06/06/2014 10:15 am ET Updated Mar 12, 2015

6 Potluck Recipes To Win Your Next Dinner Party

They're easy to transport, completely crowd-pleasing and actually taste better if you make them a few hours (or even a day) before eating.

By Lynn Andriani

  • A Pasta Salad Where Every Bite Is Perfect
    The Jewels of New York
    Almost all versions of the potluck staple get better as they sit, taste great at room temperature and pleases vegetarians. Here's why this rendition of the classic, from the new book A Simple Feast: A Year of Stories and Recipes to Savor and Share, is such a keeper: It has you use orecchiette, a pasta the size of a thumbprint that's shaped like a cupped hand and perfect for catching the other components of the dish -- lemon zest, garlic, tomatoes, cannellini beans, chopped hazelnuts and torn mint leaves—so that every bite delivers maximum flavor and texture.

    Get the recipe: Summer Pasta Salad
  • Tomatoes That Only Look Complicated
    Lucy Schaeffer
    This unfussy recipe shows how easy it is to turn a handful of ingredients into a bright and tangy stuffed-tomato dish that screams summer. You stuff beefsteak tomatoes with sauteed onions and garlic, ground beef, rice and dill. Follow the lead of cooks in Greek tavernas: They make the stuffed tomatoes in the morning and keep them in a heated display case that's just slightly above room temperature, so if you order one in the afternoon or evening, it's perfectly plump and juicy. Prepare yours ahead of time, refrigerate and just warm them gently in the oven before serving.

    Get the recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes
  • A Waaay-Above-Average Chicken Salad
    Johnny Valiant
    O magazine contributor Sunny Anderson's Mexican-accented chicken and black bean salad is a texture bonanza, with creamy black beans and juicy cherry tomatoes -- plus tender rotisserie chicken. (And it's totally fine to buy precooked to save on time.) It's also potluck-ready, as you make the entire dish in just one bowl.

    Get the recipe: Chicken, Black Bean and Arugula Salad
  • The Barbecue Dish That Will Definitely Warrant a Night-Before Taste Test
    This outrageously tasty barbecued pork dish from chef Tyler Florence tastes better the longer it sits, since there are so many flavors involved. There's the chili-paprika spice rub, an apple juice-chicken stock braising liquid and then a bacon-thyme barbecue sauce. Make the pork in a slow cooker the day before the party, refrigerate overnight and rewarm before serving. Guests can build their own sandwiches, adding whatever fixings are on the buffet table, from coleslaw to potato chips.

    Get the recipe: Slow-Cooked Barbecue Pork Shoulder and the Ultimate Barbecue Sauce
  • A Colorful Creation That Just May Outshine Everything Else
    Jennifer May
    This stacked salad has a good shot at being the most interesting-looking and widely appealing dish on the buffet table. Even though it consists of everyday ingredients -- beets, potatoes, carrots, eggs, peas and canned tuna -- seeing them arranged in layers in a glass bowl gives them an appeal that's much greater than the sum of its parts.

    Get the recipe: Seven-Layer Russian Salad
  • The Layered Italian Dish That's Not Lasagna
    Marcus Nilsson
    With its slippery noodles, lasagna can be difficult to serve neatly -- which is why this twist on the classic is perfect for potlucks. Instead of pasta, you use warm, fresh polenta for the layers; it's easy to slice through and still works wonderfully with whatever filling you choose. This recipe calls for a mushroom ragu, but a meat sauce or any variation would also work well.

    Get the recipe: Baked Polenta Layered with Mushroom Ragu

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  • The Casserole That Could Start A Serious Debate
    Ben Fink
    Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook, who are known as The Casserole Queens, know one surefire way to get people to try a potluck dish: claim that it's the "world's greatest" -- mac 'n' cheese, potato salad, baked beans or, in this case, chicken pot pie. These ladies don't just speak from personal experience, either. The two started a food-delivery business in Austin seven years ago that has since fed thousands, and they just published their second book, The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook.

    Get the recipe: World's Greatest Chicken Pot Pie
  • The Mexican Dish That Works For Almost Any Party
    Karina Allrich
    Gluten-Free Goddess blogger Karina Allrich has a back-pocket enchiladas recipe that she can throw together at a moment's notice -- whether it's a family get-together, a Sunday brunch or a girls' night in. Allrich cooks these little parcels of black beans, sweet potatoes, chilis and spices all together on a baking platter (you can double the recipe depending on how many other dishes will be served). They're hearty enough to satisfy meat eaters and vegetarians, and if you leave a bottle of hot sauce next to the dish, guests can make their portion as spicy as they like.

    Get the recipe: Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
  • The Stuffed Tomatoes That Will Have Everyone Ooohing
    Joseph Lambert Images
    TV personalities and twin sisters Judy Vig and Joy Paoletti, who used to run their own dessert business, know their way around a potluck -- they come from a big family that they say was pretty much always celebrating something when they were growing up. Among their most reliable, impressive-looking and easy-to-make-ahead dishes are tomatoes stuffed with a surprising ingredient: spaghetti. They're a lot faster to prepare than you'd think; just scoop out the inside of the tomatoes, roast until they're softened but not collapsing, stuff with pasta and top with grated Parmesan or a dollop of ricotta cheese.

    Get the recipe: Spaghetti-Stuffed Tomatoes
  • The All-Season, Allergy-Friendly Side Dish
    Dr. Lucy Gibney
    Lucy Gibney, M.D., has a child with severe food allergies -- but she doesn't let that stop her family from going to potlucks. Dr. Gibney, who founded a line of cookies and cakes that are gluten-free and made without milk, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts, says this green-bean salad is great any time of year, and works equally well with beef tenderloin, Thanksgiving turkey or tailgate party fare. Even better: It's quick to make, and it's no big deal if one or two ingredients are missing.

    Get the recipe: Best Green Beans
  • The Dessert That Will Survive The Drive To The Party (No Matter How Crazy)
    Johnny Miller
    Sweets stylist and party planner Amy Atlas designs and creates dessert tables for all kinds of high-end parties, so she has quite a few tricks for getting cakes to stay looking gorgeous and cupcakes to not lose their frosting in transport. Her lemon bars are a particular triumph: They seem fragile but can actually handle a bumpy car ride better than you'd think, she says. Another plus: You can make these tangy treats up to a week ahead of time (store them in the fridge).

    Get the recipe: Tangy Lemon Bars