Anything Can Be A Dip If You Put Your Mind To It

Football season is here, which means hosts across the country are brushing up on their snack-making. And whether you prefer ranch, hummus, or guacamole, there's no question that dips are an essential snacking element.

The best part of dips is that there is so much room to be creative. Truly, anything can be a dip with a bit of imagination. Find some ingredients with complementary flavors, add an emulsifying ingredient for texture, and mix by hand or blender with some spices. And if you want to be extra fancy, garnish with a bit of the raw ingredients.

Think about it. Red pepper spread is basically roasted peppers blended with olive oil and salt. Hummus is cooked chickpeas blended with tahini and lemon juice. Corn dip is corn hand mixed with cheese and sour cream. All three are great and simple dips. So now that it's dip season, get your blender, food processor, and whisks ready, because there are so many simple and delicious dips to make.

Leftovers are a dip maker's best friend

Dips aren't supposed to be a lot of work, so if you've already made yummy food and have leftovers, you can repurpose them into a dip.

Take leftover mashed potatoes: Whisk in some sour cream, whatever herbs you have lying around, and a bit of shredded cheddar into your leftovers, and you've got cheesy potato dip. Warm it in the oven for an awesome winter dip! If you have any roasted veggies, blend them up with some olive or avocado oil, add a splash of vinegar or citrus for acid, and chop up a few of the last veggies for texture, and you have a fancy-looking vegetable dip. And be sure to taste for flavor and texture as you blend, and add the spices and oil little by little — because among other common mistakes people make with dips, you can ruin a dip with too much oil or salt. 

Another fun part of repurposing leftovers is that you can change the flavor profile by adding spices. Mashed potatoes are a great example: What started as a blank slate to complement a main dish can pop with stand-alone flavor if you add paprika and cayenne pepper. You don't have to feel limited by the food's original use or flavor when turning leftovers into a dip.

Make dips using ingredients you have on hand

Because dips are so flexible, you shouldn't have to buy extra ingredients to make them. Look around your kitchen to see what you have in stock, and build around that.

If you find a recipe that calls for black beans and you only have red beans, be bold and replace them. Trust your taste buds and adjust the recipe to the ingredients you have as you make them. If you notice that you have more fruit than vegetables, make a sweet dip. That's sure to keep your guests on their toes, and the same rules apply. Chop and blend fruit with yogurt or peanut butter (or both!) and you've got a sweet dip for bread or crackers. Frozen fruits and veggies can also be transformed into quick and tasty dips too, so don't overlook your freezer contents.

You can also apply this idea to what you serve for people to scoop the dips with. If the photo at the top of your recipe shows corn chips submerged in a dip, but you have stale sourdough, toast slices of the bread for bread chips, and serve it like that. It's your dip and your party, you do what you want!