Easy Dishes to Bring to Summer Parties

easy dishes to bring to summer partiesLast time we talked about summer recipes for working moms, we highlighted simple things like quinoa salads, pizza w/store-bought crusts, egg salad sandwiches, hummus pita sandwiches, and more (like Kat’s suggestion of tequila lime chicken). Today we thought we’d shift the focus a bit and discuss the best dishes for working moms to bring to summer parties. Fortunately, if your kids refuse to eat what you make for the party (we’ve all been there … some of us more often than others), then other people there surely will! And if your kids end up only eating tortilla chips and brownies at the party (OK, now I’m hungry), then so be it.

In the past, we’ve also discussed fall recipes for working moms, and if you don’t like to use your oven much in the summer, check out our Corporette posts about how you use your Instant Pot as well as all-day crockpot recipes.

We’re eager to hear about what you’ve found to be the best dishes for working moms to bring to summer parties — and in the meantime, here are just a few of mine:

  • Cornbread: Sometimes less is more! Bring with or without meat or veggie chili. I prefer cornbread that’s a little dry and not too sweet, and so I use the recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, a book that’s an oldie but goodie. (I would advise that you quickly flip past the brain-related recipes. *shudder*)
  • Southwestern Pasta Salad: This recipe on Allrecipes is almost exactly the same as the dish we’ve made tons of times. I’m really not a pasta salad fan (especially because there are always so many at summer potlucks), but this is so easy and tasty and includes a great blend of flavors and colors — plus, it’s healthy. Note that the chili powder might make it too spicy for any kids at the party. (I use 1/8 cup oil vs. 1/3 cup, 1 clove of garlic vs. 2 cloves, and I put in much less cilantro than 1/2 cup. So many pasta salads are too oily, I think, and this avoids that.) If you want to do something similar without pasta, I’ve frequently made this Weight Watchers recipe from several years ago.
  • Green party dip: This fun dip “recipe” was passed down from my grandmother, who served it at her bridge parties. It’s very simple, but it tastes so good with ruffled potato chips that I eventually have to push it aside and say, “Please get this away from me!” All you do is mix a large block of cream cheese, half of a finely chopped yellow onion, and green food coloring (what can I say, this is from the ’50s — and it makes it fun, anyway), along with a little milk to make it creamy. (Take it out a half hour before serving.)
  • Last-Minute Lasagna: If you find yourself desperately in need of something easy, this old recipe from Real Simple will do the trick. It’s pretty basic except that it includes spinach. Yes, I’m sure it would taste much better with fresh spinach than frozen, but if you truly are making something last-minute, this will work fine. Hey, it’s a good alternative to picking up grocery-store potato salad the day of the party. (Yes, I have done this when I ran out of time to make something — but it was from Wegmans, so at least it was really good. And I’m not a potato salad fan.)

What do you think are the best dishes for working moms to bring to summer parties? If it’s an all-ages party, do you usually make a kid-friendly dish or just go wild? What have been your favorite recipes that other guests have brought to the summer parties you’ve been to? Do you usually try out a new recipe for these situations or make an old-standby to be safe?

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Looking for easy dishes to bring to summer parties, or trying to find the best dishes for working moms to bring to summer parties? We've got some ideas for you...


  1. Martha Stewart’s Peach Crumble. I do it with frozen sliced peaches and a handful of frozen blueberries (just double the cornstarch amount because the frozen fruit has more water), so it’s easy to keep the ingredients in the freezer for those last minute invitations (or not included in my weekly delivered grocery order). Always a hit.

  2. Caprese! says:

    DH makes a caprese salad that we bring to lots of events. He uses those mini mozzarella balls, halved grape/cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and just a few paper thin red onion slices tossed in olive oil, white balsamic, and S&P. He soaks the red onion slices in the vinegar for 10-15 minutes before adding them to the salad to cut down on the harsh red onion flavor. DH wants the salad to look pretty, hence the white balsamic, which doesn’t discolor the salad like regular balsamic does. He’s Italian and very particular about his ingredients/prep…..don’t tell him but it turns out fine if he doesn’t soak the onions or if he *gasp* uses regular balsamic instead of white. He usually serves it with some kind of hearty cracker or bread. Super fast to prepare, easy to make in advance, and keeps well in the fridge! Bonus points for pretty (and all the heart eyes for Italian DH!)

    • Anonymous says:

      I was going to add a low-rent version of this that I just discovered. (But serious props to Italian DH for taking ingredients seriously).

      Costco sells a big tub of mini fresh mozzarella balls in an oil & spices blend. I use that oil (not all of it that would be too much), plus red onions and halved grape tomatoes and basil as above, plus cucumber chunks. I toss a little balsamic in, some salt, and stick it in the fridge in the morning. By afternoon it’s all blended nicely and gets rave reviews…so easy!

  3. Flora Poste says:

    Am I reading the State Dept website correctly that I would only need to bring baby’s birth certificate to drive into Canada with her? (Husband would be with us too so no need for permission from the other parent.) Thinking about taking the Canadian/Niagara Falls route for a Michigan to New York trip in a few weeks since she’s been such a good little traveler this summer and I want to take advantage before baby gets older and loses patience with long bouts in the car seat.

  4. Jalapeno Squares says:

    My go-to potluck side dish. There are churched-up recipes for this on the internet, but my family has always used a really basic version

    10 eggs, scrambled (can use some egg whites and/or milk if desired)
    1-2 C shredded cheese (cheddar or 4 cheeese mex blend works best)
    jar of jalapenos, drained

    Mix it all in a 9×9 or 9×13 pan and bake at 350 until set. 30-45 minutes
    Cut them up to desired size and serve. They’re good hot or cold!

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