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

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 »

Sarikopitakia (fried mizithra cheese pastries)

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. Get the recipe for Sarikopitakia (fried mizithra cheese pastries) »

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.

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 »

Real Deal Ignacio-Style Nachos

The man’s name was Ignacio Anaya. His nickname was Nacho. When asked what he called the dish he’d just wiped up, Ignacio replied, “Nacho’s especiales.” A balance of pickly, salty, cheesy, and crisp, this recipe—inspired by the Anaya’s—shows that simple can be preferable when it comes to nachos. Get the recipe for Real Deal Ignacio-Style Nachos »

Vada Pav (Indian Veggie Burgers)

Vada Pav (Indian Veggie Burgers)

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 »

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.

Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (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) »

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 »
Supposedly invented in the 1930s by a California date farmer, date shakes are a popular drink at roadside stands in the Coachella Valley.

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 »

Sunchoke Hummus

Sunchoke Hummus

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. Get the recipe for Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas >>

Spanish-Style Toast with Tomato (Pan Con Tomate)

All you need for this simple Spanish snack is good-quality olive oil, bread, garlic, a ripe tomato, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Taralli

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 »

Pigs in a Blanket with Herbed Mustard Dipping Sauce

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 »

Persian Kuku Sabzi

Persian Kuku Sabzi

Mozzarella Sticks

Crispy breading encases gooey melted mozzarella cheese in this classic appetizer. Get the recipe for Mozzarella Sticks »

Cheddar Cheese Kulcha

Cheddar Cheese Kulcha

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola with Apricots, Blueberries, and Almonds
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.

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 »

Sweet Cream Scones

Sweet Cream Scones

Pajeon (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 Pajeon (Scallion Pancakes) »

Easiest Pizza Ever (Loaf Bread Pizza)

Easiest pizza ever

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 »

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 »

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.)

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.

Roasted 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 »