Potlucks are meal gatherings where every guest brings a dish to share. You know a potluck is a good potluck when it’s a perfectly balanced mix of main courses, side dishes, and of course, desserts.

So you’ve been invited to a potluck. What should you bring?

50 Cheap Potluck Recipes. Click through for all 50 recipes.

This is a compilation of 50 cheap recipes perfectly suited for a potluck. These ideas are will work for any kind of potluck:

  • Church potlucks
  • Office potlucks
  • Friend potlucks
  • Picnics
  • Other get-togethers where everyone brings a dish

Potluck recipes should be crowd-pleasing, easy to transport, easy to keep warm (or cold) away from your kitchen – and should not be messy to eat! I hope you find something you like – and I hope you enjoy your next potluck!50 cheap potluck recipes. Get all 50 ideas here.

Cheap Main Dishes

These dishes are ideal for a potluck meal. How to keep your dish warm for the duration of the potluck? Consider placing in a slow cooker on the warm setting to keep your dish warm and fresh:

Potluck franks and beans: Every potluck needs this!

Perfect potluck baked beans: A real crowd-pleaser!

Chow mein noodle hotdish recipe

Cheap Side Dishes

Every potluck needs a good variety of side dishes. This is your opportunity to try something new and unique – potlucks are great when there are a variety of dishes. The following recipes are ideal for a potluck because most of them can be kept warm in a slow cooker:

Fully loaded Brussels sprouts, a recipe from Cheap Recipe Blog

Dips and Miscellaneous Items

Every potluck needs a few unexpected, crowd-pleasing dishes. This is your time to make a good chip dip, some finger food or that appetizer recipes you’ve been looking for an opportunity to make. Here are some unique recipe ideas to try:

Pickle rollups recipe, from Cheap Recipe Blog

Cheap Salad Recipes

Salads are an essential part of any potluck. Try to avoid any salad with greens that will wilt. Instead, opt for pasta salads or vegetable salads with sturdy veggies like carrots, corn, potatoes or cabbage. Here are several recipes that work exceptionally well for a potluck:

Popcorn salad: Popcorn takes the place of pasta in this picnic and potluck-loving salad.

Lentil, grape, feta, walnut salad recipe

Cheap Bread and Sandwich Recipes

These affordable bread and sandwich recipes are easy to grab off of the serving table. Consider including tongs to make it even easier for guests to grab:

Perfect dinner rolls recipe

Cheap Dessert Recipes

The potluck dessert table is perhaps the most popular and anticipated stop at a potluck. These dessert recipes are specifically picked for a potluck and are affordable and easily transportable:

Brown butter and almond brownies recipe

Popcorn cake recipe, from Cheap Recipe Blog

Get 50 Cheap Potluck Recipes.

5 Potluck Dinner Tips For The Budget Cook

  1. Bring ready-to-eat foods: Make sure your dish is ready to serve, as things can get crazy in a shared kitchen.
  2. Bring finger foods: Foods that are easy to grab are great for a potluck. Think finger Jell-O, a vegetable tray or deviled eggs.
  3. Your crock pot was made for potluck dinners: Keep foods like baked beans, hotdish or scalloped potatoes warm in a crock pot.
  4. Use pantry staples: Choose dishes that have a base of beans, pasta, rice or other pantry staples. This will keep the cost of your dish down.
  5. Know what foods to avoid: Avoid bringing soup, stew or chili – unless you are providing bowls for your guests. Also, avoid messy, sticky, and sloppy dishes. It’s also best to avoid new and exotic, spicy, or unfamiliar dishes. Crowd-pleasing dishes are your best bet.

I consider myself somewhat of a potluck expert. I grew up in rural Minnesota and attended a Lutheran country church in South Dakota. Potlucks were – and still are – common occurrences. In fact, we look for excuses to have potlucks. Because they’re fun and highly anticipated. You never know what dishes will show up.

And there we have it, 50 cheap potluck recipes. Please feel free to add your own favorite potluck ideas below. I would love new inspiration for my next potluck!

FAQs About Potlucks

Here are some of the most frequent questions we get about cheap recipes for a potluck:

What is the best dish to bring to a potluck?

The best dishes to bring to a potluck are ones that are easily transportable, easy to keep fresh for an hour or longer, non-messy, and crowd-pleasing. Some popular dishes for a potluck include casseroles, warm dips, pasta salads, and homemade bars or cookies.

What foods should I avoid bringing to a potluck?

Avoid bringing the following foods to a potluck:

  • Messy foods (spaghetti with long noodles, ribs or other foods with bones, foods with a lot of sauce)
  • Foods that will turn brown quickly (dishes with avocado, bananas or apple slices, for example)
  • Foods that can spoil quickly, especially if the potluck is in a warm environment
  • Fish-based dishes
  • Frozen foods (ice cream, slushes, etc.)

How do I keep food warm for a potluck?

The best way to keep food warm at a potluck is by using a slow cooker. This works for baked beans, casseroles, soups, warm dips, and other warm food items. Confirm that there is an outlet near the serving table before bringing a warm dish to a potluck.

How can I ensure my dish stays fresh if the potluck lasts for several hours?

Choosing the right dish for your potluck is essential, and you should consider the length of the event. If the potluck is to last several hours, consider a dish that doesn’t require refrigeration or can be kept warm in a slow cooker.

What are some creative and unique potluck dish ideas?

Be sure to check out the list of 50+ recipes, above, that are ideal for a potluck. My personal favorite dishes that are creative and suitable for a potluck are homemade empanadas made with ground beef, baked Cuban-style sliders, Mexican sweet corn salad, and whiskey brownies.

How do I ensure an even array of dishes at a potluck?

If you want to ensure that there is an appropriate number of main dishes to side dishes and desserts, consider assigning specific categories to guests: main dishes, side dishes, appetizers, salads, desserts, kid-friendly, etc.

However, part of the fun of a potluck is the unexpectedness of the event. The event can be a lot of fun when every guests brings exactly what they want.

What is the etiquette for listing ingredients for a dish?

Labeling dishes and ingredients at a potluck may be helpful for guests with food allergies. This will not be necessary for every potluck – nor will it be scalable for large potlucks – but consider labeling your own dish for the benefit of your guests.

Should I accommodate dietary restrictions for a potluck?

For guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions, potluck meals can be challenging. If you have guests with dietary restrictions, consider notifying guests or prepare a few dishes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb, etc.