Crowd-Pleasing Tips & Recipes for a Perfect Thanksgiving Potluck

Liz Alterman | Nov 4, 2014 Food & Party

Thanksgiving meal table
Marcus Nilsson/Galeries/Corbis

When we host Thanksgiving dinner, we absolutely love when a friend or family member offers to bring a dish. Well, why not take this idea to the next level this year? That's right -- we're talking about a Thanksgiving potluck. From appetizers and salads to side dishes and desserts, there are plenty of choices, and each person probably has a recipe he or she wouldn't mind sharing or showing off. 

Hosting a potluck Thanksgiving is simple, but here's the key -- make a basic menu first and then be specific about what guests should bring! This eliminates the potential for receiving a half a dozen green bean casseroles but no stuffing or mashed potatoes. 

And not to worry about the non-cooks on the guest list. Anyone who prefers to stay out of the kitchen can bring a few bottles of wine or sparkling cider -- or they can call their favorite bakery and order a delicious pumpkin or apple pie. Give guests lots of notice so they can gather their ingredients (or call their caterers), and then sit back, relax, and enjoy a festive holiday dinner without all the extra fuss!

More from CafeMom: 20 Easy Thanksgiving Sides That Take Less Than 30 Minutes 

We've even taken the guesswork out of Thanksgiving potluck planning with this cool slideshow of all the menu must-haves for a well-rounded holiday meal. This could be the best Thanksgiving yet!  

  • Shrimp Cocktail

    1

    Image © the food passionates/Corbis

    Shrimp cocktail is always a crowd-pleaser and yet not too filling, which is perfect because you definitely want to save plenty of room for turkey!

    More from CafeMom: 16 Thanksgiving Table Settings From Hell (PHOTOS)

  • Apple Cider

    2

    Image © Ikonica/Masterfile/Corbis

    Apple cider is a festive fall beverage that can be served hot or cold, spiked or sparkling. You can assign this drink to the non-cook on your guest list or to the person who's dying to try a new recipe. 

  • Salad

    3

    Image © Matthew Mead/ /AP/Corbis

    This delicious pear and gorgonzola salad is perfect for Thanksgiving. Candied pecans add great flavor and crunch. It's almost too pretty to eat!

  • Rolls

    4

    Image © Melissa Hom/Corbis

    If you assign a basket of bread to the foodie on your guest list, onion rolls make a savory side. Everyone likes to mop up that gravy with a savory biscuit or bite of bread. 

  • Stuffing

    5

    Image © iStock.com/bhofack2

    Stuffing can be made many different ways, so before you outsource this beloved side dish, make sure you know what you're getting in case you have any vegetarians or food allergy sufferers on the guest list.

  • Cranberry Sauce

    6

    Image © iStock.com/funwithfood

    Remember the cranberry sauce of our childhoods? No matter where you went on turkey day, out came the same old canned purple blob, complete with the lines around its middle from spending who-knows-how-long in aluminum casing. So sad!

    Well, cranberry sauces have grown up a lot since those days (something to be thankful for in itself). Some are made with pomegranates, others with oranges. Request a new take on this traditional side dish and prepare to be dazzled. 

  • Roasted Asparagus

    7

    Image © iStock.com/PoppyB

    Roasted asparagus is easy to make, delicious, and good for you. The green adds a nice pop of color to your Thanksgiving table. 

  • Green Bean Casserole

    8

    Image via CoreySeeman/Flickr

    A little sweet and a little savory, everyone loves a green bean casserole. It doesn't require much prep work or fancy ingredients so you won't feel guilty asking someone to bring this tasty side dish. 

  • Sweet Potatoes

    9

    Image © iStock.com/tacojim

    Sweet potatoes are another versatile side that offer the cook a chance to get creative. Whether they're whipped with a bit of butter and brown sugar or smothered in marshmallows, you want to make sure you assign these tasty taters to someone for sure!

  • Pumpkin Pie

    10

    Image © Tetra Images/Corbis

    Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without a pumpkin pie! Find the best baker on your guest list and see if he or she is up to the task!

  • Apple Pie

    11

    Image © Lottie Davies/cultura/Corbis

    Apple pie is another Thanksgiving staple. This is a great dessert to assign to someone who wants to show off their baking prowess!

  • Mincemeat Pie

    12

    Image © iStock.com/hmproudlove

    Mincemeat pie dates back to the 16th century, but what exactly is in between those crusts? Recipes vary but most include beef, apples, raisins, and some orange zest. Add it to your menu to see what the fuss is about!

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