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50 Make-Ahead Side Dishes for a Crowd

Busy cooks, this one's for you! Each of these side dish recipes can be made in advance and pulled out at mealtime. The best part is, they serve 8 or more, so there will be plenty to go around.

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Cheddar and Chive Mashed Potatoes

My husband swears my cheddar mashed potatoes are the world's best. We always have some in the freezer. Sometimes I dollop individual servings in muffin cups and reheat them that way instead. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida
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Slow-Cooker Potluck Beans

It was the morning of our family potluck and I still needed something to take. I threw together this recipe while drinking my morning coffee. By the end of the gathering, the beans were all gone and someone had even washed the slow cooker for me! —Mary Anne Thygesen, Portland, Oregon
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Chopped Garden Salad

This recipe is always requested by my children for their birthday meal or any other get-together. The flavor combination is so yummy.—Anna Sutherland, Camp, Arkansas
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Sweet Macaroni Salad

A sweet out-of-the-ordinary dressing makes this macaroni salad special. My aunt gave me the recipe and it has become one of my favorites. I occasionally leave out the green pepper if I know that people don't like it, and it still tastes great. —Idalee Scholz, Cocoa Beach, Florida
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Slow-Cooker Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Every year my Mom made cream cheese mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I tailored the recipe to my family's taste and carried on the tradition. I make them a day ahead and use my slow cooker to free up oven space for other dishes. —Ann Nolte, Tampa, Florida
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Garden Bow Tie Salad

Originally a vegetable dish, I added pasta to this salad for family gatherings and church potlucks. Try adding sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes before serving. —Barbara Burks, Huntsville, Alabama
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Baked Two-Cheese & Bacon Grits

In the South, everyone loves three things: bacon, cheese and grits! After playing around with this recipe, I took it to my first family party as a newlywed, and it was a huge hit. This recipe has become a family tradition that I'm sure will be passed down for generations. —Melissa Rogers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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12-Hour Salad

This recipe was Mom's scrumptious scheme to get her kids to eat vegetables. She never had any trouble when she served this colorful crunchy salad. Mom thought this salad was a real bonus for the cook since it must be made the night before. —Dorothy Bowen, Thomasville, North Carolina
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Cranberry Fluff

This fluffy fruit salad gets its sweet-tart flavor from cranberries and whipped cream. We like it because it's not as sweet as many other "fluffs." I'm often asked for the secret to this luscious holiday salad. —Lavonne Hartel, Williston, North Dakota
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Creamy Hash Brown Casserole

This versatile side dish is so good with grilled steak, and is delicious with other meats as well. A creamy cheese sauce and crunchy topping make this potato casserole popular for family dinners and potlucks. —Teresa Stutzman, Adair, Oklahoma
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Summertime Slaw

As a change from mayonnaise-laden slaw, I created this refreshing alternative. It uses many of the garden vegetables I grow, so it's also economical. I serve it at our family reunion each Fourth of July, and it's always a big hit at get-togethers. —Sharon Payne, Mayfield, Kentucky
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Make-Ahead Butterhorns

Mom loved to make these lightly sweet, golden rolls. They're beautiful and impressive and have a homemade taste that makes them memorable. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
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Tortellini Bake

One year I had so much summer squash, I was desperate for different ways to prepare it. That's when I came up with this recipe. Serve it as a side dish or on its own as a light meal. —Donald Roberts, Amherst, New Hampshire
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Mashed Cauliflower au Gratin

Unless someone tells you, you might not know you're eating cauliflower. Even my grandchildren love this buttery, cheesy, creamy dish that tastes like mashed potatoes. —Sandie Parker, Elk Rapids, Michigan
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Deli-Style Pasta Salad

Pasta provides a base for this tongue-tingling make-ahead salad. It has lots of fresh and satisfying ingredients topped with a flavorful dressing. This pasta salad is terrific to serve to company or take to a potluck. — Joyce McLennan, Algonac, Michigan
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Overnight Asparagus Strata

I've made this tasty egg dish for breakfast, brunch, even dinner as a side dish. This is not your run-of-the-mill strata. —Lynn Licata, Sylvania, Ohio
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Make-Ahead Hearty Six-Layer Salad

This salad is an all-time favorite. I reach for the recipe whenever I need a dish to pass. It is easy to make, can be assembled ahead of time and looks marvelous. —Noreen Meyer, Madison, Wisconsin
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Deluxe Hash Brown Casserole

My son-in-law gave me the recipe for this hash brown casserole, which my kids say is addictive. It's an amazing make-ahead dish.—Amy Oswalt, Burr, Nebraska
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Jen's Baked Beans

My daughters wanted baked beans, so I gave homemade ones a shot. With mustard, molasses and a dash of heat, I made these beans absolutely delicious. —Jennifer Heasley, York, Pennsylvania
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Overnight Layered Lettuce Salad

This layered salad is a family favorite from a church cookbook I've had for 40 years. The bacon adds a fabulous crunch. —Mary Brehm, Cape Coral, Florida
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Broccoli Salad Supreme

People can't get enough of the sweet grapes and crunchy broccoli in this colorful salad. I appreciate its make-ahead convenience. —Terri Twyman, Bonanza, Oregon
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Favorite Cheesy Potatoes

My family loves these potatoes. I make a large batch in disposable pans and serve them at all our get-togethers. The holidays aren't the same without them. It's also a super recipe for Christmas morning brunch. —Brenda Smith, Curran, Michigan
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Tangy Baked Seven Beans

Everyone needs a go-to side dish for school events, picnics and potlucks. Here's mine. Freeze leftovers for future outings. —Rod Lundwall, Tooele, Utah
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Overnight Fruit Salad

I first tasted this rich, old-fashioned fruit salad at my wedding reception many years ago. The ladies who did the cooking wouldn't share the recipe at the time, but eventually I got it. I've made it for many meals, and our daughters copied the recipe when they married. —Eileen Duffeck, Lena, Wisconsin
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Slow-Cooked Ratatouille

I get my son to eat eggplant by cooking it low and slow in this classic French veggie dish. A side of rice and garlic cheese bread also help. —Diane Goedde, Red Lodge, Montana
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Classic Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

These make-ahead mashed potatoes save me a ton of time on Christmas day. No more frantically whipping the potatoes while hungry family and guests hang around the kitchen! —Marty Rummel, Trout Lake, Washington
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Homemade Pierogi

Pierogi, dumplings stuffed with a filling, make for a wonderful change-of-pace side dish. —Diane Gawrys, Manchester, Tennessee
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Spectacular Overnight Slaw

To come up with this dish, I used a number of different recipes, plus some ideas of my own. It's great for a potluck because it's made the night before and the flavor keeps getting better. Whenever I serve it, I'm inundated with recipe requests. —Ruth Lovett, Bay City, Texas
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Boston Baked Beans

Simmered in molasses, these slow-cooker Boston baked beans are perfect to take to your next potluck. The sauce is sweet, dark and rich and they complement anything you serve with them.—Darlene Duncan, Langhorne, Pennsylvania
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Scalloped Sweet Corn Casserole

This is my Grandma Ostendorf's corn recipe I grew up enjoying. Now a grandmother myself, I still serve this comfy, delicious side as a family classic. —Lonnie Hartstack, Clarinda, Iowa
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Mashed Potato Cups

This recipe makes a tasty side dish that's a nice alternative to the standard potatoes or rice. —Jill Hancock, Nashua, New Hampshire
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Quick Antipasto Salad

I always told my sister, Karen, I'd marry a cowboy—and I did! Patrick and I had a festive farm-style wedding. My mother prepared all the side dishes, including this tongue-tingling salad. —Kendra Waterbury, East Thetford, Vermont
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Three-Bean Baked Beans

I got this recipe from my aunt and made a couple of changes to suit our tastes. With ground beef and bacon mixed in, these satisfying beans are a big hit at backyard barbecues and church picnics. I'm always asked to bring my special beans. —Julie Currington, Gahanna, Ohio
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Golden Mashed Potatoes

When there's no gravy with the meat, this dish is fabulous to serve in place of regular mashed potatoes. I make it often to take to picnics and church socials. My husband even made it for his family's reunion one year when I couldn't go! —Cindy Stith, Wickliffe, Kentucky
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Lemon Rice Salad

This salad makes a refreshing side dish for a special occasion meal. I take it to holiday potluck suppers and other family gatherings. People enjoy the combination of flavors, and I like that it can be made ahead. —Margery Richmond, Lacombe, Alberta
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Patio Pintos

Any time Mom had the gang over for dinner, she made these pinto beans. Once she made a batch for my cousin’s birthday and he ate the entire thing. —Joan Hallford, Fort Worth, Texas
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Fresh Cucumber Salad

Crisp, garden-fresh cukes are always in season when we hold our family reunion, and they really shine in this simple salad. The recipe can easily be expanded to make large quantities, too. —Betsy Carlson, Rockford, Illinois
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Glorified Hash Browns

You'll be surprised at how quick and easy it is to put together this dressed-up potato casserole! When a friend made it for a church supper, I had to have the recipe. It's great for parties, potlucks and family reunions. —Betty Sitzman, Wray, Colorado
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Caraway Coleslaw with Citrus Mayonnaise

The combination of caraway and orange keeps this slaw from being anything but run-of-the-mill. I always get requests to bring a big batch to potlucks; proof positive that it's a keeper! I also like to make it a day ahead so the flavors can truly blend. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
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Corn Pasta Salad

After tasting this cool salad at a family reunion, I immediately asked for the recipe. It has tricolor pasta, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes and crunchy peppers to make it pretty and tasty. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
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Marinated Cauliflower Salad

I often serve this as an appetizer alongside a meat and cheese tray. But it can also be a side dish. —Stephanie Hase, Lyons, Colorado
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Sausage Stuffing Muffins

This recipe puts stuffing into a muffin form for a special presentation. I made these when I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner. You can also bake the stuffing in a greased baking dish.—Tricia Bibb, Hartselle, Alabama
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Make-Ahead Cornbread Dressing

Being from California, my family has always been big veggie eaters. I wanted to share a little taste of home with my in-laws so I created this dish for Thanksgiving. You don't have to let it sit overnight, but it's a nice make ahead Thanksgiving option and the flavors mesh more that way. —Patricia Broussard, Lafayette, Louisiana
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Lime-Honey Fruit Salad

Nothing is more refreshing to me than a seasonal fruit salad enhanced with this simple honey-lime dressing. —Victoria Shevlin, Cape Coral, Florida
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Make-Ahead Creamy Potatoes

For the holidays, I usually serve the traditional foods with a new spin or two on family favorites. I put together these creamy potatoes the night before and simply bake the day of to save precious holiday time. —Wendy Ball, Battle Creek, Michigan
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Black-Eyed Pea Tomato Salad

Spending time in the kitchen with my late aunt was so much fun because she was an amazing cook and teacher. This black-eyed pea salad was one of her specialties. It is easy to make and is a nice alternative to pasta or potato salad. Add cooked cubed chicken breast to make it a meal on its own. —Patricia Ness, La Mesa, California
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Cheesy Mashed Potato Cups

I double this mashed potato recipe for an extra batch to freeze. It’s a nice alternative to the standard potatoes or rice. —Jill Hancock, Nashua, New Hampshire
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Fresh Fruit Bowl

The glorious colors of the fruit make this a festive salad. Slightly sweet and chilled, it makes a nice accompaniment to a grilled entree. —Marlon Kirst, Troy, Michigan

Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.