Super Bowl party snacks can be divided into eleven different food groups; dips, nachos, bites, sandwiches, chili, pizza, jalapeno poppers, Buffalo sauce, dessert, drinks and grilling. We're going to cover all of them except for grilling since you probably have some idea how to throw edible things onto a a hot fire.
Before we get to the food though, just a few other tips for a successful Super Bowl party spread. First, make sure you have enough ice. Secondly, make sure you have enough ice and you have provided either a scoop or a clean cup to get the ice out of the bin for drinks. No one wants ice people have been sticking their grubby, Buffalo sauce covered fingers into all day.
Have something to put on the TV during the pregame as background. Sure, you could watch Nick Cannon hosting a celebrity red carpet event -- let that sink in a bit, "Nick Cannon hosting a celebrity red carpet event" -- for the Super Bowl arrivals, or you could actually watch some football. Has your team recently won a Super Bowl? Congratulations! You probably own some sort of road-to-the-Super-Bowl DVD set. Pick your favorite game from that year and put it on in the background. Your team hasn't gone to the Super Bowl since the days of VHS? That's a shame. If you poke around Hulu you can find some vintage Super Bowl highlights, or you can put on what is arguable one of the greatest football movies ever made, the original THE LONGEST YARD starting Burt Reynolds via Netflix.
Make sure you have all the little betting squares and whatever other betting pools you want to run finished at least half-hour before kickoff. Too many times have I seen people scrambling to make pools on scraps of paper just as the national anthem is about to start.
Giants and Patriots fans: Remove all valuable, breakable items from your home. Win or lose, at some point during the game you're going to want to smash something and those David Tyree "Catch" and Adam Vinateri "Kick" Hummel figurines aren't cheap.
To the snacks!
In all of my years playing around with different spinach and artichoke dips, there has yet to be one that tops Cooking Light's Spinach and Artichoke Dip. If calories don't bother you, make it with regular cream cheese and sour cream for a richer dip. And if you don't feel like messing around thawing spinach and having to wring it dry, wilt a couple of bags of fresh spinach in a dry skillet over medium heat.
Add a little dash of Old Bay to this Baked Crab Dip for one of the tastiest hot dips I've ever served at a party. It's never made it past halftime.
Blue Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Dip. Now, I don't want to say this recipe is the basis of my friendship with Clare, but I will say that when saw this recipe not too long after we met, I knew we would be fast friends despite her unfailing love for Philadelphia sports teams. Creamy blue cheese and caramelized shallots make for a sophisticated dip for those looking to move beyond the same old French onion number.
My personal two favorite recipes from the 2011-2012 football season, Spicy Pickle Dip and a Smoky Chipotle Bacon Pimento Cheese. Doubling the Smoky Chipotle Bacon Pimento Cheese recipe should be mandatory, because there never seems like there is enough of it for the game. And don't worry, if you're one of those people who says, "But I don't like pimento cheese!" Trust. You'll love this one.
Kansas City BBQ Nachos. Pork in barbeque sauce, spicy beans and coleslaw layered with cheese on chips? What's not to love. Most of these things you can find pre-made at your local grocer if you're in a hurry, but if you have the time, I recommend making your own barbeque pork or brisket for these.
If you're looking just for a nice melty nacho cheese sauce for dipping that doesn't involve a giant yellow block of processed yellow "cheez," this Spicy Nacho Cheese Sauce from Tammy's Recipes is darn near perfect. Adjust how thick or thin you like your sauce by reducing the amount of milk and adding more cream cheese or by adding more milk.
You'd be hard pressed to find a sports bars with a name that starts O'Tam'Dublin'Mc'Green in this country that doesn't serve a version of Irish Nachos. Just because they are not the most traditional Irish dish doesn't mean they're not any good, and this version is excellent for making at home.
Speaking of non-traditional, we can't stop making Greek Nachos around here on game day. Fresh vegetables tossed in a homemade Greek vinaigrette over warm hummus, feta and pita chips. Dare I say these nachos are refreshing?
Some snack ideas are so good, I'm jealous I didn't think of them first. That's how I feel about Mini Corn Dog Muffins over at Iowa Girl Eats. I can tell you, homemade corn dogs are a lot of work (mostly because someone almost always falls into the deep fryer), and making little mini muffins of corn meal batter with a hot dog piece stuck in them is pretty clever. Don't want to deal with making your own corn meal batter, this recipe for Corn Dog Muffins uses a muffin mix instead.
Whip up a few different aiolis and make like the Belgians with these Perfect French Fries from Series Eats. Yep, twice frying your fries is always the key to a great fry.
Country Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Mustard from Chef Edward Lee are a great entry-level pretzel for people who are afraid of yeast and baking. This recipe hasn't failed me yet and the jalapeno mustard dipping sauce is now a permanent fixture among our condiments.
Last season, each time I made Sriracha Fried Pickles the Steelers won. This year when I made them, they lost. Lucky foods are so fickle sometimes.
And for the people who like bacon with their foods? Bourbon Bacon Popcorn and Bacon Cheddar Doughnut Holes. They sound difficult, but they are two of the easiest recipes around. Plus, you can make the Bourbon Bacon Popcorn a day or two before the Super Bowl, saving yourself some time on game day.
Want to have your favorite Southern fast-food chicken sandwich on Super Bowl Sunday? Too bad. They're closed. Fortunately the brilliant Gurgling Cod is here to remind you that you can make your own damn Rick-Fil-A sandwich in just a few easy steps.
My Baking Addiction's Easy Crock-Pot Pulled Pork recipe is exactly what it is promised to be; easy. I stopped looking for new pulled pork recipes after I made this one for the first time. It's nearly perfect. Make it with a smaller pork loin if you need less meat, using the same amount of marinade for best results. Pair with this coleslaw recipe from Gourmet on a soft bun and got a nice little sandwich. If you like your slaw a little spicier, toss in a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Ham Stuffed Biscuits with Mustard Butter are great if you are hosting a big party, but if it's a smaller affair just use the mustard butter and use prepared biscuits.
I'm a big fan of making sandwiches ahead of time and letting the flavor develop when I can, which is why I make my Italian Pressed Sandwich pretty frequently. This is a good sandwich if you need to bring something to a potluck at your friend's Super Bowl get together. When you want to say to heck with calories, Italian Sausage Parmesan on Garlic Toasted Rolls is the way to go.
You want a chili that's going to make you sweat? This Poblano White Chili knocks me and my guests on our collective keisters every time. It usually isn't until people stop sweating that they realize it's vegetarian. Pretty sure we barely made it through a Thursday night game eating this painfully delicious chili.
If chili to you means you have to have meat, then how about a Brisket Chili that gets an extra kick from coffee, cayenne and red pepper flakes. It's another hot one, so have plenty of soda and beer on hand.
Not enough chili discussions involve one of my favorite tailgating treats, Frito pie. The Homesick Texan's One Hour Texas Chili Frito Pie is great for beef eaters in a hurry, but I'm a little partial to my own slow-cooked Chicken Mole Chili Frito Pie.
Instead of store bought pizza rolls, try these Pizza Bites from Annie's Eats. Puffy dough balls are filled with pepperoni and cheese, sprinkled with Italian seasoning then served with sauce for dipping. Much easier to make sure you get a good pepperoni in your roll if you stuff it yourself.
Want a fancy pizza? Switch things up a bit and make Los Angeles's baking legend Nancy Silverton's focaccia. The Onion Sage and Olive and Rosemary focaccia make for beautiful little sponges of crunchy yet soft favor.
If you want something like a focaccia but with the tomato and cheese topping, I've never made a pizza at home that comes out as good as Sicilian Sfincione, and you don't even need a pizza stone.
Jalapeno Popper Things
First, you have your basic Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper. Then you have what Texans call Armadillo Eggs, which are basically jalapeno poppers wrapped in sausage and then grilled or baked. Or you can go the other way and make a Jalapeno Popper Dip. Nice crunchy topping on that one.
What I've found to be the easiest -- and the spiciest -- is a Smoky Habanero-Jalapeno Popper Bread. This spicy cheesy bread can be prepared ahead of time and baked when ready to serve, making it perfect if you want to make something a little extra during halftime.
Buffalo Flavored Things
For fried Buffalo wings without having to deal with the hassle of bones, these Deep Fried Buffalo Chicken Skewers come out surprisingly well, as do Buffalo Chicken Wontons, while Shredded Buffalo Chicken Wraps are an easy way to get your Buffalo fix in without all the fat of frying. Want to get a taste of the spicy Buffalo seasoning without the chicken? Buffalo Snack Mix is addicting, or you can take the time to make Blue Cheese Pierogies with Buffalo Sauce or cook frozen pierogies in a similar seasoning mix.
Special aside for the Every Day Should Be Saturday commenters: Thanks for linking to my Buffalo Chicken Dip every so often in the comments over the past how many years after Holly Anderson first posted it in the Digital Viking (RIP). I'm always flattered to see it come up from time to time.
No mixing; just layer melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, nuts, shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk then bake. They truly are Magic Bars.
Ally from Southern Fried Football introduced me to these great Nutella and Banana Wontons last season. Perfect match of chocolate, banana and crunch. If you can't trust a woman who went to Georgia who married a man who went to Alabama with tailgating ideas, then I don't know who you can trust.
I've had a lot of success over the years with these Chocolate-Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies, but after their victory on Championship Weekend two weeks ago, the new star around here are Sweet Potato Pie Bites with Toasted Marshmallow Creme.
This Artichoke Paté calls for removing the skins off of almonds yourself, but stop by your local bulk bin store or nut roaster and you should be able buy the nuts already blanched.
White Bean Spread with Sage is sublime with baked pita chips, crostini or crudite.
Rick Bayless's Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Cilantro is super light and easy to make. Spoon it into small tortilla cups for serving and you'll have plenty for a good sized gathering.
My own favorite treats when I want something lighter? Veggie Sloppy Joes on wheat buns and Toasted Sesame Edamame Dip with baked wonton chips.
Ice. I cannot say it enough, have enough ice at the party, at least two pounds per person, more if you're offering a lot of drinks with mixers.
The best idea for Super Bowl drinks is to have a selection of different regional craft beers. Since I'm a West Coast beer snob, Stone, Eel River, Lost Abby, Bruery, Russian River, Lagunitas, Craftsman; they're my poison. The East Coast is blessed with Victory, Dogfish, Brooklyn Brewery, Allagash. You should pick up any and all of these breweries' beers.
Frozen drinks can be really distracting to make during the game, but sometimes it's nice to have something that isn't a beer. Making Lime Sorbet Margaritas is perfect comprise. Put sorbet in glass, pour in tequila. Done.
While this guide may seem long, it's nothing compared to the off-season. Enjoy the last of the 2011-2012 season while you can.
Sarah writes about sports, food and Los Angeles at sarahsprague.com.