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20 Vegetarian Appetizers (and serving tips)

At holidays, cocktail and dinner parties, vegetarian appetizers are a must these days if you want to make your vegetarian guests feel welcome and not just an afterthought.

We are sharing quick and easy appetizers, healthy appetizers, a few unique ones and many others. Plus, lots of tips for serving, last minute ideas and hosting.

So impress your guests with a few of our deliciously popular appetizers that can all be prepped ahead.

Summer Vegetable rice paper Rolls cut in two on a plate

Gone are the days where you can stick out a veggie tray and call it a day. Well you can, but I can guarantee you, vegetarians won’t be happy with that. My partner-daughter-kook Jenna reminds me regularly. I have learned.

I’m not suggesting you eliminate non vegetarian appetizers. Just let them share the glory 🙂

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. 

If you’re looking for that perfect party appetizer, you’ve come to the right place. We have plenty of options (even non vegetarian apps if you scroll to the bottom). Hope you find something you like.

Number of appetizers needed per person

Catering experts suggest:

  • For a dinner party: 6 per person
  • For a cocktail party (no dinner): 8-12 per person

A rule of thumb for how many different types of appetizers needed:

  • 3 types for 8-10 guests
  • 4-5 types for 14-16 guests

Creative ways to serve appetizers

This is the fun part. Here are a few ideas.

The table spread: Choose appetizers with contrasting colors and shapes. If you serve them buffet style on a table, vary the heights of the dishes using cake stands, glasses or mason jars. For the holidays, I buy some sparkly stars or shapes at the dollar store to sprinkle over the tablecloth. Festive!

Interesting serving dishes: Look around the house and think outside the box. Cake stands, goblets, jars, framed mirrors, artwork covered with glass, short vases and vintage plates are all good choices. I love to serve soups or freshly squeezed juice in mini espresso cups or shot glasses.

Fun food vessels (beyond crackers): Get creative by using food as the vehicle for a topping. Some great examples are cucumber rounds, mini phyllo cups (I buy these), thin square cheese slices, apple or pear slices and cooked sweet potato rounds. Or how about putting a dip in a hollowed-out pineapple or melon half?

And now for the 20 vegetarian appetizer recipes.

Puff pastry appetizers

I absolutely LOVE puff pastry. It’s crispy, flaky, buttery and so easy to work with these days when you buy frozen pre-rolled sheets. Just unfold and use. It makes anything taste great.

Tomato Tart with Puff Pastry
cut up Tomato Tart Puff Pastry appetizers
This casual, rustic tomato tart with puff pastry is a simple, tasty appetizer for a casual dinner party or a light lunch served with a salad and a glass of wine. When tomatoes are at their peak, the tart is amazing. But it still works beautifully when they're not due to the vinaigrette dressing that brightens them with herbs, garlic and capers.
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Cheese Twists
Cheese Twist Appetizers
Puff pastry Cheese Twists are a great choice for your next get-together. Flaky, cheesy, crispy and easy to make ahead as an appetizer. And very popular!
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Knish Recipe with Root Vegetable Mash
pile of cut up knishes filled with root vegetable mash
This knish recipe is filled with a delicious root vegetable mash, wrapped in a golden flaky puff pastry (store-bought – shh). Melt in your mouth and really easy. A great make ahead side dish or appetizer.
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Super Easy Potato Knishes
baked knish rolls not yet cut on cutting board
These easy potato knishes are flaky and melt-in-your-mouth despite the shortcuts that cut the recipe time in half. A great appetizer or side. Don't count on leftovers.
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Beet and Goat Cheese Appetizer Recipe
Beet and Goat Cheese Appetizer
If you like roasted beets and goat cheese, Beet and Goat Cheese Appetizer is for you. It's a simple, pretty and make-ahead puff pastry tart.
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Quick and easy appetizers

Quick and easy speaks to me big time. As long as the appetizers are delicious and pretty on the plate. All these vegetarian appetizers take between 10-20 minutes to make, some with great shortcuts. So no excuses.

Mini Stuffed Peppers With Goat Cheese
Stuffed Mini Peppers With Goat Cheese on cutting board f
Try these one-bite Stuffed Mini Peppers with goat cheese and pesto for your next holiday or dinner party. Delicious, easy and only 20 minutes to make (with a few good shortcuts). I love to serve them with a dramatic drizzle of balsamic reduction.
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Caprese Appetizers
Mini Caprese skewers on cutting board with balsamic reduction drizzle f
We boost the flavour of these little caprese appetizers (made with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes) by a marinade and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
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Dukkah Recipe
dish of dukkah, bread and dish of oil
Ground nuts, seeds and spices make an incredible appetizer "dip" served with bread and olive oil. Your guests will rave about this delicious Dukkah recipe. 
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Endive Appetizers With Ricotta and Gems
endive appetizers on plate
These Endive Appetizers with ricotta and "gems" are super light and easy to make. Beautiful contrasting colors, textures and flavors. And the variations are endless.
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Spiced Herb Popcorn Recipe
Spiced herb popcorn with smoked paprika, lemon zest, garlic and fresh herbs. Addictive!
Change it up a bit with this savory Spiced Herb Popcorn. Herb-y, lemon-y, garlic-y, smoky and a bit of heat. Great as a snack or appetizer. Addictive!
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Crostini and Dips

Crostini are simple little toasts (in Italian). They make great finger foods and the toppings are endless. We have two crostini recipes here, but if you scrounge around in your fridge, you can probably create your own.

Dips are equally as popular and can be made well ahead of serving time. If you have a favorite store-bought dip, go for it. Just find something fun to dip with.

Avocado Appetizers on Crostini
Avocado Crostini with Balsamic Drizzle on cutting board
Here's a tasty, popular avocado appetizer on crostini to add to your repertoire. We top it with tomatoes and a balsamic drizzle to boost flavor and pizzazz. Just 12 minutes.
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Oven Roasted Garlic Appetizer
roasted garlic with focaccia
Here a recipe for an oven roasted garlic appetizer featuring soft, spreadable, mellow, golden garlic cloves on warm Focaccia bread. Simple and popular. 
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Pesto Ricotta Crostini Appetizers
Peach, Pesto, Ricotta Appetizers. Just a few minutes to put together if you have pesto on hand. Flavour combination is amazing!
Guests rave about these Pesto Ricotta Crostini appetizers.  So simple to make and the flavor combination is fantastic.
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Eggplant Dip
eggplant dip
This not-your-classic version of eggplant dip (Baba Ghanoush) has an Asian twist with sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, soy and rice wine. It;s super flavorful, luxurious, slightly smoky and very tasty. 
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Melted Olive Cheese Appetizers Recipe
Melted Olive Cheese Appetizers
Melted Olive Cheese Appetizers are fabulous, quick and easy to make and are a consistently “can I have the recipe?” recipe. Freezes well.
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Apps in wraps

I’m using the term ‘wrap’ loosely here. Fun options and all dairy free. With a little practice, the pretty and popular vegetable rice paper rolls are much easier to make than you might think. Serve the peanut tofu appetizer with toothpicks are on endive. The dumpling wraps use frozen dumplings.

Vegetable Rice Paper Rolls
Summer Vegetable rice paper Rolls cut in two on a plate
Bursting with freshness, color and textures, these pink-wrapped Vegetable Rice Paper Rolls are a perfect light appetizer before any meal. Step up the flavors with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce or any other sauce of your choice.
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Tofu With Peanut Sauce
close up of tofu in endive 1
If you're a peanut lover, you will love Tofu With Peanut Sauce. Even if you don't like tofu. The spicy peanut-y little pillows are packed with flavor and delicious in veggie bowls and appetizers.
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Easy Lettuce Wraps with Dumplings
lettuce wraps with dumplings on cutting board 1
Frozen dumplings are the main filling in these easy lettuce wraps which are a snap to make in just 20 minutes. Garnish them with peanut sauce, crushed nuts and cilantro for a yummy, versatile appetizer or light main dish. 
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Mini soup tasters

I often serve a soup as an appetizer when people are gathering instead of at the table. Mini espresso cups or shot glasses are perfect vessels. I put them out on a tray with a coffee thermos filled with soup (nothing chunky, any kind that can be sipped). You can, of course, serve the mini cups with a spoon and some homemade croutons.

Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Thai-inspired butternut squash soup in bowl with garnish 5
Just a few simple ingredients create this creamy, smooth, flavorful Thai-inspired butternut squash soup with some nice heat.  And it only takes about 30 minutes to make.
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Easy Gazpacho Recipe (smooth or chunky)
martini glasses with gazpacho on wooden table with pitcher of gazpacho
This healthy, easy gazpacho recipe screams summer freshness. And it satisfies those who prefer their gazpacho smooth or chunky. Spoon it or sip it.
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Easy Butternut Squash Soup
bowl of butternut squash soup on plate
This satisfying, full-bodied easy butternut squash soup always gets rave reviews. It's velvety smooth, full of flavor, healthy and super simple. Make it on the stove top or instant pot.
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Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons
2 bowls of homemade creamy tomato soup with parmesan croutons in soup 1
Remember Campbell's tomato soup with saltine crackers for dunking? Well, we promise this homemade creamy tomato soup with Parmesan croutons is a way better version. Classic comfort food.
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Last minute appetizer ideas

So you’ve spent a ton of time concentrating on the dinner menu and have little time or energy left for appetizers. Not even for one of the easy ones above. Fear not. You can still look like a star with a few simple ideas.

  • Freshly squeezed juice (orange or apple cider for example) served in shot glasses (you can get plastic ones from the dollar store). Buy the juice at the market.
  • Spiced nuts. You can make these or buy them at your local bulk food store.
  • Individualized veggie cups with hummus (buy the mini cups from from the dollar store). Place store-bought hummus in a ziploc bag. Cut one corner off the bag and pipe the hummus into the mini cups. Stand veggie sticks (peppers, carrots, cucumber) in the hummus cups.
  • Grapes, melon, mango slices.
  • Dumplings with peanut sauce or soy dipping sauce: Boil frozen dumplings. Drain, add 2 drops of oil to prevent sticking. Sprinkle chopped green onions and serve with toothpicks and dipping sauce. This is a foolproof go-to for me. Everyone loves dumplings.
  • Cheese board with grapes or olives.
  • Guacamole with pita chips
  • Dips (store-bought) with celery for dipping. Or crackers.
  • Brie with fig or raspberry jam or honey: Cut the top off the brie. Spread on preserves or honey. Place it in the microwave for 60-90 seconds on high. Serve with crackers. Another hugely popular appetizer.

Hosting Tips

If you’re hosting for the holidays, we have a few tips to help you reduce the stress of preparing so you can enjoy your guests.

Hosting a Dinner Party

How to keep food warm

Non vegetarian appetizers (if you want to mix and match)

Here’s a few meat and seafood based appetizer ideas in case you want to vary your spread.

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