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!

Defining 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.

Dip Varieties

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.

Dip Tips

  1. Depending on the size of your gathering, consider offering a selection of sweet and savory, warm and cold dips with a variety of dippers.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

The Classics

These classics are sure to be a hit at every party, so don’t expect any leftovers.

Try this Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip
Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip
Try this Bacon Bacon Dip
Bacon Bacon Dip
Try this Classic Ranch Dressing
Classic Ranch Dip
Try this Bountiful Beer Bread Bowl with Spinach & Herb Dip
Bountiful Beer Bread Bowl with Spinach & Herb Dip
Try this Onion Onion Dip
Onion Onion Dip
Try this Garlic Garlic Dip
Garlic Garlic Dip

The Sweet Side

Sure to satisfy your sweet tooth, these easy dips are perfect before or after your meal.

Try this Creamy Caramel Peanut Butter Dip
Creamy Caramel Peanut Butter Dip
Try this Hot Fudge Malt Dip
Hot Fudge Malt Dip
Try this 7-Layer Peanut Butter Caramel Dip
7-Layer Peanut Butter Caramel Dip
Try this Luscious Fruit Dip
Luscious Fruit Dip
Try this Chai Pumpkin Dip
Chai Pumpkin Dip
Try this Salted Butterscotch Fruit Dip
Salted Butterscotch Fruit Dip

Bring On the Heat

If you’re looking to spice up your next gathering, try one of these hot and spicy dips.

Try this Fiesta Party Dip
Fiesta Party Dip
Try this Slow Cooker Queso Fundido
Slow Cooker Queso Fundido
Try this Sí Sí Cilantro Dip
Sí Sí Cilantro Dip
Try this Rustic Buffalo Chicken Dip
Rustic Buffalo Chicken Dip
Try this Wahoo! Chili Dip
Wahoo! Chili Dip
Try this Tex-Mex Chip Dip
Tex-Mex Chip Dip

Luscious Layers

These layered dips are simple to make, but so delicious your guests will rave about them.

Try this Baked Pizza & Dippers
Baked Pizza and Dippers
Try this Disappearing Dip
Disappearing Dip
Try this Beef Tostada Dip
Beef Tostada Dip
Try this Fiesta Layered Dip
Fiesta Layered Dip
Try this Fiesta Guacamole Dip
Fiesta Guacamole Dip
Try this Simply Salsa Layered Dip
Simply Salsa Layered Dip

Dips Around the World

Take a taste-travel around the world with easy-to-make dips inspired by international cuisine.

Try this Crazy Simple Pineapple Salsa
Crazy Simple Pineapple Salsa
Try this Beer Cheese Fondue
Beer Cheese Fondue
Try this Tuscan Baked Brie
Tuscan Baked Brie
Try this Onion Onion Hummus
Onion Onion Hummus
Try this Mediterranean Layered Dip
Mediterranean Layered Dip
Try this Honey Teriyaki Peanut Dip
Honey Teriyaki Peanut Dip

– kgm