Make-Ahead Super Bowl Hors D’oeurves & Appetizers

Empanadas with red chile beef and manchego filling

Red Chile Beef Empanadas

[Jump right to the recipes: New Twists on Old Favorites, An Elegant Super Bowl, or Red Chile Beef Empanadas]

Football is all about fandom, and half the fun of being a fan is sharing your obsession for the sport with other similarly obsessed folk. For many years I was torn between my love of the sport and my love of the kitchen, often missing part of the big game because I was cooking. Of course I do have a TV within sight of my kitchen, but I’d miss key plays anyway. My solution to this conundrum is to create menus that include a collection of make-ahead dishes that, at the most, need to go into and come of the oven during the game. I do all of the heavy lifting days or hours before the party so I’m free to enjoy ever pass, tackle, fumble, and long run.

To help you with your super bowl planning I’ve put together a collection of make-ahead recipes that work well for me and in some cases my fellow food bloggers. I’d love to know what your favorite big game recipes are, so please share them with me in the comments.

New Twists on Old Favorites

I’m a big fan (no pun intended) of trying new recipes and techniques at my parties because, well, my friends make good guinea pigs. Even so, I’ve learned that while most people enjoy a guided excursion to new tastes, they also enjoy traditional favorites. As a happy medium between the new hotness and the old and comfortable, I try to update favorite recipes or put a new spin on them.

  • Sriracha Chicken Wings from White On Rice Couple
    Make the sauce early in the day and then toss quickly with wings when they come out of the oven.
  • Soft Pretzels from Big Black Dogs
    These are a great alternative to chips. Serve them with spicy mustard, ranch dressing, or your favorite fondue. You can make these ahead and warm them in the oven before serving.
  • Pastry-Wrapped Sausages
    I serve these at most of my parties and they are always a hit. Dress them up with hand-made sausages with interesting flavors like chicken and apple or blueberry and pork. Use a special cheese like a bandaged cheddar or an aged gruyere for a more sophisticated flavor. You can prep these in the morning and pop them into the oven just before you’re ready to serve them.
  • Red Chile Beef Empanadas
    Instead of a taco bar, serve up a collection of these little premade pies to make snacking out-of-hand easy for everyone. You can put just about anything you’d put into a taco into an empanada. I like red chile beef with nutty manchego, but you could go with a chicken and Monterey Jack filling or even ground beef and Colby. The possibilities are almost endless.

An Elegant Super Bowl

While it’s true that the Super Bowl is a casual and comfortable affair, if you have an opportunity to host a more refined party, you should – if nothing else just for the fun of it. This collection of recipes isn’t your typical football party fare, but it’s still completely accessible and easy to make.

  • Savory Madeleins as made by Lisa from Lisa is Cooking
    Put out a few baskets of these savory treats along with some champagne for a truly refined snack table. Pair them with fruit and a cheese plate for an elegant offering. Make them the morning of the party so all you have to do is set them out before your guests arrive.
  • Chive, Mascarpone, and Pine Nut Dip as also made by Lisa
    This dip is a refined version onion dip and would be lovely with toasted bread or even pita triangles. Make it the morning of the party so that the flavors have time to meld together.
  • Tomato Tartlets
    I made these for my holiday party this year and they were a hit. The recipe features just a few ingredients so the flavor of each shines through. You can roast the tomatoes and make the crust several hours before the party so it comes together quickly just before you serve it.
  • Prosciutto-Wrapped Dates
    These are one of my go-to appetizers for any party because they are so easy to make, so versatile, and yet so impressive to guest. Prep them the morning of your party and bake them off just before guests arrive.

Recipe: Red Chile Beef Empanadas

Adapted from Braised Chile-Spiced Short Ribs with Black Beans


  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Makes: 48 empanadas
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours


For the beef

  • 4 medium dried New Mexico Red chiles
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 chopped canned chipotles in adobo (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles)
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 ½ tsp. salt; divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly-ground pepper
  • 3 lb. chuck roast, cut into 2 inch by 2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • ¼ lb. thick-cut bacon, sliced in to ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 1/3 c. beef broth
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the empanadas


For the beef

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wipe dust from dried chiles. Cut and discard the stems from the chiles. Shake the loose seeds from inside the chiles and discard. Tear the chiles into 2 inch pieces.
  3. Place the chiles in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Cover with the boiling water and place a heavy plate on top of the chiles to keep them submerged in the water. Soak for20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the softened chiles to a blender along with 1/3 c of the soaking liquid. Reserve the remaining liquid.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, chipotles, adobo, tomato paste, molasses, cumin seeds, cloves, and 1 tsp. salt to the blender with the chile and water. Puree until smooth.
  6. Season the pot roast pieces evenly on all sides with remaining 1 ½ tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper.
  7. Heat the oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers but doesn’t smoke.
  8. Brown the pieces of chuck in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan, about 5-6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
  9. Once all of the meat is browned, drain off the fat from the pot but don’t wipe clean. You want to keep the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  10. Return the pot to medium-high heat and cook the bacon until brown and crispy. Remove the bacon to the platter with the beef. Do not discard the bacon fat.
  11. Stir the pureed chile mixture into the fat carefully, watching for splattering, and cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  12. Add the reserved chile soaking liquid, the beef broth, and the cinnamon stick to the pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  13. Add the reserved beef and bacon to the pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil, and move to the oven.
  14. Cook for about 3 hours or until the beef is fork tender.
  15. When the meat is done, remove the pieces of beef to clean platter or bowl. Use two forks to shred evenly.
  16. Pour the braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a fat separator (or a medium bowl if you don’t have a fat separator).
  17. Return the liquid without the fat to the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  18. Return the beef to the reduced liquid and toss to combine. Taste for flavor and add salt and pepper as needed.
  19. Let cool before making empanadas.

For the empanadas

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll a sheet of pie dough large enough to cut out eight 3 ½ inch circles.
  3. On the right side of each circle of dough place with a scant tablespoon of beef and top with a teaspoon or so of cheese.
  4. Fold the left side over the right side to create a half-moon shape.
  5. Use a fork to crimp and seal the edges of the empanada. Use a sharp knife to make three slits in the top of the empanada to allow steam to escape.
  6. Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, beef, and cheese.
  7. Bake empanadas for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.

Recipe for Success

  • You can make the empanadas up to 3 months ahead. Place formed empanadas on a single row on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until solid. Transfer the frozen empanadas to a zip top bag and store in the freezer until you’re ready to bake them. On baking day, do not thaw the empanadas. Place them on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-23 minutes or until golden brown.
  • If you can’t find New Mexican red chiles, any other wide, flat dried red pepper will work.
  • You can make the empanadas larger if they are the main dish on your menu. I like the smaller size for a buffet table or as an appetizer.
  • Sour cream and guacamole are nice companions for the empanadas.
  • You may have some of the beef filling left over depending on the size of your roast. The meat freezes beautifully and is great for taco filling or for making more empanadas later.

1 Comment

  1. All great ideas – esp love the elegant dishes!


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