Win Your Next Potluck With One of These 23 Cheap, Easy Potluck Dishes

by Anna Newell Jones on 5 December 2012 6 comments
Photo: rennes.i

It’s potluck season, which means that soon you’re going to be thinking, “What in the world am I bringing to this thing?!”

These 23 delicious dishes are perfect for your next potluck, and they won’t bust the bank in the process. (See also: 5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth)

Let’s start with the sweet dishes... 

1. Butterfinger Pie

This Butterfinger pie takes just 10 minutes to make, and it will probably be eaten quicker than that! 

2. Chocolate Chip Cookies

You don’t have to bake these from scratch (no judging here). When your grocery store's off-brand, semi-frozen cookie logs go on sale (usually two for $4 at my local grocery store) pick up a couple. Before your next potluck, pop them in the oven half-an-hour before you leave for fresh, warm, home-baked cookies.

3. Fairy Bread

Popular in Australia for children’s birthday parties, this is white fluffy sandwich bread with a layer of butter and then topped with colorful sprinkles. Cut off the crusts and then into triangles.

4. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cream cheese seems to come up on almost everyone’s “indulgence” list. Merge it with pumpkin, and you’ll have muffins that everyone wants to gobble up

5. Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies 

A cool-weather twist on a classic cookie. Something about cinnamon just screams “cozy up!” The best thing about this recipe is there are no exotic ingredients.

6. Saltine Cracker Chocolate Bark

On the streets it’s known as “chocolate crack,” and for good reason. I first came across this treat at a party, and I kept going back for more because I just couldn’t figure out what was going on with this mysterious dessert. Hey, research needed to be done! The secret to this delicious never-before-seen, flaky, buttery-bottomed, melt-in-your-mouth, sent-from-heaven dessert was (you're never going to believe this) — saltine crackers! Bring this super-easy recipe to your next potluck, and you will leave with an empty plate and a whole new batch of friends.

7. Microwave Caramels

This microwave caramels recipe is beyond easy, uses common ingredients, and the best part? It only takes six minutes to make! Bring them to the party on a cute dish (or put them in a tin, or aluminum foil, for easy co-worker/boss/postal worker holiday gifts), and you’re done!

8. Never-Fail Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Sweet, juicy, and actually kind of refreshing

9. Instant Fudge

Get yourself one container of fudge frosting and one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Either mix the chips alone in the microwave and then add the frosting and stir together, or melt both at the same time. You must watch the chocolate very carefully to be sure that you don’t overcook it. Throw in some peanuts (or any other kind of nut you like) to add some crunch. Place the mixture in a pan, refrigerate, cut, then serve.

10. Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

These cookies and cream cheesecake cupcakes are completely decadent.

11. Pound-Cake Tiramisu

Love how the store-bought pound-cake in this pound-cake tiramisu cuts down on the prep-time.

12. Baked S’mores

These baked s'mores are a little more complex than some of the other recipes listed, but it’s worth the extra effort. 

And now, time for the savory dishes...

13. Carrots With Ranch Dressing

Okay, before you dismiss this one as “you’ve heard it before,” hear me out.

Carrots are cheap. At .79 cents for a full bag you can’t go wrong. Pick up some store-brand ranch and small, clear 3-inch cups from the dollar store. Slice up the carrots so they are about 4 inches tall. Squirt a 1/2 inch of ranch dressing into the bottom of each cup, and then add four or five carrot sticks to each cup. There you go! These are great because they are easy to handle at the party (no scooping dressing onto a plate and then having everything else roll into it), and everyone will think you’re a genius for bringing such a healthy and easy-to-eat dish.

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14. Mexican Mess Bean Dip

If a bean dip didn’t show up on this list it wouldn’t qualify as a “proper” potluck post, so here it is and now this list is officially legitimate. Buy a bag of store-brand tortilla chips to accompany your dip, and off to the party you go!

15. Parfait Chicken Salad

I’ve only seen sweets done as parfaits; never something savory. Where have you been all my life, delicious savory parfait?

16. Triscuit Pizzas

This is easy. Gather 1/2 lb. shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 lb. softened butter, 6 oz. tomato paste, 1 tsp. oregano, and a pinch of garlic. Mix all of the ingredients together, spread onto Triscuit crackers, and bake on a cookie sheet at 350° until bubbly. While this one won’t win any health awards with the 1/2 lb. of butter, it sure is good.

17. Hummus and Warm Pita Bread

This is the easiest one on the list. Pick up two packages of pre-made hummus, put it in your own bowl, and then warm some pita bread in the oven. Slice the pita bread into triangles and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm. Bonus points are given if you add olive oil and sliced olives to the top of the hummus.

18. Meat Pockets

These meat pockets are cute and easy to handle at a party.

19. Baked Spaghetti

Baked spaghetti is definitely different, and that’s one of the great things about potlucks. You get to try a little bit of a lot of foods you wouldn’t normally get to eat. 

20. Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread

Sign me up! This blue cheese and walnut spread is nutty and classy all at the same time.

21. Fruit Salsa With Baked Cinnamon Chips

This one’s a lighter and healthier potluck option that straddles the line between sweet and savory. Is it a salad? Or is it a fruit dessert? It’s both!

22. BLT Pasta Salad

A BLT and a pasta salad got together, had a baby, and this is it. 

23. Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

There's got to be a law somewhere that says you can't have a potluck without a Crock Pot. Don't get arrested, make this Crock Pot mac and cheese instead.

What is your go-to recipe for potlucks? Do you have a winning recipe that everyone always loves? We’d love to hear what it is!

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Meg Favreau's picture

Oh my goodness, so many things I want to try here. I also love it when people cook things like meatloaf or seitan in muffin tins and/or muffin form. They're perfectly sized and easy to pick up!

Guest's picture
Susan P.

I usually bring a casserole with pasta, ground beef and tomato.

Guest's picture
THE SCOUTMASTER 134

I bring 2 plates of deviled eggs (one regular, one spicy) to any party at the end of the month when I'm too broke to make anything high-end....Super cheap and everyone loves them!

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patricia caradonna

I always make artichoke dip: mayo, artichoke, parmesian cheese, garlic powder, and sprinkle paprika on top, served with crackers or wheat thins.

Guest's picture

Well, you definitely got me on board with the "chocolate crack". Just looked at the recipe and decided I have got to make it for Christmas this year. I love being the one to bring both a healthy dish along with a delicious dessert- everyone can appreciate and enjoy both! Thanks for this list, all of these are very easy with little ingredients which equals little money to spend.

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Guest23

I would be so angry at someone who brought "fairy bread" to a pot luck. Seriously. Just bring a bag of chips if you're gonna be ridiculous.