25 Best-Ever Appetizers for a Crowd
When it comes to properly hosting guests, Mama always said it just doesn’t count if there’s not at least a few Southern snacks on the table. In fact, the appetizer spread is usually the star of any party. It’s not the stocked bar at the holiday soirée, the riveting conversation at the dinner party, and definitely not even the most exciting round of Yahtzee at game night. It’s the bacon-wrapped, cheese-laden bites, dips, and spreads we’re housing faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
When we say we’d rather fill up on a hefty dose of tasty, bite-sized appetizers all night than on a three-course meal, we aren’t playing. For those of like mind, we’ve rounded up the best appetizers for a crowd that we served this year. Between our classic cheddar shortbread crackers, crowd-pleasing party poppers, and creamy spinach dip, these 25 most popular appetizers will have the crowd begging for mercy. (And you reigning as the snack queen.)
Warm Spinach-Sweet Onion Dip with Country Ham
This classic dip gets a Southern twist with sweet onions and country ham. Trust us, this shareable appetizer never disappoints at any tailgate or party.
Queso-Filled Mini Peppers
Recipe: Queso-Filled Mini Peppers
Forget the tortilla chips! These peppers make a much cuter vessel for melty queso. Baked until golden perfection, these bites are party-ready.
Cheddar Shortbread Crackers
Recipe: Cheddar Shortbread Crackers
Talk about a top-notch hostess gift and holiday snack. Pair these crispy, cheesy crackers with a bottle of wine, and you're more than set.
Recipe: Bacon Bites
Get ready to call these bites your "most talked about, sought after, and begged for recipe." In a delicious turn of events, only three ingredients will get you there, too.
Potato Puffs with Toppings
Recipe: Potato Puffs with Toppings
Consider these poppable hors d’oeuvres an adult version of tater tots—but way tastier. The toppings really add a special party-ready touch.
Goat Cheese and Gouda Pimiento Cheese
Let's be real—every Southerner should already know how to make darn good pimiento cheese. But this recipe turns it up a notch with goat cheese and Gouda. It's just as classic as the original stuff, but feels a little fancier.
Bacon Bow Tie Crackers
Recipe: Bacon Bow Tie Crackers
We reckon it was a no-brainer to use bacon and buttery crackers together. They're a match made in snack heaven. It should go without saying, but this two-ingredient bacon-focused appetizer will be your easiest (and most popular) snack ever.
Warm Cheese-and-Spicy Pecan Dip
Recipe: Warm Cheese-and-Spicy Pecan Dip
For another Southern take on a classic snack, this cheese dip does the job. Crunchy, cayenne-spiced pecans give a festive kick to melty cheese dip.
Smoky Snack Mix
Recipe: Smoky Snack Mix
Good thing it's easy to double or even triple this smoky mix recipe—watch as it performs quite the disappearing act. Crunchy, smoky, and a little addictive, this appetizer is perfect for casual drop-ins and holiday parties alike.
Garlic Butter-Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
We especially love this warmed-up version of a shrimp cocktail during colder months. Trade in the ever-expected chilled shrimp ring for roasted shrimp cooked in a lemon-garlic butter. It's simple and very satisfying.
Mini Potato Skins
Recipe: Mini Potato Skins
It's too easy to pop these potato skins, and we guarantee they'll be gone before every guest has arrived. The five-ingredient recipe is simple, delicious, and no-fail with guests of any age.
Creamy Feta-and-Herb Dip
Recipe: Creamy Feta and Herb Dip
Nothing spices up sliced veggies and water crackers like a creamy, tangy dip. This recipe is packed with feta cheese, fresh lemon juice, and plenty of herbs, making it a popular contender on the appetizer spread.
Blue Cheese-and-Pecan Stuffed Cherry Peppers
Every bite packs a surprising amount of flavor, which is never a bad thing. These tiny peppers are basically a perfect hot-and-sweet, crunchy-and-creamy appetizer wrapped up into a single bite.
Cheddar-Horseradish-Walnut Cheese Ball
It's not a Southern party without a cheese ball, particularly during the holidays. Master the classic appetizer by making this best-ever recipe that gets major flavor from sharp Cheddar cheese, fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, a dash of hot sauce, and horseradish.
Recipe: Crack Crackers
Don't be surprised when a snack intervention heads your way—because it's impossible to stop eating these crack crackers. We dressed up store-bought crackers with ranch dressing mix, dried dill, and garlic powder. The end result? Our easiest-ever, pop-in-your-mouth snack.
Sheet Pan Nachos with Chorizo and Refried Beans
If you're going for the wow factor, this sheet pan snack has you covered. We're serving this appetizer at every tailgate or movie night this year.
Nashville Hot Chicken Dip
Recipe: Nashville Hot Chicken Dip
Make every chicken wing or tender into bonafide Nashville Hot Chicken. Well, sort of. This recipe is meant to be a dip for chicken wings and the likes. To speed things up, pick up cooked wings from your favorite restaurant or grocery store.
Baked Brie Bites
Recipe: Baked Brie Bites
If there's ever a time when you need to pull a snack out of a hat, these cheesy, pepper jelly-packed bites have your back. They might look a little fancy, but they actually only take five ingredients and 18 minutes of prep. Win, win?
Creamy Shrimp Dip with Crispy Wonton Chips
This creamy shrimp dip rewards those that think outside of the box. Conveniently, it's ready to go in under an hour. Tip: The crispy wonton chips really make all the difference.
Recipe: Party Poppers
A classic appetizer, reimagined. This spicy bite-sized snack is stuffed with a heavenly chicken-cream cheese filling and then wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon.
Mini Mushroom-and-Goat Cheese Pot Pies
Everyone will love these hearty little pies. Filled with mushrooms, goat cheese, and a little dry sherry, these mini savory pot pies fit in with every crowd, but especially a hungry one.
Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
Recipe: Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
This Southern take on traditional hummus is something we can get behind. Using black-eyed peas instead of chickpeas, this smoky hummus recipe turns out to be quite the crowd-pleaser.
French Onion Puff Pastry Bites
Recipe: French Onion Puff Pastry Bites
Perhaps our favorite part of these puffed-up bites? They're surprisingly easy to make, thanks to storebought puff pastry. After that, the flavors come together quite decadently, from the Gruyére cheese to the caramelized onions to the Dijon mustard.
Traditional Relish Tray
For some Southern families, it just wouldn't be Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas without this traditional appetizer spread. We recommend rounding out these recipes with store-bought pickled cherry peppers, olives, and okra. Tip: Halve the okra pods lengthwise, and wrap them in prosciutto or country ham.
Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce
Hearty and satisfying, this recipe was made for a crowd, especially when the crowd will be staying awhile. Make it in a slow-cooker for ultimate ease.