5 Elevated Game Day Snacks to Impress Every Palate

Green bean fries and hot honey meatballs ftw

September 25, 2023 6:16 am
Tuna Poke Nachos in a blue bowl
Ahi tuna nachos really up the game.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

There’s nothing quite like watching your favorite sports while eating game day bar foods. From nachos to potato skins, these classics are utterly delicious. But these favorites also tend to be a bit heavy and repetitive over the course of an entire season. Luckily, we elevated some classic game day foods to be familiar yet innovative, with recipes that could go from the bar to a fancy dinner party just as easily. Get ready to impress your friends and elevate your culinary game with five easy game day snacks that combine the best of both worlds.

Nachos are a staple on game day, and for good reason: they are easy to prepare and even easier to devour. Sushi, on the other hand, rarely makes the game day spread, and that’s a real shame because it checks all the boxes — no cooking required, designed to be bite-sized, packed full of flavor. Let’s give sushi its due and take its best qualities and pair it with classic nachos. Instead of the usual chips, delicate wonton sheets are used as a crisp base that perfectly complement tender, sushi-grade tuna. The marinade, featuring a harmonious blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha and honey, infuses the tuna with a savory-sweet umami richness. The toppings add layers of texture and flavor, and a drizzle of sriracha mayo provides a delightful kick and ties it all together.

Ahi Tuna Nachos

Servings: 2-3

  • 30 wonton sheets
  • 3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 lb. sushi grade tuna, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • Sriracha mayo
    1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha and honey. Toss tuna in the sauce and let sit for 15 minutes.

    2. Preheat an air fryer or oven to 350°F. Slice wonton sheets in half diagonally, then cook 3 minutes in the air fryer or 7 to 8 minutes in the oven until brown and crisp.

    3. Once tuna is marinated and the wontons are crispy, prepare the nachos. Lay out the wonton chips, then top with tuna, veggies, sesame seeds, green onion and sriracha mayo.

Potato skins are a fine appetizer, albeit perhaps a bit pedestrian. This version of sweet potato skins transcends ordinary flavors with the richness of Gruyère cheese and the complexity of pancetta, elevating each bite to a gourmet experience. The crème fraîche adds a creamy, tangy note that harmonizes with the sweet potato’s natural sweetness. Topped with fresh chives, this dish strikes a perfect balance of textures and flavors, fit for game day or a fine dining moment.

Sweet Potato Skins

Servings: 8

  • 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prep the sweet potatoes by pricking them a few times with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Place the sweet potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly.

    2. As the sweet potatoes cook, in a small pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

    3. Once cooled, cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out most of the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch of sweet potato attached to the skin. Brush the inside and outside of the sweet potato skins with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the insides with salt and black pepper, and evenly sprinkle on the grated Gruyère cheese. Return them to the oven and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

    4. Take the sweet potato skins out of the oven and let them cool slightly. Top each skin with a dollop of crème fraîche, a sprinkle of chopped chives and the crumbled crispy pancetta.

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Hot Honey Meatballs
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Meatballs are underrated for a game day party, given their ease to prepare ahead. While beef meatballs are classic, these hot honey meatballs outshine their standard counterparts. The unique blend of Pecorino Romano cheese and pork or slightly gamey venison delivers a distinct savory flavor profile. What truly elevates these meatballs, however, is the exquisite hot honey glaze made with balsamic vinegar, harissa and honey, offering a balanced sweetness and heat that harmonizes perfectly with the rich meat.

Hot Honey Meatballs

Servings: 4

  • 1 lb. ground pork or venison
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. harissa
  • 1 Tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, chopped parsley, minced shallot, minced garlic, beaten egg, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together until well combined.

    2. Form the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Transfer the meatballs to a greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, turning once halfway through.

    3. As the meatballs cook, make the hot honey glaze. Combine the honey, harissa and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until combined.

    4. Once the meatballs are cooked, transfer to a serving dish, toss in the hot honey and enjoy.

Crispy Parmesan, Panko, Garlic Crusted Yellow and Green Been Fries on a parchment-lined baking sheet
Gourmet Green Bean Fries
Getty Images

Green beans rarely, if ever, make it to the snack food table — until now. The use of fresh tarragon infuses each bite with an herby, refined note that highlights the grassy flavor of the green beans. Pecorino Romano cheese contributes a tangy, salty richness, while the white truffle oil imparts a subtle yet luxurious aroma. Additionally, these green bean fries offer a healthier yet indulgent offering, something rarely found on a game day spread.

Gourmet Green Bean Fries

Servings: 2

  • 1 lb. trimmed fresh green beans
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. white truffle oil
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
    1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and place a baking sheet inside to preheat. In a shallow dish, combine panko breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano cheese, chopped tarragon, salt and black pepper. In another dish, whisk the eggs with the white truffle oil.

    2. Dip each green bean into the truffle-infused egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off, then coat thoroughly with the breadcrumb mixture, gently pressing to ensure a crisp crust.

    3. Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven and drizzle it with the extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange the breaded green beans on the sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until they achieve a golden, delightful crispness, turning once halfway through cooking. Once cooked, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the lemon zest.

These chicken chile poppers elevate classic jalapeño poppers in several ways. Firstly, they utilize banana or Anaheim peppers instead of jalapeños, offering a milder and sweeter pepper profile that won’t overwhelm the palate. Secondly, the filling combines the richness of shredded rotisserie chicken, the tanginess of goat cheese and the saltiness of feta, creating a more complex flavor. But what truly sets these poppers apart is the use of gochujang, a Korean red chili paste that adds a unique depth of flavor with its sweet, spicy and umami notes. When combined with the butter, sherry vinegar, garlic powder and cayenne pepper, it creates a sauce that’s both spicy and intensely flavorful, taking these poppers to a whole new level of culinary excellence.

Korean Chicken Chile Poppers

Servings: 12

  • 12 large banana or Anaheim peppers
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. aged sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or adjust to your spice preference)
    1. Preheat the oven or air fryer to 375°F. Cut the tops off the banana peppers and remove the seeds and membranes, creating small “boats” for stuffing.

    2. In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded rotisserie chicken, goat cheese, feta cheese, chopped cilantro, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Mix until well combined. Stuff each banana pepper with the chicken and cheese mixture.

    3. Dredge each stuffed banana pepper in all-purpose flour, then dip it into beaten eggs and finally dip in panko breadcrumbs, ensuring an even coating. Place the poppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

    4. Brush the tops lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or air fry for 14 to 16 minutes until golden brown.

    5. As the poppers cook, prepare the gochujang sauce. In a saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over low heat. Add the gochujang, aged sherry vinegar, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.

    6. Once the pepper poppers are baked to perfection, toss them gently in the prepared hot sauce until they are coated evenly, and serve.


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