20 Summer Potluck Ideas – The New York Times

Amanda M. Rye

It’s time for park picnics and backyard potlucks, and, for obvious reasons, our staff is excited for the outdoor hang more than ever this year. And, whether it’s something sweet (Rice Krispies treats loaded with chocolate and pretzels, peach cobbler, plum torte) or savory (deviled eggs, Chinese dumplings, fried chicken), one of their favorites is bound to please everybody at your gathering. So load up your picnic basket and celebrate by sharing one of our favorite dishes with your loved ones — who will surely ask you to pass along the recipe.

I think Kwan Bellhouse’s chicken larb (or Hetty McKinnon’s tofu version!) is a perfect dish for groups in the summer. The only cooking you’ll do is browning the meat (or tofu) and making a pot of rice. Set those out with a ton of crunchy lettuces, cucumber and herbs, and let everyone assemble their own bites. BECKY HUGHES

Shrikhand is my summer potluck magic trick. Tejal Rao’s recipe turns a tub of yogurt into a luxurious, saffron-stained dessert that’s so refreshing and not too sweet. Any fruit pie and shrikhand is also a dreamy combination. PRIYA KRISHNA

Recipe: Shrikhand

My motto: When in doubt, make Marian Burros’s plum torte. I always have the batter ingredients on hand, and, nine times out of 10, there are a couple of apples, peaches, pears or what have you hanging on for dear life in the depths of my crisper drawer. Or, I have a bag of berries or chopped frozen rhubarb in my freezer. Don’t skip the lemon juice, both for flavor and for texture. And as long as you cool it completely, this cake travels beautifully. ERIC KIM

Recipe: Original Plum Torte

As a child, I thought of deviled eggs as paprika-delivery vehicles; I would always select the ruddiest ones from the plate. While I still love a mountain of paprika on my eggs, I now know that what’s in the filling is just as important as the topping. This recipe, which is adapted from “U.S.A. Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins, a co-author of the Silver Palate cookbooks, gives you the basic framework. Try adding a smidgen of puréed chiles en adobo for a smokier experience, or swap the mustard for a dab of yuzu kosho for a zippier one. Bring the egg whites and the deviled egg mixture in separate chilled containers and assemble just before serving to ensure the perfect picnic experience. SARA BONISTEEL

My new summer potluck go-to is Genevieve Ko’s chile crisp dumplings. The filling is incredibly easy to make and packs a ton of flavor. The browned base adds crunch, while the steamy top provides chewiness. They’re highly portable and always a favorite among my friends and family. GINA FERNANDEZ

Recipe: Chile Crisp Dumplings

My picnic favorite is Lidey Heuck’s chickpea salad with fresh herbs and scallions. It has potato salad vibes, but without the now-I-need-a-nap side effect. I like to bring a big container of it to the park along with a stack of red Solo cups and plastic forks for sharing. For dessert, Nell Lewis’s Kentucky butter cake is foolproof: There’s no separating wet and dry ingredients. Just dump everything into the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until smooth. For transport, I pop it back into the Bundt pan after it cools, slice it, wrap with aluminum foil, then unmold again, or serve slices directly from the pan with juicy berries. MARGAUX LASKEY

Recipes: Chickpea Salad With Fresh Herbs and Scallions | Kentucky Butter Cake

Francis Lam’s caramelized scallion sauce is a bit time-consuming to prepare but can be done well in advance, and I often triple it for an outdoor feast. It does not have to be served hot. It’s great with cooked chicken, grilled tofu or shrimp and corn off the cob. I usually skip the egg, and a splash of chile oil doesn’t hurt. FLORENCE FABRICANT

Recipe: Caramelized Scallion Sauce

My absolute favorite recipe for a summer potluck is Natasha Pickowicz’s potato-and-radicchio tart. The recipe, which Natasha originally developed as a “family meal” for the staff at Café Altro Paradiso, where she was the pastry chef
, makes the best use of any pantry odds and ends, cheese nubbins or greens on their last legs. It turns out most ingredients work well together when snuggled up in a tart. The result is more impressive than an excuse to clean out the fridge (which it really is). ELEANORE PARK

I’m 200 percent more motivated to go to the barbecue if someone is bringing these sugar cookie bars that Margaux Laskey adapted from an American Girl cookbook. Once there, I casually position myself close to them, and try to eat as many as I can without anyone noticing that I’ve maybe had more than my share. EMILY FLEISCHAKER

Recipe: Sugar Cookie Bars

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a bean dip girl — nay, a bean dip woman. I’d toss some white beans, garlic, basil, lemon and maybe Parmesan in a blender, and run to the party. But last pandemic summer left me finding frequent comfort in potato salad. I’d make a big batch, or buy some from the store, and chip away at it. This year, I can’t wait to share, and it’s Millie Peartree’s recipe, which came from her mother, Millie Bell, that I want to share with everyone I know. KRYSTEN CHAMBROT

Recipe: Potato Salad With Sweet Relish

The best potluck dish is surprising, relatively easy and delicious enough to tempt second and third helpings. I have a friend who insists that a bucket of KFC satisfies all three of those requirements, but I prefer Tejal Rao’s adaptation of James Beard’s onion finger sandwiches. They’re already near-perfect for summer, but I add just a tiny bit of Dijon and white pepper to the mayo. BRIAN GALLAGHER

Recipe: Onion Finger Sandwiches

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