20 Office Potluck Dishes Everyone Loves


There it sat, barely touched: A large earthenware bowl of tabbouleh and black-bean salad, painstakingly decorated with tomato slices and a rim of curly lettuce. Its owner had clearly put effort into her potluck dish, but no one was eating it. And why not? Sadly, that's just not what people want to eat at office potlucks.

During 31 years of office work, I have participated in more potlucks than I can possibly count. Even though there may be a lot of talk about dieting and healthy eating during the workweek, trust me: That goes out the window at a potluck. Don't be the person whose potluck item sits, wallflower-like, next to the popular queso. Don't suffer the embarrassment of asking your co-workers if they want to take some quinoa salad home.

Here are 20 sure-fire potluck foods that I have ranked in order of popularity.

1. Deviled Eggs

Coming in at number one is deviled eggs. Nobody ever, ever goes home with a plate of uneaten deviled eggs. My co-worker Bridget, who had three kids, would bring a giant platter of deviled eggs to the office on the Monday after each Easter. They'd be gone before break time. You can dress them up with horseradish, bacon bits, snips of chive, or green onion. It really doesn't matter, because people are going to eat them all, even if they are unadorned.

2. Hot Artichoke Dip

My problem with hot artichoke dip is that I want to eat it all, and I don't want to share. If it is on the potluck table, you'll find me standing next to it. I never make it because I would eat it immediately, and then I would have no potluck item.

I do, however, have a couple of recipe tweaks

I like to add half a can of spicy chilis for a little zip. Secondly, sorry to start the mayonnaise versus Miracle Whip debate again, but for me, mayonnaise only. It doesn't matter what kind of crackers you serve alongside. Cardboard would get eaten with a layer of this stuff.

3. Meatballs

Coming in at number three are The Meatballs. You know which sweet and sour meatballs I am referring to. They also make frequent appearances at Super Bowl parties. The ingredients are ridiculously easy: meatballs, chili sauce, and grape jelly. You can mix it up and use barbecue sauce or other types of jelly, or even cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. The trick is to put them into a Crock-Pot, which you set up in the office kitchen, and the aroma fills the air around 10:00 a.m. They smell great. I actually once caught a co-worker stealing one out of the Crock-Pot before the potluck. I use frozen turkey meatballs, which aren't as oily when heated. People will actually ask me "Are you going to bring The Meatballs?" when we have office potlucks.

4. Guacamole and Chips

I have never met anyone who didn't like fresh guacamole. I am sure you're out there, but your numbers must be few. Watch out for the double-dippers. Do not make guacamole too far ahead of time, or you risk having it turn an unappetizing shade of brown.

5. Mexican Layered Dip

This Mexican dip is also called "five-layer dip" and "seven-layer dip." They are all pretty similar: refried beans, cheese, sour cream, olives, onions, etc. If you own a quiche dish, that's a better vehicle than a pie plate. Pro tip, buy the really sturdy tortilla chips; that way people aren't breaking off their chips when they dip into this thick extravaganza.

6. Jumbo Shrimp With Cocktail Sauce

If you want to splurge on something that will impress the potluckers, here is a star. This is what you will hear: "Oooh. Who brought the shrimp?" I'm cheap, so I buy my shrimp, clean it, and cook it myself. But if you find a good price, it's so much easier just to buy it ready to serve.

7. Pizza

Getting a pizza for a potluck may seem like cheating, but it's actually genius. First off, most people love pizza. Secondly, you don't have to cook. Lastly, you can have it delivered. Sure, there are the people who will roll their eyes at your minimum effort, but watch that pie disappear.

8. Little Smokies Wrapped in Bacon

Arguably, the bacon-wrapped lil' smokies could have gone higher on the list. I love this recipe, which offers this unapologetic quote: "Time consuming but it is well worth it! The brown sugar and bacon grease combine beautifully and give such a great taste." Yup.

9. Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I am one of those people who says "I don't really care for Jell-O." And then, out comes strawberry pretzel salad or broken glass Jell-O (below), and darned if I don't eat it. And like it. Anything that has a layer of cream cheese… well, I want to be polite, right?

10. Queso Dip

Yes, this hamburger queso dip contains Velveeta cheese. If you can't handle the idea of processed cheese, here is an alternative recipe for queso. This is another great item to bring to your potluck in a Crock-Pot, plug in, and forget it. Plus, you won't have to fight others for the microwave when it's time to roll out the food.

11. Tortilla Roll-Ups

I really like it when other people make these tortilla roll-ups. I love to eat them; I'm terrible at assembling them. They travel well, which makes them a super potluck food. This recipe uses bacon, but more common are deli ham or turkey. I also like using diced chilis for added spiciness.

12. Potato Salad

Were you getting panicky wondering, "Where is potato salad on this list?" Of course we have to have potato salad on the potluck list! Like deviled eggs, it always goes. I had been using this potato salad recipe for years. Last week, I was out of pre-made Italian dressing (the sort of translucent kind), so I used Olive Garden's store-bought brand and let those potatoes marinate. Holy smokes! That was a good move.

13. Layered Salad

This particular dish has several other names, such as "stacked salad" or "rainbow salad." My mother made it a day ahead of potluck time and called it a "24-hour salad." Whatever you call it, people like it. Why? Well, it's salad… sort of. It contains mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits. My mother included a layer of bleu cheese in hers. People who are "dieting" will happily shovel it up. The trick? Use a clear bowl, so that your co-workers can see the pretty layers before you toss it.

14. Wings

Don't get me wrong. I love wings, but dang. They are messy. It's one thing if it's Casual Friday and I'm in jeans, but if I am in dry-clean only, I will probably avoid these. However, people do scarf them. If you use this slow cooker chicken wings recipe, they can go in your Crock-Pot and make life easier.

15. Bundt Cakes

Bundts always look sporty (and who can forget that scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and they're great either in their original shape or sliced. I like potluck foods that are easily transported. There are tons of bundt cake recipes out there. Plus, a bundt can be very easily made from a mix. I just made a chocolate and yellow "marbled" one that looks terrific.

16. Baked Brie

This showy, cheesy dish usually makes its appearances at potlucks during the holidays, but a baked brie is so easy, you might want to consider it for other occasions, too. A more holiday-ish version is to use raspberry jam in place of the honey.

17. Broken Glass Jell-O

This is a very pretty potluck item, and again, even the "I don't like Jell-O" people are going to dig in. Broken glass Jell-O is simple to make, and you can use whatever colors strike your fancy. Its main drawback is that it takes a lot of room in the refrigerator, so if you make it, plan for needing some space.

18. Potato Chips and Onion Dip

So easy it's ridiculous, but everyone is going to eat this. Take it up a notch, at least, and make your own homemade onion dip. It's not hard, and you can loudly take credit for making it from scratch. Another notch? Make your own homemade potato chips!

19. Spinach Dip

I know, I know… it's so 1980s. But it was good then, and it's good now. This updated spinach dip recipe uses yogurt rather than the traditional sour cream and mayonnaise. It's best not to hollow out your bread bowl too far ahead of time to prevent it from going stale. This is a trickier item to transport, so if you can finish it up at the office, that is a good way to go.

20. Baked Beans

In last place, but not because people don't like them — they do — are baked beans. They aren't as showy as some of the other items above, but they still taste great. I have to agree with the Pioneer Woman — this is the best recipe for them around. I bake ahead of time, then reheat in the Crock-Pot (again, making them more easily transportable).

Any of the 20 items listed above will get eaten at a potluck. Remember to label your serving pieces and dishes with your name so that you don't lose them. Also, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. You can use a little instant read thermometer, which is easy to pack. Enjoy the food and camaraderie!

What are your go-to potluck favorites? Please share in comments!

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