Randy Mayor

Appetizers you can prepare, freeze, then heat and serve as needed are a real gift. Whether you're short on time or you're big into time-saving meal prep, these crowd-pleasing appetizers are sure to help you out in a time crunch. From dumplings, to homemade crackers, to dips and spreads, there's something for every occasion.

November 13, 2007

Your free time may be in short supply during the holidays, as one event after another fills the calendar. And the gatherings you host are naturally the most demanding. But a little planning can ensure success. Prepare party food while you have spare time, and then freeze it well in advance of the festivities.

We've assembled a variety of simple, delicious hors d'oeuvres you can prepare and freeze days, weeks, or even months before your company comes. Some of these dishes don't require thawing and can be reheated straight from the freezer, making them ideal for impromptu gatherings. (Add salad or soup—and increase the serving size—to turn these frozen treats into quick and easy dinner entrées.) Round out these offerings with a ready-made crudité platter from the supermarket and a selection of cheeses, and your party food concerns are covered.

Watch Now: How to Make Chicken and Dumplings


Cold Facts on Freezing

To ensure your food doesn't suffer during freezing and thawing, follow a few guidelines:

  • Freezer temperature should be below 0° to freeze foods safely. You can check the temperature with a freezer thermometer.
  • The faster foods freeze, the less they will be affected by the process. (Slow freezing allows large ice crystals to form, which damages the food's cell structure during thawing.)
  • Chill freshly prepared foods in the refrigerator. Then, before freezing, wrap or package them tightly-with freezer-safe plastic wrap, zip-top plastic bags, or airtight plastic containers-in small portions, which will freeze faster than larger helpings.
  • Label each bag or container with the date and contents. Also include instructions for reheating on the label, if desired, as a reminder for yourself and others.
  • To avoid food safety problems, always thaw frozen appetizers in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

Our Top Picks:

Make-Ahead Pork Dumplings

Savory little dumplings spiked with Asian flavors are kept light with a combination of ground pork loin and 50 percent less fat pork sausage. Store bought wonton wrappers keep the assembly process easy but the recipe feeds a huge crowd so freeze them in batches.

Recipe: Make-Ahead Pork Dumplings

Mini Quiches

Puff Pastry Mini Quiches

Zaatar Straws

Annabelle Breakey

Pigskins in a Blanket

Photo: Quentin Bacon

Nutty Parmesan Herb Scones

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Catherine Crowell Steele

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