Our Best and Brightest Christmas Appetizers
Start your Christmas meal with a few of these delicious appetizers. Some are rich and decadent, others are meaty classics, and some 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. They can also be a real party-saver if the main meal is running a little behind schedule. During the holiday season you'll want to choose the right appetizers for the occasion—something that feels a little extra-special, like the Egg-and-Caviar Dip shown here, is generally the way to go. After all, regardless of how you're celebrating—either with just your immediate family in light of the COVID-19 pandemic or with your larger quarantine pod—the right menu can make any size gathering feel a whole lot more festive. Whether you want to prepare something quick and easy or have the whole day to master a new pastry technique, this gallery has delicious ideas for every type of host.
While we've incorporated plenty of fresh new ideas into the mix, we haven't forgotten the tried-and-true classics. For something different, try an appetizer like our baked shrimp with feta recipe, that comes sizzling in a veritable sea of olive oil for dipping. An easy yet impressive-looking tart that uses store bought puff pastry, spicy harissa paste, and goat cheese as a cooling contrast is another inspired idea. But if you're a traditionalist, our rosemary-roasted party nuts are proof that when done well, something as simple as a bowl of warm glazed pecans can really start the night off right and garner rave reviews. We also nod to the classic cocktail appetizers of yore, with recipes like pigs in a blanket and bacon-wrapped dates, to show that there's still a lot to love about these retro bites—so long as their recipes are the gold standard, that is.
After you find the perfect appetizer (or two!), explore our collection of Christmas desserts to guarantee an ending to a meal that's as flawless and festive as it began.
These delicate and savory French cheese puffs never fail to impress. We love that they strike that perfect balance between tasting indulgent but not being too filling before a big meal.
Tomato, Feta, and Red Pepper Cazuelas
Pull-Apart Pigs in a Blanket
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.
Herby Shrimp-and-Feta Bake
A departure from the same old shrimp cocktail, this Mediterranean-inspired appetizer has 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!
Savory Crepe Rollups
A fun way to incorporate the Christmastime 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.
Baked Brie with Boozy Fruit
It would be unthinkable to leave a brie-en-croute off of a "best-of" list. This version includes a side of port-spiked fruit compote to balance out the bites of rich gooey cheese and flaky puff pastry.
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.
Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread
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.
Goat-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
These cheesy stuffed mushrooms are as delicious as they are easy to make; just three steps and a creamy filling that can get blitzed in a food processor.
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 appetizers you could make with the most going on in terms of texture and flavor. Sweet dates that are stuffed with blue cheese and encased in smoky bacon, so it's no surprise that we can't get enough.
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.
Crisp Spring Rolls
Hot Crab Dip
A gold standard in many home cook's repertoire, this rendition balances out the naturally rich and creamy crab dip with bold seasonings like dry mustard powder, Worcestershire, and lemon juice.
Harissa, Goat Cheese, and Herb Tart
Beef and Asparagus Negimaki
These bite-size bundles from Japan are made by wrapping thin slices of beef tenderloin around blanched asparagus and are then grilled and basted with a sweetened soy sauce.