My Best March Madness Recipes Will Keep You Well-Fueled All Bracket Long

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My best March Madness recipes include party snack ideas like soft pretzels, slow cooker dinner recipes (chili, anyone?), festive drinks, and winning dessert recipes. From Selection Sunday to the Final Four to the championship game, these crowd-pleasing party recipes will keep your entire squad satisfied.

Two white plates with chili dogs and potato chips next to a bowl of Hot Dog Chili.

Just like with football, come basketball season, I might as well be donning a shirt that says “Just Here For the Food.” 🤣 So today, I’m revealing my absolute best March Madness recipes, according to Culinary Hill fans and my game-day guests.

While I may not know all the win-loss record for any of the 64 teams and my bracket is probably busted by the end of day one, I’m definitely confident in my abilities to predict how to get the party started: delicious food and drink!

Including appetizer recipes that feed a crowd, set-and-forget slow cooker dinners, handheld desserts, and drinks that are prime for party time, my March Madness menu is worthy of the number one seed.

March Madness Appetizer Recipes

Homemade soft pretzels on a cooling rack.

True, buffalo wings and layered dips are frequent party stars. But for my March Madness menus, I prefer handheld desserts that aren’t quite so drippy or messy so passionate fans can set them on a plate or use the other hand to cheer (or hold a drink).

For the ultimate March Madness snack, pretend like you’re sitting in the stands and dive into a pillowy, warm Homemade Soft Pretzel. Kid-friendly Pigs in a Blanket, no-delivery-required Pepperoni Pizza Bites, and hearty Mini Twice-Baked Potates are also strong contenders to consider for your March Madness recipe line-up.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Homemade Soft Pretzels that are soft and chewy on the inside and crackly brown on the outside. Knot or twist your way to the BEST soft pretzels you’ve ever had!
A platter of soft pretzels with a bowl of cheese sauce.
Pigs in a Blanket
You need just 3 ingredients and 20 minutes to make one of the best party snack ideas, Pigs in a Blanket. This easy appetizer recipe is pure, blissful comfort food that will transport you back to childhood (and delight kids, too).
Easy pigs in a blanket on a white plate with a side of ketchup.
Mini Twice Baked Potato Skins
Mini Twice Baked Potatoes are like appetizer-sized potato skins with the volume turned up. Although this party snack recipe tastes like it took all day, these bacon-studded beauties can be yours in just 35 minutes.
Mini twice baked potato skins on a platter.

Or try individually-portioned apps! It’s a breeze to portion out platters full of Homemade Chex Mix cups and Jarcuterie so diners can grab and go…watch the game.

Homemade Chex Mix
Make Homemade Chex Mix in the microwave in 10 minutes or less! Adapted from the original Chex Mix recipe (but I use more butter so it's better).
A bowl of Chex mix on a gray background.
This appetizer recipe idea is more than a trend! Jarcuterie, or single-serving charcuterie assembled in a jar, is ideal for parties, potlucks, or even food gifts.
Jarcuteries on a wooden cutting board.

March Madness Dinner Recipes

Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans in a white bowl.

I’m a huge fan of a build-your-own-bowl concept for casual parties. That way, diners with different food allergies, intolerances, or preferences can customize to their heart’s content. Come gameday, when I’d rather “watch the first couple quarters” (AKA eat the snacks), I often opt for a set-and-forget recipe that can simmer itself until halftime of the mid-day match.

Follow the slow cooker instructions for my Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans, then position the crock and a ladle at the center of a spread featuring Cornbread squares or wedges, crumbled Homemade Tortilla Chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, lime wedges, and fresh herbs. Plus bowls and spoons, of course!

I also love a crockpot of Hot Dog Chili and a pile of “tube steaks” for Chili Dogs.

Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
This delicious, hearty Sweet Potato Chili is loaded with black beans, vegetables, and all the classic spices. It also freezes well and makes a great meal prep option.
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans in a white bowl.
Hot Dog Chili
Try my Hot Dog Chili on the stovetop, in your slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot, then spoon it atop hot dogs for the ultimate tailgate recipe.
Hot dog chili in a crock pot.
This easy Cornbread recipe is made in the Northern style: Fluffy, cake-like, ultra moist, and with a hint of sweetness. It's perfect with the barbecue at your next picnic or on the side of a bowl of chili.
Four pieces of cornbread on a cooling rack.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
Bake your own Homemade Tortilla Chips in 10 minutes! Extra thin tortillas ensure crunchy snacks every time, perfect for salsa and guacamole.
Bake your own Homemade Tortilla Chips in 10 minutes! Extra thin tortillas ensure crunchy snacks every time, perfect for salsa and guacamole.

March Madness Dessert Recipes

Peanut butter cookies stacked on a blue plate.

Just like with the snacks, handheld single-serving recipes are my go-to play for March Madness desserts. I love piping some white icing “laces” on Peanut Butter Cookies to make them look like basketballs.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Classic chewy Peanut Butter Cookies make the perfect pick-me-up, after school snack, or all around sweet treat. This old fashioned recipe is the one to bake, right down to the criss-cross pattern made with a fork. 
Peanut butter cookies stacked on a blue plate.

If you have strong allegiance to a specific team, customize my Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, M&M Cookies, Brownie Pizza, or Thumbprint Cookies to feature candy, fruit, or jam to match your team’s colors.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
This effortless Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake recipe starts with store-bought cookie dough topped with swirled chocolate chips and peanut butter. Then, decorate it any way you like! Think leftover Halloween candy (as if there is such a thing!) or decorations from your last birthday celebration.
A chocolate chip cookie cake with a peanut butter swirl topping and chopped candy on top.
M&M Cookies
Perhaps the greatest combination of all time, M&M Cookies are part cookie, part candy, and completely delicious. Make a triple batch, freeze the dough, and you'll have a colorful, sweet treat anytime you need it. 
A dozen M&M cookies on a wire rack with a glass of milk and a bowl of M&Ms in the background.
Brownie Pizza
Want to wow all your chocolate-loving friends? Tell them your serving brownie pizza for dessert! With a chewy brownie crust, sweet cream cheese frosting, colorful fruit toppings, and an apricot glaze to finish, it’s a gorgeous, delicious, show-stopping masterpiece in and of itself. 
A brownie pizza on a wooden platter.
Thumbprint Cookies
Buttery and tender-crisp, these Thumbprint Cookies shine like gems on your Christmas cookie plate. Fill them with any jam you love and watch them disappear.
Thumbprint cookies on a gray plate.

March Madness Drink Recipes

A Chelada next to a beer bottle and a small bowl of limes.

Since the early days of March Madness span from morning to late-night news, I prefer to offer a lower-alcohol option so fans have the energy to go the distance. My new Chelada recipe is essentially a dressed-up beer. It feels more festive than just cracking open a can or bottle, but doesn’t take much more work! Plus, you can recreate this with your favorite brand(s) of ale.

All over Mexico, the natives prefer the pure taste of cold beer, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of salt. This easy Chelada recipe is refreshing and uncomplicated, the perfect way to end your or celebrate with friends and family.
A Chelada next to a beer bottle and a small bowl of limes.

My Moscato Sangria and Champagne Cocktail are also fun and festive, especially the bubbly bevvie for the championship game! Or for a family-friendly sip, try a big batch of Fruit Punch.

Moscato Sangria
Moscato Sangria is an easy cocktail recipe that's sure to get the party started. A bottle of white wine, fruit, and ginger ale team up in this refreshing wine-based pitcher cocktail (that is quickly becoming my signature drink!).
Moscato sangria in glasses on a serving tray.
Champagne Cocktail
For a festive holiday drink recipe or to add some sparkle to any happy hour, try this easy Champagne Cocktail recipe. It's a showy yet remarkably simple low-alcohol cocktail idea.
A champagne cocktail in a champagne flute.
Fruit Punch
This Fruit Punch recipe lives up to its name: It's sweet, fruity, and guaranteed to be guzzled by kids and adults alike. Learn how to make Fruit Punch, how to spike it for a cocktail recipe, and how to customize it.
Glasses of fruit punch.
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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