Toppings and Side Dishes to Pair With a Baked Potato Bar

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Cucumber-Radish Slaw
Photo: Andy Lyons

A serve-yourself potato bar is one of the easiest buffet party ideas. It's affordable, quick to assemble, and your party guests will enjoy customizing their potatoes with as many tasty toppings you can come up with.

01 of 08

Prep the Party Spuds

Baked potato bar
Andy Lyons

The most important component of a baked potato bar is, of course, the potato. When shopping, opt for russet potatoes—they're perfect for baking and hold their own against an array of different toppings and flavors. Make sure potatoes are firm and well-shaped without wrinkles, sprouts, green spots, or cracks. Then, store them in a cool, dry, dark place.

You can wrap each in foil to keep them warm and serve with a pair of tongs to protect everyone's hands from playing hot potato.

02 of 08

Decide on Toppings

table of baked potato toppings
Andy Lyons

From avocado and pinto beans to bacon, asparagus, and homemade cheese sauce, there's no wrong way to top a potato. Include a selection of chopped veggies, meats, and dairy items—and set them out in small bowls with spoons for easy serving.

Editor's Tip: Additional favorite toppers include roasted red peppers, blanched broccoli, diced onions, diced ham, shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh herbs, sliced hot peppers, sliced olives and crushed tortilla chips.

03 of 08

Set Up the Buffet

white bowls of baked potato toppings
Andy Lyons

Group toppings on an elevated tray to add visual interest and make the buffet more efficient. Put toppings in the order they might get added to the potatoes—for example, put your butter out first, right next to your potatoes. Then add any sauces, sour cream, or meats. And finally, put out freshly chopped veggies and shredded or grated cheese before your salsa, avocado chunks, or bacon bits. An appetizer serving set ($24, Kohl's) is perfect for holding all the toppings.

04 of 08

Try Topping Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Sundae Bar
Douglas Merriam

Sweet potatoes are nutritious, super versatile, and delicious! You can top them with savory ingredients like bacon, cheese, and herbs or add sweet flavors like marshmallows, brown sugar, and nuts. Our favorite sweet potato toppers are goat cheese, pecans, and dried cranberries.

Sweet potatoes can have sweet or savory toppings (or both!) so don't waste the opportunity for a dessert-themed buffet. Make your own marshmallow to top baked sweet potatoes, and set out other sweet-but-savory treats, like chocolate-dipped bacon.

05 of 08

Ready the Drinks

Bloody mary drink station
Andy Lyons

Impress party guests with already-made cocktails that fit the casual party theme. Put a twist on the traditional Bloody Mary (with light beer instead of vodka) and a classic lemonade shandy (with ginger ale) in clear pitchers ($7, Bed Bath & Beyond). Don't forget the ice—estimate one pound per guest—and veggie garnishes (such as celery and pickles) for the spicy beer Mary and ginger beer shandy.

06 of 08

Add a Few Side Dishes

Baked potato bar side dishes
Andy Lyons

Round out your party menu with various side dishes like sausage bites and fried chicken tenders. Take away party-day stress by making each side dish ahead of time, and prep a dish or two (such as the sausage bites) in the slow cooker ($50, Bed Bath & Beyond) to keep them warm throughout the party.

Editor's Tip: Place dipping sauces on a platter with the chicken tenders—that way, no one will confuse them as potato toppers.

07 of 08

Side Dish: Cucumber-Radish Slaw

Cucumber-Radish Slaw
Andy Lyons

The best part about this so-easy cucumber radish slaw is it won't fill guests up -- it makes a great complementary side for baked potatoes. Thin slices of cucumbers and radishes give this potluck-perfect salad a delicious crunch, while a simple five-ingredient dressing adds a boost of flavor. Plus, it only takes 20 minutes to prep.

08 of 08

Use the Leftovers

Twice-Baked New Potatoes

If you have any leftover baked potatoes, use them for dinners later in the week: Our tasty twice-baked potato recipes will help you transform them into a brand new meal. Try our twice-baked potato dump casserole.

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