[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]
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.
Of course, if you want your popcorn to be a little more candy-like, we’ve got you covered there, too, with Stella’s crispy chocolate version.
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.
Homemade Carr’s-Style Whole Wheat Crackers
If you’re planning on setting out some cheese for snacking, you’ll probably want to throw in some crackers to serve alongside. Sure, you could just go to the store and pick up a sleeve of some cracker-like thing, but you could also go the extra mile and throw together some homemade Carr’s-style whole wheat crackers. The touch of sweetness complements cheeses of all varieties.
Homemade Wheat Thins
In a similar vein, if you throw together a batch of these homemade Wheat Thins, your guests probably won’t believe that you made them yourself, but they’ll probably be happy nonetheless. You may want to double up on the recipe, though, since these are best eaten by the handful, using both hands.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
These homemade tortilla chips are for all the salsa and guac and the dips you’re going to lay out, but they are also the ideal base for nachos. Yes, store bought chips are totally fine and, yes, store-bought chips are super easy on the host, but nothing can compare to a freshly fried chip, liberally salted by your own hand. And for those nachos? We’ve got a nacho recipe roundup in the works, but you can also always rely on our handy-dandy, state-of-the-art nacho generator!
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.
Cuñapes/Pão de Queijo
These delightfully cheesy and chewy dough balls go by a variety of names in South America, but they are invariably delicious. The key to them is a specific type of tapioca starch—you will want to figure out how to get it in advance, as some of the ones more typically available in grocery stores are too finely milled. We strongly suggest you get your hands on sour tapioca starch, since the sour tang it brings to the bread goes quite nicely with the combination of cheeses. Fair warning: They’re pretty addictive.
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits With Garlic and Cheddar
While we’re talking about cheesy bread, it seems appropriate to highlight these cheddary beauties. Aside from their taste, which is Stella-r, these biscuits are not only easy to make and easy to clean up after, but you can also make the dry mix way ahead of time (and that “dry mix” includes the finely shredded cheese) and just combined it with buttermilk when you’re ready to bake the biscuits up.
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.
Chaat-Spiced Chex Mix
Give your guests a sweet-spicy, spiced treat with this chaat-spiced Chex Mix. If they’ve never had chaat, it’ll blow them away; if they have, they’ll probably think you’re a genius for coming up with the Chex Mix combo. Another reason why it’s a great candidate for Game Day is that it can be made way ahead of time.
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.
In the land of the pizza-like things, the bagel bite is the diminutive king. Who doesn’t love bagel bites? No one, that’s who. And after you’ve made the recipe and received praise from all your friends and family, you’ll also know how easy it is to make some of the best bagels you can get anywhere.
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.