5 Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers to Bring to Any Winter Gathering

Holiday season is approaching, so it’s time to brush up on your knowledge of delicious cocktails and appetizers that are photo-ready. If you and your friends like to talk and graze over snacks instead of having a more formal sit-down dinner, then you should have an arsenal of appetizer recipes ready to whip up in a moment’s notice. Whether you’re the one throwing the party or your friends are planning events all winter long, here are five crowd-pleasing appetizers everyone is sure to love.

1. Mushroom and Leek Spring Rolls

Delicious homemade spring rolls

Delicious homemade spring rolls | iStock.com

This delicious Asian-inspired appetizer brings you the crunchy texture of a fried spring roll along with the savory and earthy flavors of fall. These mushroom and leek spring rolls from Ming Tsai, featured on Food Network, are hearty, easy to assemble, and perfect for any crowd. Try them with the mint dipping sauce for an extra pop of flavor.


  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced cepes, chanterelles, or oyster mushrooms
  • 2 cups leek, julienned
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 minced Serrano chili
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 (4-ounce) package bean thread noodles, blanched, refreshed, and cut up
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package lumpia wrappers. Egg roll and spring roll wrappers are also fine.
  • Egg wash (1 egg and ½ cup of water, mixed)

For the mint dipping sauce

  • ¼ cup fresh mint, finely cut
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup thin soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions: Heat canola oil in a hot wok or skillet, then add garlic, ginger, and chili. Cook just until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add the hoisin and cook briefly. Add the shiitakes, leeks, and bean sprouts. Season, if needed, them remove to a plate and let cool.

When cool, add cilantro, scallions, and bean thread noodles. Lay out one wrapper with a corner facing you. Place a small mound of the mixture at the bottom, and moisten the edges of the wrapper with the egg wash.

Roll the bottom corner of the wrapper toward the middle. Fold in both sides and continue rolling to get your spring roll shape. Allow the spring rolls to rest after being rolled. Then, deep fry at 350 degrees, or until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with spring rolls.

2. Buffalo Brussels Sprouts

Source: iStock

Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts | iStock.com

Not only will you be getting your healthy veggies in with this recipe, but you also might be able to fool your friends into believing they’re not eating Brussels sprouts at all. These buffalo Brussels sprouts from Delish are perfect for popping into your mouth all through the night as the party rages on. You’ll love how easy they are to throw together, and you’ll love the flavor even more.


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Buffalo sauce, for serving

Directions: Cook Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Set up an assembly line with egg and flour in two shallow bowls and place panko breadcrumbs in a large Zip-top bag right alongside. Working a few at a time, coat sprouts in egg, then toss in flour, then add to panko bag. Shake in batches until fully coated.

Meanwhile, fill a skillet with enough canola oil to reach 2 inches high. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shiny. Add dredged Brussels sprout to oil and fry until golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper. Serve with buffalo sauce on the side.

3. Pumpkin Hummus

Hummus with cheesy crackers for the perfect appetizer

Hummus with cheesy crackers for the perfect appetizer | iStock.com

Whether you love roasted red pepper, black olives, or classic garlic, there’s a hummus to fit every palate. To celebrate the cooler months, this pumpkin hummus from Kim’s Cravings incorporates chickpeas with pumpkin puree to get that big squash flavor, and the ground cinnamon and chili powder will warm you from the inside out. Serve this hummus up with warm toasted pita for a unique fall appetizer that you and your friends will love.


  • ½ cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste as desired
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin, plus more to taste as desired
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or a blender. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.

Transfer to a bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with your choice of dippers.

4. Maple Chili Popcorn

bowl filled with rosemary popcorn

Homemade bowl of popcorn with spices and herbs | iStock.com

If you bring a big bowl of this to your next gathering, then get ready to share the recipe with everyone you know. The combination of spices and maple in this maple chili popcorn from HGTV Magazine adds a burst of flavor to the popcorn without the cloying sweetness that is common in caramel corn. This perfect winter appetizer couldn’t be easier.


  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup popping corn
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions: Combine salt, chili powder, and paprika in a bowl. Heat a large pot over medium-heat, and add oil until shimmering. Put a few kernels in the oil. Once they pop, the oil is hot enough. Add remaining kernels, and cover, keeping lid slightly ajar. Shake the pot constantly using a towel while kernels pop. Once popping slows down, take off heat and leave cover on, giving it a couple more shakes.

Combine butter and maple syrup and microwave until melted, about 1 minute. Toss the popcorn with the maple butter and chili mixture until all combined. Adjust seasoning and serve.

5. Persimmon Bruschetta

Fresh persimmons pair excellently with goat cheese and ricotta for an appetizer

Fresh persimmons pair excellently with goat cheese and ricotta for an appetizer | iStock.com

If you’ve never used persimmons in your cooking before, now might be the perfect time to start. This fruit has a delicate honey-like flavor and is ideally eaten when very ripe so that the sweetness can meld with the other flavors in this persimmon bruschetta from Food52. The addition of extra honey and the combination of both ricotta and goat cheese makes this bruschetta divine — and definitely perfect for cold weather. Add a few fresh herbs on top, and all of your friends will think you slaved away for hours on this easy and elegant appetizer.


  • 4 ripe Fuyu persimmons
  • ½ cup fresh tangy goat cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • ¼ cup light-colored honey
  • 8 slices crusty country bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts or pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or mint
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus more
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush bread with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and crusty. Cut the persimmons into 8 wedges. Remove seeds and remove peel with a paring knife. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Whisk together ricotta, goat cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, and rosemary until well combined. Spread evenly over toasts and top each toast with four to six persimmon wedges. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with nuts, and garnish with herbs. More from Culture Cheat Sheet.