12 Genius ways to turn junk food into company-worthy fare

Oct 8, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Image: Wildpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Dinner parties always sound like a great idea — in theory. Until you realize you have to spend hours pretending to be a gourmet chef, without a spare second to enjoy your friends, fine foods and a few glasses of wine.

12 Genius ways to turn junk food into company-worthy fare
Image: Tiffany Egbert/Sheknows

If I were to invite you to a dinner party at my house, you might notice something a little different. It's not that I am a five-star chef. Quite the contrary. I am more of what you would call a "chef hacker," which simply means I am capable of cooking a good meal that might rely heavily on the shortcuts, with a few dollops of delicious deception for good measure. (As we all know, that's what Pinterest is for.)

More:21 Dinner party hacks that make entertaining easy

If your dinner party is fast approaching and you don't have a gourmet recipe to your name, the good news is that you have stumbled upon the perfect post to help you pass your friends' taste test with flying colors. Not only is it possible to whip up a delicious dinner for company in a short amount of time, but you can often do it with the crap packaged foods you have hiding in your cabinets.

Appetizers, snacks and sides

1. Bacon-wrapped tater tots

Bacon tater tots
Image: Damn Delicious

If you've got bacon in the crisper, those tater tots gathering frost in the back of your freezer are finally ready to serve their divine purpose.

2. Caramel Cheetos

Caramel Cheetos
Image: Plain Chicken

These mouthwatering caramel Cheetos might just be crazy enough to work — and trust me when I say they do work.

3. Dorito dust

Doritos dust
Image: Frank Reber

It's safe to say that turning Doritos into a convenient junk food spice may be the best thing that's happened in your kitchen all week.

4. Lucky Charms snack mix

Lucky charms
Image: Deliciously Sprinkled

Now there's a perfectly good reason to justify the copious amount of Lucky Charms you've been stockpiling.

5. Baked Parmesan hash brown cups

Hash brown cups
Image: Averie Cooks

Regular old hash browns scream "diner." But bake them in a cup and add some Parmesan cheese, and suddenly it's fine dining.

6. Cheerios onion rings

Cheerios onion rings
Image: Make the Best of Everything

Two foods you thought should never mix (who puts onions in their cereal?) come together as the best appetizer on the table.

7. Chocolate-covered potato chips

Chocolate potato chips
Image: Notes on Sugar

Dude. Dude. No one will ever judge you for making something so delicious (and so easy).

More: Weird junk food that needs to go away

Main dishes

8. Chicken nugget tacos

Chicken nugget tacos
Image: With a Blast

It may officially be the end of days when you can dress up frozen chicken nuggets as a trendy street taco, but you don't hear me complaining.

9. Chicken yakisoba

Ramen yakisoba
Image: Budget Bytes

Fine cuisine made with packaged ramen is all the proof you need that your years spent living on cheap noodles in college finally paid off.

10. Fancy hot dogs

Crack dogs
Image: Kitchen Tested

Serve this haute dog dish as a main course, and watch all the hot dog haters eat their words.

11. Italian meatball burger

Meatball burger
Image: Brown Sugar Mama

Swap out frozen meatballs in this recipe, and you have foolproof Italian sliders fit for a king.

More: 14 Outrageous food combos you don't need to be stoned to appreciate


12. The ultimate snack cake cake


Please don't make the mistake of saving this marvelous monstrosity for a special occasion. Your dinner party won't be complete without a custom-made tower of junk food treats — held together only by frosting.