Perfect nachos, dips for your playoff, Super Bowl party

Mackensy Lunsford
Nashville Tennessean

I used to love throwing Super Bowl parties, and my house in the mountains was the place to go.

Most of my furniture was pretty shabby, so I didn't care if you dropped a beer or two on the couch. I had flat-screen TVs on two levels; one was in the finished basement, the other across from the bar that separated my kitchen from the tiny dining room. For big games, I'd have a pony keg out on the deck. For every game, big or not, I'd smoke wings or grill sausages or something similar.

Times have since changed. First, I had a kid, which made the days of worrying over nothing but whether the wings were done and whether my Ravens would make the playoffs a thing of the past. I sold one of the TVs for a little diaper money. Game day was much diminished.

Then, I moved to Nashville and inexplicably bought a white couch, which I'd prefer no one dump beer on. I'm still good at throwing parties. But now I'm in a new city and it's no longer a given that the same big crew will show up with chips and salsa and plenty of things to drink. Back then, it wasn't whether people were coming, it was what were they bringing.

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But traditions have to start somewhere, and there's still time to drum up interest for a playoff party or two. Even if you're not into the sport (and the brutality of it can indeed make it hard to watch sometimes), it's still fun to gather with people you like over good food and drinks. Even if my Ravens knocked themselves out of the running and the Titans are gone, too, I'll probably pull together a nice spread. Here's how to do the same:

How to make a good game day spread

Have drinks on hand. This means alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Beer is perfectly accessible to most people. Alcoholic seltzers are a good second choice drink to supply your guests. Have some sparkling waters available for the non-drinkers. Another good plan: Have a big bucket or cooler full of ice ready and invite people to bring their beverage of choice.

Don't get too fancy. No one wants to balance fancy hors d'oeuvres on a napkin while watching football. This is the occasion to pull out the chips, salsa and queso. Have rolls and a bunch of sandwich builders available, including cured meats and cheeses, sliced sausages, pimento cheese, pickled vegetables and hummus. Provide a dish of popcorn and some of the snacks you want to eat but never do. This is the time to pull out the potato chips and onion dip (recipe below).

More:Super Bowl Sunday snacks: Chips, dips, wings and even a beer can chicken for your crowd

Have lots of paper towels. This one's self-explanatory. If you're serving saucy wings or cheesy chips, make sure you provide more than a small stack of flimsy napkins. You'll want several rolls of your strongest paper towels placed all around your house. Maybe even some wipes. Thank me later.

Let the game be loud. For the love of Pete, if you're having a football party, let that game blare. Get into it. Cheer a little. If you desperately need to have a quiet conversation, do it away from the TV. Please.

Have a well-rounded supply of food. Salad is a pain in the butt to balance. Instead, serve raw vegetables and dip. Offer something for vegetarians. These recipes are a great start:

Leftover steak nachos

You'll need plenty of paper towels alongside these steak nachos. Things will get messy.

The secret to the best nachos? A variety of textures, plenty of acidity, and don't forget the heat. Also don't forget plenty of paper towels, because things are about to get messy.

These nachos are only in the oven long enough to melt the cheese, so the steak won't overcook. The trick to making these amazing is using a combination of store-bought white cheese dip with shredded cheese, which helps prevent that whole naked nacho chip problem. It also provides a great contrast between creamy and melty.

Serves: 4 (feel free to double the recipe)


  • 4 cups corn tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 cup store-bought white cheese dip, heated according to package directions
  • 6 ounces cooked steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • Pickled jalapeño peppers, for serving
  • Cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Evenly distribute the tortilla chips in a cast-iron skillet or baking sheet. Top with the shredded cheese, then drizzle over the heated cheese dip. Spread the steak and tomato over the top of the nachos.

Bake until cheese has completely melted, 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with pickled jalapeño peppers and cilantro, lime wedges on the side.

Caramelized onion bacon dip

This caramelized onion dip, featuring crispy, thick-cut bacon and three different cheeses, will go fast at your Super Bowl party.

Trisha Yearwood's caramelized onion dip gets a smoky pop from the addition of bacon.Caramelized onions are great served as a topping on pizza or on a greasy cheeseburger, but I especially love them in this warm, cheesy dip. Combined with crispy, thick-cut bacon and three different cheeses, this dip will go fast. I don’t give any tips on storing leftovers, because I guarantee you won’t have any!

This recipe was reprinted with permission from "Trisha’s Kitchen," Mariner Books, 2021. The book can be purchased at local bookstores and on Amazon

Serves 6-8


  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 large sweet onions (I like Vidalia), halved, then thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • Sliced fresh veggies and a sliced baguette, for serving


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fit a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack.

Place the bacon on the rack and bake for 20-25 minutes, until crispy.

Pour the bacon fat from the pan into a large skillet and warm over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the garlic powder, mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are browned, soft and caramelized, 40-45 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise and Worcestershire until smooth and combined. Add the cheddar, Swiss cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of the chives and stir until completely combined.

Stir in the warm, caramelized onions. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the dip.

Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve warm, with fresh veggies and a sliced baguette.

Vegan Buffalo tofu

Even non-vegan friends will go for these tofu nuggets tossed in a vegan hot sauce.

This crispy baked tofu gets tossed in a vegan hot sauce. It makes a perfect appetizer or potluck dish; even your non-vegan friends will love it. This recipe comes courtesy of Rabbit & Wolves, a blog specializing in vegan comfort food.

Serves: 6


  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon hot sauce, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Press the tofu using a tofu press, or place the tofu on a plate and put something heavy on top. Press for at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better. You can even do it overnight.

Once you are ready to make the tofu nuggets, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the block of tofu into cubes. Set aside.

Set up 3 medium-small mixing bowls. In the first bowl, whisk together the almond milk, apple cider vinegar and teaspoon of hot sauce.

In the second bowl, whisk together the flour and teaspoon of salt. In the third bowl, add the panko.

Now, taking a few cubes of tofu at a time, toss them in the flour and shake off excess. Next, put them into the almond milk mixture, making sure they are totally saturated. Place them back into the flour then back into the almond milk, then into the panko. Coat completely.

Repeat with all the tofu cubes, placing them on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, until all the tofu is coated.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, baking until brown and crunchy.

While the tofu is baking, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, melt the vegan butter and olive oil together on medium-low. Then whisk in the 2 tablespoons of hot sauce, agave, paprika, garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let simmer for a minute, then turn the heat off.

Once the tofu is done, toss the nuggets in the sauce and serve immediately.

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