between each biscuit and around edges). Take to work. store in fridge.

      Takes a few hours but the cream soaks into the biscuits giving you a soft cream covered “cake”. If it’sa morning event prepare the night before.

    63. MsSolo UK*

      Jewelled rice (or couscous) salad. Diced red onions, pomegranate seeds, cardamon pods, mint leaves, anything else you fancy (orange. Cook the rice in stock with some saffron to colour it yellow, then stir in the other ingredients once its cool.

      1. Mac*

        Yum, yes! I have a couscous recipe I love that is similar to this, only I also put in diced dried apricots and dates, plus about one orange worth of fresh squeezed juice.

    64. GammaGirl1908*

      I have won multiple cooking contests with butterscotch haystacks. Once, someone tried to dispute because these don’t actually require you to cook, but I won anyway.

      *2 bags butterscotch chips
      *1 can cocktail peanuts (the salty, greasy ones)
      *1 can or small bag chow mein noodles

      Melt the chips in the microwave. Dump in remaining ingredients and stir. Scoop by spoonfuls onto wax paper / parchment paper/ baking sheets / anything. Let set (sometimes I pop them in the freezer for 15 mins, but not required). Serve. Win.

      Notes: some recipes call for peanut butter, pretzels, jelly beans, corn flakes, potato sticks, marshmallows, or chopping the peanuts. Skip all of those things.

    65. Fearls*

      Charcuterie is the big trend now, and there’s no cooking involved. It’s all about prep and presentation. So if you have a nice cutting board or platter, you can whip something quickly. Make sure to include gluten free crackers for the GF crowd and also add in mustards, jellies, chocolates, and dried fruit that complement cured meats and cheeses. You can do can prep at home and then setup the board when you get to your office.

      Dips are also great. Everyone loves spinach dip – I prefer mine chilled with sliced baguette. Or a baked crab and artichoke dip with tortillas.

      And lastly, everyone loves meatballs! Around the holidays, I do storemade frozen turkey meatballs with a quick cranberry bbq sauce. Prep them the night before, pop them in the oven in the morning while you get ready for work, and then take them to work in an insulated carrying case with a heat pad. They’re fine cold too once they’ve been cooked.

      Your potluck contribution can be great without taking up all your spare time.

    66. Red Line Lifestyle*

      Peanut noodles are my go-to (if I know that no one has a peanut allergy). This is a dish I started making in college when I was too broke to afford ingredients to make actual Pad Thai, but it’s very much the basic, Americanized version of something. The measurements are approximate, because I always make this by taste. It should be peanut-y, spicy, tangy, and a little sweet.

      – 1 lb of pasta of your choice
      – 1/2 – 2/3 cup of smooth peanut butter
      – 1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
      – 1 tablespoon soy sauce
      – 1-2 tablespoons honey (to taste, use agave to make a vegan version)
      – 1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (to taste)
      – 2-3 teaspoons lime juice

      1. Cook 1 lb of pasta according to the instructions on the package. I use regular angel hair spaghetti.
      2. As the pasta is cooking, combine peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, sriracha, and lime juice. Whisk until smooth.
      3. Before draining the pasta, add 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water to the sauce and whisk until smooth.
      4. Drain the pasta then add to the sauce. Stir to combine, making sure the cooked noodles are coated with the sauce.
      5. Garnish with chopped nuts and thinly-sliced green onions. If you want to make it more substantive, add cooked, shredded chicken.

      You can eat it hot, but it’s really good cold (and it’s a really good meal on summer days when it’s too hot to actually cook).

      Also, my barometer for kitchen simplicity is skewed, so sorry if this is more elaborate than I think it is! These are all ingredients I usually have on hand, but I’m not sure if all of the ingredients are universally available in American grocery stores (I’ve mostly lived in and around big cities with a lot of grocery options).

      1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        FWIW, if it makes you feel better, I live in a very rural area in the US, and these ingredients are all on hand at my small-town grocery store. (With the possible exception of agave because this is cattle country and vegans tend to be few and far between.)

        I wept for joy when I saw sriracha on the shelf there. This part of the country is not known for its capsaicin tolerance. ;)

    67. Adora*

      Mini-sausages rolls

      Buy a puff pastry base (round one) and sausages (cocktail sausages or cut sausages in bits this size)
      Spread mustard all over it. Cut the put pastry like a pizza but smaller (between 16 and 24 slices total). Put the sausage bit on the larger end of a slice and roll it up like a croissant. Repeat. Put them in the oven for 25 minutes.

      Not in the US so maybe the ingredients are not as easily found/cheap. You can replace the mustard with other condiment and you can use vegetarian sausages. If you feel fancy you can paint the top of the rolls with yolk to get the golden but it takes more time and is only for cosmetic purposes.

    68. Rebecca*

      My go to for potluck dishes is usually Apple Crumble (Delia Smiths recipe is my fave). It’s super easy to make and you can easily make it vegan by swapping the butter for dairy free margarine!

    69. Plantfan*

      My go-to potluck recipe right now is a farro salad. Cook farro according to package directions, let cool, dress with good olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and add veggies of choice. A recent hit used cubed feta cheese, diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts and parsley. I’m planning to do this again for an upcoming potluck, and maybe add a can of drained chickpeas. Leftover grilled or roasted veggies also work well. Make ahead, serve cold or room temperature, vegetarian friendly (but has gluten).

    70. londonedit*

      I’m not really familiar with potlucks but if I was asked to bring something to feed a crowd, I’d probably go with my lentil and artichoke salad. It’s just as many tins of green lentils as you need, drained and rinsed, finely chopped red onion, chopped artichoke hearts (the cheaper ones in tins rather than the marinated antipasti ones) and a dressing made from garlic olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If you have fresh flat-leaf parsley then chop that up and stir it through as well. Really easy to make as much or as little as you need, people love it, and it’s great to make in advance because it only gets better the longer the lentils have to soak up all the flavours. You can posh it up by sprinkling pomegranate seeds on the top, too.

      1. Mac*

        I’m curious where you are geographically that you have green lentils in tins. I’ve only ever seen lentils dry in bulk bins here in the Eastern part of the US. Do you have a brand you recommend that I could look up? I love lentils, but in the summer, I’m always a fan of stuff I don’t have to turn the oven on for.

        1. londonedit*

          So late replying to this, but I’m in the UK and cooked green lentils are available in tins in most supermarkets. I usually buy supermarket own-brand as they’re really cheap (around 60p a tin) but there’s an organic brand called Biona that might be available in the US.

    71. Anna*

      A popular and easy to make Dutch dessert is arretjescake. Basically biscuits, cocoa, sugar and butter, mixed and refrigerated. The original recipe is with raw eggs; I always substitute the eggs with a few spoonfuls of vla (, to make it safe for pregnant people and others who don’t want to eat raw eggs. Apparently one can also use a banana instead, perhaps a better option outside the Netherlands where vla may be hard to find. Prep time is about 10 minutes once you know what you’re doing. It then has to sit in the refrigerator for at least three hours, so it needs to be made well ahead of time.

      One recipe: But there are many other versions, with more sugar, or less butter, or extra ingredients. You can experiment a bit if you want.

    72. FashionablyEvil*

      I make a green coleslaw—checks all the boxes (vegan, dairy free, etc.):
      1 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
      1 bunch scallions, sliced
      1 bunch cilantro, chopped
      1 jalapeño or Serrano pepper, minced (ribs and seeds removed if you don’t want it too spicy.
      Toss all the greens together. Dress with a sprinkle of salt, juice of two limes, and about a teaspoon of olive oil. Taste and add more lime or salt if needed.

      Fresh, crunchy, great cold or at room temp, and keeps on the fridge for several days so easy to make ahead.

        1. FashionablyEvil*

          Nope, no carrots in this one! I suppose you could add them, but I love the contrast of all the shades of green in this version.

    73. Akcipitrokulo*

      Someone once brought awesome salad – cubes of feta cheese, pitted olives and melon. Just all mixed together.

    74. This is my first comment ever?!*

      Honestly, I’ve seen deviled eggs disappear at every potluck. They’re not fancy, they’re kind of old fashioned, and you definitely need to keep them refrigerated—but people love them.

      1. toolittletoolate*

        yes to this! you can make curried ones, traditional ones, Mexican spiced ones–lots of options. And they always go..

    75. Working Far From Home*

      We do a LOT of potlucks in my current position (special case where my community is made up pretty much just of my colleagues). My favorite simple thing is probably coleslaw. It also scales in terms of time and difficulty–if you are in the US, you can probably buy a cole slaw mix in a bag, or you can (like I have to) buy some cabbage, carrots, and onions and shred them finely. (You can do this in a food processor to make them very even and fine, or use a mandolin if you like it less uniform.) The dressing is also usually pretty easy, and can be made to your taste. Mix mayo, vinegar, and some seasonings of your choice. Super easy, and (at least at my work) very appreciated since no one thinks to bring veggies.

    76. Inkhorn*

      Savoury muffins – just mix everything up, spoon into paper cases, and bake. No crockery required for eating and if they have visible veg content you can claim they’re healthy. I made spinach, pumpkin & fetta ones for our last potluck before covid killed the tradition, and it was a good thing I’d made extra for myself.

    77. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The When Cherry Met Sally cake from AAM stories of old.

      One chocolate fudge cake mix (dry, not prepared), one large tin of cherry pie filling, and the number of eggs the cake mix calls for. Mix by hand (or you’ll mash all the cherries with a mixer, but it’s an easy mix) and bake per the instructions on the box. (I always do mine as a Bundt.) Frosting isn’t even necessary, but you can frost it or drizzle it with chocolate or caramel or top it with whipped cream or whatever.

      Also good with other combinations – white or lemon cake mix with strawberry filling are good, spice cake with apple filling is amazing. (My mom adds walnuts to that one for crunch, I topped it with a bit of apple cinnamon granola.) Blueberry pie filling tastes good (but looks terrible, especially in lemon cake, the whole thing was sickly green :-P ) and adds extra liquid so it takes three times as long to bake, and I suspect raspberry would probably do the same.

    78. Jolie*

      Get roll of store-bought puff pastry. Cut with a large cookie cutter in circles or any other desired shape.

      Top with brushed egg and mozzarella.

      Over the egg – mozzarella mix – top with small bits of anything you’d put on a pizza. (I particularly like: half a cherry tomato on the middle +bits of cubed chorizo + bits of onion +bits of bell pepper, or pancetta + pineapple.

      Bake on pizza tray or cookie tray until nicely crisp.

    79. Lady_Lessa*

      This is very easy, and fairly quick.

      Quick Lemon Cookies
      (About 3 dozen)

      1 2/3 cups sifted flour
      2/3 teaspoon baking powder
      pinch of salt
      2/3 cup softened shortening
      2/3 cup sugar
      1 (5 ½ oz.) package instant lemon pudding mix
      2 eggs, beaten

      Sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Cream shortening and sugar together well, then blend in the pudding mix. Beat eggs in well with a rotary beater, and blend in the flour mixture. Drop by heaping teaspoonful onto a greased cookie pan. Bake in a 375° F oven for about 10 minutes, or until cookies are golden. Don’t overbake. Cool on a wire rack.

      Notes from Lessa

       1/3 cup of butter may be substituted for shortening. I had to do that on an emergency basis and have now made it part of my standard procedure.
       Any flavor pudding may be used. I’ve used chocolate mint before.
       Lemon pudding doesn’t come in the large (5 ½ oz.) size, so I use two of the small packages.
       The extra pudding makes the dough a bit stiffer, so I use my hands for the final mixing and balling.
       I got this from “The Ladies Aid Cookbook” by Beatrice Vaughan

    80. Bad Crocheter*

      I’m always excited when somebody brings sausage balls, especially the ones made with hot sausage.

      My supervisor always took a chicken log to our Christmas pot-lucks, and it was the most popular dish every year. I got the recipe, and it has been my most-requested (demanded) dish. It has several ingredients, but it goes together quickly. Mix 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 1/4 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing (I use Hellman’s mayo), 2 T lemon juice, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 4 drops hot sauce (I use Tabasco), 2 c. cooked shredded chicken breast, 2 finely-chopped hard-cooked eggs, 1/4 finely sliced green onion, 1-2 c finely chopped celery, 1 pkg. slivered almonds (untoasted) for topping, crackers or bread rounds for serving (I like Triscuits because they’re sturdy enough for the log and, well, they’re Triscuits. But I also include Wheat Thins for people who don’t like Triscuits). Mix all ingredients except almonds and crackers. Place on plastic wrap, shape into a log (about 8×2 inches), and close plastic wrap around it. Refrigerate until firm (4 hours or overnight). Unwrap, cover with almonds, and serve with crackers.

      The original chicken log recipe offered other topping choices: chopped olives, chopped pimento, chopped green pepper, chopped green onion, etc. You can even “stripe” the log with different toppings and put a strip of green bell pepper between the strips for decoration.

      One year I used a new jar of ginger, and it was too strong for me. So now I either omit the ginger or use a jar that has been around long enough to lose some flavor).

    81. Jam Today*

      Pulled pork or chicken in a crockpot. Meat, liquid, sauce/seasonings, turn on, walk away. Done and dusted.

    82. HoldTheChili*

      Like many I once would have picked crockpot chili. But after an incident where it spilled All Over my carpool’s backseat, I’ve pivoted to homemade salsa with chips. It’s vegan and gluten-free friendly and requires no outlet!

    83. Ana Gram*

      Meatballs in a crockpot! Those are always finished off at work. Frozen meatballs, a simple glaze- can’t be easier.

    84. Betty*

      I often do a Greek bean salad— drain & rinse a can each of red and white kidney beans, finely dice a red onion, combine and toss with a dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Add crumbled feta and toss again when served.

    85. Accountress*

      So delicious, so hands-off. Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese, I use shells, but any non-tube pasta works well.


      1. Add broccoli and 1 cup of the broth to the instant pot. Seal and set to high pressure for 1 minute, then manually release pressure. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.
      3. Add remaining 3 cups of broth, pasta, butter, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to instant pot. Seal and set to high pressure for required number of minutes. Once complete, manually release pressure. Stir in milk and cheddar cheese until creamy. Add broccoli back to pot and stir to combine.

      Ingredients (single batch)

      * 2 heads of broccoli
      * 32 oz. vegetable or chicken broth, divided
      * 16 oz. pasta of choice
      * 4 tbsp. butter
      * 1 tsp. garlic powder
      * 1 tsp. onion powder
      * ¾ cup milk
      * 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

      How Long To Cook Pasta In Instant Pot

      * Your cooking time will vary slightly depending on what type of pasta you use. Check the package directions, find the lowest recommend cooking time, divide that in half and subtract 1. That will give you the length of time required to cook your pasta in the instant pot. For example if your pasta has a recommended cooking time of 10-12 minutes, your math will look like this:
      * 10 / 2 = 5
      * 5 – 1 = 4
      * Cooking Time = 4 minutes
      * If your pasta only lists an odd number for the cooking time, round down to the nearest even number. So if the cooking time is listed as 11 minutes, round down to 10 and then start your formula.

    86. Too tired*

      Drinks! I love when there’s a lemonade or apple cider there. It’s nice to have something other than water.

      1. Bad Crocheter*

        Oooh, I love refreshing drinks! Two of my favorites are cranberry punch and the tub of frozen green punch from Mayfield, mixed with ginger ale. I mixed it with Sprite one year, but ginger ale is much better.

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        You can make some pretty good non-alcoholic punches, as well. Used to be The Thing my family did for school potlucks when I was growing up. Secret was usually selzter + sorbet + fresh fruits.

    87. NerdyKris*

      Baked macaroni and cheese can be simple and a lot of people never have it.
      Simple buffalo wings: get a package of “party wings” (the small ones that are already separated), rub them in flour, then an egg wash, then breadcrumbs, bake them, then just toss them with a store bought sauce. For the super popular ones at my college cafeteria they just melted 1/4 stick of butter into Franks Hot Sauce.
      Hummus is super simple if you have a food processor, and it really impresses people when you make your own.

    88. Slinky*

      People love desserts, whether complicated or easy. Sugar cookies are about as easy as they come and always go down well.

      On the savory side, a simple dip with crudite is always a popular choice. Hummus is super easy (just throw everything in a food processor). Another options is French onion dip (caramelize onions, hit the pan with beef or veggie stock, cook it down until almost no liquid is left, and stir it into sour cream. There are other options, too, that you basically just stir together.

    89. Potlucklover*

      I love doing crockpot meals like curry or chili. Especially when you coordinate with a work friend who provides the toppings/sides.
      Also if you are looking for sweet, rice krispie treats are a great gluten free (dairy free if you use margarine) dessert.

    90. Shiba Dad*

      I used to make a “queso” that was about as simple as you can get. i made it for work, family reunions and fantasy football drafts. It was well received at all of those.

      It involved buying your favorite brand of salsa from the store and Velveeta*. I think that the ratio was half a block of Velveeta for every jar of salsa. I haven’t made this in a long time.

      I would put the salsa in a crock pot and then add cubed Velveeta. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the Velveeta is melted. Sometimes I added things like jalapenos and diced tomatoes.

      *Sometimes I used actual cheese.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        A package of Velveeta and a jar of Rotel, melt it together and serve with tortilla chips. Always a hit!

    91. Gresham*

      Keep in mind that many people would prefer store-purchased items rather than take a chance on co-workers’ home hygiene.

      A selection of cheeses, crackers and relishes like olives and pickles, is a helpful addition to most tables.

      A cooked ham such as Honeybaked also would be popular.

    92. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Garlic bread
      2) Anything that can sit in a crockpot, such as meatballs in tomato sauce or chili
      3) Shrimp salad: 1 lb cooked shrimp, 2-ish avocados, 1 bunch cilantro (or dill), lime juice to prevent browning, bit of salt
      4) Smitten Kitchen’s endives with oranges–looks pretty, hangs out at room temp, offers a vegetable-containing option

    93. Katherine*

      I have a taco dip that’s a smash hit at events like this!

      1 16 oz. can of Salsa
      1 16 oz. container of sour cream
      1 packet of two seasoning

      Stir to combine

      That’s it! Bring chips and enjoy

    94. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Really good potato salad:
      Baby potatoes, steamed. Make a German-style mustard dressing (dijon mustard, oil, vinegar, salt, pinch of sugar) and pour over the potatoes while they are hot so it soaks in. Refrigerate overnight but let warm up for an hour before serving. Top with chopped green onions.

    95. IndustriousLabRat*

      This is totally cheating, but… Fiesta Corn Bread (or muffins, or sticks). You COULD make it from scratch but on a Thursday night when you remembered at 7pm there’s a work potluck tomorrow…

      Per box of Jiffy corn muffin mix (or honestly whatever you have laying around, even the honey cornbread mixes work well for this), add:
      1 – 2 finely diced ripe red Jalapeno or Fresno chiles
      1 finely diced green Jalapeno
      1/2c finely shredded cheese; sharp Cheddar, Jack, Colby, or any combination of these is ideal.
      Mix the add ins with the dry mix and just follow the directions on the box as if they aren’t there.
      Watch the toothpick test as the predicted cooking time nears. And feel free to sprinkle more cheese on top about 8-9 minutes before they come out of the oven. Too soon, it will burn. Too late, it will end up with a sorta greasy appearance as it un-melts lol. It should be just starting to stiffen and turn golden.

      Bonus points: If you are lucky enough that someone else made Buffalo chicken dip, … well, you are LUCKY.

      1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        I want this in my face, right now.

        I’d just add that if you use the regular Jiffy mix, maybe flag that it’s not vegetarian? The classic version has lard.

        1. IndustriousLabRat*

          I did not know that! Never checked the package because I’ve been in such a hurry to get cheesy cornbread into my face ASAP. Good call!

    96. Katie*

      My go to is sausage balls. A pound of sausage 16 oz of cheese, two cups Bisquick. I make it in the stand mixer so it’s super easy. It’s always gone by the end of the event.

    97. Forgot My Name Again*

      Sausage rolls with ready-made puff pastry are very easy.

      Pigs in blankets – cocktail/mini sausages wrapped in a slice of bacon and roasted.

      Couscous takes seconds to make – add spice and roasted veggies, or nuts and raisins, or get creative!

      World’s easiest pasta salad – cooked pasta, pesto sauce, top with cheese. Add cherry tomatoes, pinenuts, chicken or whatever else you fancy to jazz it up.

      [Is it obvious I’m not a cook? XD ]

      1. Shiba Dad*

        Pigs in blankets – cocktail/mini sausages wrapped in a slice of bacon and roasted.

        I feel obligated to mention that in my part of the US, stuffed cabbage is called pigs in blankets (or pigs in a blanket).

        1. Forgot My Name Again*

          I think I’ve assumed those were variations on dolmades. UK pigs in blankets are very much only sausage wrapped in bacon – anything else would ruin Christmas ;)

          1. si*

            Hell yes, if I was expecting pigs in blankets and it turned out to involve cabbage I think I might cry. (No shade intended, I love cabbage, but pigs in blankets is a Very Specific Term where I am from.)

        2. londonedit*

          Yep, in the UK pigs in blankets are small chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon and cooked in the oven; I think an American pig in blanket would be something more like we’d term a sausage roll (which is sausages/sausagemeat wrapped in puff pastry to form a log which is then cut into pieces – you can either have small bite-size ones or longer ones – and baked in the oven).

        3. IndustriousLabRat*

          Where I live (Western Mass), meat-stuffed cabbage is most frequently associated with Polish golabki, and pigs in blankets are those mini cocktail weiners wrapped in the sort of biscuit dough that comes in cardboard tubes :) Never knew of a regional cabbage-wrapped variation! Now I’m intrigued and I need to try this. I’ll bet it’s great.

    98. Forgot My Name Again*

      Sausage rolls with ready-made puff pastry are very easy.

      Pigs in blankets – cocktail/mini sausages wrapped in a slice of bacon and roasted.

      Couscous takes seconds to make – add spice and roasted veggies, or nuts and raisins, or get creative!

      World’s easiest pasta salad – cooked pasta, pesto sauce, top with cheese. Add cherry tomatoes, pinenuts, chicken or whatever else you fancy to jazz it up.

      [Is it obvious I’m not a cook? XD ]

    99. Archangelsgirl (FKA)*

      Veggie pizza (cold)

      Take 2 cans of crescent rolls. Roll them out flat on a jelly roll pan. Bake and cool (cheat: use pre-made flat bread or naan)

      When cool spread topping:

      Mix one tub of spreadable cream cheese (I use herb and garlic) with one tub mayo (like fill the tub you just took the cream cheese out if with the same amount of mayo). Spread on crust.
      Top with veggies of your choice. I use half a bag broccoli slaw, heirloom baby tomatoes, sweet yellow peppers and a few cut up pickles. Sometimes fresh dill. Many people use cucumbers. Sprinkle your fave flavorful cheese on top. Chill and cut into slices along the crescent roll triangle lines for interesting shapes and transport in Tupperware.

      People RAVE about thus and its vegetarian and no heating. I load the veg on it. I’m also lactose free so use LF cream cheese and cheese.

    100. NovaAnon*

      In line with the guac recommendations, homemade salsa’s real easy to make and transport, too, especially if you have an immersion blender.

      All you really need is a few cans of tomatoes, garlic, onions, some chipotles in adobo, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.

    101. I Wore Pants Today*

      Wildly popular and super easy … Tortilla soup. There’s thousands of recipes online for this, so choose a favorite. I like it because it’s mostly canned/packaged/frozen. Take the ingredients and crockpot to work, assemble there, turn it on and wait for lunch.

    102. ecnaseener*

      For an easy side, roasted Brussels sprouts. A touch of maple syrup is optional but highly recommended. (I like to put bacon bits in mine but that’s probably a no-go for potlucks.)

    103. Avarice*

      I have been on the keto diet for over a year, and have friends who are diabetics (the diabetic diet is similar to the keto diet: zeto sugar and very few carbs), and find that most pot lucks in any venue fail to have anything dianetic and keto friendly. So, I usually try to make/bring something that “the forgotten” can eat. My usual standby are Egg Cups.

      Grease a muffin pan. Whip up eggs in a bowl (I prefer to separate the yolks snd white to partially meringue the whites first, then fold the yolks in – I also like to add some heavy whipping cream…I like fluffy eggs). Pour the egg mixture into the muffin pan. Cut up a bell pepper, put one or two pepper squares into each cup. Cut up an onion, same as above. Add one leaf (chopped) into each cup. Crumble some bacon into each cup. Bake until the eggs are fully cooked. Sprinkle cheese on top, throw back into the oven to melt, then put the pan on top of the stove to cool. With a spoon, remove each egg cup and place on a platter.

    104. Jennifer*

      If it will be indoors and you have access to a crockpot and outlet:

      1 bag of frozen meatballs
      1 jar of Heinz Chili Sauce
      1 jar of grape jelly same size as the Chili Sauce

      Throw it all together a few hours before the event (low if it’s more than few hours in advance, high if its 2 hours) and periodically stir to make sure the jelly and chili sauce mix together. I usually actually make the sauce the night before on a stove top and store in the fridge overnight before adding to the meatballs, but it’s not required.

    105. I'm just here for the cats*

      My go to pot lick recipe is my layered taco dip. Mix a block of cream cheese, 8oz tub of sour cream, and 2-4 tablespoons of salsa until creamy. (Use a mixer for ease) Spread in 8×8 cake pan (or use the tinfoil kind with a lid for easy cleanup). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prepare whatever veggies you’d like. I use shredded lettuce, bell peppers, red onions, tomato. You could also put in olives or maybe even corn. I wouldn’t do refried beans as the texture would be too off.
      Drizzle a bit more salsa on top of the cream cheese mixture if desired. Layer veggies starting with lettuce. Top with shredded cheese. I usually use a taco blend but anything would work. When I’m not making it vegetarian I add a bit of cooked crispy crumbled bacon on top. It adds a bit of salty on it. Serve with tortillas chips.

    106. Picard*

      In the summertime, tomato and mozzarella salad (grape tomotoes and mini mozz balls if you want to do almost nothing). If you want to get slightly more fancy, cut grape tomoto in half. Put one half on small skewer, then mini mozz ball, than other half and finish with basil leaf. Finish (either skewers or slad) with extra virgin olive oil and good quality vinegar glaze. Thats my go to summer potluck. For winter I do a lentil crock pot – lentils, chicken stock (although you can keep it vegan but using veg stock), mustard, mushrooms, spinach/kale. Swiss cheese for topper (or vegan equivalent)

    107. Purple Cat*

      Homemade mac and cheese, isn’t necessarily the *simplest* but is a HUGE hit.
      But for really simple – Tortellini with pesto and gorgonzola.
      Chicken Drumsticks – marinated in any jar of marinade you’d prefer, then baked.

    108. Nonny Mouse*

      Buy a watermelon, split it in half, cut the inside hatchways and scoop out the chunks into a big bowl. Always popular.

    109. Taylor*

      Something my mom always makes (I’m a vegetarian now but I used to love it too) are kielbasa and sweet pickle toothpicks. You just slice up some kielbasa and spear it on individual toothpicks with a slice of sweet pickle (bread and butter pickles). For a vegetarian option, I’d do a salty cheese. Something like queso fresco would be good I think :)

    110. BRR*

      I’ve had good luck with a black bean salad. It’s vegan and gluten free, is served cold, and tastes better after sitting for a day.

    111. R*

      The recipes are scaled for 50, so you may want to halve or quarter them, but I often cook stuff from the “Vermont New School Cuisine” cookbook – free download online, you can google. Lots of veggie-centric items that hold well and don’t have expensive ingredients. The section on salads and slaws in particular is really good for potlucks – simple, tasty, colorful, and visually appealing!

      I also sometimes make baking soda biscuits (especially if someone else is bringing a ham!), or pesto. For pesto, I usually make big batches and freeze in the summer, so it’s just defrosting it into some cooked pasta and adding parmesan cheese. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll add cherry tomatoes and/or mozzarella cubes or balls.

    112. She of Many Hats*

      A pan of brownies customized with flavored chips or candies or marshmallows is quick and popular. Take a bag of lettuce greens and dress up with seasoned pepitos, tomato and red onion slices and a “fancy” dressing on the side. These can use semi-prepared ingredients to save time and effort but look fancy when served.

    113. Meghan*

      I’m big fan of Smitten Kitchens Salted Brown Butter Rice Crispys. They’re like adult rice crispys. You make it in a similar manner to regular ones, but brown the butter and add coarse sea salt to the cereal.

    114. Jean*

      Buffalo chicken dip is always a hit at potlucks. It’s hot/homemade, but not labor intensive. There are tons of recipes online, and it’s easy to sub out ingredients to make it vegetarian/vegan friendly too.

    115. Pucci*

      Insanely easy vegan chili – The three different kinds of beans make this very attractive

      1 onion, diced
      1 15 oz can black beans
      1 15 oz can kidney beans
      1 15 oz white beans
      1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
      1 packet of chili spice mix

      Sauté the onion until soft, add the rest of the ingredients and water to cover. Cook for 15-30 minutes.

    116. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      If it’s an after hours event where it won’t go amiss, you can do whiskey bread pudding in a slow cooker.

      You can also do an apple or rhubarb crisp in a crockpot, which I’ve had very good luck with.

      Chili can be a good entree.

    117. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I like these salads because they store well over hours/days and are as good room temp as cold. I’ll add recipes in a reply

      Shepherd salad: Common basically from the Balkans to Afghanistan. Tomato, onion, cucumber, green pepper (can be bell or as spicy as you like – lots of variations), olive oil, lemon juice, salt, dill, flat leaf parsley. Use whatever proportions you like. I prefer even tomato=pepper=onion=parsley distribution. Chop everything. Add salt and lemon to level you like. Can be used as a salad or dip a bit like pico de gallo

      Tabobouleh: parsley, tomatoes, green onion, fine bulgur (#1 should look like couscous), fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil. Mix the lemon juice and oil. Add bulgur wheat to dressing and let it soften while you chop everything else. I like a 3:1 ratio parsley:everything else, but you can adjust the ratios to what you prefer.

    118. toolittletoolate*

      a little pricey but if you can afford it–a fruit salad–when I make one, there are never any leftovers!
      pasta and store bought pesto with a little cheese
      macaroni and cheese
      a tomato and cucumber salad–you can make a couple of days in advance
      green bean casserole
      sausage and cheese roll ups–get some crescent rolls, brown up a little sausage, put a little cheese in the sausage and roll it up in a crescent roll and bake.

    119. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      One dish I’ve done for potlucks and for friends who needed food brought (illness, babies), is adapt the veggie side dishes out of my trusty Betty crocker cookbook. My favorite is basically whatever veggies you have on hand baked at 350 in a mix of olive oil and either red wine or balsamic vinegar (both are good but sometimes red wine vinegar is more popular because it’s sweet) with parsley, thyme, oregano and sage (or just rosemary). I get various root veggies (potatoes, carrots, turnip and rutabaga root), beans, celery, and dice tomatoes to sprinkle over in the last 20 minutes. I even get the foil baking dishes at the store so I don’t have to worry about getting a dish back later.

      It’s vegetarian, gluten, dairy, nut, and IBS friendly (depending on the veggies). It’s really flavorful so the meat preferring people even will eat it. The hardest/longest part is prepping the veggies, so the rutabaga root might not be preferred for a potluck, but most things can even be bought pre chopped. Just throw it all in together and let it cook. For me it’s a year round dish and it’s always different and well received (my stepmother will call and ask me to specifically make this for holiday potlucks for X people to avoid green bean casserole and not worry about veggies).

      Plus it’s fairly friendly, or was, to university level administration salaries (none of us got paid well, though it wasn’t far below market rate for the area).

    120. Liminally Maple*

      Roasted vegetables. I’ve used carrot, parsnip, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc in different combinations, depending on what’s on sale. Cube it up, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and roast in a hot oven until crispy on the outside and cooked through. It can be served at room temperature, and is compatible with pretty much all diets.

    121. Engineering Manager*

      The sun-dried tomato basil pasta salad recipe from the Pioneer woman is always a hit and super simple to make. The only things “to do” aside from mix in a bowl is boil the pasta and throw dressing ingredients into a food processor. Bonus that both the pasta and dressing can be made ahead and dried in the fridge, just mix everything together day of.

    122. CheesePlease*

      seconding everyone who says fruit or fresh veggies – often everything at potlucks is something that is carbs + cheese and while that is delicious it is 1) not always allergen-friendly (gluten, lactose and soy are all big allergens) and 2) not always comfy for my tummy to digest a carby greaseball all afternoon

      to make it interesting, you can make a tomato + basil + garlic salad and serve it with some crostini (toasted crackers) or fruit skewers

      1. That's Not How You Spell That*

        This is why I bring fruit salad too. You can use whatever fruit is on sale or that you have (berries, mandarin oranges from a can, mangos, pineapple, apples, etc.) I just do fruit, nothing else, and I get compliments on it. If apples, the acidity from something citrus takes care of apples or you can sprinkle w lemon juice. You can add chopped bananas before you serve, if you want

    123. Yep, me again*

      I’ve done Italian Nachos a few times. It seemed to be a hit.
      A bottle of Spaghetti sauce (I like Ragu, you do you)
      1 package of shredded Mozzerella
      1 package of Parmesan Cheese
      1 pound of ground beef.

      fry up beef and add the sauce. Put it in an oven safe dish and bake it off the night before with some of the cheese on it (if you want to ‘test’ it out before then) and then the next day, dump the rest of the cheeses on top of the dish and nuke in the microwave. Put out serving spoons and small bowls to portion out their own servings if you like (but I’ve never had an issue with people double dipping with this dish) Serve with Stacy’s Parmesan and Garlic chips or plain chips.

      Anything left over you can take home and have pasta the rest of the week!

    124. P. Opus*

      This will do for a smaller office, but would get expensive/labour intensive if the office is more than 16.
      Take a honey do melon and cut hot in 1/8th. cut the skin off the back of the pieces and starting at the sharp corner (you’ll know it when you see it) cut slices into the melon wedge without cutting through. Turn it over and fan it on out on the plate.
      Top with a raspberries puree – put fresh raspberries in a blender/food processor and add sugar to taste (if you use frozen raspberries you will need to add some water, and extra sugar).
      It sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t.

    125. Charlotte Lucas*

      I love to cook & bake, but I also sometimes want/need simple recipes. Here are some ideas:

      – Wacky cake – An entire chocolate cake mixed & baked in a pan. And it is egg & dairy-free. Also, very chocolatey. It was common during WWII, & there are online recipes.
      – Caprese skewers – Small mozzarella balls, basil leaves, & cherry or grape tomatoes layered on skewers/large toothpicks. If you can find heirloom tomatoes, even better! Serve with a simple vinaigrette or just olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar.
      – Hummus can be easy, too.
      – Brownies & muffins are always crowd pleasers. I add a teaspoon of cinnamon to brownies, & it is always a hit. (Works with most basic brownie recipes.) And you can turn most muffin recipes into an easy coffee cake by baking them in an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Caprese skewers are always popular here too. An ex colleague always brought them. I don’t miss the colleague, but I miss the skewers.

    126. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      Honestly, brownies are usually a big hit at potlucks and super easy – and cheap. When I was in grad school I used to buy a family-size boxed brownie mix (or 2 normal size, depended on sales) and a foil 13×9 pan. If you add 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract and about 2 cups of any flavor baking chips (dark chocolate, white chocolate, even butterscotch) and then bake according to directions it helps spruce it up and no one has to know you started with a boxed mix!

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        Alternatively, if you have vegans in your office, this cake recipe is a family favorite and SUPER easy:
        1 cup sugar
        1/3 cup cocoa
        1 1/2 cups flour
        1 teaspoon baking soda
        1/2 cup canola oil
        2 tablespoons white vinegar
        1 cup cold water

        Combine sugar, cocoa, flour, baking soda in large mixing bowl. Add oil and cold water, stir with a fork to blend thoroughly. Quicklyu stir in vinegar. Pour into 8×8 inch baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Gently drop on counter to eliminate bubbles. Bake at 375F (350F in a glass pan) for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake tests done.

        I’ve never tried it with gluten-free flour, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for people who cannot have gluten (assuming you ensure the other items are safe). Best part – no frosting needed! It’s super rich and moist.

        1. Zelda*

          Worth noting here for those who may not know: many vegans decline to eat standard white & brown sugars because of how they’re processed. I keep palm sugar around for such occasions, but there are other options as well.

          I agree that the baking-soda leavening is likely to work well with gluten-free flours; the setup here looks pretty similar to the quickbreads (which let’s face it are really cakes) that I routinely do with garbanzo bean flour or Bob’s Red Mill GF mix.

    127. bishbah*

      My all-time best easy potluck dish is one that I found on Allrecipes. Go there and search for “Black Bean and Couscous Salad.” I use thawed frozen corn instead of fresh if the latter is not in season or if I want a shortcut. A lot of commenters recommend doubling the cumin dressing—you can decide to make extra, reserve it, and then add more to taste at the end. Sub vegetable broth or water to make it vegan.

      This makes a BIG bowl of hearty salad, can be made ahead, and is good both cold and at room temperature. It’s also colorful and healthy.

    128. ASneakierMailman*

      In the summer, this watermelon mojito salad is reasonably simple but enough of a twist on just bringing a cut watermelon that it really grabs attention. I bring it to everything:

      In the wintertime, I’ve done well with homemade soups in a crock pot. Cream of tomato went over well at our year-end buffet.

    129. Underwhelmed*

      Seasonal fresh fruit cut into bite-sized chunks is a refreshing option on tables of calorie-rich goodies.

    130. Not a vegetarian*

      Something I’ve made for YEARS – even before I cut most carbs from my diet – is pickled asparagus spears wrapped in ham with cream cheese. Costco has large jars of pickled asparagus where I live, for far less than the small jars meant for garnishing bloody Mary drinks. Take a thin piece of ham (I like Black Forest style) roughly the size of your hand or smaller, smear a little softened cream cheese on it (jalapeno cream cheese is awesome), then wrap it around the asparagus spear. It’s helpful to drain the spears on paper towels first. People beg me to bring these to every family or work event, and even the carbaholics don’t notice they are low carb. You won’t please the vegetarians, but… ;)

      1. Run mad; don't faint*

        I’ve had a version where they subbed green onion for the asparagus. It was yummy too!

    131. Johanna Cabal*

      My old standby? A BLT pasta salad.

      Cook either shell or rotini pasta, then cool. Slice up turkey bacon*, tomato (I use grape tomatoes because it’s easier), and pepper. Once the pasta is cooled after some time in the fridge, I add the bacon, tomato, and pepper. Then I stir in mayo (sometimes I use chipotle ranch dressing if I know that the people at the potluck like spicy) and add some salt and pepper.

      *I could use regular bacon but I know that a lot of people don’t eat pork so I stick to turkey.

    132. SushiRoll*

      I have made a dish referred to as “cowboy caviar” a few times and it’s really good. It just requires a good amount of chopping but otherwise it’s super simple to make.

      There’s some slight variations out there but it’s basically a fresh salsa-like dish with diced roma tomato, avocado (i sometimes leave these out, even though i love them, but because ripeness issues), red onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro and then you add cans of black beans, black eye peas, and sweet corn. You can kind of do the amounts to preference somewhat. There is a dressing of olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Serve cold. Best served with some tortilla chips, or just eat it!

    133. Honoria Glossop*

      Brownies from the Ghiradelli box mix (I think I usually go for the triple chocolate). I like to bake but have yet to find a from-scratch recipe that tops this (and I’ve tried many!). Sprinkle just a little coarse sea salt on top before baking if you want to be fancy. Always a bit hit at parties!

    134. Emm*

      Fruit salad! It requires a little chopping, but then you just throw everything in a bowl. I like to add canned mandarin oranges to give the salad a little juice to marinate in. And bar certain allergies, it’s usually something everyone can enjoy.

    135. EmKay*

      I make brownies from a box and jazz up the recipe by adding pecans, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. I call them Rocky Road brownies, and they’re always a big hit :)

    136. Jessica Fletcher*

      Everyone seems to love buffalo chicken dip with various dippers (pretzels, naan, whatever).

      Someone at a former job used to make “cream cheese veggie pizza” which was a cold rectangular pizza crust with a thin layer of cream cheese and veggies on top. Everyone liked it! I googled and it looks like Pillsbury has a recipe to make it with their crescent roll dough, so maybe it was that and not a true pizza crust.

    137. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

      Baked brie bites with puff pastry or crescent dough. Pre-made dough + one fancy ingredient + whatever flavors you want (a jar of any kind of jam works great), and they’re popular because people love to be able to grab one small thing. Ideas here:

    138. nanscatsmama*

      Pasta Salad- Rotini pasta, cubed pepperoni, salami and provolone cheese, diced celery and bell peppers, chopped green olives. Oil and Vinegar based salad dressing of choice. I use a prepackaged pasta salad mix that comes with pasta and packets to make the dressing. Always a hit at office potlucks. Only drawback is it that the meat and cheese make it an expensive dish to make.

    139. Esmeralda*

      Keep it cold/room temp and use components you do not have to cook.

      I had this at my wedding (a friend and I made a lot of the food)
      Black-eyed pea and corn salad. Cooked b-e peas (rinse well), cooked corn (rinse well) — if you can get really fresh sweet corn use that instead (raw), small diced red bell pepper or other sweet pepper, small diced orange bell pepper, small diced red/purple onion, thinly sliced celery, honey vinaigrette (used red wine vinegar)

      Turkey black bean salad. Cooked turkey breast or smoked turkey breast, cut into smallish cubes. Black beans (rinse well). small diced bell pepper (different colors) and/or roasted red pepper, small diced purple onion or chopped green onion (use the green and the white), diced tomato if you want. Make a vinaigrette with white wine vinegar and lime (half/half), garlic, cumin.

      Cold soup (serve in small paper/plastic cups): don’t have the recipe off the top of my head, but you can find lots online for cold zucchini soup or cold cucumber soup (we had cucumber soup at the wedding). I like the zuke soup with curry seasonings.

      Other things I bring that are always a big hit:
      Green salad w half romaine, half bitter greens (mix of arugula, radicchio, belgian endive, or just buy a mix — clean those well and pick thru them, even if they say pre-washed), pink or red grapefruit supremes, very thinly sliced red radish, make a vinaigrette w white wine vinegar and reserved juices from the grapefruit and dijon or dry mustard, just before serving, toss w grated parm or romano.

      Middle Eastern style salad/fattoush: tomatoes, cukes, onion, garlic, capers, roasted red peppers, olives, feta, assertive vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, big croutons or broken up pita chips, any fresh green herbs — a mix is great (basil, parsley and dill – use a lot of these; oregano, thyme, mint – don’t go quite as wild with these)

      Lentils or chickpeas or white beans: cooked bean, vinaigrette, tomato, onion, feta

      Mid-summer: a big platter of caprese. Sliced (fat slices) tomatoes — if you can get a variety of heirlooms along with the big boys it looks beautiful and then sprinkle with coarse salt, sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar or drizzle with a vinaigrette (I use a mix of red wine and balsamic vinegar — if you can get a fig balsamic it’s killer), some coarse black pepper or mixed peppercorns.

      Salad with watermelon, tomatoes, feta, fresh mint (or basil) vinaigrette.

    140. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      The simplest pot luck recipe I know is bean dip.

      Mix one can of refried beans and one softened block of cream cheese. Add cumin, salt and chili powder until it tastes good. Spread in a shallow dish and top generously with shredded cheddar or other cheese. Nuke it till the cheese melts when you are ready to serve. Bring tortilla chips.

    141. Nea*

      There’s a pot luck dish that’s so popular that we asked the person who made it to bring it every month.
      – Corn kernels
      – halved cherry tomatoes
      – diced avacado
      – squeeze of lemon juice
      – crumbles of either blue cheese or feta

      Mashed potatoes are very easy and very popular.

      The first time I stuffed mini sweet peppers with hummus everyone ate them up but nobody’s touched them since, so mileage is highly variable.

      A big bowl of oranges, tangerines, or clementines already in sections. If you make them as easy to eat as potato chips people often will, where they’d avoid picking up the whole fruit.

    142. DreddPirate*

      I have two go-to’s when it comes to low-effort potluck dishes:

      Oaxacan dessert tortillas:
      (I usually make two batches – one with cayenne and one without)
      Toss the following into a food processor, then pulse until the mix is grainy
      *cold* chocolate chips, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
      Brush several flour tortillas with butter, then sprinkle with the topping.
      Bake at 350 for 20 min. until crisp, then break into ‘chip-sized’ pieces.

      Sparlic dip:
      Toss the following into a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth.
      2 bunches of parsley, stems removed.
      1 small head of garlic, or 6-8 cloves if you’re using pre-peeled garlic.
      Juice and zest of half a lemon.
      2 tbsp good quality olive oil.
      1/2 tsp of salt, or to taste.
      Optional – I also usually add some diced red bell pepper for color.

    143. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      I’ve made boneless skinless chicken breasts seasoned with taco seasoning the crock pot with salsa say the day before, then just put in on warm the day I brought it in. I brought in a pack of tortillas and people ate it up, no leftovers and super simple!

    144. DrSalty*

      Fresh fruit salad is always great – melon, berries, apples, etc with some lemon juice drizzled on it to keep the apples from browning. Chopped veggies and dip is also a great, easy thing. I find no one wants to bring healthy food to a potluck, but most people do want to eat SOME fruits and vegetables with their meal. Simple homemade salsa and a bag of chips would also be good. Mac and cheese is a big hit usually, probably a bit more work.

    145. dedicated1776*

      Summertime potluck dessert suggestion: homemade lemon bars. No one else makes them and they are AMAZING when you make them from scratch with real lemon juice. You can make them the night before pretty easily. Just hold off on dusting with powdered sugar until you’re closer to serving time for a better presentation.

      If you want to make a savory something, definitely get a crock pot (if your office allows them). You can use them for dips, pasta dishes, pulled pork/chicken, dessert…a million things. Get one with a locking lid to make it more travel-friendly.

      If a crock pot is a no-go, how about some Hawaiian roll sandwiches? Get the minis, cut the tops off in one big swoop, and put various fillings on there. Turkey, ham, veggie…lots of options. (Layer condiments and watery veg between meat/cheese to keep the bread from getting soggy.)

    146. Vermont Green*

      Broccoli, steamed till tender, with (not too much) sour cream and garlic, light spices such as nutmeg if you like them. Other veggies work, too.

    147. potluck slam dunk*

      Here’s what I make and people go WILD for it. It’s always requested! It’s a Buffalo Dip.

      – 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick)
      – 8 ounces cheddar cheese (1 of the store bought preshredded bags)
      – 5 ounces blue cheese crumbles (1 of the store tubs)
      – 1/2 bottle franks wing sauce (or more to taste)
      – (optional) Shredded chicken or a drained can of chicken (I omit this for ease, cost, and to make it vegetarian friendly)

      Mix it up. Cook it on 350 until it’s all melty and gooey. Serve it with a bag of chips or a cut up baguette.

    148. ScaryPickles*

      I always bring either tomato salad (tomato, mozzerella, basil, salt and pepper and maybe balsamic) or watermellon salad (watermellon, either basil or mint depending what is at the grocery store or in my garden, some finely chopped jallapeno, and blueberrys or blackberrys if on sale).

      I find that at the potlucks I go to there is very rarely anything healthy-ish, and while I love mac and cheese I personally can’t do anything heavy for lunch in the middle of the work day and still be productive in the afternoon.

    149. C Major*

      Coleslaw. Just buy a bottle of dressing and a bag of slaw mix. Mix it all together and refrigerate overnight. My workmates love it and it takes no time at all. It is one of the first dishes to empty at our potlucks.

    150. Molly*

      A big bowl of the smallest grape tomatoes you can find mixed with an equal volumes of small mozzarella balls (I prefer ciliegine). Put a bottle of balsamic glaze and a small bowl of basil leaves cut into thin strips on the side.
      No cooking and only the basil leaves require any prep.

    151. WantonSeedStitch*

      One of my favorites potluck contributions in general is something I like because it’s quick, easy, uses mostly ingredients that you can easily keep in stock in your pantry for emergencies, and it also just happens to be vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free. It’s also very tasty, and even pretty nutritious! It’s from my favorite food blogger, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats.

      Warm Spanish-Style Giant-Bean Salad With Smoked Paprika and Celery

      6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
      2 tablespoons tomato paste
      1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
      1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
      1/2 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
      2 stalks celery, peeled and cut on a bias into 1/4-inch slices
      1 (15-ounce) jar or can of large cooked beans such as gigantes, giant lima beans, giant white beans, or butter beans, drained and rinsed [my note: I usually use butter beans, but chick peas also make a nice option]
      2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
      1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
      Crusty bread for serving (optional, it’s on the side so it isn’t contaminating the salad with the gluten if that’s a concern)

      Combine 2 tablespoon olive oil, tomato paste, paprika, garlic, and shallot in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and starting to bubble gently, about 2 minutes. Stir in smoked paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Add celery, drained beans, vinegar, and remaining olive oil. Cook until barely warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with crusty bread.

    152. Rage*

      I have a favorite. Not sure what it’s officially called, but I call it “Crack Green Beans”.

      Start with canned green beans (I’ve done it with fresh and it’s not just the same), 3 cans for the average recipe. Drain and dump into a crock pot.

      1 stick butter
      3/4 cup packed brown sugar
      7 T soy sauce
      1 T garlic powder
      OPTIONAL: chopped, raw bacon (I omit this if I know there will be vegetarians attending) – actually I tend to omit this mostly anyway because it’s an extra step that’s harder. I like easy dump-and-go type stuff for my crock pot.

      Turn on the crock pot and let it do its thing. Say 2 hours on high, maybe 3-4 on low.

    153. Anony vas Normandy*

      Cucumber Feta salad goes over well in the summer, and it’s super easy:
      2 cucumbers, de-seeded and diced
      brick of feta (I use the 16 oz brick, because I love feta)
      2ish green onions, chopped
      olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper

      Salt the cucumbers and green onions (probably 1 tsp salt?), set aside. In another bowl, break up the feta and mix in 2 T olive oil and 1 T lemon juice, then adjust until it tastes good. Add maybe 1 tsp pepper, toss into cucumber/onion mix. Chill until it’s time to serve.

      I’ve made it for so long that I don’t actually remember what the measurements were supposed to be, just taste it until it’s right with your soul.

    154. Engineering Mom*

      I recently made a bacon ranch dip that was SUPER simple (I have no kitchen atm, it’s that simple).
      2 blocks room temp cream cheese
      1 cup sour cream
      packet of ranch dressing mix
      2C shredded cheddar
      bacon (measure with your heart)
      3 or 4 green onions
      Mix together the sour cream, cream cheese, and ranch mix until smooth. Fold in everything else. You can serve it with any kind of sturdy cracker or pretzel, or it’s really good with celery sticks and make the health-conscious people thrilled.

    155. SparkyMcdragon*

      If you have an instant pot you can make pulled chicken by sticking chicken and bbq sauce in the instant pot and shredding with two forks when its done. That plus Hawaii rolls for mini BBQ shredded chicken could bebfun.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Hawaiian rolls only. No cheap ass rolls, PLEASE.

        (I also make chicken like this for tacos on a weekly basis, but instead of bbq sauce, I just use a bunch of Mexican spices and a little water, then after I take the chicken out to shred it, I use the sauté function to cook down the liquid into a sauce. It’s great on soft corn tortillas.)

    156. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      While it’s not quick if done right, risotto is dead simple that can be easily made vegetarian or vegan if desired. As a rice dish, it pairs nicely with a wide variety of other dishes, and is crock-pot friendly, too.

    157. Cosmic Cetacean*

      In my experience, just about anything cooked in the crock pot is a big hit at workplace potlucks. I think the best crock pot option for a work potluck is something like BBQ shredded chicken sandwiches. You can find a million recipes online with minimal (or no) prep and short ingredient lists, and you just bring in your shredded chicken and a bag of sandwich rolls to eat it on. Depending on timing, you can even throw your ingredients in the crock pot when you get there so they cook during the day while you work. Other similar crock pot options are butter chicken, chicken Tikka masala, ranch chicken, or you could do something like loaded mashed potatoes if you don’t want to make a meat dish.

    158. Erin*

      This thread is making me hungry :)

      A woman I used to work with would bring several (several!) types of homemade taquitos. It was heaven. She also made those divine cream cheese & chocolate cupcakes. Sigh. I miss her.

      I once stopped at Dick’s (a Seattle fast food institution – IYKYK) and got a bunch of burgers & fries. It was such a huge hit, and became a requested item at future potlucks. I was always happy to oblige.

      Other than that, I throw together a Panzanella salad or cheese/hummus/snacky snacks board in about 15 min, and Voila!

    159. Sylvan*

      Pull-Apart Garlic Bread a la Buzzfeed

      You can use pizza dough instead of biscuits. You can use homemade pizza dough or biscuits, of course, but it turns out fine if you don’t.

      You don’t have to use mozzarella. Use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand. I’ve used cheddar, muenster, parmesan… If you have cheese in the fridge, you don’t have to buy cheese for this.

      Use minced garlic instead of garlic powder. Add whatever spices will go well with your cheese, or at least red pepper. You can also try adding sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, whatever.

    160. Justice*

      My ex used to make a salad of blanched green beans, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and a homemade vinaigrette. It’s super simple, easily adaptable (he put parmesan in it, but you don’t have to), different, and absolutely delicious.
      I just did a quick Google and there are a bunch of recipes for it.

    161. Lindsey*

      Sloppy joe sliders! Make the beef/turkey + manwich mixture ahead of time & keep warm it in a crockpot. Slice steak sandwich rolls into thirds (saw this idea at a deli when they were out of slider rolls + way cheaper and easier to find than slider rolls). Only cooking is browning your meat.

      People asked me for the recipe

    162. SeluciaMD*

      A few of my favorite go-to potluck contributions that are easier (but always crowd pleasing) are: brownies (Ghiradelli boxed mixes are awesome and then add a cream cheese or caramel swirl); buffalo chicken dip in the crockpot (serve with carrots, celery, pita/crackers), pulled pork (again, a great hands-off crock pot option); poundcake, mixed berries and some whipped cream with marscapone in it is elegant and delicious but fairly simple and you can do a bakery/store bought pound cake but fresh berries and do the marscapone whipped cream yourself for that personal touch.

      Hope you find a winning idea in the comments!

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Dust the pound case and marscapone with espresso powder and it sounds like tiramisu!

    163. SoapiestEagle*

      I love making a simple pasta salad!

      Boil your favorite type of noodles and finely chop any of the following veggies:
      Onion (red or white are great in this)
      Olives (if that’s your jam)

      Combine with drained pasta and zesty Italian dressing, and put in a covered bowl in the fridge for an hour to cool. You can also add mini (turkey) pepperoni or cubed cheese as well!
      Super simple, compliments other dishes nicely, and feels pretty low maintenance.

    164. I edit everything*

      I like to do a cold Asian-style noodle salad with spaghetti, fresh chopped veggies (usually raw—sugar snap or snow peas, bell peppers, cabbage, cukes, carrots, whatever you like) and a simple soy sauce and sesame oil dressing. Nice mix of salty/savory/crunchy/carby, and a touch of sweetness depending on your veggies and dressing.

    165. windsofwinter*

      I love a good strawberry and grape salad. Four ingredients: cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, grapes, and strawberries. Just combine a jar of fluff and 8 oz of cream cheese, then cut up the fruit and mix it all together. It’s best if you let it sit for a while, so you can make it the night before. Very popular.

    166. Just a name*

      Our go to is Giada’s Tri-Colore Orzo pasta salad. Always a hit, and substitutions are easy. For example, we use dried cranberries when we can’t find dried cherries. Make ahead, maybe add a but more olive oil/lemon juice right before you serve it. Great for summer.

    167. Dont be a dork*

      Chili is nice in colder months, can be made with or without meat depending on the dietary needs of the folks you’re eating with. I usually do two crock pots’ worth — vegetarian for one and with meat for the other. Add a bowl of shredded cheese for those who take it that way and you’re done. Chili has the advantage of being doable ahead, too. I start it the night before I need it and let the flavors blend overnight in the crock pot on low.

      In hotter months, a simple salad with a variety of dressing options would work. We never seem to have enough salads at potlucks down here.

    168. Jennifer Strange*

      In general, I would focus on something that’s a one-pot wonder and maybe expand on it (just to increase serving sizes). My husband and I love making arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) in our dutch oven and it always yields a TON of food.

    169. Daisy-dog*

      Firecracker crackers are always a smash hit! Marinate some saltines with oil and seasonings (search for a few different kinds of recipes!). They will all disappear.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        This also works for Ritz and pretzels. I just remembered how much I love the pretzel version.

    170. Jack Bruce*

      My go-to is homemade hummus and pita chips. It’s super easy in the food processor and good for vegan and veggie people at the potluck. One great way to make it memorable is increase the cumin and sub out half the water in the recipe with pickle or pickled jalapeno brine.

    171. RG*

      For work potlucks, my go-to is Cheddar Bay Biscuits using this recipe:

      It’s mostly stuff I already have around the house. (I don’t keep buttermilk in the house so I fake it with a cup of milk and a bit of vinegar and it works fine.) When I do this for a work potluck (as opposed to scarfing them down at home) I skip putting butter and parsley on top just to make it less messy to transport (and so I don’t have to buy an entire bunch of parsley), and can confirm I barely miss them.

      The biscuits stay really moist and springy for a day or two after you make them, so they taste super fresh. They are obviously not vegan or gluten free, but they are good for vegetarians/folks with nut allergies/anyone who likes cheese and carbs. You can heat them up or eat them at room temp and they are good either way. :)

    172. Bureaucratic Hospice*

      It’s not really *cooked* per se, but cowboy caviar! Variety of beans, some salad dressing (mild chopping of vegetables) and 1-2 bags of fritos scoops. It’s veggie friendly (can be vegan), and costs ~$5/takes less than 20 mins to toss together the night before.

    173. RCS*

      Crock pot sweet and sour meatballs.
      3-12 ounce bottles chili sauce
      1-32 ounce jar of grape jelly
      1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
      1/2 teaspoon black pepper
      1 6 pound bag of frozen meatballs (can sub meatless meatballs)
      Add chili sauce, grape jelly, Worcestershire sauce, & pepper to cold crockpot.
      Whisk mixture until smooth.
      Pour in frozen meatballs and gently stir until all meatballs are coated in sauce.
      Turn crockpot on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours. (We prefer the low heat longer cooking option!) Be sure to stir meatballs occasionally, if possible.

    174. Khatul Madame*

      Back when we were in the office I would bring a big bag of clementines every time we had a communal meal (usually company paid, not potlucks). They are less perishable than a fruit plate or fruit salad and people don’t need a plate to partake. They were quite popular.

    175. Tricksie*

      My favorite thing to bring is lentil-bulgur wheat salad from the Moosewood cookbook (but you can find the recipe online). It has a lot of ingredients, but it’s very easy. Cook some lentils al dente, hydrate some bulgur wheat, add feta, olives, chopped celery, toasted walnuts (or not, if nut free). Dressing with lemon juice and olive oil and lots of herbs. Sliced lemons and tomatoes on top. It’s delicious!

    176. MyySharona*

      I used to make two versions of stuffed dates. Get pitted medjool dates, make a mix of goat cheese, honey, and black pepper. Stuff the cheese in the dates, shove in a few slivered almonds, and wrap the dates in a strip of prosciutto. For a vegetarian option, overstuff the dates and roll the exposed cheese in some chopped cranberries or barberries. They’re really good, easy to make ahead, and go over really well.
      For a good beverage option, make agua fresca. If I’m having to transport, I make the fruit base and then add water to the pitchers when I arrive.

    177. SamScoopCooper*

      Homemade Rice Krispy Treats.

      A lot of people don’t realize how simple they are to make and you can add things like whole marshmallows, m&ms…to the mix before it hardens. But if you want to go classic you just need marshmallows, butter and Rice Krispie cereal (or cereal of your choice.)

    178. Anna*

      Pulled pork – make an easy version in the crock pot the day before and you can bring the whole thing to work the next day and serve warm with buns, maybe some cole slaw. Also people tend to really like broccoli crunch salad (broccoli with a Mayo-based dressing with bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds, etc). I’ve had some decent vegan/low fat versions. Food network is a good resource for both these suggestions.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Beef or chicken work the same way. The day before when you leave for work just put a roast or a bunch of chicken breasts in the crockpot. Season however you like, put some beef or chicken broth, (or apple juice for pork) in and let it cook on low for 8 hours. When you come home use forks to pull the meat. There’s hardly any work. The only other thing you need to do is bring some buns, maybe some stuff for toppings (bbq sauce, cheese, etc).

    179. cardigarden*

      I have a from-scratch brownie recipe that is perennially well-liked at the work potluck. It’s a bit more assembly than dumping box mix in a bowl, but still not terribly labor intensive. 15-20 minutes of prep, 40 minutes to bake. The only ingredients that people may not already have in their cupboards is powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

    180. Mina*

      texas caviar – in most recipes most of the ingredients come from a can, with maybe one chopped onion added. It’s great with chips, and tastes best after marinating a day or so. the recipe below calls for a bunch of peppers; you can skip those, just add the onion and cilantro, and add some chopped pimento from a can and pre-minced garlic if you really want to.

    181. Loading my (hopefully great) name...*

      Mexican here, we have a very popular dish called “papa con chorizo” wich is potato and chorizo. It´s really easy to make and if you want to go non meat there are really good chorizos made of soy.

      1. Just Me*

        I would give anything to work somewhere where a coworker brought papa con chorizo to the office potluck.

        Mine in order of difficulty:
        -charcuterie tray
        -build your own sandwich tray (charcuterie but with bread, basically)
        -lavash flatbread or pizza (thought of it because last time I made it was because I brought it as a tapa for a Spanish dinner where we also ate papas con chorizo) you basically bake your lavash, put toppings on it, then bake it again, so you could prep it and put it in the oven right before serving.

    182. Elizabeth Bennett*

      Mine is super easy, if you don’t mind spending money – I bring in cocktail shrimp with sauce. There’s a great fish market in our town, so their shrimp is super fresh and their sauce is very spicy.
      People love it, especially those on keto. I’ve learned to divide it into two trays so that when the first tray is eaten, there’s still shrimp for late arrivals.
      However, if the event is hosted by a friend who keeps kosher, I bring a cheese tray.

    183. spartanfan*

      A good home made salsa or guacamole can really go far and are fairly easy. I make salsa in the blender with 2-3 large tomatoes, 3-4 tomatillos (if you can find them), jalapeno(s) depending on spice target, an onion, a bunch of cilantro, salt, juice from 1-2 limes. For guacamole, my ratio is 4 avocados, 2 roma tomatoes diced with the seeds/juice removed, 1 small red onion (plum sized), 1-2 jalapenos with seeds removed (if you want to get fancy burn the outside of 1 of the jalapenos over you gas burner direct flame, put it in a ziploc bag for a few minutes and peel the skin off with a wet paper towel then dice it), juice from 1-2 limes, teaspoon of salt.

      Another easy to make one is buffalo chicken dip but put in a slow cooker vs. baking, or velveeta with chorizo & a can of diced tomatoes with green chilis is also very good.

    184. LizB*

      An interesting salad, preferably one where the major ingredients are more robust than greens (i.e. can stand up to hanging out in dressing on a table for the whole duration of the potluck without getting wilty). My mom does a broccoli-grape salad that everyone always wants the recipe for, and I have a favorite cherry caprese salad that I bring everywhere.

    185. I edit everything*

      I have a recipe for goat cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon that are easier than they sound, though they don’t hold great overnight. You could prep them ahead, though, and bake day of, especially if your workplace has an oven.

    186. The Wizard Rincewind*

      This is like falling off a log and everyone loves it:

      I usually double it with a 12-oz jar of roasted red peppers, and two jars of marinated artichoke hearts. All you do is dump everything into the food processor. Leave out the cheese and it’s vegan. Bring carrot coins (for gluten-free people) or pita chips to serve. My coworkers request this at every work potluck and I feel bad when they heap praise on me because it’s so effing simple.

    187. Sherman*

      I would make beer dip and bring in some bags of pretzels. It was always a hit (for reasons I’m not quite sure as it’s nothing special)! I would usually substitute the beer for non-alcoholic beer just to be on the safe side for work. It’s just cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ranch powder and beer all blended together. I could mix it up in about 15-20 mins, put it in the fridge overnight and grab it when I was leaving for work in the morning. There are various recipes out there, but the Hidden Valley Ranch website will have the one I most frequently used.


      Some of my simple yet crowd pleasing potlucks:
      Cucumber salad
      Tomato and mozzarella salad
      Buffalo Chicken Dip
      Taco Dip
      Pasta Salad ( those Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad! Boxes go over really well and are always on sale)
      A pickle and olive plate

    189. No Longer on a Train*

      I have a guac that has turned guac haters into guac lovers.

      4-5 scored avocados left chunky
      1-2 packages of pre-made pico de gallo (or make your own!)
      1-2 packages of feta cheese (the feta makes it betta)

      mix in generally equal amounts into a bowl, serve with chips.

      the big key here is to leave your avocados chunky, don’t mash/make smooth.

    190. kiki*

      Veggie tarts! I make them with store-bought puff pastry. Cut the puff pastry into squares, layer on you choice of cheeses (I like fontina and ricotta), plop a soft veggies on top (my go-to’s are asparagus or tomato) sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes and presto!

    191. Quiznakit*

      Sorta Greek Orzo Salad

      -Orzo, cooked till al dente
      -Olive oil
      -balsamic or red wine vinegar
      -kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
      -grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
      -fresh basil leaves

      Combine pasta, cheese, olives, and tomatoes. Toss with olive oil and vinegar to taste, season likewise with salt and pepper. Very easy, very tasty, I never take home leftovers. Adjust proportions of vegetables and pasta and oil and vinegar to taste.

    192. Hedgehog*

      One of my favorites that tends to go over really well and is simple is a cranberry-ginger dip with either pita crackers or baguette slices. Basically, chuck cranberries (ideally fresh, but frozen-thawed works too), a knob of ginger, sugar, lime juice, and jalapeno in a food processor and adjust all ingredients for taste. It ends up being a really pretty dark pink color, has a kick, easy (actually better!) to make ahead, and served cold (so you don’t have to worry about reheating).

    193. Library IT*

      I only make simple things because I don’t love cooking. Some of the things I’ve seen hit the best:
      Mashed Potato Casserole (make mashed potatoes, mix in sour cream and cream cheese, put cheddar cheese on top and bake)
      Pea Salad (bag salad, cooked frozen peas, bacon, parmesan cheese, mayo/sugar dressing)
      Strawberry shortcake (biscuit shortcakes, cut macerated strawberries, can of whipped cream)
      Other things that always seem like hits at potlucks – meatballs, cocktail weenies, crockpot mac & cheese

    194. Quiznakit*

      Banana Pudding: last time I made this I thought people were going to lick the bowl clean

      2 boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
      4 cups of milk
      1 16 oz tub of cool whip or similar
      1 large box of vanilla wafers or, failing that, graham crackers
      Fresh bananas, sliced thin

      Make the pudding according to package directions, then fold in the whipped topping. Layer wafers, banana slices, and pudding mixture in a large bowl until you run out of space or ingredients. For best results, make sure the bananas are not exposed to air because that’s what turns them brown.


        You will have to beat my co-workers off with sticks when banana pudding is brought to a potluck

    195. KayDeeAye*

      I always say that you can’t go wrong with brownies, but if you want something easier and lower calorie, you’d be surprised at how well a vegetable side goes over. In my experience, regular salads don’t generally get eaten fast (it’s just so hard to find a good spot on the plate!), but if you roast or saute some nice, sturdy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, red bell pepper, etc.) and mix them with a vinaigrette, that tends to go over really well. It appeals to the many people who have loaded up on high-calorie things and want to give their palates a little break; it’s good served warm, cold or room temperature; and if they get a little sauce on them from the roast beef, they still taste good. And if there’s any left over, you can take it home, secure in the knowledge that (unlike mayonnaise-y things, which really shouldn’t sit at room temp for long), it will still be good to eat later.

    196. Jigsaw*

      Spinach dip is always a crowd favorite. I use the recipe that is on the back of Knorr’s vegetable soup mix (you need the soup mix). You could probably swap out the mayo and sour cream for vegan versions.

      Serve with veggies and/or pita chips and it will be gone fast!

    197. CatPerson*

      My co-worker would slow-cook a pork shoulder overnight for pulled pork, then served it with buns and BBQ sauce. Coleslaw/potato salad from the deli. It was the best potluck dish ever!

      Velveeta with Rotel chilis and Tostitos Scoops in a small crockpot is very simple and popular.

    198. Bye Academia*

      I like to bring chili! Super simple – you just dump everything in the pot and simmer.

      There are a ton of chili recipes out there. The one I use is from my family, and can either be made with ground beef/turkey, or a few cans of different beans to make it vegan. Then you can bring sour cream, cilantro, or whatever on the side.

      In your pot, saute one diced onion, and brown meat if you’re using it.
      Then add a can of diced tomatoes, a can of drained corn, a can of drained kidney beans, a can/bottle of beer, and a cup or two of vegetable or chicken stock.
      Can also add a can of black beans and a can of white beans if you’re skipping the meat.
      Also add salt, a tablespoon of cumin, and a couple of tablespoons of chili powder.
      You can also add red pepper flakes or jalapenos for a little spice, but maybe not for an office potluck!

      Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Done!

    199. Saint Dorothy Mantooth*

      For potlucks, the slow cooker is my best friend. You can make amazing chicken tacos with basically no work:

      1 lb chicken breasts
      1 cup salsa
      1 packet taco mix

      Cook on low for 6-8 hours (so, overnight the night before the event) and then shred the chicken with two forks
      Keep the chicken in the slow cooker and bring it to the office, keeping it set on Warm until it’s time to eat. Serve chicken with taco shells/tortillas and whatever other fixins you like.

    200. Mashy*

      Mashed potatoes!

      You don’t even have the peel the potatoes if you pick a thin skinned brand (or make it a feature if you like a good Russet)!

      If you use margarine instead of butter the dish is automatically vegan. (You can use a plain plant-based milk if you like, but I often make them with just margarin).

      Season to taste; salt, pepper, maybe some fresh parsley or something.

      It’s easy, it’s bland, it appeals to a variety of diets, and I’ve never had someone hate mashed potatoes.

    201. Just A Minion*

      I’ve been reading AAM for a while now but this is my first post… and wouldn’t you know it would be about food!
      LW4 – I have several go to’s depending on the party (or theme). Deviled eggs are always good, if it is a summer party, an easy coleslaw is a win, or a cool desert that is peanut allergy friendly.
      Coleslaw (recipe easily doubles). Base: 1 napa cabbage, sliced in strips, half a green pepper chopped, 4-6 scallions thinly sliced, 4 TBS sunflower seeds, 1 packet of Soy Ramen (the blue brick packet). Dressing: 4 TBS rice wine vinegar (I use a garlic one), 4 TBS olive oil, ramen seasoning pack and sugar to taste (you can use alternative sweeteners as well).
      Put the sliced vegies in a large bowl. put the brick of ramen in a bag and crush it (not to powder but you want to break it up into smaller pieces). Sprinkle about 2/3 of broken ramen in the bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the dressing ingredients and mix well (I usually put in a bowl with a lid and shake it). Pour the dressing over the greens and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Prior to serving, mix in the remaining ramen for an extra crunch. You can also old off on the sunflower seeds and add those prior to serving.
      Dessert (an easy oldie but goodie!) –
      1 box graham crackers, 1 can of chocolate frosting, 3 cups milk, 8oz tub of cool whip or whip cream, 2 boxes vanilla instant pudding. In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding, once mixed add the cool whip. In a 13×9 pan put a layer of graham crackers covering the bottom. Put a layer of the pudding mixture over the crackers, repeat. Finish with a layer of graham crackers. On low heat, heat the icing in the microwave until you can pour it over the top layer of crackers. Refrigerate overnight. For peanut friendly, check the frosting. You can change this to different types pending the people attending.

    202. Dust Bunny*

      I often bring Texas caviar. Everyone has their own version but here’s mine. Plus: It’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, and doesn’t require any obscure ingredients. If you can’t eat tomatoes use red bell pepper instead.

      In order for this to be true Texas caviar, you must use black-eyed peas. At the time this recipe was developed, Texas was a major producer of black-eyed peas, and the recipe was promoted to highlight them. You can make it with other beans, and it will taste great, but it won’t be Texas caviar.

      2 15-ounce can black-eyed peas (4 cups cooked)
      1 tablespoon oil (I use olive oil)
      2 4-ounce cans diced green chiles (I like Ortega or Hatch, hot or mild, as you prefer)
      . . . or fresh chiles to taste. This does not need to be spicy.
      1/4 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
      4 medium celery stalks, quartered lengthwise and finely chopped
      Juice and zest of two limes
      Two large or four Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
      2-3 tablespoons dried cilantro

      Combine everything and allow to marinate for at least a few hours. stirring occasionally.

      Serve with Fritos Scoops, pita chips, or basket-style tortilla chips, or eat as a salad.

    203. OutofOffice*

      This has been a big work crowd pleaser in my experience: Cranberry Gorgonzola Cheese Ball. I usually only make this around the holidays because cranberry, but it’s delicious all of the time and relatively low maintenance.

      This is the recipe as I found it, but I will say I don’t always toast the nuts because it’s more effort and I don’t think it makes a big difference. Just serve it with crackers and/or some veggies.

      2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
      1 package (5 oz) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, softened
      2 tablespoons honey
      1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
      1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
      2 teaspoons butter
      1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
      1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

      Basically, you mix everything except the last 3 ingredients and refrigerate a couple of hours. Then you toast the breadcrumbs in butter, let cool and mix in the parsley. Form the cheese into a ball and then roll in the breadcrumbs (for work, I make this the night before; I form into a ball and refrigerate and keep the breadcrumbs in Tupperware. At work, right before serving, I roll the ball in the breadcrumbs).

      Other (even simpler!) options:
      Caprese Salad – slice some good tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, little salt and pepper, and drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic (save the seasoning and drizzling for right before serving).

      Gazpacho – chop cubanelle, red pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, a teensy bit of red onion, garlic (remove the germ!), and some stale bread, blend with olive oil and sherry vinegar, chill, done.

      Roasted Garlic – so easy to make in bulk, and so delicious. Serve with crostini or just plain baguette slices. I know, I know, garlic smell – but it’s not as bad when roasted and if most people are eating it, it becomes less of a problem!

      Cantaloupe balls and prosciutto – stick together with a fancy toothpick. This is the least amount of work and yet feels so impressive! Reserve a bowl of cantaloupe for vegans/vegetarians and others who may not eat pork products.

    204. Combinatorialist*

      When the logistics are reasonable for bringing something hot and I want something easy I do a corn souffle.

      1 can corn, drained
      1 can creamed corn
      1 stick of butter, melted
      8 oz sour cream
      1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

      Mix all ingredients together. Bake for an hour at 350. Very good, very easy, not very healthy

    205. Juniantara*

      Casting another vote for salads, with a homemade dressing – you can toss the ingredients together quickly right before serving and many people like a change from heavier options

    206. Decima Dewey*

      My go to used to be a corn salad I got from Nika Hazelton’s Way With Vegetables: corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh basil, scallions, Dijon mustard, olive oil. It works with fresh, frozen, or canned corn. I’ve even made it with canned baby corn from the International section of the supermarket. These days some stores carry packaged baby corn in their produce sections, so that could work too.

      A Greek salad with whatever looks good at the market/produce shop works too.

    207. Former Retail Lifer*

      Someone often shows up with a vegetable platter. If you go that route, make some homemade aioli. I brought boxed couscous with added spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and vegan parmesan cheese to a potluck before and it went over well. Regular couscous is much quicker than pearled couscous.

    208. Giving away my secrets here*

      Cookie Dough Cupcakes

      1. Prepare a box cake mix batter (usually yellow cake or funfetti) according to the directions on the box
      2. Pour enough batter to cover the bottom of a cupcake liner
      3. Take store bought cookie dough, and roll into small balls. (Size doesn’t really matter. If I’m using the cookie dough that comes in flat packs, it’s usually pre-sliced into 24 pieces, each one of those is 1 ball of dough)
      4. Put the cookie dough in the cupcake tins
      5. Cover the cookie dough with the remainder of the cake batter
      6. Bake as directed on the cake mix box
      7. Frost, using store bought icing (or make your own).
      8. Yum.

    209. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      My ex-husband, a notorious non-cook, always brings this to potlucks:

      Buy three packages of kielbasa and two 12-ounce bottles of sweet and sour sauce. Slice the kielbasa (no need to go super thin) and place in crockpot. Add sauce. Stir. Plug in the crockpot when you get to work so it will be nice and warm by lunchtime. Don’t forget a big spoon or ladle for serving.

    210. Bunny Girl*

      Baked & wrapped cheeses look really impressive and taste great without taking more than 20 minutes. You can bring fruit slices, crackers, and bread along with them. I have two I normally use.

      Baked Brie –
      Thaw 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry for 20 minutes. Place wheel of brie in the center. Smear with apricot, fig, or raspberry preserves. Wrap wheel, drizzle with honey, and bake in over at 375 for 15-20 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with almonds if feeling fiesty.

      Baked feta –
      Thaw frozen phyllo dough according to directions. Place block of drained feta at the short end of the dough. Sprinkle with chopped olives (Kalamata or black), wrap like a present and brush with butter, then sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake or air fry at 400 for 15 minutes and then drizzle with hot honey.

    211. Not Today Josephine*

      #4 Once forgot about the potluck until the night before. I had a cranberry quickbread mix in the pantry so I made that, added some orange peel and some walnuts, and everyone raved about it. I did label it as Cranberry-Orange Bread with Walnuts in case anyone was allergic. Nobody even guessed it came from a mix!

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Probably because it was still homemade! Things that come from mixes are still homemade. All a mix is, is the premeasured dry ingredients. I don’t understand why some people think that buying things like cake mixes is cheating or something. You can make your own mixes and put them in jars.

        (I’m not saying that you or your coworkers are dissing mixes. Just something I’ve noticed lately that people seem to get all cranky when they learn something was from a mix.)

      2. anonymous73*

        I love to bake and make lots of things from scratch but I have zero issue making something that starts with a boxed mix. In fact my absolute favorite cake (which I just happened to make yesterday at my stepson’s request for his birthday) is a strawberry cake that starts with white cake mix. Anyone who turns their nose up at a dessert that starts with a mix can bake their own dang cake!