A table full of potluck dishes

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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

Last-Minute Appetizers

1. Ham and Cheese Tortilla Roll Ups

You can put anything in tortilla pinwheels, like this recipe with ham and ranch seasoning. Salami, turkey, spinach, and olives all make good additions as well, so raid that fridge.

Recipe: The Cookie Rookie

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

3. Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese

It doesn't get much easier than unwrapping a block of cream cheese and pouring some spicy and sweet pepper jelly over the top, but it's always a crowd pleaser.

Recipe: Julia's Simply Southern

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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

Related: The Best Frozen Meatballs To Buy Right Now

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

Related: Buffalo Chicken Dip, Reuben Dip, and 7 Other Extra-Easy Slow Cooker Dip Recipes

 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

Related: King Ranch, Sweet Potato, and More Tasty Southern Casseroles

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

Related: Make a Stunning Trader Joe's Charcuterie Board With These 16 Ingredients

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

Last-Minute Sides

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.

RecipeSpend 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

12. Broccoli Salad

Use precooked bacon in this retro potluck dish and there's no cooking involved. It's a great combination of sweet, tangy, and creamy that everyone loves.

Recipe: Sugar Spun Run

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

food bbq grilled asparagusPhoto credit: eyecrave productions/istockphoto

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

Last-Minute Entrees

sandwich on a wooden tablePhoto credit: FabrikaCr/istockphoto

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

19. Copycat Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ground chicken and canned water chestnuts in this Asian-inspired recipe cook in no time. Throw the cooked filling into a crockpot to keep warm and let everyone make their own lettuce wraps.

Recipe: Delish

20. Crock Pot Hot Dogs

You'll be an absolute hero if you show up to a potluck with hot dogs, trust us. They stay hot in a slow cooker, so all you need to do is bring buns and condiments.

Recipe: Lil Luna

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

Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwich on a White Porcelain Plate, Selective Focus, on a White TableclothPhoto credit: chas53/istockphoto

22. Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Put a premade rotisserie chicken to good use in this 5-ingredient chicken salad. Put it in a big bowl, then bring halved croissants (this is a great time for those Costco or Sam's Club bakery containers) and crackers on the side.

Recipe: The Culinary Compass

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. 

Recipe: Tasty

24. Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

If you want to bring a hearty main, try this comforting dump-and-bake casserole. Dry pasta, frozen meatballs, and jarred marinara sauce are mixed with water in the casserole dish. The pasta cooks while it bakes in the oven.

Recipe: The Seasoned Mom

25. Easy Layered Taco Bake

This Tex-Mex, lasagna-like casserole recipe is fast thanks to taco seasoning packets and jarred queso. You can easily double it and make it in a 9- by 13-inch pan for a big potluck.

Recipe: The Country Cook

Chicken Pot PiePhoto credit: chas53/istockphoto

26. Chicken Pot Pie Bubble Bake

Canned cream soup and refrigerated biscuit dough make this recipe way easier than you might think. Frozen mixed vegetables are a perfect shortcut, too.

Check out more of our favorite Campbell's soup recipes

Recipe: AllRecipes

Last-Minute Desserts

27. No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These 5-ingredient bars are like a giant Reese's peanut butter cup. Used boxed graham cracker crumbs to save even more time.

Recipe: Sally's Baking Recipes

28. Cracker Candy

Saltine crackers give this toffee candy crunch and delicious saltiness. You can sprinkle anything you want on to the warm chocolate layer, including chopped pecans, M&Ms, or festive sprinkles for Christmas.

Recipe: Andi Anne

lime cracker pie slicePhoto credit: Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

29. 10-Minute Lime Cracker Pie

There's only four ingredients in this refreshing key lime pie-like dessert. We've tried it, and it's practically magic

Recipe: Serious Eats

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

33. Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

Sweet dips make great potluck desserts. Canned pumpkin and pie spice flavor this fluffy dip. Serve it with apple slices, graham crackers, gingersnap cookies, or even pretzels.

Recipe: Erhardts Eat

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

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