18 Favorite Hors d'Oeuvres Recipes for Cocktail Parties and Other Special Celebrations

burrata bites
Photo: Bryan Gardner

Some parties call for starters that go beyond your basic everyday snacks. When you want to pull out all the stops (or at least a few of them) and let your guests know that this is a special occasion, consider serving hors d'oeuvres. These tasty, savory bites may take more time to put together than simply setting out chips and dip, but the work is well worth it.

Many of our hors d'oeuvres recipes result in one-bite delights. The rest can be enjoyed in two or three, tops. Arrange them on your nicest platters and trays, or better yet, pass them around the room while guests mingle and mix. They can hold their hors d'oeuvres in one hand and a festive cocktail in the other.

01 of 18

Fried Macaroni-and-Cheese Bites

David Malosh

How do you take a comfort food classic and turn it into an easy-to-serve finger food that's sure to please a crowd? Find a way to cut it into squares and then deep fry it, as we did with an easy stovetop mac and cheese.

02 of 18

Smoked Salmon-Radish Deviled Eggs

Mike Krautter

Deviled eggs have multiple personalities. You can serve them at a backyard barbecue or the swankiest soirée. Here, they lean into their elegant side: Smoked salmon is mixed into the egg-yolk filling and used again as a garnish along with paper-thin radish slices and tiny herbs.

03 of 18

Carrot, Zucchini, and Leek Fritters

carrot zucchini and leek fritters
Lennart Weibull

These crunchy bundles of carrots, zucchini, and leeks are bound together with potato starch and fried to crispy perfection. Serve them with a couple of easy dipping sauces, like Zesty Tomato and Curried-Sour-Cream.

04 of 18

Gruyère, Anchovy, and Olive Straws

gruyere anchovy and olive straws within glass vase
Paola + Murray

You've probably had cheese straws, but you may not know just how easy they are to make. Puff pastry straws make any get-together feel instantly more festive, and they also take well to many adaptations. See for yourself with these three super savory variations—gruyère, anchovy, and olive.

05 of 18

Seeded Feta Bites

seeded feta bites served with gold skewers
Nico Schinco

Who said that hors d'oeuvres have to be time consuming to make? Not us! These unique bites take just 5 minutes to put together and have a fun, interactive component. Guests skewer a cube of feta and and roll it in a fragrant blend of sumac, sesame seeds, and flaky sea salt.

06 of 18

Prosciutto-Wrapped Fig Hearts

Prosciutto-Wrapped Fig Hearts
Addie Juell

It's love at first bite: These sweet, salty, and creamy skewers manage to check all the flavor and texture boxes. Serve with a bottle of bubbly.

07 of 18

Miso Shrimp Toasts

Japanese Shrimp Toasts
Con Poulos

This irresistible bite has retro appeal. Its a tasty riff on the dim sum classic, shrimp toast, but we've amped up its umami appeal with miso and lime juice.

08 of 18

Potato-Chip-and-Pimiento Mini Crab Cakes

Potato-Chip-and-Pimiento Mini Crab Cakes recipe
Con Poulos

The great state of Maryland is the home of crab cakes, a party favorite that soon made its way across the U.S. around the middle of the 20th century. It's also home to a much less known regional specialty: crab-flavored potato chips. Here, the two are combined to create one very tasty party morsel, topped with mayo that's flavored with one more local favorite (available in supermarkets nationwide): Old Bay seasoning.

09 of 18

"Twice Baked" Baby Potatoes with Caviar

"Twice Baked" Baby Potatoes with Caviar recipe
Con Poulos

Potatoes may be considered humble, but nothing says fancy like caviar and Champagne. Here, twice-baked baby reds serve as beds for sour cream and caviar.

10 of 18

Feta-Stuffed Shishitos in Phyllo

feta stuffed shishitos in phyllo
Justin Walker

Each of these little golden bundles boasts layers of flavor in each bite: cheese, peppers, flaky pastry, and sesame seeds. The best part? They can be formed ahead and frozen up to two weeks ahead, then baked just before the party.

11 of 18

Smoky Shrimp-and-Sausage Gravy

bayou la batre shrimp-and-sausage gravy served on a black plate
Con Poulos

Beyond finger foods lay hors d'oeuvres presented in individual serving dishes, like this shrimp specialty from celebrated Southern chef Scott Peacock. Use the prettiest small cups you have on hand—ramekins, demitasse, or custard cups—and don't skip the biscuits and pickled vegetables on the side. All three components deliver out-of-this-world flavor.

12 of 18

Lobster Salad Tostones

lobster salad with tostones served on a cutting board
Chris Simpson

A coastal Maine favorite meets the flavors of the Caribbean in this light, bright take on the lobster roll. We used fried tostones in place of the usual soft sandwich rolls (which means that they're gluten-free) and mixed the salad with chiles, cilantro, lime, and a little olive oil (no mayo!). Avocado rounds out the tropical character of the bite-size delights.

13 of 18

Gooey Gouda Puff-Pastry Bites

Gooey Gouda Puff-Pastry Bites recipe
Con Poulos

Inspired by brie en croute (classic party fare from the 1970s and '80s and a favorite from Martha's catering days), we created these gooey, cheesy, flaky, slightly sharp (from the mustard), and irresistible bites.

14 of 18

Tomato Burrata Bites

burrata bites
Bryan Gardner

All the best flavors and textures of this classic summertime salad are here, but in miniature, one-bite form.

15 of 18

Pimiento-Cornmeal Croquettes

pimiento cornmeal croquettes
Justin Walker

Croquettes have their origins in France, but similar breaded and fried snacks are beloved all over the world. Our update on the classic features a cornmeal base flavored with pimiento cheese and breaded with panko, rather than the usual breadcrumbs.

16 of 18

Roasted-Spring-Onion and Goat-Cheese Eggs

roasted spring onion and goat cheese eggs
Anson Smart

For an hors d'oeuvres that is the essence of easy elegance, combine equal amounts goat cheese and cream cheese to make a soft, rich, incredibly creamy mixture, then form into balls or other shapes, like the egg shapes pictured. Garnish with pretty toppings and serve with crackers or crudités.

17 of 18

Smoked Trout and Avocado Mousse in Endive

endive avocado mousse smoked trout
Burcu Avsar

Don't let the word "mousse" fool you into thinking this is high-level French fare. The term is used loosely to describe ingredients that are whipped until airy and light; though mousse often has cream or gelatin, this one is nothing more than avocado and lemon juice that are quickly pulsed to combine in a food processor.

18 of 18

Polenta Squares with Wild Mushrooms and Fontina

David Malosh

Once it's cooled, polenta sets into a firm base that's crisp on the outside yet still creamy inside. It's easy to cut into squares, as with these savory bites; top them with a mix of mushrooms and Italian fontina, and then roast to party-ready perfection.

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