25 Party Foods Your Guests Will Love

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25 Party Foods Your Guests Will Love
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25 Party Foods Your Guests Will Love

Check out these delicious, eye-catching treats for your next get-together.

Pineapple-Manchego Skewers
Sweet and slightly spicy caramelized pineapple top cubes of manchego cheese for another one-bite alternative to the traditional cocktail party cheese plate. This is a favorite of Brazilian chef Leticia Schwartz, and easy to prepare. Schwartz suggests using nice bamboo skewers like these for assembly.

Credit: Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Tiny Tacos and Tacos with a Ribbon
Do large, crispy corn shells come to mind when you think of tacos? When planning a party, the key to creating a fun appetizer is to approach traditional foods in new ways. Caterer Peter Callahan shrinks his one-bite tacos down to the size of a lime (and even serves them on a lime), and pairs them with margaritas served in miniature Patrón bottles.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Peter Callahan Catering/Mel & Co.

One-Bite Wild Greens Pies
Called hortopsomo, these miniature pies are of Greek origin, but are easy to make, a lighter alternative to mini quiches, and are fun to serve at a cocktail party. Arrange the miniature pies on a rectangular tray drizzled with a crème fraîche sauce, thinned out with a bit of water and seasoned with salt, and a sprinkling of micro greens and edible flowers.

Credit: Allison Beck

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Who doesn’t love the irresistible, comfort food combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup? Peter Callahan has shrunk down this childhood favorite, serving sandwiches about the size of a quarter along with a tomato filled with tomato soup. Pop one in your mouth, and then the other.

Credit: Con Poulos

Gougères
They’re the perfect thing to tempt guests with when celebrating a festive occasion, especially during the holidays when paired with a glass of champagne. While these cheese puffs might look difficult to make, they’re surprisingly foolproof if you follow this recipe. And when served fresh from the oven, still warm, and in a napkin-lined basket, they’re one of Martha Stewart’s favorites.

Credit: Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show

Miniature Meatballs
Of those that we spoke to, the meatball was a unanimous favorite. It’s a familiar comfort food, but can be dressed up in a number of ways. Make it more elegant and modern by swapping beef for lamb, or adding unusual flavorings like citrus, as Awerbuch does at Abigail Kirsch, or raisins and pinenuts like in the recipe here.

Credit: Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships

Soup in Shot Glasses
In the winter months, it’s nice to offer a hot appetizer to guests to warm them from the inside, and a little shot glass or cup of a brightly colored soup is just the thing. When serving, be sure to check that the soup isn’t too hot that it will burn guests’ mouths.

Credit: Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships

Crostini
The sky is the limit, or thereabouts, when it comes to crostini. Easy to serve, and when sized no more than two-inches-wide, crostini are an excellent appetizer for get-togethers. Hertle and Meter at Bite-Sized Blog combine eye-catching colors like green and purple when making their crostini, while others combine sweet and salty flavors like pumpkin and prosciutto.

Credit: Maryse Chevriere

Blue Corn Blinis with Crab
What is more irresistible than a miniature pancake with your cocktail? These savory rounds are topped with a dollop of crab salad and avocado crema, but any cold salad like chicken salad or egg salad can be used as well. These treats look particularly impressive when served in a straight line on a narrow slate board or wooden tray.

Credit: Laurie Smith

White Bean Dip (with Homemade Pita Chips)
Chips and dip are a party staple. For Clodagh McKenna, dips are great for a party, especially if you're new to entertaining. This white bean dip is easy to make at home, using canned beans, and then use different shaped cookie cutters to transform ordinary round pitas into homemade chips. Serve the chips alongside the dip using one of those handy chip-and-dip platters.

Credit: Alberto Peroli

Deviled Eggs
These one-bite boiled eggs are a traditional Southern party food that can be traced back to ancient Rome. Nowadays, the traditional yolk filling isn’t just topped with a sprinkle of paprika. Some will dress up the filling with a hint of truffle, smoked salmon, or even sweet relish. Others, like chef Dean Sheremet, chose to add an unusual garnish on top.

Credit: Dean Sheremet

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
It's a party favorite. Tender spinach and chunks of artichokes blended together in a warm, rich, creamy, and oh-so-cheesy dip. You could serve the dip along with toast points, or corn chips, but for a special party, use cookie cutters to make pita chips in interesting shapes.

Credit: Allison Beck

Shrimp and Mango Wonton Crisps
Sure, bite-sized tarts are fun to serve for a party, but making the dough, pressing it into the cups, filling it with pie weights, and baking each off is time consuming. Instead of buying tart shells, use inexpensive wonton wrappers, baked to a crisp in a miniature muffin tin, as cups for serving a shrimp and mango salad (left) or another cold salad.

Credit: Big Girls Small Kitchen

Roasted Beet “Bruschetta” on Endive
Gluten-free? Crisp leaves of endive make for a great, wheat-free alternative to sliced bread. At left, Lulu Powers uses endive to serve a vibrant beet salad for a party snack that will surely leave fingers clean. You can also top each leaf with a scoop of egg salad, crab salad, and you can even use the leaves instead of chips when serving dip.

Credit: Stephen Danelian

Roasted Cocktail Nuts
No bar at a cocktail party is complete without a bowl of warm, salty, and slightly spicy, cocktail nuts. Yet, when entertaining 50, one might hesitate to reach in to a communal bowl as goodness knows where all the fingers that dove in before have been. Instead, prepare small paper bags filled with nuts for guests to nibble from at their leisure.

Credit: William Geddes

Apricots with St. André and Mint
Caterer-to-the-Stars Lulu Powers dresses up the classic cocktail-party staple using dried apricots in lieu of crackers, and garnishing each bite with a vibrant green mint leaf. Assembled apricots can be served on trays. For a more dramatic presentation, choose whole dried apricots and stuff each with the cheese and garnish with the mint leaf.

Credit: Stephen Danelian

Watermelon Skewers
These one-bite treats are inspired by the classic Italian combination of basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes, yet substitute fruity melon balls for cherry tomatoes. They are also colorful, flavorful, and easy to assemble — once the melon and cheese are cut in small pieces. Assemble the skewers and place them toothpick side up on a platter.

Credit: Greater Boston Gala Girls

Puff-Pastry Wrapped Asparagus
Thin spears of asparagus, when roasted alone, tend to be a little too limp to be served as a party appetizer. Yet, when wrapped with a thin spiral of puff pastry, they become a bit more elegant, and stiff enough to enjoy with two fingers, like you might a breadstick. Phoebe and Cara at Big Girls Small Kitchen serve the spears on a platter, like at left.

Credit: Big Girls Small Kitchen

Bite-Sized Collard Burritos
Don’t sacrifice taste for health (or vice versa) when throwing a party. These bright green spring roll-like logs use collard greens instead of rice paper wrappers, and are filled with a flavorful bean salad. They are a good alternative to stuffed grape leaves (and they’ll keep your fingers clean).

Credit: Greg Vore

Deviled Potatoes
You’ve probably had a deviled egg, but what about a deviled potato? With the recent resurging popularity of the 1950s snack (including upgrades such as a truffled filling, or a shrimp garnish), Meter and Hertle at Bite-Sized Blog ditched the egg white for a crisp potato skin, scooping out the middle before piping in the creamy yolk filling, and a sprinkle of crisp bacon bits on top.

Credit: Jonathan Meter/Bite-Sized Blog

Manchego Thin-Crust Pizzette
No matter the occasion, this quick and easy appetizer is always on Liza Utter’s menu when entertaining. Depending on the time of year, she’ll dress it up with whatever is in season. For example, she’ll put figs and blue cheese (at left) or caramelized apples on top in the fall, or shaved asparagus or pesto in warmer months.

Credit: Liza Utter

Potato Latkes
What is more delicious when you’re a drink (or two) into a party than a tray of crispy fried potato pancakes, topped with smoked salmon, applesauce, or even a horseradish crème fraîche? These are a favorite of Hertle and Meter of Bite-Sized Blog, and are an important part of Hertle’s family’s annual, 25-person Hanukkah party.

Credit: Jonathan Meter/Bite-Sized Blog

Scallop BLTs
For anyone who loves BLTs, they can be messy, even when small, but when shrunk down to a one-bite size, all one needs to do is open up their mouth and pop one in. Inspired by bacon-wrapped scallops, these party sandwiches from Bite-Sized Blog use scallops about an inch wide as the “bread,” and stuff each with bacon, a slice of cherry tomato, and a bit of greens.

Credit: Jonathan Meter/Bite-Sized Blog

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs
These stuffed figs are great for a party, as they require no cooking or strenuous prep, look beautiful, and taste even better. Thiele likes serving them on a wood cutting board or pizza peel and passing them to guests, but they’re just as pretty when placed on a tiered cake stand.

Credit: Lisa Thiele/With Style and Grace

Vodka-Infused Tomatoes
These are a go-to favorite of Lisa Thiele's from With Style and Grace, and a low-labor option. Thiele will set out an array of different salts for dipping in small dishes along a table. She’ll then offer the infused tomatoes to guests in martini glasses or individual shot glasses, along with a miniature skewer or toothpick for dipping into the salt.

Credit: Lisa Thiele/With Style and Grace

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When hosting a party, the success of your get-together comes down to three things: good friends, plenty of drinks, and great food. But what makes an appetizer suitable for your next soiree? For most, it means that whatever you serve, be it a deviled potato or a miniature taco, it can be eaten in one bite. "If you're supposed to be eating it with your fingers while standing up and holding a drink," says Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, "it should really be bite-sized and not terribly drippy or greasy to pick up."

Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine of Big Girls Small Kitchen agree. "It should be easy to eat with one hand — you don't want to look awkward." For your next get-together, eschew the nachos, and reconsider serving lamb sliders that are just a bit too big to be enjoyed with only five fingers. Instead, pick out a couple of these party-friendly foods that are both delicious and can be enjoyed with ease, like a shot glass of soup, or a vodka-infused tomato.

Click here to see 25 Best Party Foods Your Guests Will Love

So what differentiates the good from the bad, when it comes to party food? Size definitely matters. But so too does the ease with which you can assemble the appetizer while your guests are there, because inevitably you'll need to refresh the spread at least once during the night. "If it takes too long to assemble or bring the food to the right temperature, it will stress you out," says Jessica Hertle of Bite-Sized Blog. Consider their potato latkes, for example. The latkes can be prepared in advance, and then reheated just before serving. Plus, they're a vehicle for a myriad of garnishes, from a horseradish sauce to homemade apple chutney. Of course, taste is paramount, too. "Even though the appetizer is bite-sized, it should pack a punch of flavor in order to tickle and tantalize your palate," says Alison Awerbuch, chef/partner at Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships.

As presentation matters, rethink the ordinary when planning your party menu. We eat with our eyes, so both how the appetizer looks and how it's served is just as important as how it tastes. Caterer Peter Callahan, the author of Bite by Bite, has excelled in elevating traditional party foods to works of art, creating tacos no larger than a lime, and placing once messy chipwiches onto lollipop sticks. (Right; photo courtesy of Peter Callahan Catering/Mel & Co.) He adds, "Food should be the entertainment unto itself."

So how can you dress up crostini? Think in color, and top the bread with brightly colored ingredients, like a green pea pesto and purple roasted onions, or a pumpkin spread with a rosy slice of prosciutto. Dying to serve meatballs? (Left, photo courtesy of Peter Callahan Catering/Mel & Co.) Take them from ordinary to extraordinary, making the size small and swapping the traditional beef-veal-pork combination for something more unusual, adding fresh herbs, a swirl of pasta, or unusual ingredients like orange zest and fresh ginger, like Awerbuch does. Even roasted cocktail nuts make for a great party food, when served individually in miniature bags (personalized, even, if you want).

Check out the slideshow above for 25 party foods your guests will love!

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