35 Vintage Party Appetizers We’ll Never Stop Making
When we say something’s “an oldie but a goodie,” it’s the highest form of compliment. Because somehow it was able to withstand the test of time and trends. No easy feat. And while we’re happy to say goodbye to the congealed tuna loaf and frozen cheese salad—yes, those are real—we’re never letting go of these vintage appetizer recipes. These are the all-stars. Generations of Southern community cookbooks have featured these dips, spreads, bites, and nibbles—even if you didn’t know it. That deliciously creamy, cheesy crab dip gracing the holiday spread? Your great-aunt Barb knows it well, too. And those warm, saucy meatballs sitting pretty at the cocktail party? Just ask her husband. Because some party appetizers just never die, and thank goodness for that. Read on for 35 easy appetizers, hot and cold, that are so good you won’t ever need another party recipe.
These Finger Foods Are Forever Classics
Cheddar-Horseradish-Walnut Cheese Ball
Cheese Snappy Wafers
Recipe: Cheese Snappy Wafers
You won't find a one-bite wonder like the cheese straw or wafer. Crunchy, cheesy, and oh-so addicting, they've saved hostesses for generations.
Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise
Party Puffs with Ham Salad
Recipe: Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad
It doesn't get more festive than party puffs. Classic ham salad just sends it over the edge.
Traditional Relish Tray
For many Southern families, it just wouldn't be Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas without this traditional appetizer platter—and so the retro cookbooks made sure there were plenty of pickling recipes. Top off the spread with store-bought pickled cherry peppers, olives, and okra.
Cured Salmon with Dill-Horseradish Cream
When hosting a more formal affair, there's always room for toast points with lox or cured salmon, especially when given a signture kick with horseradish cream.
Stuffed Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese
At some point, endive became quite the elegant vessel for creamy spreads, and this herbed goat cheese number would have certainly fit the bill.
Recipe: Cocktail Meatballs
Back in the day, cocktail meatballs might as well have been a requirement at Southern parties. (We wouldn't mind if that rule stuck around.)
Classic Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Basic Deviled Eggs
Show up with a tray of deviled eggs, and you're instantly the favorite of half the Southerners in the room (at least).
Chicken Liver Mousse Crostini with Pepper Jelly
This retro snack might seem out-there to some, but to us it's just nostalgic enough to keep around. This smooth, velvety mousse gets topped with spicy-sweet pepper jelly.
Classic Shrimp Cocktail
Recipe: Contemporary Shrimp Cocktail
Once upon a time, every cocktail party called for a shrimp cocktail, and why mess with a good thing? This recipe features three modern dips. Want something totally new? Try this warmed-up version cooked in a lemon-garlic butter: Garlic Butter-Roasted Shrimp Cocktail.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Dip
Ah, the dip that launched a thousand ships. (Not to be dramatic.) This most iconic of dips comes in many variations, but here's a traditional rendition.
Creamy Crab Dip
Fresh crabmeat is a Southern favorite, and we like it served for any meal of the day, in omelets, salads, and soups.
Classic Pimiento Cheese
Recipe: Basic Pimiento Cheese
Now, every Southern cook knows how to make a top-notch pimiento cheese spread, but the add-on ingredients can change from one to the next, with things like Worcestershire, cayenne, and even shaved onion making appearances. To have your pimiento cheese featured in a community or church cookbook? That was the highest honor.
Recipe: Sparkling Cranberries
Like tasty little jewels, these sugared berries make the perfect party attaché.
West Indies Crab Salad
Recipe: West Indies Crab Salad
This little-known Southern salad—believed to have originated in Mobile, Alabama—is a beloved party snack you'd find in a tattered coastal cookbook. (But it's just as popular today, still.)
Recipe: Zucchini-and-Squash Pickles
These vintage cookbooks never met something they couldn't pickle, mark our words. It's no secret: Southerners love to pickle things.
Fresh Fruit Salad
Recipe: Fresh Fruit Salad
This isn't just cut fruit in a bowl, oh no. It's dressed up for a party with orange juice, honey, and mint.
Recipe: Cheese Dreams
What's a cheese dream, you might ask? Well, if you don't know, bless your heart. These bites of heaven are enough to make a Southern crowd holler.
Pickled Shrimp and Vegetables
Recipe: Pickled Shrimp and Vegetables
These cookbooks knew the only way to make a shrimp cocktail even more refreshing for summer hosting would be to pickle those suckers.
Lump Crab Mornay
Recipe: Lump Crab Mornay
This dip is decadence in a dish. Its masterful blend of creamy cheese, crabmeat, and just a little bit of heat has long made crab mornay a Southern classic.
Butternut-Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
These vintage cookbooks loved to stuff things, as well. (If only something could be pickled and stuffed. That would be a game-changer.) These stuffed mushrooms are too easy to love.
Mini quiches separate ho-hum brunches and showers from next-level affairs.
Warm Lemon-Rosemary Olives
Recipe: Warm Lemon-Rosemary Olives
Southern hostesses for generations past have known how to upgrade any storebought staple. By warming mixed olives with herbs and lemon zest, you're going from basic to fancy.
Recipe: Oysters Rockefeller
This recipe dates back to 1899, and since then it's earned a long-standing spot in any Louisiana community cookbook.
Buttery Toasted Pecans
Recipe: Buttery Toasted Pecans
This is about as simple as it gets—and perfect for setting out in a bowl when unexpected company drops by.
Recipe: Coco-Loco Chocolate Fondue
Either by way of melty cheese or gooey chocolate, fondue gave every cocktail party guest something fun (and delicious!) to do.
Waldorf Chicken Salad
Recipe: Waldorf Chicken Salad
The famed Waldorf salad originated over 120 years ago, and everyone was just itching to make and variate the classic nut-and-apple lunch recipe. This chicken salad is party-ready.
Curried Shrimp Tarts
Recipe: Curried Shrimp Tarts
There's no emergency an expert hostess can't fix with a couple dozen phyllo shells. Asian-inspired salads were all the rage in these retro cookbooks, and this curried shrimp certainly made the cut.
Recipe: Party Poppers
You can hardly go wrong with a spicy jalapeno stuffed (see, stuffed) with creamy cheese and wrapped in bacon. This recipe is a longtime classic appetizer, reimagined.
Smoked Trout Crostini with Radishes and Dill Cream
Here's a hostess trick: Trade half of the smoked trout with smoked salmon for a more colorful presentation.
Pepper Jelly Palmiers
Recipe: Pepper Jelly Palmiers
Get ready for this party trick: Transform just a few Southern pantry staples into these pretty pepper jelly palmier.
Recipe: Ham-Wrapped Figs
Once people realized that the trio of figs, ham, and cheese is practically a revelation for the taste buds, this recipe became the sleeper hit at many Southern parties. (Tip: Roast them with bacon or prosciutto for a crispy finish.)
Creamy Shrimp Dip with Crispy Wonton Chips
Yes, creamy seafood dips were very much in style back in the day. But these crispy wonton chips alone make us want to keep this dip around.