Hosting friends for a beautiful, festive fall dinner doesn’t mean spending days in the kitchen. A potluck menu lets you share the work. This autumn potluck menu makes for a rich, diverse, and delicious dinner and provides a mix of easy and more advanced dishes for guests to bring. From appetizer to dessert, it’s a perfectly balanced meal that will provide an abundance of food on the table, but not too much of any one thing. Read on for our menu that serves 8-10 and what recipes to assign friends to bring.
HOST TIP: For a larger group, this menu can easily be doubled; or knowing your guests, double the entree for a meaty group or make extra or double desserts if your friends have a particularly sweet tooth.
Guests tend to arrive hungry, so assign an appetizer to someone you can depend on, a friend who will show up on time. If they need a recipe assignment, have them make this tasty take on hummus; Beet and Tahini Dip can be made with golden or red beets (or make both!). The dips look gorgeous and taste wonderful. Serve with crisp crackers and crudites.
HOST TIP: Use a gluten-free cracker like Blue Diamond Artisan Nut-Thins so all your guests can enjoy the dips.
PRO TIP: Precooked beets, available in the produce section, are a handy shortcut for making these dips.
Kick off the evening with a glass of bubbly. A few bottles of sparkling wine, such as prosecco or cava, are perfect and much less expensive than champagne. For the meal, ask everyone to contribute a favorite bottle of wine, that can add a wine tasting element to the evening.
HOST TIP: Have at least one bottle of white chilled and a bottle of red on hand to get things started.
As the host, provide the main dish. Try a dish that feeds a crowd like Pork with Couscous and Vegetables. Make the couscous salad the evening before and the pork just before guests arrive, it takes less than 30 minutes to cook and tastes great served at room temperature.
A roast is another great entree for a crowd.
HOST TIP: Keep some of the couscous salad separate from the meat for any non-meat eating friends.
PRO TIP: If you can’t find baby heirloom carrots, peel and cut regular-size carrots on a the bias to mimic baby carrots.
Ask a friend to bring a fall salad made with hearty greens, like Lacinato Kale Salad with Roasted Squash, which will stay crisp during transport. It only takes a moment to toss the salad together as soon as they arrive at your place. (Unlike a lettuce-based salad, a kale salad benefits from being dressed a little ahead of time.)
Ask guests to bring sides that don’t require reheating; that means of a less of a crush in the oven and on the stovetop, and more time socializing. Brussels Sprouts with Oranges and Bacon is a fun spin on the popular combo of Brussels with bacon and is made on one sheet pan. It’s perfect for someone who wants to make a dish to bring but doesn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen.
On the other end of the spectrum, a showstopper like Vegetable Tian is perfect for a friend who isn’t afraid of a little knife work or a mandolin. The flavors meld and develop as the dish bakes, creating an irresistible rainbow of vegetables.
HOST TIP: The best potluck dishes taste as good out of the oven as they do at room temperature.
A potluck is all about trying different dishes. Serve two delicious desserts and everyone can sample a little of both. Assign the desserts to baker friends, tackle one yourself, or make both if you’re feeling particularly Martha.
A simple but seasonal and totally irresistible dessert is Pumpkin-Spice-Latte Cake. It takes PSL (the uber-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte) to the next level and just might knock pumpkin pie off the top as everyone’s favorite autumnal dessert, plus it really is easy to make. Wet and dry ingredients are simply whisked together, transferred to a cake pan, and baked. If one of your friends is bringing this cake, suggest they wait to add the whipped cream topping at your house for easy transport.
Can’t decide between a cookie or brownies for the other dessert? Make this fabulous hybrid; the Chocolate-Chip Streusel Brownie brings together the best of both treats. Cut into one or two bite-sized squares. Guests won’t be able to resist seconds.
HOST TIP: Supplement dessert with a few pints of vanilla ice cream and provide post-dinner drink options, like coffee and tea (or more wine!)