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37 Fancy Appetizers That Are Secretly Really Easy to Make

You have a few friends coming over, so naturally you want to serve a bunch of photogenic starters that everyone will be dying to share on Instagram. Don’t fret: It’s easier than it seems if you pick a few foolproof recipes. From a Pinterest-ready Italian bruschetta bar to smoked salmon crostini with herbed mayonnaise, here are 37 fancy appetizers that are secretly really easy to make. Bring them to a potluck, whip them up for your annual holiday party and keep your faves in your back pocket for a special occasion.

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1. Italian Bruschetta Bar

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: no bake, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly
  • Serves: 6

The epitome of a fancy app. Pass us a negroni to wash down all the crusty bread, burrata, salami, olives and marinated artichoke hearts.

2. Baked Brie with Figs, Pistachios and Orange

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 8 to 10

Sweet and savory with melted cheese? Count us in (and everyone else). Baked Brie is perfect for serving at Christmas Eve dinner.

3. Scallion and Chive Flatbread

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian
  • Serves: 12

Sorry, but we'll never be over garden focaccia. A flourish of edible flowers makes this starter even fancier.

4. Smoked Salmon Crostini with Herbed Mayonnaise

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 8

Ten minutes and a food processor gives you Katie Workman’s herbed mayonnaise, the best base for these savory smoked salmon crostini.

5. Brussels Sprout Sliders

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly
  • Serves: 6 to 8

The first rule of fancy apps: They all taste better on a stick. Here, it’s Brussels sprouts, prosciutto and mozzarella balls. Serve them with balsamic glaze for dipping.

6. Vegetarian Sushi Cups

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: no bake, crowd-pleaser, vegetarian
  • Serves: 8

Impress your friends by making your own sushi. This vegetarian version is surprisingly easy to pull off, but feel free to add cooked shrimp or raw fish if you're feeling ambitious.

7. Roasted Green Bean Salad with Navy Beans and Preserved Lemons

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: ready in <30 minutes, vegan
  • Serves: 6

Want to transform green bean salad into something très chic? Easy. Just call them haricots verts (and top them with preserved lemon-caper dressing).

8. Sweet Potato Crostini

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 30

Toppings are everything when it comes to this iconic finger food. We’re partial to dried cranberries and roasted almonds atop a layer of crème fraîche.

9. French Onion Cups

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion-worthy, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 12

The coziest fall soup of all time, wrapped in a blanket of easy store-bought puff pastry. Each bite is packed with the essentials, like buttery sweet onions, beef broth and Gruyère.

10. Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 48

Dress up comfort food by serving it in bite-size portions. Feel free to dress the macaroni up with crumbled bacon, fire-roasted canned tomatoes, greens or Buffalo chicken.

11. Coconut Shrimp

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 8

We know, deep frying coconut shrimp sounds intimidating. But we promise it’s easier to manage than you think (and so worth the work).

12. Spicy Pineapple Prosciutto Tarts

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly
  • Serves: 8

Think Hawaiian pizza, only a million times more elegant. Frozen puff pastry allows these spicy pineapple and prosciutto tarts to come together in 30 minutes.

13. Crisp Fall Green Salad With Benne Seed Ginger Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: ready in <30 minutes, no cook
  • Serves: 6 + 1 cup of dressing

Heirloom benne seeds gussy up this simple dressing and seasonal salad, starring baby kale, kohlrabi, lettuce and Brussels sprouts.

14. Melon Caprese Skewers with Herb Oil

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: no cook, vegetarian, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 10

A melon baller is the secret to making Liz Harris’s impressive-looking watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew skewers with mozzarella.

15. Roasted Mixed Nuts

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, ready in <30 minutes
  • Serves: 6

Serve a ramekin of these homemade roasted nuts to give pre-dinner cocktails a five-star touch. The recipe calls for a mix of almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews and pistachios.

16. Boursin Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion-worthy, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 8 to 10

Need to dress up a package of cheese from the grocery store? Top Boursin with caramelized onions and chunks of bacon, then serve it with crackers, bread and crudités for dipping.

17. Whipped Feta Dip

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: no cook, ready in <30 minutes
  • Serves: 4

Sure, you can share the nine-ingredient dip with your guests...but we’re actually just going to inhale a batch ourselves, thank you very much.

18. Prosciutto and Fig Salad Board

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: no cook, make ahead, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 4

It'll take you 15 minutes tops to assemble this stunning salad. Best part? All the toppings will be easily accessible on the board instead of trapped at the bottom of a bowl.

19. Split Pea Soup with Bacon and Beer

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 6 to 8

Split pea soup may sound old-school and unappetizing, but hear us out. With fresh croutons, a can of your favorite pale lager, sherry vinegar and a ton of bacon, it's far more exciting than what you ate as a kid.

20. Feta Wrapped in Phyllo with Sesame and Honey

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 2 to 4

You first fell for this briny cheese when you made TikTok's baked feta pasta. Reinvigorate your love for it with this 25-minute recipe that only calls for six ingredients.

21. Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: ready in <30 minutes, vegan, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 2 to 4

When summer tomatoes are at peak deliciousness, they don't need much zhuzhing. Just use quality sourdough bread and the best balsamic you can find.

22. Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 4 to 6

Never choose between creamy pasta salad and crisp salad again. Feel free to serve it post-summertime, too—the omega-rich avocado Caesar dressing tastes divine year-round.

23. ‘Frycuterie’ Board

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, kid-friendly
  • Serves: 4 to 6

How can such a simple side look like a fancy appetizer, you ask? By plating four different varieties of it (sweet potato, crinkle-cut, curly and tater tots) with four equally delicious dipping sauces.

24. Cheesy Polenta Bites with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion-worthy
  • Serves: 8 to 10

Each polenta bite is like a crispy corner piece of cornbread. As if that wasn't drool-worthy enough, factor in salty goat cheese and crispy pancetta.

25. Five-Minute Bean Salad

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why I Love It: no cook, vegan, ready in <15 minutes
  • Serves: 6

Guests are arriving in ten and you have nothing to feed them. Before you panic, check your pantry for canned white beans—they're bound to save the day.

26. Spanish Tapas Board

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly
  • Serves: 10 to 12

Manchego cheese, Ibérico ham and cured chorizo are expected. But everyone will be floored by the heirloom pan con tomate and patatas bravas with saffron aioli.

27. Vegan Miso Caramel Dip with Pretzels and Granny Smith Apples

  • Time Commitment: 17 to 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegan, make ahead, <10 ingredients, ready in <30 minutes
  • Serves: 2

For those who go gaga for any sweet-and-salty appetizer. The caramel isn't as sugary as you might expect, thanks to umami-rich miso paste.

28. Italian Pinwheels

  • Time Commitment: 23 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly, ready in <30 minutes
  • Serves: 12

Cheese + meat + carbs = fancy appetizer heaven. The fact that you can have these tasty bites on the table in less than 30 minutes is just a bonus.

29. Chopped Italian Salad Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser
  • Serves: 6 to 8

Everyone loves pizza but a slice of 'za doesn’t exactly scream fancy appetizer...unless you zhuzh it up with some fresh greens and a red wine vinegar dressing, that is.

30. Avocado Deviled Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, vegetarian
  • Serves: 20

Regular deviled eggs are out — avocado deviled eggs are in.

31. Spaghetti Squash Fritters

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly
  • Serves: 6

Dipping these crispy bites into the spicy yogurt sauce will truly send your dinner guests to flavor heaven.

32. Gluten-Free Cheese and Cauliflower ‘Breadsticks’

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <500 calories, low carbs, kid-friendly, gluten free
  • Serves: 4

Don’t leave your gluten-free friends to snack on olives and nothing else—these breadsticks are seriously moreish. (Even your non-gluten-free guests will love 'em.)

33. Grilled Corn with Spicy Aioli

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <500 calories, beginner-friendly
  • Serves: 6

 This Mexican street food-inspired number will impress everyone in your inner circle.

34. Crispy Roasted Artichokes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients, low carb, vegetarian
  • Serves: 6

The humble artichoke makes its debut as the ultimate hors d'oeuvre. We love how fancy this app looks (and how secretly easy it is to make).

35. Mini Spinach Ricotta Calzones

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <10 ingredients
  • Serves: 12

Because everything tastes better in miniature form, no? (And also when filled with cheese.)

36. Mini Mason Jar Chicken Potpies

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion-worthy
  • Serves: 12

The mini mason jars are so stinkin' cute. (We won't judge if you eat more than one.)

37. Mini Lasagnas

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly
  • Serves: 6

Everyone loves lasagna but a whole tray of the stuff is more "comfort food" than "fancy". Enter these mini cups that are oh-so chic.


purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor


taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...