table full of appetizers - best party foods

Anyone who has ever hosted a party knows this conundrum all too well: what kind of food is best to serve to your guests? Or if your guests offer to bring food, what should you tell them to bring? What makes a good party food? 

First and foremost, it has to be delicious. Next, it needs to be quick and easy to eat and shareable. People are walking around, having conversations and carrying drinks in their hands. So, the food cannot be anything too cumbersome, clunky or messy. Foods that require several pieces of silverware, lots of napkins or two hands to eat are not ideal party foods. On your end, party food should also be easy to make as you’re going to be preparing it for lots of people. Here are some great ideas for easy yet incredibly tasty dishes that you can serve at your next party. 

Party Dips 

Dips are some of the best party foods; they are fun, easy and the ultimate crowd-pleasers. Just put out a bowl of dip and surround it with chips, crackers, veggies, pita, pretzels or anything else dippable. That way everyone can pass by and take as much as they please. Whether it be salsa, guacamole, bruschetta, hummus or just some classic chip dip, there is no shortage of incredibly easy, incredibly tasty dips that your guests will be sure to love. Here are some delicious dips to try at your next gathering. 

French Onion Chip Dip 

Rating: 4.5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $13.00
Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Additional Time: 15 Minutes Total Time: 55 Minutes

Everyone has had chip dip from a tub before but making your own chip dip is easy and so much more delicious than store-bought. This is a riff on the classic French Onion Chip Dip where deeply caramelized onions are flavored with thyme, garlic, red wine and cracked pepper before being folded into sour cream. Think of this dip as almost like a dry French Onion Soup, rich and full of complex, profound flavors. Serve this with your favorite brand of potato chips. 

2 ounces (56 grams) butter 
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large yellow onions, diced medium
4 cloves of garlic, minced 
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
 salt and pepper to taste
potato chips for serving

1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add onions, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat until onions are deep brown and caramelized.
2. Add the red wine to the pan and cook until absorbed. 
3. Remove the onions from the heat, take out the thyme sprigs and allow the onions to cool for 15 minutes. 
4. Mix the cooked onions with the sour cream and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
5. Serve chilled with your favorite potato chips. 

Cream Cheese with Hot Pepper Jelly 

Rating: 5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $12.00
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Additional Time: 20 Minutes Total Time: 55 Minutes

Cream cheese with hot pepper jelly is a fun and interactive party appetizer. To make your own delicious pepper jelly, simply sauté some diced hot peppers, onions and garlic then add some sugar, salt and vinegar and allow the mixture to cook down until it reaches a thick, jelly-like consistency. Then pour this jelly over some softened cream cheese and serve with a butter knife and some crackers. The jelly has an acidic, tangy, sweet-spicy flavor that perfectly cuts through the rich, fatty cream cheese. Some crunchy, buttery crackers bring all the flavors home for an exceptional party food. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, diced small
4 jalapenos, with seeds, diced small
1 large yellow onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup sugar 
1 16 ounce (450 grams) brick of cream cheese, softened 
crackers for serving

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot. 
2. Sauté the peppers, onions, and garlic for 2 minutes until onions are translucent. 
3. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. 
4. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid cooks out and it reaches a sticky, jam consistency.
5. Allow jelly to cool for 20 minutes. 
6. Place softened cream cheese on a serving platter and pour jelly over cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

S’mores Dip with Graham Crackers 

Rating: 5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $10.00
Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 5 Minutes Additional Time: n/a Total Time: 10 Minutes

If you’re looking for a fun, creative party dip that is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth, look no further. This dip is a riff on s’mores, the classic campfire treat. Milk chocolate is melted in a skillet with heavy cream to make a smooth, decadent ganache. Then, this chocolate is topped with melty, golden-brown, crispy toasted marshmallows. Use some graham crackers to scoop up this delicious molten mixture. Bring this to your next cottage weekend or bring the campfire party into your house party.  

1 16 ounce (450 grams) bag of milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1 bag large s’more marshmallows
graham crackers for serving

1. Preheat the broiler on the oven.
2. Heat heavy cream over low heat in a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet.
3. Add chocolate chips to the cream, cook on low heat just until chocolate is melted while stirring constantly, be careful not to burn the chocolate. 
4. Remove from heat. Top the chocolate with marshmallows, be sure that the marshmallows cover completely and there are no gaps of chocolate. Place under the broiler and broil just until marshmallows are golden brown and toasted. 
5. Serve while hot with graham crackers.

Toothpick Party Foods

plates of toothpick party foods

Nothing says fun and whimsical like eating food off of a tiny stick. So many delicious foods can be put on a stick to create sensational appetizers. Toothpick foods are wonderful for parties because they give your guests quick, exciting bites of deliciousness without any hassle. No forks, knives, napkins or plates required. Since toothpick foods are just one or two bites, they’re simple and easy to put together. 

Teriyaki Pineapple Bites

Rating: 4.5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $10.00
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 35 Minutes Additional Time: n/a Total Time: 50 Minutes

Bring some tropical flare to your party spread with these simple, delicious teriyaki pineapple bites. Simply roast some chunks of pineapple and toss them in a sticky teriyaki glaze for a delightful snack. Roasting the pineapple concentrates and caramelizes the sugars, giving it a toasted, caramelly sweetness that is delicious with the salty, tangy teriyaki glaze. Lay these roasted chunks out on a platter, stick a toothpick in them, and garnish them with toasted sesame seeds for an addictive party treat. 

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 large pineapple, diced into large cubes 
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups Teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
2. Coat pineapple chunks in the oil and salt, place on a foil-lined sheet tray and roast for 20-25 minutes or until soft. 
3. Combine the Teriyaki, ginger, vinegar, water, and sugar together in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes or until it reaches a sticky, glaze-like consistency.
4. Remove the pineapple from the oven, pour half the glaze over the pineapple and stir to coat. Turn the oven onto broil.
5. Return coated pineapple to the oven, place under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the pineapple chunks are slightly charred. 
6. Remove pineapple from the oven, put onto a serving platter. Drizzle the remaining glaze on top of the pineapple. Garnish with sesame seeds. 
7. Place toothpicks into the pineapple chunks and serve immediately. 

Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates 

Rating: 5/5 Serves: 16 Dates Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $12.00
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: n/a Additional Time: n/a Total Time: 15 Minutes

Blue cheese and dates are a classic pairing. The combination is sweet, a little salty and deliciously funky. This recipe is simple and fun to make. Mix your favorite blue cheese together with some chives, a little lemon zest, some cream and some salt and pepper to make the filling. Then, cut a slit in the dates, take out the pits, stuff and seal them. That’s it, delicious party appetizer done. These wonderful little morsels are terrific with white wine. 

6 ounces (170 grams) blue cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream 
6 chives, thinly sliced
zest of 1 lemon 
salt and pepper to taste
16 dried dates, slit open and pitted 

1. Mix together the cheese, cream, chives, and lemon until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
2. Stuff a little bit of the filling into each date and seal closed. Serve on a plate with toothpicks.

Caprese Salad Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle

Rating: 4.5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $14.00
Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Additional Time: n/a Total Time: 40 Minutes

These Caprese Salad skewers are a fun, whimsical take on a classic dish. It’s got everything you love about caprese salad: the tangy tomato, the fresh basil and the creamy mozzarella cheese all on a little stick. Skewer little cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, and basil leaves together on a toothpick. Put these on a platter, dress them with some salt, pepper, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction to have delightful little bites of caprese salad goodness. 

1 16-ounce (450 grams) container mini mozzarella balls
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (halved depending size)
16 medium to small basil leaves
olive oil for dressing 
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Combine vinegar, sugar, and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until it reaches a syrupy, glaze-like consistency. 
2. While the glaze is cooking, skewer one mozzarella ball, one piece of tomato, and one basil leaf onto toothpicks. 
3. Lay skewers out onto a platter and sprinkle a little salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over each skewer. 
4. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the skewers and serve. 

Herb-Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Balls 

Rating: 5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $13.00
Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: n/a Additional Time: 30 Minutes Total Time: 50 Minutes

This one is for the goat cheese lovers. Goat cheese is wonderfully tasty on its own, but these goat cheese balls take it to new delicious heights. To prepare these tasty little spheres, mix some goat cheese in with a little softened cream cheese, season it up and roll it into little balls. Let the mix chill for a bit to set, then roll these balls of goat cheese in chopped toasted pecans and fresh chopped herbs. Stick a toothpick in them, serve them chilled and watch the goat cheese lovers swoon.

8 ounces goat cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
zest and juice of 1 lemon 
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 sprigs thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

1. Mix goat cheese, cream cheese, lemon and herbs together until smooth. Allow the mixture to chill in the fridge for twenty minutes. 
2. Use a tablespoon to scoop out portions of the cheese mixture, roll into smooth balls then roll in toasted pecans. 
3. Place a toothpick in the top of each ball and allow to chill in the freezer for 10 minutes to set. Serve chilled. 

Party Finger Foods 

Some of the most rewarding foods are eaten with the hands. When you’re at a party, you don’t want to fuss around with plates and silverware. Finger foods are wonderful for serving at parties as people can just pick them up with their hands and start eating. Since finger foods are smaller, making them allows you to get creative and serve several different dishes to dazzle your guests. While these foods are smaller, they’re still just hearty enough that a few of them will ensure nobody leaves hungry. 

Spicy Indian Popcorn with Lime and Cilantro 

Rating: 5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $10.00
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Additional Time: n/a Total Time: 20 Minutes

When you have company over, putting out a bowl of popcorn is an easy win. But to turn that win into a blowout, try jazzing up your popcorn with some bold and exciting flavors. Toasted aromatic spices like turmeric, ginger, chili powder and cumin will make this bowl of popcorn taste like a buttery, crunchy bowl of curry. Top this popcorn with a splash of fresh lime and some chopped cilantro for some bright, fresh flavors.

10 cups cooked popcorn 
6 ounces (170 grams) melted butter 
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
2 teaspoons chili powder 
1 teaspoon cumin 
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper 
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
zest and juice of 1 lime 

1. Toast all the spices together in a sauté pan.
2. Toss the popcorn together with the butter, spices, and salt in a large bowl. 
3. Top the popcorn with the lime and cilantro. 

Buffalo-Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs 

Rating: 4/5 Serves: 24 Deviled Eggs Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $12.00
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cook Time: n/a Additional Time: n/a Total Time: 30 Minutes

Deviled eggs are a brunch staple, but they can also be a dinnertime party favorite. This dish puts a tasty twist on deviled eggs by combining them with the traditional flavors of buffalo wings. Mix the egg yolks with a little blue cheese dressing, a couple dashes of hot sauce and some chopped celery to create the perfect deviled egg–buffalo wing crossover.  

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, chilled and peeled
3 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 ribs of celery, diced fine 
salt and pepper to taste
chopped chives for garnish

1. Cut the cooked eggs in half. Carefully remove the cooked yolks from the eggs and set the whites aside. 
2. Mix the yolks together with the hot sauce, yogurt, cheese crumbles, mustard and celery. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
3. Spoon a little of the egg yolk mixture into the empty egg whites. Garnish with chopped chives and serve chilled. 

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Dijon Dipping Sauce

Rating: 4.5/5 Serves: 8 Appetizer Servings Difficulty: Easy Approx. Cost: $13.00
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 25 Minutes Additional Time: n'a Total Time: 40 Minutes

Fingerling potatoes have a rustic elegance that makes them perfect to put on a party spread. They’re creamy, buttery and delicious little potatoes that roast wonderfully. Here, just keep it simple by roasting them with a little garlic and thyme and serving them with a tangy Dijon mustard dipping sauce. These are almost like a classier version of French fries to serve at your next gathering. 

1 pound fingerling potatoes (cut in half lengthwise) 
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme 
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper for seasoning 
1/4 cup mayo
2/3 cup Dijon mustard  
2 tablespoons honey 
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 425F (220C).
2. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. 
3. Place potatoes onto a sheet tray and roast for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. 
4. Mix the mayo, mustard, honey and vinegar together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
5. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Remove the garlic cloves and thyme. 
6. Serve potatoes immediately while hot with dipping sauce. 

feature image: Kaboompics; image 1: Kelly Hau