Avoid bumping shoulders with the crowd trying to win the bartender’s attention to get another beer during March Madness 2019. No need to signal the overworked waitress for more wings. You an avoid that madness and watch the NCAA drama unfold on a widescreen from the roomy comforts of your own sectional. Your food is made just to your liking and your drink just a moment away when you’re the cook and master of your own basketball-watching mania.
To go with all this deliciousness below, you might need to know how to stream NCAA tournament games and watch online. (And maybe how to pick your March Madness Bracket.) Oh, and don’t forget those beverages—like these upgraded versions of your favorite college drinks.
If you’re not really into sports—or if you just also happen to have a sweet tooth—vote for your favorite treat in our interactive Sweet 16 Dessert Bracket!
This is a bowl of what you really want when you’re in couch potato mode: creamy, cheesy, spicy dip with chunks of chicken in each bite. Use some raw carrot and celery sticks in addition to tortilla chips or crackers and you’ve got a (ahem) well-balanced meal all in one. (And if you’re into that idea, see even more dip versions of game day food.) Get our Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe.
2. Onion Rings
A Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot along with a ton of vegetable oil are necessities to making the crispiest, best bar side to your burger or brat for this game-day spread. Onions rings are often forgotten next to fries, but don’t do that. They’re great. Get our Onion Rings recipe.
You gotta have poppers for the game. And making them at home means they’re going to taste so much better. With smoky bacon and sharp cheddar plus the spice of fresh jalapeños, these little appetizer bites will go fast. Get our Bacon and Cheddar Jalapeño Poppers recipe.
This is another one/two-bite heavy appetizer many of us crave, at game time or anytime. These filling, savory, pan-fried dumplings are dipped in a savory, oniony, gingery, soy sauce with the flavor deepened even more by sesame oil. Get our Pork and Shrimp Potstickers recipe.
We’ve gotta hand it to the French Canadians: Poutine might just be the ultimate bar food. (Sorry, chicken wings.) It is a time-consuming dish, but the payoff comes with a rich, slow-simmered short rib gravy you’ll want to bathe in. Get our Poutine with Beef Gravy recipe.
6. French Fries
Because every time you serve those frozen-then-baked crinkle fries from a bag, a little part of you dies. Whether you serve them in a platter of poutine you slaved over or just with classic homemade ranch dressing for dipping, these fries are all about kitchen cred. Get our French Fries recipe.
If you’re thinking, “Focaccia? Bar food?” you might have a point. But this is one of those dead-simple recipes with a bajillion possibilities for customization (think: roasted garlic, briny Kalamata olives, rosemary, and sea salt), which makes sense if you’re serving a group and have more on your mind than snacks, like the 9.2-quintillion-to-1 odds of picking the perfect bracket. Get our Basic Focaccia recipe.
Case in point on that focaccia? A sheet pan of pizza that feeds 10 (make two—you’ll thank us for the leftovers). Bonus: It goes down equally well with a cheap beer or red wine. Get our Focaccia Pizza recipe.
9. Hot Dog Buns
Your encased meat deserves better than a processed, bland bun that disintegrates under the weight of a single condiment. Serve your brats, dogs, or gourmet sausages on these buns and bask in the glow of respect from your fellow eaters. Get our Hot Dog Buns recipe. (And then see our crazy hot dog topping combos in honor of March Madness.)
10. Mixed Nuts & Snack Mixes
You know the siren song of the bar snack bowl: the crunchy, spicy, umami bowls of weirdness and popcorn you mindlessly plow into despite knowing that at least 15 unwashed bar patrons have pawed through it. That stuff. Treat yourself to better. Get our Creole Shrimp Pecans recipe, Tangy Ranch Cashews recipe, and our Barbecue Pumpkin Seeds recipe, just for starters on the nuts and seeds end of things, and check out our Honey Mustard Snack Mix recipe and our Slow Cooker Party Mix recipe for more savory inspiration. But don’t forget sweet snack mixes—Puppy Chow makes a perfect crowd-pleasing dessert that’s hardly any work, and you can’t get that at a bar.
Let’s be honest: Unless you’re a skilled line fry cook, boiling oil in your own kitchen is a pain in the ass, messy, and never as good as you want the end result to be. Luckily, making crispy Buffalo wings in your oven is actually not that hard. Just follow a few simple—but important—tips. See how to make Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings recipe.
Following a recipe for nachos is a little bit like following Google map directions to your own home. You don’t measure refried beans or count jalapeño slices. There’s a Zen intuition to building a perfect platter of nachos—it’s as much about balance and restraint as it is about cheesy, crispy gluttony. Still, making our Beer-Braised Pork recipe to shred and sprinkle on top is a good first step. You would also be well served by our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar, and chili powder. Get our Pulled Pork Nachos recipe.
When it comes to regional bar food delicacies, Minneapolis—home of the 2019 Final Four—owns it with the jaw-testing, ooey-gooey Juicy Lucy, a burger with a molten cheese middle. So break out your grill (or your griddle) and prepare to stuff and be stuffed. Everyone’s a winner. Get our Juicy Lucy Burger recipe.
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— Original article by Colleen Rush March 5, 2015; updated by Amy Sowder March 14, 2017; and by Jen Wheeler on March 26, 2019.