Spreads, dips and sandwich fillings

20 August 2014
This may not be the most exciting of posts but it's sometimes a struggle to find good wholesome crackers, dips and spreads for snacks, lunches and to accompany drinks when friends drop around. Add to that the ongoing need of parents to send children to school with a good lunch, and you'll know that having a few recipes for these things up your sleeve is a real plus.

If you do have children going off to school, any of the crackers and dip or spreads, along with a container of salad or chopped crisp vegetables, such as carrot and celery sticks, would make a nice change in the lunch box. Add a banana and apple and you'd have the perfect lunch for an older child.

School lunches and snacks

I try to home produce as much as I can and biscuits, crackers, breads, dips, spreads and fillings are high on my list because so many of the commercial products contain preservatives and artificial additives. I prefer not eating anything like that, and want to serve wholesome food to my family and friends. Many of my recipes are based on my farmers cheese and cheese crackers. The recipes for both are here, they contain only natural ingredients and they're very easy to make. I hope they provide a good basis for some of the goodies you'll make up. And here are some other cracker recipes:

Food additives to avoid

Last year, my sister Tricia gave me a lovely book called Vintage Tea Party. It holds many old favourite recipes for high tea, morning tea and light meals that are more a snack than a meal. One recipe caught my eye a while ago and I've made it a couple of times since.  It's potted salmon and you can make up a jar of it and keep it in the fridge for serving on toast triangles or crackers.

 Potted Salmon 
  • Tin of salmon (skin removed), or if you're lucky enough to have fresh, cooked or smoked salmon, use that.
  • 40 grams/3 oz melted butter, hold some back for sealing the top of the salmon
  • Pepper
Place the ingredients in a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms.  Add the salmon to a sterilised jar and pour over the remaining melted butter. This is how the salmon was traditionally stored in the fridge, with a butter seal. Serve with crackers or as a spread for sandwiches. It is delicious served with pickled cucumbers - homemade, of course.

  Potted tuna 

This is a similar recipe from Not Quite Nigella but it can't be stored as long in the fridge. It makes a great cracker or bread spread and is excellent with drinks when friends come over.

 Triple layer dip  - another great dip for a party.

 Chicken spread  
For this spread you'll need to get into the habit of saving a cup of cooked chicken when you've made a roast chicken.  Or you can cook a chicken specially for lunches, finely dice the chicken and store it in one cup portions in the freezer.
  • 1 cup farmers cheese (see my recipe above)
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken
  • Small red onion or one green onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • As much chilli as you like - either fresh or powdered
Combine all the above, mix well and serve on bread or crackers.

 Beetroot dip 
  • 4 beetroot, cooked, skinned and cooled
  • One clove garlic, crushed or finely grated
  • 1 cup farmers cheese (see my recipe above)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
Place all the above in a food processor and blitz until the cheese and beetroot is just combined. You don't want a smooth paste for this, it needs some texture. Serve as a dip with crackers.

  Yoghurt cheese - labneh/quark  
When you finish making your yoghurt, or using good commercial plain yoghurt, pour about two cups of yoghurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. You need to drain the whey off and as this will take a while, place the strainer in a large jug and store it in the fridge overnight. The following day you'll have a ball of fresh cheese and a jug of whey. Use the whey in your baking or fermenting. If you store it in a sealed jar, whey will keep for about six weeks in the fridge.

To make your cheese, finely chop some chilli and herbs of your choice and add it to the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Store in a sealed container in the fridge. This is delicious on bread, particularly rye bread, crackers or toast.

These are all good recipes so you can steer clear of those additive-packed dips, spreads, biscuits and chips you buy at the supermarket. All these recipes are delicious and easy to make.  Do you have any recipes like this to share? Please only add those with no additives or artificial flavourings, and no soup mixes or MSG. We all need to have a good selection of these kinds of foods. I'm looking forward to seeing what you can share with us.


  1. Egg salad is a favorite at our house. Chopped hard boiled eggs, finely diced celery, a bit of chopped sweet pickles, a bit of mustard, salt and pepper and enough mayonnaise to bind it all together.

    A popular dip in the US has a base of refried beans, a layer of sour cream, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes and sliced black olives plus anything else you would like. Scoop it up with chips. It is hearty enough for a light meal.

  2. I like to make hummus from scratch. I use a basic recipe which is just canned (or soaked dried) garbanzo beans, lemon juice, tahini and garlic. Sometimes I use the liquid from the beans, sometimes I replace it with water, it's good both ways (though you might want to add salt to taste if you use water).

  3. I have been meaning to make my own crackers for a while now. You have given me the motivation.

    A snack I like is homemade relish on homemade bread with old cheddar cheese. Yummy!

    1. Ditto!
      And I love the idea of the potted salmon. Going to show the recipes to the kids so they can make some for their school lunches.

  4. I make my own vegan cheeses and I love homemade tabouli on sandwiches too

  5. I use quark and mix it with a dollop of sweet chilli dipping sauce to accompany some raw veggie sticks. This dip is tasty! Making some extra bread dough when making bread is often useful. I cut small sections of the risen dough and work in some grated cheese, then roll small sticks from this dough and bake them. Easy cheesy snack sticks for packed lunches.

  6. I thought of another sandwich filling that my Mother used to make. She would grind leftover roast beef, onions and dill pickles. That's it and it is delicious although messy to eat.

  7. Does yoghurt cheese keep the acidic tang that yoghurt has? If so I am dead keen!

    I might make some farmers cheese with some goats milk, I pay a fortune for goats cheese!

    1. Yes it tastes almost the same, but creamier. It's delicious. I'm sure you'll like it.

  8. I make potted rainbow trout. When I pick up some trout for dinner I try to grab an extra one. I bake them all together but reserve one to pot with spiced clarified butter. There is a recipe for the spiced clarified butter here http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/-hughs-spiced-butter-for-potted-trout-and-shrimps/ (please remove link if inappropriate).

    I also love homemade hummus and baba ganoush. Hummus can be varied by adding roasted or steamed sweet potato for a colourful change. Good old cheese and bread & butter cucumbers is a favourite for me too!

  9. Thanks for the great list Rhonda! I try and make as many of these things as I can as well :)

  10. Thanks for more cracker recipes to add to my collection. I've been making these too and they are delicious. Those with kiddos will love them! http://www.agoldenafternoon.com/food/junkfood-remade-cheese-its/

  11. Cream cheese (room temperature) mixed with black olives and green olives. Add a dash of hot sauce and a dash of garlic powder for a great spread.

  12. I too make hummus, much cheaper than buying it. I also make a few bean based spreads, broad bean and mint, white beans of any kind and garlic, beans and cream cheese. A spicy lentil dish makes a great spread when cold ;)

  13. LOVE this post! Thanks for the ideas, which are slightly different from my American ones.

    I make sourdough crackers as a way to feed my starter: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2013/12/low-key-sourdough-and-its-resulting.html

    And this is pimento cheese, a Southern US recipe that we love: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2010/08/pimento-cheese.html

    Another excellent thing is hot pepper jam, used on bread in combination with cheese or avocado: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2012/09/breakfast-avocado-with-red-pepper.html

  14. A new favorite of mine is home smoked trout, cream cheese, scallions, a few dashes of hot sauce. It is very thick and wonderful spread on crackers. It's a good light lunch with a piece of fruit.



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