10 Cheap and Tasty Ideas for Chips and Dip

SNACKING MADE EASY

For a fast, convenient, and satisfying dish that can feed a crowd, it's hard to beat chips and dip. Easily a hit at cocktail and dinner parties, chips and dip are as versatile as they are tasty. Many of the recipes included here are quick and easy to prepare using typical pantry items -- great for last-minute potlucks or entertaining. Those who are serious about savings will want to invest the minimal time and energy to make homemade chips when possible, adding freshness and customized flavor. In honor of National Chip and Dip Day on March 23, here are 10 takes on this classic pairing that make use of inexpensive ingredients and creative combinations.

CHIPS AND SALSA

The ultimate chip-and-dip combo, chips and salsa are a favorite among flavor- and savings-obsessed foodies. Start by looking for one of Cheapism.com's top picks among cheap tortilla chips. Make a basic salsa from a bit of chopped onion and tomato with pungent garlic and a spicy kick from jalapeño. Ripe and high-quality ingredients are affordable and ensure each bite packs a lot of flavor.

HUMMUS AND PITA CHIPS

Pita chips can cost double the price of the same amount of pita bread. To make your own, cut pitas into triangles and sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt, and a few spices of your choice, such as pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 11 to 13 minutes. The base of hummus is a $1 or $1.50 can of chickpeas, plus a touch of tahini, lemon, salt, and other optional flavorings such as cumin. A recipe from Real Simple is quick and easy, making this a great dish to whip up for last-minute entertaining.

WHITE BEAN DIP AND LAVASH

A can of white beans is typically less than $2, while other flavorings such as garlic, lemon, and olive oil amount to another $1.50. Create a unique riff on a basic recipe by substituting favorite herbs and spices. A basic lavash (crisp Middle Eastern flatbread) can be made with simple, low-cost pantry items such as flour, salt, and yeast -- and it's well worth the effort.

CARAMELIZED ONION DIP AND BAKED POTATO CHIPS

Homemade potato chips are easy to make and inexpensive -- about 33 cents for a medium-size potato, which easily yields at least one serving of chips. For the dip, inexpensive condiments get a flavor injection from caramelized onions in a recipe from Food Network star Alton Brown. It's tasty when fresh, but for optimum depth, let the flavors develop and integrate overnight.

SPINACH DIP AND BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS

A recipe from the food blog The Wicked Noodle makes the most of frozen artichokes and spinach, which are considerably less expensive than their fresh counterparts, especially if purchased on sale, and available year-round. For variety, swap in whatever kinds of cheese you have on hand and make the most of leftovers. To further trim cost and calories, ditch the expense of frying oil and bake corn tortillas to make crisp chips.
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TZATZIKI AND PITA CHIPS

This earthy and zesty Greek dip is made with simple, inexpensive ingredients: garlic, lemons, and cucumber combined with thick strained yogurt, which can be found for about 11 cents an ounce. Store-bought tzatziki lacks the pop of fresh flavor and is typically twice the price of Greek yogurt, making this dip one to make at home.

CHIPOTLE YOGURT DIP AND CARROT CHIPS

A five-ingredient dip from the blog The Artisan Life is made from Greek yogurt to give it creamy body and canned chipotle in adobo, an inexpensive ingredient that adds spice and tang. It's delicious served with carrot chips, which elevate a humble, cheap ingredient to an unexpected culinary delight. Play with the balance of spices on the carrot chips to create flavor dimensions such as sweet and spiced or hot and smoky.

SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE DIP WITH CUCUMBER CHIPS

Keeping it simple and using fresh herbs for flavor is a great way to cut the cost of dips. The main ingredient of this dip is 5 ounces of sour cream, which costs less than $2. Keep it light by slicing fresh Persian or seedless cucumbers into quarter-inch diagonal slices for use as chips. The crunch of the fresh cucumber is a nice contrast to the richness of the sour cream-based dip.

PAPRIKA-SPICED LEMON HERB DIP AND LAVASH

The flavorings here work equally well with a variety of bases: a can of white beans, chickpeas, plain hummus, Greek yogurt, or sour cream. Start with 6 ounces of whichever is leftover in the fridge and add 1 teaspoon paprika, the juice and zest of one lemon, and a pinch of fresh or dried herbs such as thyme. Allow the flavors to meld in the fridge for at least three hours -- ideally, overnight.

S'MORES DIP WITH GRAHAM CRACKERS

Who says chips and dip are only an appetizer? Turn a favorite campfire treat into an indulgent dessert by pouring a bag of chocolate chips into a skillet or oven-safe pan and topping with fresh marshmallows. Bake at 450 degrees until marshmallows are golden brown (about 8 to 10 minutes). The biggest expense in making this decadent dip is the chocolate chips, which cost about $3 for a 12-ounce bag. Budget another $3 to $5 for a bag of marshmallows and a box of graham crackers. Still, at less than $10, this dessert costs at least half as much as a similar size cake, which isn't nearly as fun.