You might be celebrating the Super Bowl via Zoom with friends or with a tiny bubble of loved ones this year, depending on where you call home — or maybe you’d rather spend your Sunday watching something else — but that’s no excuse for giving up on great eats. The classic tailgating foods still apply, whether you’re a party of one or part of a small pod, and you’re perfectly allowed to cook a batch of chicken wings, mac and cheese, pulled pork, nachos, or even an entire Oreo cheesecake just for yourself or a few people.
Besides, chili makes for great leftovers, and you know those candied pecans aren’t going to go to waste. But maybe you are still cooking for a crowd wherever you are: Maybe you’ve set up an outdoor buffet in the backyard, or you’re planning some contactless deliveries to your fellow football-lovers. In that case, you’d better double up on those Instant Pot baked beans or cheddar biscuits!
From jalapeño poppers and stuffed potato skins to pulled pork, fried chicken, carnitas and vegetarian tacos followed by desserts like a mind-blowing chocolate chip cookie skillet cake, here are the recipes you’re going to want for game day.
Chicken wings of all kinds are a Super Bowl classic
Besides the game itself, the Super Bowl is probably best known for three things: the halftime show, the ads you look forward to and — most importantly — chicken wings. But do you go sweet or spicy? Dry or wet? Baked or fried? Buffalo wings or hot wings?
As Chef Keith Kamikawa‘s creations indicate, the latter two are different beasts (even if both are made with chicken): His crowd-pleasing buttermilk-brined hot wings are breaded and fried before being basted in a Tabasco and cayenne-based oil, whereas his buffalo wing recipe features butter and an addictive blue cheese dressing.
For anyone not wanting to deep-fry, you can still get crunchy results in the oven or air fryer, though our air fryer chicken wings recipe is more on the sticky-sweet side than the crispy side. And for those looking for a take on takeout, try the Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe, which is made easier by calling for Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce.
Super Bowl sheet pan nachos are great for vegetarians and meat eaters
This beginner-friendly recipe for sheet pan nachos is a one-dish wonder featuring fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese, ground beef, olives and an optional jalapeño. It’s a meaty, juicy, cheesy, crunchy and all-around delicious creation that you’ll have a hard time not devouring in less than a minute.
Everyone knows nachos are best hot out of the oven, so the best part is that, unlike at a restaurant, you can reheat these as needed to make sure all that mozzarella and cheddar stays nice and gooey. Theoretically, you could just make a big batch of sheet pan nachos and skip every other recipe on this list, but there’s a world of Super Bowl food to enjoy, so you could also make ramekin-size servings instead (especially if you’re at a socially-distanced party of one or few). That also helps if you don’t want everyone digging into the same pan during outdoor, socially distanced festivities.
The best part is the recipe is that it’s adaptable; you can even use browned tofu or Beyond Meat in place of beef, says recipe author Melissa Olivieri of The Olive Blogger.
Who doesn’t love Super Bowl tacos?
One of the easiest and tastiest Super Bowl snack or meal options is a make-your-own tacos spread. From juicy and shredded instant pot carnitas to copycat Chipotle chicken or copycat Chipotle barbacoa (which you can serve on rice or tortillas), there are plenty of topping options and fillings just begging to be scooped into a warm tortilla.
If you’re a seafood lover, don’t miss these shrimp tacos with homemade tortillas, which call on coating your tortillas in Parmesan and filling them with sautéd shrimp. Or if you prefer super easy, low-maintenance tacos, there’s always this easy chicken taco recipe with shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken.
But if fresh chicken is your preference, try this 20-minute chicken taco option that calls for fresh chicken cooked with homemade taco seasoning with fresh avocado and diced red onions. And if you’re taco-ing for one, there’s always this taco salad that’s a meal in a bowl with beef, cheese, beans and tortilla strips in a creamy dressing — plus all the lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and pickled jalapeños you want.
Super Bowl quesadillas, enchiladas, and burritos satisfy a variety of tastes
In addition to tacos, there’s a whole world of cheesy tortillas options that would be perfect for your Super Bowl watch party. If you want a simple beef-and-cheese creation, these quesadillas with homemade tortillas are straight and to the point. On the flip side of the sauce coin, this smothered beef enchilada recipe results in juicy mouthful after mouthful. Both recipes have the added appeal of coming out of the oven piping hot though, so you’re not grilling your tortillas one by one or having them sitting around at room temperature for too long.
Then there are burritos, which are wonderfully adaptable and are delicious when simply stuffed with homemade refried beans, but they could also handle any of the taco fillings above plus Mexican rice. Vegetarians will also appreciate the cheese and beans combo in this copycat Taco Bell bean burritos recipe, as well as this recipe for tofu sofritas, which can easily be stuffed into a taco, enchilada, or burrito, with or without salsa.
Chips and salsa are a Super Bowl staple
All of the above are going to go perfectly with pico de gallo or a cooked salsa, but even if you’re not making tacos or anything wrapped in a tortilla, these dips and sauces won’t go astray with a bowl of chips lying around.
This 15-minute version of pico de gallo keeps things simple with vine-ripe tomatoes, salt, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and lemon. The recipe comes together fast as long as you have a food processor, which is a smart investment for a range of recipes and diets.
This other recipe for 10-minute pico de gallo goes even bigger on spices, skips the lemon and adds poblano chilli peppers and cherry tomatoes. Recipe developer Maren Epstein of Eating Works recommends using in-season tomatoes, either homegrown or from a farmer’s market, and going with organic if possible.
But if you want a versatile sauce to go with tacos or any tortilla-based dish, this cooked salsa recipe from chef and food writer Nathaniel Lee of Beginner Food might be just what you’re looking for. Despite an extra step of broiling the tomatoes, peppers, and onions, it’s completely worth it.
Here’s a variety of dips to satisfy all kinds of Super Bowl fans
You know you’re going to be eating stuff dipped in stuff at a Super Bowl get together, whether that’s guacamole for chips, creamy dips for crackers, or hummus or baba ganoush for vegetables.
First off, if you get intimidated by the idea of deep-frying chicken wings, this super easy buffalo chicken dip with shredded chicken, cheese, mayo and hot sauce can provide the flavor with none of the hot grease potentially flying everywhere.
An even easier dip is this pumpkin hummus with a grand total of three ingredients: store-bought hummus, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. For something a tiny step up in terms of difficulty and reward, all you have to do for this baba ganoush recipe is roast an eggplant before chucking it into the blender with tahini, olive oil, lemon, tomato, and spices.
But the all-time favorite Super Bowl dip has to be guacamole, which is essential whether you’re making tacos or not. In fact, you should really make a double or triple batch of this guacamole recipe (but if you’re watching the game alone, you can always cut the recipe in half).
All-American fried chicken for a Super Bowl Sunday main
If you want to fry chicken in bigger pieces than wings, the recipes above for fried chicken wings might still work with drumsticks or thighs, so long as they’re cooked for a bit longer, but you’re going to want to be precise, it’s still best to use a recipe intended for the size of meat that you’re planning to fry. The worst thing would be to end up with slimy breading or greasy meat when you’re going for classic fried chicken.
If you want fool-proof fried chicken, this copycat KFC recipe will do the trick with its tips for breaking down a whole chicken, making your own not-so-secret blend of spices, and leaving the freshly fried chicken in a low-temperature oven to finish cooking while maintaining that crispy coating. The buttermilk brine is best if prepared well in advance, so it takes a bit of forethought, as does making sure you’ve got all the necessary dry spices on hand (including some MSG), but that thick breading and juicy interior of a freshly chopped chicken will make you go, "Colonel who?"
If you’re not feeling that traditional, try this harissa fried chicken recipe where the chicken is marinated in a spicy North African chili paste and served with creamy tahini sauce. Though a far cry from a buttermilk-brine, the tongue-tingling spice is a perfect pairing for the nutty, cooling sauce.
Some other meaty (and vegetarian) mains for Super Bowl dinner
It’s a hard call on which one of these carnivore-friendly dishes to prepare as a main dish on Super Bowl Sunday. If you love juicy, saucy sandwiches, you’ll want either this slow-roasted pulled pork with homemade barbecue sauce or these relatively quick sloppy joes with ground beef, which come together in a relative jiffy even if you add optional vegetables or mock meat, as chef and food writer Erin Johnson of Probably in the Kitchen says you can.
The pulled pork will take a few hours in the oven to braise, recipe developer Stephanie Rapone says, but it takes just 15 minutes to prep. The satisfying sauce is enhanced by the pork juices, so every minute of cooking counts toward a delicious result. Besides, everything good is worth waiting for, right? The Super Bowl isn’t done in an hour either.
For lighter fare to satisfy your protein quota, think turkey and chicken, like these buttery, panko-crusted baked turkey meatballs served without sauce but easily dipped in ketchup, mustard, or a salsa of your choice (see above). There’s also two healthier variations on much-loved classics with these simple skillet-seared turkey burgers or for something more saucy, one-pot jambalaya with chicken sausage, shrimp, beans and whole-grain farro in place of rice.
Hearty side dishes to complete a Super Bowl meal
Whether you’re having people over to your back yard, heading to a socially distanced outdoor get-together or just planning a hearty, celebratory dinner for yourself, there are some side dishes that will truly complete your Super Bowl table.
Firstly, you can’t go wrong with these five-ingredient garlic cheddar biscuits with buttermilk, butter and cheddar cheese. Another classic is this mouthwatering tater tot casserole with its salty, savory, beefy, bacon-y (not a word, but it works) and cheesy base. For even more heartiness, think twice-baked potatoes: This recipe is prepped in just 15 minutes and then bakes for an hour, with the result being a bubbling, cheesy topping. Meanwhile, this copycat of TGI Friday’s stuffed potato skins features just five ingredients, making it a little easier, but a little less creamy inside.
Even if you made refried beans for your tacos above, you should probably still take a look at these Instant Pot baked beans. With barbecue sauce, bacon, ketchup, brown sugar, liquid smoke and cider vinegar, you’ll want the sweet-and-spicy leftovers.
To add some vegetables to your spread (because you probably need at least one, right?), this collard greens recipe is the perfect accompaniment. The secret is a smoked turkey wing and chicken bouillon cubes, so while it’s not vegan-friendly, it’s a great way to get your greens in — there’s a whole two pounds of the healthy stuff in there!
You can’t go wrong with Super Bowl chili (including for vegetarians)
There’s nothing like a big pot of spicy beans and/or meat and vegetables in a deliciously seasoned soup creation to soak up your Super Bowl libations. And there are tons of chilli variations to choose from.
For a low-maintenance chili, the slow-cooker or Instant Pot is going to be your best friend. This recipe for slow-cooker chilli is prepped in little time and is chock full of beef and kidney beans, while this white chicken chilli recipe calls for white beans and a ton of sour cream for a creamy and comforting variation. Or you could go meat-heavy and old-school with this recipe for Chili Colorado, which is thickened with soaked and blended dried chilli peppers.
Vegetable lovers will appreciate this vegetarian three-bean chili recipe made with a cup of jarred salsa and optional sour cream and cheddar cheese. Finally, for anyone thinking of swinging through the Wendy’s drive-through for a cup of chili, here’s a Wendy’s chili copycat recipe you can make at home instead.
Mac and cheese is the perfect cozy treat for a Super Bowl watch party
Probably the best barbecue side dish known to human kind is mac and cheese, but it’s also a worthy main course on its own and a welcome addition to any Super Bowl grazing table. While some people seem fine with eating room temperature pasta and cheese sauce, the slow-cooker or Instant Pot are going to be your best friends here for keeping that gooey pasta piping hot.
If you’re going to make it on the stovetop, this one-pot mac and cheese recipe with cream cheese, mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan is a total winner. But the one thing none of the above recipes can offer is a crispy topping, which you’ll only get in the oven. This recipe for baked mac and cheese calls for 5 minutes of baking at the end with the lid removed for that wonderfully crunchy top.
And finally, for those who want takeout-style mac and cheese, there are the copycats: a creamy copycat Chick-Fil-A mac and cheese with an American, cheddar, BellaVitano, Romano and Parmesan cheese blend and a copycat Panera mac and cheese with a buttery roux and heavy cream sauce with white cheddar.
Super Bowl snacks to get you through the game hours
Dips are all well and good, but how about some hot appetizers and other snackable options to hold you over throughout the game this Super Bowl Sunday? If you’ve never made jalapeños poppers, now’s your chance. This recipe from Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska couldn’t be easier, with fried bacon and a spicy blend of milk and cream cheese stuffed into half jalapeños and topped with breadcrumbs before baking.
Another restaurant classic you might not think to try making at home is a copycat version of Outback’s blooming onion, which lookslike a blooming flower when breaded and fried to sweet, crunchy perfection. According to FoodBeast, in 2015, one in every four appetizer orders at the popular steakhouse was the blooming onion. With those odds, we bet each person at your Super Bowl celebration — even if that’s just you on your own — will love your homemade version of this classic, which is a lot more than can be said for crudités.
Then there are pigs in a blanket, an old-school snacking favorite with a grand total of two ingredients: hot dogs and Pillsbury crescent roll dough. Dip them in sriracha, ketchup or mustard, says Sampson, but we’re also partial to any of the sauces above. And you can’t forget about the triple ‘p’ triple threat: pierogies, pretzels and (candied) pecans.
Cheesecake for a true Super Bowl feast
Cheesecake is so good it gets its own category. Mic drop here.
Okay, let’s pick up the mic to explain a few things. First, the difference between no-bake cheesecake and regular cheesecake is eggs. What eggs do is give cheesecake a bit of fluffiness. That can be great, but it’s heck of a lot more work because you need to beat and fold and bake them. A no-bake cheesecake usually features whipped cream for fluffiness, which doesn’t need to be baked but does need to be chilled overnight.
So if you want a regular cheesecake on the day of the Super Bowl, try this five-ingredient cheesecake recipe because it’s still really easy. And if you want an easy vanilla no-bake cheesecake to make in advance, this recipe is going to be your go-to.
Now, if you want the ultimate cheesecake — aka the cheesecake royale, the cheesecake that everyone’s going to want the recipe for and you’re going to want them to stop eating so much so you have leftovers — this is your recipe: This no-bake Oreo cheesecake comes together quickly once you’ve separated the cookies from the cream of a package of Oreos for making the crust. You should probably buy two packages of Oreos for this, though, because you know you’re going to eat a couple of cookies while prepping. Do you know what else is a great addition to a Super Bowl buffet table? Half a box of Oreos.
Other desserts to round out your Super Bowl Sunday
No Super Bowl spread is complete without dessert (including cheesecake, see above). But if you’re not the cheesecake-loving kind, how about a chewy skillet chocolate chip cookie cake instead? It’s basically a cookie drizzled in chocolate sauce, and if you make this for yourself, then you get to eat as much of the ooey, gooey inside as you want. If you’re a true chocolate lover, though, you’re going to want these Nutella brownies. They have just three ingredients and take only 30 minutes to make, meaning more time spent eating (and watching the game).
Next up, who doesn’t love key lime pie? This simple one with sweetened condensed milk and lite Cool Whip from developer Kristen Carli of Mostly Green has five ingredients and takes only 10 minutes to prep and two hours to chill.
If you think you’re going to stop there, just tell me you didn’t go "Ooooh…" when you saw the above photo for banana cake with cream cheese icing. It’s still a good cake without the icing, but that cream cheese and pecan topping makes it truly luscious.
Happy Super Bowl!