When most people make dips, they’re usually preparing party dips to feed a crowd. But Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo, and the Superbowl are not the only occasions for dips. I whip up simple dips for dinner because they reinvent boring vegetables and stale bread. Check out these easy dips ready in 5 minutes or less.
Be it the end of a stressful workday or a cooking marathon, easy 5-minute dips have saved my butt multiple times. When you’re focused on making a complex dish like Chas’ French Onion soup, sometimes you forget to prepare a vegetable side dish. Maybe you spent all day roasting a Thanksgiving turkey and peeling sweet potatoes. Now you’re too exhausted to attempt fancy appetizers. As dinner unexpectedly draws close, you can always rely on dips to complete a meal and buy you time.
This list of easy dip recipes with few ingredients don’t require fancy equipment or techniques.
There are salad dressings that can be repurposed into dips. There are creamy dips that can be prepared ahead and frozen. There are even dessert dip ideas for impromptu date night. Let’s dive in!
What I learned from curating this list is that a sauce or dressing can be categorized as a dip. If you recall the last time you ate sushi, you probably dipped your maki roll into soy sauce. Of course, soy sauce is a dip, sauce, condiment, and an ingredient. So keep your eyes open because your kitchen contains many disguised dips. Here are non-obvious dips hiding in plain sight:
- Marinara sauce: You can dip fried tofu, fish stick, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, fried calamari, and a myriad of other crispy finger foods with marinara.
- Avocado: Serve avocado mashed. You can put it on toast to make the love-to-hate avocado toast. Or server crackers and breadsticks with fork-mashed avocado. If you’re feeling adventurous, mix in some lemon juice or lime juice and sea salt to make lazy guacamole.
- Mayonnaise: Goes well with fries, tender asparagus spears, potato wedges, chicken skewers, vegetable kabobs.
- Soy sauce: Goes with just about anything. You can spruce it up with toasted sesame oil or chili sauce (like sriracha) to give it a flavorful kick.
- Chili sauce (e.g. sriracha or chili oil): Fantastic with egg rolls, dim sum, spring rolls, potstickers, fried wontons, steamed vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, or chicken wings.
- Olive oil: Serve it as the dip for fresh bread like a crusty baguette or focaccia.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Serve it with mozzarella sticks or a vegetable platter.
- Ketchup/Tomato sauce: Like soy sauce, ketchup goes with almost everything. Serve it as a dip alongside fries, chicken nuggets, tater tots, and mini hot dogs.
- Peanut butter: Like Nutella, it’s wonderfully versatile. Serve with sliced apples, sliced bananas, celery sticks, breadsticks, and pretzel sticks.
- Flavored and plain yogurt: I used to love dipping hard pretzel knots and rods (not the soft, bread-like pretzels) into strawberry yogurt. Or blueberry yogurt. Too weird for you? Sliced fruit is a natural pairing with fruity yogurt.
- Plain yogurt with a pinch of salt goes well with falafel balls and pita chips. If you’re feeling energetic, mix in sliced cucumber, olives, and dill for tzatziki sauce. Or just mix in whatever vegetables and spices you have to call it raita sauce.
- Ice cream/soft serve: I love eating soft serve with shoestring fries. Don’t worry, I’m not going to attempt to persuade you on the merits of this as a dip.
These creamy dips are perfect for vegetable platters, crackers, and steamed vegetables.
This salmon cream cheese dip is a fantastic way to get rid of leftover salmon (smoked, grilled, or baked) and cream cheese. Serve this salmon dip with steamed vegetables — like broccoli florets, green beans, or zucchini/courgette spears. Make it ahead of your upcoming party and freeze it. Then thaw in the fridge at least a day before.
Summer brings warm picnics and a bounty of fresh herbs. This garlic herb dip is a great way to use chives, cilantro, green onions, even parsley (ew, I detest parsley), especially if they’re beginning to wilt. You can serve this herb dip with carrot sticks, celery sticks. It also goes well with salt and pepper kettle chips for a party appetizer.
This creamy peanut butter sauce is made from unlikely companions. Before you get turned off by the peanut butter and sriracha combo, don’t forget there’s ketchup too. Before you sneer at the mismatched flavors, try it. I love this sauce over bland foods like sliced tofu and rice noodles (thin it a bit for noodles or rice). The tangy tomato sauce pairs well with soy sauce to create an umami explosion it, and the creamy peanut butter adds sweetness to mellow out the acidity. It stores for a week in the fridge.
Another peanut butter dipping sauce that is amazing. It is creamy and sweet with umami notes thanks to the hoisin sauce. If you don’t have hoisin sauce, substitute with dark soy sauce. If you don’t have dark soy sauce, substitute with light soy sauce and molasses (or honey) to create the thick caramelized texture of hoisin sauce. You can use this peanut butter dip with spring rolls, cucumber spears, carrots sticks, and blanched green beans.
Sometimes it’s worth pulling out the power tools, such as for this buttery pesto that whispers promises of herbaceous delight paired with rich olive oil and walnuts (the poor man’s pine nuts). Serve pesto straight with crackers, bread, bagels, quesadillas, and of course, vegetables. Or swirl pesto into crème fraîche, Greek-style yogurt, or sour cream for a twist on the traditional dip.
I love homemade mayonnaise. I tweaked the classic homemade mayo recipe with a scary amount of sriracha to make spicy mayo. Follow this recipe until the coleslaw dressing steps (unless you want to make coleslaw dressing) and you’ll have spicy mayo to enjoy with fish sticks, egg rolls, chicken nuggets, pizza, fish tacos, potato wedges, crab cakes, chicken wings, tater tots, fried calamari, and so many more fried finger foods.
Oil-based dips and condiments are enjoyed all around the world, including chimichurri and za’atar in oil.
There’s a reason the waiter at your local upscale Italian restaurant presents a bowl of Italian dried herbs in olive oil with a generous bread basket as soon as you sit down.
Crusty torn bread dipped in aromatic oil is the perfect way to shut you up and buy time for the cooks to do their magic. That’s why you should pull out any oil-based party dips if you’re running low on time.
This garlic-green onion dressing is a flavor bomb. I love making a big batch and storing it in a glass jar to enjoy during the week. Because it uses boiling oil, this oil dressing is a fiery bubbling hazard if you’re not paying attention. If you’re scared of serious oil burns, heat the ingredients in the microwave and don’t allow it to get too hot. Always use a much bigger bowl than you think you need. It goes with bread and vegetable platters.
Garlic butter dips
Who doesn’t love garlic butter? Enjoy it with seafood like shrimp and crab. Dip roasted chicken or beef, especially if it’s a tad dry, into aromatic garlic butter. Pizza and mozzarella sticks are perfect candidates too.
This is the simplest garlic butter that uses garlic powder. That means no sticky garlic skin to peel and no smelly fingers. You can grate Parmigiano-Reggiano to add umami depth to the garlic butter dip.
If you want intensely flavorful garlic butter, you’ll want to use minced or pressed fresh garlic (read the garlic taste test to learn why). Serve garlic butter for dipping bread, sweet potatoes wedges, and blanched zucchini/courgettes. It keeps for a week in the fridge. But you’ll want to put it in a sealable jar to avoid making your fridge smell like garlic butter.
If you’re willing to turn on the stove, this garlic butter dip is worth the additional effort because the sliced garlic caramelizes in the butter to bring out the sweetness of garlic. Cooking garlic in butter mellows out the bite. Worth making for dipping crab legs.
Vegetables cut into sticks are an easy way to serve veggies especially if the main course is meat or heavy in carbs. Most people think of salad dressing as something you spoon over greens or the sauce that you toss with spring mix. But vinaigrettes can be repurposed dipping sauces that you plunge your vegetable spears into. Let’s take a look.
I first tasted this easy garlic lemon salad dressing with carrot sticks. It’s fun to swirl the olive oil into the lemon juice. It works well for any vegetable platters, including celery sticks, sliced bell pepper/capsicum, cucumber spears, snow peas, and whatever else you have in your fridge’s crisper.
Following the basic template of the garlic lemon salad dressing, you can lace it up with honey and whole-grain Dijon mustard. This gives you the beloved honey mustard vinaigrette with only 30 seconds more work. It is a perfect pairing with a vegetable platter and toasted bagels for dipping.
If you’re looking to quell a sweet tooth, consider transforming a drink and a frosting into non-traditional dips. Suspend your sense of what these recipes are supposed to be and make a few modifications to serve them a dessert dips.
Chocolate ganache is one of my favorite frostings and stand-alone desserts. Just like Nutella, you can enjoy chocolate ganache straight from the jar if the closest cake is too far away.
This hot chocolate recipe follows the same process I use to make choco ganache except you will use a 1:1 ratio of baking chocolate to heavy whipping cream. No milk, unless you need to thin it out. Enjoy it like a chocolate fondue. Serve the chocolate dip with banana slices, strawberries, sliced apples (especially Granny Smith variety), and sliced pears.
Yes, it might be a stretch. But if you’ve got extra cream cheese frosting leftover, you can pull this out and serve it with sliced fruit, leftover brownies, ginger biscuits, and any other desserts that would benefit from a dollop of buttery cream cheese frosting.
READ NEXT: If you’re cooking for a crowd, check out this silky pork and shrimp wonton recipe.