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.
Mayonnaise ensures a creamy, smooth texture in this Midwestern riff on the classic Mediterranean dip by cookbook author
Amy Thielen. Chopped cumin seeds add spice and a little crunch to the smoky eggplant. Get the recipe for Smoky Baba Ghannouj with Oil-Cured Black Olives »
Caramelized Onion and Sunchoke Dip
These olives are incredibly simple—all you have to do is mix them with orange zest and juice, rosemary, and pepper, then let them sit for an hour.
This classic sweet and sour eggplant dish is rich and sweetened with caramelized onions and raisins.
Oyster shells act as a natural serving platter for these crispy fried oysters with a creamy, spicy sauce.
Venison is a great substitute for the traditional reindeer meat in this rustic cranberry-and-pistachio-studded terrine.
Wedges of gooey fried Camembert are served with both a sweet wine-spiked raspberry jam and a tart cranberry vinaigrette in this dish.
Broccoli Rabe, Cannellini Bean, and Ricotta Crostini
In this take on a traditional Sephardic Jewish dish,
culupidia frita con limón, cauliflower are coated in a flour and egg batter, fried, and then bathed in lemon juice. As a side or a snack, it’s crunchy, tender, and brimming with fresh, tangy flavor. Get the recipe for Lemony Fried Cauliflower »
An aromatic combination of spices elevate the humble sweet potato oven fry to something truly special.
Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Honey Fries with Curry-Honey Sauce »
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.
Piquant Stilton replaces the more traditional cheddar in this bite-sized twist on the classic British dish.
Get the recipe for Apple and Stilton Welsh Rarebit Bites »
Pungent Robiola cheese can be substituted with brie, ricotta, or any other soft cheese in this simple no-cook appetizer.
Get the recipe for Robiola-Stuffed Figs with Pomegranate »
Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, potato croquettes filled with a combination of white cheddar and salty ham are the ultimate party snack.
Get the recipe for Virginia Ham and White Cheddar Croquettes »
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 »
A hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and bread crumbs and then deep-fried may seem like a product of modern pub culture, but the Scotch egg was invented by London department store Fortnum & Mason in 1738.
The recipe for these potted meatballs is adapted from Arthur Schwartz’s
Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited (Ten Speed Press, 2008).
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.
Pecans lightly brushed with egg whites are baked into cheesy, buttery wafers with a touch of chile flakes.
Get the recipe for Pecan Cheese Wafers »
Salt cod is mashed with fluffy potatoes to make these bite-size pan-fried cakes from Prince Edward Island.
Get the recipe for Acadian Salt Cod Cakes »
Sweet potato puree and onion marmalade enhance the natural sweetness of scallops in this dish.
Get the recipe for Brigtsen’s Scallops with Sweet Potato Puree and Onion Marmalade »
Spicy, briny, creamy, and salty, this simple, retro-inspired appetizer is an unabashed crowd-pleaser.
Get the recipe for Stuffed Pepperoncini with Smoked Salmon »
Sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy come together on little toasts, which pair cubes of sweet potato with a flavorful spread featuring lemon zest, capers and sour cream.
Get the recipe for Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Crostini »
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 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.
China meets the American South in these tofu, bacon, and scallion fritters.
Get the recipe for Fried Tofu and Bacon Fritters (Tofu Wanzi) »
These cheesy rice fritters, often made with leftover risotto, are an addictive snack.
Get the recipe for Venetian Rice Fritters (Arancini Veneziani) »
These spiced croquettes are a classic Middle Eastern snack.
Get the recipe for Lamb and Bulgur Wheat Croquettes (Kibbeh) »
Cavolo nero, also known as Tuscan kale, Lacinato kale, or Dinosaur kale, balances thinly sliced, salty prosciutto over toast.
Get the recipe for Cavolo Nero and Prosciutto Bruschetta »
Curry powder, raisins, and chutney pair nicely with cheddar cheese in this dressed-up tuna melt.
Get the recipe for Tuna Melt Canapes »
These lemon-and-dill-flavored fish cakes are a favorite of northeastern Massachusetts.
Chiles lend heat to this smoky dip from Kea, Greece.
Get the recipe for Eggplant and Parsley Dip (Melintzanosalata) »
Based on a recipe from author Nancy Harmon Jenkins, this Cretan meze dish can be served hot or at room temperature.
Based on the classic French caramelized-onion tart with olives and anchovies, these little two-bite hors d’oeuvres pack a flavorful punch.