Best dishes for a holiday potluck. Ideas?

‘Tis the season for holiday potluck lunches and dinners. Anybody have tried and true crowd pleasing dishes that hold up to being transported, aren’t too fussy to prepare, and for bonus points — friendly to being served even in an office conference room? I have a holiday potluck lunch in a few weeks with wonderful work colleagues. It occurred to me that others here may find themselves in the same seasonal situation and have great ideas to share.

My ambition is to make a baked pumpkin kibbeh with a spinach and chickpea filling. Hmmm, we’ll see how I do.


I made this last year for my company potluck, and I was asked by the person who is organizing it this year to make it again.

Make-Ahead Thai Pasta Salad

Serving Size : 6-8 as a side dish (12-15 or more for a potluck where you have a lot of other food)

8 oz spaghetti, uncooked – broken in 3" pieces
4 cups assorted chopped vegetables – such as red bell pepper, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and broccoli
3 green onions – sliced

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons brown sugar – packed
1-1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger root – grated
2 Tablespoons hot water – or more as needed
2 cloves garlic – minced
1/2 tsp chili paste or hot sauce (sriracha) – up to 1 tsp.
1/3 cup cilantro – chopped (or 1T. dry) (I OMIT, because I despise cilantro but you could use some chopped parsley)

Cook and drain the pasta. Rinse well with cold water. Once cooled and fully drained, combine the pasta, veggies and green onion.

Carefully whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the pasta and veggies, toss well to coat.

Chill for up to 24 hours before serving.

NOTES : LLW Notes: This recipe has the dressing ingredients doubled, as the original one didn’t seem to have enough to fully coat the pasta and veggies (quantities already adjusted to double amounts in the recipe above so don’t do it again!).

Oh - and if it seems a bit “solidified” when you take it out of the fridge, you can add a bit of very hot water to it after it’s been sitting out for about 15 minutes, and toss it again. The hot water will help loosen the chilled dressing. :slight_smile:


Thank you, LindaWhit. And I think omitting the cilantro is smart for a potluck dish.

Those that dislike cilantro dislike it because it tastes bad to them, according to a cilantro-avoiding friend of mine. She tells me that cilantro tastes like soap to her. Never would have guessed that because I love the flavor.


What amuses me is that the year i took the easy way out was also a huge hit. I just made a huge batch of roasted veggies with olive oil/salt/pepper/fresh rosemary/thyme and used some more interesting veggies in the mix like celeriac, parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, fennel, as well as some brussel sprouts, pearl onions and carrots. They were good veggies i got at the farmers market and i really toasted them til the edges got carmelized. I used a big rectange pan with fresh baby arugala and spinach in the bottom and around the edges, the roasted veg went ontop. Served room temp.
Apparently my coworkers don’t really know what to do with veggies…lots of comments that at home they make steamed broccoli or grean beans

In past years i have made chilled sesame peanut noodles with edamame (and lots of cilantro which was a non-issue as far as i know), and one year was a breakfast potluck and i brought baked oatmeal bars with a lot of berries and nuts baked into them.
I only mention that the dishes are vegan when asked what my recipe was or to those with dietary restrictions.


Yup - that’s me. I have the gene that makes cilantro taste soapy to me as well.


Trockwood, you have inspired a alternative plan in case I bail on the baked pumpkin kibbeh dish. In my case, I have some butternut squash stockpiled that I could roast. Add maybe carrots and parsnips for variety. I also have a big bag of Bob’s Red Mill pepitas on hand that could be sprinkled on top at serving time, for crunch.

We go to a different potluck get together in the fall, and folks always seem to appreciate when I bring a vegan dish. I love cooking and eating veggies so for me it’s a win win.


I made a recipe from Fine Cooking, Tex-Mex Chili-Lime Chicken Soup (used crushed tortilla chips instead of making my own) that was a huge hit at an office potluck (but we have places to plug in a slow cooker) and very easy to put together (you can use rotisserie chicken; I used roasted chicken thighs). The toppings are key, don’t skip them.

I have also made a lentil salad using TJ’s cooked lentils. Sauté diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic, crumble in the lentils with a bit of water to warm through, add plenty of mustardy vinaigrette to warm lentils (they will soak it up), then add whatever else takes your fancy: crumbled feta, hard-boiled eggs, slices of any kind of cooked sausage, cubed ham, or keep it vegan: baby spinach, arugula, any kind of blanched greens, radicchio, halved cherry or grape tomatoes, cucumber, radish, scallions, herbs: parsley, mint, chives. Best not fridge-cold, just slightly chilled. This is always popular.

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Toppings! They really elevate a potluck dish or a soup (potluck or not) in my opinion too.

Pomegranate seeds, for instance, are one of my faves on a salad this time of year.


everyone’s suggestions sound delicious . . . but my work potluck experiences have been very different.

I find, in the offices I’ve worked in, the dishes that go the fastest are the basic comfort food type dishes that people immediately recognize . . . . I need more interesting coworkers . . .


LOL, maybe it’s just that the crowd around here are the people who get asked to bring the less usual dishes? For instance, I don’t think I have ever met a lasagna I didn’t like. :wink:

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Denise, do you have a solid recipe for the pumpkin kibbeh? I also make one but my recipe is a mish mash that I’ve come up with from different Lebanese sites and, of all places, Emeril! It tastes good so I guess that’s what counts. It has a chickpea and spinach filling with a little sumac and pomegranate molasses.

Cafe Barada in Cambridge sometimes has it as a special in the fall, which is where we first tried it.

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Aha, the recipe will be the true test. I regularly buy squares of a delicious baked pumpkin kibbeh from Korbani’s Bakery in Methuen. But as my potluck will happen
midweek and it’s unlikely I’ll
be up that way, I want to try my hand at making my own. I hope to have test-driven recipe to share in about a week and a half.

Fingers crossed.

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Happy experimenting! And, good to know about Korbani’s. Thanks.

It’s also definitely a "know your audience " situation; generally our previous potlucks have been heavy on the pastas and casseroles (yes including the cream of who knowswhat variety of casserole) so the slightly different but not intimidating veggies worked
The Roasted butternut etc with pepitas sounds delicious - make it for yourself!

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I have to agree – work potlucks are not where I bring “different” dishes. I usually save those for get-togethers with friends and family. I brought in prosciutto melon skewers one time and my boss and I were literally the only people who ate them, because everyone else thought it was weird to eat fruit with meat. :roll_eyes:

Things that go over well at work potlucks (both at my current job and previous jobs as well) are things like macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, ceviche de jaiba (made with krab) with tortilla chips or tostadas (we are in SoCal so ceviche is always popular when it’s hot), the meatballs in grape jelly/BBQ sauce, baked potatoes with toppings (set up like a bar), chili (usually brought in a slow cooker), veggie trays, and fried chicken. Someone always brings some kind of fried chicken to our work potlucks!


Potluck was yesterday and it was great! @Ttrockwood was so on point with the above observation.

I made the baked pumpkin kibbeh to please the vegetarian and vegan contingent, but I hadn’t known there were in addition a number of folks who eat gluten-free. Doh! In any case, the kibbeh was a conversation starter and therefore appreciated even by the non-partakers. For example, I didn’t know that others in the crowd enjoy Lebanese food. Cool.

One of my co-workers made a tray of caprese salad bites on small skewers and Greek salad bites using thick cucumber slices. (She hollowed a cup in each slice and filled it with diced ingredients.) Salad as finger food—inspired! Easy to eat while chatting.

With that, here are observations I’ll keep in mind for potlucks of the future:

  • Gluten-free items enjoyed by all were pasta salad and brownies

  • A 50/50 ratio of savories and sweets can go over well—seems like you can’t have too much dessert :wink:

@bear, I haven’t yet landed on the pumpkin kibbeh recipe of my dreams. I had to tinker too much so experiments will continue.


Thanks so much for the report. I’ll make it soon and report on my efforts. Glad the day went well! And, I wonder how a quinoa version would be for the gluten-free? It wouldn’t be my go-to, but might work in a broader setting.


The pumpkin kibbeh sounds really awesome to me! As a vegetarian i would have been SO appreciative of such a creative tasty contribution! And ya just can’t please them all or you end up with a vegan low carb paleo gluten free organic local dish of …naked lettuce leaves.
Those greek salad bits sound great but like a lot of fiddly work for a crowd, kudos that your coworker went to the effort!
We have a work potluck next week actually, but we’re doing three dishes per team so we don’t have way too many dishes that don’t serve that many people. It’s already been sorted out so i’ll just contribute $, but my dominican coworker is going to bring her mom’s (vegan by accident) beans and yellow rice so I’m excited for that. Another dish my team is bringing are empanadas from the guy with a cart on 39th st/broadway since he’s awesome, works 12hr days in the sub freezing weather, and we want to give him the business (i like his rice and beans with salad but haven’t had the empanadas since the dough uses legit lard).
Please do post your ultimate favorite version of the pumpkin kibbeh, I’ll certainly make it for myself at some point this winter!


How smart for a larger work group. Another tip!

P.S. That food cart with empanadas is another reason to love NYC. Yum.

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