Favorite Friendsgiving Potluck Ideas

Bring a dish that says "I'll be there for you."

November 06, 2019

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Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2015

Matt Armendariz, 2015

Family, friends, food… Friendsgiving has blossomed into a holiday tradition of its own. And the best part? There are no rules, really. Sure, you’ll want to make sure the classics are represented, but without sticklers for tradition present, you can feel free to riff all you want. Since these gatherings are typically potluck-style feasts, we’ve taken portability and practicality into consideration too. Fall back on these recipes to guarantee that you get invited back year after year.

Party on

Treat a Friendsgiving potluck like a big party and go deep on appetizers, finger foods and dips. Giada’s crowd-pleasing Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto are both easy to assemble and transport; secure the bundles with elegant cocktail picks instead of regular toothpicks for fancy friends. A cheese tray is always a winner, especially if it involves a salami river. If that’s too much of a commitment, try Tyler’s Manchego Quince Skewers. These pre-assembled bites take the guesswork out of pairing by stacking chunks of salty Manchego cheese with cubes of sweet quince paste rolled in crushed almonds. Ina’s fan-favorite Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms are a savory all-in-one-bite; if your Friendsgiving is after Thanksgiving, try packing the ‘shrooms with leftover stuffing instead.

When it comes to dips, we invite you to get creative with seasonal flavors. Valerie’s Roasted Carrot Hummus offers a striking twist on the party standby, pulling in caramelized, roasted carrots in place of chickpeas. Pair with pita chips and assorted raw crudités, such as endive, peppers and radishes (if you’ve got a schlep ahead of you, pack dipping accompaniments separately and assemble the platter upon arrival). This Spicy Pumpkin Dip (pictured up top) bolsters hummus with a dash of cayenne plus pumpkin puree for added creaminess and a vibrant pop of color. Borrow from the sides table to craft this Creamed Corn Dip; it’s meant to be served cold and plays well with toasted baguette slices, crackers or celery sticks.

Spice things up

If you’ve always wanted to experiment with different seasonings, but didn’t dare deviate from classic turkey for fear of offending granny, now’s your chance to buck tradition with the main event. Turn pie into your savory centerpiece with these clever recipes for pie for dinner, like Turkey Biscuit Pie (pictured)! If you’ve got the itch to get grilling, try Bobby’s Cajun Brined Turkey-Two Ways recipe. A cayenne-and-chile-spiked blend gives it Cajun flair, while smoking it — either in a Cuban-style box or a ceramic grill with hickory chips — gives it an extra smoky taste. Bringing the turkey? Try Sunny’s Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Breast Stuffed with Pear Hash, which gets a kick from chile flakes in both the brine and seasoning mix; plus opting for a turkey breast cuts down on cooking and transporting a whole bird.

Citrus and spice are just as nice in sides. Try these Mashed Potatoes and Rutabaga with Lemon; keep it portable by toasting breadcrumbs in advance and then topping and warming the dish upon arrival. Trisha’s Sweet and Spicy Glazed Sweet Potatoes calls for a trio of Thai sweet chile sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and hot sauce to add nuanced heat to cinnamon-ginger-honey sweet potatoes. Claire’s Spicy Cranberry Chutney employs both citrus and spice; a duo of lime and orange juice and zest really brighten things up, while finely chopped jalapeno lends even heat.

Remember friends’ preferences

Whether or not you count vegans, vegetarians or gluten- and dairy-free friends among your crew, these potluck-ready dishes still pack in plenty of flavor. Rice Stuffing with Butternut Squash is naturally gluten-free, pulling in wild rice in place of bread cubes, and it can be made vegetarian by employing vegetable stock. (Bonus: It can be served room temp, too). Eschewing meat as the main? Try Thanksgiving Tofu, which gets its fall flavors from a crust of pumpkin seeds, sage and thyme. Vegans rejoice! Now you can have your mashed potatoes and gravy — and eat ‘em too. Whip up these Vegan Roasted-Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which rely on fluffy Yukon gold potatoes and olive oil and almond milk to achieve their creamy, buttery consistency. This Vegan Gravy recipe is so packed with umami-rich ingredients — dried shiitake mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and soy sauce — it will appeal to even the most-traditional meat-eaters. For hearty sides that can double as vegetarian-friendly mains, try this Vegan Wild Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash or Vegan Quinoa-Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash, which boasts a supremely satisfying texture thanks to fluffy quinoa, crunchy pistachios and chewy cranberries.

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2009, Tara Donne

Tara Donne, 2009, Tara Donne

Make it mini

To keep your potluck contributions portable — and spare your host from having to find extra platters — make your dishes mini. Rachael bakes stuffing in a buttered muffin tin for these Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins (pictured), which travel like a dream and can be eaten at room temp. These diminutive Cheesy Phyllo Cups with Butternut Squash are like one-bite chips and dip, starring a creamy, smoky duo of cream cheese and smoked cheddar in a crisp phyllo shell. Sunny’s Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies marry two Thanksgiving classics into a bite-size dessert; plus, the recipe’s nut-based crust is perfect for those too intimidated to make pie dough.

Brunch it up

If your Friendsgiving potluck falls during daytime hours, turn to weekend brunch for inspiration. Opt for dishes that feed a crowd and can be prepared ahead of time; if your dish requires reheating, be sure to let your host know so they can allocate appropriate oven space and time. Ree’s Thanksgiving Breakfast Casserole transforms sausage-apple stuffing into a brunch-ready main by adding eggs and subbing in cinnamon raisin English muffin for the bread component. Breakfast Cornbread Casserole with Ham and Kale is another winner — and it’s completely customizable. Swap in mushrooms for the ham to keep it vegetarian-friendly, or experiment with other combinations such as sausage and spinach. Need a side of greens? We’re a fan of this Endive and Pear Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, which marries Bosc pears with gorgonzola crumbles and chopped walnuts for a sweet-savory bite.

Finish sweet with Sticky Pecan Pull-Apart Bread, an ooey-gooey treat that leans heavily on fall flavors like pumpkin spice and pecans. It can be served at room temperature or warmed just prior to serving; transport the caramel sauce on the side and drizzle it tableside. On a lighter note, this Thanksgiving Fruit Salad features seasonal fall fruits like apples and pears marinated in a citrus-herb-spiced syrup. Don’t be afraid to make this salad ahead: the longer it marinates, the deeper the flavor.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Think beyond the pie plate

Don’t get us wrong, pies are a lovely addition to any holiday spread, but there are other, shall we say, less involved ways to incorporate seasonal flavors into desserts, especially if you're looking for easy ones to take on the road. Be prepared to share the recipe for Ina’s Pecan Squares — they’re so good, your friends will want to make them year-round. Ina’s Apple Pear Crisp is another winner; a crisp oats-and-brown-sugar topper blankets a medley of two of fall’s star fruits, Macoun apples and Bosc pears. (Assemble ahead and bake on-site, or bake and cool, then reheat upon arrival). You’ll need to factor in ample cooling time to make Ree’s Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake, but the crust, a mix of finely ground gingersnap cookies, pecans, brown sugar and butter, is blissfully easy. Let friends customize each slice by serving the caramel sauce, whipped cream and chopped pecans on the side. Or go for a retro Spiced Pumpkin Icebox Cake (pictured), which is just as good for the next day’s breakfast, if any leftovers remain.

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