Healthy Tailgating Snacks and Appetizers
Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
The rich and creamy combination of bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar nicely contrasts the muted spice of grilled jalapeño peppers. This appetizer recipe is a healthy, fresh alternative to the popular breaded and fried version.
Jalapeño Popper Bean Dip
The silky texture of pureed pinto beans enhances creaminess. Canola mayo helps stretch the cream cheese, providing similar richness with no saturated fat. Broiler-charred jalapeños offer deeply earthy, toasty flavor.
Fresh Apple Salsa
Apple Pick: Spartan apples
Take a break from classic tomato salsas and opt for a fruitier, seasonal option. This sweet-tart condiment features crisp, slightly acidic Spartan apples, though Fuji, Jonagold, and Liberty apples would also work nicely. This fresh, fruity salsa is the perfect addition to any Fall menu or fun occasion, and it's super easy to make. Eat it straight out of the bowl, snack on it with chips, or serve with pork or roast chicken. Serve it immediately, or let it sit overnight to let the flavors incorporate.
Salt-and-Vinegar Boneless "Wings"
Cornflake breading cooks up crispy. Malt vinegar lends complex savoriness that you won't find in most other vinegars. The chicken soaks in buttermilk to boost the tang of the vinegar.
Cheesy Masa Pancakes with Pico de Gallo
Masa harina adds delicate corn flavor to these pancakes. Look for it on the baking aisle. Not just for tortillas or our pancakes, masa harina (a fine corn flour) also adds grit-free body to sauces and a crisp, crusty coating to sautéed fish or chicken.
Spicy, Barely Sweet Supercrunch Granola
For superior crunch, we use gluten-free pretzels; they're far crunchier than traditional. Dry quinoa adds more crunch; the little beads disperse over every bite. Whole almonds round out the effect with their firm texture.
Charred Shishito Peppers
Charring refers to singeing and blistering the outermost layer of a food over extremely hot heat. This makes for a bolder flavor and adds a smoky nuance. Be aware: This type of high-heat cooking creates a lot of smoke, so be sure to ventilate the kitchen, or cook (in the pan) over an outdoor grill. Shishito peppers are tender, usually mild, and enjoyed whole. Serve with our spicy sauce or squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Garlic-Herb Shoestring Fries
A spiralizer creates delicate potato curls. Superthin garlic slices get wonderfully crisp in only 10 minutes. Baking at a moderately high temperature cooks the potatoes perfectly—with some crunchy, browned pieces and some more tender strands.
Butternut Squash Queso Fundido
Butternut squash adds distinct flavor (and color) to this satisfyingly cheesy dip. To make it vegetarian, sub vegetable stock for the chicken stock. If you prefer, you can roast a halved, seeded butternut squash at 350° for 45 minutes or until soft. Scoop 10 ounces of flesh, and use in place of the puree.
Miso Aioli Dip
All you need is a blender to serve this miso aioli dip with your next platter of fresh crudités.
Mini Pineapple Pizzas
There is a longstanding argument surrounding the merits of pineapple on a pizza. Here at Cooking Light, not only do we believe in pineapple as a pizza topper, we believe it can be the base too. Look for peeled and cored pineapple in your supermarkets produce aisle for even slicing. Canadian bacon adds salty, savory depth, which cuts the sweetness of the fruit while lending hearty texture. Use any toppings you like – we look to briny black olives, sautéed red onion, and fresh basil for a delicious flavor trifecta. This easy recipe comes together in 20 minutes and is very kid-friendly. Not to mention a genius way to sneak in an extra serving of fruit.
Sesame-Soy Nut and Pretzel Mix
If any one dish is devoured quickly and constantly (usually by the fistful) throughout the Super Bowl, it’s snack mix. Consisting of salty nuts, pretzels, and cereal doused with a Worcestershire and butter, this innocent munchie racks up sodium and calories quickly. Our healthier version gives you all the salt, crunch, and bold spices of the original with the addition of whole-grain popcorn, toasty whole-wheat cereal, and spicy wasabi peas. The peas inspired an Asian track with toasty sesame oil and reduced-sodium soy sauce, cashews, and pungent ground ginger.
Sea Salt and Vinegar Zucchini Chips
Crunchy and salty, while being slightly addictive, these chip recipes can curb you off the store-bought stuff while exploring the various veggies and seasonings that make the perfect chip. Light, crisp, and just as good as their junk-food counterparts, these zucchini chips are a revelation. Malt vinegar is made from fermented ale and is mildly sweet. If you prefer a sharper flavor, substitute cider vinegar or white vinegar. The best way to get uniform slices? Use a mandoline.
Grilled Baba Ghanoush
Grilling the eggplant adds a charred note to this classic Middle Eastern dip. Let the slices steam after cooking so the flesh becomes even more tender. Serve with toasted pita, slices cucumber, or fennel.
Jackfruit is a nutrient-rich, tree-borne fruit that easily shreds to mimic the texture of pulled pork. It's gluten-free and a favorite ingredient for vegetarians. Look for young green jackfruit found canned at Asian supermarkets.
Lemon-Caper Parmesan Potato Salad Bites
Turn "jacket potatoes" into irresistible potato salad bites. Capers offer a twist on traditional relish; they're actually pickled flower buds and add bright, briny flavor to this appetizer.
Gram's Clam Dip
Tangy Greek yogurt and cream cheese join forces for a creamy result that does this delicious appetizer justice. Enjoy this low sugar, protein-rich dip with whole grain crackers, pretzels, or raw vegetables.
Cheesy Sausage Balls
This classic party appetizer will go quickly, so make double. Unlike typical sausage balls, this recipe has a hidden whole-grain secret: quinoa. That's right. Instead of using store-bought biscuit mix, we use cooked quinoa as the binder. If your guests can handle the heat, don't be afraid to use hot pork sausage. The extra flavor boost is worth it.
Crispy, spicy, and totally plant-based, these vegan taquitos make the ultimate party finger food. Shredded jackfruit mimics the texture of cooked chicken, while being doused in a tangy chipotle-infused sauce. These easy snacks are baked, not fried, to keep the calories low still creating that irresistibly crunchy texture. Serve with homemade guacamole on the side to cool down the peppery bite.
Cheesy Sausage Roll-Ups
Roll corn tortillas around a sausage and seal with creamy, melty cheese. Top with jalapeños, which add a spicy kick to this childhood classic. Ready in just under 15 minutes, this quick weekday snack is also perfect for parties, picnics, and barbecues.
We thought we had explored every way to enjoy the buttery-rich yumminess of avocados. But then we swooned over a photo of the breaded avocado fries in chef Hans Röckenwagner‘s latest cookbook, Das Cookbook. Inspired by the photo, we created our own lighter version, and the results were even more delicious than we’d imagined: When you coat creamy avocado wedges with a crisp breadcrumb crust, that contrast of textures makes the avocado seem doubly silky-rich.
Baked Black Beans with Chorizo
Think of this warm, starchy concoction as the best version of bean dip you'll ever have. Canned black beans get kicked-up flavor from sautéed onion, garlic, cumin, and jalapeño and are then mashed and placed in a dish. On top go firm, cured, paprika-rich Spanish chorizo, chopped tomato, creamy Jack cheese, and green onions—then the whole thing is baked until gooey, warm, and irresistible. You'll be delighted to scoop it up with crunchy tortilla chips. It’s a versatile dish, too; you can also serve it as a side dish with fajitas, as a taco filling, or as a jalapeño popper or chile rellenos stuffing.
Spiced Apple Chips
These delicious apple chips really satisfy your sweet tooth at snack time. Stick to cinnamon, or enjoy them alone. Feeling more adventurous? Try our pumpkin and chai spice variations.
Date, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Ball
Prepare this retro-chic snack up to two days ahead, and serve with crackers, bread, or veggies. Rolled in minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, this cheese ball is festive enough for even the most discerning party guests.
When cooking vegetarian tacos, opt for a bright, fresh salsa such as tomatillo. The lighter fillings demand milder flavor. This salsa also makes for the perfect party snack that your guests can enjoy without an unpleasnt, fiery mouth. The tomatillos provide just enough sweetness and depth of flavor that make this an enjoyable salsa dip for all. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips.