There's nothing quite like gathering a group of sports fanatics together at home to watch a live game on the big screen television. The excitement is palpable, and the enthusiasm infectious. And while the game is the focus of the get-together, snacks are necessary. They not only help to keep everyone fueled through endless commercials and halftime entertainment, but they are also a must for soaking up all the libations consumed during the inevitable drinking games.
While many of us have staple recipes we are known for and that our guests expect to be served, sometimes it is fun to mix things up and try out a new dish just for the heck of it. That's where the Daily Meal recipe developers come in. They have created some delicious, creative, simple appetizers, dips, finger foods, and desserts that will surely be a hit at your next game day event. Read on for the ultimate game day recipe inspiration.
Snack-Worthy Pesto Brie Bites
These pesto brie bites are as easy as they are elegant. With just four ingredients necessary to pull these together, you can't go wrong. While this recipe relies on plain store-bought crescent rolls, several varieties, like Sweet Hawaiian and Honey Butter, are now available. The sweeter dough pairs delightfully with the creamy brie, bright pesto, and umami-rich sun-dried tomatoes.
For those unaccustomed to working with brie, the rind of this cheese is edible and does not need to be removed before eating. If brie is not your thing, substitute it with a different cheese, like chevre or boursin.
Recipe: Snack-Worthy Pesto Brie Bites
Beet And Sweet Potato Taquitos
While these taquitos are a vegetarian delight, they are a recipe carnivores cannot resist. Earthy, sweet, savory, and spicy, the filling is as complex as it is colorful. If you cannot find pre-steamed beets, do not substitute pickled canned ones. They have a completely different flavor.
Cooking fresh beats is easy. Cut off the leaves and stems, wash them, and wrap them in aluminum foil. Place them on a baking sheet and roast for approximately one hour at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or until the beets are paring knife tender. The peels are easy to remove, and the natural sugars in the beet will caramelize, making them sweeter.
Recipe: Beet and Sweet Potato Taquitos
Air Fryer Jerk Chicken Wings
The beauty of this recipe is that it uses an air fryer, eliminating the mess of dealing with a vat of oil and delivering crisp skin without all the fat. There are a couple of keys to making wings in the air fryer.
First, you will want to pat the wings dry before coating them in oil and seasoning them. And do not overload the air fryer basket. If you do, air cannot circulate evenly around the wings, resulting in soggy skin. It is best to work in batches, giving you a steady flow of hot wings.
Recipe: Air Fryer Jerk Chicken Wings
3-Ingredient Pigs In A Blanket
Miniature cocktail wieners enveloped in crescent roll dough are finger foods that elicit powerful nostalgic memories for many of us. While there is nothing wrong with cocktail wieners in this recipe, there are several different options you can substitute for an elevated, more flavorful iteration of this dish.
Chunks of Kielbasa, Andouille, or cheddar-stuffed sausage can be used, resulting in something even more special. And if you are looking for a distinctive dipping sauce, try whipping up a spicy honey mustard dipping sauce with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, honey, and a dollop of sriracha or funky gochujang.
Recipe: 3-Ingredient Pigs in a Blanket
Jalapeño Popper Sausage Balls
This appetizer is the ultimate mash-up of two finger foods — sausage balls and jalapeño poppers. The result is something irresistible that your guests will devour in minutes. Since this recipe calls for chopped, raw jalapeños, you will want to take care of how you handle these spicy peppers.
It is always best to wear disposable gloves when handling jalapeños. Most of the heat in these peppers resides in the seeds and stems. If you prefer these balls on the milder side, you will want to remove those before chopping the pepper. And make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.
Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Sausage Balls
Easy White Chicken Chili
Chili is always a great idea for game day. It is hearty and can easily pair with other finger foods. This one is particularly great because it uses pre-cooked chicken to expedite things when you may already be in a hurry to get everything together for your party. A store-bought rotisserie chicken is ideal for this purpose.
Be careful not to stray too far from this recipe toward the end of cooking. Once the cream and shredded cheese is added, it can easily scorch on the bottom of the pan if you do not stir regularly.
Recipe: Easy White Chicken Chili
Dippable Crab Rangoon
A classic Crab Rangoon recipe involves a lot of labor to stuff, seal, and fry delicate wonton wrappers with a filling of cream cheese and imitation crab. This recipe takes the flavors of that filling, turning it into a gooey dip with crisp baked wonton wrappers becoming the delivery vessels into your mouth.
The secret ingredient that gives this dip its zip is the funky, fermented Korean hot sauce known as gochujang. This umami-rich condiment amps up the flavor and confers a bright color. If you prefer real crab, canned lump or leg meat will suffice. Just be sure to drain it before use.
Recipe: Dippable Crab Rangoon
Perfect Party-Pleasing Pimento Cheese
Often known as the "paté of the South," pimento cheese dip is a Southern classic that finds its way onto virtually every church potluck spread. This version sticks true to the classic, using just four simple ingredients.
The star of the show is the jarred pimento, a mild, petite pepper with a distinctive flavor that comes pickled in a jar. While you can substitute jarred roasted red peppers, they have a different taste and aroma. It is best to stick to the classic. Place the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined for a creamier texture.
Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball
Cheese balls may have been all the rage in the '70s, but they have become somewhat passé of late. No matter how cheesy they may sound, few things are as nostalgic as a cheese ball. This one is impossibly easy and versatile. While it calls for shredded cheddar and almonds, you can opt for any combination you enjoy.
Try swapping the shredded cheddar with pepper jack for something spicy or an Italian cheese blend. For the nuts, roasted and chopped pistachios, macadamia nuts, or cashews are distinct and elegant. Whatever you don't finish, spread onto bread for an exciting twist on a grilled cheese sandwich.
Recipe: Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball
Classic (For A Reason) Deviled Eggs
This deviled egg recipe relies on a couple of interesting ingredients for an extra pop of flavor. The first is sweet pickle juice. The vinegar, salt, water, and sugar combine for a distinct sweet-tart flavor that brightens the filling. The second is dried dill, which lends color and a citrusy, grassy, somewhat licorice-forward flavor.
Though paprika may be a garnish, don't skimp on the quality of the one you use. A bright red, fresh smoked hot Hungarian or Spanish paprika can jazz up your deviled eggs and complement the distinct flavors of the pickle juice and dill.
Old-Fashioned, Party-Pleasing Deviled Eggs
When choosing eggs to hard boil, do not go out of your way to find the freshest ones. Fresh eggs are more challenging to peel than slightly older ones. Allow the eggs to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before hard boiling them to help keep whites supple and make the shell easier to peel.
While this classic recipe calls for using a piping bag to create beautifully stuffed deviled eggs, a resealable plastic bag will work just as well. Place the filling into the bag and cut off the tip of one of the bottom edges.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Buffalo chicken wings are the bomb but are messy and labor-intensive. This dip gives you all of the flavor without the clean-up. It also uses pre-cooked chicken, an ideal way to use leftover roast or baked chicken from the night before.
If you aren't a blue cheese fan, there are a couple of alternatives to consider. Fresh goat cheese is always great, as is queso fresco, which is milder in flavor. While feta has that salty, tangy taste, it doesn't melt so much as it softens. That said, it can be a good option for this dip.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Dip
If you plan to whip up a batch of chili for your game day festivities, you will want to make this cornbread as an accompaniment. It is super easy and incredibly delicious. You can use an oven-safe skillet or a glass baking dish if you do not have a cast iron pan.
You will want to use finely ground cornmeal for this recipe. And don't skip the buttermilk. Its acidity will keep your cornbread moist, tender, and fluffy. Incorporate a drained can of sweet corn and green chiles into the batter for extra color, flavor, and texture.
Recipe: Cast-Iron Cornbread
Baked Ham And Cheese Sliders
These clever ham and cheese sliders are both delicious and easy to assemble. The star of the show is the Hawaiian dinner rolls. These rolls are fluffy, soft, and sweet. This beautifully juxtaposes the salty and savory ham and cheese.
The other element that makes these special is the glaze that gets brushed atop the whole thing before baking. While you can bake after just two hours in the refrigerator, these are more luscious when allowed to set overnight. Doing so allows the butter glaze to permeate the rolls like baked French toast.
Recipe: Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders
Easy Cowboy Caviar
While cowboy caviar may be a quintessentially Texas delicacy, it is a dish that Americans in all 50 states should be adding to their game day rituals. This dish is part salsa, a dip, and pseudo salad with bright, fresh ingredients and hearty beans.
For those unfamiliar with black-eyed peas, they are a type of white bean with a distinctive black spot resembling an eye. Their taste is rich, sweet, earthy, and meaty, making them an ideal accompaniment to other bold ingredients. While you can eat it as is with chips, this recipe can be transformed into dynamite nachos.
Recipe: Easy Cowboy Caviar
Classic Jalapeño Poppers
Jalapeño poppers are one of those things that can be habit-forming, so you will want to prepare plenty of these to satisfy your guests. If you are sensitive to heat, try substituting Fresno peppers for the jalapeños. These red peppers are similar in size and Scoville Scale Rating, yet their thinner flesh and sweeter flavor profile make them less incendiary.
Swap the regular bread crumbs for panko ones to obtain a lighter, crisper crust that will repel oil and remain less greasy. Panko bread crumbs are available in plain and seasoned varieties.
Recipe: Classic Jalapeño Poppers
Sticky Cantonese Barbecue Baked Chicken Wings
These delectable glazed wings are a great alternative to the classic buffalo recipe. Because they are baked, they are easier to make, and brushing the sweet and savory sauce onto the wings and returning them to the oven allows it to caramelize and adhere to the crisp chicken skin for a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
To further enhance the capacity of the chicken skin to crisp up, pat the wings dry with a paper towel before baking them. Place them on the baking rack and refrigerate them overnight to completely wick away any residual moisture before seasoning and baking them.
Truffled French Fries
This easy-to-make recipe will impress even the most sophisticated foodie in the crowd. The key is to choose the right potato. Russets are ideal because they are starchy potatoes. These have a lower moisture ratio and are firmer than waxy potatoes, helping to repel the oil and make them more crispy.
Before frying these potatoes, use a thermometer to ensure the oil is 350 degrees F and work in batches. Adding too many potatoes at once will lower the temperature of the oil and make the fries soggy. Lastly, don't overdo the truffle oil. A little goes a long way.
Recipe: Truffled French Fries
Classic Fresh Guacamole
Few things can make tortilla chips better than a heaping bowl of verdant guacamole. The creamy, zesty dip is the ideal combination of bold flavor and luscious texture. The key to any good guacamole is to find the perfectly ripe avocado.
A ripe avocado should have a firm texture that gives slightly when delicately squeezed. It also should show no signs of mold at the stem end. If you find your avocados are unripe, you can expedite the process slightly by placing them in a paper bag with a banana and sealing it. Within 24 hours, your avocados should be ripe enough to use.
Recipe: Classic Fresh Guacamole
Air Fryer Egg Rolls
What these egg rolls may lack in meat, they make up for in abundant, savory, umami-rich flavors thanks to mushrooms. Opt for assorted mushrooms, like porcini, chanterelle, and cremini, to amp up that bold flavor. And if you enjoy the heat, a dash of gochujang can amp up that umami profile with its fermented funk.
Thoroughly seal the egg rolls with water, or they will burst open in your air fryer. Whatever you do, do not overload your air fryer. This will prevent hot air from circulating evenly around the egg rolls, preventing them from becoming crispy.
Recipe: Air Fryer Egg Rolls
Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Using your air fryer to make chicken wings eliminates the hassle and mess of dealing with a pot of hot oil. It also yields lighter, less greasy wings with tender meat and crisp skin. The key is making sure your wings are completely dry before cooking them.
If you have the time, consider a dry brine for these wings. Season them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and rest them in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The meat will be permeated with flavor, and any residual moisture will be eliminated. And make sure to use coarse-grain salt to avoid over-salting your wings.
Recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Traditional Oven-Baked Buffalo Wings
Buffalo wings may have been invented in New York, but they are as all-American as apple pie. The recipe that began the wings craze in the U.S. has been upgraded in this iteration by baking rather than frying the chicken.
While this recipe recommends using the color of the juices as an indicator of doneness, it is best to check your wings with a meat thermometer to assess when they should be removed from the oven. The ideal temperature for wings is around 175 degrees F. At this temperature, the connective tissues within the wings will break down and become juicy.
The Ultimate Buffalo Wings
This recipe is as classic as you can get for making Buffalo wings. The key is using the right kind of oil for frying. While vegetable oil is recommended, any variety with a high smoke point will do, including peanut or avocado. Oils with a low smoke point, like olive, will burn at temperatures hot enough to fry, giving food an off aroma and flavor.
And don't forget to dry your wings before seasoning and frying them. Any residual moisture will cause the wings to become soggy rather than crispy. For extra crunch, dredge the wings in rice flour before frying.
Recipe: The Ultimate Buffalo Wings
Baked Coca-Cola Chicken Wings
This recipe is a unique approach to making wings. It utilizes the high sugar content and acidity of Coca-Cola or any other soft drink for flavor and its capacity to tenderize meat. Because this is a marinade, the wings will not crisp up like those that are fried. This recipe yields a caramelized, saucy glaze that coats the wings beautifully.
Make sure to pat the wings dry before adding them to the sauce so it does not get diluted. Be sure to test the doneness of the wings with a thermometer before serving. They should reach 175 degrees F for safety and optimum texture.
Recipe: Baked Coca-Cola Chicken Wings
Cheesy Savory Monkey Bread
This monkey bread recipe may be one of the great inventions of all time. It utilizes store-bought refrigerated biscuit dough as its base to achieve that chewy, pull-apart texture that makes monkey bread so craveable. This recipe is also visually stunning, with multi-hued segments owing to the different toppings you can mix and match for each ball.
If you cannot find marinated mozzarella balls, you can use a boule of fresh mozzarella cut into segments. Alternatively, you could substitute another cheese, like cubes of pepper jack or fresh goat cheese. You are only limited by your creativity.
Recipe: Cheesy Savory Monkey Bread
Baked Mac And Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that can be served as a weeknight meal and for a special occasion. This baked casserole is the ideal delivery format for a crowd and can be doctored in myriad ways.
Start by changing the types of cheese you use. Any cheese that melts well is a good candidate, like pepper jack or gouda. You might also want to incorporate various add-ins; ham, bacon, or sausage are always a good idea. If you want to infuse color, sauté some mushrooms, zucchini, onions, peppers, and spinach for visual appeal and textural complexity.
Recipe: Baked Mac and Cheese
Because it uses canned beans, this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes. While ground beef may be classic, you may consider changing things with different kinds of meat, like pork, lamb, or a combination.
There are plenty of options for jazzing up this chili. Cocoa powder is always a hit, as is coffee. Add some cinnamon, cloves, and allspice for a spin on Cincinnati chili. In keeping with the festive theme, substitute the water with a bottle of dark beer, like a porter or stout. The richness of the beer will infuse the meat with flavor and nuance.
Recipe: Southwest Chili
20-Minute Peanut Butter Cookie
This recipe is so easy you probably already have the ingredients on hand. Because these cookies are made without flour, they are gluten-free, a win for guests with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. While the recipe calls for creamy peanut butter, you could easily substitute crunchy.
Add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie or Chinese five spice to the mix to amp up the flavor. For a more savory, caramel-rich flavor, use dark brown sugar. These cookies should be slightly tender in the center when they are removed from the oven and will set after they begin to cool. Do not overbake them.
Recipe: 20-Minute Peanut Butter Cookie
Bourbon Pecan Brownies
This recipe had us at bourbon and sealed the deal with pecans. These fudgy, rich brownies rely on high-quality, bittersweet chocolate for intensity and balance. When deciding on the kind of bourbon to use, this is not the time to break the bank on a high-end variety, but you should still choose one you would drink. Smoother, sweeter varieties are generally better for baking than spicy ones.
Take great care not to overbake these brownies. While they should not be raw, they must remain tender when removed from the oven to stay fudgy. And don't rush the cooling process, or they will be impossible to serve.
Recipe: Bourbon Pecan Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
After all the salty goodies and libations on display at your game day festivities, your guests will be clamoring for something to satisfy their sweet tooth. This simple yet delicious chocolate chip cookie fits the bill beautifully. What sets these cookies apart is the addition of a delicate sprinkling of high-quality Maldon salt atop the cookies. The juxtaposition of sweet and salty is elegant yet not overly fussy.
Quality chocolate and butter are a must for this recipe. While milk chocolate works just fine, the bitterness of dark chocolate will be more well-balanced with the salt. For ideal texture, serve these warm.
Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Frosted Sugar Cookies
Kids and playful grown-ups will love these classic sugar cookies donned with frosting and colorful sprinkles. These cookies are super simple and quick to make. The secret sauce that sends them into the stratosphere is the addition of sour cream to the cookie dough, which lends a tangy flavor to balance the sweetness and acidity and makes these cookies tender and fluffy.
Switch things up by using different decorative toppings if you are feeling cheeky. Mini Reese's Pieces or chopped M&M's are always a good idea, as are chocolate sprinkles. And do not forget to offer your guests a glass of milk for dunking.
Recipe: Frosted Sugar Cookies
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