25 Show-Stopping Appetizers
We've taken garlic bread up a notch. These tasty toasts make perfect entertaining starters. For a light meal, serve them with a salad and glass of wine. Mix spreads the day before, and refrigerate overnight. You'll only need to slather them on French bread and bake for a super-quick presentation. So skip the carb counting, and crunch into something delicious.
Recipe: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Bread
You can save time by making this recipe up to 3 days before the party.
To pull this sophisticated dish together fast, purchase peeled, boiled eggs in the deli or dairy section of your grocery store. Use leftover caviar and purchased boiled eggs to make extra-special deviled eggs.
- Recipe: Mini Caviar Parfaits
This recipe makes a lot, but it can be frozen for up to a month. It fits perfectly into 4 (10-oz.) ramekins. Try it over French fries, hot dogs, and chili too.
- Recipe: Beer Cheese Spread
While Chef Hugh Acheson of Five and Ten in Athens, GA seasons his peanuts with Old Bay seasoning and star anise, we found that simply salting the water yields a fabulous product. You can make this Southern favorite ahead; it keeps in the refrigerator up to five days. Serve the hummus alongside pitas at party time.
- Recipe: Boiled Peanut Hummus
If you like yours less spicy, use the smaller amount of red pepper.
Recipe: Cheese Straws
- Recipe: Instant Italian Cheese Tray
Making these meatballs ahead and freezing them is a great way to save time during the holiday months.
- Recipe: Cranberry Meatballs
With low-fat yogurt as the main ingredient, guests won't have to worry about their waistline while they indulge. Busy hosts beware, this dip can be made ahead--it stores for up to three days.
- Recipe: Easy Greek Dip
Transfer the dip to a 1- or 2-qt. slow cooker set on warm so guests can enjoy this creamy dip throughout your party. To make it spicier, serve your favorite brand of hot sauce on the side.
- Recipe: Warm Turnip Green Dip
You can make the a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
To decorate the box, cut white part from 4 green onions. Blanch green onion tops in boiling water 1 minute or until tender, saving white part for other uses. Drain. Press 1 green onion strip into base of center of 1 side of box, pressing up sides until it meets center of top of box. Remove and discard excess green onion. Repeat with remaining green onion strips. Top center with fresh cranberries, orange curls, and additional strips of green onion, if desired.
- Recipe: Cranberry-Cheese Box
Top Bartlett pear slices with baked pancetta, crumbled goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey for an easy, salty-sweet appetizer recipe that tastes delicious and looks gorgeous.
Prepare up to a day ahead; cover and chill in an airtight container, and bake just before serving.
- Recipe: Colby-Pepper Jack Cheese Dip
Tie these bundles with a fresh chive to put the perfect touch on this edible package.
- Recipe: Beef-and-Asparagus Bundles
Shred your own Cheddar rather than buying preshredded; it's stickier and blends better with the cream cheese.
- Recipe: Chutney-Glazed Cheese Pâtè
These snacks are as simple as sliced cheese. Prepare them ahead of time to allow ample chill time. Be sure to garnish with a sprig of parsley or rosemary for a bit of panache.
Recipe: Marinated Mozzarella
Have the seafood market steam shrimp to save time, or follow our easy instructions in the recipe. Serve the shrimp, okra, and breadsticks on a platter around a bowl of the sauce, or make individual cocktails. Use 4-oz. votive candleholders, shot glasses, cordial glasses, or mini-martini glasses.
Recipe: Southern Shrimp Cocktails
This is an updated version of a recipe that used ham, cheese, and mustard. Eyes lit up at our tasting table when these roast beef sandwiches came out of the oven.
Recipe: Hot Roast Beef Party Sandwiches
These starters look elegant on a serving platter--guests will be fooled by how quick and easy they really are. Assemble up to one hour ahead, cover with damp paper towels, and chill. Serve coarse-grain mustard or chutney alongside the skewers.
- Recipe: Ham-and-Cheese Skewers
Take another cue from the French by using Brie as the filling in these tartlets. Grapes make an excellent topper, adding color and an elegant touch to the hors d’oeuvre. Guests will love the creative use of this fruit, as well as the added vitamins and minerals.
- Recipe: Brie Tartlets With Grape Relish
Popular with adults and children alike, serve these stacks in an easy to reach party spot. Expand toppings to include pickled okra or sliced jalapeño peppers.
Recipe: Assemble Your Own Barbecue Stacks
The outstanding presentation of this appetizer will make people think you spent more time on it than it really took.
- Recipe: Pinecone Cheese Ball