I'm a football fan, but I recognize that Super Bowl parties are less about the game and more about the food (and the beer and commercials, of course). We've got all kinds of game day recipes coming for you in the next couple weeks, but today is all about snacks, since finger-friendly appetizers are one of the best things to serve your guests. Homemade popcorn and chips are a good starting point, but if you're playing to win, bring out some more exciting dishes, like Korean-inspired nachos topped with bulgogi, jalapeño poppers two ways, or spicy Thai-style shrimp cakes.
4 Awesome Homemade Potato Chip Flavors
Pretty much the laziest, most predictable option when it comes to feeding a party is buying a bag of potato chips. No one's going to complain, but it's boring. It's far more interesting to make your own chips. Not only do they come out crispy and delicious, but you can experiment with unusual flavorings—miso soup mix and crumbled nori is one of my favorite combinations.
7 Popcorn Flavors to Upgrade Your Snacking
The flavor combinations we use for homemade chips also work great on popcorn. We've got a few others, too, like a sweet combination of matcha and white chocolate or Italian-inspired bagna cauda (anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and butter). As for making the popcorn itself, our brown-bag microwave method is as easy as it gets.
Cheez-Its are always a popular snack, and this homemade version is even better than the original. Most Cheez-Its clones are made with butter and water, but we use cream for a richer flavor. To give the dough the right texture we use a microplane instead of a box grater for the cheese. A sharp yellow cheddar like Tillamook or Cabot is the most obvious way to go here, but Manchego makes for a fun variation.
Real Texas Nachos
Texas-style nachos are surprisingly modest, considering that they hail from a state where everything is supposed to be bigger. They're individually composed, and the chips are topped with a little grated Longhorn cheese and a slice of pickled jalapeño. Refried beans and sour cream aren't traditional, but they're tasty additions.
The Ultimate Fully Loaded Nachos
Personally, I don't think nachos should be modest. I want my nachos loaded, and this recipe more than delivers, with chips buried in a mountain of toppings: black and refried beans, pickled jalapeños, pico de gallo, sour cream, crema, guacamole, three kinds of cheese. Assembling the nachos with two layers ensures that no chip goes un-topped.
Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos) With Cheese Sauce, Charred-Tomato Salsa, Chorizo, and Pickled Jalapeños
These look a lot like our loaded nachos, topped with homemade cheese sauce, salsa, chorizo, and more. The difference is that we ditch the boring old tortilla chips and replace them with crispy tater tots. As with chip-based nachos, it's important to layer the tots and toppings for even coverage.
Another unusual twist on nachos, this Korean-inspired recipe tops fried wontons with bulgogi, caramelized kimchi, gochujang cheese sauce, and lime sour cream. Ribeye is the most traditional choice for making the bulgogi, but other, tender, marbled cuts like sirloin will work too. A marinade made with Asian pear makes the beef extra tender.
Thai-Style Shrimp Cakes With Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
There's no reason game-day snacks have to be junk food. For a more refined option, try these Thai-style shrimp cakes, nicely spicy from jalapeños and beautifully green from a big handful of cilantro. You can serve them with our homemade sweet chili dipping sauce, or simply doctor up store-bought sauce with fish sauce and lime juice.
Hoisin-Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
This updated version of old-school cocktail meatballs starts with a 50/50 blend of pork and beef, which we bind with panko and egg, mix gently, roll into balls, and bake. What really sets them apart is the hoisin-based glaze flavored with ketchup, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Feel free to make the meatballs ahead of time—they freeze and reheat wonderfully.
Pretzel Bao With Sweet Sesame-Hot Mustard Pork
Pretzels are an iconic sports snack, but these are a little different than what you'll find at a stadium. In a bit of German-Chinese fusion, we stuff pretzel buns with roast pork mixed with mustard. The combination of pork and mustard is reminiscent of German senfbraten, but instead of German mustard, we use Chinese hot mustard mixed with sesame paste, honey, and chives.
The Best French Bread Pizza
While it might conjure up memories of the school cafeteria, French bread pizza is a thing of beauty when done right. To make it, we start by loading up bread (we're talking supermarket "French" bread here, not real baguettes) with garlic butter, then we melt on a thin layer of cheese. This protects the bread from getting soggy when you add the sauce and a final layer of cheese.
The Best English Muffin Pepperoni Pizza
Sticking with pizza-like objects, English muffins are another great choice for topping with sauce and cheese. Making an English muffin pizza really isn't that much different than making a regular pizza. One thing to keep in mind is that if you're using pepperoni (and you absolutely should), fry it up in a skillet first—the rest of the pizza cooks too quickly for it to crisp properly.
Pizzadilla (Quesadilla Pizza)
Our bar-style tortilla pizzas would already make good Super Bowl snacks, but these pizzadillas are even better. You start by making a pizza quesadilla, stuffing flour tortillas with pizza sauce and mozzarella. Once the quesadilla crisps up you finish it like our tortilla pizza with more sauce and cheese, basil, and whatever other toppings you'd like.
Crispy Deep-Fried Jalapeño Poppers
I love jalapeño poppers in theory, but in practice they can be too hard to eat—you have to try to bite through the pepper and end up with cheese and grease everywhere. The solution is to use jalapeño cross sections instead of the typical half peppers, which creates bite-sized poppers that are way less messy to eat.
Crispy and Gooey Baked Jalapeño Poppers
Another problem with jalapeño poppers: Deep-frying is a lot of work when there's a game to watch. This oven-baked recipe makes crispy poppers without a pot of scalding oil. We fill the poppers with a gooey cheese sauce made of Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar and brush them with fat before baking to help replicate the flavors you get from frying.
Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs
Few foods are as closely associated with the Super Bowl as Buffalo wings. Next week we'll have a whole collection of wing recipes, but chicken wings aren't the only thing that taste good Buffalo-style. Case in point: these deviled eggs, which take the standard mayo and egg yolk filling and add Frank's Red Hot, blue cheese, and celery.
Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Waffles
One of our favorite alternative uses for a waffle iron is to roll up tasty ingredients in puff pastry and cook them into a crispy, flaky waffle sandwich. We've come up with half a dozen variations, but for game day the obvious choice is this Buffalo chicken puff pastry waffle, made with shredded chicken, blue cheese, and Frank's.
Waffle Iron "Fried" Cheese (Queso Frito)
Don't put the waffle iron away yet—we use it to make one of the best takes on mozzarella sticks you'll ever have. We cut out squares of low-moisture mozz (though other melting cheeses work), coat them in a simple breading, then "fry" them in the waffle iron until crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. It's easier than deep-frying, and the divots from the waffle iron help to scoop up salsa.
Bacon, Bratwurst, and Beer Cheese Potato Skins
The most important part of potato skins are, well, the skins. Few things are less appetizing than dry, leathery potato skins. To make sure they're crispy, we bake the potatoes twice, coating them with bacon fat each time. For the filling we go with a combination that makes this Cheesehead proud: caramelized onions, brats cooked in beer, and creamy beer cheese.
The Food Lab's Foolproof Onion Rings
As beautiful as a perfect onion ring is, most onion rings fail in a variety of ways. Burned onions, too-thick breading, and split shells are bad, but the ultimate failure is when the onion is undercooked and slides out of the breading in a single strand when you try to take a bite. The easiest way to tenderize the onions? Just freeze them after cutting.
Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots
This easy snack is impressive enough to take some attention away from the game, but is made with little more than pizza dough, cheese, garlic, pepperoni, and herbs. Better still, it turns out just fine with store-bought pizza dough. The most time-intensive part is just letting the dough rest, but you can assemble the dish the night before—all you'll have to do on Sunday is stick it in the oven half an hour before kickoff.