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Easy appetizers are the only kind of party food I know. If it’s going to take me more than 10 minutes to prep, I’m not into it. I save the more complicated, experimental dishes for nights when I’m not trying to please a crowd.
The last thing you want is to spend 45 minutes prepping a dish, just to accidentally overcook it, or under season it, or the myriad of other kitchen mishaps that can happen. Especially right before you’re expecting guests.
My party planning formula is simple. I prepare 1 appetizer option for every 2 people. If I want to do more, then I will, but at a minimum, for a party of 6, I will have 3 different appetizers prepared for my gathering.
Here are 9 easy appetizers that can be thrown together for a small gathering in a hurry.
How To Spot An Easy Appetizer Recipe
When searching for recipes that are quick and easy to put together I look for the following things:
- Minimal slicing or dicing required
- No overnight marinades
- No uncommon ingredients
- 6 Ingredients or less
1. Minimal Slicing and Dicing
If you don’t have the use of an electric mini chopper, slicing or dicing ingredients to the right size can take quite a bit of time. Even seemingly simple recipes like salsa or guacamole that require no cooking, can eat up a lot of time in the prep stage. Sure you may just be tossing some tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and other items into a bowl and mixing, but how long is it going to take you to dice each one of those down to size? Consider this, before creating your party menu.
2. No Overnight Marinades
Overnight marinades are great for certain meals but are not appropriate for last-minute gatherings. And even if your gathering has been planned in advance, you may end up including an extra couple at the last minute.
If this is the case, you may not have prepared enough marinated steak or chicken for your famous kabobs to feed 8 instead of 6. For this reason, I tend to avoid anything that requires flavors to develop for an extended period of time, like marinades and soups.
3. No Uncommon Ingredients
Trips to a specialty grocery store are fine for a special date night for two or holiday dish. However, when it comes to creating an easy-breezy party menu for a few people, I like to avoid uncommon ingredients.
While I love making hummus from scratch, I always have a hard time finding Tahini in my grocery stores. For this reason, I never put the dish on my party menu. If I really want to serve it, I’ll buy it already prepared from the market.
Another reason to avoid uncommon ingredients is spoilage or miscalculation. What happens if you don’t have enough suya spice or you accidentally knocked over your truffle oil and now you don’t have enough?
For this reason, I try to stick to ingredients that I know I can replace with a 10-minute drive to the grocery store if need be.
4. Six Ingredients or Less
While I do break this rule from time to time, I like to keep the ingredient list short. The longer the list, the more likely I am to omit something when shopping. There’s nothing worse than having everything you need but that one irreplaceable ingredient.
A short and sweet ingredient list is best for easy appetizers.
So, without further adieu, here are 9 crowd-pleasing appetizers that are quick and easy to prepare.
9 Easy Appetizers For a Small Gathering
I will gladly try any version of “jalapeno popper” you send my way. Side note: if you have a Kolache Factory restaurant near you, get the Jalapeno Popper Kolaches. They’re amazing.
But, back to the recipe. These little Jalapeno Popper Cups are so easy to make and taste… well like jalapeno poppers. To make them all you need to do is line muffin tins with some phyllo dough cups. Then fill them with a mixture of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapenos.
If you want them extra spicy, add in some hot sauce and make sure to include the jalapeno seeds.
Finally, top them off with some cooked, crumbled bacon and bake them until golden brown and bubbly. They’re amazing!
Let’s face it, bacon-wrapped anything is usually a crowd-pleaser. This recipe combines bacon and water chestnuts with a dreamy maple syrup topping that is just amazing.
I have this recipe on my list of Christmas Eve appetizers this year. Even though we’re not entertaining, I like making things as special as I can for the holidays.
Eating decadent appetizers late into the night while I wrap gifts and watch a movie is something I do every year.
This year these tasty little bites will be included.
Cheese crisps are a popular snack. Each time I go to the grocery store I seem to find some new variety of cheese crisps in the snack aisle. This homemade version carries a little kick to it, however.
To make these line a baking sheet with parchment paper, create rows of cracker sized amounts of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. Top them with cooked, crumbled bacon bit and a slice of jalapeno and bake.
These crispy, spicy snacks make a great easy appetizer.
I promise you I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve been making this chili cheese dip since high school. That was a long time ago. I was first introduced to this at some type of in-class party where everyone brought a dish and the recipe this was served.
It’s so incredibly easy to make and every time we have this in my home it disappears in the blink of an eye.
Putting it together couldn’t be simpler. You take an oven-safe dish, spread a brick of regular cream cheese across the bottom, top it with 1 can of chili, then top that with shredded cheddar cheese and then bake it until is bubbly and golden brown on the top. That’s it!
Trust me, it tastes amazing!
These bacon-wrapped smokies are another favorite of mine. I’ve made these at least half a dozen times and they’ve always turned out fantastic. This is the king of easy appetizers that taste like you put way more time in than you did. You only need 3 ingredients. Get the smokes cocktail sausages from the supermarket, a pack of bacon, and brown sugar to put on top. That’s all.
You can find the full recipe here from AllRecipes.com.
These Cranberry Brie Bites popped up on my Google Discovery page on my phone. I’d been searching for leftover Thanksgiving recipes and shortly after this appeared. They are simple, easy to prep, and delicious.
Here’s another recipe that I’ve made for years. Everyone always raves about this easy cream cheese spread. Essentially all this entails is mixing softened cream cheese with an Italian dressing mix and a little mayonnaise to make the spread.
Then, cut medallion size slices of a french bread loaf from your supermarket bakery and smear the cream cheese mixture on top. Then top it with a cucumber slice and sprinkle it with some dill and you’re done.
They’re really tasty.
If you like briny, vinegary dips, then you’ll like this stuffed celery. It’s another cream cheese-based spread that has diced green olives and walnuts mixed in along with a bit of sour cream. You can use this as a spread on bread, crackers, or stuffed inside little celery stalks like in the image below.
Hot dips always seem to go over well. While I suspect this is a far cry from an authentic Mexican dip, it’s tasty nonetheless. To make this dip, combine a can of Rotel or salsa, thawed and drained frozen spinach, cream cheese, black olives, and Monterey jack cheese in an oven-safe dish. The recipe also calls for evaporated milk, but it’s really not needed.
Heat in the oven until bubbly and golden brown and serve with tortilla chips.
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