9 Crowd-Pleasing Low-Carb Game Day Recipes

9 Crowd-Pleasing Low-Carb Game Day Recipes

Read time: 14 minutes

Are you ready for some football (food)? Whether you’re an avid fan or you just love a reason to get together with friends and family, watching sports gives us a great excuse to cook up some delicious food. But if you’re keeping an eye on your carbohydrate intake, game day food can be tricky. So, we’ve created nine crowd-pleasing low-carb game day recipes to help you put together a delightful spread while also keeping your health goals in mind.

We’ve got you covered from the classics (game day chili and grilled blackened wings) to the less expected (roasted edamame and chocolate peanut butter dates). The majority of the recipes contain fewer than 16 grams of carbs per serving. If you’re looking for even more inspiration, check out some of our other recipes. You can’t go wrong with a low-carb chicken salad, crudité platter or charcuterie board, or peach lime salsa.

If you’re living with diabetes, consider checking your blood sugar before and after trying a new recipe to learn more about your personal glycemic response to a food. If you have any questions, reach out to your One Drop clinical health coach.

Game Day Chili

Low-carb game day recipe for chili for diabetes

Is there a more classic low-carb game day recipe than chili? We think not. Our version is low carb and heart healthy, making it the perfect centerpiece to keep your crowd full and energized throughout the game. 

Kidney beans are packed with fiber, which make them an excellent source of slow-release carbohydrates, meaning they’re absorbed more slowly into the body and are less likely to cause a rapid spike of insulin. The kidney beans combined with lean ground beef deliver a whopping 21 grams of protein per serving. Staying fortified with plenty of protein will help you maintain your energy if the game goes into overtime. 

Tips for game day chili

  • If you prefer not to use ketchup, you can substitute it for three tablespoons of tomato paste and one tablespoon of brown sugar. To reduce the sugar even further, you can just use the paste, though this will change the flavor of the chili.
  • Get creative with the toppings. Adding sliced avocado, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, multigrain tortilla chips, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream will dial up the flavor and let your guests customize their bowl to their liking. 
  • To further reduce sodium, add ¼ tsp or simply leave out the salt entirely and allow everyone to salt to their preference.
  • Chili stays well frozen for up to six months! Enjoy this recipe through the winter or at your first spring BBQ.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Serving size: 1 cup

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 16g
Fiber: 5g
Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Protein: 21g
Sodium: 480mg

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 15-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup sugar free ketchup
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans
  • 3 bell peppers (any color assortment), chopped
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 1 ¼ oz salt-free chili seasoning packet (or scroll down for a recipe to make your own)

Directions

  1. Wash and prepare the garlic, peppers, and onion. In a medium (~5.5 qt) pot, add oil and brown the beef- about 7 minutes, breaking up the pieces. Set the browned beef aside.
  2. Add chopped onion and garlic to the pot. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat until the onion starts to become fragrant and the garlic is golden brown.
  3. Add chopped peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the beans and diced tomatoes, stir, and bring to a boil.
  4. Add 2 cups of water to the empty tomato can and stir- add to chili. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and add half the seasoning mixture.
  5. Add ketchup to the browned beef and mix so that the meat is coated. Add to the chili pot. Continue to simmer on low for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat and mix in Worcestershire sauce and optional salt. Serve hot.

Do-It-Yourself Chili Seasoning

If a salt-free seasoning packet is not available, you can create your own chili seasoning by mixing the following spices.

  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin, optional
  • ½ tsp cayenne powder, optional (spicy)
  • 1 tsp oregano

Grilled Blackened Wings

Low-carb game day recipe for grilled blackened wings for diabetes

Americans love their chicken wings. In 2019, we consumed nearly one billion servings of wings (942.5 million servings to be exact). And more than two thirds of Americans (65%) who eat chicken wings say they like to eat them while watching a major sporting event. It’s no wonder. These juicy, spicy delights are fun to dip and fun to eat. Plus, they’re naturally low carb. Our version combines the sweetness of brown sugar with savory cajun seasoning for a finger-licking-good game day treat. 

To reduce the amount of saturated fat, substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts. This substitution may result in a shorter cooking time. Remember that all poultry should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165 Fahrenheit. Food poisoning would not be a fun way to end game day!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Serving size: 6 oz

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 4g
Fiber: 0g
Fat: 25g
Saturated Fat: 6g
Protein: 30g
Sodium: 310mg

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chicken wings
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Directions

  1. Add hot sauce and cajun seasoning to a large bowl and mix. Add chicken wings and toss until coated. Cover with wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Once chicken has marinated, place on the grill. Allow to grill until done, which is about 30 minutes. Flip as needed or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Brush over chicken on both sides.
  4. Grill for an additional 10 minutes, allowing the glaze to char slightly.

Portobello Pizza

Low-carb game day recipe for portobello pizza for diabetes

Low-carb game day recipes are typically pretty meat heavy, but for those following a plant-based diet, these portobello pizzas are a hearty and satisfying alternative. They can even be made fully vegan by substituting non-dairy, plant-based cheese shreds.

Mushrooms contain selenium, an antioxidant that’s not found in many other fruits or vegetables. This potent element may prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease, so not only is this game day recipe delicious, it delivers an impressive array of health benefits. 

For best results, be sure your oven is fully preheated before baking the mushrooms and do not over bake. Mushrooms release liquid and get soggy if they’re in the oven for too long.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Servings: 6
Serving size: 1 pizza

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 14g
Fiber: 5g
Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Protein: 9g
Sodium: 310mg

Ingredients

  • 6 portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 ½ cups part skim shredded mozzarella
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Remove the stem from the mushroom caps. Using a spoon, scoop out the gills of the mushroom. Rinse, pat dry, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Brush the top of each mushroom with the oil mixture. Then, place on a baking sheet with the cap side down.
  4. Stack the fresh basil leaves, roll them, and finely slice them to get ribbons.
  5. Fill each mushroom with 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce, ¼ cup shredded mozzarella, tomato slices, and basil ribbons.
  6. Place in the oven and broil for 8 minutes or just until the cheese is melted.
  7. To serve, sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Low-carb game day recipe for sweet and spicy nuts for diabetes

This super simple low-carb game day recipe elevates that classic arena snack: nuts. This recipe calls for almonds, a nut that supports diabetes management by positively impacting body weight, glucose levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The tamari, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper complement the sweet, buttery taste of the cashews and the earthiness of the almonds, making this a snack that your guests will reach for again and again throughout the game.

If you’re looking to reduce your sodium intake, replace the tamari with coconut aminos for a reduction of 145 mg of sodium per serving. To further reduce the carbohydrate content, you can reduce the added sugar (maple syrup) by half or substitute for a liquid non-nutritive sweetener such as monk fruit, allulose, or liquid stevia. If using liquid stevia, reduce to 1 ½ tbsp.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12
Serving size: ¼ cup

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 12g
Fiber: 3g
Fat: 16g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Protein: 7g
Sodium: 180mg

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups almonds
  • 1 ½ cups cashews
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine and stir the tamari, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Add the nuts and toss until completely coated.
  3. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the coated nuts in an even layer.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes—stirring nuts halfway through—until nuts are an even deep brown. Set a timer and be careful not to overcook.
  5. Remove from the oven, transfer to a clean parchment paper, and allow to cool. Spread nuts to avoid them getting stuck together in clusters.
  6. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container.

Roasted Edamame

Low-carb game day recipe for edamame for diabetes

When you think of game day recipes, roasted edamame might not be the first dish that comes to mind. But trust us, this nutty and salty snack can be just as satisfying as potato chips. Low in carbs, edamame is an excellent choice for people living with diabetes as it doesn’t typically cause intense spikes in blood sugar.

Feel free to experiment with different combinations of herbs and spices based on your preferences. Onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper or chili powder, smoked paprika and cumin all work well.

Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Serving size: ½ cup

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 12g
Fiber: 4g
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Protein: 9g
Sodium: 110mg

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces shelled edamame (frozen)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375℉ and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine frozen edamame, olive oil, and sea salt (optional) in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Spread edamame on a baking sheet and make sure you don’t overcrowd the edamame.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes for even cooking.
  5. Allow to cool completely before storing in a container. Will keep up to five days in the fridge.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Low-carb game day recipe for buffalo chicken dip for diabetes

I dip, you dip, we dip for this buffalo chicken dip, a low-carb game day recipe that you’ll be dipping into again and again. This tangy side combines two types of cheese—nutty neufchatel and spicy blue cheese crumbles—creating a deliciously gooey dish. Our favorite dip delivery vehicles include celery sticks, tortilla chips, carrot slices, toasted pita triangles, and bell pepper slices.  

Buffalo chicken dip tips:

  • Save the leftovers and place them on top of mixed greens or in a tortilla for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Using Tabasco sauce instead of buffalo sauce will result in a spicier dip with less sodium.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, chives, or scallions for a pretty and flavorful presentation.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 ½ hrs
Servings: 6
Serving size: ½ cup

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 3g
Fiber: 0g
Fat: 13g
Saturated Fat: 7g
Protein: 23g
Sodium: 330mg

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 oz neufchatel or reduced-fat cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup hot sauce or buffalo sauce
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients—except for the cheese—to a crock pot or slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 2 ½ hours or until all of the ingredients are melted and combined.
  3. Toss in the cheese. Stir and let heat for another few minutes.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips, celery, and carrots.

Hummus

Low-carb game day recipe for hummus for diabetes

We believe that one can never have too many dips on game day. Creamy, earthy hummus plays well with the same sliced veggies and chips that we recommend for our buffalo chicken dip, so why not make them both? If you find yourself with leftovers, high-fiber hummus can be added to salads, wraps, and sandwiches, too. 

Making hummus when it’s readily available to buy at most grocery stores may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but when you make it yourself, you get to control the texture, proportions, and toppings. Plus, homemade hummus contains no preservatives and you can make a lot of it for cheap. 

Traditionally, hummus only features the simple ingredients listed in the recipe. However, you can get creative and add different toppings such as olives, roasted red peppers, or even blended cooked beets.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Servings: 8
Serving size: 3 tbsp

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 10g
Fiber: 3g
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 0.5g
Protein: 3g
Sodium: 125mg

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • 1 tsp paprika for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add to a blender or a food processor. Pulse and blend until they form very small crumbly pieces. If the chickpeas stick to the sides of the food processor, use a spatula to push them down. Then, continue blending.
  2. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and salt. Add 2 ice cubes and continue to pulse and blend for an additional 4-5 minutes until very smooth.
  3. Use a rubber spatula to scrape hummus into a bowl or onto a plate. Spread out evenly until smooth.
  4. Drizzle oil over the top. Start from the center and let it swirl around the dish.Top with parsley and paprika (optional) and serve.

Caprese Skewers

Low-carb game day recipe for caprese skewers for diabetes

Add an Italian twist to your all-American game day table with these refreshing caprese skewers. Originating in the glamorous island of Capri, the caprese salad boasts the colors of the Italian flag in the form of green basil, white mozzarella, and red tomatoes. In this version, we’ve turned the classic salad into a finger food by assembling them on skewers. 

Larger batches of this low-carb game day recipe can be made ahead of time, so you don’t have to scramble to get them assembled the day of. If you’re not going to eat them right away, be sure to keep the dressing separate. Once you’re ready to enjoy them, brush on the dressing and prepare yourself for compliments from your guests.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Servings: 1
Serving size: 2 skewers

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 9g
Fiber: 3g
Fat: 19g
Saturated Fat: 7g
Protein: 12g
Sodium: 180mg

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup plum tomatoes, cut into halves
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (or blend of basil, oregano, garlic powder)
  • 2  10- or 12-inch skewers

Directions

  1. Wash tomato and basil leaves . Set aside to dry. Cut mozzarella cheese into bite size pieces. Cut tomato into halves. Tear basil leaves into halves.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and seasonings.
  3. Assemble skewers beginning with a tomato half followed by basil. Add another tomato half and then a piece of cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are on skewers.
  4. Using a brush or spoon, dress the skewers with the oil and vinegar mixture.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dates

Low-carb game day recipe for chocolate-covered dates for diabetes

After a day of feasting on the savory and salty, a sweet treat can be oh so satisfying. This lower-carb dessert can be a little messy to put together, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

These chocolate peanut butter dates call for crunchy peanut butter without added fat or sugar, but you could also use a smooth peanut butter and increase the crushed peanuts to ¼ cup, adding some to the center of the date before dipping in the chocolate.

The coconut oil is optional, but it does help to keep the chocolate coating solid. Keeping the date bites frozen between snacking can also help keep the chocolate shell hard.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Freeze time: 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Serving size: 1 date

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Carbs: 25g
Fiber: 6g
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 2.5g
Protein: 2g
Sodium: 5mg

Ingredients

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
  • ½ cup stevia sweetened dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Cut a slit in the dates lengthwise and remove the pit.
  3. Fill each date with the peanut butter and press to close.
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Place in the microwave and heat in 15 second increments until melted. Stir well until smooth.
  5. Using two forks, dip the stuffed date into the chocolate ensuring that it is entirely coated. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the coated dates onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.
  6. Once all the dates have been prepared, place the baking sheet into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!

This article has been clinically reviewed by Alexa Stelzer, RDN, LD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.

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Sara Huneke
Sep 22, 2022

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