Our Best Portable Appetizers

Choose these easy, no-mess appetizers when you need to take a dish to the party and feel confident that it will be perfect when you arrive.

  • Roquefort Cheesecake with Pear Preserves and Pecans
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl

    Roquefort Cheesecake with Pear Preserves and Pecans

    Make this savory cheesecake and let it chill overnight, or longer. It’s easy to transport to a party on a platter since there’s nothing to spill or jiggle. When you get to the party, top the cheesecake with preserves and pecans.
  • Basil Aïoli with Crudités
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Linda Hirst

    Basil Aïoli with Crudités

    Make a simple, herbed aioli for dipping crunchy veggies. We like baby carrots, endive, and asparagus, but you could use any fresh seasonal vegetables.
  • Chicken Salad Pitas
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck

    Chicken Salad Pitas

    Pepper jelly adds a sweet-hot note to Chicken Salad Pitas. And you'll love the extra zing from lemon zest and ground red pepper that's been added to these appetizer sandwiches.
  • Pecan-Rosemary-Cheddar Buttons
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck

    Pecan-Rosemary-Cheddar Buttons

    Pecan-Rosemary-Cheddar Buttons combine nutty pecans and earthy rosemary to create a robust riff on the average Cheddar cheese straw.
  • Pepper Jack Grits Poppers
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck

    Pepper Jack Grits Poppers

    Prep everything before you arrive, and then pop the peppers until the broiler for a few minutes just before serving.
  • Fingerling Potatoes with Avocado and Smoked Salmon
    Photo: Jim Franco; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

    Fingerling Potatoes with Avocado and Smoked Salmon

    Potato halves serve as the base of savory Fingerling Potatoes with Avocado and Smoked Salmon appetizers.
  • Smoked Salmon Dip
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Jan Gautro

    Smoked Salmon Dip

    Smoked salmon is always a special treat, and this creamy dip is a great way to feature its rich flavor. Since it’s a relatively thick dip, it’s easy to transport in a festive serving dish covered with plastic wrap. You can pre-chop some fresh veggies to serve with the dip, or just buy a package of breadsticks or crackers.
  • Black-Eyed Pea Pâté
    Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas  

    Black-Eyed Pea Pâté

    A touch of salty country ham and shiitake mushrooms adds deep flavor to this earthy, creamy Southern spread. Serve with crostini.
  • Contemporary Shrimp Cocktail
    Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas  

    Contemporary Shrimp Cocktail

    Revive this party staple by setting out a bountiful platter of shrimp with three bowls of zingy new sauces: Avocado Cream, Tequila-Lime Cocktail Sauce, and Ginger Rémoulade.
  • Olive-Blue Moons
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck

    Olive-Blue Moons

    Spanish olives and blue cheese bring distinct flavor to each bite of savory Olive-Blue Moons.
  • Vanilla-Spice Nuts
    Photo: Sang An; Styling: Christina Wressel

    Vanilla-Spice Nuts

    Add festive holiday flavor to toasted mixed nuts with vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. Spiced nuts are close to being the perfect portable appetizer: make-ahead, no liquids to spill during transport, no reheating required, and an empty, non-messy bowl guaranteed at the end of the party.
  • Asparagus-Blue Cheese Canapés
    Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

    Asparagus-Blue Cheese Canapés

    Not a blue cheese fan? Use any soft, crumbly cheese you like atop these bite-sized toast squares.
  • Country Chicken Pâté

    Country Chicken Pâté

    You can't go wrong with an appetizer that's served at room temperature. This rich-and-creamy spread is best accompanied by a French bread baguette, coarse-grained mustard, and crunchy gherkins.
  • Cranberry-Goat Cheese Canapés
    Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas  

    Cranberry-Goat Cheese Canapés

    Make Ahead: Stir together the cranberry mixture up to 3 days ahead of time. Assemble the canapés the day of your party.
  • Curried Crab Spread
    Photography: Karry Hosford

    Curried Crab Spread

    This tangy seafood spread with crostini is an all-around schedule-saver–you can prepare it up to two days in advance of your party and whisk it right out the door. To save even more time, serve with crackers instead of baking the bread slices for the crostini.
  • Mustard-Dill Tortellini Salad Skewers
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

    Mustard-Dill Tortellini Salad Skewers

    Crunched for time? Nix the skewers, and toss salad with 1/2 cup of dressing just before serving. Spoon into a pretty bowl, and garnish with a dill sprig.
  • Asian-Spiced Pecans
    Becky Luigart-Stayner; Leigh Ann Ross

    Asian-Spiced Pecans

    Freeze a batch of these at the start of the holiday season, and you'll always have finger food ready to go – they'll keep in your freezer for up to a month. For easy transport, just put them in a glass jar and take an extra one to leave as gift for your host.
  • Millionaire's Candied Bacon
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller  

    Millionaire's Candied Bacon

    Offer guests sweet-savory bites of Millionaire's Candied Bacon at your next party. You'll be amazed at how quickly they disappear!
  • Savory Spiced Shortbreads
    Annabelle Breakey

    Savory Spiced Shortbreads

    These savory shortbread rounds will be a welcome addition to any party and are sturdy enough to travel. In addition to the batch you're bringing for guest to enjoy, package a few extra in a decorative box and give as a hostess gift along with a bottle of wine.
  • Smoked Salmon-Cardamom Spread
    Photo: Jan Smith

    Smoked Salmon-Cardamom Spread

    Even though this make-ahead spread is super easy, the smoked salmon adds a bit of sophistication. You can't go wrong when you show up with this tasty salmon appetizer, and you an be assured that you won't be taking any back home.
  • Mini Bacon and Potato Frittatas
    Jeff Kauck

    Mini Bacon and Potato Frittatas

    Our savory little frittatas can be prepared up to a month in advance and frozen until ready to use, when they'll just need a quick reheat in your host's oven.
  • Baked Beef Empanadas
    Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke

    Baked Beef Empanadas

    You have a choice with these to-go appetizers – serve them at room temperature or reheat at your destination. Guests will devour them either way.
  • Traditional Hummus
    Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr, Jan Gautro, Leigh Ann Ross

    Traditional Hummus

    When you take a dip to a party, it's a good idea to take a thick dip that's not likely to slosh out of the dish during transport. A creamy, garlicky bean dip like this one is ideal, especially since it's supposed to stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving. Just bring along a bag of pita chips for dippers.
  • Olive and Onion Tapenade
    Randy Mayor; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Olive and Onion Tapenade

    Transform the party olive tray into a tasty, take-along tapenade. Serve this pungent, salty spread with baguette slices and crudités.
  • Cranberry-Pecan Cheese Wafers
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Buffy Hargett

    Cranberry-Pecan Cheese Wafers

    These savory, buttery cheese wafers have just a touch of sweetness from the dried cranberries and are perfect for a holiday cocktail buffet. You can transport and serve them in a festive tin or put them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and arrange on a platter when you get to the party.
  • Garlicky Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm
    Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Garlicky Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm

    This thick, hearty dip is definitely travel worthy. If your trip is under 15 minutes, go ahead and bake it before you leave the house and it'll be fine when you arrive.
  • Cranberry-Jalapeno Salsa
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Buffy Hargett

    Cranberry-Jalapeño Salsa

    Offer a festive alternative to tomato salsa during the holidays with this make-ahead salsa featuring fresh cranberries and jalapeño pepper. You can make the salsa up to a month ahead and freeze. When it’s time to take it to the party, just thaw, spoon into a serving bowl, and bring along a bag of tortilla chips.
  • Chipotle Shrimp Cups
    Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke

    Chipotle Shrimp Cups

    The components of this deceptively easy appetizer can be prepared the night before. Then, just assemble and heat before you hit the road or when you arrive at your destination.
  • Artichoke and Fennel Caponata

    Artichoke and Fennel Caponata

    Because this chunky vegetable spread can be served at room temperature or chilled, it's a great recipe to take to a party. Serve with sturdy crackers, pita chips, or toasted bread slices.
  • Cheese Straws
    Ralph Anderson

    Cheese Straws

    Make several batches of these easy cheese straws before the holiday season gets started, and freeze them in heavy-duty zip-lock plastic bags. When you need something to take to a party, just take some out of the freeze about 30 minutes before you leave. Take them to the party in the bag and arrange them on a platter or in julep cups after you arrive.
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