Bringing the right food to a party is important. Whereas a poor appetizer is noticeable — hard to eat with one hand, messy, doesn’t stand up to the test of time — a great appetizer is actually fairly inconspicuous. It will be raved about because it is delicious, but no one should notice the effort it takes to eat it or any lingering sign it was eaten (no stains or crumbs). If the food you bring is unobtrusive, people can focus on how good it tastes and how much fun they’re having. This year, you’re going to be a big hit. You’re not going to bring a salad, a veggie platter with bottled ranch dressing, or a store-bought cheese plate made from cubes of plastic-tasting Swiss and cheddar. This year, you’re going to bring the perfect appetizer to the party. What makes a perfect appetizer? We have some rules.
- Snacks cannot impede mingling. The should be consumable from one hand (so the other can stay free for hand shaking and drink holding) and should not take an obscene amount of chewing (because we’ve all been introduced to someone mid-bite).
- Snacks cannot require utensils. Forks, spoons, and knives are out. Fingers and toothpicks only.
- The only reason a plate should be needed is to carry multiple snacks away from the table. Otherwise, you should always be able to pick it up and pop it into your mouth.
- Snacks should still be fairly delicious at room temperature.
- Snacks should be as mess-free as possible. Few crumbs, no spills, and minimal drips.
- Snacks should be stress-free. You have better things to do pre-party than slave over your stove/oven. Dumplings, pierogies, and empanadas require too much filling, folding, and crimping. Fritters, arancini, and falafel require too much frying. Save those for a dinner party.
- Snacks should not take days — or even all afternoon — to prepare. Nobody has time for that. If it does take a couple hours, that better be hands-off time.
Ready your toothpicks. We’ve collected of the best party appetizer recipes the Internet has to offer. Whether you’re capping off the old year or ringing in the new one, this list has you covered. It’s go time.