Keep those guests happy before the main meal this year with these fantastic and flavorful holiday appetizers. Perfect to whip up for the Christmas party, these appetizers are hearty without being too overly filling. With delicious dishes like crostini toasts, dips, and all kinds of cheeses, these appetizers are sure to become a festive addition to the party.
Southern Cheese PlateSome of our favorite Southern artisanal cheese producers are showcased here with a selection of their fine cheeses. Included is a sampling of sheep, cow, and goat's milk cheeses and suggestions for wine pairings that embrace the flavor profiles of each.
Three-Cheese Spinach and Caramelized Onion Dip
This rich and flavorful dip easily becomes a fun and fancy take on a cheese and spinach dip when topped with crispy pancetta and crunchy fried shallots, which are essentially like mini onion rings. The complex flavors here elevate this dip to more than just your average party fare. It has texture, three cheeses for maximum flavor, and makes enough to serve a crowd. Although be warned, if you make this for a party once, be prepared to be asked to make it again and again!
Beef Tenderloin with Merlot Jam
Beef Tenderloin with Garlic-and-Merlot Jam lends a touch of elegance to an appetizer spread at that special celebration.
Black-Pepper BreadsticksScott Conant serves these tender, peppery breadsticks as a starter. He packs them into a tall glass or plates them with small wedges of La Tur cheese (a dense, buttery Piedmont cheese made from a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk), drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with flaky sea salt.
Mini Cheese Balls
Almond milk cream cheese is delicately nutty, with a buttery-rich texture and zero grams of sat fat. Find it at Whole Foods stores nationwide. You can substitute 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, which adds 1.6g sat fat to each serving.
Green Olive Cheese Puffs
The memory of olives on a crudités plate prompted Kristen Murray, pastry chef and owner of Maurice restaurant in Portland, to add them to classic gougères for a delicious twist.
Wine pairing: Chilled Valdespino "Inocente" Fino Jerez ($15), clean and elegant with classic notes of almonds and green olives, and a long, intense finish.
All the iconic flavors of this Southern stew are skewered together into bite-size Grits-and-Gumbo Tarts.
Lemon-Caper Parmesan Potato Salad Bites
Turn "jacket potatoes" into irresistible potato salad bites. Capers offer a twist on traditional relish; they're actually pickled flower buds and add bright, briny flavor to this appetizer.
Antipasto PlateA creamy red bell pepper dip and sweet-savory caponata spread are paired with thinly sliced prosciutto from the deli and purchased crackers for an easy antipasto plate. Add fresh fruit and use an assortment of crackers, if you prefer. Both the dip and the spread can be made and refrigerated up to a day in advance; serve them chilled or at room temperature.
Honey-Rosemary Cherries and Blue Cheese CrostiniBegin your party casually by offering this appetizer "help yourself" style. Or, make up single-serving plates and present as a first course at the table.
Sweet Potato CrostiniSpicy, sweet, and totally addictive, this easy appetizer starts with preseasoned fries.
Pepper-Glazed Goat Cheese GratinThis warm, sweet-spicy goat cheese dip is an easy alternative to a cheese plate.
Baked Camembert with PearsA splash of pear brandy plus maple syrup and Spanish almonds put a modern spin on baked Brie.
Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean DipIf you can't find baby artichoke hearts, use quartered artichoke hearts and chop them. Serve this warm dip with your favorite multigrain crackers.
Candied Bacon Sticks with Garlic Butter Drizzle
Sweet and salty bacon wrapped around crunchy breadsticks makes for heaven on a stick. Crunchy, salty, and with just the right amount of garlic to give bacon the upper hand (not that it needs it) these crispy appetizers are the perfect way to get the party started. Thin breadsticks can be found in the cracker aisle at the grocery store, and be sure to use thin-sliced bacon to easily wrap around these breadsticks. Feeling even more daring? Uses these flavorful sticks to stir up a savory-sweet cocktail.
Pigs in an Everything Blanket with Cream Cheese Dip
Two finger food favorites collide as pigs in a blanket get an everything bagel makeover. Rather than the traditional canned biscuit or croissant dough, the "blanket" of this playful appetizer is made with fresh pizza dough that is first boiled, brushed with egg wash, and rolled in an "everything" seasoning blend (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried minced onion, dried minced garlic, and coarse salt) before being baked. Using a yeasted dough and this double cooking method is what gives these tailgate-ready bites their bagel personality. Serve them up with a tangy cream cheese dip for a party-perfect snack platter.
Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs
Two appetizer favorites team up for one incredible bite in these pimiento cheese-loaded deviled eggs. Combining two types of cheese creates a robust, smoky-sharp flavor for the eggs' filling that's richened even further by the addition of egg yolks. Especially for deviled eggs (when keeping the white intact counts most), steaming is the way to go. This cooking technique makes for near foolproof, easy peeling--the egg shells practically slip right off. Just make sure to give the hot eggs a few minutes to rest in ice water, this makes a huge difference when it comes time to peel the shells off.
Goat Cheese CrostiniAmazing how a little garlicky goat cheese turns toast into something much more special.
Goat Cheese Log with Muscadine JellyFor a super-easy appetizer, coat a log of goat cheese with chopped pecans and serve with muscadine jelly and crackers. This recipe includes directions for making the muscadine jelly, but you could use a jar of store-bought fruit preserves. If you’re giving jars of homemade muscadine jelly for holiday gifts, this would be a great recipe to attach to the jar.
Classic Pimiento Cheese
Make this Classic Pimiento Cheese ahead and serve as a sandwich or a dip.