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5 easy appetizers for a winning game-day spread

From quick, one-pot queso to juicy steak tacos, these delicious recipes will get everyone cheering.
Slow-cooker spare ribs have only five ingredients and take just 15 minutes to prepare.
Slow-cooker spare ribs have only five ingredients and take just 15 minutes to prepare.Claudia Totir / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Game day is an excuse for everyone (from home team die hards to apathetic onlookers) to chow down on some really good food. We're ditching delicate dinners and sweet treats for rich, hearty meals that feed a crowd — a crowd that's jumping up and down wildly, that is. Bring on the shareables like hot, cheesy dips. Dish up delicious, hand-held apps and entrées that can be eaten while standing up.

The big game comes only once a year, and these are just a few of the best, easiest recipes to satisfy viewers' appetites until the final touchdown.

This hot, melty dip is a one-pot recipe made with sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, fresh vegetables and a little hot pepper. It truly makes everything taste better. From a bowl full of classic dippers like crunchy corn chips (if you're not buying, try this easy 20-minute recipe for homemade tortilla chips) to stadium-worthy chili cheese dogs to nachos or as a vehicle for your favorite healthy veggies like carrots or jicama, queso is a game-day must. There's a reason TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager is obsessed with queso, and it's not just because of her Texas roots.

Canned chipotles in adobo sauce add smoke and spice to these quick steak tacos. Using flavorful skirt steak cuts the cooking time to just minutes. Note that while this marinade adds a lot of flavor quickly, it's even better if you let it sit overnight. Amp up the taste and save time by prepping a day in advance. Plus, the quick pickled onions add a bright and tangy finishing touch that will wow everyone, no matter which team they're cheering on.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Skip the effort of stuffing and frying and make this super simple, deconstructed version of the jalapeño poppers everyone loves. This dreamy dip is a cinch to make. In one bowl, all the ingredients of a stuffed jalapeño get mixed together: smooth cream cheese, sour cream (or for a healthier option, Greek yogurt), zesty seasonings, shredded cheeses and, of course, the spicy pepper. Then, placed in a casserole dish and dusted with a crunchy topping, you've got yourself one, big jalapeño popper, ready to be dipped into with your chips or veggies of choice.

Tailgate Nacho Packets

One of the only things that may deter some folks from whipping up a batch of their favorite game-day app, however, is that it's a pretty hands-on experience. Thanks to this brilliant nacho hack (don't worry, it's not the handsy "nacho table" that went viral in 2020), everyone can enjoy their own individual nacho pack in a safe, easy way.

These nachos have the same, great ingredients all stuffed into individual foil packets. So whether you're entertaining on the big screen in the backyard, tailgating or just want everyone to feel confident nobody's double dipping, this is the best nacho recipe to make on game day.

Slow-Cooker Spare Ribs

If you can't get enough of Chinese-style spare ribs, you'll love this easy version, which you can make in a slow cooker. Slow-cooker recipes are a must, whether you're entertaining or just watching with family. It's a super simple main dish that goes perfectly with other sides and appetizers.

In addition to being extremely delicious, this rib recipe has only five ingredients and takes just 15 minutes to prepare. Then, just let the cooker work its magic while the house fills with warm, umami-filled aromas in the hours leading up to the big game.

Want more game-day ideas? Try these winning recipes:

Stovetop Mac and Cheese