7 Easy Party Finger Foods for Your Outdoor Feasts
Around this time of year, everyone is more than ready for some outdoor social interaction — whether the occasion be a graduation party, backyard BBQ, or simple springtime picnic. People will do just about anything to come out from hibernation and get some fresh air, and when they do come out, they’re usually armed with equipment (read: food.) Now that party season is almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about what you will bring to said celebrations. The produce in the grocery store is finally ripe, the New Years resolutions have been made and forgotten, and you’ve been snowed in for months — there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t show up at your first spring or summertime event armed and prepared.
Pigs in a blanket are so last season. This spring, try one of these simple yet sophisticated appetizer recipes that are appropriate for any occasion. They’re all finger foods, because everyone knows that the easier a food is to eat, the easier it disappears, and they’re each packed with their own respective flavor. Even if you’re only a novice in the kitchen, trust us, you can take on one of these seven recipes and impress your guests. Be prepared to get an invitation to every party under the sun this summer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
1. Barbecue Deviled Eggs
First up: an old favorite with a twist. Almost everyone loves deviled eggs, and they’re rarely left uneaten at a party — but when you add a drop of hot sauce, you really take things up a notch, and people aren’t able to keep their hands off these little babies. Liquid smoke is definitely in right now, so take advantage of the trend and bring these Barbecue Deviled Eggs from Southern Living to your next BBQ. This classic finger food will have people recounting old times, and also catching their breath from the unexpected spice.
- 12 large eggs
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup finely chopped smoked pork
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
- Garnish: paprika
Directions: Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan; add water to a depth of 3 inches. Bring to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes. Drain and fill pan with cold water and ice. Tap each egg firmly on the counter until cracks form all over the shell. Peel under cold running water.
Cut eggs in half lengthwise, and carefully remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise. Stir in pork and next 4 ingredients; blend well. Spoon yolk mixture evenly into egg white halves. Garnish, if desired
2. Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Next up is vegetables turned even chips. Healthy eating has never been so delicious. Take these Zucchini Parmesan Crisps from Ellie Krieger to your next family gathering once zucchini comes in season. Studded with nothing but parmesan, bread crumbs, and seasoning, this dish is easy to make and easy to eat. Oh, and it also helps hit your veggie quota for the day.
- Cooking spray
- 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)
- 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.
3. Smoked Mozzarella and Ricotta Fritters
Or, get your guests to say “Cheese Please” and prepare these delectable Smoked Mozzarella and Ricotta Fritters from Oprah.com. Loaded with two cheese favorites, these seem also too easy to eat, and once again, they’re finger friendly, so now all bets are really off. It’s time to face your fears and fry some fritters.
- 1 1/2 cups shredded smoked smoked mozzarella
- 1 1/2 cups fresh whole milk fresh whole milk ricotta
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black black pepper
- 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme thyme leaves
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 6 tablespoons balsamic balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Dijon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black black pepper
Directions for the fritters: In a small bowl combine the ricotta, smoked mozzarella, salt, and pepper. In another bowl pour the panko. In a third bowl lightly beat the eggs. Put the flour in a fourth bowl. Line a tray with parchment paper.
Scoop a 1 1/2 tablespoon ball of the cheese mixture into the flour and roll to coat. Transfer the ball to the eggs and roll to coat. Transfer the cheese ball to the panko and again roll to coat. Transfer the ball to the parchment-lined tray. Continue with the remaining cheese mixture.
Meanwhile, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry fritters in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with thyme. Serve warm with balsamic dipping sauce.
Directions for the balsamic dipping sauce: Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and honey in a blender. Blend until combined. Add the oil in a steady stream while the machine is running. Season with the salt and pepper.
4. Buffalo Chicken Bites
Bringing back the spice, we come to What’s Cooking Chicago’s Buffalo Chicken Bites, finger food that just about any body can get down with, especially hot sauce lovers. The recipe for this dish is one that requires some time, but you can be sure your consumers will appreciate the extra effort. Everyone loves buffalo wings dipped in blue cheese, and in this dish, you skip the mess, enjoy the cheese, and get a carbolicious buffalo chicken pillow for extra credit.
- 1 cup finely diced cooked chicken breast
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup hot sauce (Frank’s brand is what I used)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup warm milk (I used 2 percent)
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
Directions: To make the buffalo chicken mixture, in a small bowl, combine the chicken, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, melted butter, and hot sauce; set aside. In a 1 cup measuring cup, heat the milk and then add the 2 tablespoons brown sugar; stir into warm milk until dissolved; place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast to the stand mixer and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Allow the dough to knead in the stand mixer for 5-7 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Place dough into a clean bowl that’s been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit with rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of buffalo chicken mixture into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, filling and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly.)
Bake buffalo chicken bites in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from oven (some cheese may have melted out) and brush tops with melted butter before serving (optional.)
5. Goat Cheese Crostini With Pickled Peppers
You also can’t go wrong with crostinis, and that’s why we’re highlighting this party happy app as one you should consider bringing to your next soiree. Food and Wine is responsible for this finger lickin’ recipe, and it provides a good example of another old favorite kicked up a notch. The pickled peppers on the crostinis take this dish from an A to an A+, and we know cooking is not a competition, but let’s just say if it was, you’d win with this recipe.
- Twenty 1/3-inch-thick slices of baguette
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
- 7 ounce(s) fresh goat cheese, at room temperature 3/4 cup
- 1/2 cup(s) chopped pickled sweet or hot peppers
- 2 tablespoon(s) chopped chives
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake for about 8 minutes, until toasted. Spread each toast with goat cheese and top with the peppers. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with the chives and salt and serve.
6. Bacon Wrapped Dates
Bacon Wrapped Dates: make them and prepare to be the favorite guest at the party. The recipe from Yum Sugar requires two ingredients — bacon and dates — but you only really need to hear one word to be convinced: bacon. Even the biggest anti-date activists can’t help but love this appetizer, and it is simple yet sophisticated. With Bacon Wrapped Dates, you get your indulgence and your healthy fruit all tied up in one package, and take one bite of these and you really won’t be complaining.
- 16-ounce package of bacon (regular thickness, not thick cut), cut into thirds
- 8-ounce package of pitted dates
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Position oven rack in the center of the oven. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. Wrap a piece of bacon around a date. Make sure the bacon seam is placed facing downward on the cookie sheet. Press firmly on the bacon-wrapped date, so it is less likely to unravel. Repeat until all of the dates are wrapped in bacon. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
7. Caprese Salad Kabobs
Last but not least, a summertime salad turned finger food. Welcome these Caprese Salad Kabobs into your kitchen from Taste of Home and you may never pull out your salad bowl again. What’s the point when you have skewers? This recipe really couldn’t get any easier, and as long as you know what’s goes into a caprese salad, you probably don’t even have to look at the ingredient list. Load up your mozzarella, baby tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves on a skewer and never look back. Salad on a stick never tasted so good.
- 24 grape tomatoes
- 12 cherry-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls
- 24 fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Directions: On each of 12 wooden appetizer skewers, alternately thread two tomatoes, one cheese ball, and two basil leaves; place on a serving plate. In a small bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar; drizzle over kabobs just before serving.