Potlucks are as American as apple pie, quite honestly.
Other cultures may have something similar, but no culture has a potluck as often as an American community, and in many ways it is one of the best aspects of our culture.
This is due to the fact that a potluck is about community, and anyone from that community – and many from other communities – can join as long as they contribute something.
For those fortunate enough, the contribution might be a venue or drinks, for those not so fortunate, they contribute themselves and their time.
However, what the vast majority of people contribute is food.
This can be any food, but there are preferred foods at potlucks, mainly picky foods that everyone can enjoy while mingling and wandering around.
If you don’t know what to bring to your next potluck, then have no fear, for we have created a list of the best potluck appetizers that you can bring to the next gathering.
Pineapple in salsa may seem like an odd choice, but honestly it not only brings a huge amount of flavor, but also a brilliant bit of color to the whole gathering.
The sweet acidic flavor of the pineapple works in conjunction with the lime juice to create a tangy alternative to the sweet, fresh flavors of the onion and red pepper, with a little bit of heat from the chili.
Honestly, it is the perfect way to season your chips, without being too heavy.
2. Candied Nuts
Nuts go so well in and on so many things, but one of the best ways to eat nuts is when they are caramelized or candied.
It is such a simple thing to do as well, you only need an old pan, some seasonings – like nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar (preferably coconut) or powdered honey – and about 10 minutes to make them.
The sweet coating will work perfectly with the nutty, crunchy interior to create the perfect potluck snack.
Buffalo sauce is the cornerstone of a good buffalo chicken eating experience.
Without it all you have is deep-fried chicken and that, while delicious, isn’t going to hold a candle to the sauce.
If you make a dipping sauce based off of the buffalo sauce, you will be beloved by all the guests at this party.
It is surprisingly easy to do as well, all you need is a little time and patience to get the right consistency before taking it to any potluck you desire.
Potlucks always have at least one or two casseroles that have been brought along and while they are always amazing, you may want to try something different instead.
Enter the Taco Casserole.
It isn’t for everyone, but having a casserole that is just filled with taco ingredients sandwiched between tortilla chips and slathered in cheese sauce, before being broiled to perfection sounds like everything we want at a potluck and more.
It is a perfect picky food that can also work as an actual meal, you could even just take a spoonful if you wanted.
Everyone loves pretzels, they are basically buttery, baked, and salted dough in cute little shapes, how can you not love them!
In any case, they are great for potlucks, because they can be cooked in bulk and be made in under an hour with some effort.
Not only that, but they stay soft and fresh for a good while, if kept in the right conditions, so you can make them in the morning and bring them to the potluck in the evening.
Cheese is one of the safest foods to bring to a potluck, as most people adore it – even those who cannot eat it – and it can be paired with almost any savory or salty flavor without worry.
As such, making little cheese balls on sticks that are moist and can be dunked in any sauce is a brilliant idea for a potluck.
All you have to do is mix a good amount of shredded hard cheese with cream cheese and butter, add some seasoning, and voile, you have a cheese ball.
Ritz crackers are one of the few kinds of crackers eaten on a regular basis without other forms of food on them.
They are a popular, buttery, slightly salted, soft cracker disk made by Nabisco and are beloved by many.
As such, making your own will not only get you compliments, but will get people begging you for the recipe.
They take very little time to make – 30 minutes all told – and require ingredients that you will probably have in your home, if you have baked before, making them perfect for the party.
8. Egg Muffin
While these are called muffins, they are actually closer to an omelet or a frittata, making them perfect snacking food.
All they require is a few eggs, some spinach, olive oil, salt, pepper, cheese, and a cupcake baking tray.
If you cut up and mix all these ingredients together in a bowl, before carefully filling the indents in the tray, you can have them in the oven and cooked within 30 minutes.
The savory snack is only small, meaning that they don’t overwhelm or fill up the eater, making them perfect for a potluck.
Flaky, tender, crisp on the outside, and soft in the middle, biscuits are one of the foods that every American can enjoy, and even fast food restaurants have them as a staple.
Making them from scratch can be a bit tricky, but if you follow the recipes instructions to the letter, then there is no reason that it shouldn’t go well.
Bringing them with a pot of homemade gravy and chicken or some jam and cream will make you a favorite amongst the guests.
10. Banana Bread
One thing that you can never have enough of at a potluck is cake, and banana bread is great for the occasion.
It is easy to cut, easy to cook, and can be divided into many smaller pieces with no hassle, while everyone still gets a good slice.
Also, everyone loves it, and it needs no additional condiments to not only be great, but to remain soft and moist throughout the day.
11. Taco Dip
Every potluck has nachos or tortilla chips, and so there always has to be some kind of dip.
Most people would go for salsa or guacamole, but if you make yourself a taco dip, you will create an instant party favorite.
There is so much too it: the seasoned ground beef, the cheeses, the fresh salad, the sour cream, and even the salsa, and guacamole we mentioned earlier.
It takes very little to make, but can make a big impact.
12. Sausage Balls
A surprising contender for a crowd favorite, but sausage balls are genuinely beloved by many people.
They are literally ground pork sausage and cheese wrapped in a Bisquick baking mix.
The combination of the crisp crust, soft dough inside, and the salty, fatty sausage in the middle make them irresistible to even the most hardened party guest.
Don’t expect them to still be on the table after too long.
13. Deviled Eggs
A southern classic that has been making its way around office parties, get together, weekends away, and Christmas’ since the 60s, deviled eggs can be a fiddly to make, but their tang and spice always delivers during the event.
The original version calls for the yolks to be mixed with mayonnaise, mustard, and a little butter, before being piped back onto the white with paprika sprinkled on top, but play around with it.
It is a very forgiving recipe, and you could make something you like.
Quiché is a classic French tart that is made of a soft pastry crust on the outside and a soft, eggy, savory custard in the middle.
The custard can be filled with all manner of foods, with some of the most popular ingredients being bacon, spinach, and tomatoes.
It is incredibly popular in the US for good reason, but it can be a little difficult to make.
Make sure you follow the steps correctly to make it, or you will have a hard pie instead of a soft Quiché.
15. Baked Pita Chips
A healthier alternative to a bag of tortilla chips that are surprisingly easy to make.
All you have to do is get yourself a bag of pita bread from the store and cut them all into triangles.
Once done, mix together olive oil, garlic powder, black pepper, dry basil, and sea salt.
Then put them into a bowl and toss them all together, before baking them in the oven until brown.
They can be used for a variety of dips and sauces and eaten in abundance without worrying about a waistline.
Chex mix is the ultimate snack food. It is just a bunch of different snacks thrown together in a bag to then be snacked upon by whoever.
However, a lot of the foods that go in are either not great together or a bit bland.
As such, you should create your own Chex mix, with snacks that you think work well together.
Not only will this be a better Chex mix, the guests will thank you for the improved version of something that will definitely appear at the potluck.
A lot of dips appear at potlucks, but sometimes the best kind of dip is definitely the simplest.
Hot ham and cheese dip may not seem like much at first, but it doesn’t need to be.
It complements a lot of savory food, and having a good cheesy dipping sauce with extra salty elements may be all that people need to enjoy the food around them.
Since it takes little time and only uses ingredients you probably already have, it is pretty easy to do as well.
A surprising entrant at number 18, but a breakfast burrito can actually go down a storm at these little get-togethers.
They are flavorful with lots of different textures in them – from the pillowy eggs to the creamy avocado to the crunchy fried wrap and so on – with many of the flavors being different from the rest of the potluck.
Not only that, but they can be cut in smaller portions, making them perfect picky food for socializing guests.
We discussed the buffalo dipping sauce earlier, but without the wings, what can be dipped in them?
Most people love buffalo chicken wings, they are saucy, tender, and just generally delicious.
Making chicken wings is quite easy and creating the sauce for them only requires three ingredients: unsalted butter, Frank’s red-hot sauce, and either honey, white or brown sugar.
If you fancy, you can even make the blue cheese dip, but most people will be happy you just brought the wings.
After all the food people consume at these events, they are going to need a drink to wash it all down.
While most people would suggest homemade lemonade, which would be amazing, you can make this lemonade into a beautiful pineapple that will not only quench everyone’s thirst but make them all feel more refreshed and thinking of tropical climes.
21. Jalapeño Poppers
Crisp, creamy, and ever so slightly spicy, jalapeño poppers have been a cornerstone of the side menus of Mexican and pizza restaurants for many years.
Their small size and popularity make them perfect for making them for and bringing them to a potluck.
You only need 3 (potentially 4) ingredients and 30 minutes to do it as well, which is excellent.
22. Fruit Salad
Fruit salad is a classic that many people have eaten at either their grandmother’s house or at formal parties, but honestly it is great beyond these two settings.
It is sweet and crunchy with a fantastic selection of fruits inside. Since you can make them with any fruit as well, you can just pick the best ones!
The only thing is you need to make it just before the potluck, or it won’t be as fresh or as tasty.
23. Turkey Meatballs
Normally meatballs are a bit heavy for a potluck, but the leaner, lighter turkey meat is perfect for it!
It won’t be as fatty, and it won’t congeal when it starts to cool, which is key to keeping guests interested in the food.
You can bring them plain, covered in a tomato sauce, provide a dip, or let the guests use the dips that may be available when they eat them.
Another southern staple on this list, Cornbread, has been making its way up north over the last few years.
While northerners prefer a sweeter cornbread, southerners prefer a savory one, but whichever one you enjoy is the one to bring.
If you really want to go traditional, you can pan bake the bread, but making them in a muffin tray makes it easier for everyone to pick out one of their own choosing.
Lots of the foods and dips at a potluck are going to be savory items. While this is great in its own way, that does leave a niche open for a sweet dip of some kind.
Strawberry shortcake dip is perfect for this, as you can dip a cupcake or muffin into it and enjoy a sensual mix of flavors that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
26. Party Pinwheels
Party pinwheels are incredibly easy to make and delicious for any guest who has them.
All you have to do is to chop up and mix your chosen ingredients in a bowl with cream cheese and a small amount of ranch seasoning, before spreading a fairly thick layer onto a tortilla.
Then, you roll them up and cut them into inch thick pieces. A brilliant quick party appetizer.
Baked potato skins are great. They are literally cooked potato skins with cheese, bacon, and scallions on top before they are thrown back under the broiler to melt the cheese.
Being crisp, flavorful, and easy to make, ticks all the boxes for being a great potluck snack that will woo every guest.
28. Qdoba Queso
Queso is a staple of Mexican cuisine, being a rich, decadent cheese sauce, and no one does it like the food chain Qdoba.
If you can make a queso dip like theirs, you will become instant friends with any foodies on the party guest list.
As such, creating a copycat dish from the recipe above is a great idea.
Peppers are a fantastic food, but they can also make a great vessel for food, since they are hollow inside.
Cutting them in half and throwing bacon and cheese in them before throwing them under the broiler is a great way to do this.
The freshness of the pepper contrasts perfectly with the savoriness of the cheese and bacon, creating a simple, but delicious dish.
Potlucks are a great place to not only have food, but to bring food you want to try out or to show off your cooking skills.
The community atmosphere will mean you always feel at home, and these appetizers could be a good conversation starter for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Any Healthy Appetizers At A Potluck?
There are tons! It’s just that most people like to bring unhealthy things, but you can bring whatever you want and make it as healthy as you want.
For example, how about a fruit salad? Or Salsa? Or maybe even Baked Pita chips?
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