Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers You Can Create in 20 Minutes or Less

December 04, 2015 Entertaining

It's party time, friends! Grab your fancy duds from the dry cleaner and line up the babysitters. Holiday season has officially begun.

You're probably already receiving invitations and are even planning to host a gathering or two yourself. Assemble a playlist of great tunes, put the beverages on ice and stock your pantry for easy entertaining.

No matter how many guests you're expecting, a short list of go-to ingredients will have you all set up for soiree success. Here are some guidelines I follow, and the recipes I keep on hand, to create brilliant bites that are ready in 20 minutes or less.

Easy Cold Appetizers When planning an appetizer menu, it is always important to think about variety — tastes, textures, even temperatures. Cold appetizers are clutch because they can be made in advance, kept in the fridge and pulled out just as guests arrive.

This quick bean dip recipe is especially great. It takes 10 minutes to prepare and ensures guests can gobble up as much or as little as they desire in a self-service fashion. Dip recipes work equally well for gameday spreads and — in glass bowls or trifle dishes — fancy occasions. No matter how casual or swanky the gathering, cold appetizers keep you out of the kitchen and in the mix of the party.

Look forward to the dingdong of the doorbell with a spread of savory treats on the table.

Warmer Fare In fall and winter especially, guests seem to gather in the kitchen and around the oven. As temperatures drop, we seek warmth from friends, family — and toasty little appetizers. In fact, this easy chicken and bean puff recipe does all the work of a welcoming committee as soon as its savory scent starts wafting. Assemble the warm appetizers in advance and pop them into the oven 10 minutes before folks arrive; let them greet your guests at the door.

Heavier Appetizers Impromptu parties, and feeding a crowd in a hurry, can be tricky — especially based on the time of your event. When you open your door to a hungry crew, they'll need to nosh on more than just nibbles. This unique quesadilla recipe is the ultimate app to have on hand for scenarios like this. You can even tweak the fillings according to your guests' tastes. Be sure to have a variety of condiments on hand, such as guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.

Something for Anyone & Everyone To accommodate the many different food sensitivities, allergies and lifestyles among my friends and family, I always plan at least one appetizer that is free of meat and able to be tailored. I often use this hearty bruschetta recipe as a template and play with ingredients according to the tastes and preferences of my guests. For gluten-sensitive folks, I use gluten-free bread. For those cutting back on salt, I use reduced-sodium canned beans.

With a thoughtfully-stocked pantry, and a collection of 20-minute recipes, the holiday season really can be the most wonderful time of the year. Look forward to the dingdong of the doorbell with a spread of savory treats on the table.

* Tip: Are you looking for something more substantial to serve for the New Year holiday? Our article on blackeye peas has delicious recipes that just might bring you and your guests good luck in the year ahead!