summer

Every Essential Potluck Salad Recipe (All in One Place)

updated May 24, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

When it comes to summertime potlucks (really any potluck, for that matter), I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many salads in the spread. They’re made for sharing and can almost always be made in advance. And I’m not talking about green salads (save those for lunches and weeknight dinners at home!) — the very best salads for potlucks are hearty bowls of cold pasta salad blanketed with tangy dressing, creamy potato salad, sweet fruit salads, and toothsome grain salads. Here are 50+ essential potluck salads to take you through summer.

Meaty Pasta Salads

1 / 5
How To Make the Easiest Pasta Salad
This goes-anywhere, has-everything pasta salad is one we think you should know by heart.
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2 / 5
BLT Pasta Salad
This pasta salad takes everything you love about that classic sandwich, then folds it into a summery side that's sure to be a hit at your next potluck.
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3 / 5
Antipasto Pasta Salad

This salad, perfect for a backyard barbecue or poolside shindig, takes inspiration from antipasto, the Italian first course that includes all kinds of pickled veggies, cured meats, and of course, cheese.

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4 / 5
Antipasto Tortellini Salad
A potluck-friendly recipe for tortellini pasta salad filled with marinated vegetables, salami, cheese, and herbs.
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5 / 5
Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
This crowd-pleasing chilled noodle salad brings bright and savory flavors to the potluck along with chicken and a rich sesame ginger dressing.
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Vegetarian Pasta Salads

1 / 8
Greek Pasta Salad
An easy recipe for a Greek-inspired pasta salad that's filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and feta and dressed in a tangy oregano vinaigrette.
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2 / 8
Light & Fresh Italian Pasta Salad
A potluck-friendly recipe for Italian pasta salad filled with sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, olives, fresh mozzarella, and arugula.
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3 / 8
How To Make the Best Pasta Salad Without Mayo
This easy-to-make pasta salad has a creamy flavor, but ditches the mayo in favor of a rich vinaigrette and soft cheese.
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4 / 8
Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad
A recipe for pasta salad filled with broccoli, feta, and Kalamata olives, which can be made ahead.
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5 / 8
Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

Store-bought cheese tortellini, basil pesto, and roasted red peppers make it easy on the cook and allow it to come together in no time. Meanwhile, halved cherry tomatoes add sweet, juicy freshness; try to track down the best cherry tomatoes you can find.

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6 / 8
Roasted Garlic, Olive and Tomato Pasta Salad

Here the garlic is roasted until sweet and soft, then whipped into ricotta and yogurt. With the dairy, the roasted garlic is surprisingly mellow; it doesn’t overpower this salad at all.

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7 / 8
Feta & Eggplant Pasta Salad

This pasta salad — speckled with roasted eggplant, tangy feta, and fresh herbs — is just the kind of dinner your summer evening is asking for.

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8 / 8
Pasta Salad with Gouda, Red Peppers & Artichoke Hearts

This pasta salad — with smoked gouda, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts — is rich, creamy, and one of the best I’ve made yet.

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Macaroni Salads

1 / 4
How To Make Better Classic Tuna Macaroni Salad
This pasta salad has it all: tender macaroni, genereous pieces of tuna, crisp celery, peppers, and red onions, finished with a tangy, peppery, creamy yogurt dressing.
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2 / 4
Smoky Trout Macaroni Salad
Smoked trout is an easy addition to next-level classic macaroni salad.
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3 / 4
Avocado and Bacon Macaroni Salad

The fundamentals of classic macaroni salad remain intact — a little mayo, a hint of sugar, and of course, elbow macaroni — but they are mixed beautifully with fresh avocado, homemade croutons spiked with red chile, and a bright, lemony olive oil.

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4 / 4
BBQ Chicken and Macaroni Salad

It’s tangy and creamy, chewy and crunchy — a superstar side dish that works with just about any outdoor menu.

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Orzo Salads

1 / 5
Orzo Salad
An easy orzo pasta salad filled with Mediterranean flavors like roasted red peppers, olives, cucumbers, and feta.
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2 / 5
Orzo Tabbouleh
A fresh twist on classic Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad that replaces the bulgur for orzo pasta.
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3 / 5
Bacon & Spinach Orzo Salad
This orzo salad is tossed with wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, chunks of Asiago, and coated with a warm bacon vinaigrette.
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4 / 5
Orzo Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, Pine Nuts, and Parsley

This amazing take on orzo salad includes caramelized cauliflower for flavor, toasted pine nuts for subtle crunch, and raisins and sultanas for a perfect hint of sweet.

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5 / 5
Orzo Salad with Spinach Pesto, Olives & Feta

The bright green pasta beckons from across the lawn, and the pungent flavors of olives and crumbly feta make an irresistible companion to grilled chicken and grilled fish.

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Potato Salads

1 / 12
How To Make the Best Classic Potato Salad
Today, let's pare it down to the basics and talk about how to make an easy, classic, all-American potato salad.
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2 / 12
Potato Salad with Yogurt, Arugula, and Dill
A fresh and simple potato salad recipe for spring.
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3 / 12
Bacon-Lovers' Potato Salad
This tangy German-inspired potato salad has bacon-y goodness infused into every single bite.
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4 / 12
Potato Salad with Lemon Tahini & Dill Dressing

If you are in need of a little late summer comfort food, I think this potato salad is just the ticket! It honestly could not be easier to whip up and the flavors are so fresh.

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5 / 12
Cheezy Potato Salad

This creamy recipe is mayonnaise-free and full of crisp bacon and celery. The dressing has a cool, creamy tang that mayonnaise-based dressings just can’t beat.

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6 / 12
Buttermilk Ranch Potato Salad

There’s just something sublime and comforting about creamy, tangy mayonnaise dressing stirred into pillowy chunks of potatoes and sprinkled with table salt and black pepper.

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7 / 12
Mixed New Potato Salad with Sweet Basil and Shallots
Toss tiny new potatoes with tangy buttermilk and sour cream along with handfuls of fresh sweet basil and crunchy shallots. It's the new summer classic.
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8 / 12
Southern Smashed Potato Salad

This salad features red potatoes with the skins still on, mustard powder for spice, and prepared mustard for color. Mayonnaise is a given because no self-respecting Southerner doesn’t add at least a little bit, and finely chopped shallots and celery for both added flavor and color.

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9 / 12
Smoked Trout & Potato Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

Beautiful fingerling potatoes pair really well with smoked trout, drizzled with a tangy buttermilk vinaigrette packed with lots of fresh dill flavor.

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10 / 12
Red Potato Salad with Scallions & Radishes

This is a simple spring potato salad. It has green onions for savory, and red radish slices for crunch and color.

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11 / 12
Tomato & Mozzarella Potato Salad with Lemon-Buttermilk Dressing

This is a quick and easy side dish, full of flavor. It's colorful, too — all those potatoes tumbled together with red tomatoes and green basil.

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12 / 12
Miso Potato Salad with Yellow Wax Beans

The miso here gives the tangy yogurt dressing a savory and sweet taste that complements the creamy potatoes and snappy yellow wax beans.

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Grain Salads

1 / 11
Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad
Mixed with quinoa, beans, and vibrant fresh veggies, and topped with a zippy chili-lime vinaigrette, this is a potluck salad that everyone can eat.
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2 / 11
Quinoa Tabbouleh
In this riff on traditional tabbouleh, the bulgur gets replaced with tender, nutty quinoa. It's a make-ahead salad, perfect for summer barbecues.
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3 / 11
Tuna & Cucumber Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
This protein-packed power bowl brings together quinoa, tuna, cucumbers, and a bunch of fresh vegetables for a salad you can count on to keep you full.
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4 / 11
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Citrus-Coriander Dressing

A quinoa and black bean salad makes an easy, wholesome lunch or a good side for supper. Gluten-free and vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, it’s also an ideal dish to share at potlucks and other gatherings.

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5 / 11
Summer Vegetable Grain Salad
A light, wholesome quinoa salad filled with summer vegetables and tossed in a pesto vinaigrette.
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6 / 11
Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese

The sweet and herbal citrus plays beautifully with a chewy mix of farro, pearl couscous, and crisp asparagus. Toss in some almonds and goat cheese and lunch is ready!

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7 / 11
Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Pine Nuts

Here, eggplant shines in a simple yet aromatic salad with plump kernels of farro. Fresh as well as dried mint add layers of flavor.

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8 / 11
Warm Beet and Farro Salad

When tossed with warm farro and feta, this becomes one my favorite ways to eat beets.

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9 / 11
Wheat Berry Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Basil

Our new summertime go-to salad includes wheat berries, fresh tomatoes and corn, basil, goat cheese and a bold lemony dressing.

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10 / 11
Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon and Feta

Cubes of sweet watermelon, chunks of crunchy celery, and savory feta cheese — this hybrid between fruit salad and savory salad has lazy lunch written all over it.

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11 / 11
Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onion & Herbs

This salad is lemony and tangy, crunchy and soft, with warmth from a pinch of cumin and chili powder, and salty creaminess from crumbled feta cheese.

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Bean and Lentil Salads

1 / 8
Three-Bean Salad
This classic summer side is made with a trio of beans and crunchy celery tossed in a tangy dressing.
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2 / 8
Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
A light and easy recipe for a no-cook tomato and white bean salad. Make it now before the season's tomatoes disappear!
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3 / 8
White Bean & Roasted Vegetable Salad

This white bean and roasted vegetable salad is a spin-off of my favorite roasted vegetable and orzo pasta salad. The canned beans replace processed carbs, as well as add lots of fiber and protein to keep me fuller longer.

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4 / 8
Chilled Black Bean, Feta & Cucumber Salad

Creamy feta and red wine vinegar add a delicious Greek twist to ingredients that are typically found in Central American dishes: black beans, corn, and cilantro.

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5 / 8
3-Bean Israeli Couscous Salad

This salad is vegan and makes a great side dish, but I love a big bowlful of it at lunch or for a light dinner. Throw it into the cooler for your next BBQ, picnic, or summer beach day!

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6 / 8
Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette
Down South, this salad is called a sitting salad. It can sit on the summer picnic table without wilting, so it's the perfect potluck dish.
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7 / 8
Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives

Every year I revisit this particular salad of lentils, cucumbers, olives, and mint tossed with a sherry vinaigrette, whether to dole out for lunches throughout the week or as a healthy contribution to a summer cookout.

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8 / 8
Colorful Lentil Salad with Walnuts & Herbs

This lentil salad is full of crisp and colorful bell pepper and onions, with nutty toasted walnuts and fragrant herbs. A sweet, tangy dressing pulls it all together.

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Fruit Salads

1 / 6
Red Fruit Salad with Lemon-Vanilla Bean Syrup
This fruit salad filled with peaches, raspberries, and cherries is drenched in a light lemon-vanilla syrup.
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2 / 6
Berry Pineapple Fruit Salad
This berry and pineapple fruit salad gets a fast and fancy twist with a gingergy, cinnamon-spiked simple syrup for a punchy, spiced kick.
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3 / 6
Mango and Papaya Fruit Salad

This minimalist fruit salad of papaya and mango is tossed in a honey-lime dressing with a hint of mint.

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4 / 6
Easiest Summer Fruit Salad

Watermelon is the salad’s base. Add in sliced strawberries and a few handfuls of blueberries, and you’re on your way to peak summertime in a bowl.

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5 / 6
Rainbow Fruit Salad

Honey and lime juice make for a sweet and tangy dressing that coats every inch of the fruit salad. Finished with a sprinkling of chopped fresh mint, this is one colorful fruit salad you’ll be happy to enjoy.

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6 / 6
Tropical Fruit Salad With Creamy Lime Sauce

This fruit salad is more than your usual gathering of fruits in a bowl. The lime and sweet cream topping for this recipe really brightens things up and adds a little zip where there usually isn’t any.

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