Our Best Recipes for a Spring Potluck
Spring is full of reasons to celebrate—Easter, Mother's Day, graduation, and the resurgence of life and warmer weather are all justifiable reasons to get together with friends and family and feast. There's no better way to host—or attend—a shared springtime meal than preparing dishes that show off the seasonal fruit and vegetable bounty. Try one of these crowd-pleasing favorites for your next springtime potluck.
Robin's Egg Malt Cupcakes
Inspired by an Easter basket favorite, these malted chocolate cupcakes are sure to be the cutest dessert you serve this spring. The moist cake is a fun play on a chocolate malted egg; you can typically find malt powder either on your grocery store’s baking aisle or shelved near the canned milks. Once you top these rich cupcakes with a buttery, bright blue frosting, creating the signature Robin’s egg speckling is easy—and a fun project to let older kiddos help with. You simple thin out your brown food coloring with a little bit of water, dip a paint brush in, and then “flick” the brush’s bristles to splatter the dye on the surface of your frosted cupcakes.
Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
This salad is a beautiful addition to any table spread with its vibrant orange and deep magenta hues. Hearty radicchio and fennel have real staying power--even after they've been tossed with dressing--which makes this ideal for times when you need a make-ahead salad for a buffet or to take to a potluck. We love the color of blood oranges, but you can use all navel or Cara Cara oranges.
Buttery Deviled Eggs
Choose arugula, basil, or mustard microgreens for a pretty and peppery finish.
It doesn't get more Southern than frogeye salad, which can't help but make eaters reminisce on church potlucks or childhood dinners spent at grandparent's house.
Cheesecake Crescent Rolls
For holiday brunches, overnight company, and any manner of potluck, consider this recipe your secret weapon. Easy as they are to make, these Cheesecake Crescent Rolls will always score rave reviews.
Pressure Cooker Brunswick Stew
For our largely hands-off take on the classic comfort food, we create an intensely flavorful base by first pressure cooking a whole chicken on top of a combination of boxed tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and a handful of flavor power player ingredients. While using a whole bird definitely contributes to a slightly lengthier cook time (as compared to using already cut chicken), this cooking technique is a huge part of what makes the rich and delicious backbone of this stew, without adding additional chicken stock or water. With the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, and mustard, we hit the flavor notes of making this potluck staple with BBQ sauce (which is a commonly called for component of Brunswick Stew), but the result is infinitely tastier and more dynamic than what you’d get by dumping in a store-bought bottle. In addition to the lima beans and corn called for here, sliced okra would also make a great veggie addition. While hearty in terms of texture, this dish is balanced by an abundance of bright flavors we can’t get enough of.
North African Marinated Lamb
This vibrant lamb dish features an incredibly vibrant North African-inspired marinade, also known as chermoula. Though simple to whip up, the combination of fresh herbs and bold spices in the marinade help to bring out the richness of the lamb and really make this grilled dish (which became a fast staff favorite in the test kitchen) shine. When purchasing the lamb leg, ask your butcher to go ahead and cut it into your desired portions. And If you have trouble finding lamb, feel free to swap it for beef or pork in this recipe—you’re still going to have a delicious dinner, no doubt. Serve this meaty entree with roasted potatoes and/or grilled veggies.
Spaghetti with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Spinach
This meatless meal definitely doesn't skimp on flavor. With a bright and fresh spring pesto and lots of healthy spinach, getting your greens has never been so easy.
Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey
In addition to being a delicious appetizer that feels special, these Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey make for extra awesome croutons on salads and as "meat" balls for vegetarian pasta dishes. Be sure to bring your oil to the right heat before adding the poppers--if the oil is not hot enough, you will end up with a soggy, greasy mess instead of crisp poppers. Available at most stores that carry kitchen equipment for around $10, a kitchen thermometer is an incredibly worthy investment.
A toasty twist on the traditional Millionaire’s Shortbread, these decadent layered cookie bars feature toasted sesame seeds in the shortbread, a luscious tahini caramel, and more sesame seeds sprinkled over top for good measure.
French Onion Soup Bites
Easy to assemble and perfectly portable, these French Onion Soup bites are the perfect addition to any holiday party spread. They’re like your favorite Trader Joe’s freezer aisle find, but tastier.
Chocolate-and-Peanut Butter Banana Pudding
Charred Eggplant Dip with Tahini
Perfect for entertaining or a hearty spread to snack off of all week, this nutritious charred eggplant dip is as easy as to make it is delicious. Roasting the eggplant at a super high temperature leads to a creamy flesh that's the perfect backbone for a your dip. Don't worry if the skin is extra charred and looks burnt—this makes for a more flavorful end product. Mixed with Greek yogurt and tahini, this Meditteranean-inspired spread is ultra rich. Serve it with fresh veggies, warm pita, or smear it across a piece of toast. You could even use it as your sauce for a flatbread or pizza; simply top with roasted or fresh veggies and a sprinkle of crumbled feta or goat cheese.
Chicken, White Bean, and Spinach Salad
The beans, chicken, and dressing can all be made a day ahead in your slow-cooker. Assemble this meal in minutes and round out this light summer salad with a loaf of crusty bread. If you have any leftover, it will make a great lunch the following day. Slow cooking requires little fat, so trim the excess from meats and poultry. Preserve the flavor of fresh herbs by adding them to the dish once it comes out of the slow cooker. Removing the slow cooker lid while cooking releases valuable heat, so resist the urge to check on the dish as it cooks.
Moroccan Spiced Carrots
A heady blend of spices makes these roasted carrots hard to resist. If you can find tender baby carrots, they make a great shortcut; just give them a good scrub—no peeling required. Check the carrots during cooking; smaller carrots could overcook, yielding mushy results. Pair these carrots with roasted lamb or beef or your favorite curry dish.
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic lemon squares can contain 36g sugar per piece. We put a puckery cheesecake spin on ours--cutting sugar to just 6g per bar--which allows the bright citrus to shine.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Chef Jonathan Waxman taught me how to make this fall salad many years ago. Riff with the ingredients to find the flavor balance you prefer.
Tahini-Blueberry Sheet Cake With Strawberry Buttercream
Perfect for a graduation party or summer cookout, this impressive dessert offers the ease and crowd-friendly factor that we associate with a sheet cake, as well as a delightful twist of creativity and surprising vibrancy with the incorporation of tahini and fresh berries. If you have a jar of the trendy sesame seed paste hanging out in your pantry, trust us—it’s high time to go beyond hummus and welcome it into your dessert life. Tahini lends a delicious toasty quality to the tender cake while fresh blueberries dotted throughout the batter balance this nutty depth with their bright, juicy sweetness. A simple strawberry buttercream ties everything together and makes for a low-effort, eye-catching presentation.
Vegan Mini Strawberry Cream Pies
These adorable, fruity delights are no joke. The blush pink, creamy center is the perfect balance of sweet strawberries and coconut cream, and it's so rich and thick you'd think it were frozen soft-serve yogurt. The secret? Coconut oil and silken tofu contribute a smooth, thick texture and decadent mouthfeel. Encased by a nutty crust that has a hint of tropical flavors from macadamia nuts, these baby cream pies are the perfect warm weather treat that both vegans and non-vegans can enjoy.
Beet Yogurt Dip
Harness beets' striking color and earthy-sweet flavor in this glorious spread inspired by Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. For a little extra heat, use up to 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper. You can try 1 1/2 teaspoons za'atar spice blend as a substitute for fresh thyme, but skip ground thyme because it lends a dirt-like taste. Serve with raw carrot slices, cucumber slices, pita bread, or rice crackers for scooping.
Tarragon Asparagus with Eggs
Choose thick asparagus instead of thin for this dish. The wider spears have an excellent sweet flavor and can stand up to the bold tarragon vinaigrette.
Shortcut Carrot Sheet Cake
This moist, delicious carrot cake has traditional ingredients like carrot, pineapple, and walnuts, with the addition of toasted coconut flakes to dress up cream cheese icing. The ease of assembly is the kicker here: a box mix enhanced with fresh ingredients comes together in minutes and is sure to impress guests.
We altered this traditional casserole to balance out the sweetness, allowing the pineapple and cheese to really shine. The intense flavor makes it an ideal side dish for baked ham.
All the Green Things Salad
This salad is absolutely chock-full of lovely green spring produce, with textures ranging from crunchy to creamy. You can make the zippy lemon dressing and blanch, drain, and chill the peas and asparagus up to 2 days ahead, but combine all the elements shortly before serving to preserve the color of the avocado and the crunch of the greens. Delicate pea tendrils or shoots would be spectacular here, but watercress makes a delicious peppery substitute. Though you may be tempted to use only one herb, we urge you to use both: The parsley adds a burst of freshness, and the mint contributes deep herbal goodness.
Braided Lemon Bread
The perfect recipe for spring. This slightly sweet, lemony, and tender braided bread lands somewhere between brioche and challah. Serve the impressive poppy seed-studded loaf with dinner, use it to for sandwiches, or make an unconventional French toast.
Easter Candy Snack Cake
Dotted with pastel Easter candies and drizzled with white chocolate, this easy snack cake is the perfect, simple treat to whip up for an Easter celebration. In fact, the buttery dessert caught our test kitchen crew completely off-guard; it may appear “cute” and unassuming, but rest assured, this snack cake is no joke in terms of being addictively delicious. It’s not a cake you’ll be able to have “just a little piece” of.
Snap Peas with Herb Butter
Pineapple-Lime Upside Down Cake
Fresh lime zest adds just enough of a zingy “something special” factor to our foolproof take on the classic pineapple upside-down cake. This easy cake is a fan favorite for good reason—it’s so simple to make and is loaded with a delicious balance of buttery-caramelized and tropically sweet flavors. Pro-Tip: Finish incorporating the ingredients by hand, this will prevent over-mixing your way to a tough cake. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for a perfect finish.
Roasted Salmon with Thyme and Honey-Mustard Glaze
A bed of fragrant fresh thyme lends wonderful flavor to the fish. Have your fishmonger remove the pin bones from the fillet, and choose one cut toward the head end of the fish.
Asparagus and Peas with Warm Tarragon Vinaigrette
Fresh spring produce needs little embellishment, although a quick toss with bacon never hurts.
Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
Lemon-Ricotta Herbed Flatbread
A light layer of creamy ricotta sprinkled with fresh herbs dresses up store-bought crust in this bread starter. Lemon juice and rind add just the right flavor lift.
Perfect Strawberry Pie
Fact: There is no better celebration of just-ripe summer strawberries than this classic berry pie; that’s why we called it perfect. The just-sweet-enough strawberry filling retains an admirable level of juiciness, thickening just enough to allow for a clean slice, thanks to a combination of cornstarch and tapioca. This duo of thickening agents stabilizes the pie filling without erring into goopy territory, as can often happen with all-purpose flour in cooked, fruit fillings. While lemon is the traditional citrus of choice for summer berry pies, we found lime to be an exceptional complement to the sugary-bright strawberries.