Growing up, Thanksgiving was always at my grandparents’ house. They would take care of the turkey, stuffing, and a few other sides, and my mom and aunts would bring everything else for the big meal. I had one aunt that would always bring store-bought, stale sugar cookies. Another aunt would make sweet potato casserole that was eerily similar to baby food. With cups of sugar dumped into it. Needless to say, those dishes were always a bit of a disappointment.
When I got a little older, my mom took over hosting. She’s a major control freak and did all the cooking to make sure everything was up to standard. Now I host Thanksgiving and, well, the apple doesn’t far fall from the tree. I do all the cooking and have pretty strict guidelines on what I’m serving. But every year, I also end up going to a potluck Friendsgiving.
I tend to get a little nervous that people will forget about the event and pick up something gross at the last minute or choose to make a recipe that doesn’t travel well. To help avoid Friendsgiving food faux pas this year, I’ve rounded up the most crowd-pleasing, potluck-friendly recipes broken out by course.
Scroll on for the recipes, and forward this as a PSA to all your friends!
In most cases, the main course (the turkey!) will be taken care of by the host. But I’ve been to a few Friendsgivings where the host doesn’t necessarily want to host 10 people, shell out $40 on a turkey, and take on the responsibility of actually cooking the bird. Luckily, there are plenty of turkey and fall-inspired main courses that can perfectly replace a whole roasted bird. Note: if you’re not the host, but you’re bringing a main, I recommend finishing these recipes off at the host’s house.
A good potluck side dish is one that you can transport in a single dish and easily make ahead of time or finish off at the host’s house. One of the benefits of a Thanksgiving potluck is the freedom to put your own twist on classic recipes. Maybe this year you could bring croissant stuffing instead of traditional stuffing or make potato gratin stacks instead of mashed potatoes.
For reasons I’ll never understand, most people request “just a little bit” of whatever dessert is offered on Thanksgiving. So it’s important to bring desserts with easily adjusted serving sizes or to make dishes that taste great as leftovers.
If someone else is bringing wine or your group isn’t full of wine drinkers, the best next option is a fall cocktail. The below recipes are either batch cocktails you can make ahead of time or super simple cocktails that only require three or four ingredients. You don’t want the guests working too hard to make a drink!