Our 25 Best American Finger Foods Because Sometimes Eating With Your Hands Is Encouraged

No utensils necessary

A good party needs good snacks. Save your guests (and yourself) the hassle of silverware by going with finger foods. We have global hors d’oeuvres from all over the world, but for parties like a 4th of July barbecue or a football game viewing party, classic American bites are also fantastic choices. Whether you’re looking to kick off a feast like Thanksgiving or just serve bites at a cocktail party, we believe the best way to go is to always pregame food with more food. From fries and onion rings to chicken wings and oysters, we’ve rounded up our best American finger food recipes here.

Cranberry Crostini

Cranberry crostini

Tart, colorful cranberries are not just for cooked and canned sauces. Paired with rich whipped ricotta spread and toasted baguette slices, the raw fruit has a punchy flavor and crunchy texture that’s a light, bright complement to crostini. Prepare the dip up to one day ahead and store covered in the refrigerator. Stir or buzz in the food processor briefly before spreading onto toasts. Get the recipe for Cranberry Crostini »

Nut and Cheese Gougères

Pecan gougères

This recipe is adapted from cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. You can portion and freeze these gougères in advance, then bake them just before guests arrive (you may need to add a few minutes of baking time). This recipe makes soft gougères that are custardy in the center. If you prefer a firmer puff, use 4 eggs. Get the recipe for Nut and Cheese Gougères »

Pork Rind Roosters

Roosters are an oyster bar standard made up of a single saltine topped with an oyster, horseradish, and several slices of jalapeño. The tradition: You shoot one back, grimace, chase it with a beer, and before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen and got a T-shirt to prove it. This is not that. This tastes good. Instead of something you’d eat only after partying a bit, this version is an adept way to start a party. Get the recipe for Pork Rind Roosters »

Roosters are an oyster bar standard made up of a single saltine topped with an oyster, horseradish, and several slices of jalapeño. The tradition: You shoot one back, grimace, chase it with a beer, and before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen and got a T-shirt to prove it. This is not that. This tastes good. Instead of something you’d eat only after partying a bit, this version is an adept way to start a party. Get the recipe for Pork Rind Oyster Snacks »

Strawberry Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit

Instead of coating his pâte de fruit with plain sugar, William Werner of San Francisco’s Craftsman and Wolves flavors Demerara sugar with Clément Créole Shrubb, a spiced liqueur made of aged and white Agricole rums and bitter orange peels. It adds a clean, bright flavor to the glittering topping. Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit »

Instead of coating his pâte de fruit with plain sugar, William Werner of San Francisco’s Craftsman and Wolves flavors Demerara sugar with Clément Créole Shrubb, a spiced liqueur made of aged and white Agricole rums and bitter orange peels. It adds a clean, bright flavor to the glittering topping. Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pâte de Fruit »

Nachos

In the 1950s, pickled jalapeños were sold whole or in strips; the now-familiar rings became available, not coincidentally, after nachos gained national popularity. Today, supermarkets offer an array of tortilla chips, shredded cheeses, and salsas, all intended to ease preparation of this Tex-Mex classic. This recipe brings us back to the joys of a simpler nacho. Get the recipe for Nachos »

In the 1950s, pickled jalapeños were sold whole or in strips; the now-familiar rings became available, not coincidentally, after nachos gained national popularity. Today, supermarkets offer an array of tortilla chips, shredded cheeses, and salsas, all intended to ease preparation of this Tex-Mex classic. This recipe brings us back to the joys of a simpler nacho. Get the recipe for Nachos »

Hot Fries

These spicy, crunchy fries are our take on the classic packaged snack. Get the recipe for Hot Fries »

These spicy, crunchy fries are our take on the classic packaged snack. Get the recipe for Hot Fries »

Mozzarella Sticks

Crispy breading encases gooey melted mozzarella cheese in this classic appetizer. Get the recipe for Mozzarella Sticks »

Test kitchen director Farideh Sadeghin likes to use Italian bread crumbs to bread her mozzarella, but you could use panko if you were so inclined. Double breading insures that the outside gets nice and crispy while the inside cheese has time to mely when frying. These freeze well, so keep them in your freezer and pull them out to defrost before frying whenever you feel like. Get the recipe for Mozarella Sticks »

D.I.Y. Pickles

Whether crunchy topper, tangy relish or simply on the side, no sandwich plate is complete without them. Get the recipe for D.I.Y. Pickles »

When it comes to adding crunch, these tangy pickles put shredded lettuce to shame. Get the recipe for D.I.Y. Pickles »

Crazy Bread

Add a little kick to this homemade version of Little Caesar’s “Crazy Bread” by sprinkling on a little chile flake before dunking in hot marinara.

Test kitchen director Farideh Sadeghin grew up eating Little Caesar’s pizza with her family and friends, and was particularly fond of the crazy bread on the menu, thus inspiring her to make this homemade version. She loves to sprinkle it with chile flakes before dipping it in hot marinara sauce (try the sauce from this recipe for homemade mozzarella sticks). Get the recipe for Crazy Bread »

Grilled Oysters

Contrary to conventional technique, chef José Andrés gets smoke from his coals for these grilled oysters by flicking melted butter around them as they cook. Get the recipe for Grilled Oysters »

Contrary to conventional technique, chef José Andrés gets smoke from his coals for these grilled oysters by flicking melted butter around them as they cook. Get the recipe for Grilled Oysters »

Boudin Scotch Eggs

Soft boiled eggs are encased in boudin sausage, tossed in bread crumbs, and then deep-fried in this recipe from chef Harold Marmulstein of Austin restaurant Salty Sow. Get the recipe for Boudin Scotch Eggs »

Soft boiled eggs are encased in boudin sausage, tossed in bread crumbs, and then deep-fried in this recipe from chef Harold Marmulstein of Austin restaurant Salty Sow. He likes to serve them with a spicy rémoulade sauce. Get the recipe for Boudin Scotch Eggs »

Roasted Parsnips with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Horseradish is a staple of many Passover seder tables. In this dish from cookbook author Leah Koenig, it gets mixed with mayonnaise and fresh rosemary in a piquant dip for roasted parsnips. Get the recipe for Roasted Parsnips with Horseradish Mayonnaise »

Horseradish is a staple of many Passover seder tables. In this dish from cookbook author Leah Koenig, it gets mixed with mayonnaise and fresh rosemary in a piquant dip for roasted parsnips. Get the recipe for Roasted Parsnips with Horseradish Mayonnaise »

Nashville Hot Chicken

The secret to Nashville’s famous hot chicken is in the layering: The bird is marinated in a spicy buttermilk brine, then dredged with more flour and spice, double-fried, and finally slathered with a fiery butter paste to create a crunchy, peppery coating. One bite into its burnished orange crust reveals first a tangy crunch, and then a deeper, complex spice that leaves a lingering fire behind. Adjust the heat by adding as much—or as little—cayenne as you like. Get the recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken »

The secret to Nashville’s famous hot chicken is in the layering: The bird is marinated in a spicy buttermilk brine, then dredged with more flour and spice, double-fried, and finally slathered with a fiery butter paste to create a crunchy, peppery coating. One bite into its burnished orange crust reveals first a tangy crunch, and then a deeper, complex spice that leaves a lingering fire behind. Adjust the heat by adding as much—or as little—cayenne as you like. Get the recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken »

Pecan Cheese Wafers

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 »

The recipe for these crisp, spicy crackers, which first appeared in our November 2013 issue with the story Southern Belle, is adapted from The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, 2013). Get the recipe for Pecan Cheese Wafers »

Upperline’s Oysters St. Claude

Fried oysters are paired with a garlicky sauce in this toothsome appetizer served at Upperline, a restaurant in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood.

Fried oysters are paired with a garlicky sauce in this toothsome appetizer served at Upperline, a restaurant in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood. This article first appeared in our April 2013 special feature on New Orleans. Get the recipe for Upperline’s Oysters St. Claude »

Barbecue Potato Chips

Barbecue chips’ smoky, tangy flavors are easy to create at home with a simple mixture that combines classic barbecue sauce spices such as chile powder, garlic powder, and onion powder, with the added kick of cayenne pepper.

Barbecue chips’ smoky, tangy flavors are easy to create at home with a simple mixture that combines classic barbecue sauce spices such as chile powder, garlic powder, and onion powder, with the added kick of cayenne pepper. The beauty of making barbecue chips yourself is that you can alter the amount of heat, spice, or saltiness depending on your preferences. Get the recipe for Barbecue Potato Chips »

Spicy Okra Pickles

These spicy pickles are a delicious accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal.

Based on a recipe from the author’s friend, Eastern Shore musician William “Pooh” Johnston, these spicy pickles are a delicious accompaniment to any meal. This recipe first appeared in our November 2012 issue along with Bernard L. Herman’s story A Bountiful Shore. Get the recipe for Spicy Okra Pickles »

These golden corn dogs are gluten-free. The absence of wheat flour intensifies the corn batter’s natural nutty sweetness. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Corn Dogs »

Chicken Liver Toast with Spiced Pecans

At the bar Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky, chicken livers are flambéed with bourbon and smeared on grilled bread with a smoky-sweet pecan garnish.

At the bar Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky, chicken livers are flambéed with bourbon and smeared on grilled bread with a smoky-sweet pecan garnish. Get the recipe for Chicken Liver Toast with Spiced Pecans »

Buffalo Wings

These classic wings are tossed in margarine and hot sauce, just like at Anchor Bar where they were invented.

These are the Buffalo-resident’s Buffalo wings: true to the original 1964 recipe, wings are fried in peanut oil and then tossed in a mixture of melted margarine and fiery hot sauce. Serve them up with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks to complete the classic dish. Get the recipe for Buffalo Wings »

Cornmeal-Crusted Onion Rings

Buttermilk-dipped and cornmeal-crusted onion rings are fried extra-crispy at Anthony’s Steakhouse in Omaha. Get the recipe for Cornmeal-Crusted Onion Rings »

Buttermilk-dipped and cornmeal-crusted onion rings are fried extra-crispy at Anthony’s Steakhouse in Omaha. This recipe first appeared in our August/September 2013 Heartland issue with the story Here’s the Beef. Get the recipe for Cornmeal-Crusted Onion Rings »

Sweet Potato Honey Fries with Curry-Honey Sauce

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 »

An aromatic combination of spices elevate the humble sweet potato oven fry to something truly special. We like to serve a batch of still-warm wedges alongside a creamy curry-honey dipping sauce, with lime wedges for an acidic kick. Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Honey Fries with Curry-Honey Sauce »

Homemade Jalapeño Poppers

Homemade Jalapeño Poppers

Packed with a spicy, cheesy filling, these roasted and fried jalapeños gain depth from charring under the broiler and a crispy crust from the bread crumb coating. Get the recipe for Homemade Jalapeño Poppers »

Beer-Battered Onion Rings

A flavorful batter infused with honey, paprika, and lager beer is the secret to these crunchy onion rings. Get the recipe for Beer-Battered Onion Rings »

A flavorful batter infused with honey, paprika, and lager beer is the secret to these crunchy onion rings. This recipe first appeared in our November 2011 issue along with Dana Bowen’s story Roots of Flavor. Get the recipe for Beer-Battered Onion Rings »

Hush Puppies

These crisp-fried cornmeal balls are traditionally served alongside fried fish and tartar sauce in the Deep South. Get the recipe for Hush Puppies »

These crisp-fried cornmeal balls are traditionally served alongside fried fish and tartar sauce in the Deep South. Get the recipe for Hush Puppies »