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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  • I can’t add to the list but I have had a “kitchen lady” whisper “Don’t eat so and so’s dish. She’s not clean.” They we’re looking out for the new pastor’s family.

  • Charlie Moulton says on

    Hillarious post-Dr. Rainer!

  • My grandmother said possum was a common food for rural people during the Great Depression. They called them “Hoover hogs”.

  • I have to put in a good word for livermush! Livermush is a Southern US pork food product prepared using pig liver, parts of pig heads, cornmeal and spices. By law in North Carolina, the product must consist of at least 30% pig liver. It is a regional cuisine that is common in Western North Carolina. Livermush festivals are held in Shelby and Marion, NC. Many restaurants in WNC have livermush on their menus.
    The meat ingredients are all cooked and then ground, after which the cornmeal and seasoning is added. The final mixture is formed into blocks which are then refrigerated. It typically has a low fat content and a high protein content. For those of us raised on livermush, it is delicious!

  • Christopher Helton says on

    At a Lutheran church founded by Norwegian Americans, my wife and I were warned in no uncertain terms to politely decline any offers of lutefisk, white fish pickled in lye! The warning came from a prominent member of the church’s Norwegian Society. If an old Norwegian didn’t like the stuff, we knew we should avoid it.

    As to Thom’s list, I have to disagree with one dish (but only one!): livermush. I love the stuff! Grew up eating it in North Carolina. Fried livermush makes a great sandwich, but we also ate it as the entree at supper. To each their own, I suppose.

  • Candice says on

    My hope is someone responsible at the respective churches removed them from
    the buffet.

    I cannot imagine this happening, and I thought the icky serving dishes along with
    the church member with poor hygiene were bad!

    Post Covid, maybe these church buffets will be relegated to the dustbin.

  • Terry Lowder says on

    I saw a menu board at a church meeting and on the menu it read: Today – Bread Bowels Soup and Salad

  • Lillian Carpenter says on

    I think it would be really, really hard to top this list. My stomach turned somersaults at the thought of these. It has been years since I used the popular teenage terminology of gross, but these – they are just gross. I got to thinking though – what if some of these same folks cooked something “normal” the next potluck? Would I really want to eat it? That would be a big NO.

  • Debbie Eddington says on

    Ohmygosh! That list is both gross and hilarious! We’ve been in ministry for years and we’ve seen some very questionable meals. I don’t think they can top this list though.

  • We had someone bring sardines and another brought hog-head cheese with crackers.

  • Norris Landry says on

    O WOW!!!
    Thats all I can say.

  • Jeff Peed says on

    The “dessert table” at church pot luck was always my favorite table. I always took a dinner plate to it [as a pastor, you have to have a bite of everything (don’t want to offend anyone, ya know ?)]. As far as strange dishes though, we had an elderly lady congregant who would open a can of asparagus, pour it out on a plate and call it good.