Make These 3 Big Game Appetizers Using Surprising Spices and Wow Your Crowd

Between cheering for your favorite team and watching the halftime show performance, you’re going to be eating during the Super Bowl. Whether it’s dips, guacamole or wings, I have three surprising game day twists that have you covered for party eats. No matter the outcome of the game, with these dishes, you’ll be a winner.

I’m not going to take sides, but I can provide winning appetizers to spice up your viewing party. Keep these recipes on hand for other sports gatherings, family parties, summer barbecues, fall fire pit shenanigans and as tasty surprises to go with holiday fare. These recipes highlight warming spices and condiments such as chipotle adobo, cumin, garlic powder, tahini paste and smoky chili powder. They’re sure to satisfy everyone.

Beer-Braised Chipotle Hot Wings

Smoky chipotle wings get a unique accented from cumin and liquid smoke. Chipotle has lots of smoky flavors, so cumin is a perfect companion. They’re spicy and lip-smacking good!


  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1 bottle ale beer
  • 4 pounds chicken wings (12 drumsticks)
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (add more for spicier wings)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 lime, juiced, plus wedges for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


  1. Heat oven to 400℉.
  2. Add liquid smoke and beer to a pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then lower to a rolling simmer. Braise wings, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove wings from braising liquid to a sheet tray.
  3. Sprinkle wings with salt.
  4. Puree chipotle peppers, garlic, ginger, cilantro, honey, salt and lime juice.
  5. Coat wings with chipotle puree.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.
  7. Sprinkle with cumin powder and garnish with cilantro.
  8. Serve with lime wedges.

Charred Eggplant Dip

I love this vegan recipe! It’s easy to char eggplant, then to turn it into an irresistible dip with tahini paste, smoky chili powder, and lemon juice. Look for the hint of sweet and crunch thanks to pomegranate seeds.


  • 1 medium eggplant (or 2 small)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon smoky chili powder (ancho)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Handful pomegranate seeds (optional)


  1. Char eggplants directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides and very tender in the center, about 20 minutes. Cool; cut open. Spoon flesh into a sieve set over bowl; discard skins. Drain at least 20 minutes up to 3 hours.
  2. Transfer eggplant to bowl and mash, or puree with a hand blender.
  3. Add garlic to salt and mash into a paste; mix into the eggplant.
  4. Mix tahini, chili powder, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper and mix. Add to eggplant. Pro tip: Do ahead and chill.
  5. Serve with chips, sliced veggies or toasted pita bread.

Smoky Onion Dip

I create a home smoker using a Dutch oven, foil and inexpensive wood chips available at the supermarket — and you can, too! This simple trick elevates any food, even the humble onion. If you don’t want to use sour cream, Greek yogurt is a fantastic substitute. I also added water chestnuts to add more crunch. The result: Cooling, smoky and tangy.


  • 1 cup hickory wood chips (or your favorite wood chips)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste


  1. Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes; drain. Place the soaked chips in a stovetop smoker, outdoor smoker or make your own as I did, over medium-high heat.
  2. Place onions in a perforated pan. Cover with tin foil. Poke several holes in the foil; place covered pan in smoker, and smoke for 1 hour. Onions are done when soft and brown. Pro tip: Taste onions for smokiness since all smokers are not created equal.
  3. Transfer smoked onions to a food processor, add liquid smoke and puree until smooth. Cool. Combine with remaining ingredients and mix well. Salt to taste.
  4. Serve with chips, sliced veggies or toasted pita bread.

Adapted from a Food Network recipe.

Born in India and raised in Atlanta, Chef Palak Patel grew up surrounded by traditional Indian cuisine. As her love of all things culinary expanded, she experimented with food, marrying the flavors of her native country with those of her adopted one. Her zest for travel further broadened her flavor palate as she globe-trotted, feasting on everything from local street food to la haute gastronomie. Palak shares these experiences as a TV personality, writer and one of the food industry’s newest and sassiest rising stars, gaining critical acclaim from victories in shows like Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network. Palak also battled it out against 24 other seasoned chefs in the Sears Chef’s Challenge, winning $20,000 for the Los Angeles Food Bank. Palak has been a guest on multiple Food Network shows, Marie Claire’s The Fix and Bravo’s Blood, Sweat and Heels. She has been featured in Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and India Abroad, and is a regular food and travel contributor to Table Magazine. Palak also has partnered with high-profile brands such as BMW and Barclays to curate menus for large events, HelloFresh as a guest chef and Mashable about creating a personal brand. Learn more, and contact us to book Chef Palak Patel.


Photos: Palak Patel

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