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Quick and Easy Appetizer Recipes for Parties, Buffets or Pre-dinner Bites

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  • Post last modified:July 20, 2022
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Quick and easy appetizer recipes and the caterer’s formula to calculate how many appetizers you need for your cocktail party or dinner party.

What is the meaning of “appetizers”?

The dictionary definition of appetizer is “a small dish of food or a drink taken before a meal or the main course of a meal to stimulate one’s appetite” and “something that arouses or increases anticipation for what is to follow“. They are small two-bite nibbles that you can eat with your fingers, intended to stimulate your appetite for the food to follow. They are also called hors d’oeuvresantipasti, canapés or starters on a menu.

Appetizers are served before long banquets with an aperitif cocktail, instead of serving dinner where guests are encouraged to mingle, or at a late-night party to slow alcohol absorption. At dinner parties and restaurants appetizers are served as a first course.

Appetizers can be served either hot or cold. Cold appetizers are usually served at cocktail parties, banquets and buffet parties where there will be other food served. Hot appetizers are more satisfying so they are served when there is not a meal.

What are the different kinds of appetizers for a party?

It is best to serve a variety of different tastes, textures, and colors. Arrange appetizers on platters with dark colors on the outside. Keeping the same shapes together on a tray is more pleasing to the eye.

  • antipasti : collection of deli meats, cheeses, breads, olives & vegetables
  • canapés: savory spreads on bread or crackers
  • crudités: vegetables, usually with a dip
  • desserts
  • deviled eggs
  • finger sandwiches
  • hors d’oeuvres: mixture of delicacies on a cocktail pick
  • stuffed mushroom caps

How Many Appetizers For A Cocktail Party? 

Johnny’s Kitchen recommends, “For a 1-hour cocktail party about five different canapes or hors d’oeuvres should be planned; for a 2-hour cocktail party, about eight different kinds. For a dinner party where a full meal is to be served, three different canapes or hors d’oeuvres should be sufficient.”

To know how many of each to prepare, the caterer’s formula is 5 appetizers per person the first hour and 3 appetizers per person each hour thereafter. 

To plan a range of flavors, include at least one of each: meat, cheese, vegetable or fruit with a dip, and one fish or shellfish appetizer. (Keep the shellfish on a separate tray away from other food due to allergies.)

Savory appetizers are usually preferred to sweet, so try to include more on your appetizer menu.

Appetizer Recipes by Type

Antipasti

Dips

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