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40 Thanksgiving Potluck Ideas, from Make-Ahead Casseroles to Appetizers and Desserts

You’ve been invited to Friendsgiving (or you’re just joining the fam for the holiday), but one question remains: What tasty dish are you going to bring? Don’t panic, friend: We found 40 festive Thanksgiving potluck ideas that are just right for the occasion. Whether the vibe is elegant or more of a casserole-casual affair, these appetizerssides and desserts are guaranteed to win over the crowd (including your persnickety Aunt Sandy). Even better, our picks are easy to make ahead, transport and reheat.

63 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas (Because Not Everyone Loves Turkey)


Casseroles, Gratins and Travel-Friendly Pans

1. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, make ahead

If you’re only in charge of making one dish, why not go all out with intricate phyllo rosettes? They look more complicated than they are and taste like a heavenly Parmesan breadcrumb.

2. Green Cabbage Gratin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, special occasion–worthy

Some things are just better with cheese, butter and a bubbly breadcrumb crust. But good news: The gratin club isn’t exclusive, and humble cabbage is joining the group. Make this dish in advance and reheat it in the oven once you arrive at your destination.

3. Hasselback Honey-Glazed Squash with Pistachios and Chiles

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, special occasion–worthy, one pan

Sweet, spiced and eye-catching, this side dish would be just as delicious with another winter squash in place of butternut. Try delicata—it doesn’t even require peeling.

4. Spiralized Winter Vegetable Gratin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

Speaking of winter squash, this gorgeous gratin is like a slightly healthier version of the traditional potato dish. Parsnips, sweet potatoes and squash stand in for the usual spuds, but there’s still plenty of cheese to go around.

5. Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, vegetarian, <500 calories

Behold, two cruciferous veggies working together in cheesy harmony. What could be tastier than that? (Only the fact that you can easily transport this dish and bake it upon arrival.)

6. Ina Garten’s Baked Spinach and Zucchini

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, make ahead

You can’t bring Ina Garten to the Thanksgiving potluck, but you can bring her elegant mini vegetable gratins. If you don’t have individual serving dishes, just bake it in one and increase the cooking time.

7. The Best Potatoes au Gratin Ever

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, low sugar

Why are these potatoes the best, you ask? Well, they’re impossibly creamy and comforting, plus they taste even better if you make them ahead of time. Experiment with different cheeses if you’re feeling feisty.

8. Creamy Vegan Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Bake

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegan, gluten free, make ahead

It’s a known fact that vegans don’t get enough love at the Turkey Day table, but this plant-based casserole can help. It even does double duty as a side dish or a main.

9. Easy Cauliflower Gratin

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

Two types of cheese, one beloved vegetable and zero problems. A pinch of nutmeg makes this one extra cozy.

Salads, Appetizers and Sides

10. Cabbage-Fennel Salad with Honeycrisp Apples

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, make ahead, <15 minutes

So often the salad options at Thanksgiving are lacking. This crunchy number is a refreshing change of pace to all the creamy goodness, and since it’s made with cabbage, it can be assembled in advance.

11. Celery Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, beginner-friendly, make ahead

That half bag of celery in your crisper drawer isn’t going to cook itself. Instead, transform it into this surprising salad that’s equal parts crisp and rich, thanks to a sherry vinaigrette.

12. Fall Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad with Pine Nut Cream

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, dairy free, gluten free

Once you bring pine nut cream to the celebration, you’ll have a standing invitation for every year to come. This hearty salad can be served warm or at room temperature if you need to free up the oven.

13. Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, make ahead, no cook

The dressing is based on the rich flavors of a Caesar salad dressing, but uses nuts and seeds as a dairy-free base. Even better, if you dress the greens ahead of time, it gives them time to become tender.

14. Kale Salad with Persimmons, Crispy Chickpeas and Fried Shallots

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 minutes, make ahead, dairy free

The jewel-like persimmons and homemade frizzled onions will put last year’s bagged salad to shame. Bonus: It’s made with just ten ingredients.

15. Fall Charcuterie Board with Black Pepper–Honey Brie, Figs and Rosemary

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, make ahead, crowd-pleaser

It’s not a party unless there are appetizers. Fact. Assign yourself the cheese board and you’ll be the talk of the soiree, especially if it includes this effortless black pepper–honey brie.

16. Wild Mushroom, Potato and Onion Tart

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, vegetarian

This work of art can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the fridge. Just refresh it in the oven or toaster before serving to revive its flaky crust.

17. Goat Cheese, Apple and Honey Tarts

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, make ahead

These cuties are as versatile as they are delectable. You can either bake them as individual tarts or as one large tart, in which case just roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle.

18. Roasted Winter Vegetable Platter with Miso Aioli and Romesco Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegan, make ahead

Homemade aioli is sort of magical. If you don’t have time to make it from scratch while you roast the veg, you can just as easily start with high-quality, store-bought mayonnaise.

19. Winter Squash Galette with Caramelized Onions and Gruyère

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy

Roastedstuffed or pureed into soup, we’ll eat winter squash any way you make it. And if you wrap it in a golden, flaky crust with some melted cheese, we’re ready to marry the final dish. Slice it into thin slivers for one crowd-pleasing appetizer.

20. Roasted Mixed Nuts

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <15 minutes, make ahead

These savory nuts take 15 minutes to make and will disappear by the handful, so yeah, we’d say doubling the recipe is a no-brainer decision.

21. Easy Bacon Jam

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser

Even if you’re not assembling the charcuterie platter this Thanksgiving, odds are it’ll be in attendance. Bring this bacon jam to serve on the side, and suddenly you’re a holiday hero.

22. 15-Minute Microwave Mashed Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, make ahead, crowd-pleaser, <15 minutes

Hello, most ingenious potato recipe of all time. These spuds are so foolproof, you don’t even need boiling water to make them (and you can refrigerate them for up to a day).

23. Radicchio, Lentil and Apple Salad with Vegan Cashew Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, vegan, gluten free

A creamy salad dressing is far superior to all others, but bottled ranch isn’t going to cut it on Thanksgiving. This cashew dressing is just the thing to balance the bitter radicchio and tart apples, and no one will guess that it’s vegan.

24. Pimento Cheese Stuffed Shishito Peppers

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, <30 minutes, vegetarian

Think of these pimento-cheese-stuffed shishito peppers as a trendy, classed-up version of jalapeño poppers. They’re spicy, festive finger food at its finest.

25. Everything Bagel Pigs in a Blanket with Cheater’s Aioli

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, make ahead

Want to know a secret? Everyone attending the dinner wishes there were pigs in a blanket involved. That’s where you (and these savory bites) come in.

26. Sweet and Spicy Cornbread

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, make ahead, crowd-pleaser

Skip the sad, bagged dinner rolls and make this simple, one-skillet cornbread instead. It’s best served at room temperature, so bake it and let it cool before you even think about getting in the car.

27. Whole-Wheat Feta Tart with Caramelized Onions and Herbs

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, special occasion–worthy

Feta tart? We’ll bite… It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit salty and extremely delicious, plus it features a press-in crust that even beginner bakers can make.

28. Green Beans with Garlicky Pistachio Vinaigrette

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

Normally we’d advise against bringing a green veg side to a potluck, since it’s best served piping hot. But these green beans flip the script: They’re served chilled, so you can make them days in advance.

Desserts and Sweet Treats

29. Cinnamon Meringue Pie

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, special occasion–worthy

Let someone else handle the pumpkin; you’re in charge of this custardy, spiced dessert. It’s basically a type of sugar pie, which just means it’s thickened with flour instead of eggs and is impossible to mess up.

30. Mini Caramel Pecan Pies with Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, make ahead

Want a dessert that looks impressive but is ready to go in under an hour? These itty-bitty pies will do the trick.

31. Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, special occasion–worthy

If a spiced pumpkin pie and a fluffy angel food cake had a delicious baby, it would be this pumpkin dessert. The cream cheese glaze is just gilding the lily.

32. Cinnamon Sheet Cake with Cider Frosting

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

A sheet pan cake that’s ready in less than an hour will always beat out a complicated pie recipe. (Sorry to all the gorgeous lattice crusts out there.) Plus, who can deny that tangy, sweet apple cider frosting?

33. Three-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles

  • Time Commitment: 4 hours, 25 minutes (includes chilling)
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

Whether you forgot to make dessert or save room for dessert, these impossibly simple, just-rich-enough truffles have your back.

34. Vegan and Gluten-Free Apple Blackberry Crumble Tart

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegan, gluten free, make ahead

This stunning tart already features cinnamon in the filling, but you can add other warming spices such as cardamom, nutmeg or orange zest to take it up a notch.

35. Pumpkin Black and White Cookies

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, make ahead

Kids and adults alike won’t be able to resist a soft pumpkin cookie. Make them even better with the classic black-and-white frosting treatment.

36. No-Cook Pumpkin Spice Tiramisu

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours, 30 minutes (includes chilling time)
  • Why We Love It: no cook, make ahead, crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy

Other than the chill time, this layered custard is a breeze to make, plus it requires no fussing with a cooked custard and is laced with booze.

37. Cranberry Curd Thumbprint Cookies

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy

Go ahead, make these cookies up to five (!) days ahead. Then pat yourself on the back for being so prepared for the Thanksgiving chaos.

38. Caramel-Stuffed Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

We’ve never met a snickerdoodle we didn’t like, and these caramel-stuffed cookies are no exception. (Of course, you could leave the caramel out…but why?)

39. Pecan Pie Brownies

  • Time Commitment:
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, make ahead

Haven’t you heard? Pie is out and brownies are in. We’re totally kidding, but these bites start with a boxed mix and taste like you spent hours in the kitchen, so you could make a case for the argument.

40. Mini Apple Cinnamon Tarts

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, beginner-friendly

Store-bought frozen puff pastry is the secret to making these bite-size pies look totally profesh with minimal effort on your part. Bring vanilla ice cream along and you’ll really win Thanksgiving.