Grilled shrimp cocktail

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 8 to 12
Grilled shrimp cocktail
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Print RecipePrint Recipe

Super wings, grilled shrimp cocktail, double-chocolate brownies, stuffed peppers, beer nuts and more. The Super Bowl is this Sunday — do you have a game plan ready to feed your hungry fans? Beyond the big screen TV and a cooler stocked with ice cold drinks, this is one party that’s all about the spread.

Whether you’re new to throwing a Super Bowl party (congratulations to the Falcons), or you throw one almost every year (time to break out the New England decorations again), we’ve got you covered when it comes to the food. From easy dishes you can make ahead, to simple dishes you can throw on the grill last-minute, here are 20 great ideas from our Recipe Database to score big at your party this Sunday.

1. Brown sugar and bourbon baby back ribs

Ketchup, bourbon, garlic, brown sugar, seasoning, vinegar and a touch of cayenne are all you need to make a simple overnight marinade for these tender baby backs. On game day, roast the ribs and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce and a big stack of napkins.

2. Meatballs

Kind of like miniature meatloaves, meatballs are perfect in that comfort food sort of way. Combine ground beef and pork with diced onion, breadcrumbs, plenty of spices and grated cheese, then bake until golden and delicious. Serve them on their own or use them to fill sandwiches, with marinara sauce and extra cheese.

3. Guacamole

Isn’t guacamole always the first dish to disappear at the party? Never mind. It’s easy to whip up a big batch of this staple so you’ve got plenty on hand for your festivities. Combine mashed fresh avocado with diced onion, cilantro, tomato, lime juice and a touch of salt, dialing in just the right amount of heat with chopped serrano pepper. That’s it.

4. Beer nuts

Sure, you can buy beer nuts, but they’re easy to make from scratch, and you can flavor them as you like — such as actually using beer to make them. For a basic batch, simmer mixed nuts in a simple mix of brown sugar, beer and molasses, then toss with more sugar and a touch of cayenne, toasting the nuts until crisp and fragrant.

5. Chile con queso

Melted cheese makes everything better, whether you’re dipping chips or vegetables. Simply melt processed cheese and flavor with roasted jalapeños, onion, garlic, tomato and a touch of spice, giving the sauce just the right amount of ooze with the addition of pale lager. Go ahead and make a double batch.

6. Stuffed mushrooms

Stuff large mushrooms a medley of sauteed onion and shallots, breadcrumbs, fresh parsley and grated Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses. You can assemble these ahead of time, then bake when the gang gets hungry.

7. Super wings

No football party is complete without the wings. Go all out for your Super Bowl gathering with “super” wings, substituting turkey wings for the standard chicken wings. This recipe comes complete with three marinades -- spicy, teriyaki and a sweet honey glaze.

8. Spanakopita

Delicately crunchy layers of phyllo dough are baked around the right balance of cheese, spinach and spice. You can assemble these and freeze them ahead of time, then simply bake to order so they’re ready when the guests arrive.

9. Ranch and blue cheese dipping sauce

Up your ranch dipping sauce with crumbled blue cheese for this easy dip, balancing the fresh herbs, garlic and spices with just enough rich cheese to score big with the gang.

10. Baked chips with roasted garlic hummus

Tired of fried foods? Brush pita bread with a light coat of olive oil and sprinkle over a little spice before baking these chips to a crisp golden-brown. Whip up a quick batch of hummus in the food processor (adding a head of roasted garlic will make it that much better) and you’re set.

11. Soft pretzels

Sometimes nothing beats a fresh pretzel. Freshly puffed and temptingly aromatic, they’re the ones with the deep brown sheen that -- if you’re lucky -- you get still warm, the large specks of salt catching the light just so as they’re slid out of the oven. Using just a handful of ingredients, impress your friends with a batch of homemade.

12. Jalapeño corn bread

When you’re looking for make-ahead party dishes, cornbread is an easy go-to option. With a crisp crust and rich, tender crumb, this cornbread recipe is lightly sweet with a gentle tang from buttermilk and sour cream. Chopped red bell pepper and jalapeños add just the right amount of heat. Serve the cornbread warm or at room temperature, with plenty of butter.

13. No-bake peanut butter bars

Sometimes the best dishes are the ones that require the least amount of effort. Bind together crumbled crisped rice cereal with powdered sugar and peanut butter and press into a greased pan, refrigerating until set. Drizzle over a rich chocolate topping and salted peanuts and chill until ready to serve. The hardest part is cutting them into bars.

14. Quick pickles

Balance the rich and heavy dishes on the table with something fresh and light, be it a vegetable platter or a batch of colorful pickles. Quickly pickle purple cauliflower — or any color of the vegetable you’ve got — in a quick vinegar brine flavored with garlic, fresh dill, pepper flakes and pickling spice. Marinate the peppers overnight, then drain and serve.

15. Double chocolate fudgy walnut brownies

Go all out with this brownie recipe, folding walnuts and chocolate chips in a rich chocolate batter that sets up crisp on the outside, and perfectly ooey-gooey in the center.

16. Philly cheesesteak lettuce wraps

Want rich Philly cheesesteak but looking for a diet-friendly option? These easy wraps have all the flavor for a fraction of the calories. And they take almost no time to prepare.

17. Stuffed peppers

Stuff piquillo peppers with a spiced meat blend, then batter and deep-fry to a rich golden brown. Serve the stuffed peppers warm alongside a simple sweet-spicy piquillo pepper sauce.

18. Beer-battered mac ’n’ cheese bites

Take your favorite mac ’n’ cheese recipe, bake it and chill until firm. Then cut the dish into bite-sized pieces and dip them into a quick beer batter. Fry the bites until crisp and golden on the outside, and rich and gooey in the center. It’s one dish that’s equally at home at a football party or the county fair.

19. Grilled shrimp cocktail

Get outdoors with this simple take on the classic shrimp cocktail, grilling jumbo marinated shrimp until firm, the grill adding just the right hint of smoke. Serve alongside cocktail sauce and grilled lemon halves.

20. Dungeness crab cakes with dipping sauce

Crab cake fans can amp up the more traditional version of dish with this recipe, made with red curry paste, fish sauce, sambal oelek and ginger. These cakes get bound with eggs, and have a crisp panko crust. Serve them with a bright and spicy lime dipping sauce.

Cocktail sauce


In a bowl, whisk together the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, horseradish and red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust flavorings if desired. This makes a generous 1 ½ cups cocktail sauce, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, about 1 week.


In a large, nonreactive bowl, whisk together the water, salt, bay leaf, garlic, red pepper, vinegar, peppercorns, halved lemons and their juice and sugar until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the shrimp and weight down with a plate to keep the shrimp submerged. Refrigerate for 1 hour to brine the shrimp.


Drain the shrimp, discarding the brine. Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot.


Lightly oil the grill grates and grill the shrimp until they are firm and pink and the flesh is opaque, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the cooked shrimp and toss with the butter and chives. Serve the shrimp warm with a bowl on the side for collecting the discarded shell pieces.