SNACKING MADE EASY
For a fast, convenient, and satisfying dish that can feed a crowd at all kinds of parties, it's hard to beat chips and dip. They're as versatile as they are tasty, and many of the recipes included here are quick and easy to prepare using typical pantry items -- great for last-minute potlucks or entertaining. Those who are serious about savings will want to invest the minimal time and energy to make homemade chips when possible, adding freshness and customized flavor.
CHIPS AND SALSA
The ultimate chip-and-dip combo, chips and salsa are a favorite among flavor- and savings-obsessed foodies. Start by looking for one of Cheapism.com's top picks among cheap tortilla chips. Make a basic salsa from a bit of chopped onion and tomato with pungent garlic and a spicy kick from jalapeño. Ripe and high-quality ingredients are affordable and ensure each bite packs a lot of flavor.
Recipe: Real Simple
HUMMUS AND PITA CHIPS
Pita chips can cost double the price of the same amount of pita bread. To make your own, cut pitas into triangles and sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt, and a few spices of your choice, such as pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 11 to 13 minutes. The base of hummus is a $1 or $1.50 can of chickpeas, plus a touch of tahini, lemon, salt, and other optional flavorings such as cumin, making for a quick and easy dish to whip up for last-minute entertaining.
WHITE BEAN DIP AND LAVASH
A can of white beans is typically less than $2, while other flavorings such as garlic, lemon, and olive oil amount to another $1.50. Create a unique riff on a basic recipe by substituting favorite herbs and spices. A basic lavash (crisp Middle Eastern flatbread) can be made with simple, low-cost pantry items such as flour, salt, and yeast -- and it's well worth the effort.
CARAMELIZED ONION DIP AND BAKED POTATO CHIPS
Homemade potato chips are easy to make and inexpensive -- about 33 cents for a medium-size potato, which easily yields at least one serving of chips. For the dip, inexpensive condiments get a flavor injection from caramelized onions. It's tasty when fresh, but for optimum depth, let the flavors develop and integrate overnight.
Recipe: Alton Brown
SPINACH DIP AND BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS
This dip makes the most of frozen artichokes and spinach, which are considerably less expensive than their fresh counterparts, especially if bought on sale, and available year-round. For variety, swap in whatever kinds of cheese is on hand and make the most of leftovers. To further trim cost and calories, ditch the expense of frying oil and bake corn tortillas to make crisp chips.
Recipe: The Wicked Noodle
TZATZIKI AND PITA CHIPS
This earthy and zesty Greek dip is made with simple, inexpensive ingredients: garlic, lemons, and cucumber combined with thick strained yogurt, which can be found for about 11 cents an ounce. Store-bought tzatziki lacks the pop of fresh flavor and is typically twice the price of Greek yogurt, making this dip one to make at home.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
CHIPOTLE YOGURT DIP AND CARROT CHIPS
Greek yogurt gives this dip creamy body, and canned chipotle in adobo is an inexpensive ingredient that adds spice and tang. It's delicious served with carrot chips, which elevate a humble, cheap ingredient to an unexpected culinary delight. Play with the balance of spices on the carrot chips to create flavor dimensions such as sweet and spiced or hot and smoky.
Recipe: The Artisan Life
SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE DIP WITH CUCUMBER CHIPS
Keeping it simple and using fresh herbs for flavor is a great way to cut the cost of dips. The main ingredient here is 5 ounces of sour cream, which costs less than $2. Keep it light by slicing fresh Persian or seedless cucumbers into quarter-inch diagonal slices for use as chips. The crunch of the fresh cucumber is a nice contrast to the dip's richness.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
PAPRIKA-SPICED LEMON HERB DIP AND LAVASH
The flavorings here work equally well with a variety of bases: a can of white beans, chickpeas, plain hummus, Greek yogurt, or sour cream. Start with 6 ounces of whichever is leftover in the fridge and add 1 teaspoon paprika, the juice and zest of one lemon, and a pinch of fresh or dried herbs such as thyme. Allow the flavors to meld in the fridge for at least three hours -- ideally, overnight.
Recipe: Trinity's Kitchen
REQUESON WITH TOAST POINTS
Requeson is a Mexican version of ricotta cheese, rich and creamy yet light enough for grazing. This recipe is homemade from scratch, using milk, sour oranges, and salt. Spice it up or pair it with any condiment alongside toast points for an inexpensive, delicious, and homemade appetizer.
Recipe: The Wednesday Chef
QUESO AND CORN CHIPS
Queso dip is hard to resist and dangerously easy to make. Making it in a slow cooker makes it that much easier to whip up for a crowd. This recipe adds beef for an extra-substantial dip, though substituting chicken or mushrooms work well.
Recipe: Brown Eyed Baker
BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP WITH CELERY
Buffalo chicken is a staple party food, but can be messy to eat and time-consuming to prepare. A dip puts that classic flavor in a cream cheese base avoids the problems. Pair it with crisp celery for a bit of coolness with all the heat.
PIZZA DIP WITH ITALIAN BREAD
It’s hard to go wrong with universally loved pizza, even in dip form. This whimsical recipe is just like building a pizza -- with favorite toppings subbed in to customize it -- and toasted Italian bread takes the place of crust.
LAYERED BEAN DIP WITH TORTILLA CHIPS
Layered bean dip is a cheap and tasty way to feed a crowd. This classic recipe for seven-layer dip is a good place to start, but it’s really just a guide. Bean dip can be as few or as many layers as you like, and virtually any add-in works well.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
CHORIZO CHEESE DIP WITH TOSTADAS
Mostly chorizo and cream cheese, this dip is rich and tends to go quickly at parties. Spiced with jalapeños and cilantro, it takes on added Mexican-inspired flavor and a bit of heat. A vegetarian version could be made by using mushrooms or soy instead of pork chorizo.
Recipe: White on Rice Couple
GUACAMOLE WITH TORTILLAS
Guacamole is one of the all-time classic dips. The trick to making it affordable is to shop for avocados at Latin American markets and to opt for the larger, smoother avocados rather than the Mexican Hass varieties, which tend to be pricier.
Recipe: Real Simple
HORSERADISH BACON DIP WITH PUMPERNICKEL TOAST
This quick six-ingredient dip packs a lot of punch, with fiery horseradish balanced by salty bacon. As with most dips, this gets better after the flavors are given a chance to meld, which means it’s best to make it a few hours ahead of time.
SPICY RANCH DIP WITH MULTIGRAIN CHIPS
Ranch is one of America’s favorite flavors, and served alongside crisp carrot chips and multigrain chips or crackers is a mouthwatering snack just a little different from the ordinary chip-and-dip spreads. Make this version in a slow cooker with plenty of spices to kick up the heat factor.
Recipe: Betty Crocker
CHOCOLATE DIP WITH BANANA CHIPS
Chips and dip doesn’t have to be a strictly savory endeavor. This airy and sweet dip comes together quickly with just four ingredients. Fresh fruit works well for dipping, or take it to the next level with crunchy and subtly sweet banana chips for textural contrast.
Recipe: Taste of Home
S'MORES DIP WITH GRAHAM CRACKERS
Who says chips and dip are only an appetizer? Turn a favorite campfire treat into an indulgent dessert by pouring a bag of chocolate chips into a skillet or oven-safe pan and topping with fresh marshmallows. Bake at 450 degrees until marshmallows are golden brown (about 8 to 10 minutes). The biggest expense in making this decadent dip is the chocolate chips, which cost about $3 for a 12-ounce bag. Budget another $3 to $5 for a bag of marshmallows and a box of graham crackers. Still, at less than $10, this dessert costs at least half as much as a similar size cake, which isn't nearly as fun.
Recipe: Five Heart Home