Last-Minute Appetizers You Can Make in 25 Minutes or Less

Mini Caprese Bites
Photo: William Dickey

Whether we realize it or not, most appetizer spreads are like an impromptu pageant of bite-sized snacks, particularly if we're talking around the holidays. Everyone can tell which appetizers are scoring high by how quickly they're disappearing and how frequently they're being raved about by partygoers—and some of the best appetizers are the ones that don't come off like you're trying too hard. That's where it'll get you. We'd pick homemade pimiento cheese topped with Wickles over crème fraiche drizzled with caviar any day.

We like quick and easy-to-make, especially during busy times—and those are the real winners of the party-snack pageant anyway. Because the best appetizers are those we can make in under an hour, and the hardest-working are those that save us when we only have a spare 25 minutes.

Next time you're in panic mode, try these last-minute appetizers that steal the show every time and can be ready to serve in less than 25 minutes.

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Cranberry Brie Bites

Cranberry Brie Bites
Southern Living

Recipe: Cranberry Brie Bites

This takes everyone's favorite appetizer—baked brie—and turns it into the perfect bite of creamy cheese, sweet cranberry, crispy phyllo, and roasted salty pistachios. Those four ingredients are all it takes.

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Crispy Cheese Wafers

Crispy Cheese Wafers

Recipe: Crispy Cheese Wafers

You'll love the snappy crunch on these cheese straws that get a flavorful punch from hand-grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese. Serve alongside pepper jelly for spreadable flair.

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Shrimp with Honey-Garlic Sauce

Shrimp with Honey-Garlic Sauce
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Recipe: Shrimp with Honey-Garlic Sauce

Serve this 15-minute shrimp dish on skewers for an easy as a party appetizer. Want to spice it up? Add a kick to this dish by stirring grated fresh ginger or diced jalapeño chile in the pan along with the garlic.

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Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

While this 15-minute recipe calls for quick homemade chicken salad made with a rotisserie chicken, you can also pick up a pint from your favorite deli or lunch spot to fill the tomatoes.

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Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Toni Brogan

Recipe: Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

It doesn't get easier than this throw-together salad that does not call for too much of the green stuff. In fact, maybe that's why it is always the most popular salad on the spread...

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Bacon-Pimiento Guacamole

Collard Dip
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Bacon-Pimiento Guacamole

Any party deserves three standout ingredients: bacon, pimiento, and avocados. This fresh guacamole recipe combines all of them and turns a classic dip into something special.

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Baked Brie with Jezebel Peaches

Baked Brie with Jezebel Peaches
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Baked Brie with Jezebel Peaches

Melty cheese? At a party? It's a no-brainer. This peach-topped Brie bakes for only 15 minutes, making it the express route to party success.

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Smoky Snack Mix

Smoky Snack Mix
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Smoky Snack Mix

Good thing it's easy to double or even triple this smoky mix recipe, because people won't be able to stop munching on it. From game days to birthdays, it fits in anywhere.

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Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

Collard Dip
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

We can justify adding black-eyed peas to just about anything, and this hummus is no exception. It blends a country-cooking staple with a traditional Middle Eastern dip and turns it into a real crowd-pleaser.

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Baked Brie Bites

Baked Brie Bites
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Baked Brie Bites

Five ingredients and 18 minutes later, these melty baked Brie bites will start showing up every other appetizer around. Red pepper jelly, pecans, and flaky sea salt add major texture and flavor.

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Creamy Crab Dip

Collard Dip
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Creamy Crab Dip

We're revisiting an old classic with this creamy crab dip. Fresh lump crabmeat, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, and scallions combine for a cool, no-cook dip for any Southern soiree.

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Mini Caprese Bites

Mini Caprese Bites
William Dickey

Recipe: Mini Caprese Bites

On a table of dips and spreads, these fresh skewers will stand out with the combo of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic. They're almost too easy to pop into your mouth without missing a beat at the party.

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Stuffed Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese

Stuffed Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Stuffed Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese

Trade in the carb-filled crackers for crisp endive lettuce. It plays the vessel for creamy herbed goat cheese in this cool appetizer that'll save room for more snacking.

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Beef-and-Asparagus Bundles

Beef-and-Asparagus Bundles
Ralph Lee Anderson

Recipe: Beef-and-Asparagus Bundles

Make a quick appetizer that feels a little fancy with these fresh bundles of lettuce-wrapped beef and asparagus. The garlic-and-herb cheese is the cool, creamy ingredient that pulls it all together.

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Basic Pimiento Cheese

Basic Pimiento Cheese
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Basic Pimiento Cheese​​​​​​​

Is it really a party without pimiento? We think not. The two game-changing steps to perfect pimiento cheese: hand-shredding the cheese and using diced jarred pimientos (not sliced).

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Melon, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto Skewers

Melon, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto Skewers
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Melon, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto Skewers

A skewer-sized snack with juicy melon, salty prosciutto, and creamy mozzarella hits all the right flavor notes in a single bite. They're easy to make (and even easier to take) for last-minute get-togethers.

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Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar
Southern Living

Recipe: Texas Caviar

This classic party-perfect dip gives a little twist with green tomatoes. They bring a bright, almost citrusy note to the mix. This 20-minute appetizer is always an easy option when in a pinch.

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Bacon Bow Tie Crackers

Bacon Bow Tie Crackers
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Tami Hardeman

Recipe: Bacon Bow Tie Crackers

This two ingredient wonder couldn't be easier, Bacon is the center of attention, wrapped around your favorite buttery crackers for a salty snack to enjoy with pre-dinner drinks.

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Picnic Egg Salad

Picnic Egg Salad on Toast
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

Recipe: Picnic Egg Salad

These elegant egg toasts take a picnic staple and transform it into a party favorite. The flavor of radish eliminates the need to add black pepper to the mix. It elevates the egg salad, making sure that adults will love it too.

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Butter-Baked Saltine Crackers

Butter-Baked Saltine Crackers
Southern Living

Recipe: Butter-Baked Saltine Crackers

Inspired by fond memories of munching on saltines with a hunk of butter as an after-school snack, these simple crackers are as delicious as they are nostalgic. Serve with a variety of quick dips for an easy party spread.

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Creamy Avocado Dip

Creamy Avocado Dip
Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

Recipe: Creamy Avocado Dip

Short on avocados, but still craving guacamole? This lighter and tangier dip made with sour cream only require two avocados, but is a similarly creamy compliment to tortilla chips or crudités.

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Creamy Spinach-Ricotta Crostini

Creamy Spinach-Ricotta Crostini
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Creamy Spinach-Ricotta Crostini

These crostini look so fancy that guests will never know they come together in a matter of minutes. A food processor takes all the leg-work out of this recipe so you can skip all the chopping and simple combine all these ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse.

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Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip
Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Claire Spollen

Recipe: Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip

This one is for the cheese lovers. This recipe is made with sharp Cheddar cheese, pepper Jack cheese, cream cheese, crumbled blue cheese, and ranch dressing to create its rich, creamy consistency.

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Smoked-Fish Dip

Smoked-Fish Dip
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Smoked-Fish Dip

Simply stir together all the ingredients for this tasty dip and its ready to go. It can be served with your favorite crackers, but also happens to be a great gluten-free dip served with crudités or rice crackers.

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Mushroom-Stuffed Phyllo Cups

Mushroom-Stuffed Phyllo Cups
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Mushroom-Stuffed Phyllo Cups

Frozen mini phyllo pastry shells are the unsung hero of entertaining. The flaky cups can be filled and baked with anything on hand for an impressive looking appetizer. This recipe fills them with a delicious blend of gourmet mushrooms, fresh herbs, and Gruyère.

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Turnip Green Pesto

Turnip Green Pesto
Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Recipe: Turnip Green Pesto

Turnip greens aren't just edible they're delicious. While more bitter than basil, a touch of honey in this pesto balances sauce, that full of nutrient-rich greens.

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Lump Crab Mornay

Lump Crab Mornay

Recipe:Lump Crab Mornay

This dip comes together in one pot on the stovetop. The base is a French Mornay sauce, their term for a rich, velvety cream sauce made with Gruyère that has a pound of sweet lump crab meat folded in.

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Crudités Platter

Curdités Platter
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

Recipe: Crudités Platter

Sure, you could buy a pre-made crudités platter from the grocery store, but it won't beat this seasonal spread. The trick to this inexpensive snack for a crowd is color: select a variety of in-season veggies in all the colors of the rainbow for the most stunning presentation.

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Austin Diner-Style Queso

Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Austin Diner-Style Queso

It will be hard for guests not to fill up on this melty, bowl of queso. Canned chopped green chilies and sliced jalapeños add the right amount of heat to this rich, creamy dip.

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Pimiento-Stuffed Summer Squash

Pimiento-Stuffed Summer Squash
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Pimiento-Stuffed Summer Squash

Name a cuter appetizer than these pimento stuffed patty pan squash. We bet you can't. Can't find pattypans? Pipe the filling on thinly sliced squash rounds, or stuff it into squash blossoms.

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Caesar Salad Bites

Caesar Salad Bites
Photo: Jennifer Davick/Prop Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell/Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns

Recipe:Caesar Salad Bites

Caesar is always a crowd-pleaser, but this finger-food version makes its both easier eat at your next gathering. Bottled salad dressing takes the stress about prepping this salad, boiling down the prep work into just a bit of chopping.

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Curried Shrimp Tarts

Curried Shrimp Tarts

Recipe: Curried Shrimp Tarts

A few store-bought shortcuts make these two-bite tarts a no-bake appetizer. Garnish the tarts with chopped fresh chives and toasted sweetened flaked coconut for a fancy finish.

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Grilled Yellow Squash Roll-Ups

Grilled Yellow Squash Roll-Ups
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch; Food Styling: Anna Hampton

Recipe: Grilled Yellow Squash Roll-Ups

These vegetarian roll-ups are made with thin strips of grilled yellow squash filled with creamy goat cheese mixed with lemon and tarragon. You can prepare them a day in advance or throw them together in minutes and serve right away.

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Orange-Basil Yogurt Dip

Orange-Basil Yogurt Dip
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Orange-Basil Yogurt Dip

Dunk an assortment of grilled bites into this refreshing yogurt-dip. From veggies to grilled bread, or shrimp skewers, the sweet and tangy dip is a perfect match.

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Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise

Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise
Victor Protasio

Recipe: Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise

Alternating layers of yellow and red tomatoes make for a beautiful take on a BLT in this appetizer. In this mini version of the classic sandwich, bacon is folded into the mayo and like a club sandwich, there is a third layer of bread in the middle.

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Beer-Cheese Fondue

Rosemary-Bacon Nut Mix
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Beer-Cheese Fondue

This creamy fondue is infused with mustard, Gruyère, Cheddar, Worcestershire sauce, and a lager beer. It will be the centerpiece of any appetizer spread, with sliced bratwurst, pretzels, and potatoes for dipping.

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West Indies Crab Salad

West Indies Crab Salad
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: West Indies Crab Salad

This little-known Southern salad (it is believed to have originated in Mobile, Alabama) is one to add to your appetizer rotation. Serve over crunchy Bibb lettuce leaves for a portable, but also light appetizer that doesn't spoil dinner.

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