Super Bowl 2023 Party Must-Have Dishes: Mashed Staff's Top Picks

It's a safe bet that whether your team is in the game or not, there's one thing each of us can get behind when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around — the food. Next to Thanksgiving, it's arguably the biggest grab-a-seat-and-chow-down occassion for folks in the United States. The proposal of making the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday a national holiday gets floated around just about every year, and frankly, we're all for it as it would provide a chance to recover from the food coma that inevitably sets in during the postgame highlights. 

Now when it comes to the food that football fans love to indulge in before, during, and after the game, there are some obvious classics. You can really never go wrong with chicken wings, nachos, and pigs in a blanket on your buffet table. Just as each person has their must-have Thanksgiving dish though, a Super Bowl spread is no different. The Mashed writers came together to share the favorite foods that we love to nosh on between all the touchdowns, turnovers, and those can't-miss commercials

Crawford Smith - queso

Football games are long. The Super Bowl, with its star-studded halftime show and extra commercials, drags on for what feels like half a day. In this situation, you don't really want to serve anything that could be considered a "main dish." Sure, you might enjoy that burger in the moment, but it'll be done halfway through the first quarter and you'll have nothing to do with your hands for the rest of the game except check the sports betting app on your phone. No, for the Super Bowl, you want something you can mindlessly shove in your mouth at regular intervals for the entire length of the proceedings until you've eaten 10,000 calories without even realizing it. Queso is the perfect food for this.

One big reason queso is great football-watching food is that you can make an endless supply of it during the commercial breaks and not miss a second of the action. If you want to be a try-hard you can bust out a pot and make our stovetop queso recipe, but nobody's going to turn down Velveeta and Ro-Tel microwaved together in a bowl either. Just don't buy the jarred, premade stuff: You're better than that. Buy twice as many chips as you think you need (nothing is sadder than queso without chips), and you'll be all set to lull yourself and your guests into cheese-induced comas. As an added bonus, you can dunk every other common gameday food into queso and it will be delicious.

Oona O'Brien - pico de gallo

I identify myself as someone who is kind of into the Super Bowl despite knowing hardly a thing about football, but knowing all too well that for food, I'm willing to assimilate to sports culture for a couple hours.

Like most viewers, I'll need the minimum of chicken wings and pigs in a blanket to make it feel, well, Super Bowl-y. But there's another dish I've come to love for this day of the year: pico de gallo. A fresh, raw punch of onions and tomatoes with occasional garlic, cilantro, hot peppers and a hint of lime to back it up? This Mexican salsa is a touchdown for me. Although it can also be used as a garnish, I adore it so much I've accepted it for what it is- a star of its own show featured over crispy tortilla chips. And it's not a random choice on my part.

I find that this simple sauce is a great way to incorporate freshness on your Super Bowl menu no matter what time crunch you're on. It's always offered me a little break from the saucy, fried, or super meaty dishes I'm absolutely bound to indulge in (in increments of course because I'm a winner.) Pico de gallo is my absolute must-have to liven up the party and I suggest you try it too.

Jennifer Eager - spinach and sausage panini

Am I the only one that loves Super Bowl parties for the food? Football isn't my jam, but fun cocktails and tempting appetizers are the heart and soul of Super Bowl Sunday, and everyone loves my sausage and spinach panini. The panini, that fancy supercharged grilled cheese, is a fantastic party food cut into handheld pieces. Choose a hearty bread like ciabatta or focaccia; once pressed, it's way easier to handle than a typical party hero.

You can customize a panini any way you like; my favorite has spicy crumbled Italian sausage, caramelized onions, perfectly wilted baby spinach, mozzarella, and Parmesan seasoned with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. I'll top the filling with roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, or tomatoes if I'm feeling fancy –- use whatever you love.

A panini demands a perfect crunchy exterior, so I infuse crushed garlic (measured with my heart, of course) in a mix of melted butter and olive oil, along with a pinch of sea salt and a bit of dried basil. Olive oil is heart-healthy and a staple of Italian cuisine, but the butter lends an outrageous flavor.

The fun part is putting the paninis together. Brush both sides of the bread with the garlic butter mix, and always remember this layering order: bread, cheese, fillings, cheese, bread. Keeping fillings encased in cheese provides the best seal for easy slicing and eating. Be sure to make extra –- they will disappear faster than Isiah Pachecho can blow past the line of scrimmage.

Adam Swierk - chili cheese cream cheese dip (World Famous)

Every year growing up, my family hosted a small Super Bowl party with several aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since we love football, we always prioritized finger foods that allowed for easy access without losing track of the game itself. We'd have the usual assortment of classic Super Bowl foods, of course, including cocktail weenies, meatballs, and chicken wings. But no food resonated with my family's taste buds like my Aunt Joan's chili-cheese-cream cheese dip, which we lovingly (if somewhat bafflingly) called "World Famous" dip.

The highlight of every Super Bowl (and, quite frankly, non-football-related family gatherings, as well), the genius of World Famous dip lies in its simplicity, as it only features three ingredients. Additionally, the recipe involves nothing more than layering cream cheese, Hormel chili (without beans), and shredded Colby Jack cheese in a casserole dish, then nuking it in a microwave for five minutes.

Did we ever wait for the molten dip to cool down before digging in with Market Basket-brand tortilla chips? Of course not. But a childhood filled with roof-of-mouth burns from devouring scoop after scoop of literally-scalding deliciousness did little to diminish my love for this must-have game day dish. So when I'm watching the Super Bowl — this year or any year — my Aunt Joan's World Famous dip will be on the menu.

Felicia Lee - fried wontons

Super bowl food has to meet a few simple criteria: Besides being delicious, it must be easy to serve and easy to eat with your fingers. And it should, ideally, look appetizing and offer a nice visual and/or textural contrast to whatever else is in your spread. And to earn extra points from your game-day guests, it must also surprise and delight. Of course, few of us will ever turn down sliders and chips and dip, but a good Super Bowl spread, like the game itself, needs an unexpected twist or two to be memorable.

For this, I recommend a classic warhorse of the Chinese-American table: fried wontons. Crunchy on the outside, savory and juicy on the inside, these hearty stuffed pasta bundles hit a lot of the same notes as a good fried chicken wing, but with a distinctly different flavor profile that offers a welcome change-up from the standard barbeque/Tex-Mex profile of most Super Bowl treats. Like chicken wings, they're best hot, but are also tasty at room temperature, so they can still be enjoyed even if the game goes into overtime. They're great as is, but even better with a dipping sauce — such as hoisin or sweet-and-sour sauce — on the side.

Alexandra Cass - Buffalo chicken dip

Whether you're all rooting for the same team, or hosting a house divided for the Super Bowl, there's one dish that's bound to unite fans of any and all teams, and that's Buffalo chicken dip. This crowd pleaser combines the best of all worlds when it comes to game day favorites, from spicy Buffalo chicken to all the cheesy and creamy goodness your heart desires, in simple dip form, meaning you can keep shoveling mouthfuls without having to take your focus off the TV.

This delicious dip strikes the perfect flavor balance, made with shredded chicken, Buffalo sauce, cream cheese (and other shredded cheeses like cheddar or Colby jack), as well as optional additions like sour cream or Greek yogurt, diced green onions, and blue cheese crumbles. It's as simple as mixing all the ingredients together and baking the dip in the oven until everything is hot and bubbly and calling out to be devoured.

To make things even more mouthwatering, this dip can be customized to include any kind of melty cheese your heart desires, and the spice level can be adjusted based on your Buffalo sauce heat preference. Try tossing in some bacon or jalapeños if you want to get really creative. And if you're not the biggest blue cheese fan, we also recommend adding in some ranch seasoning or dressing for the ultimate wing experience in dippable form. Scoop it up with your favorite chips, crackers, or even celery and carrot sticks.

Carlos Marulanda - Mexican chili dip

My absolute go-to for the Super Bowl or really any gathering with lots of people has to be my mom's four-layer Mexican dip. It's served in a glass pan so you can see all those delicious layers once it's done. Cream cheese, chili, your choice of cheese, and sour cream are all you need for a basic approach.

My favorite aspect of the recipe is customization. You can spice it up with jalapenos, replace the ground beef with chicken, Mexican chorizo or other proteins, or even swap the Mexican cheese for something experimental like mozzarella. Even the sour cream is swappable for some packaged guac or plain Greek yogurt that has the same effect of adding that soft cream factor. That cream cheese thickness is always there and contributes wonderfully after a short 15-20 minutes in the oven.

The base ingredients are super cheap and can be found at virtually any supermarket or grocery store. They also haven't gone way up in price like chicken wings have so that's a huge plus if you're on a budget. And let's be honest, wings can be hit or miss but it's hard to mess up a dip so if you find yourself questioning what to bring or don't think the local wing place can deliver its usual quality on game day, this dip is a great option. Before you know it, you'll have delighted friends enjoying a thick, cheesy appetizer during the big game and everyone will be asking for the recipe.

Ashley Delmar - fried pickles

There's nothing that reminds me more of a Super Bowl party at my aunt and uncle's house than a delicious plate of deep fried pickles. While the dish may seem odd to the uninitiated, the tailgate-friendly finger food will have you craving a second helping long after your favorite team has their much anticipated moment with the Lombardi Trophy.

Deep fried pickles are as fun to make as they are to eat and can be whipped up in as little as 30 minutes. Simply cut your favorite dills into bite-sized slices and transfer the pieces onto a paper towel to pat dry. The next step is to make the deep fry batter, which is what gives deep fried pickles their unforgettable flavor. The batter can be made from a mixture of flour or Panko, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. If you and your party guests enjoy spicy food, you can also add a spoonful of your favorite hot sauce.

Once your pickle slices are sufficiently coated in batter, the final step is to drop them into your pre-heated and oiled pan and fry each piece until it is deliciously crispy and golden brown. Serve with a some ranch or dill flavored dipping sauce and your ready to enjoy your new favorite game day snack.

Maria Scinto - crab dip

While millions of football fans tune in to watch the Super Bowl each year, roughly 90% of them are probably wishing that some other team was there on the screen. I'm no exception — despite the fact that I'm currently marooned in cheesehead flyover country, I'm originally from Maryland and year after year I root for my beloved Ravens even when it becomes apparent that once again, this isn't going to be their year. (Don't say a word, Steelers fans, since it's been a while for your guys, too.) Even if I can't have a Ravens championship, I can still have a taste of home when I make my favorite hot crab dip.

I'd like to say I always make this dip with Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, but they're crazy expensive to import so I make do with jarred lump crab meat. I mix it with cream cheese and sour cream (no mayo, though, I'm not a fan) along with plenty of shredded cheddar and, of course, Old Bay so at least one of the ingredients is from my home state. Since this is a dip, it needs some dippers, and French bread works well. Tortilla chips are okay, too, but my favorite is soft pretzel sticks. The only thing that would make this dip even better would be a few cans of Natty Bo on the side ... Sadly, Baltimore's favorite brew is almost as rare in the Midwest as blue crabs.

Jennifer Mathews - artichoke dip

For me, the perfect dish is all about contrasting textures and tastes, and spinach artichoke dip served with toasted bread has it all. While I'll never say no to pigs in a blanket and nachos hold a special place in my heart, dipping slices of a warm, crusty baguette into molten hot artichoke dip, piercing the layer of golden brown melted cheese is perfection.

Artichoke dip has the right amount of fat from the cream cheese and sour cream to give you a luscious, rich mouthfeel. Aromatics like garlic and fresh herbs provide the underlining flavor of the dish. Combine that with tangy artichoke hearts and chopped spinach (so I feel less guilty for eating the whole thing), and this dip is almost perfect. A sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top before broiling the entire thing takes this dish to the next level, blowing chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and every other frozen appetizer I wish I could eat more often out of the water. Spinach artichoke dip has a savoriness that other party foods can't touch. While I'm not too proud to eat it with a spoon, the contrasting texture of the creamy dip on crunchy, toasted bread is irresistible.

Jess Jeziorowski - Sicilian-style pizza

I'm one of those people that shows up to the Super Bowl party for two things only: the food and the commercials. I like and understand football -– I even have a team, but nine times out of 10, the Steelers aren't playing in the big game, so I find it more fun to keep one eye on the game, roll my eyes at the surreal commercials, and graze. Besides the essentials like chicken wings and chips and Heluva Good dip, I need a pizza. It has to be simple and hearty -– I don't need a Neapolitan pizza that covers my kitchen counters in flour –- especially if I'm hosting a crowd.

I've found that a tray-baked pizza is my best option, and my go-to is a Sicilian-style pizza with a spicy sauce and crisp pepperoni, perhaps with some mushrooms or olives, too. The focaccia-like crust is more substantial and filling than a traditional slice, so you can get away with making less but still fill up. The prep and mess is minimal which is great if you're hosting — no flour all over the counter! — and it's essentially a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. After stretching and resting in well-oiled sheet trays, top it, and bake it. The crust holds the toppings well and cuts into square slices that are delicious hot out of the oven or even at room temp during the final frantic minutes of the game.

Madisen Swenson - beef queso

For Super Bowl Sunday, my culinary mission is to create a dish that is essentially a deconstructed Taco Bell menu. Normally, this sort of dish is only a passing fantasy on a hungover morning, but when it's time to sit down for the big game, that is exactly what I want beside me. That is where a beefy, spicy queso dip comes in.

Browned ground beef, a stick of Velveeta, a can of green chiles, maybe some fresh pico de gallo if you're feeling fancy, and a sprinkling of taco seasoning are all you need. To be sure, this is not the recipe to follow if you want authentic Mexican cuisine on the table — I never seem to mind. I like to serve mine in a cast iron, but there's no reason it can't stay hot all day long in a slow cooker — just be sure to brown the meat beforehand. Best served with tortilla chips and a chilled cerveza.

Nancy Mock - chili

No matter who's facing off in the game, everyone roots for Team Super Bowl Party Food. And I believe a Super Bowl spread just isn't complete without a big pot of warm, savory chili. When I walk in the door of my friend's house with a cold 12-pack under my arm, I want to catch the savory aroma of that chili first thing.

Appetizers like dips and wings are must-haves too, of course, but as a guest at hours-long game day parties, I always reach a point where I want something more substantial to eat. Something dinner-ish but still snacky, and easy to bring over to the couch to eat off my lap. Chili fits the bill perfectly: it's spicy, flavorful, and still feels indulgent. Best of all, I can take other foods from the Super Bowl spread (guacamole, tortilla chips, a little queso) and add them as toppings to my chili!

And when everyone's coming to my house for the Super Bowl? Chili is one of the most versatile, crowd-feeding recipes to make. I can cook up a meaty beef and short rib chili, my famous vegetarian chili, or a creamy white chili with turkey or chicken. Maybe my chili will have beans, maybe not. Then I keep it warm in a slow cooker with bowls nearby and toppings like cheese, sour cream, and diced scallions.

For a winning Super Bowl Sunday dish, I say always go chili.

Alex Darus - bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers

Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers have everything you could possibly want from a classic Super Bowl dish. The stuffed peppers are spicy, loaded with cheese, and wrapped in thick bacon for a deliciously savory bite. First, you need to slice a bunch of fresh jalapeños in half and remove the seeds inside (so that they aren't overwhelmingly spicy). Then, you stuff them with a mixture of cream cheese and shredded cheese and wrap the whole thing in bacon. The bacon should be secured with an oven-safe toothpick so that it actually stays around the bite.

The jalapeño poppers should be lined up on a baking sheet and roasted in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven until the bacon is fully cooked and the entire popper is crispy and hot. Jalapeño poppers are an appetizer that's difficult to eat just one of, so make sure to make plenty to last through the end of the fourth quarter of your Super Bowl party.

Samantha Sied - popcorn

As simple as it seems, popcorn is one of my Superbowl party favorites. This movie-night classic conjures up memories of family game nights, slumber parties, and holidays. It's one of those foods that bridges the gap between comfort food and party treat.

Even if you don't have a popcorn popper, stovetop popcorn is easy to make. Not only that but you can make it before kick off and leave it out throughout the game. Depending on the seasoning you use, it pairs well with anything else on your Super Bowl menu. I like to experiment using seasonings from my spice rack. If you need ideas you can dress it up with truffle oil and parmesan cheese, spice it up with a Cajun-inspired spice blend, or just use a little salt. For an added fun touch, consider a popcorn bar with an assortment of seasonings and accompaniments like mini pretzels, candies, or nuts.