6 Potluck Recipes You Haven't Tried Before -- But Need To

The trick to nonboring party food? Dips, sides, appetizers and desserts that are slightly familiar yet have a significant "wow" factor, too.

By Lynn Andriani

The Game-Changing Potato Salad
Asa Dahlgren
A potato salad that's meant to be served at room temperature already has our vote. The fact that it includes salty, smoky pork belly and sweet, fresh cherries only seals the deal. And there's one more reason we're seriously smitten with this unusual, delicious side from Lisa Lemke's new book The Summer Table: You can make it in just 30 minutes.

Get the recipe: Warm Potato Salad with Pork Belly and Cherries
A Reinvented Mediterranean Classic
Asa Dahlgren
Store-bought, frozen puff pastry forms the basis for some of the best party appetizers ever (hello, pigs in a blanket). Here's one use for the crowd-pleasing ingredient we hadn't seen before, though: as the base for a Greek-inspired bite that involves feta cheese, kalamata olives and lemon zest. You can serve these puffs, which also appear in Lemke's book, warm or cold; either way, they're great with a glass of wine.

Get the recipe: Olive Puffs with Feta
Reason No. 692 To Love Bacon
Erin Kunkel/Weldon Owen
Bacon and guacamole are two foods that people tend to get really excited about -- so, when you place this brilliant dip, which combines both, on the buffet table, be ready for a stampede. The recipe, which appears in Classic Recipes for Modern People, by Max and Eli Sussman, also features roasted jalapenos, onions, garlic and tomatillos, which give the spread an extra rich and smoky flavor.

Get the recipe: Bacon-Guacamole Salsa Verde Dip
The No-Lettuce French Salad
Erin Kunkel/Weldon Owen
Salade nicoise is a traditional French dish that usually incorporates tuna, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and olives -- ingredients that have a tres bien way of holding up, even when you dress them in a Dijon vinaigrette ahead of time, making the salad ideal for parties. This rendition, from the Sussmans, also includes radishes, cucumbers and golden beets, which are equally hearty and bring this main course salad to the next level.

Get the recipe: Detroit Greek Salad
A Brand New Way To Do Sour Cream And Onion Dip
Erin Kunkel/Weldon Owen
This over-the-top accompaniment for ridged potato chips from Classic Recipes for Modern People proves that sometimes, more is more. The dip starts with the basics -- sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic powder -- yet goes way beyond the predictable workhorses, incorporating buttermilk, fresh dill and chives, sweet Spanish paprika and crumbled blue cheese, so it delivers a perfect mash-up of sweet and salty tastes. The piece de resistance is a garnish of fried shallots.

Get the recipe: Ultra Mega Dip
The Dessert Squares That'll Take You Away
Asa Dahlgren
We love a lemon bar as much as the next potluck-goer, but the idea of swapping in mango for citrus is difficult to resist. Sprinkle the squares with a coconut topping, and we think we may have just met our new favorite dessert. Another perk to these sweets from The Summer Table: You can make them with frozen mango, if you can't find fresh.

Get the recipe: Mango Squares with Coconut Topping
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart
Maria Robledo
Chances are you have everything you need to make this any-time-of-day tart in your kitchen already. Keeping the dish in its removable-bottom pan during travel ensures the pastry shell won't break; just don't forget to bring the pan home when you leave the party.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart
Smoky Black Bean Dip
John Kernick
This versatile dip -- which goes with tortilla or pita chips, on top of nachos or in quesadillas -- will keep for two days in the refrigerator. In fact, letting it sit will help the spices (coriander and cumin) flavor the puree more deeply.

Smoky Black Bean Dip
Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad with Chickpeas and Couscous
Jeanne Kelley
The best olives for this salad are the big, meaty green ones you can find in Middle Eastern markets. They have pits, but a good whack with the side of a chef's knife makes them easy to remove. You can serve this dish warm, chilled or at room temperature.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Salad with Chickpeas and Couscous
Killer Quinoa Salad
Colin Erricson
Quinoa, dried cranberries, dried apricots, avocados, green onions and toasted slivered almonds come together to make an ideal side for grilled chicken or pork. It can sit out on the buffet table for a little longer than most dishes, since it doesn't contain any ingredients that will spoil quickly.

Killer Quinoa Salad
Lentil Ratatouille
Colin Erricson
Cutting the eggplant, zucchini and carrots into larger pieces (about an inch square) will ensure they don't become mushy as they sit, and the salad will benefit from their crunch.

Lentil Ratatouille
Chickpea Plov
Leah Lizarondo
In the former Soviet republics and Russia, plov (also known as pilaf) is a hearty one-pot rice dish. This version omits the lamb and relies on chickpeas for protein, making it a perfect vegetarian entrée.

Chickpea Plov
Garden Tuna Checkerboard Sandwiches
Colin Erricson
Although all these sandwiches contain the same lemon-white wine vinegar tuna salad, their breads are different. Have a little fun and arrange them in a checkerboard pattern to keep people guessing.

Garden Tuna Checkerboard Sandwiches
Shrimp-and-Avocado Sushi Rolls
Colin Erricson
Using store-bought tortillas as extra wrappers around the seaweed is the trick to turning this Japanese favorite into an easy potluck dish. A simple, homemade wasabi mayonnaise offers a nice contrast to the crunchy cucumber.

Shrimp-and-Avocado Sushi Rolls
Chicken Divan Crepes with Gruyère
Thinkstock
This take on the well-known chicken-and-broccoli casserole is perfect for a large group, since each portion comes wrapped in its own crepe.

Chicken Divan Crepes with Gruyère
Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Cilantro
Ground turkey breast, low-carb tortillas, fat-free black bean dip and reduced-fat cheeses keep this usually calorie-laden, one-dish meal healthy (so guests will have more room for guacamole and chips).

Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Cilantro
Macaroni and Many Cheeses
You can make the cheese sauce for this crowd-pleasing classic up to two days ahead of time and reheat it. Using a small pasta, like elbows, will make it easier to spoon out onto plates.

Macaroni and Many Cheeses
Pineapple-Cajeta Empanadas
Thinkstock
Chef Marcela Valladolid likes to make these pockets for potlucks because they don't require serving utensils and are easy to transport. Similar to dulce de leche, cajeta is available in some Latin markets, or you can substitute caramel sauce. The empanadas are a sweet addition to a brunch buffet, or you can even serve them as dessert.

Pineapple-Cajeta Empanadas
Sunny Lemon Cake
Colin Erricson
Bright and tangy, this cake will appeal to adults and children. Once frosted, it will keep in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in foil or waxed paper, for up to three days.

Sunny Lemon Cake
Banana Pudding
Tina Rupp
This traditional Southern dessert actually improves with age, so be sure to let it sit for at least four hours (or as long as overnight) before serving. This version from Maya Angelou includes all the classic ingredients.

Banana Pudding