49 Cold Appetizers You Can Make Ahead of Time
Everyone’s hosted a watch party or get-together at some point where they’ve spent the entire party shuffling food in and out of the oven, barely seeing the big game—or catching up with others. Even if you’re just hosting your immediate family or planning a virtual get-together, you want to be there for the fun, right? When you want minimal work to do on the day of, dishes that don’t need to be kept warm are the MVP. Here are 49 cold appetizers to whip up whenever you’re entertaining so you actually have time to enjoy the party.
But first, a word to the wise: The FDA says not to leave perishable foods out at room temperature for more than two hours unless you’re keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. So, keep that in mind when you’re serving apps like deli sandwiches, cheese boards and deviled eggs. Room-temperature foods like crackers and nuts, on the other hand, can stay out longer.
1. Homemade Cheese Crackers
It only takes seven ingredients and 35 minutes to blow your favorite store-bought brand out of the water.
2. Deviled Eggs 3 Ways
Take your pick of roasted garlic, salty capers and spicy sriracha.
3. Mango Guacamole
It’s as easy as mashing avocados and combining them with mango, lime juice and herbs.
4. Roasted Mixed Nuts
You can never have too many 15-minute appetizers up your sleeve.
5. Veggie Sushi
Aka the most foolproof way to get your kids to eat their vegetables.
6. Prosciutto and Fig Salad Board
The beauty of this dish is that all the toppings are easy to access instead of trapped at the bottom of a big bowl.
7. Roasted Edamame
A little flaky salt and a few minutes in the oven go a long way.
8. Beet Hummus
Plate this vibrant appetizer with sliced vegetables, crackers or pita chips.
9. Sweet Potato Crostini
Yup, we’ll be serving these autumn beauties for every Thanksgiving until further notice.
10. Layered Smoked Salmon Dip with Mini Bagel Chips
Cream cheese, horseradish, capers, red onion and lox are *always* invited to brunch.
11. Easy Homemade Hummus with Za’atar Pita Chips
Take it from us: You’ll want to make two (or three) batches from the start.
12. Grilled Mango Salsa
It’s tortilla chips’ best friend, but also tastes delicious on grilled fish.
14. Bacon, Fig and Ricotta Tartines
Easy to make, even easier to devour. The base is thick store-bought bread, so you won’t need to fuss around with any dough.
15. 15-Minute Gazpacho with Cucumber, Red Pepper and Basil
This dish was born to impress at an alfresco summer dinner party.
16. Serena Wolf’s Boss Bean Dip
Chalk the protein content up to Greek yogurt and refried beans.
17. Dairy-Free Butternut Squash ‘Fondue’
Can you believe this crowd-pleaser is vegan? Bless you, coconut milk.
18. Rainbow Collard Wraps with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce
Host hack: Assemble these up to two days in advance and keep them in the fridge until your guests arrive.
19. Brussels Sprout Sliders
Just roast the sprouts until tender and stuff them with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and tomato.
20. Cauliflower ‘Potato’ Salad
This recipe subs spuds with our favorite cruciferous veggie, plus uses Greek yogurt and sour cream instead of mayonnaise.
22. Vegetarian Sushi Cups
No sushi mats or rolling required, thanks to the handy-dandy muffin tin.
23. Kale Salad with Persimmons, Crispy Chickpeas and Fried Shallots
Because kale Caesar salad is only exciting the first 100 times.
24. Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Straws
Three ingredients + 40 minutes = the most addictive appetizer you’ll ever make.
25. Zucchini Chips
Make this three-ingredient recipe a day in advance—it takes about two hours for the zucchini slices to dry out in the oven.
26. Skillet Blueberry Cornbread
Like a glorious blueberry muffin, coffee cake and cornbread hybrid. We’ll take ours with butter, please.
27. BLT Pasta Salad
It’s got all the O.G. ingredients, plus avocado, Dijon mustard and pasta instead of bread.
28. Spring Crudités with Romesco Sauce
The nutty, garlicky red pepper sauce comes together in the food processor in mere minutes.
29. Avocado Deviled Eggs
Mashed avocado and Dijon mustard make for an uber-creamy filling.
30. Rainbow Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
Hello there, summer. We’ve missed you so.
31. The Classiest Cheese Balls in the Universe
Choose your fighter: everything bagel-goat cheese, lemon-dill cheddar or pomegranate-blue cheese.
32. 15-Minute Mezze Plate with Toasted Za’atar Pita Bread
If you’re only feeding a few people, this easy snack recipe is a no-brainer. Think artichoke hearts, olives, salami and roasted red peppers.
33. Grilled Cheese Crostini
Slice up a crusty baguette, slather the pieces in olive oil and pop them straight on the grill grate until toasted.
35. Pull-Apart Bread with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
Just like savory monkey bread—only way more sophisticated.
36. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket
Because room-temperature hot dogs are fun for no one.
37. Roasted Veggie Chips
Beets, turnips, parsnips and radishes have never looked so damn appetizing.
38. 20-Minute Burrata Salad with Stone Fruit and Asparagus
You’ll only need to turn your stove on to blanch the asparagus and sugar snap peas.
39. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches
We definitely wouldn’t blame you for serving these with a bowl of garlic aioli and a mountain of pepperoncini peppers.
40. Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Yellow tomatoes are milder and less acidic than red ones, making them the perfect match for ripe summer peaches.
41. Fruicuterie Board
We love prosciutto and bacon jam, too. But keeping the cheese board light and refreshing ensures your guests won’t lose their appetites too soon.
42. Sweet Potato Hummus
The mellow fall spud pairs beautifully with nutty tahini.
43. 7-Layer Dip
You could go the extra mile by making your own beans, guac and salsa…or you can save yourself a ton of time and lean on store-bought. It’ll be our little secret.
44. Mexican Street Corn Deviled Eggs
They only take 40 minutes to make and are guaranteed to win over every guest at the barbecue.
45. Julia Turshen’s Skillet Cornbread with Cheddar and Scallions
Make sure the skillet is piping hot when you dump the batter in to ensure golden-brown, crusty edges.
46. Ultimate Cheese Plate with Roasted Grapes
Roasted grapes have a more concentrated sweetness and softer texture. They also just so happen to look super sophisticated.
47. Crispy Roasted Artichokes
They’re golden-brown, irresistibly crunchy and begging to be dunked in roasted garlic-lemon aioli.
49. Easy Homemade Potato Chips
When in doubt, there’s always old reliable. Just know that store-bought chips don’t stand a chance against these baked russets sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning.