When I moved to Los Angeles four years ago I stopped celebrating Thanksgiving. Well, at least in the traditional way. With family spread all over the country, and an unwillingness to hop on a plane during one of the busiest travel times of the year, my boyfriend and I have opted for a local potluck with friends on the day after Thanksgiving. And it turns out, I wouldn't want it any other way.
If Thanksgiving is about celebrating and sharing with your community, then a potluck is the ultimate expression of the holiday. There's nothing like looking at a table full of food made from people you love and trying to figure out what everyone brought. While there are always plenty of the traditional dishes on our table (hello, stuffing), it's the new dishes that excite me the most. Writer Alyse Whitney, for example, is saying NO to dry turkey and leveling up with bo ssam this year. Potlucks can and should be about breaking the rules!
And hey, don't worry: If you're new to the whole potluck idea for Thanksgiving we've got you covered. The Simply Recipes editors duked it out on important etiquette questions—including whether it's okay to charge someone for attending (I have opinions). A registered dietician shared her tips for hosting a safe potluck for those we love with food allergies. Cookbook author Yasmin Fahr shared a couple fabulous easy appetizer spreads. A sommelier shared her top $11 Trader Joe's wine picks. And we're also on your side when it comes to side dishes—with plenty of things that can be made in the instant pot so you can free up the oven.
However you're celebrating this year, I hope it's filled with good food and better people. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Simply Recipes!
— Ariel Knutson, Editorial Director
Friendsgiving Is About Trying New Things
Instead of flying cross-country to spend Thanksgiving with her parents this year, author Alyse Whitney is hosting Friendsgiving—a potluck with friends and no turkey in sight. Read more about how she is creating new traditions with foods that bring her comfort.
Inspiring Boards and Spreads
Yasmin Fahr's new cookbook, "Boards and Spreads" is here just in time for peak holiday entertaining. We can't wait to try the feta dip—you can make in two minutes flat—and the not-boring board adorned with tinned fish and little bites to eat with it, like olives, pickles, and jammy eggs. But if you think boards are only for the holidays, she'll prove you wrong.
Potlucks are so fun, but when people gather things can get complicated—etiquette rules are tricky! Our editors have opinions about them.
- Is It Okay To Charge Guests at a Potluck?
- Is It Rude to Not Bring Food to a Potluck?
- Who Gets To Serve Themselves First at a Potluck?
Thanksgiving Potluck Appetizers & Snacks
The best potluck appetizers and snacks guaranteed to please a crowd:
- Easy Spinach Dip
- Whipped Feta with Figs, Pistachio, and Honey
- Cheese Straws
- Crash Hot Potatoes with Smoked Salmon
- Prosciutto and Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels
- Mushroom Crostini
- Kimchi Deviled Eggs
- Classic Cheese Balls
- Fried Mushrooms
Thanksgiving Potluck Sides
It's not a contest, but if you want to win Friendsgiving with the best dish, bring a delicious and colorful side—they are the true stars of any Thanksgiving table! We'll help you pick the best one, from vegan options to ones made in the slow cooker, instant pot, or air fryer—we know your oven is working overtime. Dinner rolls from scratch are always guaranteed to be a big winner because everyone loves carbs. And if you're on a tight budget, make a crowd-pleasing yet affordable side dish that'll cost you under $15. Here are more sides for piling high on your plates:
Slow Cooker Sides
Instant Pot Sides
- Instant Pot Collard Greens
- Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce
- Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto
- Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Thanksgiving Potluck Mains
It's that time of the year when turkey takes centerstage and we're here for it! (Psst: read this before roasting your turkey.) Don't love turkey? You're not alone. Lucky for all of us, there are many delicious alternatives to cooking an entire bird for Thanksgiving, and a potluck is the perfect time to try something new.
- Turkey Tenderloin
- Smoked Turkey Breast
- Apple Cranberry Stuffed Pork Roast
- Instant Pot Pernil
- Roast Beef Tenderloin
- Cranberry Glazed Ham
- Cheesy Artichoke Pie
- Sheet Pan Harissa Salmon
Thanksgiving Potluck Desserts
Let's agree on one thing: we're really just here for the pie. (Author Georgia Freedman takes it to the next level with pie potlucks—we're here for that too.) But a potluck is the perfect platform to show off your baking skills and think beyond classic pies with a decadent and stunning dessert.