Finger Food Recipes

Raw Oysters with Cava Mignonette
Photo: © John Kernick

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.—Carrie Mullins

01 of 17

Pigs in a Blanket with Black Pepper Pastry

Pigs in a Blanket with Black Pepper Pastry
© Abby Hocking

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.

02 of 17

Mini Spinach-and-Herb Pies

Mini Spinach-and-Herb Pies
© Gustav Wiking

These terrific little pastries, stuffed with spinach and two cheeses, are made throughout the town of Chania in Crete. Every cook has a version (some use onions; some don't). Chef Evelina Makrinaki adds a splash of brandy to the dough, making it a little fluffy.

03 of 17

Lamb Pizzettes

Lamb Pizzettes
© Kana Okada

This recipe is based on the Arabic lamejun, a thin piece of dough topped with minced meat, then baked. Here Grace Parisi flavors ground lamb with cumin, mint and pine nuts.

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Hush Puppies with Green Zebra Tomato Jam

Kentucky Derby Appetizer Ideas
PHOTO © ANNA WILLIAMS

At Trummer's on Main in Clifton, Virginia, 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.

05 of 17

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon

This timeless tapa from Spanish cookbook author Penelope Casas has everything going for it—it's sweet, smoky and savory, all in one bite.

06 of 17

Smoky Deviled Eggs

Ashley Christensen: Smoky Deviled Eggs
 

Smoky Spanish pimentón makes these eggs distinctive. It is available at specialty food stores.

07 of 17

Hogs in a Blanket

Hogs in a Blanket
© Chris Court

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.

08 of 17

Garlic Bread "Fries" with Marinara "Ketchup"

Garlic Bread "Fries" with Marinara "Ketchup"

In this imaginative party snack, addictive garlicky bread sticks and marinara sauce resemble french fries and ketchup.

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Potato-and-Mozzarella Croquettes

Potato-and-Mozzarella Croquettes
FREDRIKA STJÄRNE

These light and cheesy fried potato croquettes are breaded twice: They’re dredged in bread crumbs, dipped in beaten eggs seasoned with mustard and garlic, then dredged in bread crumbs once more. The payoff is a supercrisp, flavorful crust for the filling of soft mashed potato and melted cheese.

10 of 17

Cauliflower Fritters

José Andrés (minibar by José Andrés, Washington, DC)

To create these wonderful tapas, José Andrés makes a batter with crunchy nubs of chopped cauliflower florets, fries spoonfuls in a skillet and then tops the fritters with yogurt sauce and a dollop of caviar.

11 of 17

Salty Black-and-White Sesame Cocktail Cookies

201111-r-black-white-sesame-cocktail-cookies.jpg
PHOTO © QUENTIN BACON

"In these cookies, you start with a sweet dough and the sesame seeds push it over on the sweet-savory continuum," says Dorie Greenspan. Blending ground almonds with the flour emphasizes the nutty sesame flavor.

12 of 17

White-Bean and Prosciutto Bruschetta

White-Bean and Prosciutto Bruschetta

Strips of prosciutto top each toast and are topped in turn with a mound of creamy white beans and sprinkling of crisp red onion. If you like, serve these with the Bruschetta Duet to make a tantalizing trio.

13 of 17

Popcorn with Sesame-Glazed Pistachios

Popcorn with Sesame-Glazed Pistachios
© John Kernick

Mixing popcorn with glazed pistachios creates a sweet-salty snack that's fantastic with cocktails.

14 of 17

Fried Peanuts with Asian Flavors

Fried Peanuts with Asian Flavors
© Lucy Schaeffer

To make these addictive peanuts extra-tangy, Chris Yeo soaks them in lime juice before frying them and tossing them with tart shredded lime leaves. He served them at the Atlanta party because Georgia is the peanut capital of the country.

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Marinated Olives with Orange

Marinated Olives with Orange
© John Kernick

Olives marinated in citrus juice, garlic and spicy crushed red pepper become a sensational cocktail-party snack.

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Herbed Chickpea Bruschetta

Herbed Chickpea Bruschetta

The key to these delicious bruschetta from chef Nancy Silverton is lots of olive oil. After she bakes the chickpeas with a variety of flavorings—including onions, pancetta and carrots—she purees them with a good amount of oil, spreads the puree on toasts and drizzles with a little more oil.

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Raw Oysters with Cava Mignonette

Raw Oysters with Cava Mignonette
© John Kernick

The secret to Boston chef Matt Jennings’s four-ingredient mignonette is cava, the Spanish sparkling wine.

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