Refine your opening act with an assortment of these off-the-chart appetizers. These show-stopping starters may just steal the spotlight.
1. Three Pepper and Shrimp Bruschetta
These bite-size delights couldn’t be any easier to assemble. Top a whole wheat crostini with succulent shrimp, colorful bell peppers, and fresh cilantro leaves for a restaurant-style starter. Experiment with lettuce cups, pita chips, or other types of bread to vary the combination. Watch how they're made, above!
Get the Recipe: Three Pepper and Shrimp Bruschetta
2. Dressed-Up Guacamole
This addictive party snack is three times as nice with three spins on the classic recipe. Think: crispy bacon and blue cheese crumbles for the meat lovers, goat cheese and mint for the vegetarians, and succulent crab meat to impress your fanciest friends.
Get the Recipe: Guacamole
3. Pan con Tomate
Think Italian with this 5 ingredient specialty. Rub grilled bread with the cut side of a ripe tomato until the flavor infuses, and season with garlic, salt, and olive oil for an exceptionally simple bite. Take it one step further by serving alongside cured meat and cheese.
Get the Recipe: Pan con Tomate
4. Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Spinach Bites
Scale down your go-to calzone for these miniature bites, made with flaky pie dough and a cheesy spinach filling. Bake until golden brown and then serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.
Get the Recipe: Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Spinach Bites
5. Chicken and Shrimp Dumplings
Give take-out the boot with these surprisingly simple homemade dumplings. Stuff these tiny pockets with a tender chicken and shrimp mixture and then dunk in either a sweet and sour sauce or a spicy mustard dipping sauce.
Get the Recipe: Chicken and Shrimp Dumplings
6. Eggplant Caponata
Here’s a standout of the vegetarian category: this rich roasted eggplant salad basks in a bed of savory tomato sauce that’s studded with carrots, celery, and onion pieces. Serve with a pull of crusty bread or with store-bought crackers.
Get the Recipe: Eggplant Caponata
7. Crispy Zucchini Fries
These light veggie fries are a better-for-you pick than their potato competition. Grated zucchini is lightly fried and drizzled with lemon juice for brightness. Go ahead and give them a try – we promise you won’t miss the fast food look alikes.
Get the Recipe: Crispy Zucchini Fries
8. Three Cheese Tart with Tomatoes and Zucchini
Highlight the season’s freshest produce by using it as the topping for this delectable cheese tart. Flaky puff pastry is blanketed by a combination of ricotta, goat cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Get the Recipe: Three Cheese Tart with Tomatoes and Zucchini
9. Spicy Pork Meaballs
Lose the toothpick and serve these spicy pork meatballs in light lettuce wrap packed with crisp radishes and cucumbers. Display each component individually and let your guests assemble to their liking for a festive DIY appetizer bar.
Get the Recipe: Spicy Pork Meatballs
10. Grilled Chicken Sweet Potato Sliders
Got a dinner delay? If you’re looking for a heartier bite to hold your guests, these grilled chicken sliders fit the bill. Sweet potato slices play the role of a slider bun while a lemon-marinated chicken takes center stage, only to be enhanced by a zippy tzatziki sauce.
Get the Recipe: Grilled Chicken Sweet Potato Sliders
11. Shrimp Fritters with Spicy Remoulade
Party goers, beware! These fried delights are impossible to resist. In fact, we dare you to have just one. The perfect accompaniment? A spicy remoulade, laden with horseradish, hot sauce, and capers proves to be a match made in heaven.
Get the Recipe: Shrimp Fritters with Spicy Remoulade