So often the party tray can be too tempting to resist with creamy offerings accompanied by crunchy, salty dippers. Rethink how you approach an appetizer spread by offering a lower-calorie, healthier option. With all these dips and spreads, take care to serve with fresh veggies when possible. Whole-grain crackers and baked chips also make smarter dippers.
Here we’ve lightened a seasoned favorite. Serve with hearty crackers or slices of French bread and we promise nobody will know this is the healthy cousin to dip that’s usually loaded with sodium, fat, and calories.
Beet Hummus with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
A favorite among the staff, this vibrant dip is perfect for parties.
Avocado-Yogurt Dip with Cumin
Scoop this creamy dip with pita chips and carrot, celery, red bell pepper, and jicama sticks. Prepare up to eight hours in advance, and refrigerate in an airtight container. To further simplify prep work, use precut vegetables from the produce section.
Miso Aioli Dip
All you need is a blender to serve this miso aioli dip with your next platter of fresh crudités.
Date, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Ball
The sweet-savory combo of dates, walnuts, and blue cheese, topped with the earthiness of fresh flat-leaf parsley, brings your regular cheese ball up a notch. Prepare this retro-chic snack up to two days ahead, and serve with crackers, bread, or veggies.
Zesty Green Goddess Dip
Because fresh herbs are increasingly available, you can make this tangy, peppery dip year-round. So skip the baked, greasy dips and replace them with a dip that highlights fresh veggies. The best part: you'll never have to turn on your oven.
Baba ghanoush (bah-bah-gah-NOOSH) is a Middle Eastern dip typically made from eggplant, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. One of our readers, Karen Waldman, was dissatisfied with the baba ghanoush recipes she was finding, so she created her own. By combining mayonnaise and tahini, she tinkered, found her perfect combination, and even incorporated it into a Greek-themed Thanksgiving meal. The unique dinner was an instant hit with her family.
Peanut Butter Hummus with Cucumber Dippers
Don't let the peanut butter trip you up; this savory dip still packs all the great flavors of hummus with an unexpected, nutty note that provides thickness, creaminess, and flavor. Hummus is made more kid-friendly with the addition of peanut butter. Top with crushed peanuts for extra crunch. Serve with vegetables or pita chips. To easily measure 7 tablespoons water without losing count, pour 1/2 cup into a measuring cup and remove 1 tablespoon.
Roasted Red Pepper Bagna Cauda
This Italian dipping sauce makes the perfect marriage to fresh crudités. Try something different by serving with fennel bulb slices, blanched broccoli florets, steamed new potatoes, and carrots.
Creamy Garlic-Herb Dip
Step away from the packaged ranch dip and offer a homemade alternative. You can prepare this all-purpose dip up to a day ahead. Serve with cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrot and celery sticks, and bell pepper strips.
Smoked Salmon Dip
A classic smoked salmon dip or spread is something every hostess should have in her back pocket. Make this dip ahead, and serve it on whole-wheat crackers or toasted baguette with a pretty sprig of dill. Save the leftovers to smear on a toasted bagel half over coffee the next morning.
Lima Bean Dip
Fava beans are traditionally used as the base in this hummuslike dip. Use them, if you can find them, in place of the lima beans. Serve with raw vegetables for dipping.
Roasted Garlic, Sun-Dried Tomato, and White Bean Dip
Creamy beans and sweet sun-dried tomatoes offer the perfect texture and flavor combo in this simple dip. You can prepare a day ahead and bring to room temperature before serving. For a more formal presentation, serve on bagel chips garnished with rosemary sprigs. For a casual gathering, serve in a bowl with crackers or bagel chips for dipping.
Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Dip
This Mediterranean-inspired appetizer offers a little extra protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and fiber. Serve with cut-up vegetables or toasted pita wedges.
The food processor makes quick work of this basic dip that's rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. We like the heat from leaving the seeds in the jalapeño, but you can seed the pepper for a milder guac. Serve with baked tortilla chips or crudités.
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Upping the pepper quantity cuts calories—160 of them. Serve with sliced cucumber for a crunchy dipper.
Hot Artichoke Dip
Full-flavored Parm adds cheesy goodness. Light cream cheese and mayo save 340 calories.
Smoked Salmon Dip
We cut the calories and sat fat typically found in this dish in half by using light cream cheese and sour cream.
Creamy Spinach and Feta Dip
Bright and tangy nonfat Greek yogurt helps save 100 calories and 3g sat fat in this bold-flavored dip. We love it served with crostini with olive oil.
There's no credible way to lighten guac since the main ingredient—avocado—is high in fat. But it's heart-healthy.
Cucumber and Dill Dip
You'll find this simple, refreshing spread in many Mediterranean dishes like Gyros or served with pita wedges. We found that the perfect balance of Greek yogurt and dill pairs well with sliced cucumbers, carrots and celery.
Blue Cheese-Bacon-Spinach Dip
The bold flavor of blue cheese and saltiness of the bacon give a creative punch to your average spinach dip. Serve with celery sticks for an added crunch.
Smoked Salmon Dip
We’ve created an even lighter version of the traditional Smoked Salmon Dip with nonfat Greek yogurt, light sour cream and capers so you can enjoy more of it. Serve with seeded crackers.
Charred Red Onion Dip
Grilled red onions combined with light sour cream and nonfat Greek yogurt make a balanced and delicious dip for sweet potato chips.
Banana, Chocolate, and Hazelnut Dip
Serve this dip on graham crackers or add it to a peanut butter sandwich for a touch of sweetness without adding a heaping load of calories. Made with Greek yogurt and light sour cream, this delicious spread is a guilt-free treat.
We made a play on the classic caramel apple by creating a spread with Greek yogurt, light sour cream and toffee bits then served it with apples.
Honey and Lemon Dip
The tangy flavor of lemon and Greek yogurt combined with sweet honey make a perfect dip to serve with strawberries.
Nutty Edamame Spread
This is delicious with crudités, smeared over whole-grain bread, or stuffed into mini sweet bell peppers. You can garnish with lemon rind for a pretty effect.