Even if you normally go all out for potlucks, there's always one party that sneaks up on you. You forgot you needed to bring a dish, so you didn't plan ahead. What could you possibly bring to a potluck on short notice?
Thankfully, there's lots of super easy recipes for last-minute potlucks. A lot of them use common household ingredients, assuming you have a well-stocked pantry, or only require a quick run to the grocery store. These last-minute potluck recipes are fast to prepare and easy to eat, making you look way more organized than you might feel.
What Are the Easiest Things To Bring To a Potluck?
The easiest potluck recipes require only assembly and no cooking at all, like cheese and crackers or a charcuterie board (check out our picks for the best charcuterie board crackers). Many salads, coleslaw, and a number of dips also fit into that category. You'll want to avoid anything that has multiple steps (that rules out your beloved deviled eggs), long marinating or cooking times, or needs to be made the day before.
You can always bring a premade item to a last-minute party as well. Instead of a bag of chips or the ultimate cop-out of 2-liter soda, head to someplace like Costco for a cheap finger food platter or a delicious Trader Joe's dessert.
2. 5-Minute Taco Dip
Sour cream, cheese cheese, and taco seasoning make up the creamy base of this fast taco dip. Finish it off with your favorite toppings, like lettuce, pre-shredded cheese, and sliced black olives.
Recipe: Spend With Pennies
4. Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly Sauce
This is a classic cocktail meatball recipe. Frozen meatballs, grape jelly, and bottled chili sauce simmer in a slow cooker until everyone's ready to dig in. It also works great with mini smoked sausages.
Recipe: Culinary Hill
5. 5-Minute Black Bean Dip
All you need is your food processor or blender for this easy dip recipe. Pantry staples like canned black beans and jarred salsa make it inexpensive, too.
Recipe: Cookin' Canuck
6. Pimento Cheese
It's impossible to resist a homemade cheese spread. Try this Southern classic that uses sharp cheddar cheese, mayo, and jarred roasted red peppers.
Recipe: Southern Food and Fun
7. Antipasto Platter
Antipasto is an Italian appetizer platter. All you have to do is head to somewhere like Aldi or Trader Joe's and pick up items like olives, fresh mozzarella balls, and crusty bread and arrange them all on a large plate or cutting board.
Recipe: Dinner at the Zoo
8. Homemade Salsa
This restaurant-style salsa recipe starts with canned tomatoes and adds fresh onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Grab a bag of tortilla chips and this is bound to be gone by the end of the potluck.
Recipe: The Chunky Chef
9. Caprese Salad
If you keep the cherry tomatoes whole and tear your basil with your fingers, there's no chopping involved in this salad that takes 15 minutes or less.
Recipe: I Heart Naptime
10. Easy Pasta Salad
Bottled Italian salad dressing makes whipping together a pasta salad fast. Use whatever veggies, cheeses, and deli meat you have on hand.
Recipe: Spend With Pennies
11. Watermelon Feta Salad
This refreshing watermelon salad is perfect for summer. Feta cheese, mint, and red onion are the only things you need to complete this potluck dish, but a drizzle of balsamic or olive oil wouldn't hurt.
Recipe: Two Peas & Their Pod
13. Pistachio Fluff Salad
It doesn't matter if these sweet, fluffy fruit salads are a side dish or a dessert, because no matter what, they'll be gone from the buffet line in no time.
Recipe: Shugary Sweets
14. Grilled Asparagus
Grilled asparagus is great for a potluck because it only takes a few minutes to cook, everyone loves it, and it's great served warm or room temperature. You can use a stove-top grill pan if you don't have a grill.
Recipe: Fresh Off the Grid
15. Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Macaroni cooks in no time in your Instant Pot. When it's done, just stir in milk and plenty of grated cheddar cheese to turn it into a creamy side dish people crave.
Recipe: Gimme Some Oven
16. Easy Coleslaw
Bagged slaw mix and a quick tangy dressing make this slaw fast to prepare. It's a basic recipe, so feel free to add celery seed, shredded carrots, or broccoli slaw to make it your own.
Recipe: Dinner Then Dessert
17. Classic Macaroni Salad
It's impossible to resist macaroni salad on a potluck, especially this version that's studded with green peas, red bell pepper, and diced sharp cheddar cheese.
Recipe: Damn Delicious
18. Italian Party Sub
Making a huge sub takes no time at all, and all you need to do is slice it into servings. This one, with salami, banana peppers, and vinaigrette, is served hot, but it'd be great cold as well.
Recipe: Lemon Tree Dwelling
21. Shrimp Ceviche
People love to have a refreshing, light, and protein-filled option on a buffet, and shrimp ceviche fits the bill. Using precooked shrimp saves time, so all you have to do is mix them with lots of fresh veggies and citrus juice.
Recipe: Dinner at the Zoo
23. Chicken Parmesan Sliders
This is a totally different way to use a rotisserie chicken for sandwiches. Those little Hawaiian rolls and jarred marinara make this quick, and a garlic butter topping makes it irresistible.
30. Pina Colada Dump Cake
You don't even need to get a bowl dirty when you make dump cakes. For this version, just layer canned crushed pineapple, boxed caked mix, and coconut right in the pan you bake it in.
Recipe: The Life Jolie
31. Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake
If you have a few hours before your potluck, this warm, gooey, and decadent chocolate pudding cake will knock everyone's socks off. Bring some vanilla ice cream to really gild the lily.
Recipe: The Magical Slow Cooker
32. Punch Bowl Cake
Punch bowl cake is really a trifle made in a punch bowl so that it looks fantastic. This one includes bananas, cherry pie filling, and pineapple. Use store-bought pound cake instead of making boxed cake mix to save more time.
Recipe: Princess Pinky Girl
34. Puppy Chow
Also known as muddy buddies, puppy chow is chocolate- and peanut butter-coated cereal. There's no baking required, just some microwaving and a bunch of stirring to get everything coated in powdered sugar.
Recipe: Show Me the Yummy