Putting together tasty cold make ahead appetizers for your next get-together doesn’t have to be a complicated and time-consuming affair.
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You can make easy hors d oeuvres your guests will rave about in just minutes with plenty of time left over for other preparations to just to put your feet up and relax.
In the hot summer months (or late spring months), it’s nice to have cold appetizers because you don’t have to heat up your kitchen. Also, cold appetizers tend to be lighter, so they’re perfect to serve when you’re just wanting light snacks for a party or gathering.
Cold appetizers are a delightful way to start any meal or gathering. These delicious, often bite-sized morsels can set the tone for the event, whether it’s a formal dinner party or a casual get-together with friends and family. Offering refreshing flavors and creative presentations, cold appetizers are a versatile option that can easily cater to a wide array of culinary preferences and dietary needs.
Incorporating a variety of textures and ingredients, these appetizers are designed to tantalize the taste buds and spark conversation among guests. From inventive twists on classic dishes to unique culinary creations, there’s a wealth of possibilities to explore. One key to a successful appetizer spread is variety, so don’t hesitate to mix and match contrasting flavors and textures that complement each other.
To ensure the best possible guest experience, planning and preparation are paramount. When selecting and preparing cold appetizers, consider the seasonality of ingredients, the occasion, and the dietary preferences of guests. By thoughtfully crafting a selection of cold appetizers, hosts can elevate any gathering and leave guests longing for the main course.
Cold appetizers are a great way to start off any meal. They can be a great way to get your guests excited and can set the tone for a great evening. Cold appetizers can range from simple salads and dips to more complex and flavorful dishes such as sushi and tempura. They can be light and refreshing, or they can be more substantial, depending on the type of dish.
Cold appetizers can be served as the first course or as part of a multi–course meal. They can be a great way to show off your culinary skills, as well as to introduce your guests to new flavors and recipes. Cold appetizers can also be great for parties and potlucks, as they require minimal preparation and can be made ahead of time. Cold appetizers can be served in individual portions or on a large platter, depending on your preference.
When it comes to hors d’oeuvres, folks want something that’s not too messy, a finger food they can walk around with instead of sitting down and eating.
Below, we’ve put together 25 of our favorite easy cold appetizer recipes that you can make in a snap.
If you’ve got some folks who just dropped in to say hi, this is a great cold snack you can make while you steal yourself away to the kitchen for five minutes.
Cold finger foods like salami and cream cheese bites are perfect for any occasion, and you can customize them with all kinds of add-ons such as green olives, black olives, cucumber, cherry tomato, and even pineapple!
There are many more toppings out there you can try, or you can just keep it simple.
And don’t forget about the cream cheese that mixes well with your favorite dressings or other spreads like dill relish.
We love adding chopped bacon and diced jalapeno to our cream cheese for a salty and spicy kick.
And when it comes to dips, these easy-to-make snacks taste wonderful with ranch or honey mustard.
No law says you can’t use a delicious dessert as a cold appetizer, and even if there is, no one will mind if you break it – especially if you’re making this fantastic key lime pie dip.
This dip packs all the tangy and sweet goodness of key lime pie into a creamy dip your guests won’t be able to stop scooping!
Best of all, this dip is so simple to make, it’s hilarious.
Just combine condensed milk flavored with lime juice and zest with cream cheese.
You can dip just about any fruit you can think of in this tangy dip, such as apple, strawberry, fresh blueberry, and banana, just to name a few.
Graham cracker squares and regular crackers are also popular choices.
There are a couple of reliable “go-to” dips you can whip together in minutes that your party guests will always clean out before the night’s over.
Seriously, spinach dip is one of the most addictive dips on the planet, which is weird considering how many folks don’t like the taste of spinach.
But when mixed with mayo, cream cheese, scallions, and parmesan cheese, this misunderstood Cinderella veggie becomes the queen of the ball!
You can also substitute the mayonnaise for sour cream if you prefer.
Lots of folks enjoy dipping other vegetables like carrots and celery. But you can also use crackers, pretzels, potato chips, biscuits, even fried foods like mozzarella sticks!
There’s nothing wrong with adding something fancy to your appetizer menu.
And with this recipe for watermelon and feta mint cold appetizers, you can impress guests whether you’re throwing a fancy black-tie affair or a Sunday night football party.
This high-class horderve is not only delicious but super straightforward to make.
The most challenging part might be cutting up the watermelon, but you can always buy cubed watermelon pieces at most grocery stores if you are in a rush.
Assembling your skewers takes only a few seconds per skewer, and you can make a couple dozen in less than an hour.
When folks see this sweet and cheesy dessert served up on a white plate with balsamic drizzle, you’re sure to get several approving nods of respect.
Cream cheese is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to cold appetizers. You can make so many things with this spread ranging from sweet to savory (and sometimes both).
And this Italian pinwheels recipe most certainly falls into the savory category.
This snack’s basically a flour tortilla wrapped around delicious Italian sausages such as pepperoni and genoa salami.
In addition to cream cheese, these pinwheels also have provolone cheese, Italian bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh lettuce, sweet red peppers, and tangy banana peppers.
Once you’ve rapped it all up, you cut the roll into sections, and you’ve got pinwheels.
How easy is that?
When they think of salsa, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and other savory ingredients are the first to come to mind for most folks. However, there are some delicious fruit salsas out here, such as this kiwi mango strawberry salsa.
We really love this recipe because all the other spices and herbs really bring this dish alive with unexpected flavors such as jalapeno pepper and cilantro.
Once everything’s ready, your bright and vibrant salsa will instantly become the center of attention as folks line up with their chips to sample this salsa masterpiece.
You can also add other ingredients like onion and mint for even more delicious flavors.
Do you know those cold finger foods that seem to disappear if you blink?
Well, these bacon and goat cheese mini-stuffed peppers seem to have a similar M.O at parties.
Now, this recipe is that it requires a little cooking, namely the bacon.
However, if you happen to be one of those folks who love to freeze their frozen bacon in case of bacon-related party emergencies, then you’re good to go!
Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and you’ve got your mix.
Next, just stuff your sliced yellow and red mini bell peppers and serve.
You may need to hire a bodyguard to keep these celebrity hor d oeuvres from being kidnapped!
8. Crack Dip
Some might find this dip’s name slightly offensive, but trust us, once you’ve had one taste of this delicious crack dip recipe, you’ll understand its name is well earned.
With all of its savory ingredients, crack dip is insanely yummy and totally addictive!
Let us warn you right now. You’ll want to make more than one bowl for any size party.
This dip combines the flavors of sour cream, bacon, cheddar, and ranch seasoning for one stupid-crazy good dip!
You can also add ingredients like cream cheese and green onions for even more flavor insanity.
Use your favorite chips, pretzels, bread, and veggies to dig into this dip that will leave everyone hooked.
Right up there with crack dip is this fabulous recipe for pub-style ranch beer dip.
This dip’s perfect for game night with its ranch mix, cream cheese, and, of course, beer.
You can also add different cheeses to the mix, such as cheddar, pepper jack, Monterey jack, and parmesan, to really kick up the flavor.
Some folks even like to add veggies like diced celery, cucumber, and black olives, and, of course, bacon is always an option for many.
This dip is so delicious that folks might forget there’s a game on TV!
That’s understandable. After all, who can care about “the score,” when they’re scoring a mouthful of this scrumptious dip?
Don’t worry, seafood lovers, we’ve not forgotten about you. As much as we love tuna salad, in our humble opinion, crab dip’s where it’s at!
If you’ve not had this savory dip before, now is the time to try it. This crab dip recipe is super easy to make and tastes better than gold.
Mom’s recipe’s got a combination of cream cheese, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dried minced onion, garlic powder, freshly chopped parsley, along with salt, and of course delicious crab meat.
You can also add a bit of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, Old Bay Seasoning, and green onions for a supreme dip remix.
When all of these superstars get together, you’ve got a blockbuster playing in your mouth. And your taste buds will savor every minute of the action!
If you’re looking for a healthy dip that doesn’t taste like a sacrifice, then this recipe for creamy roasted garlic hummus is just the thing you need.
It only takes 5-minutes in your food processor to make this Middle Eastern favorite using lots of garlic, canned chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
Also, here are a couple of popular toppings:
Freshly chopped herbs such as dill, parsley, and thyme, Sumac, Nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts, and pine nuts, sesame seeds, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes
You can also substitute canned chickpeas for dried. Just make sure you soak your chickpeas in cold water two hours before you boil them.
Guacamole, the delicious green spread that costs about $2 extra to add to your meal at most fast-food restaurants, is ironically one of the cheapest party dips you can make.
And with this 3-ingredient guacamole recipe, you can save even more time and money while creating a large bowl of simply delicious guacamole for your event.
Now, don’t get us wrong. We all love loaded guacamole with ingredients like diced onion, tomato, cilantro, and other tasty goodies.
But, sometimes you just want to go quick and simple, and this recipe is just that.
Now, if you want to give this recipe a bit more of a kick, you can add a bit of cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
Now grab your favorite tortilla chips and veggies and enjoy!
Following the theme of “keeping it simple” is this recipe for rainbow fruit & cheese kabobs with cinnamon honey yogurt dip.
Now, while this recipe sounds like a lot of work, it couldn’t be easier to throw together in next to no time.
It’s interesting how so many fruits taste excellent with cheese.
These two ingredients may live in separate worlds, one used in meals, the other in desserts, but when they come together, it’s like, “yeah, of course!”
With this recipe, you can substitute any fruit for your favorites, such as fresh raspberries, watermelon, apples, peaches, and cantaloupe.
You can even use a different cheese, like Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or white cheddar.
And the yogurt dip is just mixing plain yogurt with honey and cinnamon, perhaps with more honey and cinnamon on top to accent your dip.
One of our all-time favorite sandwiches is a simple BLT with lettuce, tomato, and crispy bacon between two slices of toasted bread (we love sourdough).
However, putting together a bunch of tiny BLT sandwiches can be a lot of work!
Not to worry, because, with this mini-tomato BLT cups recipe, you can bring the taste of a delicious BLT sandwich into the world of cold appetizers.
Best of all, this recipe is deceptively simple to make.
For example, before your bacon finishes cooking, you can easily scoop out your cherry tomatoes and make your filling.
We suggest using a pastry bag to fill the cherry tomato with creamy chipotle mayo.
Some folks also use Thousand Island dressing for this recipe.
Oh, and did we mention these cold snacks are gluten-free?
15. Caprese Skewers
To add a more Italian flavor to your festivities, try making these delicious no-cook Caprese skewers.
Throwing these delicious sticks of mozzarella cheese, tomato, and fresh basil is simple.
Plus, the olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzle really add new dimensions to the combination of cheese, basil, and tomato flavors.
Throw in some dried oregano, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, and you’ve got yourself an appetizer work of art even Leonardo da Vinci would be proud of.
Another fantastic make ahead appetizer is lemon-garlic marinated shrimp skewers.
Shrimp is one of the easiest forms of seafood you can cook, whether you’re using a grill, frying pan, oven, or steamer.
These tiny juicy decapod crustaceans cook fast and season very well, which means you can prepare a bunch of them in a short time.
It also means that they marinate quickly as well. In fact, you shouldn’t marinate your shrimp for any more than 30 minutes if you’re using a citrus-based marinade.
The reason is that the acid in the citrus will start to break down your shrimp, leaving them all mushy.
In this recipe, grilling takes only three to four minutes per side, baking takes five to seven minutes, and frying takes about five minutes.
When you’re done, you can let them cook and skewer them or grill them on skewers. Just don’t forget them on the grill because they cook very fast.
Serve these with your favorite shrimp cocktail sauce.
A healthy appetizer that’s absurdly easy to make is apple goat cheese crostini.
While it’s true, goat cheese may not be the most flavorful in the cheese family, when you mix it with delicious thyme, salt, and pepper, this humble cheese transforms into something magical.
We recommend a garlic powder or a garlic and herb dressing for more flavor.
Baking your crostini is equally easy, and in no time, you’ll have crunchy, creamy, savory appetizers you and your guests will adore!
Pickles are some of the best easy cold appetizers you probably have on hand.
These crunchy, sour versions of cucumbers make for a great snack by themselves, but they’re also fantastic as pickles in a blanket.
This recipe is about as simple as it gets.
Just take some salami, spread your cream cheese inside, put the pickle in, wrap, and skewer.
You can easily make two dozen or more in 30 minutes or less!
We’ve found that adding a little ranch mix to the cream cheese really gives this recipe a bold new flavor.
You might be surprised to learn that the term “bruschetta” refers more to the toast than the appetizer’s delicious toppings.
Bruschetta is from the Italian word “bruciare,” which means to scorch or burn.
In Italy, it became such a common practice to throw some bread on the grill right before adding ripe tomato, basil, and garlic that the dish soon became what we call bruschetta.
This recipe is a straightforward dish that can be really healthy with the right choice of toppings.
While you can use just about any type of tomato, we’ve found that Roma tomato makes for the best tasting in this recipe.
We found that Roma tomatoes were perfect because they have low water content and thicker outer skins.
Too much liquid from your tomatoes can make your bruschetta soggy (which is a huge party foul).
Plus, cutting them in half and scooping out the seed is a bit easier than with other varieties of tomato.
Once you’ve combined all your ingredients, such as red onion, fresh basil, olive oil, diced tomatoes, and garlic cloves, all you have to do is mix them in a bowl, and your mix is ready to top your bread!
We highly recommend grilling, frying, or baking your bread a bit to get that nice, crispy texture – but it’s not super necessary.
You can also top your bruschetta with pieces of smoked salmon or prosciutto for even more flavor.
Just as the name implies, there’s not much to making this delicious fruit dip.
The only ingredients you’ll need are cream cheese and marshmallow fluff.
Of course, you can always add specific flavor boosters for something different.
For example, if you want a more citrus flavor, add some lemon zest or orange.
You can make it more vanilla by adding vanilla extract.
And for a creamy, nutty spread, try peanut butter or Nutella.
Dip your favorite fruits such as apples, strawberries, and pineapple for a tasty treat.
We also found carrots and celery taste pretty darned good too with this dip.
21. Grape Poppers
For a cold and healthy sweet treat, these grape poppers are positively show stoppers!
Proving once again how less can give you much more, this recipe for grape poppers is a fantastic healthy alternative to less healthy sweets.
The main thing to remember is to ensure your grapes are dry before applying the candy coating.
Also, you want to buy actual candy coating (not white chips), or else your layer may be too thin to stick to your grapes correctly.
Once your grapes are prepared, you just pop them in the fridge or freezer until it’s showtime!
These little grape candies are a dream, and you can use all kinds of delightful candy-coating flavors such as chocolate and caramel to offer up a little variety.
22. Taco Dip
Use the power of tacos to step up your appetizer game with this delicious recipe for taco dip.
It doesn’t have to be Tuesday to enjoy the savory flavors of loaded tacos. All you need is a few ingredients.
Taco meat is optional for this recipe, and you can always use ground turkey or even a Beyond Meat substitute.
The generous layers of refried beans, Mexican cheese blend, sour cream, black olives, and other goodies make the taco dip bowl a popular stop at any party.
Additional options to include in your taco dip are sliced jalapeno, bacon, and diced avocado.
But honestly, this one dip you can really go crazy with. Don’t be afraid to get creative and add your own twist.
23. Antipasto Kabobs
These addictive antipasto skewers feature insanely tasty ingredients such as cherry tomato, artichoke, cheese and tortellini, salami, spiced mozzarella balls, and peppers.
With this dizzying array of goodies on a stick, you can’t go wrong, and your guests won’t go hungry!
Best of all, putting these together takes no sweat whatsoever.
The tortellini can be store-bought if you don’t feel like making it from scratch.
And you can substitute the salami for other meats like prosciutto and pepperoni — or add more meat if you want.
All in all, antipasto kabobs look and taste amazing and are sure to disappear from your serving table pretty quickly.
These spring rolls with peanut sauce are a sight to behold. They are filled with juicy strips of chicken, crunchy carrots, rice noodles, English cucumber, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, and other goodies – and are sure to be a crowd favorite at any gathering.
The rice paper wrapping lets you see everything, making this easy-to-make recipe seem like it took you hours, not minutes, to make.
You can also mix and match your veggies, such as substituting the English cucumber for zucchini.
We also love how the fresh cilantro and green onion add just the right amount of spice to these rolls.
The peanut saucy is super simple to make with natural peanut butter and a few ingredients.
Plus, you can cut these rolls up into bite-sized halves that are perfect for dipping.
One of our favorite healthy cold finger foods is these gorgeous Greek cucumber cups.
The most work you’ll have with this recipe is stripping and scooping out the inside of your cucumber.
Other than that, creating your mix takes minimal effort.
The mix consists of finely chopped red onion, red bell pepper, ripe vine tomato, black olives, fresh feta, dried oregano, and parsley.
Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil, some lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and mix your ingredients.
The taste will make your guests feel they are on a fancy Mediterranean cruise.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed those recipes, here’s a video with a few more delicious easy finger food recipes to make ahead of any event.
Our 25+ BEST Simple & Tasty Cold Appetizers (Plus Pickles in a Blanket)
- 24 salami slices
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 24 small dill pickles
- On each salami slice, spread about a teaspoon of cream cheese.
- Top the cream cheese with one of the mini dill pickles.
- Roll the salami up with the cream cheese and pickle.
- Secure with toothpicks
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.