Don't sleep on frozen finger foods. 

By Bridget Hallinan
May 15, 2019

Sometimes, appetizers are the best part of a meal; our favorites include crisp gougères melting with gruyère cheese and nutmeg; waffle bites studded with caviar, crème fraîche, and snipped chives; and light feta-and-radish toasts that crunch with each bite. And to be honest, there’s just as much allure in the frozen aisle of the grocery store when it comes to crowd-pleasers, especially if you’re short on time. Supermarkets have long stocked perfectly delicious mini quiches, pastries, and rolls that can be readied after a few minutes in the oven. We all have our go-tos. Some of our editors swear by the humble Ore Ida Bagel Bites, while others are firmly in camp Trader Joe’s (the Parmesan Pastry Pups were frequently evangelized). So it made us wonder—when you don’t feel like whipping up an appetizer from scratch, which boxed and bagged hors d'oeuvres are your best bet? 

Vivienne Gucwa

We tried over thirty different frozen appetizers to get to the truth. (Don’t do this at home, kids. We were extremely dehydrated afterwards.) After traveling to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Target, and other grocers to raid their freezers, we ended up with trays and trays of beige food in our test kitchen. (Samosas! Egg rolls! Tiny pizzas!) Each taste tester went through and ranked their favorites on a scale of one to five. We then added up the appetizers with the most points (scores of 1 equaled 5 points, two equaled four points, etc.), and ultimately came up with our top five picks. Read on for the results. 

Vivienne Gucwa

Winner: Whole Foods Market Potato & Pea Samosas

Vivienne Gucwa

“Delicious—well-spiced. Reheats well and didn’t burst.”

“Spicy and flavorful, great texture.”

“Really nice spice and crispy crust.”

2. Trader Joe’s Parmesan Pastry Pups

Vivienne Gucwa

“Really love the crispy Parmesan pastry; it elevates your typical pig in a blanket.”

“Really good taste—the Parmesan adds a nice touch and plays off the hot dog taste.”

3. Whole Foods Market Tandoori Chicken Samosas

Vivienne Gucwa

“Tasty! Chicken isn’t dry, well-seasoned, looks good.”

“Very solid spice profile.”

4. 365 Everyday Value Everything Pastry Mini Uncured Hot Dogs

Vivienne Gucwa

“I like the addition of the everything blend. Gets close to a Chicago dog.”

“Really good! Like eating a bagel with a hot dog—two great tastes!”

5. Trader Joe's Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Vivienne Gucwa

“Tangy and sweet. Could use more onion but it is balanced and tasty.”

“Nice cheese to onion ratio.”

Honorable mentions

We really, really had a hard time narrowing these down—and there were several fan favorites that didn’t make it into the top tier, but still deserved our love and affection. Behold, our runners-up:

5. Whole Foods Market Mini Quiche Trio 

6. Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tacos

7. Trader Joe’s Pork Shu Mai Pork Dumplings

8. Whole Foods Spinach & Cheese Spanakopita

9. Trader Joe’s Bambino Pepperoni Pizza

10. Archer Farms Bacon Wrapped Scallop

Advertisement