The original version of this recipe right here is a bit of a superstar. It’s made its rounds on Pinterest. It made it into my first cookbook. And it’s been requested at pretty much every game day party I’ve ever been invited to attend. People always line up for the recipe—even more so when they find out it’s a lighter, healthier dish. It’s a great recipe, it really is. But I’ve always had one problem with it—it should have been made in a slow cooker.
I don’t know what was wrong with me. The slow cooker is made for keeping dips hot and cheesy during the entire length of a football game, and I should have thought it through and done the slow cooker method originally. As is, the recipe is great if you plan on eating it within the 20-30 minutes right after it comes out of the oven. But the longer it sits, the less appetizing it gets. It needs to stay warm to make it through an entire game, and, hello, that’s what a slow cooker does best.
Unfortunately, that original recipe isn’t just something you can toss into the slow cooker and hope all turns out well. Trust me, I’ve tried it. It ends up gritty, grainy, and so not the ooey, gooey, deliciousness that comes out of the oven (I blame the Greek yogurt—it gets really unstable at high temps and has a tendency to curdle).
So, moral of the story: if you want an awesome party dip that you serve and everyone eats immediately, go to the original version. If you want something that will stay deliciously perfect in a slow cooker during the entire 3+ hours of a football game, read on. This baby is made for the long haul. It stays gooey, cheesy, creamy, and warm through an entire game. It’s as tasty in the fourth quarter as it is at kickoff.
Now that football season has looped back around again, my friends at Kettle Brand asked me to throw a Colts (go Horse!) watch party and showcase my favorite football-friendly dip—and I knew immediately revisiting the Lighter Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dip was long overdue. Kettle Brand has these awesome bright-colored chip bags (I know you’ve seen them in your grocery store), and they have so many different colors and varieties, that they can cover almost any team colors!
Of course, we picked up lots of blue bags (Salt and Vinegar) and white bags (Unsalted) to help decorate for the Colts’ big win this past weekend. I originally thought the Salt and Vinegar chips might be a bit strange with the Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dip, but oh my gosh, they were ah-mazing. We also included lots of celery sticks to go along with the dip.
Now, I call this a “lighter” Buffalo chicken dip for a couple reasons. First up, instead of cream cheese, this recipe uses lighter Neufchâtel cheese. Most of the time, I skip eating reduced fat or low fat dairy (many times, they reduce the fat, but add in other things like sugar and artificial flavors to make up for the lack of delicious fat), but Neufchâtel cheese is one exception to my rule.
You may not have known it, but chances are, you’ve had (and bought) Neufchâtel cheese before. It is sold in almost all supermarkets and is marketed as “Reduced Fat Cream Cheese” or “1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese” (in fact, if you look closely on the packaging, you see those claims in 493 point font, and “Neufchâtel” in six point).
Neufchâtel is “real” cheese—no nasty additives to make it lower in fat and calories. The only real difference in taste is that it’s just a touch less tangy and rich. If you’re making a cheesecake or cream cheese frosting? Stick with regular cream cheese. If you’re just using it to add a creamy and thick base to a dish like in this dip? Neufchâtel works just dandy and saves you a few extra minutes on the treadmill.
The second way this is made lighter is by stirring in a heavy hand of plain Greek yogurt just before serving. Greek yogurt is low in calories but high in creaminess, meaning you get a ton of the creamy, decadent flavor and texture without adding a ton of calories—great for folks like me who have trouble not munching through an entire football game.
Like I said above, Greek yogurt can be finicky about heat, so you want to make sure to change your dip over to the warm setting of your slow cooker, open up the lid, and let it cool down for 15-20 minutes before stirring it in. You’ll still have a nice and warm dip, just not piping hot.
The recipe below serves about 4-6 sports fans, but if your guests are big eaters or you have a full house, you’ll want to double or even triple the recipe. A large, six-quart slow cooker will easily fit a triple batch of this lighter buffalo blue cheese chicken dip—and don’t expect to have any leftover! Enjoy.