So you're throwing a party. There are many decisions to consider. What pitcher drink should you serve? How much food do you need? Did you remember to get ice? But one thing you shouldn't have to worry about is the appetizer. For the best party snack, all you need to do is go with easy dip recipes and pair those delicious dips with the perfect dipper.
Sure, you could just open a tub of ranch dip, crab dip, fruit dip or 5-layer-dip from the grocery store or buy queso from your favorite Mexican restaurant, but making a good homemade dip doesn't take much prep time and even easy recipes are impressive when your guests can't find a plastic tub anywhere.
These five classic pairings are simple to make and won't you have in the kitchen all day. Simply mix and serve for any occasion, from a football game day, a Super Bowl party or a laid back barbecue. From hummus and veggies to buffalo chicken dip, these are the foolproof dip pairings no one can resist for the big game, the backyard shindig or the lazy Saturday movie night.
1. Hummus & Veggies
Hummus and veggies are a must if you're having folks over. While some would prefer a bean dip, typically a black bean, refried bean dip or white bean dip, hummus is an excellent substitution because with the leftovers, you can use it as a sandwich spread or otherwise.
The dip-worthy spread can easily be turned into a meal, but until the meal is ready, it will keep folks happy. While there's a plethora of hummus recipes to choose from, you can't beat a creamy, classic hummus. Keeping it simple, classic hummus ingredients include chickpeas, tahini, lemon, olive oil, salt, and garlic. To give it a kick, sprinkle some paprika and cumin on top along with a drizzle of olive oil.
Now, for the veggies. They say it's best to eat a colorful plate, so incorporate an array of veggies - it makes for an Instagram worthy shot. Sweet mini bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and snap peas are all an excellent accompaniment. Of course, you could simply bust out a bag of pita chips or pretzels, but a veggie array is more impressive. Not to mention the combo of hummus and veggies is delicious.
2. Guacamole + Chips
A good, creamy guacamole is easily a crowd pleaser, and is a delicious topping for nachos. While you're guests may be expecting salsa with their chips, throw them a curveball and whip up a batch of guac. It's a simple dip recipe to make and tastes way better than the typical store-bought brands. In fact, it's almost like making salsa except with the addition of creamy avocados and spices.
It may be the California side in me, but I could eat guacamole by the spoonful. Your holiday party guests, however, probably won't be walking around with spoons of avocado dip. In this case, it's best to go for some quality tortilla chips. You'll want some that won't chip off in the guac, but still have an authentic restaurant-style thickness and flavor. In this case, head to the Mexican supermarket or even a taco shop. If you don't have any around, you could make your own by slicing up some corn tortillas, brushing with olive oil, adding a pinch of salt, and baking in the oven. Homemade chips, easy as pie!
While I tend to be a purist when it comes to guacamole, I understand avocados can be pricey - and not always in season. If you find yourself in an avocado conundrum, Trader Joe's Avocado's Number Guacamole To Go will do you a solid. It has five avocados in one package and is spiced with onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Add some additional ingredients and the guacamole is served from the flavorful dip base.
3. Salsa + Chips
Who can say no to chips and salsa? Your guests most certainly can't. When you have company coming over, it never hurts to have this duo on hand. Since I usually have all the ingredients in the fridge, I like to whip up a quick pico de gallo. Vine ripe tomatoes, a handful of cilantro, tons of lime, a couple de-seeded jalapeños, and salt is all it takes. Plus, it's way healthier and lighter than a heavier dip like beer cheese dip or BLT dip.
For this dip recipe, you can either choose to go with a free-hand chop on your ingredients, or blend them together in a food processor for seamless prep. Paired with a restaurant style, slightly salty tortilla chip and the salsa will be gone in no time. If you don't want to cook, this is best served room temperature or cold, though oven-roasted tomatoes add a smoky flavor to the salsa.
If you're pressed for time, opt for a quality brand from a local vendor at the grocery store. Keep in mind spice level, too. Some people crave spicy while others can't handle the heat. If you're going the store-bought route, stick with mild and choose fresh. Your guests can tell the difference between fresh salsa and one that tastes like a jar of red pepper tomato sauce. This salsa will wow everyone at your next party.
4. Spinach Artichoke Dip + Crostini
This is one of those party dip recipes that you know you probably shouldn't eat, but can't stay away from. A cream cheese dip, the creaminess is all too enticing to pass up. It does have spinach and artichoke though, so it's not all bad for you, right? Regardless, a good queso, spinach and artichoke dip shows you put some thought into your appetizer.
When making a spinach dip, there are a few variations to consider. Hot or cold? Sour cream or Greek yogurt dip? There is no right or wrong answer. It's all a matter of preference. I myself choose to use Greek yogurt. I prefer the flavor to sour cream and can't say no to all those yummy probiotics - not too mention I usually have a tub on hand.
Using that and frozen spinach - also on hand - artichoke hearts, cream cheese, parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, and onion, toss it all in the slow cooker for an effortless, savory dip recipe. Top with fresh green onions before you serve, and this will be the best dip for any future get-together.
For the dipping, crostini is a nice touch. Grab a bread bowl or slice up a sourdough baguette, brush the rounds with olive oil, and bake just until the bread starts to get a nice golden brown. The contrast of crispy bread with creamy dip is a mouthwatering combination that will be a smash.
5. Onion Dip + Potato Chips
Tailgating, football parties, and backyard barbecues wouldn't be complete without the classic onion dip. In true old fashion form, this dip usually involves buying a packet of pre-packaged seasoning mix and a tub of sour cream - and a bag of Ruffles. And to be honest, there's something very comforting about that combination. Although, if you're looking to up the game and make this classic from scratch, you really only need a handful of spices to sub in for that pre-packaged stuff.
In a bowl, combine dried minced onion, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, and salt. Next, add it to a full-fat tub of sour cream. Let it refrigerate for 30 minutes, then you're ready to serve. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?
You can also make a classic French onion dip with caramelized onions. This dip recipe has the details. Promise, caramelizing your own onions isn't hard and the look on your friends' faces when you tell them it's not store-bought French onion dip is worth it.
And while you can't beat that bag of Lay's Ruffles potato chips for dipping, healthier alternatives can be just as delightful. Dirty's All Natural Potato Chips make a sea salt chip that is ideal for onion dipping. Other all natural brands that use coconut oil or avocado oil are also excellent options.
If you're looking to keep it even more natural, you could go the homemade route. Rather than frying, bake your chips for an easier and healthier homemade alternative. Slice the potatoes, toss with olive oil, season with salt, and then bake until golden brown. Your guests won't be able to get enough of the warm, crunchy chips paired with the creamy homemade onion dip.
Do you have a favorite foolproof party dip? Let us know.
This article was originally published on September 11, 2017.