Make-Ahead Potluck Dishes, from Amazing Apps to Delightful Desserts

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Heading to or hosting a potluck Thanksgiving this year? We've got you covered: from easy appetizers to zingy desserts there's a make-ahead and easy to transport option for every part of the meal (save the turkey and gravy - the host should make these herself).

  • Caramelized Leek and Bacon Dip: This enticing upgrade on French onion dip can be made up to a day ahead of time, making it a perfect potluck candidate. Just don't forget to bring pre-toasted crostini or cut up crudité to serve it with. To serve: prep it in its entirety ahead of time, aside from the garnish. Sprinkle the garnish on top before setting out.
  • Brie With Caramel and Almonds: While not truly a make-ahead dish, this decadent brie appetizer can be assembled when you arrive at the potluck party. Simply bring all the ingredients (a wedge of brie, jarred caramel sauce, slivered almonds and crackers), drizzle the caramel, fan out the crackers, and devour. Serve at room temperature.
  • Curried Pumpkin Soup: Velvety curried pumpkin soup only tastes indulgent (it's cream-free) and would make for an elegant starter or side. To serve: bring the soup in a leakproof container, and reheat in a saucepan over medium heat. Garnish with yogurt, roasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro after it's heated through.
  • Pomegranate-Hazelnut Winter Greens Salad: Unlike delicate baby lettuces, hearty greens like kale and chard can stand up to a few hours time mingling with their dressing; their texture is even improved upon by the time lapsed. Toss together this refreshing seasonal salad ahead of time and tote along. Serve at room temperature.
  • Millet, Lentil, and Pomegranate Salad: Juicy pomegranate arils add interest to this hearty grain and lentil salad sure to please vegans and omnivores alike. Serve at room temperature.


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  • Creamy Mashed Potatoes: Basic, but far from boring, these creamy mashed potatoes need no adornment (though gravy can't hurt!). To serve: reheat over medium heat on the stove top, stirring occasionally, or in the microwave.
  • Fresh Cranberry Salsa: For a less sweet take on traditional cranberry sauce try spicy-tart cranberry-jalapeño salsa. Serve at room temperature.
  • Sweet Potato Pone: Somewhere between a casserole and a custard, this sweet potato and pecan side is a Southern treat you'll fall in love with. To serve: reheat in a moderate oven (350°F) until warmed through. Alternatively, serve it at room temperature.
  • Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole: Caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and Asian ingredients like panko and soy sauce combine for an updated take on classic green bean casserole. To serve: reheat in a moderate oven (350°F) until warmed through.
  • Potato Basil Purée: Basil and parmesan cheese enlivens silky potato purée for a mash worth sharing. To serve: reheat over medium heat on the stove top, stirring occasionally, or in the microwave.
  • Squash Casserole: Southern pedigree combines with West-Coast ingredients for an inspired take on squash casserole. To serve: reheat in a moderate oven (350°F) until warmed through.


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  • Mashed Rutabegas: Reminiscent of turnips and cabbage, rutabegas take to mashing exceptionally well, and are a refreshingly light bite amidst indulgent casseroles and the like. To serve: reheat over medium heat on the stove top, stirring occasionally, or in the microwave.
  • Andouille Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing: Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, this New Orleans-inspired iteration is sure to perk up fatigued palates. To serve: reheat in a moderate oven (350°F) until warmed through.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes: A drizzle of honey, and a turn in a hot oven accentuates the natural sweetness of roasted sweet potatoes, no gloppy marshmallows needed. To serve: reheat in a moderate oven (350°F) until warmed through.
  • Fresh Cranberry Sauce: This four-ingredient (including water!) cranberry sauce couldn't be easier to prepare and is sure to perk up turkey and sides with aplomb. Serve chilled.
  • Cranberry-Swirled Gingerbread Cake: Molasses-tinged gingerbread cake is swirled with tangy cranberry sauce for a zingy finale that will go fast. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.
  • Sweet Potato Pie: Candied nuts (store-bought is fine) and whipped cream take sweet potato pie over the top. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream. Don't forget these tips for transporting pie disaster-free. Alternatively, use a pie carrier.


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