Unless it’s arranged as a midpoint break in the poker game, most of your guests are probably not going to want to eat a full meal during play.
A good selection of poker snacks, however, will lift the mood and keep guests content. Snacks won’t disrupt the flow of the game. Your friends can just pick at a chicken wing or two, or scran a few nachos in between hands.
There are hundreds of finger food recipes that you could choose from for your poker night food recipes. Here are a few much loved classics to get you started:
Ahh, chicken wings. Who doesn’t like them? (Relax veggies, we’ll get to you). Get them cooked up tasty and crunchy and leave a few bowls within reach of the poker table. You could choose from dozens of marinades and sauces for the flavor, but to keep it simple we recommend making one big batch of wings and then using different sauces at the end.
– 2 Kg chicken wings
– 1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum-free)
– 1 teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon black pepper
– ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
Chicken wings are a very simple poker snack idea. They’re easy to make, and you don’t even have to fry them:
1) Cut the wings in half (the drumette and mini-wing) and dry them with a paper towel. Don’t skip the drying step, as it’s important for the crispiness of the wings.
2) Place the wings a bowl and add the mix of baking powder, salt, pepper, and the chili if you want an extra kick. Lightly coat the wings in the mixture.
3) Place the wings on a rack in a single layer, then pop them on the bottom shelf of a preheated oven, 120C/250F. This low heat will help to render the fat out. Cook for 30 mins.
4) Turn the oven up high to 220C/425F and place on the upper-middle shelf. Cook the wings for around 45 – 50 minutes more, turning regularly to get an even crispy finish on the skin.
JAZZ IT UP
These chicken wings will make for great poker night food as they are, but they are best served with dips and sauces. You can buy in sauces like hot sauce, ketchup and BBQ, or you could make your own.
To make a quick Buffalo sauce, combine one part melted unsalted butter with two parts hot sauce and a couple of tablespoons of honey. Marinade the wings before cooking, or simply pour the sauce over the cooked wings.
This will keep vegetarians very happy, and they also make an awesome poker night snack for all of your guests. Halloumi fries are light, crispy, and not too messy to pick up and eat as you play. They’re also really quick and easy to cook.
Take a couple of blocks of halloumi cheese and slice it into rectangles so they resemble fries (chips, here in the UK). Mix 75g of flour with a couple of teaspoons of paprika in a bowl. Roll the halloumi in the flour mix, then batch fry them for a few minutes, turning during cooking until crispy. Add a pinch of salt and chili powder to taste.
JAZZ IT UP
Serve the halloumi fries with a simple sweet chili dipping sauce, or mix yogurt with fresh coriander. To jazz up the crispy coating on these fries, dip them in flour and paprika, then in beaten egg, and finally panco breadcrumbs. Then oven bake them on a high heat for around 25 minutes.
Another perfect game night food, nachos are a much loved favorite. Make your own homemade salsa to turn them into an impressive poker night snack.
To make nachos, you can use shop bought tortilla corn bread. Let it go stale, or slightly bake it to draw out some moisture. Cut the tortilla into small triangles, then fry in olive oil, salting after a few minutes and then cooking until slightly browned.
Alternatively, buy good quality plain or salted nacho chips in a bag and pour them into a baking tray.
HOMEMADE SALSA PREP
Next we’re going to make the homemade salsa. Take 500g of tomatoes, cut them in half and de-seed them, then cut them into very small cubes. Cut one small red onion into similar size pieces. Add diced coriander leaves and crushed garlic, along with green chili if you want to spice it up, and a squeeze of lime to add zest. Mix it together in a bowl. What’s important here is to keep the consistency of your salsa fairly dry. You don’t want soggy nachos.
BAKE THE NACHOS
If using shop bought nacho chips, pre-bake for a few minutes so that they stay firm when you add the toppings. Spoon over the salsa, along with grated cheese if desired. Bake for around 4-5 minutes until the toppings are warm and cheese melted.
JAZZ IT UP
You can mix this dish up by changing the toppings. You could add sour creme and guacamole, melted cheese, or add chicken or chilli con carne to make more of a meal. Just remember all of this increases the mess factor, so if you plan on eating during play then keep it simple with a salsa, or provide plates and wipes.
You might not want to serve a full meal during play, but a nice, hearty dish either before the game or during a break can really elevate the evening and energize the players. Casinos sometimes offer meals during the breaks of big tourneys, and you can do the same in your home games with friends.
Chilli Con Carne is an excellent choice because it’s easy to cook and serve, yet filling and delicious for your guests. One-pot cooking is ideal your poker night, especially if you’re cooking for a full ring game of people.
– 1 kg lean minced beef
– 3 medium onions
– 2 large red peppers
– 5 cloves of garlic
– 600ml beef stock (two stock cubes)
– 2 x 400g cans of tomatoes
– 4 tablespoons of tomato puree
– 400g can red kidney beans
– 250ml red wine
– Seasoning: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano, bay leaf
1) Fry off the mince with the chopped onions and red pepper until the mince is browned, approx. five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2) Add the chopped or crushed garlic, 2-4 teaspoons of chili powder, 2-4 teaspoons of cumin and 2 teaspoons of ground coriander. Fry for a couple more minutes.
3) Now it’s time to make it saucy. Add the tomatoes, then gradually add the stock and wine. Stir in the tomato puree, oregano and bay leaf. Add a pinch of sugar if required to balance out the acidity.
4) Simmer the mixture for around 45 minutes, checking on it occasionally to make sure it isn’t burning or evaporating away. Taste regularly and season if needed.
5) Add the red kidney beans and heat through.
6) Serve with boiled rice and sour creme, or alternatively spoon the chilli con carne ontp your nachos.
JAZZ IT UP
There’s plenty you can do to jazz up this food for your poker night. You can replace the mince beef with mince chuck steak, or dice up braising steak into small chunks. Add squares of bacon for a delicious salty taste. Use a piece of dark chocolate instead of a pinch of sugar, and add a teaspoon of cinnamon for a surprising lift. Vegetarians can use the same recipe with a vegetarian mince alternative.
There you have it. Four poker night food ideas for you to try, each one bringing something different to the table, and each one perfect for the occasion in its own way. You could even serve them all in one night.