As a young twenty-something, I once tried to transport an entire uncooked apple pie in the back of my car, just so I could achieve that fresh-out-of-the-oven effect for my Friendsgiving crew. Needless to say, the upholstery in my car was never the same after that drive. (And neither was the pie.)
Now that I’m older, er, wiser, I realize that making an easy to tote potluck recipe requires more thoughtful recipe selection. Lucky for us, there are quite a number of exceptional Thanksgiving dishes that travel easily, whether you’re walking, taking the bus, or driving a couple of hours to the big event. Here are a few of our favorites.
Top: Pull-Apart Stuffing Rolls | Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt for Serious Eats
Holiday Kale Salad | Caras Kitchen
Kale salad is one of my favorite potluck recipes because those greens just do not quit. Even if I need to dress the salad ahead of time, the leaves still look perfectly crisp and green when I arrive. Given that, these un-wilt-able greens are a great bet for Thanksgiving, especially if you serve them in this colorful Holiday Kale Salad that we found at Caras Kitchen. And if kale is not your thing, no worries: Consider one of the other Thanksgiving-worthy colorful fall salads that we found and transport the dressing separately.
Confession: I’m a David Lebovitz fanatic. All I really want is to live the sweet life in Paris with him and and eat everything that he cooks. Since that may not be possible, I’ll settle for recreating some of his best dishes, like this unbelievable Cheese Ball recipe that will absolutely make you the most popular person at your Thanksgiving gathering. Plus, it’s served at room temperature, so you can refrigerate it until it’s time to leave, then let it slowly warm up while you’re driving or walking to the party.
Every year my grandmother sets the green bean casserole on fire. Every. Year. So I grew up believing that french fried onions, the topping for her casserole, are meant to be served scorched. Now I know better and have no qualms replacing the old recipe with this Green Bean, Mushroom, and Caramelized Onion Tart at Closet Cooking. The green beans and rich puff pastry evoke traditional flavors, but the tart can be served on a platter without reheating—or creating a fire hazard.
Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt for Serious Eats
Bread it an obvious potluck item to bring to a Thanksgiving meal. That said, store-bought dinner rolls aren’t the most impressive dish to present at a party. So step it up a notch with these Pull-Apart Stuffing Rolls at Serious Eats (above & top). The sausage and herbs make this dish a lot more festive and substantial than plain white bread. Plus, it’s made with store-bought pizza dough, which keeps this nearly as easy as grabbing a bag of rolls from the bread aisle.
5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce | Running to the Kitchen
Cranberry sauce is a great Thanksgiving potluck recipe because, like so many sauces, it tastes great after it’s had time to sit. Plus, this recipe for 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce at Running to the Kitchen that we found for our list of easy cranberry sauce recipes practically makes itself thanks to our favorite kitchen gadget. So let your slow cooker do the work ahead of time, pack it up in some Tupperware, then let it sit in the fridge until it’s time to grab and go.
When it comes to easily transportable food, pie never fails—that is, once it’s cooked (see story above!). Check out our Thanksgiving meal planner to see how far ahead of time you can bake certain pies (the rule of thumb is different for apple than it is for pumpkin), then wrap it up according to our guide on how to store baked goods. If you want to make life even easier, forget about having to protect the pie’s form and stack these Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars at The Minimalist Baker instead. Plus, they’re gluten-free and vegan, so almost everyone can enjoy these treats.