7 Game-Day Snack Recipes to Make This Football Season

While there’s nothing wrong with the predictable hunger killers – peanuts, pretzels, a piece of fruit — these go-to mini-meals are distinctly uninspired. Our weekly Man Food series will help you fight the scourge of boring snacks.

Football season is finally here, which also means that it’s time for football snacks. Whether you plan to spend game-day tailgating, parked on the couch, or warming a seat at your local bar, we expect you’ll also be enjoying some traditional football foods, like jalapeno poppers, chicken wings, and chips, all washed down with an ice-cold beer.

Serious football snacking involves more than dumping a bag of Lay’s in a bowl, however. These seven game-day snack recipes are simple to prepare but big on flavor, and are sure to win over the crowd the next time you host football night at your place.

1. Charleston Cheese Dip

Baked Fontina Cheese Dip

Cheese dip | iStock.com

Country superstar Trisha Yearwood shared this recipe for a baked cheddar, Monterey Jack, and cream cheese in her 2010 book Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood (via Food Network). While this gooey, satisfying dip is a bit more complicated to prepare than some other cheese dips, it more than delivers in the flavor department.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 8 butter crackers, crushed, such as Ritz
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Corn chips, crackers or bagel chips, for serving

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green onions and cayenne pepper. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish, such as a 9-inch pie pan. Top the mixture with the cracker crumbs and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and top with the bacon. Serve immediately with corn chips, crackers, or bagel chips.

2. Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings

onion rings

Onion rings | iStock.com

Yes, you could make your beer-battered onion rings with a plain old bottle of Bud, but the bolder flavors of Stone Brewing Co.’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, plus chipotle chiles and Cajun spice blend, turn them into a snack that really wows. Recipe from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. via Serious Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 4 very large yellow onions
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt

For the batter

  • 2 cups (16 fluid ounces) cold Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • Heaping ¾ teaspoon Cajun spice blend
  • Heaping ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground dried chipotle chiles
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • About 1 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions: To make the batter, pour the beer into a narrow container with high sides. Mix in the Cajun spices, salt, chipotle, smoked paprika, and garlic. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and then slowly add it to the beer, whisking so that everything is thoroughly combined. If your batter seems too thin, you may need to add more flour.

Slice off the ends of each onion, then cut in half crosswise. Remove the outer skins and place onions in a bowl of ice water. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Drain the onions and separate the rings. Lay a kitchen towel on the counter and spread the onions on it to dry.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a deep fryer with oil, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have a deep fryer, use a heavy-duty pan that’s at least 4 inches deep, filled to a depth of 2 to 3 inches with oil (do not fill the pan more than halfway). Heat the oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dip the individual onion rings in the beer batter, then immerse in the hot oil. Let them fry for 4 to 6 minutes, until they are crispy and a deep reddish brown in color. Work in batches; if you overcrowd the pan, your onions will be soggy.

Transfer the onion rings to a wire rack set on a baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the oven to keep warm. Serve with barbecue sauce for dipping.

3. Chipotle Bourbon Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders

pulled pork sliders

Pork sliders | iStock.com

Most of the work you need to do to prepare these sweet and spicy pulled pork sliders can be done the night before or the morning of the game. After kick off, all you need to do is spoon this flavorful meat onto your favorite slider buns and eat. Recipe from Savory Simple.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 (14½ ounce) can whole tomatoes, pureed with juice
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1½ tablespoons molasses
  • 1½ tablespoons sriracha hot sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 pound pork loin or tenderloin
  • Slider buns

Directions: Pour the bourbon into a small saucepan and then cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes over medium-low heat until translucent. Stir in the red wine vinegar and cook, allowing the liquid to reduce until almost completely gone.

Pour in the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, honey, molasses, sriracha, and brown sugar. Simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the sauce to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree. Return to the Dutch oven and stir in the reduced bourbon. Cook for another 5 minutes over medium-high heat until the sauce is slightly reduced.

Put the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker and top with 1 cup of the bourbon sauce ( save the rest of the sauce for later). Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

When the meat is done cooking, shred it using two forks. Stir in more of the sauce to further season the meat, then spoon onto warmed slider buns and serve.

4. Crispy Baked Parmesan Green Bean Fries

Green beans, haircots verts

Green beans | iStock.com

Most game-day snacks tend toward the indulgent. Not that there’s anything wrong with lots of cheese and bacon, but if you’re in the mood for something a bit lighter, try this recipe for crispy seasoned green bean fries from Dashing Dish.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh green beans or 1 (14-ounce) bag frozen whole green beans
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking sheet lined with foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Prep the green beans. If using fresh beans, wash them and cut off the ends. If using frozen, let them thaw on the counter for a few hours, or defrost in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes.

Spread the green beans in an even layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and seasonings.

Place the green beans in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the beans are golden brown and crispy. (Putting them under the broiler for another 1 to 2 minutes will make them extra crispy.) Serve immediately with your preferred dipping sauce.

5. Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas

quesadilla

Quesadillas | iStock.com

These black bean quesadillas are cheap, filling, and vegetarian friendly, making them the perfect snack if anyone in your game-day crowd prefers a meat-free diet. You can even prep them in advance and freeze, so that all you need to do when ready to eat is warm them in a skillet. This recipe from Budget Bytes makes 10 quesadillas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 10 taco-sized tortillas

Directions: Drain and rinse the beans. Combine with the corn in a large bowl. (You don’t need to thaw the corn.)

Rinse the cilantro and strip the leaves from the stems, then chop roughly. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Combine the cilantro, onion, garlic, and shredded cheese with the beans and corn. Stir in the taco seasoning and combine until everything is fully mixed.

Spoon half a cup of the black bean filling onto one half of a tortilla and fold. Cook in a skillet until tortilla is brown and crispy and cheese has melted, turning once.

If you want to freeze for later, place the filled, uncooked quesadillas on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about an hour. Store in a freezer bag until ready to eat, then cook as directed above.

6. Bacon-Wrapped Barbecue Potato Wedges

bacon

Bacon | iStock.com

Delicious bacon is wrapped around red potato wedges and coated in barbecue sauce for the perfect crispy game-day snack. This recipe yields 24 individual pieces. That sounds like a lot, but we expect these tasty bites will disappear almost instantly. Recipe from One Sweet Mess.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • 12 slices of bacon
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a cookie rack and place it on top of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Slice each potato into 8 wedges. Place in bowl and drizzle with oil, then add the salt, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated with oil and seasonings.

Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap a piece of bacon around each potato wedge. Place on the cookie rack and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, brush each potato wedge with barbecue sauce, and then return to the oven to cook for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

7. Quick and Easy Spinach Bread

fresh spinach

Spinach | iStock.com

This spinach garlic bread is easy to prepare and a great way to get more greens into your game-day diet (though it is heavy on the butter). It also works well as a side dish for an Italian dinner. Recipe from Rachael Ray.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, cracked from skin
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 loaf good quality Italian bread

Directions: Preheat broiler or oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the spinach in a food processor with garlic, butter, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cheese, and process until smooth.

Cut the bread in half lengthwise and slather each side with the spinach butter. Broil or bake the toast until crispy, about 3 minutes under the broiler or 6 to 7 minutes in the hot oven. Cut into large cubes and serve.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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