30 Party-Ready Holiday Hors d'Oeuvre Recipes

Sausage Wreath
Photo: Abby Hocking

Use an array of hors d'oeuvres to set the tone for your dazzling and delicious holiday cocktail party. Keep things playful with andouille sausage hogs in a blanket, or put a sophisticated spin on classic onion dip. From tangy cranberry-glazed cocktail meatballs to crisp butternut squash wontons, these are Food & Wine's best holiday hors d'oeuvres for merry, bright gatherings.

01 of 30

Gougères with Smoked Salmon, Caviar, and Prosciutto

Smoked Salmon and Caviar Gougeres
Photo by Fred Hardy II / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman

These cheesy puffs look fancy but come together in minutes to make any snack feel like an occasion. We topped ours with slivers of prosciutto and smoked salmon and dollops of caviar and crème fraîche, but any toppings will do. Or, simply eat them plain — they shine on their own. 

02 of 30

Thai-Style Shrimp Cocktail

Thai-Style Shrimp Cocktail
Aubrie Pick

Chef Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market invites a quick garlic aïoli and super-spicy fish sauce–based dip to the shrimp cocktail party. Serve the shrimp alongside ramekins of aïoli and nam jim seafood sauce for dipping, or arrange the shrimp around the rim of a coupe glass filled with nam jim for more intense flavor. 

03 of 30

Shakshuka Deviled Eggs

Shakshuka Deviled Eggs
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Shakshuka meets deviled eggs in this colorful snack. Instead of poaching eggs in a tomato-based sauce, you'll spoon a garlicky, slightly spicy tomato jam flavored with harissa and smoked paprika on top of deviled eggs. The yolks are pureed with mayo and plain yogurt for a creamy, perfectly balanced filling with a little bit of tang.

04 of 30

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.

05 of 30

Caramelized Five-Onion Dip

Caramelized Five Onion Dip
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

A mix of five alliums — shallots, scallions, and sweet, yellow, and red onions — upgrades this classic caramelized onion dip with layers of flavor. Yellow and red onions give it bite, while Vidalia onion and shallots lend a pleasant sweetness. Taking the time to cook the onions low and slow concentrates their flavor, while adding scallions halfway through cooking keeps them just fresh enough to serve with chips, toasted bread, or vegetables like endive, steamed fingerling potatoes, and roasted Broccolini.

06 of 30

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
Photo by Morgan Hunt Glaze / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

These two-bite quintessential cocktail party scallops are easy to prepare and ready in just half an hour. The bacon adds nice smoky flavor, but you can also make this recipe with prosciutto or pancetta.

07 of 30

French Onion Baked Brie

French Onion Baked Brie

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Amelia Rampe

If that first spoonful of French onion soup — with toasted bread, melted cheese, and savory caramelized onions — is your favorite, then you’ll love this appetizer, which is a decadent mash-up of French onion soup and baked Brie. Serve it with slices of toasted baguette.

08 of 30

Chipotle-Cranberry-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Chipotle Cranberry Glazed Turkey Meatballs
Photo: Jennifer Causey / Food stylist Ali Ramee

Cookbook author Carrie Schloss is a big fan of recipes that are both savory and sweet, and says these cranberry-glazed meatballs are one of her favorite go-to appetizers, especially during the winter holiday season. The chipotle pepper and honey added to this cranberry sauce give it gentle notes of heat and sweetness. If you like, use ground beef or pork instead of turkey.

09 of 30

Smoked Sausage Wreath

Sausage Wreath
Abby Hocking

Smoked sausage encased in crisp puff pastry forms a festive, edible wreath that’s perfect for holiday entertaining. A layer of lingonberry jam lends a sweet-tart flavor that balances the smoky sausage. Crispy fried herbs— bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary — tucked decoratively into the baked wreath are an attractive, tasty garnish.

10 of 30

Cheesy Sausage Cocktail Toasts

cheesy sausage toasts
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.

11 of 30

Warm Ricotta with Roasted Grapes

Warm Ricotta with Roasted Grapes
© Petrina Tinslay

This is an elegant appetizer for any party, but it's most lovely during colder months, topped with sweet roasted grapes. It can either be served warm or at room temperature.

12 of 30

Mushroom Conserva

mushroom conservation on toast
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Marinated in a blend of Champagne vinegar, olive oil, toasted fennel seeds, garlic, and thyme, these tender mushrooms are a winning appetizer waiting to happen. Spoon them over ricotta-topped toast or gooey baked Brie, or add them to a cheese board with plenty of crusty bread for sopping.

13 of 30

Smoky Mussel Stew

Smoky Mussel Stew
© John Kernick

This rich stew from Boston chef Matt Jennings gets exceptional flavor from smoked mussels.

14 of 30

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.

15 of 30

Oysters on the Half Shell with Rosé Mignonette

Oysters on the Half Shell with Rosé Mignonette. Photo © Michael Turek
© Michael Turek

Great oysters are delicious "naked," as Island Creek founder Skip Bennett says, but sometimes chef Jeremy Sewall dresses them up with a mignonette (vinegar sauce) like this one, made with sparkling rosé.

16 of 30

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, ground lamb is flavored with cumin, mint, and pine nuts.

17 of 30

Butternut Squash and Sage Wontons

Butternut-Squash-and-Sage Wontons
© Tina Rupp

"Wonton wrappers are terrific for making ravioli when you don't have time to make homemade pasta," says food writer Jill Donenfeld. The wontons here, filled with mashed butternut squash and roasted garlic, get nicely crispy when sautéed in a touch of oil, but they're also delicious simply steamed.

18 of 30

Caramelized Onion and Gruyère Tart

Caramelized Onion and Gruyère Tart
© Robert Wright

Holiday make-ahead tip: This vegetarian tart from chef Ashley Christensen can be refrigerated overnight. Simply rewarm it and cut into wedges to serve.

19 of 30

Open-Faced Crab Empanadas

Open-Faced Crab Empanadas
© Akiko Ida & Pierre Javelle

Chef José Andrés says: "I love America! Without a doubt, one of my favorite American ingredients is blue crabs, a true delicacy! And a great value, I think." This recipe is his twist on the traditional Basque txangurro (crab simmered with tomato), crossed with a savory Galician empanada. "Part of my efforts to build a bridge between America and Spain," he explains.

20 of 30

Caesar Salad Spears

Caesar Salad Spears
© Kana Okada

Salads usually require forks, but former F&W editor Grace Parisi transforms a classic Caesar into a clever finger food. She tosses chopped endives with a lemony dressing, then spoons the mixture inside elegant endive spears, topping it with cheese and crunchy mini croutons.

21 of 30

Gouda, Pancetta, and Onion Fondue with Pretzels

Gouda, Pancetta and Onion Fondue with Pretzels. © Quentin Bacon

© Quentin Bacon

Leyden, a Dutch cheese flecked with cumin seeds, inspired cheese aficionado Laura Werlin to create this cumin-spiced Gouda fondue. Serve it with soft, warm pretzels or pickled vegetables for dipping.

22 of 30


Mexican Gorditas
© Zubin Schroff

Crisp on the outside and soft within, these savory corn cakes are a great base for all types of toppings, from pulled pork to shredded chicken.

23 of 30

Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini

Toasted Pistachio–Cheese Arancini
© Ditte Isager

These arancini — fried risotto balls — are the size of tangerines. They're filled with creamy, cheesy rice, studded with nuts and green peas, and encased in a great crunchy crust.

24 of 30

Shrimp and Pork Spring Rolls

Shrimp-and-Pork Spring Rolls
© Michael Turek

Malaysian designer Zang Toi's supremely crispy spring rolls are filled with a mix of marinated shrimp, ground pork, and a handful of colorful julienned vegetables like carrot, jicama, and beans. The fried shallot rings add alluring flavor and crunch to the spring rolls, too, but they're optional. Toi even makes his own chile sauce to serve as an accompaniment.

25 of 30

Red Wine Bagna Cauda with Crudités

Red Wine Bagna Cauda with Crudités
© Cedric Angeles

This garnet sauce is chef Chris Cosentino’s take on the classic Piedmontese anchovy and olive oil dip, enriched here with red wine. Italian for “hot bath,” bagna cauda is served warm with crudités. This version, with both oil-packed and marinated anchovies, doubles as a terrific sauce for grilled meat.

26 of 30

Pimiento Cheese and Bacon Crostini

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Crostini.
© Burcu Avsar

There’s nothing more indulgent than melted and browned pimiento cheese topped with crispy bacon.

27 of 30

Porcini and Pecan Pâté

Porcini-and-Pecan Pâté
© Sabra Krock

Proving that vegetables can be as satisfying as meat, chef Sean Baker used to serve this mushroom pâté on the vegan “charcuterie” plate at the Berkeley restaurant Gather.

28 of 30

Sausage Potato Puffs

Sausage Potato Puffs
© Frances Janisch

Chef and vitner Maria Helm Sinskey has a strategy for parties: There should be a mix of baked, fried, and fresh hors d’oeuvres. Besides ensuring that guests don’t overload on one kind of appetizer, she also avoids too much last-minute cooking. These tender potato puffs spiked with spicy sausages are one of her favorite oven-baked starters.

29 of 30

Crudités with Creamy Pistachio Dip

Crudités with Creamy Pistachio Dip
© Anna Williams

Salty, creamy, and even a little crunchy, this recipe is the ultimate party snack for when you are looking to go far beyond the average bowl of onion dip.

30 of 30

Three-Cheese Mini Macs

Three-Cheese Mini Macs
© Kana Okada

Anything big made small is ultra fun for cocktail parties, and these quick, one-bite mac and cheeses are the ultimate example. Cooked in mini muffin pans, the mini macs can be assembled early and baked just as guests arrive.

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