Super Bowl parties are about three things: food, beer, and commercials. Oh, wait—four things, if you count football, but I'm mainly in it for the first three, and especially the food. And within the food category, I'm especially-especially in it for the snacks. Considering that much of your guests' time will be spent lounging in front of the TV, if you're hosting a Super Bowl get-together this year, this is one of those occasions where you may want to devote even more attention and effort to the snacks, starters, and finger foods you'll serve than to your entrees.
Your best, most broadly pleasing bet is going to be just-fatty-and-greasy-enough munchables that aren't too sloppy to be eaten on the couch. Homemade potato chips and popcorn are a good start, but we've also got recipes for the best fully loaded (and evenly topped) nachos, crispy onion rings, and a few crazy/genius mashups (pizzadillas! poutine poppers!) that will no doubt win you the Vince Lombardi Trophy of Super Bowl Party Throwers.
4 Awesome Homemade Potato Chip Flavors
Buying a bag of potato chips is the path of least resistance of game-day snacks, requiring zero effort and yielding a fully predictable, if not mind-blowing, outcome. Homemade chips, though, offer endless unexpectedly delicious options. Parboil potato slices, fry them until crisp, and then add a flavor scheme, like miso soup (using miso soup mix and crumbled nori) or chicken dinner (nutritional yeast, dried mushrooms, lemon zest, granulated garlic, and thyme).
7 Popcorn Flavors to Upgrade Your Snacking
Like chips, popcorn is made immensely better—and more interesting—when it's dressed up with homemade seasoning blends. You can try one of the same flavoring combinations we recommend for chips, or provide a sweet counterpoint to other salty snacks with a blend of matcha and white chocolate or brown butter and maple syrup. Personally, I love the bagna cauda popcorn best—it's made with anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and melted butter.
The Ultimate Fully Loaded Nachos
If your idea of nachos involves burying tortilla chips with most of the contents of your cabinets, this is the recipe you've been looking for. To avoid a common pitfall of most loaded nacho plates—some chips getting smothered while others remain bare—spread your chips out in two layers on rimmed baking sheets, leaving a space in the center for guacamole and sour cream, then bake. Home-fried tortilla chips will stand up better than store-bought to the weight of the toppings—including refried and black beans and, yes, three types of cheese (grated cheddar, cotija, and nacho sauce).
Real Texas Nachos
Everything's bigger in Texas—except for nachos. Real "Texas-style" nachos are quite modest, adding just grated Longhorn cheese and a single slice of pickled jalapeño to each chip. However, if you're willing to break with tradition (and don't have any Texans on your guest list), a little refried beans or sour cream wouldn't hurt.
Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos) With Cheese Sauce, Charred-Tomato Salsa, Chorizo, and Pickled Jalapeños
Everyone's had nachos made with plain old tortilla chips before. Not everyone has had the opportunity to be wowed by totchos—crispy fried tater tots with all the nacho trimmings. We top our totchos with homemade cheese sauce, charred-tomato salsa, chorizo, and fresh vegetables. Even coverage is key here—make sure to layer your tots and other ingredients so that every tot enjoys equal attention from the toppings.
The Best French Bread Pizza
Sure, your guests all love pizza, but we're willing to bet they love garlic bread just as much, and this recipe combines the best of both. Start with a loaf of soft bread—no crusty baguettes allowed!—brush on garlic butter, lightly sprinkle the top with cheese, and then bake. The cheese will act as a protective barrier, letting you assemble the rest of the pizza without getting the bread soggy.
The Best English Muffin Pepperoni Pizza
Speaking of pizza-like objects, English muffin pepperoni pizzas are both convenient handheld appetizers and fun throwbacks to the days of after-school snacks. The technique behind them isn't much different from making a regular pizza, except that we crisp the pepperoni in a skillet before assembling the pizzas—otherwise, it'll end up underdone thanks to the relatively short cooking time.
Pizzadilla (Quesadilla Pizza)
How do you make a crispy bar-style pizza even better? You marry it with a pizza-themed quesadilla, obviously. Start by building the quesadilla, using flour tortillas and stuffing them with pizza sauce and mozzarella. Once it's crispy in the skillet, top it with more sauce and cheese, basil, pepperoni, and any other pizza toppings you can dream up.
Crispy Deep-Fried Jalapeño Poppers
Jalapeño poppers made with halved peppers, while delicious, are often too big to eat comfortably (without a knife and fork, that is, which are off-limits in this roundup). We use cross sections instead to create bite-size pieces that are far easier to, well, pop. For a coating that's crisp but not overly thick, double-dredge 'em—first in milk and flour, then in milk and bread crumbs.
Crispy and Gooey Baked Jalapeño Poppers
Deep-frying is the natural route to crispy, pleasantly greasy poppers, but if you don't want the responsibility of minding a hot pan of oil while you're entertaining—who can blame you?—this oven-baked option will be a lifesaver. Just make sure to brush them with fat before baking to infuse them with a little of that deep-fried flavor.
Poutine Poppers (Cheese-Stuffed Potato Bites With Brown Gravy)
Poutine, the Canadian junk-food staple of French fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy, has all the fatty, meaty flavors of a great game-day snack. It's also dangerously messy, and hard to enjoy fully without utensils. These cheese curd–filled potato croquettes with a gravy dip on the side will fill the bill just as effectively and are much tidier to serve and eat.
Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs
Buffalo wings deserve a spot on any list of Super Bowl finger foods—and, in fact, we've got a whole collection of wing recipes coming up soon. But the beloved Buffalo flavor combination is good for more than just chicken, as exemplified in these deviled eggs, whose filling is spiked with Frank's Red Hot, blue cheese, and celery.
Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Waffles
One of our proudest moments at Serious Eats was when we discovered that by rolling up ingredients in puff pastry and cooking them in a waffle iron, you can make a crispy, flaky waffle sandwich stuffed with—well, just about anything you'd want to stuff inside a crispy, flaky waffle sandwich. This Buffalo version uses shredded chicken, blue cheese, and Frank's Red Hot, for all the flavors of Buffalo wings assembled in one beautiful package.
Waffle Iron "Fried" Cheese (Queso Frito)
There's something so delightfully rich about fried cheese, which makes it a real downer that subpar mozzarella sticks are probably its most common incarnation on Super Bowl Sunday. Use your waffle iron instead to "fry" squares of breaded cheese (low-moisture mozzarella works well). The squares will get crunchy on the outside while the insides become melty and gooey, and waffling cheese is a snap compared to frying it in oil. Bonus: The divots made by the waffle iron are perfect for scooping up salsa or other sauces.
Bacon, Bratwurst, and Beer Cheese Potato Skins
Topped with bacon and bratwurst, plus beer-infused cheese and onions, these potato skins don't hold back. To get the skins good and crunchy, bake them twice: once before scooping them out, and once after. Brush them with bacon fat before both trips into the oven to aid in browning and crisping.
The Food Lab's Foolproof Onion Rings
A perfect onion ring is a thing of beauty, but tough to find. Among the many things that can and do go wrong with onion rings, the worst is arguably undercooked onion that pulls away from the breading in a single strand when you bite in. The solution: Freeze the onions first, which tenderizes them and makes their outer membranes easy to remove.
Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots
These crispy, puffy garlic knots are made with little more than pizza dough, cheese, garlic, pepperoni, and herbs, and, thanks to the powerful flavors of those components, you can feel free to use a store-bought pizza dough. They do need to rest for several hours, but assemble them the night before the game and practically all of the work will be done.
Cornbread-Coated Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Wedges
Is there any game-day appetizer that's just too fatty, gooey, or over-the-top? We doubt it, though it's fair to say that these unbelievable wedges of fried pulled pork and mac and cheese will test that theory. Start by sandwiching pulled pork between layers of macaroni and cheese (leftovers work well here—perhaps from Super Bowl Eve dinner?), then cut the resulting sandwich into triangles, dip the triangles in cornbread batter, and fry them up.