30 Perfect Christmas Appetizers
Marinated Olives with Orange
Olives marinated in citrus juice, garlic and spicy crushed red pepper become a sensational cocktail-party snack. Put these out after dinner, as well, for any guests who want something light and simple to snack on.
Caramelized White Chocolate Spread
Slow-roasting white chocolate makes the cocoa butter in it silky, rich and caramel-like, a technique championed by pastry chef Belinda Leong. Valrhona’s Ivoire white baking chocolate has just the right amount of cocoa butter for this spread from F&W’s Justin Chapple.
Maple-Dijon Salmon Skewers
Ali Banks created these delectable skewers to showcase exceptional fish.
Chunky Curried Kabocha Squash Dip
Sweet roasted winter squash makes a fantastic base for a healthy dip. Here, F&W’s Kay Chun gives it an Indian spin by adding curry, as well as fresh jalapeño and lime juice.
Charred Eggplant Dip
This dip is lighter than many versions of baba ghanoush because there’s no tahini weighing it down. The pure, smoky flavor of the charred eggplant and the wonderful aromas of the fresh parsley, cilantro and mint really come through.
Gruyère Queso with Tuna and Wheat Berries
F&W’s Kay Chun is the genius behind this easy cheese dip, inspired by a tuna melt.
This three-ingredient snack is crispy, sweet and salty. It’s the ultimate cocktail party hors d’oeuvre.
Broccoli Cheese Dunk
Gooey and luscious, this addictive starter is like a deconstructed broccoli quesadilla.
Crispy Potato-and-Sauerkraut Cakes with Smoked Trout
Jonathon Sawyer uses his grandmother’s old Griswold cast-iron pan to cook these crispy potato pancakes, which he amps up with tangy sauerkraut, fresh dill and caraway.
This smooth and creamy chicken liver pâté is flavored with onions, fresh herbs and Marsala, then blended with crème fraîche.
Shredded Caesar Salad on Toasts
Bronson van Wyck chops the lettuce for this salad very finely to become a topping for crunchy, garlicky toasts.
Boiled Shrimp with Spicy Mayonnaise
Mustard and white pepper amp up the heat in this homemade mayo for shrimp.
Hush Puppies with Remoulade
Emily Kaiser Thelin created these crispy hush puppies—cornmeal dumplings—by adapting a recipe from chef Susan McCreight Lindeborg. Emily serves them with a version of the creamy French sauce remoulade, which she spikes with Tabasco and a little ketchup.
Creamy Spinach-and-Shrimp Dip
This is a variation on a cocktail-party classic.
Herbed Scrambled-Egg Toasts with Bottarga
“What’s simpler, more affordable and more universally liked than an egg?” says Tamar Adler. Here, she cooks them with herbs and spoons them onto toasts with shaved bottarga.
Coated with cinnamon and chile powder, these spiced nuts are addictive with cocktails. The egg white in the coating makes them especially crispy.
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.
Curried Spaghetti-Squash-and-Chickpea Toasts
Spaghetti squash gets its name because once it’s cooked, you can use a fork to pull the flesh into long, thin strands. Jonathon Sawyer makes his own curry and cooks his own chickpeas for this vegetarian dish, but this simplified recipe calls for store-bought curry paste and canned chickpeas. Sawyer roasts the seeds from the squash and uses them as a garnish; pumpkin seeds from the supermarket are a fine substitute.
Inspired by the classic combination of bagels with lox and cream cheese, Tory Miller devised this variation using smoked, locally raised trout and homemade English muffins. It would be equally good on other breads, such as a baguette, or even the bagel that inspired it.
Mixed Crudités with Green Goddess Dressing
This elegant crudité is perfect for a hearty holiday meal: Lightly dressed vegetables are served in lettuce cups with Green Goddess dressing for dipping.
Jerry Traunfeld toasts and grinds whole coriander seeds before pureeing them with roasted cauliflower, tahini paste, lemon and cilantro. Simplify the recipe by using ground coriander from a bottle to season this bright, tangy recipe.
Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini
This recipe for arancini—fried risotto balls—comes from Renato Poliafito, who got it from his Sicilian cousin Emanuele Sanfilippo. “Renato is obsessed with arancini,” says Matt Lewis, “especially this version with toasted pistachios.” These arancini are the size of tangerines, filled with creamy, cheesy rice, studded with nuts and green peas and encased in a great crunchy crust.
Sweet-and-Spicy Sesame Walnuts
A gentle heat makes these seasoned walnuts ideal with cocktails.
Mini Tartes Flambées
This is a bite-size version of tarte flambée, a traditional Alsatian tart. Gabriel Kreuther’s mother makes tarte flambée on the family farm in Alsace, using home-smoked bacon and home-grown onions.
Port-Glazed Walnuts with Stilton
Encourage guests to cut off small chunks of the Stilton and dip them in the port syrup.