Irresistible Individual Appetizers, Sides, and Desserts for Holiday Meals
Whether you choose to serve cheesy fondue bites as an appetizer, individual potato gratins alongside dinner, or mini Bundt cakes or lemon tarts for dessert, these pre-portioned recipes are sure to delight and help keep everyone safe.
There's something inherently charming about offering guests their own perfectly portioned parcels of home-cooked food. And this year especially, serving individual appetizers, sides, and dessert is a much safer plan than the standard large-format dishes—such as shared dips and casseroles—that are so popular during holiday gatherings. The less hands that are touching serving utensils and dishes, the safer and more sanitary the meal will be, so it's best to have just one or two people in the kitchen in charge of plating and serving the food.
Whether you plan to use the muffin tin for dishes that aren't muffins—cue the gratin, kugel, and more—go with ramekins for baking and or serving, or use half a dumpling squash as the edible container for a creamy, garlicky sauce, as shown here, there are many approaches to pre-portioned food.
In a year where adapting to new guidelines and protocols have become the norm, making food for others can and should be considered part of that adjustment. If you always have a cheese platter to kick the festivities off with, consider canapés that offer everyone's favorite gooey cheese in bite-size form. If your family considers your cheesecake a mandatory staple on New Year’s Eve, offer up the miniature versions in this collection so everyone can have their own (no one will complain about that!).
Serving your appetizers, side dishes, and even desserts in individual portions doesn't just reduce any unwelcome germ-sharing at the buffet table—it's also like giving each of your guests a special little present. And whether you want to plan-ahead with your portioning, or wait until the last minute, these recipes will provide plenty of inspiration.
Everyone loves fondue, but this is not the year for communal dipping. Instead, skip the shared dipping pot and portion cheese into one-bite bread cups.
Smoky Shrimp and Sausage Gravy
A mini cup of shrimp-and-sausage gravy is a delicious appetizer all on its own, but when served with refreshing pickled crudité and a mini biscuit (ideal for soaking up the last bits of gravy), this is a bite your loved ones will be glad they don’t have to share.
Loaded Potato Bites
These fun-sized smashed spuds just might be the ultimate appetizer. They're crispy on the edges, fluffy and tender in the center, and topped with the classic flavors of a loaded baked potato. Feeling extra fancy? Top them with minced chives and caviar instead.
Speedy Smoked Salmon Crackers
Short on time? Grab a pack of smoked salmon at the store and you're more than halfway to an elegant app. In lieu of the traditional smoked fish spread, consider a canapé version this year instead.
Muffin-Pan Potato Gratins
Individual side dishes are cute and delicious as these gratins prove. They're pretty as can be when layered up and baked in muffin cups; the humble potato once again proves how versatile it can be. Make as is or use this recipe as a blueprint and swap in your favorite gratin recipe.
Red Onions Stuffed with Parsley Breadcrumbs
Holiday Yorkshire Puddings
Freezable Macaroni and Cheese
Make everyone feel like they are the guest of honor by giving them their own ramekin of bubbly mac-and-cheese. This recipe allows you to plan ahead—you can make, portion, and freeze them up to three months in advance!
Mini Pistachio Bundts
Lemon Custard Tarts
Cheesecakes with Raspberry Hearts
A cheesecake you don't have to share? Yes, please! These mini delights keep all of the favorite components of the classic—namely the crisp cookie crust and the melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese filling.
Mini Cranberry Meringue Pies
Frozen Chocolate Mousse Trifles
Is your oven going to be packed to the brim with holiday sides and mains? Serving dessert from the freezer can save the day. These mini trifles have you whip up a light and airy chocolate mousse and layer it into cups with store-bought angel food cake for extra ease.
Personalized by design, parfaits are a great (read: super easy) dessert to serve at a holiday gathering. The key to a successful parfait is to have plenty of different textures so the bites never become boring. Here, we layer ripe pears with clouds of mascarpone whipped cream, chewy candied ginger, and crunchy gingersnap cookies.