Who doesn’t want to attend a BBQ potluck? It is one of the best social experiences served over a great variety platter of culinary delicacies, which we all surely dream of having. BBQ potlucks are a huge pull, but their success does not solely depend on the host, but rather collectively on every attendee. This means you have to decide on what you are going to bring to the table and contribute to the success of the whole event. Remember, it’s all about sharing and great barbecue sides will tie it all together perfectly.
So, what should I bring to a potluck BBQ?
Interestingly, nowadays, some hosts are hosting themed BBQ potlucks to minimize a lot of dish clashes. If you are attending a themed potluck, consider the difficult part over as that will guide you on the perfect sides at a bbq with that particular theme. However, most events are still as open as ever. These can cause you quite a headache when deciding what exactly to bring. If you happen to be pondering over it, here are a few suggestions on what to bring along to a potluck BBQ;
Wines and beverages
More often than not, when we hear about a BBQ potluck, our minds rush to the different types of meats, main, and side dishes (more on that later). People tend to forget or overlook the need for some refreshments and beverages to ease all that meat down the throat. You might say, “Well who organizes a BBQ potluck without drinks?” Remember, the host has a lot of things on his/her mind already. Also, if you have a wine or drink that you know goes well with the dish you are planning to bring then why not bring a bottle or two, to allow your friends to experience the taste for themselves. It is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to make them all try out your favorites.
Consider white wines that are aromatic or red ones, especially those with tannins. Look for white wines that are un-oaked as they are more compatible with food. The aim is to bring wine that is aromatic, clean, and bright. We suggest wines like Chardonnay, Albarino, Barbera, Zinfandel, etc. Sparkling wines like Cava, Sparkling Pinot Noir are also ideal.
Avoid wines that are too alcoholic because they end up muting the food flavor and tire people’s palates. You also do not want people to get drunk at such a light-hearted and jovial event.
There are certain dishes that people will need to eat off a plate. Do not assume your host has enough because, frankly, with a variety of dishes, they sure won’t be enough. Dishes like lasagne, mashed potatoes, soups, stews will need a separate serving plate. You do not want to increase your hosts’ workload. Bring along plates, cups that you will carry back and clean yourself. This is also part of helping.
Do not forget trivets, dish towels, serving spoons, and other necessary items, especially those you use at home when you serve the dish you have prepared. Find the best knife set for home cooking to make life easy for both your host and yourself. We believe they will be happy to see you fully prepared. Disposables can also do the trick.
Ready to eat dishes
By this, we do not mean fridge-cold dishes, unless they are a special type of salad. Rather, bring dishes that will lessen the use of the oven for re-heating. If you have to decide which one is the best pick for you between that baked pasta which needs 15 minutes to re-heat and a ready to serve lasagna, then go for the latter. Imagine if four guests bring such heat-before-you-eat dishes, that is a whole hour lost in the kitchen instead of enjoying the meal – let alone the power bill. As such, something that can be enjoyed at room temperature is always best.
What sides to bring to BBQ potluck?
Side dishes are a key aspect of every successful BBQ potluck. The truth is, a BBQ potluck is a meaty affair from the very onset. As the meat sizzles on the grill, only great side dishes will keep everyone in check. Poorly thought side dishes can easily divert the whole focus of the group to the meat alone. There are a lot of varieties to choose from that you can bring along, ranging from pasta, salads, punches, and even takeaways. Really? Yes, takeaways also make great sides for bbq!
Before we dive into the perfect or ideal array of delicious and sumptuous side dishes to bring at a BBQ potluck, you to remember one golden rule;
Do not bring an overpowering dish. Avoid overly spicy, super garlicky, and strange ingredients. A social event is not the best place to experiment that weird exotic recipe that you haven’t tried out on your own!
Yes, you Mr/Mrs. Experimental who likes to create a new recipe every once in a while! With that in mind, let us explore the various bbq sides you can bring along to a BBQ potluck.
- Caprese Salad – This is an Italian classic. All you need is a batch of fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. We bet you have seen it around at most gatherings. It’s popular for its freshness and tangy taste.
- Watermelon-feta salad sprinkled with mint – Watermelon brings a sweet touch to the palate. It is easy to prepare, and you can actually mix the ingredients on-site for better taste. Mint always brings that freshness.
- Broccoli Salad – A bag of slaw and pre-shredded broccoli mix is all you need. One of the easiest salads to make.
- Cucumber salad – This never gets old nor outdated, any fruit salad for that matter. Add some tangy dressing and a bit of onion for a wholesome test. You can experiment with different dressings as fresh cucumbers are great nutritional sources.
- Creamy Coleslaw – The veteran of salads can come in handy. Try mixing cabbages of different colors and sprinkling a bit of shredded carrot. Dress it with mayo mixed with honey and a bit of apple cider vinegar to a fuller creamier taste.
- Leek Pasta Salad, Bacon, and Goat Cheese – A combination of bacon, leek, button mushrooms, red bell pepper, and garlic provide the base flavors. Pasta and white wine are added and allowed to cook to marry the flavors and reduce the wine. Add crumbled goat cheese on top when serving. Trust us, it is pleasant for both the eyes and taste buds!
- Mixed Greens Salad – This could have been listed on the no-cook salads, but it requires roasting zucchini to complete it. The zucchini brings great flavor to a mixture of kale, and green pea which can be served with a creamy dressing of your own choice. But try adding the Za’atar creamy dressing. You can prepare this a day before the event by roasting the zucchini as well as mixing the kale with vinaigrette. You can assemble the full salad just before serving at the event.
- Grilled then Marinated Veggies – Grill a variety of veggies. Make sure they are of proportional quantities. You can use summer squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, thick tomato slices, asparagus, and other vegetables that won’t lose taste due to the grill heat. After grilling them, drizzle with a herb vinaigrette and hang out for some time to get nice and tasty. You can make it ahead and it does not need to be warmed to eat. Grilled Veggies served with a juicy portion of grilled meat
- Bean based Salads – This has been hard for us to pinpoint only one for this post. But any bean-based or lentil-based salad is a good side dish at a BBQ potluck. Just like garden salads, bean salads do not easily get soggy, and a great source of protein also. You can try the following popular mixes;
- Chickpea Salad with Mint Sweet Pepper and Honey-Sumac Vinaigrette (pictured)
The heavier side dishes are not to be overlooked because they complement the whole potluck experience. With a potato salad alongside, your guest will surely get stuffed full. They are often present at every BBQ potluck, popular for their rich flavors.
- Lasagna – This is a common side dish at most BBQ potlucks. No matter how common, lasagna remains popular amongst both the children and adults. You can try to add more cheese for richness and sprinkle some on top after re-heating.
- Baked or Grilled potatoes – a great source of cabs and can keep the children running whilst the adults tend to the grills. A baked potato can be mixed with a variety of dressings. You can also try to serve together with flavored butter. Trust us, you will not regret it.
- Pizza slices – Surprise! Yes, you can also along with a box or two of pizza. We felt apprehensive like you are doing right now when we saw one of our invitees bringing in 3 boxes, but at the end of the event, there was not even a scrap left. It can save you, especially if you did not have time to prepare.
Attending a BBQ potluck is surely fun for everyone, but only with collective effort. Check with the host if the event is of a specific theme, and if he/she needs something specific from you. Throw in some of your best commercial bbq rubs too just in case your host doesn’t have variety. Don’t forget to try out other people’s dishes too, they probably put in a lot of effort to bring it together. Enjoy!