Best Party Appetizer Recipes
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Stuffed Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese
Crisp, sweet Belgian endive lettuce topped with herby goat cheese mixture makes for a delicious and sophisticated starter that won’t spoil supper. Bite sized and based on vegetables, this easy appetizer is big on flavor and gorgeous on a tabletop (we love the star-shaped presentation for the holidays). Creamy goat cheese stuffing is made from a combination of creamy goat cheese, softened cream cheese, lemon zest, chives, parsley, and tarragon; sub in whichever herbs you desire, like red pepper for a Southern twist. Want to up the Christmas color? Include red Belgian endive leaves along with the green to make this “wreath” even more holiday-ready.
Sweet Potato and Chorizo Sausage Bites
Extra-sharp cheddar cheese, a dash of cinnamon, and a few scoops of plum jelly give this chorizo sausage ball recipe multiple layers of savory flavor. Take these sweet-potato-and-chorizo-sausage balls as the rest of the South’s answer to Louisiana’s savory boudin balls – each delicious bite is loaded with meat with a little kick from spicy chorizo. The recipe was born from the daughter of a Mississippi sweet potato farmer, April McGreger, who says that this recipe is a classic in her hometown. If you’re looking for a unique holiday appetizer, this sweet potato recipe is our top pick for you.
Quick Pickled Brussels Sprouts
Recipe: Quick Pickled Brussels Sprouts
Here’s an easy and impressive way to amp up your meat and cheese platter. We’ve found the next big thing in pickling: pickled Brussels sprouts. And they’re easy to make, too. We teamed up with chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis to create this easy pickled Brussels sprouts recipe flavored with black peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic, bay leaf, and a pinch of spicy red pepper. The Brussels sprouts absorb the tangy and fresh flavor in only 4 days. Serve them as garnish for your Bloody Mary mix, as a decorative and tasty touch to your meat and cheese platter, or as a side to rich, hearty meats like roasted pork.
Recipe: Yeast Rolls
When it comes to homemade breads, we at Southern Living are perfectionists. We send countless recipes up to our test kitchen, tweaking every last detail until the result is every bit as light and fluffy as we imaged. And we especially take this duty seriously around the holidays, as every holiday appetizer table needs an assortment of bread rolls. After months of testing, we can accurately say that these buttery, fluffy yeast rolls will steal the show. Making the dough the night before baking cuts down on day-of prep and hands-on kneading time. Test Kitchen Tip: When letting your dough rise, put it in a warm place to help the process. Try turning your oven on to the lowest heat for less than a minute, and then turning it off.
Mini Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas
This non-traditional finger food will revolutionize the way you look at basic enchiladas. Rather than spending time rolling the dough and filling individual enchiladas, our test kitchen experts found a way to bake all of the Tex-Mex flavor that we love into individual, pan-baked bites. You’ll never guess you can whip up these easy appetizers in only three steps. Simply bake flour tortillas in muffin pans, fill with all the fixin’s (like black beans, refried beans, enchilada sauce, green chilies, and shredded Monterey Jack cheese) and bake. Top with sour cream, lettuce, pico de gallo, and scallions. You can have these appetizers out in 30 minutes or less.
Baby Hasselback Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Bacon
The defining characteristic of perfectly-baked Hasselback-style potatoes? The thin, crispy, accordion-like slices that bake into golden perfection in the oven. This cutting technique allows the outside of the potato to bake into a crispy skin, while the inside remains soft and creamy. Our loaded Hasselback potatoes add some major flavor to the classic potato dish. We chose small, golden Yukon potatoes for their size – smaller potatoes make for better finger foods. We stuffed the potatoes with pan-fried bacon, crumbled blue cheese, chopped fresh rosemary, and fresh chives add a staple dish of hearty comfort food to your appetizer spread. These crispy, savory potato bites bring over-the-top flavor to your appetizer spread.
Recipe: Cornmeal Popovers
Perfectly textured with a rich corn flavor, these dinner-roll alternatives will make you rethink those plain dinner rolls you’ve been serving for years and years. Classic airy bread popover bites get a comfort-filled Southern makeover with the addition of our favorite grain: cornmeal. With basic pantry staples, like flour, milk, eggs, and butter, you can make these crowd-pleasing popovers in less than 30 minutes. The secret to party-ready popovers lies in getting them just fluffy and airy enough to “pop.” It’s all about the temperature – spooning the prepared batter into a hot muffin pan, rather than a room-temperature pan, ensures a crispy shell and an airy interior.
Baked Brie Bites
Recipe: Baked Brie Bites
Every year, there is one holiday appetizer that shows up all the other appetizers in both taste and creativity. We’ve found this year’s show-stopping bite-sized appetizer: our delicious Baked Brie Bites. Made from only five ingredients but packed with flavor, these appetizers come together in under 10 minutes. Each ingredient is store-bought; simply assemble the flaky phyllo dough shells, creamy Brie cheese, tasted pecans, sweet and spicy pepper jelly, fresh parsley, and serve. Golden and crispy on the outside, cheesy and gooey on the inside – these flavorful (and eye-catching) savory bites will certainly become your next signature holiday appetizer.
Recipe: Party Poppers
This quick and easy appetizer, with just a few ingredients and even fewer steps, will make entertaining easy without the hassle of fussing over the oven all day and night. For those who like it hot, swap mini sweet peppers for spicy jalapeños.
Cured Salmon with Dill-Horseradish Cream
"People don't think salmon is a Southern thing, but my mom made salmon croquettes every Sunday before church." - Chef John Hall
Hands-on time for this recipe is only 15 minutes, but the salmon will need to chill for 36 hours. As a recipe that has less than 10 ingredients, it is a great make-ahead option when entertaining for breakfast or brunch. Fresh bursts of citrus with lemon, lime, and orange zests give it a refreshing kick perfect for kick starting a dinner party. This no-cook dish is also perfect for saving time and headaches when entertaining because of its very little use of the oven. Serve the thinly sliced salmon with Dill-Horseradish Cream and toasted sourdough bread slices and wow guests with this easy, yet delectable, party appetizer.
Recipe: Spinach-and-Vidalia Dip
Take a moment to meet your new favorite appetizer. This twist on the classic spinach dip is sure to please even the most particular guests. Just like classic spinach dip, the recipe mixes together spinach, sour cream, and chives to achieve that cool, onion flavor with a kick.
Recipe: Deviled Potatoes
Two Southern classics, deviled eggs and potato salad, join forces to create these two-bite wonders. Scooping out the middle of the potato, filling it with flavor, and it stuffing it back in make it reminiscent of a deviled egg, but it taste just a like a scoop of bite-sized potato salad goodness. The pulp is mixed with sour cream, capers, mustard and a few other key ingredients that will not leave guests missing a traditional potato salad. Make them a day before your get-together, and chill until you head out. When you arrive, they'll be the right serving temperature and little clean up will be required once the party is over.
Recipe: Crawfish Dip
If you have some leftover crawfish tails but aren’t in the mood for an entrée, this is a unique (and easy!) way to use them. Filled with flavor from a variety of spices, guests will be wowed by the flavor of this simple dish that lets the slow cooker do most of the work. After making this dip, serve it in a slow cooker to keep it warm (and to avoid doing any extra dishes). Set this appetizer out with crackers or toasted baguette slices and watch it disappear at your next party. It also makes a great appetizer for a Derby party!
Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs
One of the South's most iconic appetizers fuses with the nineties' obsession with Tex-Mex to create a twist on this beloved party appetizer. Traditional ingredients such as mayonnaise and mustard still garnish the dish, but ingredients reminiscent of Tex-Mex such as cilantro, jalapeño, and chili powder infuse the dish with plenty of the Tex-Mex flavor that guests will immediately recognize. Guests will love this variation on the Southern classic, making it a new dinner party, picnic, tailgate, or cookout favorite. Many reviewers say this is a party hit and there are never any left, so be sure to make extra!
Cheese Snappy Wafers
Recipe: Cheese Snappy Wafers
Southern hostesses have long relied on cheese wafers to keep their party guests satiated, and with just six ingredients, this is any hostesses dream appetizer to prepare. Held together by sharp cheddar cheese, rice cereal, butter, and flour, this recipe will be a crowd pleaser simply because of its simplicity and deliciously crunchy texture. This appetizer can be prepared in twenty minutes and baked in another fifteen, so little prep time and clean up are required. The measurements in the recipe also make nearly three-dozen wafers, which is plenty for guests if they want to enjoy seconds. We have a feeling that once this appetizer hits your table at your next party, guest will be asking for more in just a matter of seconds!
Recipe: Party-Perfect Meatballs
These meatballs can be your ground beef go-to finger food at any time of year. That’s the reason we call them our Party-Perfect Meatballs. To make ahead, prepare meatballs through Step 2, and freeze in zip-top plastic freezer bags for up to 1 month. To reheat from frozen, pick up with Step 3 and warm the meatballs in the sauce over low heat. The sauce can be kept in an airtight container for up to three days if making ahead. For serving, keep them warm in your slow cooker, in a Dutch oven over low heat, or in a fondue pot.
Smoked Trout Crostini with Radishes and Dill Cream
For a fresh appetizer, try the smoked trout crostini with radishes and dill cream. An appetizer consisting of sour cream spread on a triangle of toasted crostini and topped with smoked trout and radishes will give guests a break from warm appetizers typically served at a dinner party. These perfect little triangles also offer a beautiful presentation, fooling guests into believing you worked much harder than you did on this appetizer. A fresh squeeze of lemon juice will also give guests the burst of freshness that will perfectly balance out your appetizer platter. For an even more colorful spread, replace the trout with smoked salmon.
Lump Crab Mornay
Recipe: Lump Crab Mornay
Recipe developer Julia Reed adapted this creamy dip from a recipe in Bayou Cuisine by St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Indianola, Mississippi. Located in the Mississippi Delta, this recipe pays homage to the rich culture in the region, using lump crabmeat and red pepper to add spice. All-purpose flour and heavy cream give the dish its creamy texture and freshly grated cheese makes it savory. This dip can be kept in a chafing dish or a slow cooker set on a very low temperature to keep the dip perfect throughout the night for guests to enjoy. Serve with toast points perfect for dipping.
Recipe: Cocktail Meatballs
Cocktail meatballs hold a special place in the canon of Southern party appetizers, in part because they are a study in ground-beef perfection and simplicity. While we love the ones our mamas made with chili sauce and grape jelly, this recipe is the one we still pull out for company. This recipe mixes ground beef with the sweet, the tart, and the unexpected: brown sugar, lemon juice, and horseradish, to make a cocktail-fork temptation that should grace every Southern party table or tray. So grab a bottle of wine—for the recipe—get ready to party, and enjoy making these delicious cocktail meatballs.
Blue Cheese-Red Currant Cheese Ball
Perfect for the holidays, this blue cheese-red currant cheese ball can be served with gingersnaps on a beautiful cheese or dip platter. Held together by cream cheese, crumbled blue cheese and coated with currants, guests will enjoy the smooth and creamy texture of the appetizer with a little added texture. The strong ginger flavor will also help to enhance the flavor of the blue cheese while also bringing out the hint of lemon zest and red currant jam. You can shape the cheese mixture into a Yule log during the holiday season or into a regular ball shape for any other special occasion.
Roasted Fennel-and-Prosciutto Flatbread
Topped with traditional Italian flavors such as fresh thyme and oregano and gooey fontina cheese, this flatbread will surely be a crowd pleaser. Crushed red pepper adds an extra kick while a balsamic glaze takes the flavor palette to the next level. The natural paring of fennel and prosciutto marry this appetizer in a harmonious way that will leave guests searching for seconds. Cook the flatbread until the crust is golden brown, and broil the pizza for one minute for perfectly melted cheese. Substituting sweet onion for fennel and bacon for prosciutto is also a great alternative that still serves up delicious flavor in this flatbread appetizer.
Feta-Olive-Fresh Herb Cheese Ball
Closely related to the blue cheese-red currant cheese ball, this appetizer will wow guests with big flavors packed in such a simple dish. Feta and cream make this creamy appetizer while flat-leaf parsley and finely chopped green onion give a burst of freshness and crunch to the outside. The bright green appearance will also draw guests to aesthetically appeasing appetizer that is best served with cucumber slices. Other ingredients including green olives, hot sauce, lemon zest, and Worcestershire sauce add another layer of flavor to balance out the others. Add a little holiday flair by shaping this cheese mixture into a Yule log or keep it traditional in a classic cheese ball shape.
Grapefruit-Beet-Goat Cheese Flatbread
Garnished with golden beets, red grapefruit, and goat cheese, this bright appetizer will look great on any appetizer tray. The appetizer is elegant enough to be served at any upscale dinner or cocktail party, yet simple enough for guests to enjoy at a casual dinner party or a game night. It is great alternative to pizza and a wonderful vegetarian option to have on the menu. Not to mention, nothing says refreshing more than fresh mint leaves and toasted pine nuts also give crunch to the flatbread appetizer. Letting bakery pizza dough rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes also makes it easier to knead.
Tiny Tomato Tarts
Recipe: Tiny Tomato Tarts
With all the flavor of a traditional tomato pie, these tiny tarts will be a hit at your party. These bite-sized tarts are made with a simple blend of diced tomatoes, piecrusts, a blend of cheeses, and fresh basil. This recipe can also be made ahead by baking the pastry shells up to three days before they are served and storing in an airtight container, leaving the filling to be prepared the day of the party. A medley of Parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses make this finger food a delicious alternative to a large slice of tomato pie while still being reminiscent of the Southern favorite.
Inside-Out Hot Brown Bites
Recipe: Inside-Out Hot Brown Bites
We've reimagined this signature Kentucky sandwich of bacon, turkey, and cheese sauce into beautiful bite-size cups. Guests will be able to enjoy every bite of this appetizer and will be able to admire the ingredients in this fresh, open-faced like sandwich. These cheesy bites are made from a crispy Parmesan crust and drizzled with a decadent cheese sauce with the turkey and the bacon to balance the creamy flavors from the cheese. Top with diced tomatoes and flat-leaf parsley for fresh flavors and watch them disappear. From prep to baked golden brown, the total time for this recipe is under an hour, making it an easy win for the host.
Creamy Shrimp Dip with Crispy Wonton Chips
Win over guests with this creamy shrimp dip, perfect for any party occasion. Don’t fret over overly complicated appetizer recipes – fill your guests up with an appetizer that won’t have you standing over the stove for hours. The best part about this recipe is its simplicity; all it takes is to stir all the ingredients and chill for a half hour or up to one day. Ingredient such as green onions, tarragon leaves, and fresh chives for garnish pack this appetizer with plenty of flavor. If you don't have time to make fried wontons, fancy potato chips or crispy tortilla chips are a great alternative.
Chicken Liver Mousse Crostini with Pepper Jelly
Pepper jelly lifts the flavor in this chicken liver mousse appetizer served with toasted baguettes. Onion, garlic, and heavy cream also bring out the delicious flavors in this appetizer staple. This recipe takes time, but will be well worth the wait once finished. Dinner guests will enjoy the mousse on a toasted baguette, which will also add plenty of texture to the appetizer. One online reviewer said they like the presentation of this recipe and found it easy to serve on a buffet table. However, for a different presentation, make this mousse in a 1 1/2-qt. ovenproof dish instead of small jars for everyone’s dipping pleasure.
Recipe: Mushroom Puffs
Mushroom Puffs are a quick and easy appetizer that your friends and family will love. One online reviewer says "very tasty and easy to make!!" while many other reviewers agree that this will definitely be a hit at your next party. Less than ten ingredients fill this appetizer with plenty of flavor that will have them flying off the table, including Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, green onion, and of course, mushroom slices. This recipe can also be prepared ahead of time by freezing the puffs once made and them placing them in a zip-top plastic freezer bag for up to one month.
Warm Turnip Green Dip
Recipe: Warm Turnip Green Dip
Pick those fresh turnip greens out the garden and onto your appetizer table for your next party. Reminiscent of spinach and artichoke dip, take a spin on the traditional dip and wow guess with the big flavors of turnip greens, bacon, onion, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper. Online reviewers say this is appetizer is a hit at parties and it will be sure to have guests asking for the recipe at the end of the night. For a healthier option, online reviewers also suggest substituting sour cream for Greek yogurt or a low fat cream cheese. To make the dish spicier, offer guests several brands of hot sauce on the side.
Petite Sweet Potato Biscuits with Pulled Pork and Slaw
Recipe: Petite Sweet Potato Biscuits with Pulled Pork and Slaw
Give guests a fresh taste of summer with these beautifully barbecued flavors mixed with crunchy chopped veggies. Dress up barbecue pork in this small appetizer with just a hint of barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, and sliced green onion. Serve pork on a sweet potato biscuit with red cabbage, shredded carrots, red wine vinegar and chopped fresh chives for a stunning presentation. Guests will enjoy this nibbler in just a few bites of sweet potato, cabbage, carrot, and pork heaven. Also if looking to make this dish ahead of time, the sweet potato biscuits freeze beautifully--thaw, bake, and top them just before serving.
Recipe: Southern-Style Smørrebrød
Sparked by the leisurely pleasures of the cocktail-and-canapé Mad Men era, smørrebrød (Danish open-faced sandwiches) are the latest craze in stress-free entertaining. With a little clever prep, you can set out an impressive DIY spread in under an hour. New Egg Salad and Sour-cream Herb Sauce are just two possibilities when building this appetizer. Give guests the options to top with bacon, pickled shrimp, smoked trout, and tons of other condiments. Fresh herbs, julienned peppers, water crests and grape tomatoes also garnish the dish as wonderfully fresh toppings. Little prep time and the build-your-own-option in this appetizer is an ingenious way to entertain smarter. Now we'll toast to that. Skål, y'all!
Cheddar-Horseradish-Walnut Cheese Ball
Set out a cheese ball at your next dinner party for your guests to enjoy. A mix of cream cheese, sharp Cheddar cheese, fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, a dash of hot sauce, and horseradish make the filling of this cheese ball coated in toasted walnuts. With a prep time of under an hour and no need to keep chilled or heated, this appetizer takes the stress out of entertaining and brings the flavor back into serving a great appetizer. Serve with water crackers or sliced cucumbers. Also, roll into a Yule log if making for the holidays for a festive feel.
Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes
Keep this recipe in your back pocket to use as your go-to for last-minute company. You can also serve the grapes with chicken or pork in lieu of a sauce, or toss them in salads. Online reviewers describe this recipe as “elegant and tasty” and “cocktail party-worthy.” Prep time is under an hour, with the oven doing most of the work. The gooey syrup from the roasted grapes and the butter and cheese mixture will blend beautifully to give more texture to the appetizer. Serve on slices of French baguettes and broil in the oven until the slices are golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Add a sprinkle of toasted pecans for garnish and crunch.
Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Beef Nachos
What’s better than nachos as an appetizer at the next game day party or a small casual gathering? Take all the manual labor out of preparing this dish and let the slow cooker cook do the work so you don’t have to. Receiving a five-star rating from online reviewers, this slow-cooked meat with banana peppers, beef broth, and garlic will produce juicy and flavorful meat. Top tortilla chips with beef, black beans, tomatoes, onion and cheese and bake for just ten minutes. Garish with your favorite nacho toppings and let guests enjoy! You can also serve the delicious Slow-Cooker Beef in slider buns with your favorite sandwich toppings for a heartier meal.
Buttermilk-Ricotta Cheese Dip
Recipe: Buttermilk-Ricotta Cheese Dip
When a Southern staple meets a creamy cheese dip, magic happens. If you've never tried homemade ricotta, then you're in for a tasty surprise. Four simple steps make this the dip of a hostess’ dreams, and online reviewers say this dip will go flying off the appetizer table. This will change the way you think about the store-bought kind and you will never go back once mastering this recipe. This ricotta should be drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and crushed red pepper before serving. Serve with crackers or fresh veggies for dipping. It can also be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days (if there are any leftovers, of course!)
Watch Us Make It!
Video: Buttermilk-Ricotta Cheese Dip