Essential Super Bowl snacks for game day — dips, firecrackers and fried potatoes

A round bowl of French onion-chili crisp dip surrounded by ruffled potato chips
Crunchy snack mixes and savory dips provide the perfect noshes for game day eating.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

This past week, I got in my car to begin the six-hour drive from Oakland to Los Angeles only to realize that my catalytic converter had been stolen. If you’ve ever been the victim of such a thing, you know how the unmuffled sound of the engine — so cacophonous and loud that you fear hearing loss — can be maddening for even a minute, let alone six hours.

Because I had to get back to L.A., I was forced to drive in it, and the only thing that helped my nerves from fraying further was a steady supply of crunchy, salty snack mixes. I often buy a couple of bags for the road trip on a normal day, but this one called for an arsenal. It’s a stressful time like this that drives home the point of why we reach for these salty, instantly gratifying snacks when stressed.

Now, I’m not someone who keeps up with football, or “the sports,” as I call it, but apparently it’s the Super Bowl today so that means everyone who’ll be watching will be tense and also in need of a crunchy, salty snack to keep your nerves below the panic threshold. Here are some of my favorite snacks to fit that bill, whether you’re cheering on a team, anxiously waiting for Rihanna’s halftime performance or simply dealing with a case of the “Sunday scaries” before work starts again tomorrow.

My Firecrackers are just the sort of thing you can eat by the handful, going back for more and more until your hands are coated in a concentrated flavor powder. A staple of the South where I grew up, my version coats tiny, snackable oyster crackers (though you can use Saltines) with a mix of nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders and lots of crushed red chile flakes. They’re deeply savory and the perfect thing to snack on between sips of ice-cold beer.

Want something a little sweeter and/or with a different umami flavor profile? Try Genevieve Ko’s Crispix Arare, which coats the crunchy cereal with a sweet-savory mix of maple syrup and soy sauce, punctuated with nori furikake, a Japanese dry seasoning mix made of seaweed and sesame seeds.


If you’re going the dip route (and you should be), you have to try my Fried Onion-Chili Crisp Dip. It takes all the salty, savory flavors from chili crisp and blends them with sour cream for a decadent dip that’s an update on the popular Lipton soup mix dip. This recipe calls for you to make your own chili crisp, but if it’s the last minute and you’re desperate, just mix a 16-ounce container of sour cream with a 7-ounce jar of your favorite chili crisp (I like the classic Lao Gan Ma). Serve with potato chips and you’re all set.

If you want something a little fancier, you can serve a platter of Fried Potatoes and Crudité With Caesar Sour Cream. If the potatoes seem like too much work, just fry up some frozen french fries in their place — or omit them and use all crudité. No matter what you use, it’ll taste great in the dip, teeming with anchovies, garlic, Worcestershire and Parmesan.

And if you want something more refreshing, try Genevieve Ko’s Spicy Avocado Smash. Think of it like a chunkier, less dippable guacamole that’s ideal for spooning onto pretzel thins, club crackers or tortilla chips. Set out a platter of preassembled bites, or put it in a bowl and let people assemble their own. Whatever route you take, plan on everyone nervously snacking throughout the night, so make double of everything to keep your guests out of the panic zone.


This is an intentionally salty snack, meant to be served with cocktails during a party or at the beginning of a meal. The traditional recipe uses larger saltine crackers, while this riff uses smaller soup & oyster crackers, which are easier to pick at and eat with your fingers or shovel into your mouth by the handful.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour.

A bowl of small round crackers coated with a spice mix
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Crispix Arare

This crunchy snack is usually sweetened with corn syrup (you can try that option below), but this version has the more measured sugary taste of pure maple syrup. It pairs well with nori furikake, which is a savory blend of seaweed and sesame seeds that can be found in most supermarkets and online.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Crispix Arare snack mix
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Enjoying this newsletter?

Consider becoming a Times subscriber.

Fried Onion-Chili Crisp Dip

This dip is a merger of my favorite fried onion dip with spicy Sichuan chili crisp. Both dishes start out the same: with frying onions. I add garlic, chiles and spices to the mix and then stir them together for a creamy dip with a wonderfully warm kick. The ground Sichuan peppercorns and MSG are optional, but if you have one or all of them, add them for a more aromatic dip.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes, plus overnight chilling (optional).

Fried Onion-Chili Crisp Dip in a round bowl surrounded by ruffled potato chips.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

Fried Potatoes and Crudités With Caesar Sour Cream

This appetizer has something for everyone. Hot, salty roast potatoes that eat like French fries; cold, crunchy vegetables for health; and a rich sour cream dip flavored with anchovies, Worcestershire and Parmesan for a Caesar salad-like tang.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours, mostly unattended.

Fried Potatoes on a plate next to a plate of sliced vegetables with a small bowl of a white dip
(Dylan + Jeni / For the Times)

Spicy Avocado Smash

Brilliant red pomegranate seeds add tangy pops of crunch to this creamy-chunky mix of avocados, hot with jalapeños. Serve the dip with pretzel thins or tortilla chips or on your favorite crackers.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 15 minutes.

A bowl of chunky green dip with Pomegranate Seeds, with pretzel thins topped with the dip spread nearby
(Evan Sung / For The Times)

Have a cooking question?

Email us.