Top 10 Worst Things to Bring to a Potluck

Potlucks meals are an essential part of American dining culture, whether people are gathering together to dine at a church, school function or family event.

When everyone is bringing a different dish to the table, truly you just have to try your “luck” to see what the pot holds and what you will be eating that day. But not all potluck items are created equal, and some should be on an anti-potluck wall of fame. Here it is:

Ten Worst Items to Bring to a Potluck:

Rotel Dip & Chips

Easy to make and even easier to devour, this spicy “cheese” dip is made with melted Velveeta and spiced, diced canned tomatoes such as Rotel brand. At 80 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 400 milligrams of sodium per ounce, this processed cheese product is an epic fail nutritionally – and that’s before you scoop it up with fried tortilla chips.

Sex in a Pan

At church potlucks down South, the name of this dessert dish is changed to “Sin in a Pan,” but the ingredients are the same: Cool Whip, cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, flour and instant chocolate pudding. The artificial flavors in the pudding and Cool Whip pack a cloyingly sweet punch that will do your blood sugar level no favors.

KFC & Krispy Kreme

At every potluck on earth, there is someone who brings in a bucket of greasy chicken and a flat box of donuts, hoping that the overload of fried calories will distract from the fact that they are kitchen slackers. If you don’t want to make time to cook, at least choose pre-made meal options that are healthy, like fresh vegetables or an organic salad from the deli.

Cold Canned Vegetables

This potluck item usually pops up when there are teenagers responsible for bringing dishes. Without cooking experience or help, they simply open a can of corn or cut green beans and dump it into a serving dish with no added flavorings or even heat. Yum.


While vegetarian and vegan dishes are most welcome at any potluck, there is no need to bring in a flavorless lump of soy protein masquerading as meat that will put off anyone considering becoming vegetarian and many vegetarians as well. While fake meats have their place in some people’s diets, trying to convert carnivores with soyloaf is a very bad idea.

Carob Brownies

Carob is a delicious treat that can be used to make all kinds of great desserts. Carob is not chocolate, however, and should NEVER masquerade as chocolate lest an unsuspecting potluck guest try it with the mistaken assumption that it is indeed chocolate. Nothing can ever replace chocolate, and serving people fake chocolate might just start a potluck brawl.

One Bottle of Wine

The idea behind a potluck is that you bring enough food or drink to share with others, and they do the same. Offering one bottle of wine at a potluck is like bringing a chocolate cake that serves two – you are just going to tick everyone off. Like your third grade teacher said, if you don’t have enough to share, don’t bring it.n

Macaroni Salad

When is the last time you had macaroni salad that blew your mind? Usually made with refined flour pasta, fatty store-bought mayo and a few sad pieces of canned ham or vegetables, this dish isn’t “doing it” for anybody – and any mayonnaise-based food item is a danger at potlucks if it sits around too long with no refrigeration.

Pre-sampled Dish

You’ve created a beautiful, healthy casserole that looks delicious – so delicious, in fact that you sample a corner piece for your dinner the night before. This is akin to presenting a cake with a bite out of it, and will make you look like you are bringing leftovers to the potluck. A better idea: Cook a separate, smaller dish just for you.


Condiments do not count as a side dish. Neither does a bag of chips, a can of cranberry sauce or a jar of olives. If you sign up to bring a relish tray, don’t show up with a tiny bottle of sweet pickles that you bought at the convenience store on the way over. Put a little effort into it, and a little love, and you will enjoy your meal with your friends even more – and that is what a potluck is all about.

top image: ilovememphis