Everyone loves a party! It doesn’t matter what the occasion is – birthday, graduation, or just Saturday night – it’s always fun to get together with friends and loved ones and celebrate the good times. Food is always an important part of any party; if you don’t believe that, just try to have a party without any. Have you ever noticed that no matter how elaborate the menu is, people always navigate to the appetizers and finger foods? That’s because appetizers are literally what get the party started. Everyone loves the small bites that they can munch while they mingle with guests, the kind you don’t need a fork and knife to eat. Appetizers are portable, fun and easy to eat. When the bites are small, you get to try all of them and not feel like you overate or missed out on something. The next time you throw a shindig or get invited to a party, here are some simple and flavorful appetizer ideas that are definitely something to celebrate.
1. Dips and Spreads
One of the most popular types of appetizers just happens to also be the easiest to make. With just a press of a food processor button, you can make an appetizer everyone loves. Dips can be as simple as this Great Northern White Bean Dip or as fancy as this Exquisite Leek and Cashew Appetizer. They can be cool and creamy like this Squash Parsley Dip and this Creamy Green Avocado Basil Dip or warm and spicy like this Indian Saag Dip and this Char-Roasted Eggplant Dip. For tons of ideas and recipes, check out 10 Ways to Make Amazing Dips and Spreads as well as 15 Double-Dip Worthy Dips.
You know that someone is going to bring a tub of store-bought hummus to the party. Step out of the box (or tub) and bring your own homemade hummus that is unique and like nothing no one has ever tasted before. I like to use beans other than chickpeas for hummus that looks and tastes totally different like my Red Hummus: combine 1 can of rinsed and drained kidney beans with 2 Tbs. tahini, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt and black pepper to taste in a food processor. Process until smooth and taste for any seasoning adjustments. Other flavors of hummus to try include Quick Easy and Healthy Black Hummus, Low-Fat Vegan Pizza Hummus, Smoky Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus, Oil-Free Kale Edamame Hummus, Smoky White Bean and Yellow Pepper Hummus, Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus, and Sweet Pea Hummus.
Canapés are small appetizers on pieces of toasted bread that you can eat in just a few bites. In the same family are bruschetta, crostini and tartines. The bread acts as the vehicle that brings the delicious appetizer, such as a tapenade, to your mouth. Try my Tomato Olive Tapenade, this Olive and Kale Tapenade or this Lentil Apricot Tapenade with Curry Aioli. For Italian flavors with a bit of heat, make my Tomato Garlic Bruschetta or go creamy with this beautiful Sweet Potato Bruschetta. Crostini topped with colorful produce make a lovely presentation. Wow everyone when you show up with these Tofu Ricotta Crostini, Roasted Rainbow Caponata Crostini, and Crostini Topped with Creamy Macadamia “Cheese” Spread and Fresh Curried Fig & Golden Grape Tomato Chutney.
4. Vegan Cheeses
Whether you’re going to a celebration with lots of other plant-based foodies or you’ll be the one representing the green life, everyone will be impressed when you show up with an array of incredible vegan cheeses. Soft and spreadable or hard and sliceable, it’s the vegan cheeses that will draw the crowd. Show off your culinary skills with this Sunny Hemp Cheese, Coconut Chèvre, Vegan Goat Cheese Pesto Dip, Macadamia Spreadable Pepper-Herb Feta, Cashew Dill Cheese, Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute, Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Cream Cheese, and this Vegan Sriracha and Lime Cheeseball.
5. Finger Foods
At most parties and get-togethers, people walk around munching on foods while they mingle. That’s why some of the best appetizers to have are the ones you can eat in just one or two bites and that don’t require more utensils than a toothpick. Finger foods that are as yummy as they are adorable include these Chili-Coated Plantain Crisps with Lime Ketchup, Pumpkin Seed Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms, Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls, Sticky Peanut Cauliflower Wings, Skinny Carrot Fritters, Sesame Zucchini Fritters, Smoky Avocado Fries, Vegan Cream Cheese Filled Tomatoes with Spices and Green Onions, and Savory Stuffed Pepper Poppers. Even though these were created for awards ceremony parties, anytime is perfect for these Oscar Worthy, Star-Studded Healthy Pea Soup Shooters and Oscar Night Russet Potato Croquettes with Roasted Tomato Salsa and Cheater Vegan Cheese.
6. Familiar Favorites
When you say the word “appetizers,” there are some starters that your mind may jump to automatically. I know for me, my mind goes to my favorite appetizers found on bar and restaurant menus like wings, poppers and potato skins. Fortunately, it’s possible to create vegan versions of anything and everything. Serve people’s favorites like these Vegan Mozzarella Sticks, Baked Jalapeno Poppers, Buffalo Tofu Fries, The Ultimate Vegan Genius Eggs, Greek Keftedes (Meatballs), Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, and Healthy Stuffed Potato Skins.
If your favorite foods include things like burgers and tacos, you can still serve them as appetizers – just make mini versions of them. Burgers become sliders that can be eaten in just a few bites like these Hoppin’ John Sliders with Smoky Lemon Aioli Sauce and Sauteed Greens, Sriracha Tempeh Sliders with Ranch Dressing, Walnut Falafel Sliders with Pickled Beet and Lemon Mayo, Mini Black Bean Burgers With Garlic Basil Cream Sauce and these Potato Fritter Sliders with Chipotle Aioli. Love pizza? Make these Mini Vegan Party Pizzas and these Vegan Mini-Calzones. Mexican food lovers will cheer for these Mini BBQ Soy Curl Taco Bowls with Pickled Onions and these Pickled Beet Mini Tacos. Other mini-munchies include these Spinach, Tomato, and Cheddar Mini-Quiches with Lemon Cashew Cream, Mini Philly Cheesesteak or Lasagna Muffins, and Mini Vegan Crab Cakes with Green Tartar Sauce.
8. Asian Appetizers
Asian appetizers are always a hit. They’re small, packed with veggies and full of flavor. No one would be able to resist a spread of spring rolls, dumplings, Potstickers and sushi. Serve an array of dumplings like these Perfect Steamed or Fried Veggie Dumplings, Vegetable Dumplings and Homemade Butternut Squash Potstickers. These BBQ Lentil Baozi are little steamed buns filled with savory goodness as are these Japanese dumplings, Tempeh and Kale Steamed Gyoza. Spring rolls are pretty and fun to eat. You can fill them with any veggies you like. Try these Spring Rolls with Spicy Dipping Sauce, Sweet Potato Spring Rolls, Spring Rolls with Wakame and Red Cabbage and Jicama Spring Rolls With Peanut Dipping Sauce. Everyone will be impressed when you bring vegan sushi to the party. Show off your sushi-making skills with these Green Rolls, Raw Carrot Sushi, Avocado Zucchini Sushi with Brown Rice, Vegan California and Teriyaki Tofu Sushi, and these Multi-Whole-Grain Inari Sushi (Sushi Grains in Fried Tofu Pockets).
9. Bread Bites
Every party should have some bread and crackers to go along with the dips and spreads. Sure, you could buy a box of crackers or bag of bread to bring to the party or you can go the extra step and make your own. You won’t find these Quinoa Almond Herbed Bread Sticks in any store nor will you find these Gluten-Free Quinoa Garlic Bread Bites. Dips should be surrounded by crudities, crackers and flatbreads such as this Mediterranean Chickpea Bread, Indian Whole-Wheat Flatbreads with Fenugreek, and this Chickpea Flatbread. It’s easy to make your own crackers like these Homemade Wheat Thins, Quinoa and Mixed Seed Crackers, Raw Vegan Carrot and Flax Crackers, and these Corn and Black Bean Chips.
10. Sweet Starters
In the same way I believe you can eat savory appetizers for dessert, sweet bites can certainly be considered appetizers. If you’re not sure whether these go with the appetizers or the desserts, just be diplomatic and set them in the middle. Satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth with these Chocolate Stuffed Figs, Coffee Cake Crumble Caramel Apple Bites, and Vegan Pigs in Plums (Smoked Almond-Stuffed Dried Plums Rolled in Nutritional Yeast). While these Raw Mini Chocolate Cream Cakes, Mini Doughnut Balls with Caramel Dipping Sauce and Mini Vanilla Bean Pavlovas With Coconut Whip and Raspberries may be more fitting for the dessert table, if you choose to eat them as appetizers, we’ll never tell.
Good friends, good music and good food all make for a great party. When the food is casual and fun, the mood is friendlier and everyone has a great time. These appetizers are sure to make any party a celebration.
Lead Image Source: Multi-Whole-Grain Inari Sushi (Sushi Grains in Fried Tofu Pockets)