What To Bring To A BBQ Potluck


Most people think of a BBQ potluck as an event that only the host needs to worry about. But it’s not all about them – you need to bring something, too! Here are some great ideas for what to bring and what kind of dishes will make your contribution perfect.

Bring one or two salads:

  • Caesar salad (or any other type)
  • Potato salad (either homemade or store bought)
  • Pasta salad (with whatever pasta you like)
  • Broccoli slaw with carrots and raisins; this is a nice change from cabbage slaw. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp honey mustard, and salt & pepper to taste. Make sure it doesn’t have any radishes in it.
  • Fruit salad (e.g. bananas, apples, oranges)

Bring corn on the cob:

If you don’t eat beef, why not make some Tofurky or tofu hot dogs? It is easy to cook them yourself and they taste wonderful while adding a different touch to the meat.

Bring one or two pasta dishes:  

  • Pasta makes a great side dish for barbecue parties. You can make it ahead of time and then only warm it up on the grill before serving.
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce (if you’re going to bring this, also bring some homemade garlic bread).
  • Homemade macaroni and cheese (keep it simple if you’re the only one bringing a pasta dish).
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce.

Bring one or two potato dishes:

  • Potatoes are a staple at barbecues. You can eat them by themselves, in salads or in sandwiches – and they are a wonderful side dish to barbecue meat.
  • Homemade potato salad. This is a great side dish option for barbecues because it can be made ahead of time and doesn’t need much set up before serving or cooking (unless you’re making hot bacon dressing).
  • Baked potatoes with sour cream, cheese and chives (don’t forget the baked beans).
  • Grilled or boiled new potatoes with rosemary and garlic.
  • Chips, fries and wedges (french fries that is).

Bring one or two meat dishes:

  • You can make hot dogs yourself to bring to a potluck barbecue. You can either grill them yourself or buy some pre-packaged Tofurky or soy dogs that you can just reheat on the grill.
  • If you can’t eat meat, why no make some vegan “hot dog”?
  • Hamburgers and steaks.
  • Veggie burgers (make sure to buy some vegan buns).

Bring a dip: 

  • Dips are perfect for barbecues. They’re easy to make and take up very little space in the fridge when you pack them. They’re also great comfort food – especially in hot weather.
  • Red pepper dip: Combine 1 can tomato soup, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 2 tbsp butter (or margarine), 4 cloves minced garlic and 2 tsp dried basil. Heat for 20 minutes over medium heat – or until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm with cut veggies or as an alternative to salsa on sandwiches or tortilla chips.
  • Queso sauce: Mix a block of Daiya vegan cheese with a can of Rotel tomatoes (mild). Heat over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted.
  • Taco dip: Combine 1 block of Daiya with 2 jars salsa and serve it with tortilla chips or cut veggies.

Bring a dessert:

Desserts always make a great addition to any barbecue party, even if they’re not an essential side dish like the ones above. We recommend bringing one of these desserts for your co-host’s sake so you can share!

  • Cupcakes (homemade or store bought)
  • Brownies (homemade or store bought)
  • Cookies (homemade or store bought)
  • Fruit salad made into a cobbler
  • Ice cream cake (store bought)


With the help of this article, you now know how to make your contribution perfect and have a great time at the event. But don’t forget that just because it’s not all about you doesn’t mean you can slack off – bring something!

There are tons of recipes online for dishes like pulled pork or macaroni salad that will be sure to please everyone who attends.

You’ll also never go wrong with bringing some fresh fruit or even potato chips if someone is feeling adventurous enough to try those instead. Hopefully, these ideas have helped get your creative juices flowing so you’re ready when the next potluck invitation comes along!

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.