Photo: Georgia Glynn Smith
1. Cold Roast Beef, Blue Cheese & Grapes
Salty slices of cold roast beef, creamy and tangy blue cheese and tart green grapes threaded onto a skewer make for one of the most amazing, flavorful appetizers you can throw together with three common supermarket foods.
Get the recipe: Cold Roast Beef, Blue Cheese & Grapes
2. Lemon Pepper Parmesan Crackers
Homemade cheese crackers are easy to make and customize, depending on the cheeses and herbs you like. This recipe combines thyme and Parmesan, but you could also use asiago and rosemary, Spanish manchego and sage, or any other combination you can dream up.
Get the recipe: Lemon Pepper Parmesan Crackers
3. Shrimp with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Chef, cookbook author and TV personality Sara Moulton
makes these crunchy, savory, Asian-influenced snacks with store-bought convenience items: thin rice crackers, mayo, wasabi and precooked shrimp.
Get the recipe: Shrimp with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Photo: Georgia Glynn Smith
4. The Italian Job
The "recipe" for this Italian sandwich-on-a-stick is so simple, you'll make it once and remember it forever. All you need are cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella (aka bocconcini), olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, basil leaves and a fistful of toothpicks.
Get the recipe: The Italian Job
Photo: Tiffany Burke Photography
5. Ham Roll-Ups
As chefs across the country continue to pickle everything from Brussels sprouts to cabbage, plain old pickles (er, pickled cucumbers) are still some of the best. Though many of the newer varieties hitting gourmet grocery shelves are terrific on their own, you can spruce them up with this no-brainer trick from Lynnae Schneller, founder of Lynnae's Gourmet Pickles
: Spread them with cream cheese and wrap them with slices of ham.
Get the recipe: Ham Roll-Ups
6. Stuffed Cherry Peppers
If you're expecting guests who like spicy food, you can't get much simpler (or tastier) than cherry peppers stuffed with extra-sharp provolone and thin slices of prosciutto, which chef Doug Psaltis serves at his Chicago restaurant RPM Italian
. You can fill the peppers the night before—just bring them to room temperature before serving.
Get the recipe: Stuffed Cherry Peppers
7. Smoked Mozzarella and Ricotta Fritters
A coating of panko bread crumbs ensures that these guaranteed showstoppers will have a perfectly crusted exterior. It's best to serve them hot while the cheese is still gooey.
Get the recipe: Smoked Mozzarella and Ricotta Fritters
Photo: Andrews McMeel Publishing
8. Polenta Mini Pizzas
Using a tube of prepared polenta is the brilliant idea behind these ultrasimple little pizza rounds. Stick with traditional tomato sauce and cheese, or top with extras, such as roasted vegetables, fresh herbs or pepperoni.
Get the recipe: Polenta Mini Pizzas
9. BLT Bites
Serve these open-faced on a quarter of a slice of toasted bread, or make a microsandwich by sticking a toothpick in each one to keep the top piece of bread from sliding off. Using mini everything is a must, from baby lettuce to sliced cherry tomatoes.
Get the recipe: Mini BLT Sandwiches
10. Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto
Though this appetizer is best in summer when tomatoes and basil are at their peak, you can make it any time of year. However, be sure to use cherry and not grape tomatoes; otherwise, they won't stand upright and the filling will spill out.
Get the recipe: Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto
11. Tiny Twice-Baked Potatoes with Smoked Paprika and Bacon
This is a textbook example of the "work early, relax later" school of appetizers. Cheesy, twice-baked potatoes get salty crispness from bacon bits and warm spice from Spanish pimenton.
Get the recipe: Tiny Twice-Baked Potatoes with Smoked Paprika and Bacon
12. Pickled Shrimp with Parsley Oil
Bright and tangy, this hors d'oeuvre from chef Dennis Marron of Poste Moderne Brasserie
in Washington, D.C., has notes of coriander, mustard, ginger and lemon. Drizzling the shrimp with a citrusy parsley oil just before serving helps bring out the flavor even more.
Get the recipe: Pickled Shrimp with Parsley Oil
13. Grape-Nut Halves
Whether you use red or green grapes, tart goat cheese or buttery Brie, these snacks—each of which also include a walnut half—are among the easiest salty-sweet finger foods you can make.
Get the recipe: Grape-Nut Halves
14. Figs Stuffed with Gorgonzola and Walnuts
You can make this appetizer with fresh or dried figs. Just cut them, stuff them and roast them until each one is melted and toasty on top.
Get the recipe: Figs Stuffed with Gorgonzola and Walnuts
15. Cantaloupe Balls
For this simple nibble, brothers and cookbook authors Matt and Ted Lee substituted fresh mint for the mint jelly called for in the Junior League of Charlotte's recipe in The Charlotte Cookbook, 30th Edition
, and added their own flourish: black pepper.
Get the recipe: Cantaloupe Balls
16. Devils on Horseback
Built on the premise that anything wrapped in bacon will make the crowd go wild, this classic appetizer consists of a blue-cheese-stuffed date surrounded by a little blanket of bacon, and then the entire bundle is roasted.
Get the recipe: Devils on Horseback
17. Spicy Mini Meatballs
Instead of presenting guests with been-there-done-that Swedish meatballs, try this zingy version, which combines ground pork with hot cherry peppers and a bit of their pickling liquid.
Get the recipe: Spicy Pork Meatballs
18. Snap, Crackle & Pop Shrimp
These savory shellfish bites get their crunch from a dip in Rice Krispies just prior to frying. At Jerry's
restaurant in Winnetka, Illinois, chef Bridget Burns offers them alongside a wasabi-soy dipping sauce.
Get the recipe: Snap, Crackle & Pop Shrimp
19. Jell-O Petite Watermelons
We're going to come right out and say it: This is the most adorable appetizer you will ever serve. Wedge-shaped strawberry Jell-O, flecked with bits of fresh strawberries, sits inside miniature sliced lime rinds, and each one gets a smattering of black sesame seeds. Vodka optional.
Get the recipe: Jell-O Petite Watermelons
20. Crispy Okra Chips
Southern chef Bob Carter serves these treats at Carter's Kitchen
, his new restaurant in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Tomato aioli lends a bright punch to crispy okra, which is a regional staple.
Get the recipe: Crispy Okra Chips with Tomato Aioli
21. Baby Crab Cakes
The nice thing about this recipe is that you fry the cakes on the stovetop only until they're golden brown, and then finish them in the oven—so you're only standing over the stove for about five minutes, leaving you more time to mingle.
Get the recipe: Baby Crab Cakes
22. Toasted Cumin and Roasted Garlic Cream Cheese
You can mold this savory cream cheese into little balls that guests can eat with toothpicks, or you can spread it onto tortillas, roll the wraps up and cut them into spirals.
Get the recipe: Toasted Cumin and Roasted Garlic Cream Cheese with Flatbreads
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