Our Best and Brightest Christmas Appetizers

Baked Brie with boozy fruit
Photo: Aya Brackett

Start your holiday meal with a few of these delicious Christmas appetizers. Some are rich and decadent, others are meaty classics, and some are just plain fun and delicious. Whichever route you choose, you're bound to delight your loved ones.

There's a long and storied tradition of welcoming dinner guests by way of a starter bite or two. Appetizers can also set the mood and sate the appetite. Plus, they can be a real party-saver if the main meal is running a little behind schedule. Just remember this: During the holiday season, you'll want to choose the right appetizers for the occasion—ones that feel extra special.

Whether you want to prepare something quick and easy or take the whole day to master a new pastry technique, this gallery has delicious Christmas appetizer ideas for every type of host.

01 of 18

Tomato, Feta, and Red Pepper Cazuelas

Tomato, Feta, and Red Pepper Cazuela
Frédéric Lagrange

Inspired by the Spanish tradition of tapas, this app is easy to pull together and matches the Christmas color palette quite nicely. Pro tip: Purchase hothouse-grown tomatoes—they're the best off-season tomato option.

02 of 18

Egg-and-Caviar Dip

Marcus Nilsson

Eggs, meet eggs. A mixture of hard-cooked eggs, crème fraîche, and minced chives is topped with a colorful layer of trout roe for a salty, surprising pop. With cocktails or Champagne, this upscale appetizer is sure to be a hit.

03 of 18

Salmon-and-Mashed-Potato Croquettes

salmon-and-mashed-potato croquettes
Lennart Weibull

Crispy and golden brown, these croquettes have a coating of panko breadcrumbs around a filling of fluffy mashed potatoes and salmon. You can use tinned salmon or smoked, but either way, they're the perfect bite for a holiday celebration.

04 of 18

Three-Cheese Gougères

Johnny Miller

These delicate, savory French cheese puffs never fail to impress. They strike that perfect balance between indulgent, but not too filling.

05 of 18

Pull-Apart Pigs in a Blanket

Pull-Apart Pigs in a Blanket
Kirsten Francis

A staple at cocktail parties and get-togethers from the past, this retro favorite will never go out of style. Our pull-apart version takes it to the next level.

06 of 18

Rosemary Roasted Nuts


Coated with a sweet-savory mixture of rosemary and brown sugar, these party nuts are the crunchy and delicious snack you've been looking forward to all year.

07 of 18

Herby Shrimp-and-Feta Bake

herby shrimp-and-feta-bake in skillet
Johnny Miller

A departure from the same-old shrimp cocktail, this Mediterranean-inspired appetizer features the plump, tender shrimp and briny feta practically swimming in an aromatic sea of olive oil. In case it wasn't already clear, serving this dish with crusty bread for dipping is a must!

08 of 18

Savory Crepe Rollups

asparagus prosciutto salmon rollups
Lennart Weibull

A fun way to incorporate the Christmas colors of red and green into your spread is to roll them up in these savory one-bite appetizers. Tender crepes make a great wrapper and can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until you're ready to roll.

09 of 18

Baked Brie with Boozy Fruit

Aya Brackett

It would be unthinkable to leave a brie-en-croute off of a "best-of" appetizer list. This version includes a side of port-spiked fruit compote to balance out the bites of rich gooey cheese and flaky puff pastry.

10 of 18

Bette's Chicken-Liver Pâté with Sautéed Maple Syrup Apples


A French classic with a seasonal spin, this chicken liver pâté is a classy spread to serve alongside some crostini. The maple-glazed apples included in the recipe are a sweet accompaniment to the rich and velvety spread.

11 of 18

Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread

christmas tree shaped pull apart bread table setting
Bryan Gardner

Go all out with this homemade pull-apart bread that is shaped like a Christmas tree, and decorate it with edible baubles like rosemary, mini mozzarella balls, and tiny chile peppers.

12 of 18

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

stuffed mushrooms
José Manuel Picayo Rivera

These cheesy stuffed mushrooms are as delicious as they are easy to make; they come together in just three steps. The creamy filling can get blitzed in a food processor.

13 of 18

Devils on Horseback


Here's another retro appetizer that has stood the test of time—and that's because it is one of the simplest bites you could make and has the most going on in terms of texture and flavor. Sweet dates are stuffed with blue cheese and encased in smoky bacon. It's no surprise that we can't get enough.

14 of 18

Warm Robiola Cheese with Pine Nuts, Olives, and Golden Raisins


If time, willpower, or dietary restrictions won't allow for an en-croute cheese appetizer, give this recipe a try, instead. The mild soft-ripened robiola quickly melts into a dippable delight and is topped off with a festive looking sweet-and-sour relish.

15 of 18

Crisp Spring Rolls


With a filling made from ground chicken, pork, fish sauce, and dried mushrooms, these crunchy spring rolls pack a big umami presence and are a great way to start a big feast.

16 of 18

Hot Crab Dip


A gold standard in the repertoire of many home cooks, this rendition balances out the naturally rich and creamy crab dip with bold seasonings like dry mustard powder, Worcestershire, and lemon juice.

17 of 18

Harissa, Goat Cheese, and Herb Tart

Bryan Gardner

Store-bought puff pastry makes this appetizer quick and easy to make, while toppings of spicy harissa and creamy goat cheese make it special enough to serve for a classier occasion.

18 of 18

Beef and Asparagus Negimaki


These bite-size bundles are made by wrapping thin slices of beef tenderloin around blanched asparagus. They are then grilled and basted with a sweetened soy sauce.

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