37 Best Asian Appetizers and Finger Foods

This collection of easy Asian appetizers includes Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese dishes.

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on May 8, 2020

From spring rolls to sushi, the vast continent of Asia (and its islands) has given rise to an incredibly wide array of finger foods. If you consider fried chicken wings a quintessentially American snack, then you need to get your hands on some Japanese karaage or Filipino-style adobo wings. Our favorite Indonesian method calls for simmering the wings in coconut water before frying, imparting subtle sweetness. And chargrilled, garlicky Vietnamese wings prove irresistible when served with savory nuoc cham dipping sauce.

There is, perhaps, no party food more fun than meat-on-a-stick, and satay among its most elegant and adaptable incarnations. A traditional Indonesian satay can be made with chicken or lamb, but you’ll find different styles across Southeast Asia. Singaporean satay udang marries shrimp with lime juice, brown sugar, and ground macadamias, while the sweet-and-spicy mussel skewers known as hoi malaeng puu hail from southern Thailand.

Of course, when many people think “Asian appetizer,” they think “dumpling.” They also, erroneously, think “Chinese food.” This broad snackable category includes Japanese gyoza, Taiwanese shui jiao, Indian samosas, and Thai pun sip. Whether stuffed with beef, pork, or seafoodsteamed, boiled, or fried—potstickers are potluck gold.

But why stop there? From Vietnamese riblets simmered in caramel to vegetarian samosas from India,, our roundup of easy Asian appetizer recipes offers sweeping inspiration. Still hungry? Check out our round-up of finger-food recipes from around the world.

Spicy Cashew-Peanuts

Toss cashews and peanuts in caramelized sugar, fish sauce, garlic, and chile for a powerful, can't-stop-eating bar snack. Add the lime, shallot, and basil right before serving so the nuts stay crispy. Get the recipe for Spicy Cashew-Peanuts »


Korean kimbap is similar to Japanese sushi, but typically uses cooked or pickled ingredients. In this version, bulgogi (marinated beef) is paired with vegetables and egg. Get the recipe for Kimbap »

Chinese Steamed Pork Buns

Cornstarch adds a silkiness to bao dough, mimicking the bleached, low-protein flour commonly used in Chinese bakeries (but harder to find in supermarkets). Lard adds tenderness, richness, and a subtle porky finish. Get the recipe for Chinese Steamed Pork Buns »

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Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbĭng)

The Uyghurs of the western regions of China refer to these flatbread as nang, which have existed for centuries as a staple at every meal. Punctured with a nail-studded tool, they're scattered with any variety of seeds and spices and vary in diameter from a few inches across to a foot or more. Though they're usually cooked in tandoors, an oven with a pizza stone will do. Get the recipe for Uyghur Flatbread (Nángbĭng) »

Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri)

There are two different styles of onigiri: those that are stuffed and those that have seasonings mixed in. For the filled variety, umeboshi (pickled plums), cubes of salt-cured salmon, or tarako (cod roe) are often encased in the warm rice, and then eaten as is or wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). For others, seasonings like toasted black sesame seeds, yukari (red shiso powder), or sakebushi (dried salmon flakes) are simply mixed with the rice and then shaped into the typical triangle, ball, or cylinder shapes. Most importantly, when shaping the rice for onigiri, take care not to compact the rice too firmly. Press until the grains just hold together. Get the recipe for Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri) »

Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn)

The staple meats of Western China, lamb and mutton can be found folded into everything from pilafs to buns to noodles. Of course, they're also the focal point of the region's iconic kebabs. Seasoned with freshly ground cumin (zira in Farsi and zīrán in Chinese), which was probably introduced to Xinjiang from Persia, the kebabs get an extra kick from minced garlic cloves and ground chile powder. Get the recipe for Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn) »

Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (Lumpia)

Best known in their deep-fried iteration, lumpia often crackle beneath the teeth. But not always; some come wrapped in fresh egg crepes, while others are wrapper-less. Connoisseurs pine for a version made with shrimp, pork, and shredded coconut palm. The freshly fried version is a marvel, the wrapper crisp, the filling's texture delicate and yielding. Instead of the common sweet-sour dipping sauce, chef Dale Talde opts for the condiment he used growing up—a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce spiked with raw garlic and fiery chiles—which he likens to the salt and pepper of Filipino food. Get the recipe for Deep-Fried Pork Spring Rolls (Lumpia) »

Crab Spring Rolls

For making spring rolls, most Vietnamese-American home cooks use the spongy, wheat-based wrappers called TYJ Spring Roll Pastry, which are made by the Spring Home company. They're available frozen at most Asian food stores. Get the recipe for Crab Spring Rolls »

Adobo Chicken Wings

These are chicken wings, Filipino-style, marinated in rice vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and garlic. Serve them with a creamy ginger-enriched dipping sauce and chile-dusted apple slices for a full bar snack. Get the recipe for Adobo Chicken Wings »

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers

Named for a park in Central Valley, California—a popular meeting place for the large Cambodian community there—these kebabs are slathered in an aromatic and pungent paste of lemongrass, kaffir lime, and fish sauce before meeting the heat of a charcoal grill. Get the recipe for Angel Cruz Beef Skewers »

Korean Rice Cake

Korean rice cakes, known as songpyeon, are half moon-shaped dumplings that are stuffed with fillings like sweet potatoes, chestnuts, red beans, or nuts, and then steamed and served with honey. Get the recipe for Korean Rice Cake »

Pork and Kimchi Potstickers

Homemade dumplings take some work, but they're worth the effort for a rich pork filling livened up with funky kimchi. Get the recipe for Pork and Kimchi Potstickers »

Lobster Ceviche with Limestone Lettuce

This recipe, which came from noted chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is typical of the cross-cultural innovations that made him such a success. Get the recipe for Lobster Ceviche with Limestone Lettuce »

Japanese-Style Chicken Wings

Sansho, the Japanese equivalent of Sichuan pepper, adds kick to these sake-and-mirin-marinated wings. A fresh squeeze of lemon brightens them up for serving. Get the recipe for Japanese-Style Chicken Wings »

Indonesian-Style Chicken Wings

Marinated in tamarind and aromatic spices, these chicken wings are cooked in coconut water before frying. Get the recipe for Indonesian-Style Chicken Wings »

Padang-Style Mashed Potato Fritters (Perkedel Kenteng)

To make these crisp-crusted fritters, mashed potatoes blended with pan-fried shallots and freshly grated nutmeg are dipped in beaten egg and fried. Get the recipe for Padang-Style Mashed Potato Fritters (Perkedel Kenteng) »

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps

A fragrant and satisfying appetizer (as well as an excellent use for leftover roast pork and poached or steamed shrimp), these flavorful bundles are great dipped in nuoc cham, a sweet and spicy Vietnamese sauce. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps »

Chicken Satay (Satay Ayam)

These fragrant chicken skewers are infused with traditional Indonesian spices like lemongrass, garlic, and ginger. Get the recipe for Chicken Satay (Satay Ayam) »

Southern Thai-Style Mussel Satay (Hoi Malaeng Puu)

This satay gets its tangy fieriness from red curry paste and tamarind. Get the recipe for Southern Thai-Style Mussel Satay (Hoi Malaeng Puu) »

Nori Maki (Nori Rolls with Japanese Omelette, Shiitake Mushroom, and Halibut)

Perfect for special occasions, these rolls are stuffed with flaky fish, sweet Japanese omelette, plump shiitake mushrooms, tender kampyo, or dried squash, and blanched carrots and mizuna. Get the recipe for Nori Maki (Nori Rolls with Japanese Omelette, Shiitake Mushroom, and Halibut) »

Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing)

Scallion pancakes are as widely popular in China as muffins are in America. The basic recipe for a simple scallion pancake—served with soy milk or rice porridge for breakfast—is just a guide. Some like it firmer, some fluffier. Get the recipe for Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing) »

Sushi Bar Tuna Sandwich

Sriracha, rice wine vinegar, and a liberal dash of sesame seeds bring the flavors of the sushi bar to these creative sliders. Get the recipe for Sushi Bar Tuna Sandwich »

Edamame-Miso Tuna Sandwich

White miso and sesame chile oil add umami flavor and a spicy kick to this spin on the classic tuna sandwich. Get the recipe for Edamame-Miso Tuna Sandwich »

Pork Riblets Simmered in Caramel Sauce

Originally from rural northern Vietnam, this dish was traditionally cooked in a clay pot. Get the recipe for Pork Riblets Simmered in Caramel Sauce »

Korean Fried Chicken

Double-frying is the secret to achieving the delicate, crackly crust on these sweet-sour-salty-spicy-perfect Korean chicken wings. Get the recipe for Korean Fried Chicken »

Classic Sausage and Pâté Banh Mi Sandwiches

Pickled daikon and carrots, thinly sliced cucumbers and jalapeños, and fresh cilantro add crunch and color to this iconic sandwich. Get the recipe for Classic Sausage and Pâté Banh Mi Sandwiches »

Pan-Fried Spicy Beef Dumplings

In these delightfully rich dumplings, homemade or store-bought chile oil is balanced by freshness from scallions and ginger and sweetness from oyster sauce. To maximize the crispy surface area, stretch and arc the shape of the raw dumpling slightly. Get the recipe for Pan-Fried Spicy Beef Dumplings »

Boiled Pork and Chive Dumplings

The go-to Chinese filling: juicy pork mixed with the fresh onion flavor of garlic chives. Try to find a fatty blend of ground pork; it will improve the filling's flavor and juiciness. Chopped garlic chives, which have a peppery raw-garlic flavor, and fresh ginger cut through the rich meat. Make sure the dumplings are completely sealed and devoid of air bubbles to prevent any leaks during boiling. This recipe is adapted from The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook. Get the recipe for Boiled Pork and Chive Dumplings »

Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune)

Full-flavored chicken meatballs smothered in a sweet and salty glaze. Get the recipe for Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune) »

Grilled-Chile Dip with Shallots and Garlic (Nam Phrik Num)

A mortar and pestle is key to getting the right texture for this beloved northern Thai chile dip. Reprinted from The Food of Northern Thailand. Get the recipe for Grilled-Chile Dip with Shallots and Garlic (Nam Phrik Num)

Preserved Yu Choy Green Dip (Nam Phrik Nam Phak)

While prepping the greens for this northern Thai dip takes more than a day, most of the time is hands off, and the results are so worth the effort. Reprinted from The Food of Northern Thailand. Get the recipe for Preserved Yu Choy Green Dip (Nam Phrik Nam Phak)

Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls

Juicy mango, buttery avocado, and lightly charred sweet shrimp get packed into rice paper along with crispy cabbage and cucumber for a summer appetizer that hits all the right textural notes. Prep the spicy, tart dipping sauce ahead to give the flavors time to meld. Get the recipe for Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls »

Fu Pi Juan (Steamed Tofu Skin–Wrapped Pork Rolls)

A ground pork and ginger mixture is rolled into thin yuba, or tofu skin, and boiled in a bamboo leaf in the recipe for this snack from the city of Suzhou in eastern China. Get the recipe for Fu Pi Juan (Steamed Tofu Skin–Wrapped Pork Rolls) »

Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings (Zongzi)

Tender leaf-wrapped bundles of sticky rice filled with savory nuggets of pork and mushroom. Get the recipe for Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings (Zongzi) »

Vegetarian Samosas with Potatoes and Peas

Starchy potatoes and sweet peas, fragrant with plenty of spice and ginger, get a kick from fiery green chiles in these crispy vegetarian samosas. Get the recipe for Vegetarian Samosas with Potatoes and Peas »

Pakoras (Indian Vegetable Fritters)

Crispy chickpea-battered vegetable fritters are a popular street-food snack throughout India. This recipe calls for potatoes and onion, but cauliflower florets, eggplant slices, or plantains can also be used. Pair them with tangy tamarind chutney or herbaceous coconut-cilantro chutney for dipping. Get the recipe for Pakoras (Indian Vegetable Fritters) »

Fried Chickpea-Battered Potatoes (Bhajiya)

For this Mumbai street-food snack from Raghavan Iyer, chunks of potato are dredged in a light chickpea-and-rice-flour batter that is spiced with turmeric and chile powder. The potatoes are then deep fried until a golden crust forms and served with cilantro and tamarind chutneys. The spiced batter can be also used for other vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli florets, sliced plantain, and eggplant. Get the recipe for Fried Chickpea-Battered Potatoes (Bhajiya) »

Indian Vada Pav

This veggie burger recipe for a spiced potato patty on a fluffy bun is one of India's best street foods. Get the recipe for Indian Vada Pav »

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