12 Strange Foods Brought to Church Potlucks


Many churches still have potluck meals. Some have them once a week; others celebrate this tradition once a year at a homecoming event.

I remember them well in some of the churches where I served as pastor. One of the most challenging issues for me occurs when a church member asks me to try his or her dish. I still have nightmares about those experiences.

So, I went to social media and asked for feedback (pun intended). What are some of the strangest and weirdest dishes you have seen at church potluck meals? We had many responses. It was tough to highlight just twelve of them, but I decided to throw up, I mean throw out, these responses.

I know I left out many good and nauseating responses. These are not listed in any particular order: 

1. Alpo casserole. Yes, a church member admitted that the dog food was the “meat” in the dish.

2. Raccoon. The respondent did not indicate if the raccoon was grilled, baked, or fried. That would make a lot of difference.

3. Rattlesnake. I admit I tried that dish one time. It was both my first and last time.

4. Livermush. Everything about this word bothers me.

5. Grilled chicken feet and intestines. I like chicken. But there are some parts of the chicken I didn’t think you could eat. These two would be among them.

6. Armadillo cake. I had to read it twice. Yes, he did say “cake.”

7. Squirrel pot pie. I hope it was appropriately labeled.

8. Crow. I’ve eaten crow several times, but not literally.

9. Coconut cake brought by a lady that has an indoor white Persian cat. I have never liked coconut. This example is the clincher for me.

10. Pasta covered in Jello. Give the cook bonus points for creativity.

11. Cow hoof stew. No. Just no.

12. Possum dumplings. I wouldn’t eat possum. And I am worried about where they got the dumplings.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of levity in this article. Now, let me hear from you. Do you have any “different” potluck dishes you have seen or experienced?

Posted on July 12, 2021

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Good training for the mission field. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Our church has had “Critter Dinners” for awhile and most of the pots go home empty.

  • My mother, the pastor’s wife, took a horse-meat roast once.

  • Livermush is a North Carolina staple. It is especially found in the western end of the state. When you were at ridgecrest, you could easily have tried some at a local restaurant or picked up a pack at a grocery store. I grew up eating it and love it! Definitely, sounds weird tho:)

  • Robin G Jordan says on

    Thom, you can actually eat chicken feet, but you must simmer them first and then remove the skin from the feet. You then remove the meat from the bone, dice it, and use it in chicken soup. You can stew chicken giblets, remove any bones, and use them in chicken pot pies. Most people saute chicken livers. I am not sure what you mean by “chicken intestines.” Calves hooves are simmered to make broth and gelatin, yes gelatin, the kind that goes to make aspic and Jello! The tails of cattle are used to make ox tail soup for which you will pay a high price at a fancy restaurant. A possum must be soaked in water for 24 hours before it may be baked, according to a Southern recipe cookbook which I own. The author provided the recipe but admitted that she had never cooked a possum. Squirrel stew or fricasseed squirrel is common dish in some parts of the South during squirrel hunting season. In Southeast Louisiana you may find alligator boudin, a Cajun-Creole sausage made from alligator tail meat, at potlucks. You may also encounter Philadelpia cream cheese topped with pepper jelly sauce. If the cream cheese is full fat and the pepper jelly sauce is good quality, this dish makes a good appetizer, served on Ritz crackers or Triscuits. I generally bring my own food to potlucks because I am a vegetarian and I try to eat healthy–something you cannot do at potlucks!

  • John Paris says on

    Wonderful! — but where, oh where, is that fabulous list of ridiculously stingy, weird decisions by church boards that you posted a few years ago. I thought I’d saved it; alas, can’t find it. You know — the one where the board insisted the pastor’s picnic table had to have wheels installed on it so that when his family finished their meal, it could be moved from the back yard of the manse to the back of the church so they would not presumptuously assume it was theirs alone. The 2.5 hour discussion over what donuts to order. Etc. …. Back by popular request? Please?

  • John Hauck says on

    We had a man who used to bring baked squirrel to church potlucks. I had some and thought it tasted great. I grew up hunting with my Dad and we had a lot of rabbit, pheasant, quail, and venison, but never took any of it to church potlucks. My Dad brought some rattlesnake meat home once and I tried it. First and last time. The same with the chocolate covered ants. Something about the crunchiness of the ants was not appealing.

  • Lutherans are famous for potlucks (you might be Lutheran if you carry utensils in your pocket in case there is a potluck). Norwegians are fond of Lutefisk (a gelatinous fish soaked in lye). And since Norwegians tend to be Lutheran…

    I’ll pass on the Lutefisk, please pass the lefse (Norwegian tortillas).

  • Kevin Williford says on

    We were once served Rocky Mtn Oysters at a church dinner where I was preaching in view of a call. My wife commented, “We live in the Rocky Mountains and we don’t have oysters” only to have one of the church ladies whisper in her ear what Rocky Mtn Oysters actually are. To this day, I think her reaction to the revelation is the primary reason why we did not receive a call to that church.

  • Robert Dixon says on

    I was a college student guest at a church potluck meal one Wednesday night. I sat across from a lady who had brought her homemade souse meat to the dinner. To avoid appearing to be rude, I dutifully ate all of the piece I had selected as we chatted across the dinner table. As I finished the last bite she told me, “I made that this morning. I had the awfulest time getting all the hair out of it.”

    I vowed that night I would never ever again eat any ‘mystery food’.

  • mike smith says on

    At one of my former churches a man brought to our annual homecoming dinner turtle stew and baked possum.
    Fortunately, my current church does not observe Homecoming!

  • David Travis says on

    In a celebration at the Hmong Church opening in our association, the leaders were taking me through the buffet line. “You can eat this, you can eat that….that is more of a delicacy.” Then they stopped at one dish and said “Try that.”
    I heaped some on the plate. It was a dish with rice and some meat crumbles.
    We sat down and everyone began to dig in.
    After a few bites, one of the leaders said: “That is some good dog.”
    To answer the obvious question: Sort of tasted like those impossible meat crumbles.

  • Steve Lancaster says on

    Don’t knock possum. Once in Flomaton, Alabama they were having a wild game supper. My co-worker said, “It is not really wild game just deer meat and dry Turkey. If you want some real stuff I can help”. I bought two young and tender possums and based on what I learned from Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies, you had to boil them first, she called them Possum Shanks. After about two hours I took all the meat out and discarded the bones. I kept the “Pot liquor “ as granny would say. I boiled some white rice and once done I layered Rice, possum, rice with several layers. I made a gravy with the Pot Liquor and poured it over the rice and possum and baked it to give it a little color on top. First off I couldn’t get them to believe it was really Possum and Rice. The comments and snickering continued as the judges all got several small servings. They asked, “Did you use thigh meat”, “No I used the whole possum”. So to make things even more interesting the choices were slim that night and I had made a big pan of the possum and rice so nearly everyone got some and not a grain of rice was left. The pastor after the speaker finished, asked who all ate the rice and gravy dish. Lots of positive mubbling and most hands went up. He then announced it won the people’s choice for best meat dish to a round of approving applause. It also won Best Meat dish and overall best dish by the judges. More applause. So the pastor ask me as I got my prize, “Now brother Lancaster was that really Possum and Rice”, and I assured him it was and everyone laughed.
    The following day a young man was doing some painting at our house and he said, “My daddy called me last night and said he ate possum for the first time that you cooked, You really had him fooled”. I really had had enough so I took him to the garage. When people dress a lot of raccoons and possums the custom is to leave one foot with the hair on so you can be sure it is in fact a possum or coon. I showed it to the young man and he looked at that foot like it was the Holy Grail and asked could he have it. His dad called me and his final conclusion was no matter if it was possum it was one of the best tasting things he had ever eaten.

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