32 Winning Appetizers, Sides, and Desserts for When You Need to Bring a Dish

These crowd-pleasing favorites are the recipes to make for all kinds of buffets, dinners, and parties.

Photo: Armando Rafael

We've all been there: You're invited to a party and the host asks you to contribute something. Some of us have that foolproof dish that always wins big—but if you don't already have a party recipe repertoire, start planning right away to ensure that whatever you bring is a surefire success. But what makes a successful party dish? For us, it means you can count on it—it's so delicious that every party guest enjoys it.

Finding a fail-safe dish for a crowd isn't always easy, but you can narrow your options down with a few key considerations. First, decide whether you're bringing an appetizer, side dish, or dessert (check in with your host before you make your selection, but we have incredible options for each!). Second, unless you're planning on assembling a grazing board on-site, choose a dish that travels well. On the hot appetizer front, an elevated dip that can be prepped ahead fits the bill. Choose one you can serve hot, providing you feel comfortable enough at someone's house to venture into the kitchen and use their oven.

What you choose to bring should also suit the mood of the party. You want to be able to serve your dish without special equipment or fuss (preparing it shouldn't add stress to your day, which is why only reliable recipes should become part of your party repertoire). Read on for our list of must-make party recipes that will win over every crowd, from appetizers to sides to desserts.


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Minty Margarita Guacamole

minty margarita guacamole
Chelsea Cavanaugh

When the party is fun and loose, bring this fresh take on everyone's favorite dip.

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Cheese Ball


Have some retro fun! Guests of all ages will enjoy digging into a cheeseball. Provide an assortment of crackers and vegetables for serving.

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Hot Spinach Dip

hot spinach dip
Minh + Wass

Win the party game with this meatless, make-ahead crowd-pleaser. Bake it at home and bring it while it's still warm—or assemble the dip in advance and bake it when you get there.

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Classic Deviled Eggs

Bryan Gardner

Is there any occasion deviled eggs aren't suited to? Sometimes a party calls for a classic approach, but if you're feeling creative, try our delicious variations with avocado, olive and garlic, or smoked salmon.

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Baked Feta Marinara Dip

baked feta marinara dip
Sidney Bensimon

Assemble this on-site and present it warm from the oven, with bread for sopping up the sauce. Things could get messy—but this dip is so good, guests won't mind.

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Herb Cheese Palmiers


When the party is sophisticated, you need to bring something that's more dressed up. The elegance of these savory puff pastry nibbles belies the ease of preparing them.

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Roasted Beets with Tarragon


Here's another classy and unexpected option: Beets with tarragon are fresh and flavorful, served in an elegant leaf. The seasoned beets are simple to make ahead. Arrange them in endive spears when you arrive at the party.

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Creamy Edamame Dip

edamame dip

When the party is relaxed and familiar, bring this easy, healthy dip, which can be made ahead and calls for readily-available ingredients.

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Cheese Coins with Jalapeño Jelly

holiday handbook 2011 coins
Joseph De Leo

These simple slice-and-bake crackers can be topped with hot pepper jelly or chutney.

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Romesco and Bucheron Dip

Armando Rafael

Bring the flavor with this Catalan-inspired roasted pepper and almond dip, served warm with plenty of bubbling cheese.

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Ham and Spinach Dip

Armando Rafael

We updated a classic: This hot spinach dip features ham and nutty Manchego cheese.

Side Dishes

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Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Bryan Gardner

A modern slaw, this bright and crunchy side goes with everything from grilled fish to brisket.

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Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Green Beans, and Basil

Pasta Salad with Green Beans and Basil
Ren Fuller

Make this your go-to pasta salad. It's a hearty, mayo-based vegetarian dish that has it all: There's crunch from the green beans and protein from the chickpeas, while red onion adds a bite and fresh basil brings herbal freshness.

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Pimiento Mac and Cheese

pimiento mac and cheese served in a white casserole dish
Con Poulos

Sometimes, a perfectly gooey mac and cheese is all the party needs. Try our Southern-inflected version.

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Romaine, Radicchio, and Endive Salad

Johnny Miller

This side has a classy Caesar vibe. The greens are cut into thin wedges so they are easy to spear.

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Spinach-Feta Pizza Slab Pie

spinach-feta pizza slab pie
Linda Pugliese

Here's a satisfying side that's a definite crowd-pleaser. This slab pie is made with pizza dough; you can use store-bought or homemade.

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Farro Salad with Thinly Sliced Zucchini, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Zest

Farro Salad with Thinly Sliced Zucchini, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Zest

This sturdy grain salad holds up well, has pine nuts and parmesan, and is sure to please pesto lovers.

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Grapefruit and Vinegar-Roasted Beets with Salsa Verde

Armando Rafael

Colorful and brightly flavored, this make-ahead salad has a sophisticated caper-mint dressing.

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Lentils with Ginger, Golden Beets, and Herbs


This zesty room-temperature side dish can easily be doubled for a larger group. Another bonus is that you can prep it in stages a day or two ahead.

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Roasted Carrots with Oat Dukkah

oat dukkah roasted carrots
Sidney Bensimon

A spiced, crunchy topping is the talking point of this dish. Choose carrots of varying colors when you can find them, but keep them about the same size so they roast evenly.

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Freekeh with Caramelized Shallots, Chickpeas, and Yogurt

John von Pamer

This side is chewy and flavorful thanks to toasted cumin and a lemon dressing. For a party, set the yogurt on the side in a small bowl.


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Double Chocolate Brownies


Everyone needs the perfect brownie recipe in their repertoire—and this is it.

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Butter-Pecan Blondies

butter pecan blondies
Ren Fuller

When you want the buttery, nutty flavor of a blondie, try these rum-spiked ones.

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No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Bars


These delectable bars are sure to melt on fingers; serve with plenty of napkins.

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Blueberry Slab Pie


Be sure to bring vanilla ice cream for serving —and watch the crowd dig into this pie.

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Apple-Membrillo Tart

apple membrillo tart
Justin Walker

When the party is a little bit dressy, this deceptively simple take on an apple tart is the dessert to bring. The Membrillo can be found at most well-stocked cheese counters.

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Pear and Apple Phyllo Crisp


Want another apple dessert? We don't blame you—it's a universally beloved flavor. Try this recipe that uses store-bought phyllo dough. Once you've worked with it, you'll see how easy it is.

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Almond Macaroon Galette with Strawberries


This festive spring galette showcases sweet strawberries and is naturally gluten-free.

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Coconut Pyramids


Coconut macaroons are a lovely option for a bite-sized finishing touch.

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Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dana Gallagher

They're sure to go fast. These chocolate chip cookies will be a hit with kids (and adults) of all ages.

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Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

snickerdoodle crumb bars
Alpha Smoot

Satisfying cinnamon crumb bars fit the bill for dessert, tea time, or a brunch party.

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Chocolate Tortoises

Johnny Miller

What could be cuter or more delicious than these crowd-pleasing handmade confections?

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