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Potluck Picnic Ideas: What Should I Bring?

by Franck Jehanne

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What Is A Potluck Picnic?

At a potluck, each person brings one or more dishes to share. In today's culture, potlucks are commonly used as the basis for an informal gathering such as a party, picnic or family reunion. The idea is that everyone contributes a dish to serve and eat at the event they are attending. 

Potluck picnics are a great way to bring families together and catch up with friends. They are generally fun events with an emphasis on food and socialising rather than a meal presentation.

How to Organize a Potluck Picnic?

Organizing the potluck picnic is an easy job. Rather than planning and preparing all the food and drinks you just need to send out the invites and contribute your own share of the dishes.

Of course, you still need to take care of preparing your backyard with picnic blankets, outdoor cushions or folding chairs and tables.

Make sure you have enough plates, utensils and cups for everyone, as well as napkins and a trash can nearby. Get a cooler box or a portable Champagne bucket with ice to keep the wine or bubbly cool.

Remember to also plan some fun activities, especially if kids will be present on the picnic too. Here are some ideas for kids and seniors.

Keep reading for a list of our favourite dishes you can bring to a potluck without having to spend too much time or money on preparation.

Summer Potluck Food Ideas

Pan-fried Dumplings

pan fried dumplings

We love potstickers! They're quick, easy to make, and delicious. You can follow a recipe or add in your own fillings which is cool because you can be creative. You can also add vegetables for an extra flavour. These Chinese dumplings are crispy outside but filled with juicy meat and veggie filling that will leave you wanting more. Serve these bad boys up with a dipping sauce of your choice. 

Sugar Cookie Bars

These easy sugar cookie bars are frosted and sprinkled for your sweet tooth! With a chewy, thick consistency, these treats will satisfy all of your dessert cravings. It's like cut-out sugar cookies but much easier to make - a perfect last-minute potluck treat.

Basic Chicken Salad

A simple summer recipe that's perfect for any picnic or potluck is a classic chicken salad. This yummy dish can be served cold as an appetiser with crackers and veggies, turned into a wrap, or used to fill hearty sandwiches!

Rice Paper Summer Rolls

rice paper rolls

If you ever want to create a Vietnamese summer roll, but get intimidated by the process, fear not! It’s very easy and simple to make in just under 10 minutes. These homemade rolls are perfect as an appetiser or light lunch and can be enjoyed with some peanut sauce! Just fill them up with shrimp, rice noodles, crunchy vegetables, and herbs, then wrap them in some rice paper sheets.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are moist and bursting with blueberry flavour. They will appeal to most people because of the light, sweet taste but still have a hint of lemon zest that sets them apart from any other muffin you've had before. They're also easy to make as they mostly use ingredients that you can find in your pantry or fridge, apart from the blueberries and some non-dairy yoghurt.

Raspberry White Chocolate Coconut Bites

Raspberry White Chocolate Coconut Bites are a tasty, healthy snack that will leave you feeling energised and refreshed. These no-bake energy bites have good ingredients like berries, cereal, white chocolate, honey oats crunchies with red fruit flavourings from freeze-dried raspberries. They're soft and chewy balls of decadent goodness made in minutes without a stove or oven!

No-Cook Potluck Ideas

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

black-eyed pea salad

The Southern Black-Eyed Pea Salad is a flavour sensation that will tantalise your taste buds and impress all of the guests at any gathering. It's quick and easy to make, but it does require some chopping. The salad can be served as either a side or salsa with chips. If the dish sits in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving, all of its flavours will blend - creating an unforgettable experience that'll wow everyone!

No-Bake Cookies

No-bake cookies are a nostalgic childhood favourite that has the perfect chewy, fudgy texture. They have that classic chocolate and peanut butter flavour combo, and they're great to make for potlucks or picnics because everyone loves them!

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon feta salad is an exciting and surprisingly refreshing side dish that can be served any time of the year. Add crisp cucumbers, a touch of mint for flavour, and you’ve got yourself a plant-based meal with plenty to offer!

Chickpea Salad 

This Chickpea Salad, made with tomatoes and cucumbers, is perfect for your next picnic. Unlike other salads with many ingredients to chop or prepare, this dish can be prepared in minutes! The best part may be how quick it will take you from start to finish—no cooking necessary as the recipe calls for canned chickpeas instead of fresh ones.

Potluck Dishes That Travel Well

Mini Biscuits

Who doesn't love a gooey, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit? Impress the crowd at your next potluck with these easy to make biscuits in mini form. They pair well with just about any other snack!

Baked Spaghetti

baked spaghetti

The spaghetti casserole is everyone's favourite. It has cheese; it has pasta and sauce - all the good things make a dish great! This delicious dish can be served with your family or represent you at potlucks. Plus, this noodle-y travels very well, so don't worry about taking too much to your picnic next time! 

Ravioli Lasagna

This quick and easy ravioli lasagna is great for busy weeknights or potlucks. If you have time, serve garlic bread on the side, which will soak up all of that delicious sauce! It's a sure hit with everyone who tries it!

Black Forest Ham Roll-Ups

These savoury tortilla roll-ups are a tasty dish that will be sure to delight any guest at your party. A delicious blend of cream cheese, lemon juice and Dijon mustard are spread over thin slices of smoked ham. Add some Swiss cheese for even more flavour before rolling them all together into a neat package that you can slice or serve as one big treat on its own. Garnish with dried cherries and green onions to give it an extra burst of colour!

Potluck Ideas To Feed A Crowd

Potato Salad

This classic potato salad recipe is a must-have for every picnic and barbecue. Pair this creamy, delicious dish with barbeque or anything from the grill at your next event! This simple side dish can be jazzed up by adding bacon to make it even tastier. For any warm-weather get-togethers, potatoes are sure to please all of your guests.

Chicken Taco Salad

Mexican cuisine is always a great choice, and this salad gives you the best of all worlds. A vast, hearty bowl filled with tons of flavour with chicken breast mixed in and black beans for protein, corn to give it a sweetness element and plenty of vegetables on top too! The dressing ties everything together beautifully by adding a little more saltiness and some spice from cumin while offering up tangy notes thanks to lime juice.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

If you are looking for a delicious, wholesome snack or dessert that will keep everyone satisfied, look no further. The chocolate bars in this dessert have three of the most popular flavours: peanut butter, and chocolate chips! With three layers of goodness to delight every taste bud on the picnic table, these bars are a surefire way to satisfy your craving!

Pumpkin and Walnut Squares

With the buttery crust and crumb topping, this pumpkin and walnut pie is a mouthwatering dessert. If you are craving something sweet at your next potluck or get-together, do not hesitate to make it! For an extra special touch, try whipped cream on top with some nuts.

Easy Chocolate Mint Fudge

chocolate mint fudge

Microwave Andes mint chocolate fudge is the perfect no-bake picnic dessert. With only six ingredients, this recipe takes 10 minutes to prep time! It's creamy and smooth with just a hint of peppermint flavour for an extra kick that everyone will love.

Chicken Banh Mi

The Banh Mi sandwich has been a popular dish in Vietnam for decades. Now, this once foreign cuisine is being embraced by both locals and foreigners alike! This Vietnamese chicken sandwich includes tender sliced chicken, pickled carrots and daikon radish; cucumbers slices topped with jalapeños or cilantro leaves- depending on your taste preference. It’s a great option if you're looking for something quick and easy at a potluck picnic!

Last-Minute Potluck Ideas

Layered Picnic Loaves

These are the perfect sandwich for a picnic potluck! Make your showstopper by layering Parma ham, brie cheese, roasted red peppers, cucumber slices with lettuce on sourdough bread, then adding more toppings such as tomatoes and mozzarella.

Avocado Tuna Salad

This avocado tuna salad recipe will quickly become a last-minute picnic staple. It is ready in minutes and has healthy ingredients like protein, omega 3s, fibre, and more! You can wrap it up with some tortilla shells or stuff it in a bagel, scoop it up with a cracker, or simply eat it with a fork.

Shrimp Salad

If you're looking for a healthy and delicious summer salad, try this recipe out! Shrimp Corn Basil Salad is packed with the freshest ingredients. It's easy to prepare in less than 10 minutes when time is short-you'll be amazed at how fresh tomatoes and basil combine so wonderfully with crispy shrimp that has been spritzed before adding it into your dish. To avoid browning vegetables, barely cook them until they are crisp-tender instead of mushy.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

This cold cucumber tomato salad is the perfect appetiser for a summer potluck. It's refreshing and has many veggies (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, green peppers). This salad of fresh vegetables is tossed with a herb dressing for a touch of flavour on the tongue.

Vegan Potluck Ideas

Mediterranean Quinoa Pasta Salad

Quinoa pasta salad is an excellent choice for a vegan potluck picnic. Loaded with all the plant-based Mediterranean goodness that you could ever hope for, this explosion of flavour and colour will keep you coming back for more. This quinoa pasta salad recipe can be made specifically to your tastes by adding or subtracting ingredients as desired! It’s super family-friendly and easy to make while also being delicious enough; even nonvegans would love it too.

Healthy Vegan Pizza

vegan pizza

Vegan Pizza is perfect for potluck picnics. The best thing about pizza is that they're easy to make and will convince any picky eater or vegetarian at your party! This recipe tastes just as good with pizza dough flavoured with herbs, stuffed mushrooms, tomatoes, and cheese-free mozzarella (or your favourite).

Vegan Fruit Tarts

French patisserie is not just a feast for your mouth, but it's also an eye-catching dessert. These mini tarts are perfect for sharing at a picnic! A vegan fruit tart made with a buttery shortbread crust melts in the mouth filled with sweet cream cheese topped off with glazed berries.

Strawberry Salsa

This salsa is perfect for a hot day and can be served with chips as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish for nonvegans. The recipe includes lime juice, red onion, avocado slices and chopped jalapeño which are mixed in this dish that will have your guests coming back for more!

Don't Forget the Beverages!

Party Drinks With Alcohol

Watermelon Margaritas

What could be more refreshing than a cold and boozy margarita in the summer? Watermelon Margaritas are perfect for your picnic day. Combine ripe watermelon and your favourite tequila with just a bit of ice for a thick and boozy drink that's perfect for grilling and chilling out.

Lemon-Basil Mojito Mocktails

An easy and refreshing cocktail is the lemon-basil mojito mocktail. In this refreshing twist on the classic summer beverage, lemon and basil take centre stage with a touch of sweetness to keep you refreshed all picnic day. But you can add your favourite rum or vodka to create an adult version that is sure to impress!

Apple Cider Smash

Apple cider smash is a fruity and chilled cocktail that is very refreshing. Apple cider is mixed with some fresh fruit or spices and topped off with sparkling apple cider to make this spiced-up cocktail even more delightful. One sip, and you'll feel like summer never left your lips!

Non-Alcoholic Party Drinks

Pineapple Ginger Tea

Pineapple Ginger Tea is a great way to welcome spring, kick-off summer and ring in the new year. With two delicious ingredients - pineapple and ginger juices- these drinks will have your guests thirsting for more! Whether you're hosting your next potluck picnic or simply looking for something different at happy hour, this drink will be sure to please!

Orange Lemonade

Orange Lemonade is a perfect potluck picnic drink. It’s so refreshing; it will cool you down when the sun beats on your back in this summer heat and give you some energy to carry on with those games of picnic day!


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About the Author

Franck Jehanne is the co-founder of British lifestyle brand, Heating & Plumbing London. After 10 years working for Cartier and other luxury brands from the Richemont group, he started his entrepreneurial journey in 2011, leading to the creation of the brand in 2017.

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