Sometimes, nothing hits the spot quite like a big bowl of dip. Not just dip as an appetizer to the main course, or dip as an afterthought left to languish beside the charcuterie board, but dip as the star of the show. During the winter, post-holiday cooking exhaustion sets in, so a perfectly pureed bowl of dip — especially if that dip appears in a bread bowl or next to some lightly toasted crackers, or with a big swirl of olive oil on top — can be a miracle. Here are seven Eater editors’ go-to recipes for those special occasions when dip is what’s for dinner.
Tish Gidney, Allrecipes
Growing up in my house, two things were appetizer staples at parties: rumaki (the nostalgic bacon-wrapped water chestnuts on a toothpick) and dill dip served in a pumpernickel bread bowl. They might feel a little dated, but each worked its way into my own entertaining repertoire, at least for some occasions. My mom’s recipe is very similar to the one linked above, though she always added a little garlic powder. I suggest swapping fresh dill and parsley for the dried (and upping the quantity of the dill a bit), and I’ll also usually serve some pickled vegetables alongside the dip-filled bread bowl. The secret to any version is Beau Monde seasoning. Despite the fact that Beau Monde is basically just salt, celery seed, and onion powder (and not a seasoning blend I have come across in any context beyond this dip), I still keep a bottle in my pantry in case I need some for an impromptu gathering. — Missy Frederick, cities manager
There are many ways to prepare Buffalo chicken dip. There are recipes that call for minced garlic or a dash of vinegar or sour cream or blue cheese. I’m sure these are all perfectly fine, but for me, the platonic ideal of Buffalo chicken dip was the first one I tasted shortly after I moved to St. Louis. It was at trivia night, a classic St. Louis activity which usually takes place in a community center, and participants bring their own food, the saltier and junkier the better. This dip had been prepared by my coworker Chad, who told me it contained just cream cheese, ranch dressing, hot sauce, cheddar cheese, and, of course, chicken (rotisserie or canned). You combine all these things in a casserole dish and then eat it hot, with tortilla chips. And voila! Simple, basic, salty Midwestern ambrosia. It contains three of the basic food groups, so it can be justified as a meal. Which I have. — Aimee Levitt, Eater Chicago deputy editor
Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook, NYT Cooking
I can’t say for certain that hummus is the first dip — like, ever, created by humans to eat — but given the Middle Eastern origins of the chickpea, sesame seed, and ancient civilization, it just might be. In any event, hummus reigns supreme over other dips, and chef Michael Solomonov’s recipe is the one to rule them all.
One clue as to why is the recipe is named hummus tehina instead of just hummus: Tehina, or tahini, is an underrated essential ingredient in any good hummus, and Solomonov’s generous tahini-to-chickpea ratio is one reason this recipe is so good. A few more reasons: Letting the chickpeas soak overnight, then cook down to a mush, yields exceptional smoothness. So does using a blender, not a food processor. And grating the garlic and letting it soak in lemon juice and salt mellows out the garlic’s bite. Follow each step to a tee (no rushing or skimping!) and you’ll be rewarded with the creamiest, most flavorful hummus that can be eaten endlessly, with any topping or accoutrement, in place of any snack or meal. It’s been working for thousands of years. — Ellie Krupnick, director of editorial operations
Melissa Clark, NYT Cooking
Hello, I am a Chicagoan, what can you do for me in the genre of utopian Great Lakes fantasia? If Mars Cheese Castle (a tourist attraction on the northern side of the Illinois-Wisconsin border — nay, a legend) had a moat they’d fill it with this pub cheese. I dream of a fake log cabin interior, with a relish tray, and this is the centerpiece. Once I had a supper club-themed dinner party, and I cut my finger on a mandoline and bled into the potatoes, but everything went off without a hitch for this mauve-colored cheese dip, which gets its pallor from an entire bottle of reduced red wine, no injury required. Just be careful scraping it out of the food processor. — Rachel P. Kreiter, senior copy editor
I first had this hot spinach and artichoke dip at a friend’s barbecue over a decade ago. I demanded to know the recipe, and was shocked to find out it’s right off the back of a Knorr vegetable soup packet. Trust me: Everyone who tries it has the same reaction. It’s the definition of nothing fancy: mix a few ingredients together, heat, eat, boom, done. There’s plenty of texture and creamy, savory goodness throughout. (I omit the water chestnuts since they’re not my favorite.) I’ve served this with pita chips, Tostitos Scoops, piped onto fancy crackers, smushed on some toast, and have definitely chipped away at its leftovers by the spoonful straight from the fridge. It’s also a pretty easy recipe to lie about if you need to impress but can’t stomach admitting it isn’t homemade. I’m not judging! My recommendation: Scoop some on a burger immediately, if not sooner. It’ll change your life. — Stefania Orrù, supervising producer
Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen
I love any recipe that boils down to “put your junk and scraps in here,” especially one that — no matter what — turns out convincingly elegant. I’ve made this fromage fort spread with all combinations of cheese and herbs, even those that seem like they absolutely wouldn’t go well together, but through the magic of white wine and garlic it always ends up tasting like homemade Boursin, the ideal cheese spread. As always, more garlic and herbs never hurt anyone. — Jaya Saxena, senior writer
When a cooking school classmate introduced me to muhammara over a decade ago, I quickly became enamored of it. Typically made from roasted red peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, ground Aleppo pepper, and olive oil, it’s a Syrian-born dip served in Turkey and throughout the Middle East. When I first learned about it I had a hard time finding it in restaurants, so I began making my own with some help from a Saveur recipe. It’s a simple and extremely forgiving dip to make: While you can take the time to roast your own peppers, jarred ones also do the trick, and you can play around with the amounts of pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper, breadcrumbs, and other spices to customize it to your taste. Lately I’ve been using the Minimalist Baker’s recipe as my guide, and putting the results on everything from grain bowls to Wasa crackers to smoked salmon. Nutty, spicy, sweet, and hearty, there are very few things it’s not good with, though if I’m honest, a lot of the time I eat it straight from the container, and that works pretty well, too. — Rebecca Marx, senior editor