Things Only Southerners Bring to Summer Potlucks

Don't look now, but we're predicting a run on Cool Whip and Duke's.

Show us a Southern cook and we'll show you a well-worn collection of summer potluck recipes. Some of us have no doubt what to bring to a potluck. We'll bring the same thing we brought last time—our specialty, the dish no one makes quite like we do, whatever it may be. Others are always on the hunt for new summer potluck ideas. A few of our most treasured potluck traditions don't have anything to do with the dish itself but with the way it's served. "Everyone in my extended family would bring tea—sweet and unsweet," wrote one reader. "My great uncle would then combine ALL the tea in a galvanized tub."

Now that summertime's upon us, we asked our Facebook Brain Trust to tell us what they'll be taking to potlucks in the months ahead—and why. Here's what they said. Tell us what we missed!

Hostess Tips
Hector M Sanchez

Deviled Eggs

Because no potluck is complete without them.

Pig Pickin' Cake

If you grew up in North Carolina, where barbecues are often whole-hog pig pickin's, you know all about this layer cake with a creamy frosting and mandarin oranges, sometimes pineapple. Perfect for summer potlucks.

Frozen Cherry Salad

You can make it ahead, freeze it, and take it out of the freezer when you're ready to go. It'll thaw on the way to the potluck, and it's tasty and cold for summer.

Pound Cake with Homemade Peach Ice Cream

It's a Southern summer potluck staple. And if you're in a pinch and don't have time to cook, you can squeak by with a Publix pound cake and a carton of Blue Bell.

Strawberry Congealed Salad

Because that's what Mama always brought, and you have to keep that tradition going.

Sweet Tea

It's like an extra dessert!

Southern Lemonade

Because sweet tea can't do all the heavy lifting. (By "Southern" lemonade, we mean load that pitcher with sugar.)

Sliced Tomatoes

Because the good ones won't be here forever, you know.

Pimiento Cheese

It's easy, it's portable, and everybody likes it.

Three Bean Salad

Because you forgot the potluck was tomorrow, you have cans of beans and sugar in your pantry, there's a jug of white vinegar in the garage . . . and it's midnight and that's the best you can do.

Sliced Watermelon

Nothing says summer in the South like a fresh, chilled watermelon. Don't forget the salt shaker. And keep an eye on Aunt Joyce or she'll sneak and cut the heart out before anybody else can get to it.

English Pea Salad & Stuffed Celery

English peas show up at so many potluck fellowships that some Southern men refer to them as "church peas."

Poppy Seed Chicken

One-dish crowd pleaser.

9x13 Desserts

Anything sweet in a 9x13 is easy peasy to tote.

Sweet Bread-And-Butter Pickles

You just put them up this summer, and it took a month to make them, so why not show them off at the potluck?

Relish Tray

It's just a nice filler. Bring on the pickled okra, watermelon pickles, and pickled peaches.

Fried Okra Salad

Sounds weird but it's wonderful.

Macaroni & Cheese

It's what the kids want.

Macaroni Salad

Make it with Duke's mayo, chopped black olives, chopped hard boiled eggs, chopped red onion, chopped green scallions, and fresh ground black pepper . . . because that's how Mama made it.

Fried Pies

Just because. It's summertime and there's fruit to be fried!

Green Beans

And they should come right out of your garden while you can get them fresh.

Mama's Potato Salad

Because that's the only kind worth having. And you'll need to carry it in a cooler so it stays nice and fresh.

Fried Chicken

It's Southern and you can get it at Publix. Mama just retired her skillet.

Cornbread & Fried Okra

Because that's what Southerners eat.

Big Appetite

Because Mama spent two days cooking, and she wants to see her casserole dishes scraped clean.

WATCH: This Strawberry-Pretzel Salad Is A Southern Classic

It's got the crunchy and the creamy and the yummy strawberries. Plus, it's cool and colorful. Who wouldn't want this crowd pleaser at their next potluck?

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles