Crowd-Pleasing Potluck

Crowd-Pleasing Potluck

Get ready for a family reunion or picnic this summer with these easy-to-make potluck recipes. And learn quick tips for making and transporting food to your next outdoor gathering.

Crunchy Romaine Strawberry Salad
"In addition to being pretty and colorful, this is a snap to make," says Leslie Lancaster of Zachary, Louisiana. "And the mouth-watering combination of tastes and textures seems to please every palate."

Mashed Red Potatoes
These yummy, chunky mashed potatoes from our Test Kitchen are rich enough to stand on their own. But they're also delicious with cheese, bacon and sour cream.

Double Frosted Brownies
"When we're planning to serve refreshments at one of our social meetings, I'm often asked to make these brownies," says Edith Amburn of Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Seasoned Turkey Sandwiches
"This delicious savory turkey tucked in homemade buns will steal the show at any potluck or family reunion," promises LaVonne Hegland in St. Michael, Minnesota.

Fruity Punch
Field editor Anna Minegar of Zolfo Springs, Florida mixes three refreshing juices with ginger ale for her pretty party-perfect Fruit Punch.

Bow Tie Seafood Salad
"This satisfying pasta salad is brimming with shrimp and imitation crab and accented with dill," shares Lillian Julow of Gainesville, Florida.

Grilled Picnic Chicken
"This tasty chicken marinates overnight. The next day, I just pop it on the grill for dinner in no time," says Cindy DeRoos of Iroquois, Ontario.

Potluck & Picnic Tips

  • I like to take a green salad to potlucks. To keep the greens cold and crisp, I add a cup of frozen peas to the salad and cover tightly. By the time I serve it, the peas are mostly thawed but the salad is still nice and cool. —Gloria T., Tucson, Arizona
  • When fixing cupcakes for a potluck, I prepare them ahead and freeze them unfrosted. Before taking them to share, I make a soft powdered sugar frosting and dip the frozen cupcakes to frost them. It's so fast and easy, with no mess. —Juanita P., West Lafayette, Ohio
  • To help pies and tarts travel well to your next picnic or potluck, carefully place an aluminum pie plate upside down over the dessert and secure with a rubber band. —Paula M., Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
  • I make gelatin for picnics and pour it into individual plastic containers with mini marshmallows on top. To make it special, I sprinkle with pastel marshmallows. Kids always enjoy this treat. Plus, this prevents spills that can occur when you're spooning from a larger bowl. —Marilyn B., Norwalk, Ohio
  • Here's a handy idea when preparing for a picnic. If you plan to grill hot dogs and hamburgers, mix the ketchup, mustard, pickle relish and chopped onion together in one container. It's a breeze to use this instead of dragging out all the separate condiments. —Mary T., Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin
  • Coolers serve as portable refrigerators when going on picnics. These tips will help your coolers—and the items inside—stay well-chilled for the duration of your outing.
    • Cold foods (especially those containing mayonnaise) and beverages should be thoroughly chilled before being put in insulated coolers.
    • Beverage coolers tend to be opened frequently during a picnic. So use one cooler for beverages and one for cold food.
    • Transport hot food in a separate insulated cooler. Wrap the hot items in newspapers or dish towels, then pack the dishes tightly in a cooler lined with dish towels.
    • Prechill coolers by placing a few ice cubes inside and closing the lid about an hour before filling. Right before you leave for the picnic, pack the cooler in the opposite order of how you'll be using the items. That means the foods you need first should be on top, so they're easily accessible.
    • Put blocks of ice or ice packs on the bottom of the cooler. Layer with food or beverages, then top with ice cubes or crushed ice.
    • A full cooler will stay colder longer than a partially filled one, so pick the right size cooler. If your food or beverages don't fill the cooler, add more ice.
    • Don't put coolers in a hot trunk, especially if traveling quite a distance. Put them in the backseat of your air-conditioned car. Surround with blankets, sleeping bags and clothes to insulate even more.
    • While at the picnic, keep coolers in the shade, cover with blankets and keep the lids closed as much as you can.
    • If possible, replenish the ice as it melts. If you don't have access to more ice, don't drain the cold water from the cooler…it keeps things cold almost as well as ice.

More Cold Beverages »