Easy, everyday appetizers made for casual entertaining can still dazzle guests. With a focus on combining bright colours, assertive flavours and complementary textures, these contemporary-meets-classic recipes will win over any crowd, large or small. From creamy bean dips and hummus to a vegetarian pate, along with simple yet stunning skewers, we’ve got the first course inspiration – for that last-minute gathering – you need.
Vegetarian Spinach-Walnut Pate
With little more effort than whipping up a batch of hummus, this plant-based pate skips the meat, for a nutty, herb-infused appetizer that’s effortlessly elegant.
Manchego Quince Skewers
Membrillo, or quince paste, along with manchego cheese – two Spanish staples – are quickly skewered for a worldy appetizer that you’ll want to keep in your back pocket for entertaining all year long.
Rosemary Roasted Cashews
Leave it to entertaining legend Ina Garten to offer up something easy yet oh-so-impressive. Make double the recipe of these spicy, sweet, salty and herbaceous roasted cashews – they’ll go fast.
Grilled Polenta Crackers with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
This recipe takes a helping hand from prepared polenta and jarred roasted red peppers for a more substantial appetizer that fires on all cylinders.
Baked brie is a hit at every party, and it’s quick to prepare. This blank canvas recipe is ready for your artistic touch – top it off with your go-to preserves, tomato relish, chopped fresh herbs, smoked salmon, fresh strawberries or edible flowers.
Grilled Herb Shrimp
Quick-cooking shrimp are an entertainer’s best buddy. Ina Garten’s recipe builds complex flavours in under 20 minutes by spiking the crustaceans with lemon and herbs, and charring them on the grill to both cook and layer on some additional deliciousness.
Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto
Sweet dates, creamy cheese and salty prosciutto get tangled up in this fast, no-cook appetizer.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus in Cucumber Cups
A refreshing and light appetizer of cucumber “cups” filled with a creamy, slightly smoky, gently sweet cannellini bean hummus infused with ravishing roasted red peppers. Ready in 20 minutes, this appetizer was made for surprise guests, or an impromptu weekend gathering.
Shrimp Cocktail Bar: Classic Cocktail Sauce, Avocado Crema, Remoulade
Ready in 15 minutes, this shrimp cocktail for a crowd (of 50 to 60!) comes with 3 different dips, providing something new when you go back for seconds… or thirds.
Waldorf Salad Lettuce Wraps
Take chicken waldorf, a lunchtime staple, and make it cocktail party-friendly by serving up the salad in tender baby lettuce cups.
Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets
Keeping puff pastry in your freezer means an impressive, buttery appetizer can be turned out in under 20 minutes. Here, the handy base is filled with spinach and loads (and loads) of cheese and cream. A decadent, entertaining-worthy way to eat your daily greens.
Get the recipe for Giada De Laurentiis’ Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets
Camembert and Prosciutto Tartines
Think of this appetizer as a classier take on a ham and cheese sandwich, served open-faced, get creative with the garnishes. Try thinly sliced green apple on top for a pop of freshness and colour.
The hummus is always the first to go, which is why three are better than one when it comes to easy entertaining. Guests can choose from classic, spinach and artichoke or sweet and spicy versions of everyone’s favourite dip.
Crab Summer Rolls
These tasty cold rolls are filled with crab, rice noodles, bell pepper and cucumber. Serve with a quick homemade ginger-chili sauce for a balanced boost of flavour.
Thai Lettuce Wraps
Save time by lining up wrap components buffet-style, and showing guests the way to building themselves a mouthwatering Thai chicken lettuce cup. Using pre-cooked chicken carves even more time off your prep.
Cheese and Bread Platter
Gather all of your favourite ingredients and combine them on a pretty platter for a bespoke appetizer that’s assembly-only (no cooking) required.
Everything you’d want on an antipasti platter is combined tidily on a skewer. With a drink in one hand and one of these in the other, we can’t think of a better cocktail party companion.