With all the holiday entertaining coming up this Thanksgiving and Christmas, potluck parties are sure to be on your calendar. And since convenience and practicality are what going potluck is all about, then even transporting your food items and serving them at the venue should be hassle free.
So, how do you keep your culinary contributions delicious, fresh, hot or cold, and party-ready with ease? By choosing the right kind of container specially designed for each food type—like our 10 great finds below. Or by improvising with foodware and kitchen storage items you may already have (more on that in a separate section of tips!).
Partying is about to get pretty practical with these potluck container choices you can use for years! (*this post contains affiliate links)
1 – For Salads
Rubbermaid’s Brilliance Food Storage Salad Container (available from Amazon) is a 4.7 cup clear plastic container with lid, and includes a removable storage tray for toppings and a separate dressing container.
2 – For Soups or Sauces
The Olicamp Stainless Steel Kettle (available from Amazon) comes in 1-quart, 3-quart, and 4-quart sizes, with a special locking bail handle that keeps it spill-free even when full. The lid, also of stainless steel, is designed as a frying pan with a built-in folding handle.
3 – For Turkey and Roasts
The Mr Rudolf 18/10 Stainless Steel Nonstick 14-inch Rectangular Roaster with Lid (available from Amazon) is the ideal roast-and-serve container that can go straight from oven to table. The interior cooking surface claims to have the most superior non-stick coating, the solid handles allow easy lifting and transporting, and the stainless steel lid retains the heat till serving time.
4 – For Stews
For turning out super flavorful stews with minimal effort, you can’t beat a slow cooker like the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Oval Slow Cooker (available from Amazon). Plus its lockable lid and handles are great for transporting, while its stylish design fits right into a holiday party setting!
5 – For Fresh Veggies and Fruits
Planning to bring pre-sliced vegetables or fruits to the party? They’ll keep fresh, crisp, and cool in this Ice Chilled 5-Compartment Condiment Server Caddy by VEBO (available from Amazon). The removable compartments are made of clear, shatter-proof plastic designed to sit on a layer of ice cubes. A versatile party or picnic essential for holding sauces, dips, dressings, and other condiments, too.
6 – For Cookies
Baked goodies, like cookies, will arrive at the party still oven-fresh packed in this Glad Container, Potluck Size, Extra Large Rectangle (available from Amazon). Usable for most food items you may plan to transport, and can go from freezer to microwave if needed.
7 – For Cupcakes
With all that pretty frosting on top, cupcakes can be quite a challenge to bring to a potluck event. Luckily, there are specially designed carriers, like this 3 Tier Cupcake Holder and Carrier Container (available from Wayfair). It holds up to 36 cupcakes on removable trays with moulded placeholders, and has a tightly fitted lid with carrying handle.
8 – For Cakes
If you’re planning to bring a beautiful home-baked cake, you’d want it to arrive at the party in perfect shape! This Martha Stewart Collection Round Cake Carrier (Created for Macy’s) helps you ensure that, with its high dome cover and secure locking base.
9 – For a Variety of Baked Goods
Here’s an option that will take you not only to potluck parties with ease, but even to picnics, bbq’s, and at-home gatherings! This 21-Pc. Portable Prep & Bake Set by Pyrex (available from Macy’s) includes glass containers with lids—varied sizes and shapes of dishes and bowls, a pie plate, prep bowl cups, and a carrier plus a hot/cold pack insert.
10 – For Casseroles
This is actually a bag rather than a container. But we had to include this super-practical (and chic!) Premium Thermal Insulated Casserole Carrier (available from Amazon). It makes transporting dishes like mac and cheese, pasta, and paella so easy. Its double foam padding and thermal foil lining keep food warmer or cooler longer while in transit. This can even be used as a freezer bag to deep chill items before transporting.
Tips for Improvising Your Potluck Containers
Time or cost constraints keeping you from buying new food containers for a potluck? Here are our tips for being resourceful with what you already have:
- Use a large fruit or bread basket lined with tea towels to carry a glass food dish in. You may wrap a towel or muffler around it, too, to keep the heat in longer.
- For soups or saucy dishes like stews, transport these in the pot you cooked them in with the lid secured with tape, twine, or a tightly knotted kitchen towel. Then, simply reheat it when you get to the party.
- Use resealable silicone stretch lids to make any bowls, dishes, or jars you already have into transportable containers for party food.
- For cold dishes, salads, or desserts, convert an insulated cooler that you already use for drinks into a food carrier packed with ice.
- The mason jars in your pantry would come in handy, too, for bringing along sauces, dips, condiments, salad ingredients, and even single-serve desserts.
Don’t forget to save and share the palette of product picks!
February 2020 Update: 10 More Potluck Serveware & Carrier Finds
Keeping it fresh for a whole new year of entertaining! Check out these additional product picks for serving and transporting your potluck entrees, side dishes, and desserts. (*this new section contains affiliate links)
1 – The Fancy Panz Casserole-to-Go from Sur La Table provides a sturdy and heat-trapping case for dishes you’ve prepared in disposable pans. The lid then fits neatly underneath come time to serve.
2 – Great for transporting other desserts as well, this Zilpoo Plastic Pie Keeper with Lid—available on Amazon—fits a standard 10” pie or cake. And if you use it to bring muffins, cupcakes, donuts, or cookies, you can serve directly from it, too.
3 – How cool is this Presto 06011 Nomad 6-quart Traveling Slow Cooker we found on Amazon? You can cook and go, or even cook along the way! The picnic cooler-style design with a locking lid lets you transport even saucy or soupy dishes safely, while the swing-up handle makes for easy carrying.
4 – From Reynold’s Kitchens, each set of these Disposable Baking Pans with Lids and Carriers features an aluminum foil pan, a sturdy paperboard carrier with fold-out handles, a lid to prevent spills, and even a disposable hot pad.
5 – Planning to bring a make-ahead dish for potluck? This Glass 3-qt. Baking Dish with Lid from Oxo.com can go straight from freezer to oven just before the party. Then its lid keeps the contents secure during transport.
6 – Potluck snacks and appetizers will look extra elegant in this Garden Terrace Chip & Dip Tray from Walmart. The hand-blown glass bowls come in a woven seagrass server with lid, perfect for a summer pool party, luau, or fiesta.
7 – Such a stylish way to transport your potluck dishes! The Arctic Zone Expandable Insulated Food Carrier, available on Amazon, includes a dish holder or trivet for placing your hot dish straight from the oven right into the carrier. It keeps food hot or cold for hours using specially designed thermal insulation.
8 – For multiple food items, this Pyrex Portables Glass Bakeware and Food Storage Set, available from Amazon, is ideal. The 9-piece set includes a large glass baking dish and 2 smaller ones all with lids, 2 hold/cold packs, and a nifty black carrier.
9 – The Avantco 30S 11-qt. Round Black Countertop Food Soup Kettle Warmer, available from Webstaurantstore, is great for keeping soups, stews and sauces nice and hot throughout a potluck party. It has a temperature control knob, and even comes with soup labels.
10 – Pampered Chef offers its Large Square Cool & Serve for keeping salad ingredients, fruit or condiments cool for 4 to 6 hours. It has clear inner trays each with wells to keep food from mixing, plus two reversible white cooling inserts, and a clear snap-on lid.
Potluck Food Suggestions for Sure Party Hits
Okay, now with such attractive serveware and carriers, the food items you put in them should be just as fab!
Allow us to recommend some of our personal faves, like chili and nachos for a chili bar; cold soups for summer or warm, flavorful soups for fall. As well as international inspired choices—like Mexican appetizers or ingredients for a taco bar; ramen soup or hibachi BBQ for a Japanese-themed occasion, or Brazilian BBQ dishes for a cookout.
Of course, there are some dishes that just seem made for a potluck gathering. Like these easy recipes we featured for fall and staple one-dish casseroles that are always a hit.
And for those watching their weight, no worries! We even found light and healthy potluck recipes you can take along to a party—minus the guilt!