As every good chef knows, appetizers aren’t just a tasty add-on. They’re the foundation of a great meal.
While they may be small, appetizers set the tone for your dining experience, creating a delectable range in the evening’s flavor palette without filling up your guests. They’re snackable, shareable, and require much less commitment than an entree. If the world’s greatest minds came together to reinvent food, they’d probably end up with appetizers.
Today, we’ll review some of our absolute favorite and easy appetizer recipes - the kind that will have your guests begging for a second (or third) round. But first, let’s cover some basics.
Although the term appetizer is sometimes used interchangeably with hors d’oeuvres, there are actually some slight differences in meaning. And while most guests care more about taste than terminology, it’s helpful to know the difference.
Hors d’oeuvres are served before a meal, perhaps while you’re standing and socializing. Appetizers, on the other hand, are part of the meal. They’re eaten sitting, and they’re carefully chosen to complement the dishes that follow. Hors d’oeuvres are also typically a one-bite experience - something you can pluck off a serving dish with one hand while holding your cocktail glass in the other. Appetizers are larger (though much smaller than an entree, of course) and may require cutlery to eat properly.
The range of food you can serve as an appetizer is almost limitless. Bread, cheeses, fruits, veggies, soups, salads… the list goes on.
We’ll dive into the full recipes below, but for a small taste of what’s to come here are a few time-honored, easy appetizer examples:
Is your mouth watering yet? Good, us too. We'll load you up with some of our mind-blowing, easy appetizer recipe examples shortly. But first, let’s discuss one final (and extremely important) subject: presentation.
“Plating” food - i.e. presenting it beautifully and deliberately - is its own art form, and professional chefs take it very seriously. Although, you don’t need a culinary degree to pick up the basic skills. In fact, you might be surprised how far a little knowledge will go in making your appetizers… well, appetizing. Here are the three most important tips:
Consider the plate. Understanding which types of plates fit the occasion is important. If you’re serving a pre-portioned appetizer (think portobello salad with caramelized onion), you’ll want to use individual plates - like these durable and elegant appetizer plates from Made In. At 8 inches in diameter, they’re perfectly sized for one small serving.
On the other hand, if your appetizer is a single large item (like a wheel of baked brie with figs and honey) or many small items that your guests will sample from (like an array of deviled eggs), you’ll want to use a single platter - like a 13 inch serving platter from Made In. It’s finely crafted and chip-resistant with a remarkable beauty that makes your appetizers a feast for the eyes and stomach alike.
Pair with a drink. If you have special beverages lined up, don’t wait for the entree to break them out. When guests begin digging into your appetizers, they should have a refreshing drink at their fingertips - both to clear the palate and to complement the dish. (Explore the different types of drinking glasses to know which glass pairs well with your dinner’s drink list!) For a spicy chicken dish, try a smooth, low-alcohol red wine - or perhaps a sweet wine like a riesling. For an appetizer on the saltier side (like edamame glazed with garlic soy sauce), a stout beer will offer delicious contrast. And for a creamy, fatty appetizer recipe (like avocado toast drizzled in olive oil), try a high-citrus cocktail like the classic margarita.
Don’t skip the garnish! A garnish is simply a decorative finishing touch on your appetizer. It can be made of almost anything edible. That includes fresh herbs (like parsley, rosemary, and basil), carved fans of strawberry and radish, a splash of decorative sauce, or even edible flowers like pansies and calendula. Try to choose a garnish that works well with your color palette and complements the visual form of your appetizer recipe.
Ready to cut to the chase? Here are some of our very favorite appetizer recipes that are sure to delight your guests and complement the larger meal. Some of these can be quite addictive - don’t say we didn’t warn you.
For an easy and quick appetizer, these bites are tough to beat. And their deliciousness truly cannot be overstated. Hearty parmesan cheese melts into the folds of the Brussels sprouts, turning them into hot, melty, crispy little bites. You might even make some converts of the “I hate Brussels sprouts” crowd with this easy appetizer recipe.
With its subtle blend of earthy, creamy, and zesty herbal flavors, these mozzarella-stuffed mushrooms are a jaw-dropping introduction to the night’s fare. This recipe is flexible (think deep-dish pizza), so don’t be afraid to experiment with the herbs and veggies.
Deviled eggs are one of the most appreciated appetizers for a reason. They’re scrumptious, filling, and endlessly versatile with plenty of regional variations to choose from. If you haven’t feasted on them in a while, you might not remember just how good deviled eggs are.
Now that you have these tasty appetizer recipes in your back pocket, it’s time to host! Pick one (or a few) of your favorites to start prepping for your next dinner party! Your guests are sure to be impressed.
Born out of a 100-year old, family-owned restaurant supply business, we work to ensure our Cookware is as detail oriented as the chefs who choose to use it in their kitchens.Learn More
Weekly recipes, techniques, and tips. Plus the culinary stories that make cooking meaningful. Sign up for our newsletter.