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The Best Tips and Gadgets for Transporting Potluck Dishes

summer potluck gadgets
Photo by Mackenzie Schieck

Essential gear for potlucks and picnics

Summer is here and so is potluck season! Make sure your favorite dishes make it to your destination safely with these tips for packing and transporting potluck dishes. Plus, we've gathered up some gadgets that make that goal all the more possible.

Related: Browse our entire collection of crowd-pleasing potluck recipes.

5 Tips for Packing and Transporting Potluck Dishes

Use these handy tips for getting your dishes safely from point A to point B.

  1. Double up to avoid spillage. Of course you'll want to be sure plastic wrap is pulled tight and lids are snapped firmly on dishes, but it never hurts to add a little insurance. For example, consider wrapping lidded dishes in plastic or using oversized rubber bands to clamp lids down tightly. Or store salads in resealable plastic bags, then place those inside lidded dishes for transport—when you arrive, simply pour bagged contents into the lidded bowl to serve.
  2. Pack items snugly and softly. If you're bringing several items, make sure they fit snugly in a bag, with no clanking. Use dish towels to fill empty space and cushion glass items to prevent breakage.
  3. Keep dishes hot or cool completely before transporting. If you're taking a hot dish, utilize a thermal carrier (see examples below) to keep the food hot. You can also cool the dish completely, transport in a thermal carrier, then reheat when you arrive. You just want to avoid a cold dish warming up or a hot dish cooling down on the way to your destination. #foodsafety
  4. Leave dressings and/or store-bought condiments sealed until arrival. Take advantage of the tight seals on store-bought items by waiting to dress a leafy salad or stir mayo into coleslaw until you get to the potluck. It only takes a few minutes to put on those final touches.
  5. First utilize the car floor, then buckle up. We hope you have a spill-free voyage to your potluck, but if it does happen, cleaning a removable carpet is going to be much easier than a car seat. So, first utilize any floor or trunk space in your car when transporting dishes. And if that's unavailable, set dishes on towels in the seats, and you might be able to make use of a seat belt or two to keep things secure.

9 Potluck Gadgets That Make Transporting Dishes a Breeze

From thermal carriers to a four-tiered appetizer tray, check out these items for easy traveling:

1. Stay Fresh Universal Pie Container

This pie carrier is big enough to hold the pie and the baking dish it's in, and has a lid that snaps tight for a secure ride. If your pie is smaller than the container, stuff the empty space with a dish towel to avoid sliding.

Related: Potluck desserts that always wow a crowd.

Pie carrier
Photo by Mackenzie Schieck

2. Classic Cuisine Cold Appetizer Tray-4-in-1 Chilled Platter

This appetizer tray has an ice bowl to keep everything cold, a three-section tray for veggies, fruit, or cheeses, and a tray for deviled eggs. The lid locks for secure traveling, and you can even take the trays out and use the bowl for another dish if the ice is no longer needed.

Related: How to make deviled eggs.

Classic Cuisine Cold Appetizer Tray-4-in-1 Chilled Platter
Photo by Amazon

3. Wegreeco Reusable Bowl Covers (set of 3)

These water-resistant bowl covers come in three sizes, but are flexible enough to accommodate a range of bowl sizes. They are perfect for keeping salads fresh, or even for storing leftovers.

Related: Get recipes for favorite potluck salads.

reusable bowl covers
Photo by Amazon

4. Insulated Thermal Grocery Tote Bags (two-pack)

These extra large, sturdy bags are perfect for keeping cold stuff cold, and hot stuff hot. They are big enough to fit casserole dishes, or a bunch of vegetables or fruits to create a platter when you arrive. They zip up tight, and you can also use them for grocery shopping.

Insulated Thermal Grocery Tote Bags
Photo by Amazon

5. Silicone Stretch Lids (12-pack)

These silicone lids will provide a bit more containment than the elastic bowl covers above when you are transporting dishes with more liquid-like components. They are both microwave and dishwasher safe for easy clean up.

Silicone Stretch Lids
Photo by Amazon

6. RSVP Fabric Collapsible Market Basket

This market bag is perfect when you have a handful of non-spillable items like chips, crackers, and bread. The whole thing collapses flat for easy storage when you're not using it.

RSVP Fabric Collapsible Market Basket
Photo by Amazon

7. Bellemain Thermal Slow Cooker Carrying Bag

Taking a slow cooker to a potluck is made infinitely easier with a proper carrier like this one. There are straps inside to keep everything secured, as well as heavy-duty straps for carrying.

Related: These slow cooker recipes are perfect for potlucks.

Bellemain Thermal Slow Cooker Carrying Bag
Photo by Amazon

8. Fit & Fresh Gatherings Insulated Food Saver

This food carrier will provide a bit more structure than the thermal tote bags when you need it. Great for casseroles, salads, and more. And the locking lid makes sure everything stays secure en route.

Fit & Fresh Gatherings Insulated Food Saver
Photo by Amazon

9. Pyrex Glass Food Container Set (14-piece set)

These containers are great for anything from salads to desserts. The lids snap on tight, and when you take them off at a potluck, the glass bowls look great for serving.

Pyrex Glass Food Container Set
Photo by Amazon

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

About Mackenzie Schieck

Writer and photographer obsessed with lattes, Mexican food, and stuff that’s funny.