Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Top 23 Snacks for All-Night Gaming

posted in Appetizers and Snacks by startcooking team

The weekend is coming and you and your friends have an all-night gaming session planned. You know you’re going to get peckish or even hungry at some point, but not enough for full meals – which would leave you dull afterwords. What do you eat instead?

Here are a variety of choices, many of them fairly light but deliciously satisfying. We can’t promise every item on the list is healthy, and some require a touch of preparation, but they’re all worthwhile just the same!

The Classics


  1. Pizza Rolls. They’re easy to pop in the microwave or toaster oven. Since they can be eaten with one hand with little mess, they’re a popular choice for gaming. There are great pizza roll recipes online if you want to make your own.
  2. Gummy Bears. Gummy Bears are chewy and delicious. They don’t melt and the good quality ones won’t leave residue on your hands – making them perfect for continuing your favorite games uninterrupted.
  3. Bawls Mints. Every video gamer knows about Bawls Mints. These mints contain caffeine and pack a unique fizzy flavor. The caffeine keeps you awake and alert so you can destroy the other team.
  4. Energy Drinks. Pulling an all-night gaming session means being able to stay awake. Gamers often turn to highly-caffeinated Jolt Cola or their favorite energy drinks, also over-caffeinated. Recognizing this, manufacturers are marketing new soda flavors specifically to gamers.
  5. Popcorn. Includes just a few minutes of prep time, can be found at home, and comes in several flavors of cheesy and buttery goodness. Leave fingers greasy and corn kernels for clean-up, but can definitely be eaten one-handed.
  6. Frozen pizza. Frozen pizza is ideal for gaming, as it’s easy to prepare and easy to eat one-handed – not to mention, comes in many brands and flavors. Unfortunately, it has a bad habit of leaving grease and cheese on the controller and keyboard.
  7. Nachos and cheese. A combination of chips and hot cheese. Inexpensive, prep time includes heating cheese, and they can be eaten one handed. Hands might become greasy or cheesy, and be sure to have drinks on hand.
  8. Potato Chips and Doritos. Potato chips are quick – whether you make your own or buy – can be eaten one-handed, can be found easily in cupboards, and don’t require prep time. They also come in several brands and flavors. Unfortunately, like pizza, they can be greasy, and they make gamers thirsty.

No Preparation Required!

  1. Nuts. Nuts are popular gaming snacks: just toss a few into your mouth. Most are not so greasy that your equipment will suffer, and nuts are healthy, unless you eat an entire can. You need protein to stay awake anyway, which nuts have in droves. The popular brand, Planters, offers games online, if you tire of the games you’re playing.
  2. Pretzels. For a less greasy but still salty snack, pretzels are a favorite. While original pretzels are a nice treat, the flavored kind are even better. Hot Buffalo Wing flavor is a favorite among gamers, as well as honey mustard and onion.
  3. Beef Jerky. Beef jerky is dried out, salted meat, which doesn’t spoil short-term — as long as you seal the bag. It requires no preparation and almost no clean-up time, unless you make jerky at home.
  4. Bagels and cream cheese. This combo is satisfying if you’re feeling more than peckish but not all-out hungry. You have lots of flavors to choose from, and you could replace the cream cheese with smoked salmon (above), or tomato or cuke slices sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper. Buy or make your own bagels.
  5. Cheese and Crackers. Can be quick or gourmet, often found right at home, so they don’t take much prep time, and they’re inexpensive. They can be eaten one-handed, but are prone to making gamers thirsty – thus requiring another hand for a drink.

Healthy Snacks to Keep On Playing

vegetable platter

  1. Salsa. Salsa is easy to make fresh – or buy – and offers tasty nutrition with the right ingredients. Be adventurous, try some that combine sweet fruits and hot chilies. Serve with corn chips, mini tacos, quesadillas, or as an all-around sort of condiment.
  2. Hummus. Hummus is healthy, high in protein, inexpensive and easy to make at home . Use pocket breads to keep gaming equipment clean, fill with hummus, thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions, a squeeze of lemon or lime, a drizzle of olive oil, and a bit of coarse fresh ground black pepper.
  3. Feta cheese. Crumble or cube calcium-rich feta and serve with sliced or chopped red onion, Greek olives, and chopped or wedged tomatoes over puffy, middle-eastern style pita breads. Run this under a (toaster) oven broiler for a minute or so, drizzled with the best olive oil you’ve got. Fast, simple, nutritious and delicious.
  4. Rich, crusty, whole grain breads. Cut thick slices. Let gamers make their own hearty snacks, choosing from such things as asiago cheese, sharp Italian provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, prosciutto, salami, extra-virgin olive oil and cracked black peppercorns. Or keep it simple —- a rich, whole grain bread has a flavor all its own. Spread with real butter — warmed to room temperature — and put out some good quality preserves, and perhaps a plate of fresh fruit and cheese.
  5. Fruit and Vegetables. Mostly for the health conscious gamers, fruit and vegetables make the list of top snacks. They are easy to eat and provide nutrients to keep you going. Mix it up and add dips for a real vegetable platter, and you have yourself an excellent snack.

A Taste of the More Exotic


  1. Yogurt Dip. This is a magnesium-rich energy food, a tart and tangy yogurt dip is great for a vegetable platter of endurance, enhancing broccoli, cauliflower, carrot sticks, celery, and cherry tomatoes. A sweeter yogurt dip complements an energy boosting fruit plate of kiwi slices, grapes, strawberries, banana rounds, and pineapple chunks.
  2. Pakora. Yes, these vegetable treats are fried, but fats have some energy giving value, too. Serve with a selection of delicious chutneys for dipping or drizzling. Easy to order in, but best made at home. (Caution: frying in hot oil when you’ve been up all night may be dangerous!) Pakoras are beginner-friendly, but be sure to use Indian style chick pea flour, called besan, which is very high in protein. Try banana pakora, made with sweet, ripe bananas rolled in besan, with hot spices mixed in, and then fried.
  3. Smoked salmon bites. Feed the brain while impressing the taste buds with this fast and easy smoked salmon bites. Crackers, cream cheese or Greek yogurt and a bit of smoked salmon takes seconds to prepare and tastes great.
  4. Sushi. Fish is brain food, but if eating it sushi-style doesn’t appeal to you, try the “spring” rolls. These veggie options are wonderful and if a healthy dose of wasabi doesn’t make you feel alert and alive, nothing will.
  5. Dim Sum. These tiny, tasty treats are perfect for gaming. Whether you order from the local Chinese take-out or make them at home, offer a broad variety or just a few favorites. Players are going to enjoy them!

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SusiQ said:

This blog is making me hungry! Great ideas for staying awake during the NanoWriMo.. LoL


HART said:

You forgot Tootsie Rolls :)

Ahmed Bilal said:

9. Nuts. …. Most are not so greasy that your equipment will suffer…

Is it just me or did anyone else find that funny too? No?

Sushinator said:

By “sushi-style” I’m assuming you mean nigiri, and by “spring rolls” I’m assuming you mean maki.

Sushi refers to the type of rice used, not the style of food made out of the rice.

Chrisinator said:

Heh … good thing this list is full of healthy choices (not). It might have well said: “Reach into fridge, grab item, take out Coke, consume. You now have All-Night Game food.” And remember this isn’t a “top foods eaten” list, its a “variety of choices” as the author states.

They forgot the WoW diet: Mountain Dew and “Manboob Pringles”

Varion said:

Many of these are the worst things you can eat to stay awake. If you really want to stay awake you should eat proteins. Carbs put you to sleep, proteins and vegetables wake you up. When I’m going for a two day counterstrike or TF2 marathon it’s all about tuna tatake and very large coffees.

Christopher S. Penn said:

I’d recommend wasabi-covered dried peas. Those will wake up just about anyone.

@sushinator: you’re absolutely right that linguistically, sushi means vinegared rice preparation for preservation, but for the majority of non-Japanese and non-serious sushiheads, sushi is a food class.

Keep up the fun stuff!

marko said:

Hey these are great. Less for me to think about and more for me to eat. Thumbs up.

roy said:


JEM said:

Thanks for the great snack ideas!

Instead of the typical crap that unsophisticated gamers who lack imagination eat on a nightly basis (you know, #1-11), this snack list will help my gaming nights feel like a real party. With a snack spread like this, the refined gamer can eat snack foods that are tasty and elegant – and not be lumped in with the “gaming from mom’s basement” set.

To each gamer, her own, I suppose.

Curt said:

I have to say that guys my age are more likely to have beer on hand, or maybe something harder. Chips and stuff like that, too… We’re past worrying about proteins keeping us awake.

kal said:

when i clicked on this link i was hoping pizza rolls were #1, great article

art said:

Great snack idea! real cool =)

clashofhope said:

Omggggg… Where are the Twinkies? T-T

hellgate said:

i usually play game all night,what food i choose is Fruit and Vegetables.

Greg said:

Pringles. No grease on the keyboard.

Rook said:

Great blog post, sent this to my friends for our upcoming Christmas lan!

Personally though frozen pizza is a no-no. Stick one in, start a round of death match, and by the time you come back it’s turned into a blackened charr in the oven.

Tom said:

HOW do you not include ramen!

Christopher said:

Trust me on this, salsa is not a good choice. The last time we tried salsa at a LAN will forever be known as The Salsa Incident.

brk said:

totino’s rock!

Evan Hanson said:

There’s way too much grease on this list — gotta keep the hardware clean, son!

TheMorbidMe said:

Sushi for Gamers ??? Makes no sense to me! Imagin having that keyboard smelling like raw fish !!! ohhhh… ;)

Kirk Warren said:

Concerning frozen pizzas, I’d like to point out they are probably the worst gaming snack. Many an all night WoW or Halo or random gaming session has resulted in a burnt pizza forgotten in the throes of blood drunk killing frenzies.

RafTommyWill said:

  1. popcorn is too greasy
  2. wheres the instant noodles?
  3. frozen pizza… how do i remove the crust residues from the creases of my keyboard??? stick to the hotpockets kids.
  4. everything past nuts is too hard to eat and no us asians dont eat dimsum during WoW raids!
  5. coconuts, trust me.

Tristan said:

But what about CANDY?!

MC said:

I’ve always been all about Combos when I am gaming… it is the only time I really eat them, but somehow, they are perfect for this one activity.

Jason Bates said:

All night gaming is ever night for me! These foods are my fav too!

Jenny said:

I like ranch flavor doritos. ;)

evil_shenaniganz said:

Give me a six pack some jerkey and pumpkin seeds and im set..

Jennifer said:

Super list :)

I’ll be cooking for the superbowl this year- can’t wait to whip up some nachos. What kinds of drinks would you serve besides beer. I’d love to do a fun easy cocktail!


Vince said:

You missed Sunflower Seeds, I wouldn’t put them under nuts. 1 bag can take hours to eat and its only about 350 calories. They helped me quit smoking since its very active to eat them.

YuMi said:

Gee, i’m not a hard-core gamer or anything, but i do love staying up watching movies or something. I like the fruits and veggies idea best. =]

startcooking team said:

For long nights playing games or watching movies, there is nothing better than serving ice tea as a drink! Click here to know How to Make Ice Tea!

Thank you for the tip! According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, sunflower seeds may help lower your colesterol The article says ” sunflower seeds are more likely to be consumed as a snack food and could therefore be easily incorporated in a cholesterol-lowering diet.”

the startcooking team :)

premarin said:

only reading the snacks made me hungry. top notch list!

SAM said:

yummy stuf here

Mike said:

you’re snacks ‘re great but i don’t think sushis are delicious,,

coffee can’t make me stay awake either,,

i think beef jerky is my choice…

BeefJerkyRecipes said:

I’m with Mike on the Beef Jerky…but i am NOT with Mike on the Sushi. :)

I have been making my own Jerky lately. I can tweak it to make it just how i like it. The 7-eleven stuff doesn’t cut it for me.

serfg said:

VEGETABLES? cmon!!!!!

What about mountain dew, red bull, monster?

griven said:

I already saw someone say beer but how could the obvious be missed. Hot pockets!

griven said:

serfg must have an eyesight problem. #4 energy drinks. pretty general but i’m sure that covers mountain dew, red bull, monster etc… I just can’t believe hot pockets didn’t make the list. Gaming or hacking I have a supply.

Kirene said:

Actually I find foods that eaten with a fork great for gaming nights. No grease on your fingers or keyboard and hey, easier eating and better stuff to eat. Things that technically aren’t a snack, but I don’t eat small when I play ;) I have eaten things like pasta, frozen dinners, stir fry, pie, cake, even pizza. It’s great- easier to eat and convenient. Yeah, healthier stuff is better, the reason why I’ve been able to stay up is not because of the junk (I eat the junk in afternoon gaming times lol). I usually eat dinner or veggies and fruits in dip for late night gaming. You’re already tired, why make yourself even more?

anok said:

i love Sushi. Ii cant live without it.

Nick said:

Energy drinks and Chinese spring rolls. Can’t beat it.

isa said:

My personal choice? Cookies, energy drinks, and booze!

Kelly said:

Fairly new to gaming (WoW addict here), and the old body doesn’t like all nighters, so during daytime marathon sessions something to drink onhand is always good, and my ‘food’ of choice is M&Ms — chocolate never hurts, and the old ‘melts in your mouth, not in your hands’ thing is primo. ‘Course, I do find I can munch through an entire large bag before I’ve noticed it’s gone ….

anon said:

I think you might have misunderstood sushinator’s comment…..because sushi refers to the vinegared rice it IS a food class; there are many preparations that are considered sushi. Because of this, I’m very unclear as to what the author refers to when she said “sushi-style” and the only spring rolls I am familiar with have nothing to do with sushi(usually vegetable and sometimes meat wrapped in either a rice paper skin or an egg noodle skin).

Without sushinator suggesting that sushi-style means nigiri and spring roll mean maki, I would have assumed sushi-style meant maki as that is the kind of sushi that most sushi novices I know are most familiar with. Either way, those aren’t even the only two styles of sushi.

Dave said:

some mountain dew and liquor

cheese sticks and pretzels

peanut M&Ms

and peanut butter jar with a knife


Cindy said:

A great list with something for everyone!

Stan said:


bluzmannn said:

sunflower seeds!