With the season’s warmer weather comes one of our favorite summer pastimes — the humble backyard barbeque. Whether it’s just a few friends or your entire block is getting together, a good guest will bring a dish along to the party. And no, bringing along a six-pack does not count as your contribution.
There’s nothing worse than taking home a full tray of food. Our simple tips and some of our favorite recipes should help you avoid that fate. With these in your arsenal, you’ll leave your host’s house with empty Tupperware instead of untouched potato salad.
Choosing a hit dish
Don’t assume you’ll be able to use the oven at the host’s house
You don’t know exactly what your host has planned for the evening (or for their oven). It’s best to choose a dish that can be served exactly as is, no heating required. If you’re really set on a recipe, check in with your host. Find out if their oven will be free and be clear on how long you’ll need it.
Make sure it can stand up to the sun
The cardinal rule of potluck etiquette — don’t bring anything that will make other guests sick. Avoid any dishes that have seafood, meat, and poultry. It’s easy to find recipes that don’t use these ingredients and leapfrog any high-risk foods. If you’re worried that your dish may wilt or melt under the sun’s heat, bring a second shallow dish and put some ice to it.
Choose something that’s bite-sized and easy to eat
If it takes a fork and knife, it might be delicious but it probably won’t be the most popular thing on the table. Potlucks are about grazing. If your friends can eat your food in one or two bites, they’ll be a much bigger hit. Bringing a finger food almost guarantees you won’t bring home a tray of leftovers.
A few of our favorites
Get the party going with a firecracker punch
Don’t have much luck in the kitchen? Play bartender instead. This punch takes a little bit of planning ahead but the actual prep time is only 15 minutes. Make fireworks past the Fourth of July with this aptly named Firecracker Punch. With rosé as one of the main ingredients, this sour-then-sweet drink has an instantly summery taste.
The food-allergy-friendly potato salad
This modern take on a barbeque classic is easy to make in big batches, completely eliminates the need for mayo, and is perfect for any gluten-free/dairy-free/fun-food-free guests in attendance. The herbs and olive oil make this dish taste perfectly light on a hot day and the touch of dijon mustard elevates the rustic potato to make a perfect combo.
A tropical take on a classic dip
Nothing says summer quite like the return of fresh fruit. Add some color to the table with this mango salsa. Bell peppers and red onions bring in some stronger flavors and add some texture to the mix. Come armed with your favorite tortilla chips and this tropical take on the classic dip is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Peachy-keen Caprese skewers
There literally isn’t an easier dish out there. They require no oven, three of the four ingredients come ready to go, and the only other thing you’ll need is some toothpicks. Put on your favorite podcast and skewer away. This recipe is also super simple to scale up depending on the size of the shindig.
What’s cookin’ good lookin’
Making a simple summer dish is as easy as 15 minutes in the kitchen. You’ll also look way more put together than the guy who shows up with two bags of Ruffles. Making a little bit of effort in what you bring shows your hosts you appreciate all their efforts and might even inspire your buddies to do a little more.
Do you have a signature dish for the summer months? Share it in the comments.
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