Posted by Keri M on November 15, 2022
Many elements set the stage for a great gathering: an interesting mix of guests, mood-setting décor and of course – terrific eats! When you plan your appetizer spread, be sure to include the unsung hero of perfect party food: a variety of delicious dips!
Essentially, dips are thick sauces that add flavor to bite-sized foods (“dippers”) like chips, crackers, bread cubes and fresh fruit pieces. Dips can be warm or cold, sweet or savory, creamy or chunky. Many have a cream cheese, sour cream or mayonnaise base, though there are many other options, from tomatoes to avacados to chickpeas and more.
Around the world, every culture has developed its own favorite dips. Here’s a brief glossary of some common dip varieties:
- Fondue: A Swiss dish dating to at least the 17th century, traditional fondue is a mixture of melted cheese (often Gruyere) and white wine, served from a communal pot kept warm with a chafing dish with bread cubes on long forks for dipping. Newer varieties, like dessert fondues, feature melted chocolate with fresh fruit and cubes of cake for dipping.
- Chutney: The national condiment of India, chutney is made from slow cooked fruits or vegetables mixed with vinegar and spices. It is often used as a dipping sauce with flatbread.
- Hummus: A Middle Eastern and Mediterranean favorite for thousands of years, hummus is typically made from a puree of chickpeas (garbonzo beans) mixed with tahini and lemon juice. It’s traditionally served on a plate drizzled with olive oil, with fresh pita as a dipper.
- Salsa: Dating back to the Aztecs in Mexico, salsa has become the most popular condiment in the United States. This tomato-based sauce typically includes chiles and onions, often with the addition of other ingredients like corn and beans and even fruit. It is usually served with tortilla chips.
- Tahini: Like hummus, tahini is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. It consists of hulled sesame seeds ground into a thick paste and may be served on its own with dippers or as an ingredient in other dishes.
- Depending on the size of your gathering, consider offering a selection of sweet and savory, warm and cold dips with a variety of dippers.
- Be creative in how you present your dips. Try multicolored bowls, hollowed out peppers or bread bowls, varying the heights of the bowls on risers to add visual interest.
- Avoid the dreaded double-dipping by including spoons in the dip bowls, tongs for dippers and appetizer plates so each guest can make their own mini appetizer buffet.
- Play it safe. You probably don’t have to build a sneeze guard over your appetizer table. But be mindful of basic food safety: keep cold foods cold, and hot foods hot. Consider chafing dishes or warming trays for warm dips and dip chillers or bowls of ice for chilled dips.
Seriously Delicious Dips
Ready to dip into the world of dips? Check out these recipes when planning the menu for your next party.
These classics are sure to be a hit at every party, so don’t expect any leftovers.
The Sweet Side
Sure to satisfy your sweet tooth, these easy dips are perfect before or after your meal.
Bring On the Heat
If you’re looking to spice up your next gathering, try one of these hot and spicy dips.
These layered dips are simple to make, but so delicious your guests will rave about them.
Dips Around the World
Take a taste-travel around the world with easy-to-make dips inspired by international cuisine.