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33 recipes to make when you’re asked to bring a plate

Cheesy garlic and chive pull apart sliders

Delicious transportable dishes for any occasion

It’s a great Australian tradition: bringing a plate to brunch, a backyard barbie, a lazy lunch or party to share the catering load with your hosts, whether it’s a crunchy salad, a batch of freshly baked scrolls or delicious dessert. From savoury finger food to irresistible sweet treats, we’ve put together a list of ideas for what to bring when you’re asked to bring a plate. Think achievable, transportable crowd-pleasers to suit a variety of dietary needs and occasions. And they’re all made with everyday ingredients, so they’ll be easy on your budget and your time.

Cheesy Garlic and Chive Pull-apart Sliders


Cheesy garlic and chive pull-apart sliders

Perfect for a barbie or brunch, these quick, easy and oh-so-cheesy pull-apart sliders are simple to prepare in advance and pack in an airtight container, ready to pop in the oven for 10 minutes once you reach your destination. For a bigger crowd, simply multiply the quantities. Mix it up by using different combos of cheese and herbs, such as grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil, or sliced brie and chopped fresh thyme leaves. Pack a jar of your favourite tomato relish in the cooler, too, and you’re good to go! Vegetarian guests will love you for it.

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Fresh Tomato and Basil Tart


Fresh tomato and basil tart

Here’s an impressive, budget-friendly vegetarian appetiser, brunch or lunch dish that’s quick and easy to prepare ahead. It’s delicious hot or cold, so you could bake it at home and leave it to cool on an oven rack before you go. The trick is to leave it on the rack when you pack it in an airtight container to help the base stay crisp until you’re ready to serve. Make it even easier by swapping out the filo pastry sheets with a single sheet of puff pastry.

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Spinach Dip in Cob Loaf


Spinach dip in cob loaf

You’ve got to love a bring-a-plate appetiser that literally comes in its own packaging! Using just five ingredients, this party favourite is easy to make ahead. After that, it’s just a matter of wrapping up the filled loaf in some foil and popping the scooped-out bread pieces into a reusable bag. This dish is best served hot, so simply unwrap the cob and bake it with the bread pieces at your destination. That way, the spinach dip is nice and gooey and the cob and bread pieces are crisp and golden.

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Air-fryer Crackling Pork Belly and Mango Platter


Air-fryer crackling pork belly and mango platter

This is a real summertime crowd-pleaser, whether you bring it along to a special celebration dinner or a relaxed lunch. It also makes a show-stopping picnic platter. Arrange it on a transportable platter, ensuring it’s tightly wrapped to keep all the elements in place, or pack the ingredients separately and put the platter together when you arrive at your destination. Whichever way you do it, everyone will be impressed. This fresh, vibrant Asian-style salad is just as delicious with shredded roast chicken or peeled cooked prawns instead of pork.

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Smashed Salt and Vinegar Potato Salad


Smashed salt and vinegar potato salad

Here’s the answer to the eternal “can you bring a side?” question, whether it’s for a family barbie, a picnic or special occasion. Everyone loves potato salad. This one comes with a clever twist, using those favourite potato-friendly flavours of salt – in the form of crispy bacon – and vinegar, found in the cooking water and lightly pickled red onion. You can also make it dairy-free by omitting the sour cream and just using whole-egg mayonnaise. Assemble the salad before you leave and then enjoy it served warm or at room temperature. Simply arrange the ingredients in a deep platter or shallow bowl and away you go!

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Green Potato Salad


Green potato salad

Another take on an all-time favourite, this creamy potato salad is packed with flavour and texture, and makes a great budget-beating side for a barbecue or buffet lunch. It’s easy to double up on the ingredients for a larger crowd, too. Prepare this dish ahead of time by simply assembling the ingredients in a serving bowl according to the recipe, covering the dish, and packing it into a cooler bag. Booyah!

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Layered Curried Rice and Cauliflower Salad


Layered curried rice and cauliflower salad

This gluten-free salad works a treat when you prepare it ahead at home. Just layer it up in a bowl. By the time you arrive at your host’s occasion, the warm curry flavour will have had time to develop beautifully. It makes a sensational accompaniment for barbecued seafood, chicken or meats, or a stand-alone vegetarian main for a party or picnic. You could even replace the Greek-style natural yoghurt with coconut yoghurt to make this a vegan dish.

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Nicoise Pasta Salad


Niçoise pasta salad

The addition of pasta shells to the flavours and textures of a classic French Niçoise salad makes this the ideal budget-friendly choice to bring to any gathering. It’s quick and simple to prepare in advance, and easy to transport as it can be assembled in a serving bowl beforehand. The pasta adds bulk to this vegetarian version, which means it’s perfect for feeding a crowd without breaking the bank.

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Healthier Mini Cob Loaf Dips


Healthier mini cob loaf dips

For a fresh take on a party favourite, these vegetarian mini cob loaf dips make cute healthier-style appetisers to please a crowd. Even the kids won’t be able to resist them. Prepare them ahead to the point before you need to bake them, then finish them off at your destination to ensure the rolls and bread pieces are crisp. To transport, pack the dip-filled rolls into an airtight container in single layers separated with baking paper, then pop the torn bread and cut veggies into separate resealable containers. For an extra festive flourish, you could use a combo of sliced red, green and yellow capsicum.

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Ham bombs


Ham bombs

This is an impressive way to use up some of that Christmas leftover ham, using convenient ready-made pizza dough balls. This savoury pull-apart makes a great centrepiece appetiser or side for a Boxing Day barbecue or lunch. You could bake it and take it finished and ready to serve, or finish it off with the remaining cheese once you’ve arrived. Just pack up the gravy in a jar or airtight container so you can heat it just before serving. It’s also delicious made with leftover turkey, or any other roasted meat.

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Pesto Star Bread


Pesto star bread

This basil pesto and parmesan pull-apart is perfect served as finger food or a side for a party, and you can bake it ahead, wrap it in foil and freeze it ahead of time. Then all you need to do is defrost it in the fridge overnight and warm it in the oven before serving. The wow factor comes from its pretty star shape – perfect for the festive season. Using a simple dough recipe, this dish will impress not just for its golden good looks but also for its rich, savoury flavour. Double up the quantities and keep one in the freezer for unexpected guests at your place!

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Prawn Cocktail Salad


Prawn cocktail salad

Here’s a quick and easy budget-stretcher that packs an impressive punch as a summer starter or as part of a buffet spread. An all-time retro favourite gets a makeover here with the addition of pretty pasta spirals, crisp cucumber and creamy avocado. It’s a great way to make those prawns go further when you’re catering for a crowd – you could even halve them lengthways for greater pasta-to-prawn ratio! This is a perfect dish to prepare ahead and transport in its bowl, so it’s all ready to serve at your destination.

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Vegan Pumpkin and Sage Tart


Vegan pumpkin and sage tart

Crunchy pastry, sweet, tender pumpkin and the savoury notes of sage and leek topped with crunchy green veggies make this vegan tart a must-have, no matter what dietary requirements are to be catered for at the gathering. It makes an impressive centrepiece for a festive spread or sliced into wedges to serve as an appetiser or finger food. Best of all, it’s easy to prepare in advance and transport – just leave it in the pan until you’re ready to serve. Combine your asparagus and snow peas in an airtight container to decorate the tart once you’ve reached your event.

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