25 Best Party Foods Your Guests Will Love Slideshow

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Vodka-Infused Tomatoes
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Vodka-Infused Tomatoes
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These unusual treats are a go-to favorite of Lisa Thiele's from With Style and Grace, and a low-labor alternative to the classic Bloody Mary — and in edible form. Thiele will set out an array of different salts, like herbed salt, pink salt, and truffle salt (her favorite), for dipping in small dishes along a table. She’ll then offer the infused tomatoes to guests in martini glasses or individual shot glasses, along with a miniature skewer or toothpick for dipping into the salt.

 

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Lisa Thiele/With Style and Grace

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Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs
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Goat Cheese-Stuffed Figs
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These stuffed figs are great for a party, as they require no cooking or strenuous prep, look beautiful, and taste even better. Thiele likes serving them on a wood cutting board or pizza peel and passing them to guests, but they’re just as pretty when placed on a tiered cake stand.

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Lisa Thiele/With Style and Grace

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Tiny Tacos and Tacos with a Ribbon
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Tiny Tacos and Tacos with a Ribbon
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Do large, crispy corn shells come to mind when you think of tacos? When planning a party, the key to creating a fun appetizer is to approach traditional foods in new ways. Caterer Peter Callahan shrinks his one-bite tacos down to the size of a lime (and even serves them on a lime), and pairs them with margaritas served in miniature Patrón bottles. The ladies at Big Girls Small Kitchen opt for three-inch soft tortillas, lightly filling each tortilla with a bit of filling and tying each taco closed with a string of scallion to make eating each piece one-handed a whole lot easier.

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Photo courtesy of Peter Callahan Catering/Mel & Co.

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip
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Spinach and Artichoke Dip
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It’s a party favorite. Tender spinach and chunks of artichokes blended together in a warm, rich, creamy, and oh-so-cheesy dip.

You could serve the dip along with toast points, or corn chips, but for a special party, use cookie cutters to make pita chips in interesting shapes. Feeling creative? Make miniature bread bowls with small rolls, removing part of the top and hollowing out the center, and filling each roll with a big scoop of warm dip. That way, there is no risk of losing your chip in the dip — or double dipping.

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Allison Beck

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Soup in Shot Glasses
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Soup in Shot Glasses
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In the winter months, it’s nice to offer a hot appetizer to guests to warm them from the inside, and a little shot glass or cup of a brightly colored soup is just the thing. When serving, be sure to check that the soup isn’t too hot that it will burn guests’ mouths. Narrow glass shot glasses like these are good to use, but small glass votive holders, or even French glass yogurt jars, will work in a pinch.

For a party, make a couple of varieties of soup, like a red tomato soup, orange butternut soup, and a green avocado soup. Then arrange the filled shot glasses in rows organized by color for a visually interesting presentation.

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Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships

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Watermelon Skewers
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Watermelon Skewers
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These one-bite treats are inspired by the classic Italian combination of basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes, yet substitute fruity melon balls for cherry tomatoes. They are also colorful, flavorful, and easy to assemble — once the melon and cheese are cut in small pieces.

Assemble the skewers and place them toothpick side up on a platter. Alternatively, for a creative twist, use slightly longer skewers and anchor them melon side up in a tray filled with fabric-covered Styrofoam or wheatgrass, as is used in these centerpieces.

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Greater Boston Gala Girls

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Shrimp and Mango Wonton Crisps
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Shrimp and Mango Wonton Crisps
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Sure, bite-sized tarts are fun to serve for a party, but making the dough, pressing it into the cups, filling it with pie weights, and baking each off is time consuming.

Instead of buying tart shells, use inexpensive wonton wrappers, baked to a crisp in a miniature muffin tin, as cups for serving a shrimp and mango salad (left) or another cold salad.

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Big Girls Small Kitchen

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Scallop BLTs
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Scallop BLTs
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For anyone who loves BLTs, they can be messy, even when small, but when shrunk down to a one-bite size, all one needs to do is open up their mouth and pop one in. Inspired by bacon-wrapped scallops, these party sandwiches from Bite-Sized Blog use scallops about an inch wide as the “bread,” and stuff each with bacon, a slice of cherry tomato, and a bit of greens.

A good gluten-free alternative to the real thing (if you don’t use wheat flour). Before the party begins, prepare all the components so all that needs to be done just before guests arrive is to assemble each bite and serve.

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Jonathan Meter/Bite-Sized Blog

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Pineapple-Manchego Skewers
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Pineapple-Manchego Skewers
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Sweet and slightly spicy caramelized pineapple top cubes of manchego cheese for another one-bite alternative to the traditional cocktail party cheese plate. This is a favorite of Brazilian chef Leticia Schwartz, and easy to prepare.

Schwartz suggests using nice bamboo skewers like these for assembly.

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Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

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Roasted Cocktail Nuts
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Roasted Cocktail Nuts
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No bar at a cocktail party is complete without a bowl of warm, salty, and slightly spicy, cocktail nuts. Yet, when entertaining 50, one might hesitate to reach in to a communal bowl as goodness knows where all the fingers that dove in before have been.

Inspired by the bags of warm roasted nuts one might buy on a city street, instead of setting out bowls for guests to dig into, prepare small paper bags filled with nuts for guests to nibble from at their leisure. Or set up a station with a giant bowl, empty bags, and a scoop, so guests can help themselves. 

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William Geddes

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Miniature Meatballs
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Miniature Meatballs
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Of those that we spoke to, the meatball was a unanimous favorite. It’s a familiar comfort food, but can be dressed up in a number of ways. Make it more elegant and modern by swapping beef for lamb, or adding unusual flavorings like citrus, as Awerbuch does at Abigail Kirsch, or raisins and pinenuts like in the recipe here.

For the ladies at Big Girls Small Kitchen, garnishing matters most when elevating this comfort food favorite to a party-food hit (as does baking the meatballs all at once). Or do as Peter Callahan does and serve a miniature meatball topped with a small swirl of pasta — a spaghetti and meatballs appetizer. Serve the meatballs on a platter, with a cup of toothpicks close by for skewering, or placed on top of lollipop sticks for something unexpected.

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Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships

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Manchego Thin-Crust Pizzette
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Manchego Thin-Crust Pizzette
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No matter the occasion, this quick and easy appetizer is always on Liza Utter’s menu when entertaining. Depending on the time of year, she’ll dress it up with whatever is in season. For example, she’ll put figs and blue cheese (at left) or caramelized apples on top in the fall, or shaved asparagus or pesto in warmer months.

The key to making this pizzette easy to eat, when you’re holding a drink in the other hand, is to use a fine grating of cheese, and not too much, and cut each tortilla into small wedges, about one and a half inches wide. Serve on a festive platter, or uniquely shaped cutting board for added visual interest.

Click here to see Utter's tips for being the perfect host.

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Liza Utter

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Potato Latkes
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Potato Latkes
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What is more delicious when you’re a drink (or two) into a party than a tray of crispy fried potato pancakes, topped with smoked salmon, applesauce, or even a horseradish crème fraîche? These are a favorite of Hertle and Meter of Bite-Sized Blog, and are an important part of Hertle’s family’s annual, 25-person Hanukkah party.

The pancakes can be made before guests arrive, and warmed to a crisp in the oven just before serving. If serving on a tray, arrange pancakes in a grid, garnishing each row with a different topping for a striped effect. Want guests to serve themselves? Set out a platter of pancakes and a series of bowls with various sauces and toppings for spooning on top.

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Jonathan Meter/Bite-Sized Blog

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Gougères
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Gougères
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They’re the perfect thing to tempt guests with when celebrating a festive occasion, especially during the holidays when paired with a glass of champagne. While these cheese puffs might look difficult to make, they’re surprisingly foolproof if you follow this recipe. And when served fresh from the oven, still warm, and in a napkin-lined basket, they’re one of Martha Stewart’s favorites

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Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show

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Deviled Potatoes
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Deviled Potatoes
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You’ve probably had a deviled egg, but what about a deviled potato? With the recent resurging popularity of the 1950s snack (including upgrades such as a truffled filling, or a shrimp garnish), Meter and Hertle at Bite-Sized Blog ditched the egg white for a crisp potato skin, scooping out the middle before piping in the creamy yolk filling, and a sprinkle of crisp bacon bits on top.

Before roasting, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each potato half to ensure that they won’t roll if you wish to serve the potatoes on a tray. Or pick up one of those egg-carton inspired trays, like this, that will ensure your "eggs" won’t rock and roll their way to the floor. 

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Jonathan Meter/Bite-Sized Blog

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Deviled Eggs
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Deviled Eggs
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What comes around goes around. These classic, one-bite treats are a traditional Southern party food, and earlier versions of the boiled eggs can be traced as far back as ancient Rome. Nowadays, the traditional yolk filling isn’t just topped with a sprinkle of paprika. Some will dress up the filling with a hint of truffle, smoked salmon, or even sweet relish. Others, like chef Dean Sheremet, chose to add an unusual garnish on top, like a small skewered shrimp, left. 

To keep your eggs from toppling over, invest in a specially designed egg tray, or slice off the bottom of each egg half to create a flat surface.

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Dean Sheremet

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White Bean Dip (with Homemade Pita Chips)
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White Bean Dip (with Homemade Pita Chips)
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Chips and dip are a party staple, but with some careful planning and creativity, you don’t have to rely on store-bought hummus and Stacy’s chips, even though they’re good.

For Clodagh McKenna, dips are great for a party, especially if you're new to entertaining. And this white bean dip is easy to make at home, using canned beans even, and then use different shaped cookie cutters to transform ordinary round pitas into homemade chips. Serve the chips alongside the dip using one of those handy chip-and-dip platters, or serve the dip with a couple of spoon-shaped pita chips in small custard cups like these

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Alberto Peroli

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Bite-Sized Collard Burritos
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Bite-Sized Collard Burritos
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Don’t sacrifice taste for health (or vice versa) when throwing a party. These bright green spring roll-like logs use collard greens instead of rice paper wrappers, and are filled with a flavorful bean salad. They are a good alternative to stuffed grape leaves (and they’ll keep your fingers clean).

Instead of stacking them on their sides in one layer, think in three dimensions when serving them. Stack layers on top of each other, like logs, or create short towers, using the burritos like Jenga pieces.

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Greg Vore

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Blue Corn Blinis with Crab
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Blue Corn Blinis with Crab
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What is more irresistible than a miniature pancake with your cocktail? These savory rounds are topped with a dollop of crab salad and avocado crema, but any cold salad like chicken salad or egg salad can be used as well. These treats look particularly impressive when served in a straight line on a narrow slate board or wooden tray

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Laurie Smith

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Puff-Pastry Wrapped Asparagus
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Puff-Pastry Wrapped Asparagus
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Thin spears of asparagus, when roasted alone, tend to be a little too limp to be served as a party appetizer. Yet, when wrapped with a thin spiral of puff pastry, they become a bit more elegant, and stiff enough to enjoy with two fingers, like you might a breadstick. Phoebe and Cara at Big Girls Small Kitchen serve the spears on a platter, like at left. If you’re feeling creative, place them like pencils in mugs or short vases (as done here) around the party space.

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Big Girls Small Kitchen

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Roasted Beet “Bruschetta” on Endive
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Roasted Beet “Bruschetta” on Endive
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Gluten-free? Crisp leaves of endive make for a great, wheat-free alternative to sliced bread. At left, Lulu Powers uses endive to serve a vibrant beet salad for a party snack that will surely leave fingers clean. You can also top each leaf with a scoop of egg salad, crab salad, and you can even use the leaves instead of chips when serving dip.

To serve, arrange leaves in a fan-like formation on a round serving platter, or organize spears side-by-side on a rectangular platter, arranged end to tail, with the tails overlapping the edge of the platter, for easy picking up.

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Stephen Danelian

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Apricots with St. André and Mint
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Apricots with St. André and Mint
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Who says you can’t serve cheese without the crackers? Caterer-to-the-Stars Lulu Powers dresses up the classic cocktail-party staple using dried apricots in lieu of crackers, and garnishing each bite with a vibrant green mint leaf.

Assembled apricots can be served on trays. For a more dramatic presentation, choose whole dried apricots and stuff each with the cheese and garnish with the mint leaf. Nestle each apricot in a two-inch deep dish filled with dried beans to keep the fruit upright.

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Stephen Danelian

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Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
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Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
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Who doesn’t love the irresistible, comfort food combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup? Peter Callahan has shrunk down this childhood favorite, serving sandwiches about the size of a quarter along with a tomato filled with tomato soup. Pop one in your mouth, and then the other. 

If you don't want to hollow out tomatoes, you can also serve the sandwiches alongside a shot glass of soup, for dipping, or cut a slice halfway through each sandwich and stick each onto the side of the shot glass so you can enjoy both all at once.

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Con Poulos

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One-Bite Wild Greens Pies
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One-Bite Wild Greens Pies
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Called hortopsomo, these miniature pies traditionally made of wild greens are of Greek origin, but are easy to make, a lighter alternative to mini quiches, and are fun to serve at a cocktail party.

Arrange the miniature pies on a rectangular tray drizzled with a crème fraîche sauce, thinned out with a bit of water and seasoned with salt, and a sprinkling of micro greens and edible flowers. 

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Allison Beck

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Crostini
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Crostini
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The sky is the limit, or thereabouts, when it comes to crostini. Easy to serve, and when sized no more than two-inches-wide, crostini are an excellent appetizer for get-togethers. 

Hertle and Meter at Bite-Sized Blog combine eye-catching colors like green and purple when making their crostini, while others combine sweet and salty flavors like pumpkin and prosciutto, at left. Crostini topped with Brie and baked until melted also make a suitable one-bite (and mess-free) alternative the classic dinner party appetizer Brie en Crôute.

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Maryse Chevriere