25 All-American Appetizers
Sticky Baked Chicken Wings
Chef Matt Jennings of Townsman in Boston means business when it comes to his food and his beloved Patriots football team. For the ultimate game-day snack, he tosses chicken wings that he bakes in the oven (instead of deep-frying) in a spicy glaze he makes with gochujang, the Korean red pepper paste. And best of all, the prepared gochujang sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Crab Cakes with Horseradish Cream
These classic crab cakes are easy to make, as is the tangy horseradish cream.
Caramelized Onion Dip
This homemade onion dip is far better than the storebought version.
Deviled Eggs With Country Ham
Chef Ford Fry uses European techniques and flavors at the neighborhood bistro JCT. His deviled eggs get their terrific flavor from goat cheese, Dijon mustard and cornichons, plus a topping of country ham.
Hogs in a Blanket
This fun, high-brow take on pigs in a blanket swaps spicy andouille sausage for the hot dogs, with sweet mustard chutney as a condiment.
Caesar Salad Spears
Grace Parisi transforms a classic Caesar into a clever finger food. She tosses chopped endives with a lemony dressing, then spoons the mixture inside elegant endive spears, topping it with cheese and crunchy mini croutons.
Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
Most of us think of Buffalo wings as bar food, but with their accompaniment of celery sticks and creamy blue-cheese dressing, they make a fine casual meal. These wings are hot, but if you like them incendiary, pass extra Tabasco sauce at the table.
Artichoke-and-Spinach Dip with Spiced Pita Chips
Ken Oringer often serves dip at winter tailgates because it travels well and is simple to eat (no plates or forks necessary). When the weather is very cold, he likes to reheat this creamy, slightly spicy dip in a skillet on a portable grill, but it’s also delicious at room temperature.
Fried Pickles with Spicy Mayonnaise
Consulting chef Zak Pelaccio grew up eating fried pickles in Brooklyn Heights, New York. He coats his extra-crisp version in panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and fries them in schmaltz, or chicken fat, though vegetable oil works well, too.
Brioche Crab Melts
In this deliciously indulgent version of the classic tuna melt, Vitaly Paley pairs moist chunks of crab with brioche, truffle butter and nutty Gruyère cheese.
Blue-Cheese-and-Walnut Dip with Waldorf Crudités
With walnuts, mayonnaise, apples and grapes, this recipe is a riff on classic Waldorf salad.
These mini burgers are extra juicy because they’re made with a mixture of meats, including ground chuck and short rib.
Pimento Cheese & Bacon Crostini
Down Home with the Neelys has inventive recipes like these irresistible crostini.
According to Southern tradition, the hostess at a ladies’ luncheon should serve little meatballs in a chafing dish or on a platter with toothpicks as a satisfying snack for any men in attendance. The recipe here is by Debra Shaw, the cafeteria manager at the Golden Age Nursing Home in Greenwood.
Three-Cheese Mini Macs
Anything big made small is ultrafun for cocktail parties, and these quick, one-bite mac and cheeses are the ultimate example. Cooked in mini muffin pans, the mini macs can be assembled early and baked just as guests arrive.
Mini Brioche Lobster Rolls
These rolls, which are a delightful play on the traditional lobster roll, are quite substantial, so one per person is plenty, especially if you're serving additional hors d’oeuvres. Cooked shrimp or lump crab is a fine alternative to lobster.
Fried Okra with Sweet Chile Sauce
Howie Velie dips okra into a cornmeal batter, then fries it until it’s puffy, golden and crusty. Make sure to serve the okra right away since it can get soggy if it sits.
Pickled Shrimp with Creamy Spinach Dip
“I can’t have a party without deviled eggs,” says Katie Lee, whose cooking often reflects her Southern roots. Here, she deconstructs the retro hors d’oeuvre, blending hard-boiled eggs with mustard and mayonnaise so it’s more like an egg salad that she can spread on toasts.
Hush Puppies with Green Zebra Tomato Jam
Clayton Miller makes a highly seasoned, Indian-inflected tomato jam with ginger, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne. It's a terrific accompaniment to his hush puppies—cheekily nicknamed “shut-your-piehole puppies” by the cooks in his kitchen.
Pigs in a Blanket with Black Pepper Pastry
Jen Pelka of San Francisco’s The Riddler loves serving Champagne with playful bite-size foods like pigs in a blanket. To take them up a notch, she brushes the puff pastry with a tasty mix of honey, mustard and fresh black pepper before rolling up with the hot dogs and baking.
Deviled Egg Toast
This twist on deviled eggs is Chef Missy Robbins’ favorite way to get the salty, spicy, tangy filling all in one crunchy bite. Robbins usually tops her crostini with bottarga or tuna roe, but recommends truffles or even hot sauce, too.
Baked Chicken Wings
These supereasy baked chicken wings use just a few ingredients and four simple steps.
Bacon-Wrapped Cherry Peppers
These genius hors d’oeuvres from Colby Garrelts (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) call for just three ingredients. The recipe can be made ahead of time, so it’s great for parties.
Cast-Iron Cornmeal Cake with Buttermilk Cream
Pouring the batter into a hot skillet ensures a perfectly cooked, dark golden–bottomed crust with a fluffy, golden interior. To check for doneness, rely on the visual cues for browning—a cake tester will come out clean before the cake is cooked through.