Finger foods aren’t just appetizers, they’re appetizers you can eat while standing up, chatting, and—most importantly—holding a glass of wine. It’s a small but important difference at a cocktail party, which you can appreciate if you’ve ever had to awkwardly shove an entire slider into your mouth while trying not to spill your drink.
Because finger foods are served at parties, they should be festive and fun. A classic is pizzette; these bite-sized pizzas can be topped with traditional Italian combinations like fresh mozzarella and prosciutto, but they’re also a blank canvas for new flavors. Take our Lamb Pizzette. Inspired by Arabic lamejun, each thin round of dough is topped with a flavorful mix of ground lamb with cumin, mint, and pine nuts. Our collection of finger foods also includes riffs on old favorites. In our updated take on pigs in a blanket, we swap spicy Andouille sausage for hot dogs, and our crispy fried Hush Puppies are served with an Indian-spiced tomato jam.
One country that’s mastered the tasty two-bite is Spain. Our favorite tapas to make at home include traditional Potato Croquettes; a cheese-studded dough is dipped in eggs and a thin crust of bread crumbs, then fried until crisp. For an addictively savory-sweet bite made from just three ingredients, try our pan-fried Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon. If you’re hosting a more formal occasional, follow chef José Andrés’s recipe for crispy cauliflower fritters served with yogurt and caviar.
Running out of time before your party? You can always fall back on the most basic finger foods, a bowl of roasted nuts or marinated olives. Chef Chris Yeo takes it to the next level by soaking peanuts in lime juice before frying them and tossing them with tart shredded lime leaves. Another quick fix for a crunchy, salty snack? Our Popcorn with Sesame-Glazed Pistachios.
Click through the slideshow to see more of our favorite finger foods. Just don’t forget to buy the napkins.