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17 Easy Side Dishes for Family Reunions (They’ll Ask for the Recipe!)

These easy side dishes for family reunions will have your cousins, grandma, and even Aunt Mildred asking for the recipe.

Got a family reunion to attend this summer?

nice outdoor area filled with family eating at big patio table, text overlay "easy side dishes to make for family reunion"

These easy side dishes for family reunions will cut your time in the kitchen AND leave your relatives asking for the recipe at the same time.

Before diving into the recipes, let’s briefly go over what makes a side dish recipe good enough to take to a family reunion.

What Food is Good to Take to a Family Reunion?

When taking a side dish to your family reunion or family gathering, you want something easy to make, and yummy enough that most people will enjoy it.   

You’ll also need to consider the following when choosing your side dish from below:

  • Whether you’ll have a way to keep it cool outside for several hours
  • Number of people you’re trying to feed
  • Where there will be an electrical outlet you can use to keep food warm

Luckily, almost all of the recipes below do not need to be kept warm, nor kept cold.

Let's check out those yummy family reunion recipes that travel well!

Easy Side Dishes for Family Reunions that Travel Well

I’m confident you’ll find the perfect easy side dish to take to your next family reunion from the options below.

What makes these side dishes easy?

They meet one or more of these criteria:

  • Few ingredients
  • No cooking
  • Portable
  • They go well with a cakewalk (wait – is my family the only one who still does the “cakewalk” at our family reunion?)

We’ll start off with ones you don’t even need to cook – you simply prepare. Great side dishes for BBQs.

Hint: with these plate-lickin'-good recipes, you likely won't need this information…but just in case, here's how to reuse leftover food.

1. Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe

prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe wedges on glass plate on picnic table

No cooking required with this one, and it takes just 10 minutes!

Grab a cantaloupe and a package of thin prosciutto. Chop up the cantaloupe into wedges, then wrap each in a piece of prosciutto. Viola!

You can add a side of homemade balsamic glaze if you’d like to gussy these up a bit.

2. Watermelon Feta Salad

bright and fresh watermelon feta salad with green mint leaves on white table

A light, summery side dish that is super easy to make and a big hit at reunions (where there’s bound to be some kids looking for watermelon!).

Psst: looking to cut prep-time down, even more? Just buy pre-chopped watermelon.

3. Smashed Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce

I cannot stress enough how yummy this side dish is. And, you don’t need to eat it hot!

My husband and I will eat this cold – warm or not, it’s a crowd-pleaser you can whip up quickly (active cooking time is just 15 minutes, and then there’s an hour total for cooking time).

4. Easy Fruit Salad with Cool Whip

Here’s an easy, unique idea for your next family reunion.

It can even dub for dessert! Very kid-friendly side dish.

5. French Grated Carrot Salad

grated carrot salad on wooden plate on picnic table

Am I the only one who hates dislikes raisins with carrots (and in most other things)?

Well, this French grated carrot salad is both the answer for that and for an easy side dish for your next reunion.

6. Caprese Salad

bright caprese tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad with seasonings on white plate on picnic table

One of the easiest, and yummiest, side dishes you can create – with just 5 ingredients (and two of them are salt and pepper!).

With so few ingredients, be sure to pick out the freshest tomatoes you can find. They are the hero of this classic dish.

7. Garden Veggie Cornbread Casserole

Combine a bread side and a veggie side with this one-side dish. Very easy to make.

8. Tomato Cucumber Salad

You can prep this fresh salad ahead of time, and then just add the vinaigrette at serving time.

9. Cucumber Onion Salad

Another salad with very few ingredients, and lovely flavor!

10. Corn Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

I made a variation of this salad for our family get-together at my husband’s house, and my sister-in-law even asked me for the recipe! It’s that yummy.

11. Jiffy + 3-Ingredients-Cornbread

foil pan of cornbread on burlap bag

Take a box of Jiffy cornbread, and just add three additional ingredients to turn a ho-hum side dish into a lovely one.

Psst: don’t forget to include a side of butter and a little saucer of honey.

12. Panzanella Bread Salad

bright panzanella salad in white bowl on white table

These bread salads are just delightful. Lucky for you, they’re also easy to make! No cooking, and just some chopping up of several ingredients.

Speaking of yummy bread salads…

13. Layered Cornbread Salad

Take the subtle sweetness of cornbread, and use it as a foundation for a beautiful, layered salad!

14. Marinated Vegetable Salad

I love a recipe I can make the night before, and it gets better with time!

Chop up a bunch of veggies, make a dressing, then soak them overnight in it. Yummy.

15. Greek Chilled Quinoa Salad

Here’s a different kind of side dish I’ve never seen at a family reunion before (at least not at ours!), and I think it could be rather delightful.

Hint: you can change this recipe to 2X or 3X the servings, and the measurements will automatically update.

16. Pesto Pasta Salad

white dish of pesto pasta salad with tomatoes

Transform some fun-looking pasta into a fabulous family reunion side dish with just three ingredients. No kidding!

17. Frito Corn Salad

In just 10 minutes, create a very memorable dish people will be curious to try.

How Do You Plan Food for a Family Reunion?

If you’re hosting a family reunion, then you might very well be wondering how to go about planning the food.

One piece of advice (and the inspiration behind this article): you could provide the main meats/proteins for the meal, and then ask each family to bring a side dish.

You’ll want to let guests know the following:

  • If there’s a way to reheat their food before serving
  • If there’s a way to keep food heated, throughout (like in a crockpot)
  • If there’s any room in your fridge/garage fridge to keep foods cold
  • What the main meal is, so that they can try to complement it with the side dish
  • Where they can sign up for something so that not everyone brings the same thing (here’s the free MealTrain app)

Remember, easy side dishes for family reunions need to not only take you just a short amount of time to create but be easy to transport, too. Now that we've got these out of the way…I'd love to hear about activities YOUR family always does at your family reunions. We seriously can't be the only cake walkers, right?

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.