25 Christmas Appetizers to Wow a Crowd

Carrots en Croute
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Cheesy or meaty, crispy or creamy, spicy or tangy — whichever route you want to take your holiday menu, these elegant Christmas appetizers offer a full range of festive deliciousness. Keep it classic with crowdpleasers like Bacon-Wrapped Dates and Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip, or pair Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet and Sour Sauce with Garlic-Butter Steak Bites for surf-and-turf-style snacking. Read on for even more of our best Christmas appetizers.

01 of 25

Potato Rösti with Pastrami

Potato Rosti with Pastrami
Victor Protasio

Gail Simmons recreated this comforting appetizer from Daniel Humm, chef-owner of New York City's Eleven Madison Park. "Once finished, you can blanket it in smoked salmon and crème fraîche or layer it with pastrami and whole grain mustard," she says. "Even simpler: Enjoy it under a gently fried egg for breakfast. It doesn't get much cozier than that."

02 of 25

Sweet Potato and Feta Bourekas

Sweet Potato and Feta Bourekas
Greg DuPree

Bourekas are crisp, savory little parcels filled with anything from vegetables and cheese to ground meat. Inspired by his grandmother's recipe, Zahav chef Michael Solomonov's version is stuffed with sweet potato, Bulgarian feta, dill, and olives.

03 of 25

Brussels Sprouts Baba Ghanoush

Brussels Sprouts Baba Ghanoush
Greg DuPree

After a whirl in the food processor, brussels sprouts and tahini come together to form a creamy dip in this riff on baba ghanoush. Chef Michael Solomonov serves it topped with more roasted brussels sprouts and hazelnuts alongside warm pita for dipping.

04 of 25

Duck Liver Pâté with Blackberry Conserva

Duck Liver Pâté with Blackberry Conserva
William Hereford

The tartness and texture of the blackberry conserva is a nice contrast to the rich, silky pâté. Spoon leftover blackberry conserva on pancakes, waffles, or ice cream.

05 of 25

Ricotta and Roasted Grape Crostini

Ricotta and Roasted Grape Crostini
© Fredrika Stjärne

Culinary and visual storyteller Athena Calderone's signature aesthetic comes through in this striking appetizer. Roasting the grapes concentrates and deepens their sweetness. Serve with a fresh, fruit-forward Champagne.

06 of 25

Herbed Salmon Tartare with Chips

Herbed Salmon Tartare with Chips
Ditte Isager

Impress your Christmas dinner guests with this easy-to-make herbed salmon tartare. The combination of both fresh and hot-smoked salmon, cucumber, cornichons, and crème fraîche comes together in a snap for an appetizer with an appealing range of textures and flavors.

07 of 25

Chile-Sumac Pomegranate Nuts

Chile-Sumac-Pomegranate Nuts
Greg DuPree

Cookbook author Nik Sharma's book Season weaves inspiration from his upbringing in Bombay with stories and experience from his adult life in the U.S. The result is a culinary memoir filled with craveable recipes like this one. Sharma notes that any mix of nuts will work for this recipe — just be sure to let them cool completely before serving or storing to ensure a crisp, not sticky, texture.

08 of 25

Pigs in a Blanket with Black Pepper Pastry

Pigs in a Blanket with Black Pepper Pastry
© Abby Hocking

Chef Jen Pelka 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.

09 of 25

Crudités and Fermented Soybean Dip

Crudites and Fermented Soy Bean Dip
Greg DuPree

Chef Katianna Hong keeps this appetizer simple, pairing just-picked vegetables with a thick, tangy soy dip. Her dip is the perfect way to show off whatever fresh vegetables you can get your hands on. You can find soybean paste and fermented soybeans in syrup at Korean markets or online.

10 of 25

Carrots en Croûte

Carrots en Croute
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

This filling appetizer stars roasted carrots wrapped in flaky puff pastry. For best results, look for carrots that are five to six inches in length. Pre-roasting carrots with curry, honey, and thyme balances their natural sweetness with rich, savory flavor, making them a satisfying stand-in for sausages.

11 of 25

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Abby Hocking

A perfect cocktail snack, bacon-wrapped dates are chewy, crispy, sweet, savory, and smoky all at once. Plump and tender Medjool dates are stuffed with a mixture of blue cheese and cream cheese, and a toasted walnut stands in for the pit. Fresh goat cheese could easily be swapped for the blue cheese, and roasted salted almonds can replace the walnuts. For sweeter stuffed dates, drizzle them with honey before serving.

12 of 25

Cheesy Sausage Cocktail Toasts

Cheesy-Sausage-Toasts-FT-Recipe2019211.jpg
Jennifer Causey

For these tasty toasts, cookbook author Andrea Slonecker borrows from the nostalgic flavors of her childhood and swaps creamy mascarpone and robust Taleggio for the Velveeta in her grandmother's original version. "The topping can be made a few days ahead, and it's as straightforward as browning some Italian sausage and melting in the cheeses," she writes.

13 of 25

Pimento Cheese with Salt-and-Pepper Butter Crackers

Pimento Cheese with Salt-and-Pepper Butter Crackers
© CON POULOS

Chef and television personality Carla Hall makes her own crunchy crackers to serve with her cheese spread, a riff on a Southern classic. The pimento cheese can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for one week.

14 of 25

Stilton-Stuffed Pickled Peppers

Stilton-Stuffed Pickled Peppers
Greg DuPree

Two high-impact ingredients — funky Stilton cheese and pickled sweet or spicy peppers — come together to form the ultimate one-bite snack. Pickled peppers, like spicy peperoncini and mild Peppadew, are packed with enough flavor to stand up against strong cheeses. You can use most blue cheeses here, including Gorgonzola and Roquefort.

15 of 25

Chile Crisp-Glazed Bacon Bites

Chile Crisp Glazed Bacon Bites
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

For this snack, meaty bites of slow-roasted slab bacon are tossed with a homemade chile crisp that's studded with freshly toasted chunks of dried chiles, fresh ginger, and garlic. Try this with your favorite store-bought version of chile crisp for an even easier version.

16 of 25

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

Warm Spinach-Artichoke Dip Recipe
Justin Walker

Filled with four kinds of cheese and plenty of tender artichoke hearts, this dip is creamy with a crisp, golden top. Be sure to drain the thawed frozen spinach well to avoid excess water, which can break the cheese sauce.

17 of 25

Spiced Sweet and Sour Ribs

Spiced Sweet and Sour Ribs
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Rubbed with toasted ground spices then lacquered with a sweet and tangy glaze of maple syrup and a duo of vinegars, these meaty ribs have a deep flavor and an irresistibly crackly crust.

18 of 25

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.

19 of 25

Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Green Goddess Dip

Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Green Goddess Dip
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Inspired by merguez, a North African lamb sausage, these meatballs are loaded with cumin, garlic, and paprika for the ideal one-bite nosh. Harissa gives them a fiery heat that's tempered by the herby dip. You can also try preparing these make-ahead meatballs with ground beef or a plant-based meat alternative, such as Impossible.

20 of 25

Mushroom Toasts with Délice de Bourgogne

Mushroom Toasts with Delice de Bourgogne
Eva Kolenko

Délice de Bourgogne, a triple-crème cheese that's even more luscious than Brie, is topped with pan-roasted mushrooms and herbs in this elegant appetizer from Top Chef winner Kristen Kish.

21 of 25

Four-Layer Caviar Dip

Four Layer Caviar Dip Recipe
Justin Walker

Layers of creamy egg salad, crisp red onion, herbed cream cheese, and salty, briney caviar come together in a beautiful molded dip that serves up an entire caviar platter in one dish.

22 of 25

Classic Cheese Ball with Spiced Pecans

Classic Cheeseball
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Kay Clarke

This iconic Southern hors d'oeuvre is a classic for good reason — it's easy to put together, looks polished on a platter, and boasts an irresistible savory flavor. Be sure to take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes in advance so it has plenty of time to soften before mixing up the cheese ball.

23 of 25

Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet and Sour Sauce

Calamari Toast with Hawthorn Sweet and Sour Sauce
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

This crunchy party appetizer from 2021 F&W Best New Chef Lucas Sin is inspired by classic Chinese shrimp toast. Here, Sin combines calamari and shrimp for the crispy fried toast-topper. Sweet and tangy haw flakes — Chinese sweets made from the fruit of Chinese hawthorn — flavor the dipping sauce.

24 of 25

Lumpiang Sariwa (Fresh Filipino Spring Rolls)

Lumpiang Sariwa
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

For this recipe, 2021 F&W Best New Chef Carlo Lamagna skips the deep fryer and instead makes these tender spring rolls by wrapping delicate homemade coconut crêpes around lettuce leaves filled with fresh vegetables. Topped with a lightly sweetened soy sauce and sprinkled with crunchy chopped peanuts, these rolls make a nice appetizer or light meal.

25 of 25

Garlic-Butter Steak Bites

Garlic Butter Steak Bites
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Missie Crawford

These quickly stir-fried beef bites deliver all the savory luxury of a steakhouse-caliber steak. The buttery, velvety sauce coats every piece nicely, and the vermouth's herbal richness pairs perfectly with the savory Worcestershire. Serve as an appetizer with toothpicks, or enjoy over mashed potatoes or polenta.

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