The holiday season means entertaining, which means lots of food. Whether you’re preparing a full meal, throwing a cocktail party, or going to a potluck, the holidays are a time for warming, elegant appetizers. From stuffed figs and mushrooms to crostini and dips, we’ve rounded up our favorite holiday appetizer recipes.
Sweet potatoes are one of our favorite fall and winter ingredients. Earthy sweet potatoes are brightened by lemon zest, capers, and sour cream on a sweet and savory crostini. Sweet potato puree is an elegant base for seared scallops topped with onion marmalade. For something a little more casual, you can’t go wrong with our sweet potato oven fries with a creamy curry-honey dipping sauce.
Rich, cheesy hors d’oeuvres are perfect for a holiday party. Figs stuffed with pungent robiola cheese and honey and topped with pomegranate seeds are sure to be a hit at a cocktail party. Our Welsh rarebit bites shrink down the British classic, topping baguette slices with apple and Stilton. A heartier appetizer for a sit-down meal is our fried Camembert with ham, melon, raspberry jam, and cranberry vinaigrette.
Winter isn’t a season rich with green vegetables, but kale stays around when the temperature drops. Boiled cavolo nero kale (a type of kale) and salty prosciutto pair perfectly on an easy bruschetta. For a complex puff pastry tart, turn to a mixture of kale, fennel, olives, and feta.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of holiday appetizer recipes.
Sweet and Sour Eggplant
This classic sweet and sour eggplant dish is rich and sweetened with caramelized onions and raisins.
Venison is a great substitute for the traditional reindeer meat in this rustic cranberry-and-pistachio-studded terrine.
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
These poppers have a perfect marriage of textures and flavors—creamy, chive-flecked cheese cuts the bite of roasted jalapeños, while crispy bacon adds crunch.
Goat Cheese and Apricot Truffles
This layered no-cook appetizer from former test kitchen assistant Eliza Martin features a sweet core of dried apricot coated in tangy goat cheese and then rolled in a savory mixture of crushed pistachios and fresh herbs. The finger-friendly “truffles” can be made up to 2 days before serving and stored in the refrigerator, making them the perfect hors d’oeuvres for the busy host or hostess. Get the recipe for Goat Cheese and Apricot Truffles »
Devils on Horseback
In this version of the classic hors d’oeuvre, oysters are cooked with garlic and wine, then set “astride” toasted garlic bread slices and sprinkled with bacon.
Earthy roasted beets are brightened by fresh orange zest and tangy balsamic for a clever appetizer, which looks beautiful presented in individual endive spears. To make this dish vegan, omit the Greek yogurt or use a non-dairy yogurt alternative.
Jacqui Sinclair, food columnist for the Jamaica Observer, gave us the recipe for these mini brunch quiches made with callaloo, a spinach-like Jamaican green.
Kale Tarts with Fennel and Olives
Kale and fennel lend a unique sweetness to these briny puff pastry tarts. They’re perfect as appetizers, savory breakfasts, or as an accompaniment to a bowl of warm, wintry soup.
Yankee Fish Cakes
These lemon-and-dill-flavored fish cakes are a favorite of northeastern Massachusetts.