27 Make-Ahead Appetizers for Stressed-Out Hosts

You love hosting. But the whole scrambling around, trying to stir four different pots while taking coats, opening wine and pretending you don’t mind that your cousin brought his new girlfriend at the last minute? Not so much. The difference between an effortless party and a stressful one is all about the appetizers you choose. Here, 27 easy make-ahead recipes that make hosting a breeze.

How to Host a Totally Make-Ahead Dinner Party, From Drinks to Dessert

1. Goat Cheese, Apple And Honey Tarts

Use a sweet apple, like a Braeburn or Royal Gala, to complement the tangy goat cheese. You can make them a day or two in advance, then pop them in the toaster oven to reheat during the party.

2. Shaved Moroccan Carrot Toast

Step aside, avocado toast. Meet shaved Moroccan carrot toast, a tasty (and beautiful) dish that’s ready to eat in about ten minutes. You can prep all of the ingredients and store them separately in the fridge, then assemble when your guests arrive.

3. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

Not all hors d'oeuvres have to be fancy. These cute little wraps are as basic as they come, but we’re willing to bet they’ll be gone in ten minutes or less.

4. Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

Pre-blend and store a container of this gorgeous soup in the fridge, then whip it out when the doorbell rings. It’s all about the tasty homemade croutons.

5. Kamut And Sour Cherry Meze

The flavor of the herbs will come together in the fridge overnight, so make a batch in advance and use your free time to sample some wine.

6. Ketogenic Cherry Tomato Tulips

Have guests on a diet? Boursin tulips have only 6 grams of carbs, but are pretty enough to serve to the whole party.

7. Spicy Pineapple Prosciutto Tarts

This ingenious app takes our favorite pie—look, Hawaiian pizza is delicious and we’re not afraid to admit it—but elevates it by subbing prosciutto for ham, caramelized pineapple for, well, regular pineapple and chili powder for a kick.  

8. All Green Crudites Basket

Make life easy on yourself: pick one color and run with it for an ombre crudités display that will have your guests asking, “Are you sure we can eat it?” 

9. Sumac And Fennel Fattoush

Fattoush is a type of salad that just gets it. Why? Because it includes pita chips. You can make your own by slicing up store-bought pita bread, tossing in olive oil and baking for 15 minutes. Or you can just buy some pita chips. Either way, this salad is flavorful and filling. 

10. Layered Smoked Salmon Dip With Everything Bagel Chips

Hosting hack: skip the expensive lox platter and go for the smoked salmon dip. Layered with cream cheese, mustard, horseradish and sprinkled with red onion and capers, this deconstructed everything bagel is like a Sunday morning brunch in one bite.

11. Spring Crudités With Romesco Sauce

Fresh veggies with a bold, Italian-style dip never goes out of style. (Using three different types of radishes isn’t exactly necessary, but it sure is pretty.) 

12. Spicy Ricotta-stuffed Phyllo Rolls

If you’ve never cooked with pre-made phyllo dough, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised. Just wrap a sheet around some creamy ricotta and bake it in the oven. Serve cold, or warm them up in the toaster oven right before your friends arrive.

13. Baked Gorgonzola Bites

OK, it’s irresistible when you serve it right out of the oven. But it’s pretty damn delicious when you eat it cold, too.

14. Avocado Deviled Eggs

Plain old deviled eggs aren’t exactly sophisticated. Add a little bit of avocado to the yolks and we’re in business. (Plus, you can make them the night before and store them in the fridge until the party.)

15. Italian Bruschetta Bar

We’re obsessed with this colorful, sprawling bruschetta bar. All you need is an Aperol spritz and you’re basically on the Amalfi Coast.


16. Italian Pinwheels

This 20-minute app combines all the elements of a cheese board (cured meat, cheese and carbs) into one delicious pinwheeled bite.

17. Cranberry Brie Pie Crust Bites

Sure, you could spend all night baking a pie the night before your holiday fete. Or you could take 15 minutes the morning of and assemble these little cuties.

18. Mini Peach Tarts With Goat Cheese And Honey

Thanks to frozen puff pastry you don’t have to be a baker to pull off these uber-impressive little guys. If you have 30 minutes, a knife and an oven, you’ve got this.

19. 7 Layer Dip

Game day? Casual taco night? Typical Wednesday? This dip—featuring sour cream, refried beans, green chiles, guacamole, salsa, Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes and scallions—is the answer.

20. Fruit And Cheese Board

You’ve heard of a charcuterie board. But what about a fruit-cuterie board? It pairs your favorite cheeses with an assortment of tasty, in-season fruit. Don’t mind if we do.

21. Rainbow Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Step one: Take a trip to the farmers market. Step two: Stock up on heirloom tomatoes (the more colors, the better). Step three: Assemble this Insta-worthy appetizer. Step four: Bask in compliments from your friends and fam.

22. Pull Apart Bread With Caramelized Onions And Goat Cheese

We never met a bread we didn’t like. But when guests can serve themselves and you can make the whole thing the night before, we think we have a huge crush on this one. 

23. Ultimate Cheese Plate With Roasted Grapes

Roasted grapes, you ask? Yep—pop the grapes in the oven for a few minutes before the party starts, then everyone who arrives will be asking, “what is that amazing smell?”

24. The Classiest Cheese Balls In The Universe

Nothing says “holiday party” like a cheese ball, but there’s no grated Kraft or pimentos here. Our classy cheese balls are coated with modern toppings: everything bagel seasoning, lemon dill and pomegranate seeds. Yum. 

25. Mexican Street Corn Deviled Eggs

Our two favorite sides mashed together. Corn, cotija cheese, chili powder and cilantro put a refreshing Mexican spin on an American classic.

26. 15-minute Mezze Plate With Toasted Za’atar Pita Bread

This medley of tasty hors d’oeuvres, creamy spreads and irresistible herbed pitas requires practically zero cooking and can all be prepped in advance. 

27. Bacon, Fig And Ricotta Tartines

Meet the appetizer that’s easy to make and even easier to devour. Bacon and fresh figs are an irresistibly salty-sweet duo. May we suggest making a double batch? (Your guests will thank you.)

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Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.