14 Underrated Finger Foods Perfect For Your Next Dinner Party

Whether you're serving a formal five-course dinner or just having a few pals over for a casual meal, it's always a good idea to get the party started with finger foods. A spread of snacks — and maybe a drink or two — can help to successfully kick off any gathering and will make sure your guests don't get hangry while you put the finishing touches on the rest of the meal.

The best finger foods should be easy to hold, able to be finished in a bite or two, and not too messy. That will enable your guests to easily hang out and mingle without having to sit with utensils or plates. There are plenty of fantastic finger food options that are a step above chips and dip or cheese and crackers and that are sure to be hits no matter your culinary skill level or how long you want to spend preparing them in the kitchen. So the next time you're having a dinner party, take a look at this guide for inspiration and make some of these underrated finger foods to impress your friends.

1. Miniature pizzas

When you think about it, most pizza is really finger food. But while full-size slices and deep dish pies are far too unwieldy to serve as hors d'oeuvres, you can still give your guests their pizza fix by making miniature handheld versions of the classic Italian dish. Start by considering what to use as a base: If you want to go all out, you can make your own pizza dough from scratch, and shape it into tiny circles. For an easier option, you can use mini naan bread instead, or buy pre-made pizza dough to save yourself some time.

There are no limits when it comes to toppings, and this is where you can customize your mini pizzas to suit the theme of your dinner party. Keep it classic with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni. Go gourmet with wild mushrooms, goat cheese, truffle oil, and fresh herbs. Make bite-sized versions of this buffalo chicken pizza for a game-day party. If the menu you're serving is seafood focused, start off with mini New Haven-style white clam pizzas to get your guests excited for more oceanic delights.

Once they're topped and ready to go, mini pizzas don't need long to cook, so they're great appetizers to prep in advance. You can even opt to cook them in an air fryer, which is especially helpful if you don't have extra room in the oven.

2. Skewered meats, fruits, and vegetables

It's hard to resist food on a stick. That's probably why you'll find examples of it all around the world, from Greece's kalamaki, to the American mall staple Hot Dog on a Stick, to shish kebabs found throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. One of the great things about food on skewers is how versatile it can be — any food that can be sliced or cubed and impaled is fair game.

The simplest skewers don't even need to be cooked. A combination of fruits or vegetables that are enjoyed raw can be jabbed onto sticks and served immediately with other ingredients like herbs and cheeses to add more flavor. This is a great way to turn a salad into an easy-to-eat finger food, like Caprese skewers with pesto. For heartier skewer preparations, meat and seafood can be marinated or dry-rubbed, added to skewers, and grilled or pan-seared, like these savory and intense smoky beef and mushroom kebabs. Just make sure you have a receptacle handy for your guests to dispose of their empty sticks.

3. Bacon-wrapped bites

There are few, if any, foods on this earth that bacon can't make better. Besides the fact that bacon's salty, savory flavor and crispy, fatty texture let it complement just about every ingredient under the sun, what makes it a particularly fun and useful addition to finger foods is its versatile shape. The thin strips can be wrapped around just about anything, adding a satisfying crunch and flavorful coating to appetizers, or they can be crumbled into an existing dish as a crispy seasoning. 

To create the perfect finger food, bacon-wrapped meals are the way to go. Bacon-wrapped shrimp and bacon-wrapped dates are two classic combinations, combining a sweet, tender middle with a crispy exterior. But don't let your bacon-wrapping imagination stop there. Try scallops instead of shrimp to mix things up. Bacon-wrapped avocado fries will give you a similar fusion of soft and crunchy textures. And other fruits besides dates can be bacon wrapped for that satisfying salty-sweet mix of flavors, like pears and bananas.

4. Pigs in a blanket and other sausage rolls

Pigs in a blanket may have a whimsical, childlike name, but it's a solid type of finger food that can be as plain or sophisticated as you want to make it. Take the basic elements — sausage and pastry — and upgrade the ingredients (or keep it simple) to suit your needs and satisfy your guests' taste buds.

Canned pastry dough and cocktail wieners are all you need to create the simplest version of these rolled-up sausages. You can class them up with fresh herbs, like in this recipe, or add whatever flavorings and garnishes you like. Upgrade to puff pastry and freshly made sausage meat to create these simple but elevated mini sausage rolls. If you want to truly impress, you can make the pastry and sausage from scratch, customizing each element to create pigs and blankets in your own signature style. This way, you can forego the pig part if you like, and substitute any kind of sausage: Chicken, beef, lamb, venison, or vegetarian. Just don't forget the side of mustard.

5. Dumplings

Dumplings can take many forms, from matzo balls to pierogis and samosas to potstickers. What is actually considered a dumpling is the subject of some debate, but they are typically balls of some kind of dough, perhaps filled or stuffed, and are often boiled but can also be steamed or fried.

While you'll find versions of this food in nearly every world cuisine, some are better suited as finger foods than others. A finger food needs to be easy to hold, so a fried dumpling with a firmer exterior is better than a softer boiled or steamed one. That said, any type of dumpling can work as long as it stays together when grasped, and can be finished in one or two bites.

Soup dumplings, while objectively delicious, can be messy, and so are probably best avoided as finger food. Italian stuffed pasta like ravioli is not generally considered a hand-held appetizer, but it can be fried and served as such, with marinara sauce for dipping. Dumpling styles that are typically cooked using a combination of steaming or boiling, and then frying, such as gyoza and pierogi, are quite well suited to easy holding and dipping.

Just be aware of how solid your dumplings are and the potential mess factor, and keep them small to ensure their success as finger foods. And a dipping sauce (or a spread of sauces) is always a welcome accompaniment.

6. Sweet and savory tartlets

Like the definition of a dumpling, what constitutes a tart — or its smaller sibling, the tartlet — is somewhat debated. The differences between pies and tarts are subtle. They both involve starchy crusts that are filled with sweet or savory ingredients. Tarts, unlike most pies, never have a top crust and are considered slightly more sophisticated than pies. Thus, if you're throwing a fancy dinner party, adorable hand-held tartlets are the perfect finger food.

Tartlets can be made using a store-bought pastry or pie crust to save time, or you can make your own if you're a baking enthusiast. You can bake the mini crusts in specially made pans or muffin tins, or free-form to make something closer to a galette. As far as fillings, there are no rules when it comes to tartlets — a sweet tartlet with a seasonal mixed berry filling would be delicious as an appetizer or a dessert. Or you can go savory, with something like Lee Kum Kee's egg and bacon tartlet, which gives you a little taste of breakfast before your dinner party. Opulent and elegant fillings like chicken liver mousse, whipped goat cheese, and caviar can be spooned or piped into the tartlet shells and don't need to be cooked any further, making these super convenient yet sophisticated finger foods for any dinner party.

7. Mini quiches and frittatas

Quiches and frittatas are not just for brunch. They can make classy and delicious appetizers for a dinner party, too, and can easily be made in miniature to serve as finger food. While quiches and frittatas share many similarities, there are a few differences to keep in mind. A quiche consists of a custard filling baked in a pastry crust. A frittata is crustless with a filling that's mostly eggs, not a dairy-based custard. To make both of these in finger food size, a muffin tin is a great option.

In addition to the eggs and dairy, anything can be added to the filling of both quiches and frittatas. Fresh herbs, diced vegetables and meat, and shredded cheese are all tasty choices to consider. Add jalapeños or other peppers if you want to spice them up. Refrigerated pie crust makes quiches easy and convenient, like in this recipe for spinach, brie, and bacon mini quiches. Omit the crust, lessen the dairy, and simply add the filling directly to a greased muffin tin to make a frittata version.

8. Cucumber canapés

For a light, refreshing finger food, you can't do much better than cucumber canapés. Cucumbers sliced into coin shapes can be topped with almost anything to create an elegant, easy-to-eat appetizer that won't fill up your guests before the main event. Bright, crunchy, and cool, cucumbers pair well with so many flavors and textures that you can create a canapé to match well with any style of dinner.

Fresh herbs like basil, dill, or cilantro enhance the cucumber's natural, light flavors. A rich, creamy topping like cheese, yogurt, or sour cream is a nice contrast. You can combine both of these elements with avocado basil cucumber bites. A more substantial topping like bacon or shrimp adds a bit more heft to these light treats. An excellent way to kick off a dinner party is pairing a platter of cucumber canapés with cucumber cocktails, such as cucumber gimlets.

9. Lettuce cups

Lettuce cups are a fantastic dinner party finger food, as long as you make sure the size is small enough to be easily held and eaten in a small bite or two. Sturdy lettuces, like iceberg, Bibb, and little gems are the best options as they can best hold the lettuce cup filling without falling apart, particularly if it involves a sauce or other moist ingredients.

Depending on the filling you choose, lettuce cups can be as light or hearty an appetizer as you'd like. Ground or shredded meats make tasty fillings, seasoned to match the theme of your party. These pulled pork lettuce cups, for example, are cooked with barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw — a great flavor profile if you're serving a southern-style menu. Sautéed vegetables like mushrooms and fresh, flavorful raw vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes are good vegetarian options. Any ingredients that would make a good sandwich, taco, or wrap lend themselves well to lettuce cup fillings.

10. Gougères

Gougères are one of those amazing items that taste delicious and look impressive but are surprisingly easy to make. To create these pastry puffs, you start with pâte à choux, a classic French dough. It's basically flour that's added to heated liquid and butter and cooked together. Then, eggs are mixed in. At that point, for gougères, cheese is added and the pâte à choux can be piped onto a baking sheet. Then the oven turns these little dough disks into magically airy, cheesy, savory bite-sized puffs.

Delightful on their own, gougères can also be filled with flavor-infused creams or sauces, such as with these Buffalo cheese puffs. Your imagination is the only limit here. You can stuff gougères with pesto for a fresh, herbal character, whipped goat cheese to add some tang, or chicken liver mousse for a rich and sophisticated appetizer. Gougères can also be brushed with butter after baking and topped with fresh or dried herbs and spices to give them a flavor boost and add some visual flair.

Both unbaked pâte à choux and fully baked gougères can be made in advance and frozen, which makes them super convenient to serve at your dinner party. Sticking a tray in the oven is all the work you'll have to do to have these lavish treats ready to impress.

11. Arancini and supplì

If you've traveled through Italy, particularly around Rome and Sicily, you've probably enjoyed a delectable fried rice ball or two. These street food treats, known as arancini in Sicily and supplì in the Rome area, share similarities — they're both made from cooked rice stuffed with filling, breaded or battered, and fried to a crisp golden brown. There are a few main differences between the two: While arancini are round, supplì are more oval-shaped. Arancini can have any number of filling types, while supplì are stuffed with mozzarella and a rich meat-based sauce.

Whichever style you choose, supplì and arancini are wonderful finger food options, packed with flavor and texture and full of delightful rustic charm. Particularly if you're serving an Italian feast at your dinner party, these rice balls make the perfect kick-off to your meal. Plan ahead and make risotto for dinner the night before, and you'll already have your rice ready to be stuffed, breaded, and fried, saving you a step the day of your party.

12. Stuffed mushrooms

Savory and delicious, stuffed mushrooms are a fantastic finger food that can elevate your dinner party with their simple elegance. While a full-sized stuffed portobello is hearty enough to be a main dish, baby bellas and other smaller mushrooms have the ideal dimensions for bite-sized snacks.

Once you carve the stem out of a mushroom, the leftover cap makes a perfect cup shape that can be stuffed with just about any ingredients you can imagine. A dollop of creamy cheese is all you need if you want to keep things simple, perhaps with a dusting of breadcrumbs on top for texture. More complex fillings can be created too, whether you stick with vegetarian ingredients like in this stuffed mushroom recipe with sautéed artichokes and spinach, or if you decide to opt for meat like ground turkey or beef, or spicy chorizo. Once the mushrooms are filled, a quick jaunt in the oven is all that's needed to complete these chic appetizers.

13. Deviled eggs

While they may sometimes be dismissed as an old-fashioned retro appetizer, deviled eggs aren't just delicious and versatile finger foods to serve at a dinner party. They're also visually impressive, colorful, and bright, particularly when they're creatively garnished. While they do take a decent amount of effort to make, they're worth it for their fun and versatility.

Since eggs are a fairly neutral-tasting food, they can become vessels for many flavors. Once the eggs are hard-boiled, sliced in half, and the cooked yolks are pulled out and mashed, the real culinary creativity begins. Classic deviled eggs are filled with a humble mixture of mayo and mustard, pickles, and garnished with a sprinkle of paprika. For a unique twist, you can add bold ingredients like kimchi or add heat with jalapeños or hot sauce. Bacon can be added on top for salt and crunch. To make deviled eggs that are even more eye-catching, you can soak them in beet brine to give them a gorgeous fuchsia color, as in this recipe for smoked trout and olive deviled eggs.

14. Fried cheese sticks

Hunks of cheese, breaded and fried, and served with a dipping sauce — what could be a better finger food? You may remember mozzarella sticks from childhood, whether they were a special treat on pizza nights or baked from frozen as an after-school snack. They may have reached peak popularity in the 80s, but fried and breaded cheese actually goes back to the 14th century and likely originated in France. So while they may be considered a casual bar appetizer now, they've got a long gourmet history.

Classic mozzarella sticks, breaded and flavored with Italian seasoning and served with a side of marinara sauce, can be fried in oil, baked, or made in an air fryer. A perfectly cooked cheese stick doesn't necessarily need a dipping sauce, but it can be fun to have a spread of them to add different flavors — barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, ranch, pesto, aioli, and even a sweet fruit sauce can all be enjoyed with a rich, crunchy mozzarella stick. Upgrade your recipe by using a different cheese, like with these panko-crusted halloumi fries. Any cheese that is able to keep its shape when cooked can be used to make these comforting, delectable finger foods.