With the holiday season in full swing, there are so many opportunities to get together with friends, family, and coworkers. But what are you going to serve?
Whether you’re planning a casual cocktail soiree, a formal Christmas dinner, or a blowout New Year’s bash, our round up of recipes from some of our favorite bloggers will help you to leave your guests with a smile on their faces, asking for the recipe. If you need just one plate to bring to a potluck, or a full buffet spread for your extended relatives who are arriving this weekend (with hungry appetites in tow), this is the round up for you!
Many of our holiday tables are a mashup of childhood favorites, cultural go-tos, and on-trend experiments, and many of the recipes below cross categories as well. We’ve done our best to fit them into a set of prevailing themes, but feel free to mix and match. The more, the merrier!
Start with a Little Starch
Pastry, pretzels, breads, crackers, cookies, and potato puffs – so many of our favorite finger foods for snacking are members of the carb family of culinary delights, and this is no exception at the holidays.
Pretzel Pastry Pigs with Hard Cider Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Kristen Roberts takes classic pigs in a blanket to the next level, wrapped in homemade pretzel dough and served with a tangy cheese and cider sauce for dipping.
Caprese Stuffed Baked Potato Skins
You’re going to love this idea: new red potatoes, scooped out and filled with all of the makings of a caprese salad, drizzled with balsamic and melted under the broiler.
You’ll find the recipe on Evolving Table.
Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Bites
Homemade sweet potato chips spread with goat cheese sprinkled with rosemary and thyme, and drizzled with honey. These impressive bites take just a few minutes to make.
Learn how to make Becca’s recipe now at Fork in the Kitchen.
Garlic and Rosemary Grissini
These crisp Italian breadsticks are flavored with garlic and herbs, and you can make them into whatever shapes you like. These are perfect on a cheese platter, or served with antipasto before an Italian meal.
Check out Suzanne’s recipe now on Flour Arrangements.
Send Out the Seafood!
As a kid, I loved shrimp in all of its many forms. Whether it was a jumbo cocktail dipped by the tail into horseradish-laden sauce or those itty-bitty guys that they put in the egg rolls at my locals Chinese restaurant, I was a fan. That is, until I found out a few years ago that I apparently have a shrimp allergy. Please don’t bring these to my party, but feel free to enjoy them at your own!
Smoked salmon, on the other hand, is one of my all-time favorites. This recipe will undoubtedly make a splash at a ball drop or New Year’s brunch near you.
Spanish Garlic Prawns with Simple Garlic Butter Sauce
Smoked paprika plus lots of garlic and butter are the flavorful secrets to success for this recipe. Plus, there’s a shrimp buying guide in the post to help you purchase the best seafood to start your recipe off right.
Mark and Elizabeth share the recipe on Compass and Fork.
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Shrimp spring rolls made with brightly colored fresh veggies and herbs make a lovely presentation on your holiday table. Perfect for New Year’s, your guests can start the year off right with this healthy appetizer.
Get the recipe now on Evolving Table.
Breaded Prawns with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Breaded in regular breadcrumbs or matzoh meal, these deep-fried shrimp are a fun alternative to the more traditional chilled cocktail.
DIY Gin and Dill Cured Salmon
Ready to try salmon sliced thin and cured at home with fresh dill, dried juniper berries, and a botanical gin? This holiday treat is so worth the extra effort! Served on homemade blini and topped with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprig of dill, your guests will be coming back for seconds and thirds of this brunch favorite.
Figs and other types of dried fruit are popular wintertime selections. For those who aren’t fans of fruit cake, we suggest the following small bites.
Fig and Cheddar Thumbprint Cookies
Savory shortbread cookies filled with sweet fig jam, these bites take the messy element out of preparing a cheese platter for your guests. No cheese slicers, snack plates, or slate boards required! (OK, you can still serve them on slate if you want to…)
Devils on Horseback
A festive retro treat, these bacon-wrapped prunes come from a recipe that dates back to Victorian times. The choice of prunes was a later addition (in place of oysters) but we think you’ll love the toothsome texture and the combination of sweet and savory flavors in this dish. Plus, with just two ingredients and a stack of toothpicks, you’re ready to party!
Find the recipe on Compass and Fork.
Blue Cheese Stuffed Medjool Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto
Another satisfying combo of sweet and savory, these are easy to make, with no cooking required. Just stuff, wrap, and go!
Kristen shares the recipe on Feast in Thyme.
Fig Compote, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Crostini
Fig compote made with dried fruit, red wine, thyme, and cinnamon is slathered on toasted baguette slices with crispy bacon and goat cheese. It’s easy to make a vegetarian version sans bacon for the non-meateaters, but we’re betting the full version will be gobbled up in a flash.
Becca will teach you how to make these on Fork in the Kitchen.
Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts and Dates
Bacon lovers will flock to this snack, the perfect combination of salty, crunchy, and sweet.
Sausage Bites with Fig and Pomegranate Mustard
Mini sausages on edible pretzel sticks, dipped in a fruity mustard. This one’s fun to eat, and you won’t find skewers and toothpicks stuck inconspicuously all around the house when the party’s over.
Find the recipe now on Spoonabilities.
Fresh and Fruity
No, we’re not talking about a special at your favorite diner. Fresh fruit makes a delightful appetizer, and there are so many different forms that are ideal for presentation at a holiday gathering.
Tangy Fruit Salsa with Baked Cinnamon Chips
A sweet fruit salsa is a nice surprise in a sea of savory options. Skip the fruit salad and serve this dippable blend of raspberry, blackberry, lime, kiwi, and peach instead, with home-baked cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
Get the details from Amanda Mason on Recipes Worth Repeating.
Basil Strawberry and Cream Cheese Appetizer
Strawberries and basil are a winning combo with a touch of balsamic vinegar, and using frozen fruit sweetens the deal since it’s easily available year-round, and requires hardly any prep at all.
Learn how to make it on Recipes Worth Repeating.
South of the Border
Tex-Mex delights aren’t just for game day! Get the fiesta going with these cheesy, spicy bites.
Tasty finger food with simplified prep, these bites can be filled with your favorite shredded protein, whether it be chicken, beef, or pork.
6-Layer Mexican Pinwheels
Filled with a homemade vegan Mexican cheese spread, refried beans, salsa, and fresh vegetables, a few of these are sure to tide your guests over until dinner is served.
Get the recipe now on Minimalist Baker.
Cheesy Bacon Jalapeño Corn Dip
Pure deliciousness in a bowl, you will be dipping your chips into this dip again and again. Cream cheese and mozzarella serve as the base for crispy bacon, corn and jalapeño, basil, parmesan, and cayenne, all baked to perfection in a cast iron skillet.
Tessa and Sammy share the recipe on Blooming Bites.
Taco Potato Skins
Want to save yourself some effort? Skip dinner and serve these instead! They’re everything you want in a cheesy beef taco, stuffed into a potato – dinner party success, with time leftover to bake a few batches of cookies.
Check it out on Eat Something Delicious.
A little crudité never hurt anyone. In fact, veggies are one of my favorite appetizers since they can be so hard to come by at otherwise decadent and comfort food-filled meals, with dessert to follow. Alongside the carrot sticks and bell pepper strips, try these roasted, raw, baked, blended, and fried options.
Baba Ghanoush Hummus
Two Mediterranean favorites in one, this tasty dip combines roasted eggplant with traditional hummus ingredients. Serve it with sliced veggies for dipping, or if you have time, triangles of homemade sour barley pita.
Vegetarian Wonton Bites
Back in the day, when I helped to manage a catering business and cafe in Philadelphia, wonton cups were one of our favorite party tricks. They’re simple to make, with pre-made wonton wrappers in a mini muffin tin, and can be filled with just about anything. This version is stuffed with hummus and veggies, and topped with spicy sriracha.
You’ll find Brynn McDowell’s recipe at The Domestic Dietitian.
Gut-Friendly Artichoke Dip
This gut-friendly dip is lactose-free and low FODMAP, so many diners will be able to indulge without rumbling tummies (in a bad way) as a result. Artichoke hearts are blended with dairy-free cheeses and sour cream, and the results are delightful.
Find the recipe now on Erika’s Gluten-free Kitchen.
Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
There’s no reason to overcomplicate things when it comes to stuffed mushrooms, and we love this version from Jordan and Clark Cord. Baby bella mushrooms play nicely with goat cheese that’s flavored simply with garlic, thyme, and a little salt and pepper.
Learn how to make these at The Fitchen.
Tahini-Free Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
This tahini-free hummus made with home-roasted peppers, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne is a flavorful and colorful alternative to the typical chickpea-based spread.
Sara shares the recipe at Real Balanced.
Veggie Tower with Creamy Cilantro Dip
Like party games? Depending on the rowdiness of your guests, this one might end up on the floor. But before it’s reduced to a pile of veggie rubble (plus cheese and salami, if you like), they’ll marvel at the spectacle of this architectural presentation.
Suzanne will teach you how to build your own tower at Flour Arrangements.
Simple Thai Springrolls
Filled with ground pork, glass noodles, cabbage and other healthy veggies and pan-fried until golden, these spring rolls make a delectable finger food, served with plum or hoisin sauce for dipping. And the visual tutorial makes rolling these babies a piece of cake.
Get the recipe at Compass and Fork.
Start with Something Sweet (Chocolate Edition)
Some guests have more of a sweet tooth than others, and though my preferences tend towards the savory (or those delightful combos of savory and sweet) for noshing before a meal, people like what they like – and to each his own!
But I never say no to chocolate, and I know I am not alone. Don’t leave those chocoholic guests hanging. Select a few of the following appetizers that are on the sweeter side.
Brownie Roll-Out Cookies
Get out the cookie cutters and roll out a batch of these delicious chocolate brownie cookies, then decorate them for a lovely presentation. If you’re not already a decorating pro, our guide to mastering royal icing can help!
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip
Cheesecake is a decadent favorite, and serving it in dip form is fun for guests. Well, at least for those guests who can still eat lactose-laden treats as adults, and who aren’t stressed about their holiday waistlines…
Surprise! This recipe is dairy free, gluten free, and paleo. Served with crisp plantain chips, this will be the best guilt-free chocolate chip cheesecake you’ve ever had.
Learn more from Meagan at Eat Something Delicious.
Fudge Fat Bombs
Fat bombs are beloved by adherents to the ketogenic diet, and coconut oil is a key ingredient. This fudge version will keep appetites at bay until dinnertime, made with healthy almond butter, coconut oil and flour, and a touch of Himalayan pink salt.
What makes these chocolate, pecan, and date clusters sea turtles, rather than some other variety? The sprinkling of sea salt on top, of course! A fun project to make with the kids, these candies are also dairy free.
You’ll find the recipe on Eat Something Delicious.
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patty Fat Bombs
Minty and sweet, these chocolatey treats are stuffed with creamy shredded coconut.
Check out the recipe on Real Balanced.
Nothing says “holiday time is here” like a bowlful of nuts in their shells, with a nutcracker alongside it. But this serving method can be messy, and is often eschewed in favor of more flavorful snacks. Dress up those nuts with these sweet suggestions.
Healthy Homemade Snickers Protein Bars
This copycat recipe is even better than the real thing, made with a homemade nougat base, layer of caramel, and a peanut topping, all coated in dark chocolate. Plus, these bars are gluten free, dairy free, and vegan!
Gabriel shares his instructions at One Clever Chef.
Green Tea Walnuts
A welcome alternative to the usual holiday spiced nuts, these are sweet and refreshingly bitter, with a deep walnut flavor. Plus, they’re rich in healthy antioxidants.
You’ll find Zoe Fenson’s recipe at I Eat the Peach.
Pecan Pie Shortbread Bars
Turn your favorite pie into finger food with this delicious recipe. Plus, they’re gluten free and dairy free, made with coconut flour, tapioca starch, coconut milk, and dates.
Check it out now on Eat Something Delicious.
Make the Carnivores’ Mouths Water
This was by far the most popular category among our contributors, and there are so many different cuisines and styles of cooking represented. If your crowd of meat-lovers will be gathering around the fire together this winter, try a few of the ideas in this section first.
Sticky Hot Chicken Wings
These spicy baked wings are made with a secret ingredient to make them extra crispy. Sure, they’re messy. But the gang will love them!
Holly teaches us how to make them at Spend with Pennies.
Asian Steak Roll-Ups
Love steak? These grilled roll-ups are tasty parcels of a variety of vibrant veggies wrapped in thin-sliced sirloin, and marinated in ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.
Learn how to make these at Recipes Worth Repeating.
Asian Teriyaki Meatballs
These marinated and baked teriyaki beef meatballs are sprinkled with sesame seeds and brushed with a bit of extra teriyaki sauce before serving. Don’t forget the toothpicks!
Get the details now on Recipes Worth Repeating.
Pulled Pork BBQ and Sweet Potato Bites
Slow-cooked pulled pork served on roasted sweet potato slices with a smear of tangy cheese and topped with green onions. This ingenious app is so packed with flavor, we won’t blame you if you find yourself hovering around the buffet table for the rest of the evening when this dish is served.
Buffalo Chicken Celery Sticks
Can you say irresistible? Take the work out of pre-dinner wings and serve shredded buffalo chicken instead, stuffed into celery sticks and drizzled with ranch dressing (or my personal preference, a chunky blue cheese).
London Brazil shares the recipe on Evolving Table.
Italian Antipasto Platter
An Italian antipasto platter is easy to throw together with a little something for everyone. But Mark and Elizabeth’s directions will help you to elevate your humble offerings to a level appropriate for a holiday fete with just a few simple twists.
Swap out the usual sliced cheese and cured meats for Parmigiano Reggiano with balsamic vinegar from Modena, a fresh caprese salad, and prosciutto with melon, and your guests will thank you.
Mark and Elizabeth share their instructions and tips at Compass and Fork.
Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf
These traditional Thai tidbits are a special treat that you have got to try, if only once a year. And what better time to serve them than at the holidays?
The list of ingredients is long, but your taste buds will sing with the flavors of ground beef, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste and dried shrimp, galangal, palm sugar, lemongrass, fish sauce, and betel leaf on offer here. If these ingredients aren’t commonly found in your pantry at home, you should be able to find everything you need at your local Asian grocery store, and the results will be so worth it.
Get the recipe at Compass and Fork.
For a pretty presentation that’s also delicious, this is one of my favorites on our list. The traditional calzone tends to be heavy and unwieldy, the kind of food that will lead you to curl up and take a nap shortly after eating it. But these mini bites stuffed with sausage, peppers, onions, pepperoni, mozzarella, and fresh basil, offer big flavor in a tiny package.
Just roll out your dough, layer with ingredients, and roll into a log, then slice and bake. Don’t forget the pizza sauce for dipping!
Meagan shares the recipe on Eat Something Delicious.
Ponying up to the buffet table at a holiday party can be a bit like diving into the deep end for those with food allergies and intolerances. Remember to check with your guests before your party to find out if they have any special dietary needs, or invite them to bring a platter to share. Eating with loved ones is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the holidays, and a little bit can go a long way in terms of making your guests feel welcome and included.
Soft Ginger Cookies
These gluten-free cookies are a nice alternative to the traditional holiday gingerbread, sweet and delicately spiced, and full of the ginger flavor that Santa and his elves (and holiday partygoers everywhere) so crave.
Corn Dog Bites
Love corn dogs? This homemade version is gluten free, and delicious with a dollop of mustard.
Get the recipe now on Erika’s Gluten-free Kitchen.
Spicy Cheese Straws
A blend of gluten-free flour, parmesan, and cayenne pepper, these spicy cheese sticks are crisp and flavorful, and easy to cut into fun shapes for a nice presentation.
Mona shares the recipe at Queen of My Kitchen.
Easy Asian Deviled Eggs
Miso, mayo, and sriracha flavor this Asian twist on classic deviled eggs, topped with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, scallions, and cilantro.
Check out the recipe now, from Rachel Phipps.
As with the gluten-free category, the items listed here are not necessarily the only vegan items on our list, but they stand out as recipes that vegans might typically be precluded from enjoying. I’d make it a point to let your vegan guests know that they can enjoy these specialties, but no one else needs to know that the cheese or fudge that they are gobbling down is actually vegan!
5-Minute Vegan Cheese
This vegan cheese dip is made with macadamia nuts and nutritional yeast, and it’s easy to whip up in just a few minutes.
Elizabeth shares her recipe at Hello Spoonful.
Chocolate-Covered Coconut Protein Bounty Balls
These vegan coconut candies are sweetened with maple syrup and coated in dark chocolate. Oh, and don’t forget to add just a sprinkle of fleur de sel before the chocolate dries!
Learn how to make them at One Clever Chef.
Chive and Tahini Mini Twists
Put a twist on the usual flavored crackers and serve this chive and tahini version from Annie McGee instead. With a simple pizza dough base, you can easily make a gluten-free version of these braids as well.
Check out the recipe on Kitchen Window Clovers.
Vegan Vanilla Fudge
Yes, vegan fudge is a real thing, and it is delicious. Made with just four ingredients, these tasty bites are packed with protein.
You’ll find the recipe on One Clever Chef.
Add a Little Booze
A little drink before dinner is always nice, but it can be hard to juggle a martini glass and a plate full of snacks. For the best of both worlds, serve a few of these alcohol-infused appetizers instead.
Whiskey Chocolate Truffles
Whiskey and chocolate make an enticing combination, and what better way to enjoy it than in truffle form? If you’re a homemade candy newbie, you’ll love the simple presentation of these cocktail-inspired bites.
Healthy Chocolate Rum Balls
Another vegan candy recipe that’s full of flavor, these bites are made with a base of almond flour, dates, cocoa powder, and plenty of dark rum.
Head over to One Clever Chef for detailed instructions.
Bourbon Caramel Popcorn
Coated in homemade bourbon caramel, this recipe is much simpler to make than the traditional popcorn balls, and easier to nibble on before the big meal as well.
Learn more on Recipes Worth Repeating.
Crostini, Toast, and Bruschetta
Whatever you call them, little circles of bread topped with sweet and savory ingredients, drizzled with something festive, and sprinkled with something fresh, make a satisfying snack to stave off hunger until the big meal arrives. And best of all, they’re some of the simplest appetizers to put together – so you can steer clear of holiday stress and enjoy the party.
Maple Pear Crostini
Buttered toast, ripe pears, salty parmesan, and sweet maple syrup all come together to form this simple, satisfying appetizer. If you can wield a knife and work a toaster oven, you can make this simple recipe.
Homemade Balsamic Bruschetta
Match your decor with this red and green holiday bruschetta, made with fresh plum tomatoes and basil. And if you really want to go for it, add the optional mozzarella for extra decadence.
Lauren Falardeau Pariseau shares the recipe on Hunger Thirst Play.
Roasted Cherry Goat Cheese Crostini
If you can find cherries in your neighborhood at this time of year, you absolutely must try these. Fresh cherries are pitted and then roasted with thyme, served on toasted baguette slices with a smear of goat cheese and a sprinkling of chopped basil. If you’re a fan of pairing savory herbs with sweet stone fruit, you will love these.
Check out the recipe on Fork in the Kitchen.
Garlic Mayo Chicken and Gruyère Crostini
Garlic mayo, chicken, and cheese, topped with a sprinkling of fresh basil and arranged on baguette rounds. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Prep the chicken breast and the mayo ahead of time, and enjoy the party.
Amanda shares her instructions on Recipes Worth Repeating.
Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwich Bites
Made with aged cheddar on crispy baguette slices, the addition of sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, and fresh herbs takes these mini sandwiches over the top.
If you’re of the mind that no gathering would be complete without cheese and crackers, don’t forget to throw some added interest into your offerings. Make it something special with the following recipes.
Wild Blueberry Chutney with Creamy Brie
Made with frozen wild blueberries, shallots, and jalapeños, this tangy chutney pairs so nicely with the creamy brie.
Check out the recipe on The Domestic Dietitian.
Easy Cheddar Cheese Ball with Butter Roasted Apple Chips, Pecans, and Rosemary
You’ll be in homemade cheese ball heaven with this holiday crowd-pleaser from Charity Beth Long – creamy cheese coated in a tasty mix of apple chips and pecans oven-roasted in butter, and chopped fresh rosemary.
Puff Pastry Baked Brie with Fresh Fig Jam
Repeat after me: you don’t have to be afraid of puff pastry, you don’t have to be afraid of puff pastry, you don’t have to be afraid of puff pastry.
Maybe you’re not ready to tackle making it from scratch just yet, but the frozen version is so easy to work with. You’ll love enrobing a wheel of brie with it, and topping it with homemade fresh fig jam.
Learn more on Hunger Thirst Play.
Super simple to make, two types of cheese are layered and marinated in a white wine vinegar dressing made with pimientos, garlic, parsley, scallions, and basil. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!
Get the details on Recipes Worth Repeating.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers
Sweet with a touch of heat and packed with tangy goat cheese, these stuffed peppers come together in just minutes.
Learn how to make your own at home from Becca at Fork in the Kitchen.
Classic Cheese Straws
Crunchy, buttery, and full of cheesy flavor with just a touch of spice, these classic crips are delicious served on their own or with hummus or your favorite dip.
No southern Christmas would be complete without a bowlful of pimiento cheese dip. Anne Wolfe Postic isn’t a purist, and her recipe allows for a lot of flexibility.
Anne says it’s easy to make with the ends of cheeses leftover in your fridge, Duke’s mayonnaise or even Miracle Whip (though I must say, I’m a lifelong Hellmann’s fan myself…), pimientos, worcestershire, hot sauce, and mustard.
But hold on a second – she says you can swap out the pimientos for whatever pickles you have on hand, or olives, and you might even be inclined to mix in some miso paste or Vegemite! Unconventional choices for sure, but I love Anne’s kitchen sink approach to making something great for a party with what you have on hand, and you will too.
Cheese and Charcuterie Tree
This fun snack arrangement designed for fall can take on a new form when it’s reworked for the holidays. You’ll have fun arranging evergreen-shaped boughs and putting those Christmas cookie cutters to work to make colorful decorative elements.
With Theresa’s guidance, let your imagination run free and make a lovely visual display that’s perfect for the season. Don’t forget to take a picture, because this one won’t last!
Learn more on Chewable Structures.
It’s Party Time!
Armed with these recipes, you’re ready to meet the pre-meal and snacking challenges of whatever events come your way this winter. There are so many delicious possibilities!
What will you serve at your home, or bring to your next get-together this season? Share with us in the comments.
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About Allison Sidhu
Allison M. Sidhu is a foodie from Philly who is based in Los Angeles, where she loves exploring the local restaurant scene with her husband. She holds a master's degree in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a food-filled magazine at the beach.