Our Very Best After-School Snacks That Won't Spoil Your Dinner

Mozzarella sticks, grilled cheese, and much more

The after-school snack is a complex beast. We like to think of it as a precisely calibrated mini-meal: hearty enough to tamp down a raging post-school appetite, but not so filling as to ruin dinner. It should be small, but not too small, and easy to prepare or make ahead. And we also think it should be cheesy, just because, well, everything should be. That's why we're focusing on everything from snack-sized sandwiches to flaky spring rolls. With so many tasty snacks to pick from, you may want to eat them all up before your kid even gets home from school.

Fatty Bacon and Onion Buns
Fatty Bacon and Onion Buns
When made with properly fatty bacon, the filling in these rustic buns melts into an irresistible fondant of smoked pork and onions, each one indistinguishable from the other. To replicate the rolling, radiant heat from the traditional Latvian cepeškrāsns (wood-fired ovens) that give these buns their burnished tops, bake in a very hot oven for the first several minutes of baking. Get the recipe for Fatty Bacon and Onion Buns »Susan Bell
Sarikopitakia
Sarikopitakia
These savory fried cheese pies are named for their spiral shapes. Sariki, a Turkish word meaning "turban," is also the name of a traditional headdress still worn by Cretan men at celebrations. Tsikoudia, a grape-based spirit from Crete, is used in the dough, likely for making it easier to roll out into thin sheets. Get the recipe for Sarikopitakia »Matt Taylor-Gross
Popovers
Popovers
No matter how tempting the aroma coming from your kitchen, don't open the oven to check popovers until about 5 minutes before they're finished baking, or they will deflate. Get the recipe for Popovers »Ingalls Photography
Classic Guacamole
Classic Guacamole
Grind your cilantro, onion, and chiles into a paste before folding in mashed avocado for the deepest flavor. Get the recipe for Classic Guacamole »Matt Taylor-Gross
Real Deal Ignacio-Style Nachos
nachos
A balance of pickly, salty, cheesy, and crisp, this recipe—inspired by the original—proves that simple is preferable when it comes to nachos. When deep-frying your own tortillas, look for soft tortillas made with all corn (and no flour) for the crunchiest results. Get the recipe for Real Deal Ignacio-Style Nachos »Matt Taylor-Gross
Vada Pav (Indian Veggie Burgers)
Vada Pav
These starchy sandwiches are a popular beachside snack in Mumbai. Fluffy Goan-style white rolls are filled with a crispy fried potato patty, sweet and spicy chutneys, and a garlicky powdered chile-coconut condiment. Get the recipe for Vada Pav »Matt Taylor-Gross
Ham & Smoked Mozzarella Fritters
Ham & Smoked Mozzarella Fritters
Coiled strands of spaghetti soak up a creamy sauce in these delectable fried ham and cheese fritters. Get the recipe for Ham & Smoked Mozzarella Fritters »Matt Taylor-Gross
Open-Faced Lasagna with Acorn Squash and Smoked Caciocavallo
Open-Faced Lasagna with Acorn Squash and Smoked Caciocavallo
This layerless lasagna recipe from Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri uses an egg-rich dough, but store-bought fresh pasta sheets can be substituted. Get the recipe for Open-Faced Lasagna with Acorn Squash and Smoked Caciocavallo »Andre Baranowski
Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (Lumpia)
Lumpia
Best known in their deep-fried iteration, lumpia often crackle beneath the teeth. But not always; some come wrapped in fresh egg crepes, while others are wrapper-less. Connoisseurs pine for a version made with shrimp, pork, and shredded coconut palm. The freshly fried version is a marvel, the wrapper crisp, the filling's texture delicate and yielding. Instead of the common sweet-sour dipping sauce, chef Dale Talde opts for the condiment he used growing up—a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce spiked with raw garlic and fiery chiles—which he likens to the salt and pepper of Filipino food. Get the recipe for Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (Lumpia) »William Hereford
Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie
Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie
This flaky, comforting puff pastry hand pie is evil but genius—it tastes like the Italian version of a ham and cheese croissant, but without the labor of from-scratch pastry. Mortadella, a pork-based deli meat with pistachios and delicate morsels of pork fat, is available at many grocery stores, and Italian markets. Get the recipe for Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie »Stacy Adimando
Date Shake
Date Shake
Supposedly invented in the 1930s by a California date farmer, date shakes are a popular drink at roadside stands in the Coachella Valley. Get the recipe for Date Shake »Matt Taylor-Gross
Potato Chips
Potato Chips
This recipe makes a party-size batch of chips, perfect as a snack (with or without a dip) or as a side dish—not only with sandwiches but also on the plate with roasted or grilled meats (or game). If there are chips left over, cover them loosely with aluminum foil and store in a cool, dry place. Get the recipe for Potato Chips »Matt Taylor-Gross
Sunchoke Hummus
Sunchoke Hummus | Elaine Murphy
The earthy, nutty quality of Jerusalem artichokes works beautifully with tahini and lemon in this appetizer. Get the recipe for Sunchoke Hummus »Paul Sirisalee | Food Styling: Eugene Jho
Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas
Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas
These crunchy empanadas, featuring shells made with masa, lard, and salt, are filled with tender shredded beef tossed in a spicy salsa. You can prepare the masa and filling in advance, but don't fill or fry the empanadas until just before eating. Adding baking powder and using an electric mixer are two secrets to light, puffy empanada pastry. Get the recipe for Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas »Heami Lee
Spanish-Style Toast with Tomato (Pan Con Tomate)
Pan Con Tomate Crostini
All you need for this simple Spanish snack is good-quality olive oil, bread, garlic, a ripe tomato, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Get the recipe for Spanish-Style Toast with Tomato (Pan Con Tomate) »André Baranowski
Fennel Seed Taralli
Taralli
Crisp, biscuit-like Italian crackers, taralli taste best baked until dry and golden-brown: the toastiness brings out and complements the flavors of the spices and fruity olive oil. Baking them atop a drying rack helps ensure an even browning all around, but if you don't have one, dry the taralli briefly on clean kitchen towel and bake them on a parchment-lined sheet. You can omit the fennel seed and replace with 1 ¼ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper if desired, or leave the dough plain. Get the recipe for Fennel Seed Taralli »Stacy Adimado
Turkish Grilled Cheese
Kumru
This specialty of Çesme, a small beach town in Turkey, is one of the world's great grilled cheese sandwiches, in which the cheese itself is grilled before getting slipped into toasted bread with raw tomato and optional (but highly recommended) toppings of griddled sausage and pickled cucumbers and chiles. Get the recipe for Turkish Grilled Cheese »Matt Taylor-Gross
Pigs in a Blanket with Herbed Mustard Dipping Sauce
pigs in blanket
The dough, a variation on a Southern-style biscuit dough, is rolled out and folded several times to ensure delicate layers. Leftover dough and scraps can be rolled out again and cut and baked into biscuits. The dough can also be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen until ready to use. Get the recipe for Pigs in a Blanket with Herbed Mustard Dipping Sauce »Matt Taylor-Gross
Persian Kuku Sabzi
Persian kuku sabzi
A classic Persian herb-loaded egg dish with the fragrant lift of rose petals. Get the recipe for Persian Kuku Sabzi »Matt Taylor-Gross
Chicken Flautas with Cotija and Salsa Roja
Chicken Flautas with Cotija and Salsa Roja
Flautas, flavorful miniature tacos that are a perfect finger food, are usually deep-fried until fully cooked. In this chicken flautas recipe, the corn tortillas get just a brief flash-fry, just to soften them for filling and rolling, and are finished in the oven, which both saves hands-on time and keeps them a bit healthier than their retail counterparts. Get the recipe for Chicken Flautas with Cotija and Salsa Roja »Anna Stockwell
Mozzarella Sticks
Mozzarella sticks
Crispy breading encases gooey melted mozzarella cheese in this classic appetizer. Get the recipe for Mozzarella Sticks »Farideh Sadeghin
Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Kulcha
Cheddar Cheese Kulcha
One of the most popular appetizers at Paowalla, Floyd Cardoz's modern Indian restaurant devoted to bread-bakers, is this flatbread filled with melty spiced cheese. A simple naan dough is wrapped around a filling of classic American cheddar, sweet red pepper, cumin, and chile powder. Get the recipe for Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Kulcha »Matt Taylor-Gross
Homemade Granola
Homemade Granola with Apricots, Blueberries, and Almonds
Lightly sweet, perfectly crunchy, and with a mild vanilla flavor, this addictive granola is perfect served over yogurt or as an on-the-go snack. Get the recipe for Homemade Granola »Farideh Sadeghin
Venetian Tea Sandwiches (Tramezzini)
Venetian Tea Sandwiches (Tramezzini)
Our favorite fillings for light, dainty Venetian tea sandwiches are asparagus and eggs, tuna and olives, and arugula with cured beef. Serve a selection open-faced for a colorful, eye-catching presentation. Get the recipe for Venetian Tea Sandwiches (Tramezzini) »Todd Coleman
Ajvar
Ajvar
A smoky, sweet, and savory condiment as versatile as ketchup. This version is adapted from Tim Wiechmann, of Boston's Playska, a Balkan-style sandwich shop. Get the recipe for Ajvar »Matt Taylor-Gross
Sweet Cream Scones
Sweet Cream Scones
These delicate pastries start with butter and flour, then get a hit of cream for a sublimely tender morning treat. Get the recipe for Sweet Cream Scones »Christina Holmes
Korean Scallion Pancakes (Pajeon)
korean scallion pancakes
These crispy fried scallion pancakes from chef Hooni Kim, traditionally paired with a refreshing makgeolli, or Korean rice beer, can be a vehicle for any number of ingredients. Instead of, or in addition to, the scallions, you can fill pajeon with garlic chives, ramps, chrysanthemum leaves, small squid, shrimp, thin slices of Korean chile, or julienned carrots. To get the pancakes as crispy as possible, make sure the batter is very cold and the pan smoking hot and slicked with plenty of oil. Get the recipe for Korean Scallion Pancakes (Pajeon) »Jason Lang
Easiest Pizza Ever
Easiest Pizza Ever
No time to make your own dough? Same here. Use a loaf of bread for the crust and have dinner ready in no time. Get the recipe for Easiest Pizza Ever »Farideh Sadeghin
Tomato and Avocado Sandwich
Tomato and Avocado Sandwich
Sweet, juicy heirloom tomatoes and slices of just-ripe avocado work in perfect harmony no matter what you serve them on, but a slice of seven-grain bread adds a perfect amount of texture and crunch. Get the recipe for Tomato and Avocado Sandwich »Helen Rosner
Goat Cheese and Olive Tapenade Sandwich
Goat Cheese and Olive Tapenade Sandwich
The New York City restaurant Penelope serves a cult-favorite sandwich called the John Oliver: fresh goat cheese and a generous serving of kalamata olive tapenade together on (yes, really) toasted cranberry walnut bread. It's an uncanny pairing: sweet, nutty, briny, and creamy all at once. Get the recipe for Goat Cheese and Olive Tapenade Sandwich »Helen Rosner
Ricotta and Honey Sandwich
Ricotta and Honey Sandwich
A dollop of ricotta on earthy-sweet oat bread is delicious; add a drizzle of sourwood honey and it's elevated to the exquisite. (For a bit of sophisticated heat, top with a sprinkle of freshly-crushed red pepper flakes.) Get the recipe for Ricotta and Honey Sandwich »Helen Rosner
Radish and Butter Sandwich
Radish and Butter Sandwich
It's tres French to pair crisp, spicy radishes with softened, salted butter; a thin-sliced baguette is the perfect vehicle. Get the recipe for Radish and Butter Sandwich »Helen Rosner
Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Crostini
Garlic and Sweet Potato Crostini
Sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy come together on little toasts, which pair cubes of sweet potato with a flavorful spread featuring lemon zest, capers and sour cream. Get the recipe for Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Crostini »Helen Rosner