Our 13 Best Italian Appetizers

Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Prosciutto and Mozzarella
Photo: Greg Dupree

Flaky, cheesy focaccia. Fresh, creamy mozzarella. Crispy arancini. These Italian appetizers are a great way to start off your meal, whether you're looking for something simple and summery, like Roasted Eggplant Caponata, or a fall-ready starter like Crispy Frico Cups with Polenta and Brown Butter. Read on for even more Italian appetizer recipes.

01 of 13

Arancini with Peas and Mozzarella


Grace Parisi's Calabrian grandmother always used plain white rice to make her incredible arancini (rice balls), but Parisi prefers to cook with plump arborio to make the insides creamier.

02 of 13

Ricotta and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Pancetta

Red, White and Blue Food for Fourth of July

Peak-season tomatoes make all the difference in this simple bruschetta from author Susan Spungen. They're the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup or a large salad, or, to turn them into two-bite hors d'oeuvres, simply cut the bruschetta crosswise into strips.

03 of 13

Fresh Mozzarella

Fresh Mozzarella
© Tara Fisher

Warm, tender, milky mozzarella is easier to make than you might think. Plus it takes just 20 minutes.

04 of 13

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade
© Greg DuPree

Shredded iceberg lettuce serves as the crunchy base for a salad made with bocconcini, Genoa salami, peperoncini, and green olives.

05 of 13

Michael Symon's Arancini

Michael Symon's Arancini
© Abby Hocking

Arancini, the crispy-on-the-outside and cheesy-on-the-inside fried rice balls, are the ultimate cocktail hour snack. Star chef Michael Symon makes his risotto the day ahead for easy prep and then breads the mozzarella-filled balls just moments before frying to get that perfect, crunchy crust.

06 of 13

Crispy Frico Cups with Polenta and Brown Butter

Crispy Frico Cups with Polenta and Brown Butter
© Cedric Angeles

Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson molds traditional Italian frico (cheese crisps) into cups, then fills the salty, crunchy bowls with creamy, warm polenta and nutty brown butter. The frico cups soften as the polenta sits in them, so serve right away, with a fork and knife.

07 of 13

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.

08 of 13

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

Roasted Eggplant Caponata
© Guy Ambrosino

If you have the time, make the caponata at least a day ahead; it's one of those dishes that improves as it rests. Eat it as they do in Sicily: spooned over bread or focaccia, alongside roast lamb or chicken, paired with a wedge of pecorino…in short, with almost anything!

09 of 13

Sausage-Stuffed Fried Olives

Sausage-Stuffed Fried Olives Recipe
Victor Protasio

Buttery, mild Castelvetrano olives add just enough salt and tang to these fried sausage snacks that pair beautifully with a crisp martini or chilled glass of wine. Use a high-quality Italian sausage for the best texture and flavor.

10 of 13

Focaccia col Formaggio

Greg Dupree

This snack, also known as focaccia di Recco, is a crisp, flaky, cheese-filled Italian bread, perfect for snacking on at any time of day.

11 of 13

Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Prosciutto and Mozzarella

Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Prosciutto and Mozzarella
Greg Dupree

In this recipe, delicate zucchini blossoms are stuffed with melty mozzarella and salty prosciutto before being lightly battered and fried into a crispy melt-in-your-mouth treat.

12 of 13

Erbazzone Reggiano (Emilian Spinach and Cheese Pie)

Erbazzone Reggiano Recipe
Cedric Angeles

Flavorful and filling with a light, almost cracker-like crust, this rustic spinach pie relies on simple ingredients for an impressive finish. Because the spinach gently steams within the crust, it retains its fresh, verdant flavor even after cooking.

13 of 13

Mushroom and Fontina Crostini

Mushroom and Fontina Crostini
© Fredrika Stjärne

Maria Helm Sinskey slowly cooks mushrooms with butter, shallots, garlic, and thyme, before spooning onto chewy bread and topping with melty Italian Fontina cheese to make these delicious crostini.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles