Don't get me wrong, I love a good hot dog straight from the grill with char marks, nestled in a bun and covered in ketchup and mustard. When it comes to backyard parties, especially in the summer, I'm all for as many grilled and smoked meats you can throw my way. I just don't happen to think that those grillables (as I so lovingly call them) are the most important part of that backyard BBQ. In my humble party-going opinion, I happen to think that the snacks are the best part. After all, what are you munching on before the main event comes off the grill and hours later, when that moonshine jar makes its rounds in front of the campfire? That's right, you're probably munching on leftover party snacks.
I had the chance to try some new snacks and old favorites, and here are the best choices you can have on hand. After all, who said party food had to be difficult to make? You can keep your blue cheese ball, your deviled eggs, your seven-layer black bean dip, and even your smoked salmon crostini. I'm here for the easy way out every now and then, especially when it means you just have to open the bag.
8. Snyder's "Wholey Cheese!" White Cheddar & Chive
These crispy baked crackers are everything that Cheez-Its wish they could be, and I mean that with no disrespect to the cheese cracker of my youth. Light and airy, the flavor they pack is sharp and cheesy without being overwhelming. While testing out these babies, I swapped them for pita chips and dipped them straight into roasted red pepper hummus. It did not disappoint, and this is one party appetizer that even the kiddos will love.
A note of caution, these tend to crumble easily so try not to crush the bag on the way to the party, y'all! In the future, I think these could be better packaged in a box instead of a resealable bag.
7. Snyder's Pretzel Pieces in Cheddar Ale
I was so excited to try this flavor because let's be honest, beer cheese is an American delicacy. Whether it's served inside of a puff pastry or as a secret ingredient in spinach artichoke dip (try it!), I cannot get enough. These pretzels are, by Snyder's standards, right on point. They're crunchy, not stale, and are the perfect size for dipping into any of these easy dips you can whip up.
While I didn't necessarily taste the full effect of the cheddar ale right away, it crept up on me after the third handful. These are great to have on hand while watching a baseball game and would make a great addition to a bowl of snack mix. If you're struggling with what to bring Dad for a Father's Day barbecue, this is it.
6. Cape Cod Waves Sea Salt in 40% Reduced Fat
You can't have a backyard BBQ without having one or two health-conscious snacks on hand, especially for dipping into your momma's homemade onion dip. Perfect for a summer party, the Waves variety of Cape Cod doesn't taste like you're sacrificing any flavor or crunch for that 40% reduced fat, which makes it an easy win in my book.
I'm not saying you have to get weird with it, but to punch these chips up, dip 'em into goat cheese dip and add one-half of a cherry tomato to it. That's a snack you can feel good about.
5. Cape Cod Waves in Sea Salt
If you couldn't care less about reduced fat potato chips, then the classic variety is perfect for you. Chips just make the best finger food and the waves of the chip make it perfect for dipping into a big ol' bowl of slow cooker buffalo chicken dip with extra cream cheese, please.
Pair 'em with our Pigs in a Blanket Pull-Apart Bread and enjoy for the big game, your backyard BBQ, or even a lazy Sunday around the house. The best part about these chips is that they're not too salty or under-seasoned. In the words of Goldilocks, they really are just right.
4. Snyder's Pretzel Pieces in Hot Buffalo Wing, Gluten-Free
Whether or not you believe in the gluten-free trend (and for most, it's not a trend but a necessity), it's still polite to stock one or two gluten-free snacks at your party for all those to enjoy. Tortilla chips and those toasted French baguette slices just won't cut it for a guest with a bad case of celiac disease. However, it can be hard to find a good gluten-free snack, one you wouldn't mind eating whether or not you are GF.
Oh the times they are a-changin' because these pretzel pieces from Snyder's taste just like the real thing. I gave a handful to my boyfriend (a loyal taste-tester to Wide Open Eats) and as he shoved them all in his mouth, he kept saying just how dang delicious they are. It was only then did I show him the bag with Gluten Free on the front of it. He shrugged his shoulders and kept eating. These, indeed, passed the test.
3. Cape Cod Waves in White Cheddar & Sour Cream
The wavy design, again, comes in clutch for chip-dipping, especially into that tasty bowl of Tex-Mexican dip of chile con queso. The flavor of these chips are, by far, the best if you love cheese as much as I do. I was worried that the sour cream flavor might be a bit overwhelming, but it was just the right amount of tang. Honestly, I'd amp up a salad recipe by crumbling these over it for a small crunch or tiny crouton-like bits.
Whether you're hosting a party for the Super Bowl or just having some close friends over for a dinner on the patio, these chips are an easy decision to make in the grocery store when you're thinking about party snack recipes.
2. Snyder's Sweet & Salty Pretzel Pieces in Cinnamon & Sugar
I've never tried sweet pretzels from Snyder's before, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that each piece was coated in cinnamon sugar. If you're looking for a few sweet treats to fill up the snack table, grab this bag first. The only thing that could make this flavor better is if there was just a bit of brown sugar inside for a richer flavor.
If you have a fruit dip at the party, consider setting aside a small bowl for dipping these pretzel pieces inside. They're sweet, but not overwhelming, making them a good canvas for a sweeter dip, especially one that has vanilla yogurt or Cool Whip.
1. Cape Cod Russet Potato Chips
So here's the deal. These are your standard potato chips and yet, they are so much more. Made with only three ingredients (russet potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt), these chips were so popular that Cape Cod recently reintroduced them to shelves nationwide after a 10-year hiatus. You can imagine how many customers wrote in asking for the brand to bring back this sleeper hit, but it just shows you that fancy flavors don't mean anything if the chip itself isn't good.
These potato chips are cooked in custom kettles and dang if they don't taste like the freshest potato chips you've ever had. They're bright and zippy, but not overly salted. I like that they're cooked in vegetable oil instead of olive oil because that high heat blast produces a firmer and more stable crunch. If you ever find yourself knee deep in appetizer recipes, but just want to keep it simple, you can't go wrong with these fan-favorites.
Watch: The 10 Best Regional Chips from Around the Country