50 Best Appetizer Recipes Because Who Needs Dinner

Get the party started with these savory bites.

January 19, 2022
Photo by Ty Mecham

Whether you’re hosting a Game Day party or a casual cocktail party with friends, kick off the festivities with appetizers galore—think: spinach-artichoke or buffalo chicken dip served with pita chips, air fryer chicken wings with blue cheese dipping sauce, pigs in a blanket, deviled eggs, and cheesy pull-apart bread. And when all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a colorful array of crudité and sourdough crackers.

1. Virginia Willis' Deviled Eggs

There are a million variations on deviled eggs on the internet (no, I didn’t count, but it seems plausible, right?), but this one is as classic as they get.

2. Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

If you’re thinking, “ugh, do I have to attend my new boyfriend’s college roommate’s Super Bowl party,” first of all, you don’t, but if you do, let me make it a worthwhile experience for one and all by encouraging you to bring these buffalo chicken-stuffed potato skins (though I’d never tell you that you have to share).

3. The Perfect Cheese Ball

Have a ball with this cheese ball! It’s perfect for any kind of party, says recipe developer Grant Melton: “From my mom’s retired teacher Christmas party in Ohio (go, Bucks!) to the hipster dinner party in Brooklyn surrounded by ceramics, tapered candles, and artfully rumpled linen napkins. First thing gone? The cheeseball. Every time. At every party.”

4. Roberto Santibañez' Classic Guacamole

No one will ever be mad to see guacamole as part of a party appetizer spread. This one is classic, but you can make it extra spicy with more jalapeños or crumbled nori for crunch and umami flavor. Score extra brownie points among party guests if you make your own tortilla chips, too.

5. Dry-Rubbed Chicken Wings With Barbecue Sauce

Chicken wings don’t always need to be smothered in Frank’s Red Hot with a side of ranch; these sweet and smoky wings are proof of that. For maximum flavor and tenderness, brine the chicken in a dry blend of spices overnight.

6. The Tiniest Meatballs

While some people like to seek out the dog at a party, I’m on a constant hunt for meatballs. And these petite-sized, super flavorful meatballs were made to party.

7. Last-Minute Yogurt Dip

“If you’re looking for a quick, reliable appetizer, I got you. This last-minute yogurt dip uses ingredients I almost always have around: yogurt, oil, spices, and herbs. Heat some olive oil, then pour it over fresh parsley, spicy paprika, lots of black pepper, and minced garlic,” writes Food52 Recipe Resident Carolina Gelen.

8. Anchovy Lovers’ Crostini

Don’t let the long ingredients list deter you from making these crostini; assembling them takes no time at all. Quick and easy party appetizer? Check and check.

9. Garlic-Orange-Rosemary Marinated Olives

Make your cheese and charcuterie bread look extra special with these fragrant olives. Bonus: they’re best made a few days in advance so that the green gems have time to absorb the flavor of all the aromatics, saving you precious hours on party day.

10. Zahav's Hummus Tehina

Hummus is a no-brainer appetizer and this recipe is our very best. It yields a lot of hummus, so feel free to give every guest a plus-one if you’re feeling up for socializing.

11. Baked Brie in Puff Pastry With Cranberries, Pistachios & Sumac

A few simple upgrades—store-bought puff pastry, homemade orange-cranberry jam, and a sprinkle of sumac—make this baked brie feel totally modern.

12. Serrano Ham & Manchego Croquetas With Smoked Pimentón Aioli

Looking for a one-bite party snack? This is it. Don’t take my word for it? Then listen to our millions of readers, who voted this recipe their favorite single-bite appetizer.

13. Crispy Garlic Dip

“Every party loves onion dip. But does every host love hovering around the stove, caramelizing onions for almost an hour, to make it? I think not. Luckily, the solution is easy: Skip the onions altogether and swap in garlic,” writes food editor Emma Laperruque. Easy party appetizer complete.

14. Blistered Shishito Peppers

Blistered shishitos are really having a moment and I am here for it. Their surprisingly delicate nature is enhanced best by a generous char in a wok or cast-iron skillet, finished with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a squeeze of lime juice.

15. Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)

Slice these spring rolls in half or even quarters for a more manageable-sized appetizer.

16. Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

For a slightly heartier appetizer, swap out cucumber slices for crusty slices cut from a French baguette and stack each one with a slice of the best-quality smoked salmon you can get your hands on.

17. Traditional Fondue Fribourgeois

Before you keep scrolling because you’re like, “I don’t have a fondue pot,” stop right here. You don’t need one to make our readers’ favorite fondue recipe; a regular saucepan will do the trick, along with some really good Swiss cheese, of course.

18. Sausage Balls

Poppable and party-ready, these sausage balls were a staple in recipe developer Ben Mims’ house growing up. And now we all get to reap the benefits because he’s shared his simple, savory appetizer recipe with us.

19. 'Everything' Pigs in a Blanket

If you’re not serving pigs in a blanket at your party, save a stamp (or a text). I’m not coming. If you really value my presence, then wrap up these easy pigs in a blanket sprinkled with Trader Joe’s ‘everything but the bagel' seasoning blend.

20. Creamy, Zesty "Cheese" Dip

Become the greatest host or hostess ever with one easy recipe—vegan cheese dip! Sans any dairy, this crowd-friendly appetizer is made with cashews, tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, and nutritional yeast.

21. Everything Bagel-Spiced Cheese Puffs

French gougères are taken to the next level with two kinds of cheese—cheddar and gouda—plus homemade everything bagel seasoning.

22. Ricotta Crostini with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

A simple appetizer that gives the impression of “Oh this old thing?” is this: Crostini smeared with creamy ricotta, good-quality olive oil, and flaky sea salt.

23. Baked Fontina With Caramelized Onions & Fig Jam

“Get ready for the most decadent, cheesy snack ever to be invited to a holiday party. Savory caramelized onions come together with sweet fig jam, to contrast the cheesiness—your friends and family will love this one so much, you might have to make two,” writes recipe developer Marissa Mullen.

24. Baked Tofu and Vegetable Egg Rolls

Serving me a platter of crispy vegetable egg rolls is the equivalent of a 19-year-old plugging in the aux cord and blasting EDM—it gets me pumped up and ready to party (as long as you can guarantee I’ll be in bed by 11pm).

25. Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread With Mustard & Chives

Don’t go breaking my heart—or in this case, cheesy bread generously smeared with a rich mustard, garlic, and chive butter. It’s the ultimate crowd-friendly appetizer that I would like to consume solo, please and thank you.

26. Festive Golden Beet Dip

This vegetarian appetizer was designed to be brought on-the-go; the trick to making it look beautiful even after a train and bus commute to your friend’s new apartment is adding the garnishes (roasted pistachios and pomegranate arils) upon arrival.

27. Spicy Boiled Shrimp Cocktail with Smoky Remoulade

If you want to host a good party, serve shrimp cocktail. If you want to host a memorable party, serve this particular shrimp cocktail, in which the shellfish are poached with a flavorful combination of cracked black peppercorns, leeks, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and coriander seeds.

28. Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)

Ground lamb and jasmine rice lead the pack (err, filling) for these miniature stuffed grape leaves that are a surefire way to wow your crowd.

29. Bacon-Wrapped Apricots Stuffed with Pistachios and Mozzarella

“Dried apricots are poached in a spiced vinegar, stuffed with pistachios and mozzarella, and then wrapped in bacon for a simple, unforgettable party snack. They also meet my criteria for the ultimate party snack: They're easy to pick up and eat in one bite while holding a cocktail!” writes recipe developer EmilyC. That’s a rubric I fully support.

30. Jane's Crab Cakes

Hosting a summer get-together? Kick off the warm weather festivities with, what else, but crab cakes! Prepared horseradish, Dijon mustard, and a few dashes of Tabasco bring plenty of heat, but feel free to cut back on any of the three for a milder bite.

31. Ranch Fun Dip From Sohla El-Waylly

With ground pistachios, nutritional yeast, dried dill, ground onion and garlic powders, and Aleppo-style peppers, think of this as a savory, salty, totally-vegan version of fun dip that pairs so well with crudité.

32. Aged Cheddar and Pilsner Fondue

Fondue is, yes, a little fussy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun with it! Start with extra-sharp cheddar cheese and a cup of your favorite beer for this Game Day-ready appetizer.

33. Crispy Parmigiano Reggiano Cups

You’ve heard of parmesan chips, but have you ever thought of turning them into cups? Marissa Mullen is the brains behind this edible serving vessel that serves as the perfect appetizer (especially when filled with bruschetta or diced prosciutto and melon.

34. Grandma's Mushroom Puffs

“This bite-size appetizer slash snack has been the star of my family holidays and get-togethers for decades,” writes food editor Emma Laperruque. “Picture: a shattering bite of puff pastry, leading to a filling that can only be described as cream of mushroom soup-but-not-soup.”

35. Classic Tzatziki Sauce

It’s time to talk about dips. They’re an essential part of any appetizer spread and tzatziki sauce is a must-make recipe to serve alongside crudité and fresh pita bread.

36. Yakitori Chicken With Blistered Shishitos

This Japanese preparation of chicken delivers irresistible garlicky, gingery, and soy flavors. Prep these skewers, and the accompanying blistered shishitos, as a fun passed appetizer for an elegant cocktail party.

37. Hasselback Prosciutto e Melone

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and melon is a dependable appetizer. Exciting? Not exactly. Out of the box? Nada. But when the slightly-dated appetizer is reconstructed by filling a partially-sliced wedge of melon with prosciutto and basil, it’ll become the talking point of your party.

38. Curly Fries

Are curly fries really an appetizer? Technically, no. But spiritually, yes.

39. Baked Clams Amatriciana

Normally baked clams are topped with buttery breadcrumbs, some fresh herbs, garlic, and maybe, just maybe Parmigiano-Reggiano. And that’s all fine and dandy, but top the clams with a classic Roman Amatriciana sauce and you’ll never look back.

40. Roasted & Marinated Red Peppers with Olives, Capers & Herbs

We are all for a recipe that claims “[i]t will be better the next day, without question, so make it ahead if you can.” When it comes to entertaining, why would you ever turn down the opportunity to save day-of prep work?

41. Spicy, Smoky Vegan "Chorizo" Dip

Anyone at your party who is vegan or gluten-free will make a run for this meat-free dip inspired by the flavors found in chorizo—sundried tomatoes, sweet smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, and miso paste.

42. Sourdough Starter Crackers With Thyme & Black Pepper

If you’ve managed to maintain your sourdough starter since the start of the pandemic, use it for these homemade crackers that are so much better than anything you’d buy from a box.

43. Clam Cakes, my Rhode Island style

Somewhere in between crab cakes and clam fritters are these summery, deep-fried bites. Hiding inside a crisp batter is a combination of sweet corn and minced clams.

44. Party Popcorn

A trio of sea salt, dried marjoram, and sweet paprika makes this bowl of popcorn ready to party.

45. Carnitas Egg Rolls With Salsa Verde

Egg rolls will be a crowd-pleasing appetizer, rather you make them for a casual gathering or a proper sit-down dinner. “Salty, citrusy, and fatty, it's a perfect combo with gooey cheese inside and a crispy exterior,” writes recipe developer Romel Bruno.

46. J. Kenji López-Alt’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi-ish With Garlic and Lemon

Grab a toothpick and skewer these charred shrimp, one by one. They’re glazed with lots of good-quality olive oil, minced garlic, and the zest and juice of a lemon for scampi-like flavor, sans pasta.

47. Caramelized Banana & Maple-Bacon Sliders

Appetizers for brunch? It’s possible, thanks to these sweet and savory sliders.

48. Cheesy Fall Flatbread With Smashed Grapes, Rosemary & Onions

“Aside from the combination of sweet, salty, savory, and tangy flavors, what I love most about this flatbread is its versatility. Cut it into small squares or strips and serve as an appetizer for party guests, either as a solo act or alongside a cheese and charcuterie board,” writes recipe developer EmilyC.

49. Blini with Crème Fraîche and Smoked Salmon

Don a strand of pearls, grab a glass of champagne, and feel like the fanciest version of yourself with this elegant appetizer.

50. Coconut Curry Puffs

Turn a warm and cozy bowl of coconut chicken curry into a crispy, bite-sized appetizer that will feed a crowd.

What’s your go-to appetizer to bring to a dinner party? Share your favorite recipes in the comments below!

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Former Food52 Staff Editor

1 Comment

William H. January 19, 2022
What a great collection of appetizers...but, this list would never be complete without adding Pimento Cheese Spread!