Party Appetizers and Finger Foods

Party Appetizers and Finger Foods

Publish Date May 17, 2023 5 Minute Read

Aside from dinner parties or outdoor barbecues, most parties you’ll host will likely rely on a menu of appetizers and finger foods. As people mingle, possibly holding a beverage, it helps to have foods that are handheld or can easily fit onto appetizer plates.

It’s ideal to serve a range of dishes – from snacks to mains and desserts – and make as many ahead of time as possible to minimize the stress of the final hours before the party.

How much food will you need? Plan for each dish to serve 2-3 people. So if you’re having 10 guests, 4 or 5 appetizers should be plenty. How much of each appetizer should you make? Make sure there’s enough for everyone to sample at least 3 pieces from each tray, and allow about ¼ cup per person for dips.

If some guests have dietary restrictions, you can plan vegetarian or gluten-free appetizers to accommodate them (be sure to clearly label those foods). Another consideration: Perishable foods shouldn’t remain at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Use heated servers or bowls of ice to maintain temperatures, or rotate in fresh plates for those that have been sitting out too long.

Now for your menu: Let’s build recipes from a range of categories.


Meat or fish are likely the star of your show. We have lots of recommendations for chicken wings or shrimp, if you’re going those routes. And sushi is a winner for seafood fans.

Pigs in a blanket are also an all-star appetizer; our Pretzel-wrapped version provides a savory twist on that staple. Meatballs are a go-to party fave, and can be made in a classic Cocktail manner or a spicier Buffalo version. Other protein-packed dishes include beef potstickers, turkey pinwheels, deviled eggs and egg rolls.

You can get creative and combine meats with cheeses, veggies or fruit on a skewer, such as in our Sausage Apple Kebobs. And of course, those ingredients can also be combined on charcuterie boards – visit our guide for assembling one.


Hearty appetizer recipes like Pizza Rolls and Cucumber Sandwiches are mainstays of many parties. Bruschetta and crostini are super party-starters, while breadsticks and garlic bread accentuate other appetizers.

Rolls, dumplings and crackers can help fill out this category. And while potato skins and tater tots are popular picks, potatoes have never been more delectable than in our Crunchy Potato Cheese Balls recipe.

Vegetables and Fruit

Your party presentation can certainly start with a veggie tray or fruit salad. Stuffed mushrooms and Jalapeño Poppers balance creamy and crunchy taste profiles. Stuffed peppers get a spicy kick with our Buffalo Hummus Pepper Poppers recipe. And for make-ahead options, check out our Falafel and our Roasted Garlic Butter Board.

Snacks and Dips

Snacks such as chips, pretzels and nuts are savory finger foods for any party. Salsa or Guacamole with chips and Hummus with pita bread are perfect dips, and olive lovers will rave about Tapenade. Plus there are many ways to prepare nachos on our recipes page.


Bite-size desserts go great with the finger food concept. Cheesecake Cookie Cups are an ideal size and pair perfectly with cookies, candy and other small sweets.

Explore More

Discover even more party food ideas, then get additional inspiration on our blog and our Easy Meal Solutions page.

More Handheld Party Snack Recipes

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