Our Best Party Appetizers
Spread the love for your favorite seafood, from crab to salmon, with these crowd-pleasing appetizers.
These salty snacks are great with beer and tart cocktails, such as margaritas.
- Recipe: Tapenade Twists
These delicious snacks pair perfectly with Domaine de Baumard Cremant de Loire "Carte Turquoise," NV, 50% Chenin Blanc, 50% Cabernet Franc ($21):
"The presence of green apple and golden raspberry pairs incredibly well with the mix of cheeses and black sesame," says Velo. Add the light acidity from this sparkling wine and it is a great match."
In addition to being a delicious appetizer, these bites are great as croutons on salads or as "meat" balls for vegetarian pasta dishes.
To sip, Velo recommends André Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, NV Grand Cru, 100% Pinot Noir ($30):
"If the lush cherry, strawberry, and cream are not enough to complement the goat cheese and spice from the black pepper and hot red pepper, the decadent, fruity finish should seal the deal."
- Recipe: Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey
The best bubbly to serve with these tasty bites? Diebolt-Vallois Champagne, NV Blanc de Blanc, 100% Chardonnay ($36):
"This bubbly is rich and toasty—just right with the herbs and flaky puff pastry," says Michael Velo, bubbly expert from the Carriage House Restaurant in Chicago.
- Recipe: Mini Beef Wellingtons
This hearty spread needs sturdy dippers, such as crostini or stone-ground crackers.
- Recipe: Hot Crab and Shrimp Dip
The crab cake mixture can be made several hours ahead. After they’re cooked, keep them warm in a 200° oven for up to an hour.
- Recipe: Bite-size Wasabi Crab Cakes
Offer a mix of hot and cold appetizers so you can replenish cold apps while the hot ones are baking.
- Recipe: Scallop-Spinach Spread
Fresh lump crab is the gold standard, but can be quite pricey. Alternatives include refrigerated, pasteurized cans or shelf-stable cans and pouches.
- Recipe: Crab, Mango, and Cashew Dip
Hot smoked salmon has a long shelf life, so keep some on hand for impromptu snacks.
- Recipe: Smoked Salmon and Clam Spread
Soak wooden skewers in water at least 30 minutes before grilling to prevent charring.
- Recipe: Peppered Pancetta-Wrapped Shrimp
For a bargain-friendly version of this recipe pick more affordable cuts of beef (chuck, round, or flank) and weave thin strips onto skewers.
- Recipe: Beef Tenderloin Yakitori
Think of this recipe as a deconstructed Shrimp Po' Boy without the bread. Marinated and grilled shrimp get even more flavor from a tangy rémoulade with capers, lemon juice and a dash of hot sauce.
- Recipe: Grilled Shrimp with Rémoulade
Almost any flavorful cheese works in these light-as-air bites. Try Cheddar in place of the Gruyère, and stir in 3 slices chopped cooked bacon or prosciutto. Or substitute 1⁄4 cup crumbled blue cheese, and add 1⁄4 cup finely chopped pecans.
- Recipe: Cheese Puffs
Taramasalata is a creamy Greek dip featuring carp roe, or tarama. A popular brand of roe, Krinos Tarama ($7), is available nationwide at specialty foods stores or at amazon.com. Get creative: Use golden whitefish roe ($12 for 2 ounces), available at californiacaviar.com. Save black roe for other uses; it will turn this dip an unappetizing gray color.
- Recipe: Taramasalata with Pita Chips
Brown sugar makes these asian-spiced nuts sweet; wasabi powder brings the heat!
- Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Asian Nuts
These tartlets have all the sweet and sticky goodnes of traditional baklava but come packaged in a phyllo dough cup for a crisp bite and a buttery finish.
- Recipe: Baklava Tartlets
These fudgy treats—which you can make ahead and freeze in an airtight container, unsliced, for up to three weeks—are an ideal addition to a cocktail party menu.
Make this flavorful appetizer up to a week early. Bring to room temperature before serving and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs or strips of lemon peel.
- Recipe: Honeyed Olives
Presentation is half the fun! A beautiful platter of crudités is almost too pretty to eat.
- Recipe: Basil Aïoli with Crudités
These delightful little puff pastries taste best when served warm.
Top these quiches with fresh thyme leaves and green onion. Bonus: This recipes tastes good both warm and at room temperature.
- Recipe: Mini Bacon Quiches
Since the scallops take only two minutes to cook, you can make the avocado mixture ahead of time and then refrigerate until ready to cut down on prep time the day of your event.
- Recipe: Scallop-and-Avocado Tostadas
The garlic-and-merlot jam gives this recipe a special kick, but don't completely douse your meat and bread slices. A litle flavor goes a long way.
Starting with dessert? Fine by us! These sweet truffles make the perfect before-the-meal snack.
- Recipe: Almond Truffles
This fluffy white-chocolate mousse is a dreamy peppermint cloud. Best of all: it's make-ahead!
Give this traditional appetizer a little something extra by mixing in fresh cooked lobster meat. If you’re on a budget, you can substitute lump crabmeat or cooked, chopped shrimp.
- Recipe: Lobster Deviled Eggs
The perfect sidekick to Smoked Salmon Mousse Canapés, according to Velo, is Mionetto Brut Prosecco, NV, 100% Prosecco ($14):
"The fresh white peach harmonizes with the tarragon, and the hint of sweetness cuts the richness of the salmon."
- Recipe: Smoked Salmon Mousse Canapés
This recipe is great for leftover fish! For single servings, spoon dip onto steamed artichoke leaves.