Impress your guests with a few of our best appetizer recipes. All can be prepped ahead with minimal hands on time. And all well tested and popular!
This is an update to one of our first-ever posts, 10 Easy Make Ahead Appetizers (with early and terrible pictures!). Honestly, I could just eat appetizers and skip the main meal, but if I’ve gone to all the trouble of making dinner, I try to coordinate the apps and not make them too heavy. For example, I wouldn’t serve a meat-based appetizer if I’m serving meat for dinner.
I typically try to make one or two somewhat unique appetizers (is there such a thing anymore?) and a couple of super easy ones like fresh orange juice shots, mango or melon chunks, mixed nuts, etc. So here’s a few of our delicious best appetizer recipes.
My sister Kathy turned me on to Dukkah. You just grind up some nuts, seeds and spices in the processor and serve it as a “dip” with bread and olive oil. It’s different and people love it. Vegetarian, 20 minutes, make ahead.
Puff Pastry Tomato Tart
When tomatoes are at their peak, this tart is amazing, but it still works beautifully when they’re not. Combine tomatoes with melt-y cheese and a flaky puff pastry base and you have a pretty lovely – and delicious – appetizer. Vegetarian, 40 minutes, make ahead.
Not Your Classic Eggplant Dip
Eggplant dip can be made as smoky, spicy and aromatic as you want by varying the technique and ingredients. This version is pureed and has a wonderful and different blend of tastes. And it’s spicy! (or not)
Easy Avocado Crostini with Balsamic Drizzle
I love the avocado, lime, salt, tomato and balsamic combo and these are perfect for vegetarians served on costini ‘toasts’ with a hint of garlic. Super popular. Vegetarian, 12 minutes, make ahead and drizzle right before serving.
Easy Shrimp with Gremolata Dressing
Just roasted shrimp with a simple dressing of parsley, lemon, garlic and olive oil that bursts with flavor. Bright and fresh. Fine to serve at room temperature. 20 minutes, make ahead.
Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash Mini Soup Cups
My friend Faygie inspired this recipe. Creamy, smooth and flavorful with some nice heat. I serve it in shot glasses or espresso cups for an appetizer. I put the soup in a thermos to keep it hot and let guests help themselves. Vegetarian, 30 minutes, make ahead.
Honey Garlic Chicken or Beef
Crispy, fried, sweet and way better than take-out. These are best served hot, freshly tossed in the sticky sauce, so I only make them when I’m having a small group for dinner like 4-6. Really good! 30 minutes, make ahead (not more than an hour).
Cocktail Chicken Meatballs
Tender, sticky, sweet, spicy (or not) cocktail chicken meatballs make a great appetizer or pot luck dish. Serve with toothpicks or individually on Chinese spoons garnished with green onions or parsley. 25 minutes, make ahead.
Peach and Prosciutto Appetizers
In the summer, I grill these, but in winter, you can serve them at room temp (without cooking) or broil them for a minute or two. Substitute pears if peaches are not in season. 12 minutes, make ahead.
Beef Crostini with Horseradish Aioli
This was posted as a sous vide recipe (special cooking method), but you can use any leftover or quickly pan fried or grilled steak instead. Assembles in minutes and the rare beef works beautifully with the horseradish aioli. 15 minutes (with beef pre-made), make ahead.
Spiced Herb Popcorn
Not your typical appetizer, but addictive and very popular. Savoury. herb-y, lemon-y, garlic-y, smoky and a bit of heat. Yum. Vegetarian, 11 minutes, make ahead.
Other easy make ahead appetizers
- Cheese board with grapes
- Bruschetta with crostini
- Antipasto platter
- Olive bread sliced, served with olive oil mixed with herbs and balsamic
- Melon chunks
- Fresh orange juice shots (in shot glasses)
- Dips with crunchy snap peas as scoops
- Guacamole with pita chips
- Fresh mango slices or melon chunks
If you’re entertaining for the holidays, check out our tips:
Tips for a Hosting a Great Dinner Party (get the tips)
Tips on Keeping Food Warm (get the tips)