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51 Savory Appetizers That Are Sure to Get the Party Started, from Make-Ahead Gems to Cheesy Delights

Hi, hostess with the mostest

savory appetizers: spanish tapas board, crispy polenta bites and greek yogurt chicken salad stuffed peppers, side by side
Kylie Mazon-Chambers/Liz Andrew/Erin McDowell

I totally get the impulse to make hosting easier with the help of store-bought snacks, but hear me out: There are tons of foolproof starters that are a breeze to pull off, and ten times more impressive than that store-bought guacamole. Here, you’ll find 51 savory appetizers that are guaranteed to impress and satisfy hungry guests, from easy skillet mushroom and gouda fondue to mini chicken shawarma. I love these recipes not only because they’re simple and delicious, but also because many of them are easy to make ahead and ideal for serving a crowd.

50 Appetizers for a Crowd That Are Easy, Tasty and Unexpected


Cheesy

1. Mozzarella Bites

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

Warning: Once you start to snack on them, you might not be able to stop. Instead of the usual stick shape, this one calls for frying tiny balls of cheese for a dangerously poppable twist. Serve them with marinara or pesto for dipping.

2. Goat Cheese and Honey Bites

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, special occasion-worthy

I’ll bring the merlot, you bring these. You only need a log of goat cheese and two sheets of store-bought puff pastry to assemble them, plus a few pantry staples. Use hot honey for a delightful kick.

3. Baked Brie with Figs, Pistachios and Orange

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, <10 ingredients

This simple-yet-elegant savory appetizer will soon become your go-to for parties. It bakes to melty perfection in a miniature cast iron skillet and requires minimal hands-on work from the host.

4. Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites

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

Want to see a magic trick? Set these minis out at your next barbecue and watch them vanish into thin air. Trading a skillet for a muffin pan results in drool-worthy crispy edges.

5. Italian Pinwheels

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, kid-friendly

These pizza-inspired starters are only four ingredients away, thanks to store-bought dough. Packed with soppressata and grated pecorino, the pinwheels can accommodate just about any cured meat or cheese, if you feel like substituting whatever’s in your fridge.

6. The Classiest Cheese Balls in the Universe

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, special occasion-worthy

When it comes to entertaining in the fall and winter, cheese balls are an easy home run. Try varieties like everything bagel seasoning with goat cheese, lemon-dill with cheddar and pomegranate with blue cheese.

7. Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Bread

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 5 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

Make this for your picky kids once and they’ll ask for it daily. Fortunately, it’s a breeze to prepare since it starts with store-bought pizza dough and jarred sun-dried tomato pesto. (It’s a great pairing for pasta or Caesar salad too, BTW.)

8. Cheesy Polenta Bites with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, <10 ingredients

Proof that polenta can be as crispy as it is creamy. These tiny bites are a lot like corner pieces of cornbread (tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside). Salty pancetta makes each bite even more irresistible.

9. Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Shishito Peppers

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, <30 minutes

Think of this unconventional savory appetizer as a classy remix of the humble jalapeño popper. Brownie points for making your own pimento cheese from scratch (with hand-shredded cheddar, of course).

10. Spinach Artichoke Squares

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Just as cheesy and indulgent as your favorite party dip, but infinitely more elegant. The store-bought frozen puff pastry can be our little secret—your guests wouldn’t mind the shortcut anyway.

11. Easy Skillet Mushroom and Gouda Fondue

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy

If you have a penchant for salty, umami-packed snacks, this decadent starter is the ultimate. After all, you’ll only need seven ingredients and 30 minutes to prepare it.

Vegetarian

12. Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, vegetarian, <30 minutes

Chunky guac stans, this one’s for you. The roasted corn not only offers plenty of texture (along with poblanos, avocados and red onion) in every spoonful, but also a pop of sweetness to this otherwise zesty, spicy app.

13. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: kid-friendly, vegetarian, make ahead

Even picky kids won’t turn their noses up at this remix. This recipe uses seasoned bites of carrot instead of mini hot dogs and trades ketchup for green goddess dressing.

14. Baby Blooming Onions

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, beginner-friendly

I hope you’re serving steak for the main course. The horseradish dipping sauce will taste great on that, too. But even if you aren’t, this savory appetizer is sure to get the party rolling.

15. Eggplant Parm Bites

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, kid-friendly

These poppable eggplant Parm bites are a worthy dish to serve with pizza at your next house party—just don’t forget a side of marinara sauce for dipping. (And a glass of red, obvi.)

16. Roasted Edamame

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients

Frozen edamame is transformed into a lip-smackingly salty snack in 25 minutes flat with the help of a few pantry staples. Might I suggest drizzling them with sriracha before serving?

17. Chopped Italian Salad Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

Don’t sweat the dough: The recipe calls for using the store-bought kind for minimal fuss. This pie is a great starter for cold soup, charcuterie, spaghetti and meatballs or pork chops.

18. Delicata Squash Rings with Garlic-Lemon Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

Onion rings but make them fashion. Don’t worry about peeling the squash; its stripy skin is totally edible, turns tender in the oven and looks photogenic. Don’t even get me started on the citrusy aioli.

19. Vegan Arancini

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes (plus chilling)
  • Why I Love It: vegan, special occasion-worthy, <10 ingredients

If you’ve never had arancini before (aka cheesy Italian rice balls), you’ve been missing out. This plant-based version is made with risotto, panko and plant-based mozzarella. Your guests won’t know the difference, promise.

20. Spaghetti Squash Fritters

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

These handhelds are packed with fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, so you know they’ll be tasty on their own. But just wait until you dunk them in the spicy yogurt dipping sauce.

21. Crispy Roasted Artichokes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

A half-hour in the oven takes artichokes from hard and fuzzy to crisp and golden brown. Pro tip: You’ll want to make a double batch of the lemon-garlic aioli.

Make Ahead

22. Roasted Mixed Nuts

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, vegan

You can’t beat this classic snack mix recipe. These savory bar nuts will feel right at home at a cocktail soirée or portioned into snack packs for car trips and lunch boxes.

23. Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, make ahead

Believe it or not, Caesar salad (and lettuce in general) doesn’t need to be boring. The dressing calls on avocado instead of eggs for its creamy, rich texture.

24. 7-Layer Dip

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, no cook, make ahead

This just might be the easiest party dip of all time, considering all the components are store-bought. Better yet, you can assemble this savory appetizer up to 12 hours ahead and chill it until your guests arrive. Ta da!

25. Spring Crudités with Romesco Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, special occasion-worthy, vegan

Raw snap peas, radishes, cucumbers and beyond are super crunchy and refreshing on their own. But this roasted red pepper sauce made with almonds, garlic and sherry vinegar is sure to steal the show.

26. Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Straws

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

If only they served this crispy number at bars instead of stale pretzels. I’m betting they’d totally complement a crisp IPA or wheat ale.

27. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, make ahead, no cook

Nothing beats a savory appetizer that requires nothing but assembly. Pro tip: Toast each tortilla in a warm skillet before rolling the sandwiches—this will make them more flexible and less likely to tear.

28. Marinated White Bean and Tomato Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 5 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Five minutes of cooking + one hour of marinating = the easiest, most Insta-worthy canned bean salad you ever did see. It would taste divine paired with toasted baguette, steamed rice, pasta or arugula. Once you infuse the garlicky olive oil, you’re more than halfway to dinner.

29. French Onion Dip

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, kid-friendly

You can do better than soup mix and sour cream. “This recipe calls for julienned onions—aka long, thin matchsticks—but don’t be intimidated by the cheffy term,” PureWow senior food editor Katherine Gillen says. “When you julienne an onion, you make cuts from pole to pole (aka the root and stem ends), slicing parallel to the fibers of the onion. When you slice an onion, you make cuts perpendicular to the fibers, or orbitally through the middle of the root and stem.”

30. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

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

Store-bought rotisserie chicken makes it so you won’t need to cook a thing to prepare this picnic-ready meal. If your kids aren’t into the bell pepper boats, serve the salad on its own or on potato buns.

31. Salami, Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, make ahead

This Italian-inspired mélange can be served hot or cold, so feel free to prepare it ahead if you have time. (It’ll keep for up to five days in an airtight container—the longer it chills, the longer the pasta can soak up the dressing.)

High Protein

32. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, low carb, low sugar

In other words, it’s the most foolproof party appetizer of all time. Transform leftover ground chicken meatballs with a simple two-ingredient sauce that your guests will go gaga for.

33. Mini Lobster Rolls

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, crowd-pleaser

Few sandwiches scream summer as loudly as a lobster roll. Don’t let their small size disappoint you: Using tiny buns means that each bite offers the ideal ratio of meat to bread.

34. Chicken Parmesan Bites

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

Don’t you hate when your chicken parm turns soggy under a boatload of sauce? You won’t have that problem with this clever iteration. That said, I wouldn’t blame you for topping the bites with melty mozzarella, if you feel so inclined.

35. Keto Guacamole Burger Bites

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: low carb, keto-friendly, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser

In case you’re serving barbecue, chops, fish or chicken for a main—but don’t want your guests to miss out on beef. They’re adorably tiny, so go ahead, have four.

36. Crispy Tofu Bites

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

These little tofu nuggets can be served on top of a salad as a main course, on the side of pretty much anything or mixed into your favorite stir-fry or soup. Basically, it’s the most versatile, protein-packed recipe you’ll ever make.

37. Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce)

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

This savory appetizer is decidedly substantial—and only 15 minutes away. It starts with a simple garlic-lemon butter. Once fragrant, the shrimp are quickly sautéed, then served with rice, bread and lemon wedges.

38. Everything Chicken Wings

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, low carb, keto-friendly

The sauce is as simple as spiking melted butter with homemade everything bagel seasoning (which makes the dish virtually carb-free), although you could easily substitute the store-bought kind to save time. Serve them with plenty of ranch dressing.

39. Maple Candied Bacon

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

BRB, drooling. Serve it as a side for eggs, add it to a sweet-and-savory breakfast sandwich or use it to garnish a next-level bloody Mary.

40. Beef Empanadas

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours
  • Why I Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients

Store-bought pie crust and packaged taco seasoning make these a breeze to assemble. Freeze a batch for up to three months, so you can bake them whenever a craving strikes.

41. Mini Chicken Shawarma

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, high protein

The star here is a bold herb sauce made with lemon juice, dill, garlic and Greek yogurt. Whether you assemble one pita sammy for cocktail hour or chow down on three, they won’t steer you wrong.

For a Crowd

42. Tater Tot Nachos

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, sheet pan recipe, kid-friendly

“Add your favorite salsa, a drizzle of sour cream, some scallions, pickled onions and cilantro, and you’ve officially made yourself the most over-the-top nachos ever,” Gillen raves. They come together on a sheet pan for easy cleanup. Sub ground beef, ground turkey or grilled chicken for chorizo if you’d like.

43. Avocado Deviled Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, <10 ingredients

Just when you thought the beloved deviled egg couldn’t be improved upon, this recipe calls for buttery avocado. They’re a shoo-in for your next Sunday brunch gathering.

44. Fruicuterie Board

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes, no cook

There’s no shortage of seasonal produce in this crowd-pleasing charcuterie board, which includes usual suspects like watermelon and peaches, as well as curveballs like golden raspberries and fresh figs. Serve the fruit and cheese alongside vino, crackers and cured meats.

45. Brussels Sprout Sliders

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: keto-friendly, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

The first rule of savory appetizers: They all taste better on a stick. Here, it’s Brussels sprouts, prosciutto and pearl mozzarella. Serve the “sliders” with balsamic glaze for dipping.

46. Spicy Ricotta-Stuffed Phyllo Rolls

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

If you can’t find pickled Peppadew peppers, substitute roasted red peppers instead. Whatever you use, dunk ’em in hot pepper jelly or sweet chili sauce for a punch of heat or serve them to the kiddos with marinara sauce or tzatziki.

47. Scallion and Chive Flatbread

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, special occasion-worthy

The quickest way to make a savory appetizer look fancier than it is? Edible flowers. Luckily, this easy riff on garden focaccia is just the vehicle for them.

48. Spicy Pineapple Prosciutto Tarts

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, special occasion-worthy, crowd-pleaser

How about a sweet-and-savory appetizer for balance? Here, pineapple is caramelized in brown sugar and topped with a generous dose of prosciutto, all on flaky, store-bought puff pastry. Pair the tarts with dressed greens, hot honey or burrata.

49. Italian Bruschetta Board

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, beginner-friendly

The word “bruschetta” often refers to tomato-topped bread when used stateside, but technically, the only must is grilled bread that’s been rubbed with garlic and topped with salt and olive oil. You can supplement with cheese, cured meat, veggies and beyond, hence this snackable masterpiece.

50. Pull-Apart Bread with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours and 10 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

This appetizer has holiday cocktail hour written all over it. The dough is extra moist, thanks to sour cream, while fresh herbs take the sweet onion filling over the top.

51. Spanish Tapas Board

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, special occasion-worthy

Round up the troops to devour this crowd-pleasing assortment of pan con tomate, patatas bravas, Spanish cheeses, cured meats and all the accoutrements. (Hi, ever-so-trendy anchovies.) Prep the bread and potatoes a day ahead to make assembly the day of a cinch.



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...