Stock Up On Canned Water Chestnuts For Your Favorite Dips

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If you ever want to add a crunchy element to your dips, water chestnuts are perfect. Despite their nut-sounding name and crisp bite, water chestnuts are not chestnuts at all. In fact, they're a type of aquatic tuber vegetable that comes from the root of a plant that grows in marshes. They resemble chestnuts in texture and appearance (before they're peeled), but actually taste a bit like an apple crossed with a coconut. Water chestnuts have a bright vegetal crunch that will give any sauce a fun textural contrast. While people typically only buy them for spinach dip, they can be used in a wide variety of sauces, dips, and even salads.

Fresh water chestnuts are usually available at some Asian grocery stores, but canned water chestnuts can be found in most supermarkets as well as online retailers such as Amazon. Just be sure to look out for whole water chestnuts since they tend to be fresher and crunchier than pre-sliced ones. Crack open a can and be sure to rinse them to get rid of the metallic can smell before chopping.

Creamy dips taste better with a bit of crunch

Any fatty dips or sauces, like cream-based or mayonnaise-based ones, can benefit greatly from a handful of chopped water chestnuts. Since water chestnuts are similar in texture to root vegetables like radish and jicama, you could use them in anything that would benefit from those crisp bites. Water chestnuts also crunch like certain real nuts — think chopped walnuts, pine nuts, or peanuts. They can serve as a great nut-free alternative if you blot out excess liquid; so while it won't give the sauce the same earthy flavor, it will offer a fresh crunch that those with nut allergies can enjoy.

As your base for a creamy dip with water chestnuts, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and seasonings, such as onion powder, garlic powder, ranch seasoning, or even a vinegary hot sauce for a kick. Try adding them to a broccoli cheddar dip or an onion dip. Looking for a protein-filled dip? Make a tzatziki sauce with the standard additions of dill and cucumber, but add in chopped water chestnuts. They'll bring with them a more potent crunch and match the flavors of the zesty sauce. If you want to get creative with salads, try topping a chicken salad with sliced water chestnuts for a fresh crunch.