7 Essential Snacks for a March Madness Viewing Party

Avoid crowds and mediocre bar food — make delicious game-day bites at home.
1912 F1

1912 F1

Three stacked crustless Pimiento Cheese sandwiches on a plate beside a bowl full of Pimento Cheese

March Madness is officially upon us. With round two of the games starting tomorrow, brackets are being finalized. Watching the games at the bar can be, well, madness. Crowded and rowdy with passionate (and loud) sports fan, bars are fun but overwhelming — an experience better left to students with their school pride on the line. Instead of pushing your way up to the bar for an expensive pint, gather your buddies for a viewing party at your place. It guarantees you a comfy seat on the couch, and it’s a total game changer in terms of snacking — soggy nachos and flavorless wings are disqualified.

Here are seven better-than-bar-food snacks to make for the big tournament:

University of Kentucky is entering the tournament undefeated. Honor the team’s success with a Southern snack staple: pimento cheese. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Wildcats, this spicy cheese spread (fittingly nicknamed Southern caviar) is winning grub for everyone — bitter Arkansas Razorback fans included. Follow Sunny Anderson’s recipe (pictured above), then serve it with bread for a ridiculously easy snack.

KO_FN_04MeatballPizza1_005.tif

KO_FN_04MeatballPizza1_005.tif

A slice of pizza and a glass of water

Photo by: Kana Okada

Kana Okada

Pizza is a college staple: It’s dinner when funds are low, fuel during late-night study sessions and the occasional (or perhaps too common) 2 a.m. snack. Relive the glory days and wash down a slice of your favorite pie with a can of ice-cold beer. Start with Bobby Flay’s recipe for perfectly crispy pizza crust, then load it up with whatever you’re craving. Be it meatball (pictured above), BBQ chicken, or even pasta, Food Network Magazine has you covered in the toppings department. Short on time? Use store-bought pizza dough or make Giada De Laurentiis’  pizza pockets.

Serving chips and dips runs the risk of party interference during the game. Friends persistently reach across the table to scoop their bites, often breaking chips and blocking the TV during the messy process. With a perfect topping-to-chip ratio already assembled, nachos solve this problem. Try something beyond just chips and cheese sauce (chances are someone will bring queso). Make Guy Fieri’s Italian-inspired recipe (pictured above) or Marcela Valladolid’s Mexican twist.

The Neelys’ pigs in blankets with tangy dipping sauce (pictured above) are good party snacks. But mini hot dogs aren’t the only option. Food Network Magazine channeled the convenience and cuteness of pigs in a blanket and created five new versions, including  Biscuit-Wrapped Fried Chicken and Mini Chorizo Corn Dogs.

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PARM_SUPREME_144.tif

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Hungry sports fans can make a plate of classic  Buffalos wings disappear before halftime. And if you’re looking to shake things up, Food Network Magazine has dozens of wing recipe ideas. From honey-mustard and beer-battered wings to chicken Parmesan (pictured above) and curry-chutney wings, there’s a chicken wing recipe to satisfy just about any craving.

When stakes are high and your bracket is on the line, shameless stress snacking is totally allowed. Snack mix is ideal for mindless munching. Choose between sweet and savory mixes — whatever calms the nerves. Monkey Chow (pictured above) is a sure hit for fans of the  peanut butter and chocolate combination.

ReeDrummond_ChocolateChipCookieIceCreamSandwiches_H

ReeDrummond_ChocolateChipCookieIceCreamSandwiches_H

Chef Name: Ree Drummond Full Recipe Name: Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches Talent Recipe: Ree Drummond’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, as seen on The Pioneer Woman FNK Recipe: Project: Foodnetwork.com, HOLIDAY/SUPER BOWL/COMFORT/HEALTHY Show Name: The Pioneer Woman Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The UCLA Bruins' placement in the tournament may be a bit controversial, but the school's popular off-campus snack is not. Ice cream sandwiches are always a good idea. Make Ree Drummonds’s homemade chocolate chip cookie version (pictured above) and wait to serve them when tensions are high. The candy-coated treats will turn everyone giddy, regardless of the score.

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