A style of group meal in which everyone brings a dish to share with the group. It retains the sense of the word as described by Webster 1913, because you're at the mercy of your dining companions' cooking skills.

What to bring to a potluck.


This is an age old question around my house. It seems there is always some event which requires us to bring a dish to share. Currently, my husband and I have been invited to a NaNoWriMo write-in. 

I considered and rejected many options including taquitos, enchiladas, and seven layer dip and chips. The taquitos would be too time consuming, the enchiladas wouldn't hold up well enough in the crockpot and I didn't think the seven layer dip would be substantial enough. Finally, I decided on something simple to make that is usually quite the crowd pleaser. I am going to make a big batch of pulled chicken and bring sandwich rolls with it.  My husband doesn't think this sounds simple tp prepare, but it really is. Usually, I would make my own homemade barbecue sauce, but to save time, I opted to use store bought sauce. 

First, take a trip to your local grocery and get the required ingredients. You will need: two whole fresh frying chickens (or any type you like as long as it's not frozen. Hint-although more costly, anything boneless and skinless will save you lots of time in the shredding process), a jug of barbecue sauce, frozen chopped onions and peppers, crockpot liners and a bag of sandwich rolls. I usually cook the chicken overnight the day before the event. Put a crockpot liner in your crockpot and add about a half of an inch of water in the bottom. Rinse your chicken and remove any unwanted parts such as the guts that usually come tucked inside the whole fryers (your kitty might like these, though). Place the meat in the crockpot and sprinkle with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder if you have it. Cover and cook on low for about eight hours. If you are reading this the day of the event, DO NOT PANIC. Instead of cooking the meat in the crockpot just place it in a large saucepan or stock pot, add water almost to the level of the meat and the spice and cook at a low boil until the meat is done, about an hour or so depending on the size of your chicken pieces (if using the whole fryers and using this cooking method, I recommend you cut your whole chicken apart into smaller pieces).

After the chicken is cooked remove it from the juice and put it in the fridge to cool. I usually save the juice as it makes good stock for soup at some later time. Line your crockpot with a fresh liner and cover the botom with a layer of barbecue sauce. Shred the chicken. If you are working with boned and skinned chicken, make sure to remove and discard these. Put the shredded chicken in the crockpot, add chopped onions and peppers to taste and cover with more barbecue sauce. Stir it up adding more sauce if needed and cover and cook on low for about two hours.

You are now ready to take your dish to the potluck! Plug in your crock when you get there and set the temparature to keep warm. Serve with sandwich rolls. If everyone else brought a two liter of soda or a bag of chips you are probably the hero of the potluck.  Even if there is plenty of great food, this dish pairs well with almost anything. 

Another really good tip is to be aware of any special dietary needs or allergies of other attendees. It is always nice if you can include them in what you are bringing or prepare a small extra side dish with them in mind. That may not be always be possible or practical, so, at the very least, know your ingredients so the other folks know if they can partake of your dish.

Some other simple crockpot potluck ideas include:

  • Italian meatballs in marinara sauce
  • Swedish meatballs in white sauce
  • Chili
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Barbecue wings or Hot wings
  • Little Smokies in barbecue sauce


If you are hosting the potluck, it can be beneficial to establish a theme which will help the attendees in deciding what to bring. Some fun themes are:

  • Italian 
  • Mexican
  • Chinese 
  • Picnic
  • Hawaiin Luau
  • Taco Bar
  • Fondue
  • Soup and Salad Bar
  • Just Desserts

Enjoy your Potluck! 

Pot"luck` (?), n.

Whatever may chance to be in the pot, or may be provided for a meal.

A woman whose potluck was always to be relied on. G. Eliot.

To take potluck, to take what food may chance to be provided.


© Webster 1913.

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