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More Than 30 Easy Elegant Cocktail Party Appetizers That Will Rule Your Next Soiree

Guests Toasting With Cocktail Party Appetizers

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The holiday party detail that separates the women from the girls? Having a few cocktail party appetizers that are elegant but oh-so-easy to prepare.

It’s tempting to go all Martha Stewart at your party and overdue the homemade food.

But as we’ve gotten wiser about our party hosting, we’ve learned to buy some excellent cheeses and superb charcuterie and concentrate on a handful of homemade cocktail party appetizers that knock it out of the park.

Our Best Cocktail Party Appetizers

Here are more than 30 cocktail party appetizers recipes that fit the bill:

Dip Cocktail Party Appetizer Recipes

Carrot Harissa Hummus Recipe

Carrot Harissa Hummus Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian

A veggie-filled, slightly smoky twist on hummus, we keep this around for everything from a healthy gift-wrapping session snack to cocktail parties.

Make-Ahead: Can be made up to three days ahead.  

Pepita Pesto Roasted Butternut Squash Dip Recipe

Pepita Pesto Roasted Butternut Squash Dip Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian

Raise your hand if you’re always and forever ISO that cocktail party appetizer. You know, the one that can feed pretty much anyone? As in the allergy-free recipe, easy to make, and a crowd-pleaser? Well, friends, this Pepita Pesto Roasted Butternut Squash Dip Recipe is just that.

Make-Ahead: Can be made up to three days ahead.  

Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Hummus Recipe

Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Hummus With Toasted Pepitas Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian

Another welcome twist on classic hummus is this version of whirring together roasted garlic, herbs, pumpkin, and maple syrup. It has all the best fall flavors and is completely comforting while being healthy.

Make-Ahead: Can be made up to three days ahead.  

Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Dip Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Dip Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian

Inspired by the classic Spanish sauce known as romesco, this Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Dip Recipe is one of our most popular cocktail party appetizer recipes. The only problem is how crave-worthy it is. 

Make-Ahead: Can be made up to three days ahead.  

Vegetarian Cocktail Party Appetizer Recipes

Blue Cheese and Pear Puff Pastry Bites Recipe

Blue Cheese and Pear Puff Pastry Bites Recipe

nut-free, vegetarian

These Blue Cheese and Pear Puff Pastry Bites are a little sweet, salty, and majorly crave-worthy. 

Make Ahead: Bites can be baked up to two days ahead of time. Rewarm in a low oven before serving.

Burrata Smashed Green Olive Bruschetta Recipe

Burrata Smashed Green Olive Bruschetta Recipe

gluten-free, vegetarian

This is one of those olive recipe appetizers you’ll repeatedly turn to because it’s make-ahead, easy to assemble, and can be made gluten-free. The combination of green olives, roasted pistachios, citrus, mint, and olive oil is perfection and brings freshness and vibrance to any season.

Make-Ahead: The olive topping and bruschetta can be made up to two days ahead.  Assemble within one hour of serving.

Caramelized Onion & Roasted Butternut Squash Danish Recipe

Caramelized Onion & Butternut Squash Danish Recipe

nut-free, vegetarian

The best thing about this cocktail party appetizer recipe? If you have leftovers, they’re as tasty for breakfast with a cup of coffee as an app.

Make-Ahead: The danish be made up to one day ahead.  

Chile And Cocoa Spiced Snack Mix Recipe

Cocoa-Chile Sweet Spicy Snack Mix Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian

If you combined your favorite chocolate mole and ChexMix, we imagine you’d end up with something like this spicy sweet snack mix! Use gluten-free pretzels to make it gluten-free. 

Make-Ahead: Can be made up to three days ahead.  

Toasted Coconut Kettle Corn Popcorn Recipe

Coconut Kettle Corn Popcorn Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian

We firmly believe that any party with popcorn is only made more delicious. This stovetop kettle corn takes a second to make and gets eaten faster!

Make-Ahead: Can be made up to one day ahead.  

Gougères Tea Sandwiches With Mint, Date Paste, and Goat Cheese Recipe

Tea Sandwiches With Dates, Goat Cheese, and Mint Recipe

vegetarian

This is it if you’re looking for a total curve ball of a cocktail party appetizer. We take gougeres (aka French cheese puffs) and layer them with fresh mint, goat cheese, and date spread for a sweet-salty bite that is a favorite!

Make-Ahead: The gougeres and date paste can be made up to one day ahead.  Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Fennel Mascarpone Brie Puff Pastry Bites Recipe

Mascarpone Fennel Puff Pastry Bites Recipe

nut-free, vegetarian

Slowly caramelizing the fennel and pairing them with creamy mascarpone cheese makes these little puff pastry bites carve-worthy.

Make-Ahead: Bites be baked up to three days ahead.  Rewarm in a low oven and top with garnishes just before serving. 

Mixed Mushroom Toasts with Parsley Salad Recipe

Mixed Mushroom Toasts with Parsley Salad Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian

Sauteed mushrooms get topped with parsley salad, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and balsamic for simple but flavorful toasts. Make them bite-sized for a crowd-favorite cocktail party appetizer.

Make-Ahead: Toasts and mushrooms be made up to one day ahead.  Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Pear Cranberry Brie Mini Tartlets Recipe

Pear Cranberry Brie Mini Tartlets Recipe 

nut-free, vegetarian

We’ve all had that classic holiday appetizer of cranberry brie bites, yes? We modernize it with just 5 minutes extra cooking time by adding in sage-scented pears, pomegranate seeds, and a hot honey garnish.

Make-Ahead: Tartlets can be baked up to three days ahead.  Rewarm in a low oven and top with garnishes just before serving. 

Fried Sage, Goat Cheese Persimmon Bites Recipe

Persimmon and Goat Cheese Bites Recipe 

gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian

If ever there was an appetizer that was as equally impressive as it was a low fuss, this would be it. Fry the sage days ahead and then assemble when you’re party starts, and you’re good to go!

Make-Ahead: Sage be fried up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Pistachio Cranberry Honey Bake Cheese Appetizer Recipe

Pistachio Cranberry Honey Baked Cheese Appetizer Recipe

gluten-free, vegetarian

This Pistachio Cranberry Honey Bake Cheese Appetizer Recipe is easily one of the easiest recipes of all time. Make it with any combination of dried fruit or nuts you have and with anything from Bried to goat cheese.

Make-Ahead: Make within 30 minutes of serving. 

Radicchio Salad Cups With Maple Lemon Dressing Recipe

Radicchio Cups With Maple Lemon Cream Sauce Recipe

gluten-free, vegetarian

Healthy-ish, loaded with fall flavors, and totally elegant, these salad cups do take some time to assemble, but they’re well worth the effort. And the Maple Lemon Cream sauce is fabulous; we insist you make it even if you never make these salad cups!

Make-Ahead: Maple lemon cream sauce can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Roasted Sweet Potato Chips with Whipped Goat Cheese Recipe

Roasted Sweet Potato Chips with Whipped Goat Cheese Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian

This sweet potato appetizer consists of crisp potato chips scattered across whipped goat cheese. It may sound like a healthy plant-based appetizer, but that is discounting. The smoky, crisp, sweet potato combined with the ethereally light, sweet, peppery, herbed goat cheese is pure hors d’oeuvres magic.

Make-Ahead: Chips can be baked, and goat cheese can be whipped up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Grape Blue Cheese Mini Focaccia Appetizers

Grape Blue Cheese Mini Focaccia Recipe

nut-free, vegetarian

Another no-brainer? Making freshly baked bread topped with deliciousness. We vote for this sweet-pungent grape and blue cheese mini focaccia that pair well with anything from bubbles to a classic cocktail.

Make-Ahead: Focaccia can be baked up to two days ahead. Rewarm in a low oven before serving.

Kaffir Lime Peanuts

Spicy Kaffir Lime Peanuts Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian

What’s the best way to keep your hands busy during a conversation? Peanuts! This spicy, Thai-inspired version is our go-to for a chic twist on the classic party snack.

Make-Ahead: Peanuts be made up to two days ahead. 

{Supplì Al Telefono} Tomato Basil Risotto Balls Appetizer Recipe

{Supplì al telefono} Tomato Mozzarella Basil Risotto Balls Recipe

nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian

Usually, we’re anti-fried food or anything that keeps you in the kitchen for a cocktail party, but these risotto balls are a major exception. You can 100% make them ahead (even fry them) and then reheat them in the oven right before serving! Use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make it gluten-free. 

Make-Ahead: The risotto balls can be made up to one day ahead. Then you can coat and fry them up to four hours ahead. Keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

Meat Cocktail Party Appetizer Recipes

Gougeres French Cheese Puff Appetizers

{Gougères} Pancetta Fontina Cheese Puffs Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free

Souffles, Croque Monsieurs, omelets, when it comes to making cheese reach regal heights, the French are total masters. So it’s no wonder these Gougères, aka cheese puffs, are always a hit at our cocktail parties. Use gluten-free flour to make it gluten-free.

Make-Ahead: Puffs can be baked up to two days ahead. Rewarm in a low oven within 30 minutes of serving. 

Grape Agrodolce Sauce Recipe

Rosemary Grape Agrodolce With Prosciutto Crostini Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian

Another take on sweet-sour agrodolce that we adore? This grape version contains pine nuts, currants, rosemary, and shallots. It’s fabulous atop bread with curls of prosciutto, but you could add in cheese or use it as a topping for roasted salmon, grilled steak, or seared pork chops. Use gluten-free bread and leave off the prosciutto to make it gluten-free and vegetarian.

Make-Ahead: Agrodolce sauce can be made, and sauce can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Manchego Arugula Bresaola Hand Roll Recipe

Bresaola Hand Rolls Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free

Like the little black dress of cocktail appetizers, we turn to these Bresaola Hand Rolls repeatedly and never tire of them.

Make-Ahead:  Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Chicken Tinga Tostada Recipe

Chicken Tinga Tostadas Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

ISO an app that’s more of a meal but still simple and made ahead? Then you’ll be all about this recipe of slow-cooked shredded chipotle chicken tostadas!

Make-Ahead: Tinga can be made and tostadas baked up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Mini Potato Skins With Chorizo Recipe

Mini Potato Skins Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free

Yes, these are an excuse to eat potato skins in a fancy setting, but they’re a perfect appetizer recipe because they can be made way ahead.

Make-Ahead: Potatoes can be baked, and filling can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble and bake within 30 minutes of serving. 

Taiwanese Night Market Popcorn Chicken Recipe

Night Market Popcorn Chicken Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

This Taiwanese version of popcorn chicken has tons of spices and fried basil for an unexpected twist but is equally crave-worthy.

Make-Ahead: Make within 30 minutes of serving. 

Savory Palmiers Appetizer Recipe

{Palmiers Façon Provençale} Savory Mini Palmiers Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian

We go for the roll of all-butter puff pastry sitting in our freezer whenever we want to impress. And trust us, this classic French pastry never disappoints. Use gluten-free puff pastry dough to make it gluten-free.

Make-Ahead: Palmiers can be baked up to two days ahead. Serve at room temperature or rewarm in a low oven before serving.

{Sfoglia alla Valdostana} Fontina and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Squares Recipe

{Sfoglia alla Valdostana} Fontina and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Bites Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian

The marriage of creamy Fontina and ham is our favorite ham and cheese combo. In this {Sfoglia alla Valdostana} Fontina and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Squares Recipe, that classic flavor seen in Italy’s Valdostana region gets tucked into puff pastry for a party-friendly appetizer.

Make-Ahead: Puff pastry squares can be baked up to two days ahead. Serve at room temperature or rewarm in a low oven before serving.

Spanish Tortilla Appetizer Recipe

Spanish Potato Chip Tortilla Bites Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free

If you adore Spanish tortillas as much as we do, then you’ll love this version of the classic recipe made much easier thanks to store-bought potato chips!

Make-Ahead: Tortilla bites can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Speck-Wrapped Persimmons With Balsamic Honey Glaze Recipe

Speck-Wrapped Persimmons With Balsamic Honey Glaze Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

We don’t know about you, but we can never get enough of prosciutto and melon in our lives. When the melon is no longer in season, we switch to persimmons and top it with this inky sweet-tart balsamic honey glaze.

Make-Ahead: Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Seafood Cocktail Party Appetizer Recipes

{Aguachile Verde} Sinaloa-Style Chile Lime Marinated Shrimp Recipe

{Aguachile Verde} Chile Lime Marinated Shrimp Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

For something more laidback, turn to this Mexican twist on ceviche known as Aguachile. Shrimp marinated in a bright herb and chile sauce, and you serve it with tostadas!

Make-Ahead: Tostadas be baked up to two days ahead. Make the aguachile within 4 hours of serving. 

Halibut Ceviche With Mango And Avocado Recipe

Halibut Ceviche With Mango And Avocado Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

With mango, chiles, and coconut milk, this ceviche brings vibrancy and freshness to any cocktail party!

Make-Ahead: Make the ceviche within 4 hours of serving. 

Meyer Lemon Herbed Crab Bites Appetizer Recipe On A Serving Tray

Meyer Lemon Crab Bites Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free

Are you looking for something elegant, easy, and doable for everyone, from your gluten-free friends to low-carb people? These crab bites are a perfect choice.

Make-Ahead: Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Oysters With Pomegranate Mignonette Granita Recipe

Oysters With Pomegranate Mignonette Granita Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

Yes, great oysters are incredible, with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon. But, when you want to up the ante, turn to this sweet, tangy, tart pomegranate mignonette granita that’s as tasty as it is beautiful!

Make-Ahead: Granita can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Scallop Crudo With Jalapeño Citrus Sauce Recipe

Citrus Jalapeno Sauce Scallop Crudo Recipe

 dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

Speaking of pulling out the stops, pulling out some uber-fresh seafood pretty much always impresses guests. If you have access to excellent scallops, this crudo with a spicy tart topping is a must-make.

Make-Ahead: Avocado topping can be made up to two hours ahead. Assemble within 30 minutes of serving. 

Smoked Salmon Rillettes Appetizer In A Bowl

{Salmon Rillettes} Smoked Salmon Spread Recipe

gluten-free, nut-free

Imagine your favorite lox and schmear combo did a semester abroad in France, and you’ve got an idea of how this effortlessly elegant Smoked Salmon & Herbed Creme Fraiche Spread tastes.

Make-Ahead: Rillettes can be made up to two days ahead. Bring to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Spicy Pickled Shrimp Appetizer Recipe In A Jar

Spicy Citrus Pickled Shrimp Recipe

dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free

Why do we love the South? Because they pickle things we’d never imagine pickling — from watermelon rinds to shrimp — and it always tastes fantastic. This riff on a classic pickled shrimp recipe is a bit citrusy, spicy, and way more interesting than any store-bought ring of shrimp and cocktail sauce.

Make-Ahead: Shrimp can be made up to two days ahead. 

More Entertaining Ideas

Need some more help planning your holiday menu? Check out our classiest cocktails and our top tips for holiday entertaining


Opening photo by Cameron Whitman

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