Simple Summer Appetizers
Spend more time with your guests (and less in the kitchen!) with these easy summer appetizer recipes. They make entertaining a crowd easier than 1-2-3!
Whether you're hosting a grand gathering or trying to change up dinner a little bit, these easy summer appetizers will suit everyone’s taste.
This easy Mediterranean-style appetizer has only six ingredients, so prep is a breeze! Frozen puff pastry cut into bite-size pieces serves as the base; a fresh tomato slice placed on each makes a perfectly juicy contrast. Chopped olives and crumbled feta cheese sprinkled over the bites—along with a drizzle of olive oil—add Mediterranean flair. Baking allows the flavors to mix, and a dusting of chopped herbs serves as the final finish!
- Recipe: Tomato Feta Bites
Easy doesn’t begin to cover this creamy, sinfully delicious crab dip. Even better, because you’re making it at home, you’re in charge! You can make sure that there will be a bite of crab in each scoop and up the spice factor—or bring it down—by adding hot sauce to suit your taste.
Combining and heating all the ingredients before adding the crab keeps it from getting too broken up and tough. Garnish with fresh parsley if you want, but if you want to dive in immediately, go for it—we won’t judge.
- Recipe: Cruisin’ Crab Dip
Oysters are the obvious stars of this classically coastal appetizer. Picking good ones is paramount—don’t be afraid to ask the seller for help, and always go as fresh as possible. Shucking the oysters is the greatest challenge of this recipe; mixing up the pickled ginger salsa is easy, and it makes the perfect accompaniment.
Want another perfect accompaniment? Try serving this dish with a citrusy, non-oaked Sauvignon Blanc or a lean California brut sparkling wine.
Bruschetta may be a traditional Italian antipasto, but our take on this easy summer appetizer has a Greek twist. Small shrimp tossed with chopped plum tomato, garlic, feta cheese, lemon juice, and Greek seasoning serve as the topping, while toasted baguette slices soak up the juices and make a delicious base.
Pro tip: Be sure to pick out the smallest shrimp you can find; shrimp that are too large overpower the rest of the ingredients (and take up too much space on the baguette!).
- Recipe: Greek Shrimp Bruschetta
With only six ingredients, this summer appetizer keeps it simple. This creamy dip still manages to feel light: the small number of ingredients keeps the flavors from getting too complicated or feeling too heavy, and blending them all together introduces some airiness. Serve with unflavored and unseasoned crostini or crackers to keep the focus on the dip itself, not the accompaniment.
Pro tip: Don’t like bluefish? Try smoked tuna or trout instead!
- Recipe: Smoked Bluefish Spread
Gazpacho—a chilled Spanish dish—can be intimidating, but it also makes a delicious, refreshing, and uncommon offering at any summer soiree. Gazpacho isn’t overly runny; chopped vegetables and a dash of lemon juice provide the liquid without making the dish too soup-like. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices.
Pair this dish with a balanced Sauvignon Blanc or a light Pinot Grigio. If you want to experiment a little, try a dry Riesling!
- Recipe: Grilled Shrimp Gazpacho
With delicious flavors, fresh ingredients, and stunning presentation, this summer appetizer is guaranteed to wow. To really shine as a host, focus on the presentation: Place three or four crab balls in a small, warmed bowl and carefully ladle an easy three-ingredient savory broth over them; top with toasted nori strips. Offer daikon radish, enoki mushrooms, and radish sprouts on the side. Some ingredients may not be offered at your regular grocery store, so don’t be afraid to venture out to a specialty store!
- Recipe: Asian Fried Crab Balls
Bite-size crab cakes mean you get to eat as many as you want, right? We think so! These crab cakes are delicious on their own, and their size makes them perfect finger foods. A dollop of homemade lime aïoli on top offers even more flavor and has the added bonus of making this dish picture-perfect!
Don’t let preparing the aïoli intimidate you—it only needs a handful of ingredients you can easily find at your grocery store, and then it’s a simple manner of working your food processor!
- Recipe: Maine Crab Cakes with Lime Aiöli
We love this easy summer appetizer because it’s only two ingredients! You can purchase prosciutto and marinated mozzarella balls at any store offering specialty Italian foods (which many do nowadays!). If yours doesn’t, you can easily marinate your own mozzarella in a simple mixture of Italian vinaigrette and spices. Once you have the ingredients, all you have to do is wrap strips of prosciutto around the mozzarella, secure with a toothpick, and enjoy!
- Recipe: Prosciutto-wrapped Mozzarella
When it comes to Romas and Goats, you can definitely judge a book by its cover. This dish—Roma tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese—is an eye-catcher, and using smaller Roma tomatoes makes it a prime finger food! Baking this dish softens the tomatoes and melts the cheese slightly; we recommend allowing it to cool to room temperature before serving, so the cheese is deliciously gooey. Serving it at room temperature also makes it perfect for outdoor summer celebrations!
- Recipe: Romas and Goats
Ever wondered at how sushi chefs work their craft? With this recipe, you can join the ranks of esteemed individuals who can prepare delicious sushi! While not as ornate as a roll you’d order at a sushi restaurant, these crab salad rolls are equally delicious, and they feed a crowd!
Sweet onion and mango make these rolls slightly sweet, but Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and avocado balance the sweetness. Lettuce inside the rolls adds surprising texture, while homemade ginger-plum sauce on the side is an excellent condiment.
For this easy summer appetizer, preparing the rémoulade—a mayonnaise-based condiment—is the only step that requires cooking, and it’s only a matter of combining a few simple ingredients! Once your rémoulade is ready, simply slice some pumpernickel, spread some rémoulade on it, and top with hot smoked salmon! Garnishing with chives is an optional final step. As always, with a dish this simple, the quality of the ingredients is key: be sure to get the freshest available!
- Recipe: Chilled Salmon Appetizers
As if shrimp wrapped in bacon wasn’t enough, this recipe adds a basil, Parmesan cheese, and garlic stuffing. Prep work consists of mixing up the stuffing, putting it in the shrimp, wrapping the whole thing with bacon, and baking. Barbecue sauce brushed over the shrimp adds an extra dose of flavor, so every bite is lip-smacking good!
Pro tip: If you want to use something lighter in place of bacon, try lean bacon or prosciutto!
These five-ingredient wraps offer a light alternative to the typical high-calorie appetizer without sacrificing flavor. The spice comes from Cajun seasoning—don’t hesitate to add more or less than the recipe calls for, depending on your preference. A light coating of cream cheese on a soft tortilla brings creaminess to this easy summer appetizer, and spinach and shrimp on the inside provide guilt-free flavor. Cut each roll into bite-size pieces and secure with toothpicks to make the rolls even easier to enjoy!
- Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Wraps
With only six ingredients, shopping for this easy summer appetizer is only slightly easier than preparing it! To make this delicious gourmet appetizer, simply toss halved potatoes in olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, top with pieces of smoked salmon and a dollop of crème fraîche, a cream that is less sour than sour cream but has more fat. Sprinkle caviar and cracked pepper on top. Not a fan of caviar? No problem! Use capers instead.
Is this guacamole? Not quite. Dark brown sugar and a dash of hot sauce differentiate this delicious dip from its beloved cousin both in color and in flavor. You’re welcome to purchase tortilla chips for dipping at the store, but for a little extra wow-factor, try making your own at home!
Pro tip: The homemade tortilla chips call for frying in peanut oil, but if you have an allergic guest or family member, it’s easy enough to use another oil (like canola or grapeseed).
Use this summer appetizer to surprise and delight your guests with a twist on a classic!
Deviled eggs are a Southern party staple, but adding lobster brings elegance and coastal flair. Prepare as you would typical deviled eggs, then add coarsely chopped, cooked lobster to the filling before placing spoonfuls on the egg whites. Sprinkle smoked paprika and chives on top, and then cover and chill until it is time to eat!
- Recipe: Lobster Deviled Eggs
This appetizer is simply boiled shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce (always a hit!), but feel free to add your own flair to it! We recommend serving it creatively, like in individual dishes, or carefully arranging shrimp around the sauce on a unique platter.
Pro tip: For even quicker prep, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and 1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon (or 1 teaspoon lemon zest) to a 12-ounce bottle of your favorite store-bought cocktail sauce.
- Recipe: Shrimp with Zesty Cocktail Sauce
Gribiche is a French mayonnaise-like cold egg sauce that tastes delicious with many different kinds of seafood. It sounds impressive, but preparing this recipe is incredibly easy! Simply mix together the ingredients and spoon the mixture onto slices of toasted baguette.
Pro tip: Tuna can break up easily; be careful to toss it gently with the other ingredients, rather than mixing it in roughly. You want it to bring texture to every bite!
- Recipe: Tuna Gribiche Crostini
This easy summer appetizer is pretty as a picture! We love using colorful vegetables for aesthetic appeal, but use whatever fresh, crunchy vegetables you and your guests prefer! Feel free to throw in some flatbread crackers, too.
Spicy chorizo adds some intriguing spice to this dish, but pureed cannellini beans balance the flavors and keep this dip from getting too spicy. The recipe only calls for eight ingredients and two steps, so you can enjoy this spicy take on a classic dip in minutes!
- Recipe: Chorizo-and-White Bean Dip
Need an excuse to fire up the grill? Look no further than this crowd-favorite pizza. It only has a few toppings, so guests don’t get full before the main course, but it’s hefty enough to keep appetites sated or to serve as a light lunch.
The recipe calls for prepared pizza dough, but feel free to make your own! Once you have your dough ready, simply grill it, then top with mascarpone cheese, smoked salmon slices, capers, and chives! A drizzle of lemon juice on top brings out the flavors.
- Recipe: Grilled Smoked Salmon Pizza
The key to this simple summer appetizer is a cedar grilling plank—it lends the cheese great smoky flavor and serves as a beautifully rustic serving platter. The most difficult step in this recipe may be heating the grill—once you’ve done that, it’s simply a matter of cooking the cheese until it’s soft. Once your Brie has reached a perfect consistency, place sliced strawberries, almonds, and a drizzle of honey on top. Serve with gingersnaps and water crackers, and watch your guests gobble it up.
- Recipe: Brie with Strawberries and Honey
This alternative to French fries is just as delicious, and it can satisfy your craving for creamy avocado! With only 6 ingredients, it’s also incredibly easy to make. Lightly batter wedges of avocado in panko breadcrumbs (a lighter alternative to conventional breadcrumbs) and fry until golden-brown. Your next step? Enjoy!
Pro tip: Do you need a dipping sauce? Ketchup is an obvious choice for fries, but salsa is also a good option that tastes great with avocado!
- Recipe: Avocado Fries
These bite-size appetizers are perfect for a casual family gathering or momentous cocktail party. They’re not too messy, so guests can munch on them while mingling, and everyone will love the delicious seared scallop, creamy avocado blend, and crunchy tortilla chips. These tostadas are also photogenic—your guests will be lining up to take pictures of them (and get second servings!).
Pro tip: Spread the avocado mixture evenly between each tortilla chip, so none get overloaded and so they can easily be picked up.
- Recipe: Scallop Avocado Tostadas
The spice in this easy summer appetizer comes from a pinch of dried crushed red pepper. If you prefer milder fare, simply skip the pepper and enjoy the other tasty flavors of marinated tuna and fresh mango.
Pro tip: The recipe calls for broiling each skewer, but you can also grill them, if you want more of a smoky aroma. Place them on the grill over medium-high heat and cook for about one minute on each side.
- Recipe: Spicy Tuna-Mango Skewers
Creamy and savory with a garlicky punch, this dip—known in some circles as Ossabaw Dip, after the Georgia barrier island—is perfect as a party dip with crisp crackers or as a spread for crostini or bruschetta. Garlic, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and a dash of dry white wine add all the flavor, while a generous amount of cream cheese creates the sinfully delicious texture. The key to this recipe is a good food processor—you want all the ingredients to be well-blended.
The rémoulade, a quick dipping sauce, can be served with chips, crackers, or slices of bread, but we prefer it with juicy grilled shrimp. The sauce is only nine ingredients and can be mixed together in seconds; after that, it’s a mere matter of marinating and grilling the shrimp!
Pro tip: To make sure the rémoulade has the best possible flavor blend, let it chill for about an hour before serving.
- Recipe: Grilled Shrimp with Rémoulade
These fantastic sliders can be an appetizer, a game day party snack, or the main course! The homemade celery-ranch slaw balances out the spice of the buffalo chicken, and an extra drizzle of a hot sauce-butter blend adds even more delicious flavor. One thing is for sure: these little sandwiches pack a punch!
Pro tip: You can always reduce (or increase!) the hotness level of the sliders by adjusting the amount of hot sauce you use.
These fresh, light-as-can-be spring rolls are not your Chinese take-out variety. With crisp veggies and thin rice paper wrappers, the focus is on the healthy, natural flavors, not the fried outer coating. Paired with a creamy cashew-ginger dipping sauce, these spring rolls make great additions to any summer snack spread.
Pro tip: Rice paper wrappers are very delicate and can be tricky to work with. When folding the wrapper around the veggies, take your time, and don’t be afraid to unwrap it and start again.
A thick, sweet guava sauce makes this appetizer irresistible. The sauce is only a handful of ingredients, so prep is easy, and using the sauce to marinate the chicken before baking it allows the meat to absorb the moisture and flavor. The recipe suggests using chicken drumettes (specific parts of a chicken wing) to make this recipe finger-food–friendly, but feel free to use the sauce to make dinner-sized portions of chicken! Pair with an avocado and pineapple salad to make it a full meal.
- Recipe: Baked Guava Chicken
Preparing this tropical dip is mainly a matter of combining the ingredients. Many are blended in a food processor to smooth the texture of the dip, but when you add the last few ingredients, be sure to gently fold them in, as blending the lump crabmeat can break up and toughen the pieces. Serve with crisp pita chips or another sturdy cracker.
Pro tip: Fresh lump crab is preferred for this recipe, but it can be pricey. Replace with canned or pouched lump crabmeat for comparable quality at a lower price.
- Recipe: Crab Mango Cashew Dip
This recipe is actually three-in-one: one for the burger patty, one for the crab cake patty, and one for the final creation. Make sure you have a method—such as a warming drawer, an oven set very low, or a warm slow-cooker—to keep the patties warm while you assemble the final product. If you know some of your guests dislike seafood or prefer to avoid red meat, make a few burgers of just one or the other and let them pick and choose.
- Recipe: Mini Surf and Turf Burgers
Delicious doesn’t begin to cover this luxurious, photo-ready, elegant summer appetizer. Blini, thin buckwheat pancakes, serve as the base; a fragrant tuna, lime juice, and caper mixture spooned on top adds texture and heft. A dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of caviar on top polish off each bite and make this stately appetizer one your guests will not be able to resist. Just be sure to make enough for seconds!
- Recipe: Tuna Tartare Blini
With only five ingredients, this appetizer is a simple savory treat perfect for afternoons by the water.
Preparation is simple, too: simply process cream cheese, cooked shrimp, and chopped onions until blended, then refrigerate. Once an hour has passed, mix flaked coconut and curry powder, then roast until golden and slightly crisp. Remove the shrimp mixture from the fridge and shape it into bite-size balls. Roll the balls in the toasted coconut mixture, and serve!
- Recipe: Curried Coconut Shrimp Balls
These crab cakes have sesame seeds, scallions, and lime juice for unexpected flavor. The best part of this summer appetizer, though, is the wasabi mayonnaise. A simple blend of mayonnaise, wasabi paste, and lemon zest, it polishes off the raw flavors of the crab cakes perfectly.
Pro tip: The crab cakes can be made the morning of your gathering and refrigerated until just before guests arrive.
This recipe is a simple take on a classic; nonetheless, it’s sure to delight your guests with its smoky aroma and savory flavors. We love the unexpected addition of bacon—it complements the moist crab and makes each bite sinfully delicious. Serve this appetizer with French bread to mop up the remaining juices. Depending on the formality of your event, you can present these claws in ramekins or other small dishes to really impress your visitors.
- Recipe: Smoky Buttery Crab Claws
This ceviche combines two seafood favorites, offering a sweet appetizer with a kick of hotness from small pieces of Serrano pepper.
Pro tip: Presenting this dish in portioned cups makes sure each guest gets a full serving; this serving style is especially helpful if guests are mingling in a large space and don’t want to spend time gathered around an isolated food table. Offer your guests tortilla chips, too, for scooping up any remaining liquid.
- Recipe: Salmon-and-Shrimp Ceviche
If the vibrant colors of this easy appetizer aren’t enough to convince you to try it, take a look at the ingredients: fresh, easy-to-find ingredients that taste as good as they look. The simple Italian-inspired flavors of these mini pizzas are perfect for warm summer evenings, and the process of making the pizzas can be fun for everyone! Letting everyone top his or her own pizza ensures they like what they’re eating, and it means less prep for you!
- Recipe: Grilled Tomato Basil-Pizzettes
We love that four simple ingredients can make an easy summer appetizer with such complex flavors! Baby sweet peppers, chorizo, goat cheese, and cream cheese are the only ingredients you need to make these stuffed peppers. The cheeses balance the spice of the peppers and chorizo, so it’s not too spicy but still has a kick. Garnish if you want to make these a little more photogenic, or leave them as they are and simply enjoy the taste.
These crostini are perfect for summer: they have fresh vegetables and light flavors, and they’re the ideal size for a finger food. A smear of ricotta on each slice of bread ensures the toppings will stick, and a sprinkling of vegetables on each slice keeps this appetizer light.
Pro tip: Chop the vegetables as small as you can, so they don’t overpower each other or add too much weight to the crostini. Similarly, don’t put too much ricotta on each slice, as it could make the bread too soggy.
- Recipe: Field Pea-and-Radish Crostini