Don’t make entertaining more difficult than it should be. When you need an easy, crowd-pleasing appetizer that looks impressive, baked Brie is your ever-reliable and ultra-easy standby.
Baked Brie
Credit: Getty Images

I'm one of those people who has a hard time showing up anywhere empty-handed. And while I'm always searching for new snacks and treats to bring to events so I don't get into a rut of showing up with the same dip or baked goods every single time, I think it's important to have a few go-to dishes. For me, that ever-reliable, always-crowd-pleasing appetizer is baked Brie.

When I need to pull together a no-fail, shareable snack in minutes, this darling French cheese always has my back--all I have to do is dress it up a bit. It's delicious and really couldn't be easier. Just unwrap, trim, bake, and top it with the topping ingredients of your choice. (Caveat: based on your toppings, sometimes you will add them before baking). Then, serve the warm, gooey goodness with your favorite sturdy crackers. Whether served alone or as a part of a simple meat and cheese board, your guests will rave over it every. single. time. I mean, really, what's not to love about warm, melty cheese covered in a sweet-salty glaze?

Baked Brie with Honey
Credit: John Kernick; Stylist: Alistar Turnbull/Pat Bates and Associates

Because it's really just that simple, I firmly believe every home cook should know the general rules for baking Brie and have a few favorite topping ideas to keep in their back pocket for easy entertaining anytime. To start gathering inspiration, check out Our Best Brie Recipes.

General rules for preparing baked brie:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Using a serrated knife, trim and discard the topmost rind. Place Brie on a lightly greased baking sheet or oven-safe serving dish, and bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until cheese is just melted.

3. While Brie is baking, prepare your topping ingredients. Remove Brie from the oven, top as desired, and you're ready to party.

Cherry-Pecan Brie
Credit: Jim Franco; Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell

Our easiest topping ideas:

1. Honey + chopped toasted walnuts + dried cranberries + fresh thyme leaves

2. Cherry preserves + balsamic vinegar + cracked black pepper + chopped toasted pecans

Brie with Strawberries and Honey
Credit: David Hillegas; Styling: Lydia Degaris-Pursell

3. Sliced strawberries + toasted, sliced almonds + honey + chopped rosemary

4. Fruit preserves + toasted, chopped pecans + golden raisins

5. Brown sugar + toasted old-fashioned oats + toasted, chopped walnuts + diced apples + cinnamon

6. Puff pastry + fig jam + dried cranberries + toasted, chopped hazelnuts

*Note: If you've never tried brie en croute--which means to wrap it up in dough and bake it--stop what you're doing and go buy puff pastry, like now. See this recipe for Harvest-Baked Brie as an example.

7. Fresh cranberries + sugar + shelled, chopped pistachios + orange zest