The rules for Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings may be different this year. You may need to be more socially distanced than usual, or the crowd will be smaller, or you’ll need to stay outside. But one rule hasn’t changed: If you show up empty-handed, your Great Aunt Betty will never forgive you! From easy breakfast recipes to make-ahead desserts, these dishes that travel well include something for just about every occasion, whether you’re going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, your sister-in-law’s for Christmas or a neighborhood potluck.
We need human interaction more than ever right now. Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says we should limit indoor holiday gatherings to the people we have quarantined with, you may get the opportunity to join a small socially distanced outdoor gathering. And what would Great Aunt Betty say if you showed up empty handed?
These recipes that travel well are proven winners. Just remember in this pandemic year to serve in a safer way. Either have everyone use their own utensils to serve or appoint one person to dish up the goods to limit the possibility of spreading the coronavirus.
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Favorite Holiday Recipes that Travel Well
We polled our Facebook readers for their favorite holiday recipes they take when they travel, and these 30 came out on top. These foods have all been proven to travel well in the car, making them ideal potluck dishes to bring to your next event. We’ve broken them up into three different categories — breakfast, appetizers and dessert — so you can easily find a dish that works for you.
If none of these potluck recipes work for you, just pick something that won’t be disturbed by a sharp turn or hard brake on the drive over. And make sure it’s something that tastes good whether you serve it at room temperature or cold.
If you really want to bring something that you’re worried might be disturbed when you travel, take the advice of our Facebook readers: Bring the ingredients separately and assemble the dish when you arrive. This works great for things like salads, veggie plates, and even cheeseballs.
Read More: 29 BBQ Recipes that Travel Well
Breakfast Recipes that Travel Well
These dishes were favorites of our pre-coronavirus get-togethers — the ones in which everyone could dig in and help themselves. Times have changed and so has serving. The CDC recommends that everyone bring their own food or at least their own utensils. At the very least, appoint one person to dish up the communal dishes this year.
This sausage breakfast casserole can be made ahead of time and tastes good even when it’s lukewarm. Put it together the night before, then bake it right before it’s time to go.
Bake up some fresh bread like this apple yogurt bread with streusel topping the day before, then just wrap tightly for the trip.
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Like the casserole above, coffee cake is great because you can transport it in the same thing you cook it in. If the recipe calls for icing like this maple walnut coffee cake, just bring it with you.
These breakfast sliders are all made right in a single casserole dish. Transport this in the casserole dish, then assign one server to pull out the individual sandwiches for serving.
Homemade cinnamon rolls are a comfort food favorite and if you leave them in the pan, they travel great. Take it up a notch this year and try these festive eggnog cinnamon rolls for a holiday party.
TravelingMom Tip: Use this Expandable Potlucker Bag Food Saver when transporting these dishes.
Individual Servings for a 2020-Style Breakfast
For 2020, old standbys like huge fruit platters aren’t such a great idea. Try making small individual fruit salad bowls if you’re looking for healthier options. Try this recipe with the lime glaze for added flavor.
Muffins are a great idea in these socially distance times. These individual strawberry coffee cake muffins are calling our name. Make ahead of time and transport in one of those cupcake carriers or a muffin tin.
Make up a full batch of these breakfast burritos, individually wrapped, then just reheat the morning of. Transport in a large storage container that doubles as a way to take any extras home.
Another great choice is homemade scones like these almond and cranberry ones. They can be made ahead without getting dry if you follow the tips in this recipe.
Appetizers that Travel Well
These shared appetizer recipe ideas are best left for gatherings with your own pandemic pod or among those you KNOW have quarantined and are coronavirus-free.
Go traditional with a cheese plate but take it up a notch by making these easy Parmesan crackers.
Mix things up with a non-cheeseball like this cranberry, Gorgonzola, and walnut option.
Either put together a simple veggie tray with dip at home or bring your veggies and assemble something more fun like this Santa veggie tray once you arrive.
You can’t ever go wrong with dip and dippers. Think chips and salsa, this spinach artichoke dip with fresh bread, or even just the standard ranch dip with potato chips.
A bowl of candied nuts can be made up in just a few minutes and eaten just as quickly. Try these easy-to-make-and-carry spicy Southern pecans.
Individual Appetizer Recipe Ideas
If you prefer not to have so many hands dipping into the same tub of dip, try one of these more individualized appetizers. Just be sure to bring along a serving dish that allows you to spread out the treats in a (sort of) socially distanced way so every can grab what they want with their own set of tongs, disposable toothpicks or other individual serving utensil.
One of our readers swore by deviled eggs and taking them in a deviled egg carrier (that she only uses twice a year). Spice them up with a little bacon and jalapeno like this recipe.
If you really want to bring a dip, try this cute 7-layer dip in individual serving cups.
Pigs in a blanket are a favorite with kids and adults. To make your recipe go further, try these small versions instead.
Skewers might be the answer to a safer appetizer option this year. These recipes travel well, they’re pretty, they can be made ahead and they are easy to serve safely. That’s a win-win-win-and-win! Try these caprese salad skewers, these antipasto skewers or, our favorite, these tropical chicken skewers.
Meatballs are another huge crowd pleaser and these easy Italian meatballs are one of my favorite recipes. Take the teriyaki sauce along in a small dish to add when you arrive. Bring toothpicks for safely serving.
Desserts that Travel Well
Skip the plate full of cute decorated cookies and go with these individually wrapped waffle cookies.
Individual dessert cups are always a pretty sight on a holiday table. These individual tiramisu cups are as easy to transport as they are yummy to eat.
Fudge is always a special treat. Whip up a batch of this Nutella fudge then wrap individual pieces for transporting and serving.
Truffles are simple to make, simple to transport and come in their own individual serving cup. Try these brownie peppermint truffles for a fun holiday twist.
Make upgraded brownies with this delicious mud pie brownie recipe then cut and individually package the brownies before you transport them. No one will ever know you started with a box.
One final option is any sort of sweet popcorn but this Grinch inspired popcorn is our top choice. Package it into individual servings. Bonus points if you set it up alongside a Grinch doll.
Desserts that Must be Shared
Some things are worth the risk of sharing. This death by chocolate poke cake is one of those things. It’s made for chocolate lovers and for transporting in a car. Cover the top with a casserole dish cover or tin foil and assign a designated server to dish up all of this deliciousness.
A dump cake is a great choice because it’s not supposed to be pretty. Bake this hot chocolate dump cake ahead of time and bring ice cream or whipped cream to serve alongside.