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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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