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20 delicious appetizer recipes to cook for your next dinner party

Apps that will have your guests coming back for more and so good, they may forget about the main course

Colourful and healthy table composed with fruits and vegetables of many different types, meat, cheese, eggs, fish, spices and grains on a wooden table
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It’s almost summertime, which means more outdoor gatherings that involve grilling, smoking, and even frying. Whether you’re playing host to a few friends or bringing a plate to the potluck, the key to any good gathering is having the right savory starters.

A good appetizer is easy to make, exciting to eat, and just enough food to keep your guests not too full but still happy. In addition to the typical chips and salsa, serving smaller portions with a variety of different textures and flavors goes a long way when feeding a crowd. Your friends and family deserve the best. Best of all, many of these appetizer recipes are easy, and you can prep the night before.

These are the best appetizer recipes guaranteed to get your guest’s appetite and the party started, and they’re sorted by best dips, best light bites, and best large bites.

The best dips

You can’t go wrong with a good dip recipe. It’s the perfect party appetizer since all you need are a few ingredients and a big bowl. Throw some chips, crackers, pretzels, fruit, or veggies on the side, and you’re good to go! These dip recipes aren’t the usual French onion out the can, each one is creative, flavorful, and sure to have people coming back for a (sanitary) double dip.

Vegan roasted beet dip

Beet hummus with veggies
Always Nourished

Courtesy of Always Nourished


  • 2 cups roasted beets (2-3 small-medium beets)
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, whole or chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to your liking
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey, agave, or maple syrup (optional but recommended)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. In a large food processor, add roasted beets and garlic. (To roast beets and garlic: Peel 2-3 beets with a vegetable peeler, being sure to cut off the root end and the stem end, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Peel 8 medium to large cloves of garlic. Place beets and garlic on a large piece of foil then wrap to form a foil packet of beets. Roast at 400 Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes until both the beets and the garlic cloves are tender. Let the veggies cool before blending into a dip. The veggies also can be kept in the fridge for three days or so until you are ready to make the roasted beet dip.)
  2. Add the fresh parsley, basil, walnuts, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and honey to the food processor.
  3. Turn the food processor on and stream in the oil and water, being sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor when necessary. Blend until very smooth.
  4. Serve beet dip chilled or at room temperature with veggies, crackers, or as a spread on sandwiches.

Dairy-free buffalo chicken dip

Dairy-free buffalo chicken dip
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Courtesy of All The Healthy Things


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Green onions, for serving
  • Celery, for serving
  • Carrots, for serving
  • Chips, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the chicken breast to a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and use two forks to shred the meat.
  2. Add the chicken, mayo, coconut milk, buffalo sauce, salt, and spices to a mixing bowl. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Pour the dip into a baking dish and then bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes until the dip is bubbly and begins to brown on the top. Remove the dip from the oven and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving with your favorite veggies and chips. Enjoy!

Beer cheese dip

Beer cheese dip
Immaculate Bites

Courtesy of Immaculate Bites


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1 cup whole milk plus more
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 1/2 cups medium or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons green onions, chopped


  1. Melt butter in a medium sauce over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in flour, butter, and garlic, stirring for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add in whole milk, followed by beer. Stir constantly until the mixture has slightly thickened.
  4. Gradually add in the cheeses, oregano, mustard, Worchestershire sauce, and green onion until all is combined. It will continue to thicken as it cools, if it becomes too thick, add in an additional tablespoon of whole milk to thin it out.
  5. Best served with soft pretzels!

Edamame dip with mint, jalapeno, and lime

Vegan edamame dip
The First Mess

Courtesy of The First Mess

This is the perfect party appetizer for your guests who are vegetarian or vegan. Edamame is immature soybeans harvested before they ripen and harden, and they’ve become increasingly popular because of their health benefits. This vibrant, green dip is a protein-packed appetizer that’s perfect for dipping vegetables or crackers.


  • 1 1/2 cups shelled, frozen edamame
  • 1/4 cup mild nut/seed butter (such as tahini, cashew, or watermelon seed butter)
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice water (optional)


  1. Place the frozen edamame in a small saucepan and cover it with water. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. After it starts to boil, turn the heat off and drain the edamame.
  2. Put the edamame in a food processor and pulse it until the edamame becomes a chunky puree. Add the nut/seed butter, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, jalapeño, mint, green onions, salt, and pepper to the edamame.
  3. Run the food processor until the mixture is smooth and thick puree.
  4. To make the dip more fluid, drizzle ice water through the feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and then garnish it with a drizzle of olive oil, extra mint, extra sliced green onions, and any other toppings.
  6. Serve the edamame dip with cut vegetables, crackers, or chips.

The best light bites

One of the easiest ways to impress your guests is by keeping them fed. However, you don’t want them to be full before they have the chance to enjoy your main course. These salad and skewer recipes are light on the plate but heavy in taste and just the right bites that won’t squash an appetite.

Spicy cucumber salad with lime garlic vinaigrette

Cucumber salad
Eat Well 101

Courtesy of Eat Well 101


  • 2 cucumbers, very finely sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 small red onions, sliced in rings
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, to taste


  1. Slice the jalapeño and red onion using a mandolin slicer or a sharp knife and add to a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, diced orange bell pepper, salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Use a whisk to incorporate the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside. Finely slice the cucumbers. Use a mandolin if you have it, but a very sharp knife will do the trick. Add the cucumbers to the dressing and stir well together.
  3. Add cilantro to the bowl. Stir to combine. You can either let it sit in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or serve immediately.

Melon prosciutto skewers

Melon prosciutto skwewers

Courtesy of Delish


  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 ounces mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • Balsamic glaze, for drizzling


  1. Halve cantaloupe, then scoop out and discard seeds. Using a melon baller, scoop out 24 balls.
  2. Assemble skewers: Layer cantaloupe, basil, mozzarella, prosciutto, and the second piece of cantaloupe until you have 12 skewers.
  3. Drizzle skewers with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.

Crunchy Parmesan cauliflower bites

Crunchy Parmesan cauliflower bites
Kirbie Cravings

Courtesy of Kirbie Cravings


  • 1/2 head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs Kikkoman brand preferred for even baking
  • 3/4 cup finely ground Parmesan cheese (see note)
  • 2 large eggs whisked
  • marinara sauce for dipping
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped (optional, for garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add panko and cheese to a large bowl and then mix until thoroughly combined. Dip cauliflower in egg mixture and then shake a few times so that excess egg drips off. You don’t want to dampen your breadcrumbs with excess egg because then they won’t stick to the cauliflower. Then roll in bread crumb mixture until fully coated and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You may need to press on the coating to help get it to stick to the cauliflower bites. Repeat until all cauliflower is coated.
  3. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the coating is dark golden brown and crunchy. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with marinara sauce.

Brussels sprouts with pistachios

Brussels sprouts with pistachios
Echo & Fig

Courtesy of Chef Sam Marvin

This Brussels sprouts and pistachio recipe comes from chef Sam Marvin of Echo & Fig in Las Vegas. It’s simple yet delicious and ready in 10 minutes. It combines a ton of flavor, plus great texture, and it can double as a side dish.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1 ounce whole skin off pistachios chopped
  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts; leaves only
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon juiced


  1. Heat saute pan over medium heat
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts, pistachio, salt, and pepper
  3. Saute for about 2 minutes or until leaves begin to soften but are still bright green
  4. Add butter and melt to coat
  5. Squeeze lemon juice and toss

Beer-battered young coconut calamari

Beer-battered young coconut calamari
Cafe Graditude

Courtesy of Executive Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis

Cafe Gratitude is a popular chain in California known for its excellent plant-based menu. This beer-battered young coconut calamari from executive chef Seizan Dreux Ellis will be a hit with all your vegan and vegetarian friends.


For the coconut (serves 4):

  • 8 cups 1/2-inch thick strips fresh young Thai coconut (2-3 coconuts)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the beer batter:

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose bakery flour blend
  • 1 cup garbanzo flour
  • 2 teaspoons dulse flakes or granules
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup gluten-free beer
  • 1 cup sparkling water

For frying and plating:

  • Rice bran oil or neutral oil of your choice
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • Finely chopped parsley
  • Spicy cocktail sauce
  • Lime wedges


  1. Marinate the coconut: In a large bowl, combine the coconut strips, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix well, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the beer batter: In a large bowl, sift together the gluten-free flour blend and the garbanzo flour. Add the dulse, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour in the beer and sparkling water and whisk until smooth.
  3. Assemble: In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 2 inches’ worth of frying oil. Alternatively, you could do this in an electric fryer. If so, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. While the oil heats, remove the marinated coconut from the refrigerator and transfer it to a colander to strain off any excess liquid. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and place it next to your frying station.
  6. Working in batches, dip the coconut strips in the beer batter, drop them into the hot oil, and fry until they are a dark golden color, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the coconut strips with a fork or slotted spoon as they fry to make sure they’re cooked evenly on all sides.
  7. Transfer the fried coconut to the paper towel-lined plate to drain, and season with a bit of salt. Repeat with the remaining coconut, bringing the oil back up to temperature in between batches.
  8. Garnish the coconut calamari with parsley and serve immediately with a side of cocktail sauce and a few wedges of line to sprinkle.

English pea hummus

English pea hummus
The Halyard

Courtesy of Chef Stephan Bogardus

This bright and fresh take on hummus is one of the favorite dishes of Chef Stephan Bogardus (The Halyard). English pea hummus stores well for three days and can also be made using frozen peas. Just thaw the peas and apply the same ratio/process.

Ingredients (makes 1 quart):

  • 2 cups fresh shucked English peas (blanched and shocked in cold water)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup top-quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mint (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chive
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)


  1. In a food processor, crush the blanched English peas and salt until very smooth for about one minute.
  2. Scrap the inside of the food processor and incorporate any unbroken peas.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil and purée until smooth.
  4. Remove the mixture and combine the herbs and black pepper, then stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite chips or farm-fresh vegetables in a crudité.

Goy-ish croquetas

Goy-ish croquetas
Kush Hospitality

Courtesy Chef Leo Osorio

These crispy cylinders of greatness come from executive chef Leo Osorio of Kush Hialeah — the oldest deli in Florida. This dish is the perfect example of an app you can make ahead of time, store in the freezer, then bust out on the day of your gathering.


  • 1 cup sauerkraut
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds corned beef
  • 1 pound Swiss cheese
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 cups of bread crumbs


  1. In a food processor, pulverize rye bread until fine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat eggs, place them into a bowl and set them aside.
  3. In robot-coupe (food processor) mix onions, sauerkraut (strained), corned beef, and cheese.
  4. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Weigh out 1 1/2-ounce portions of the mixture and shape the croquettes into a cylindrical form. Place on an oiled sheet pan and cool (15-20 minutes)
  6. Dip chilled croquettes into egg wash, then breadcrumbs, and place on a baking pan.
  7. Place breaded croquettes in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  8. Once croquettes are frozen, fry at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown.

The best bigger bites

For those starters that are more sturdy than a dip and more satisfying than a skewer, these protein-packed bigger bites hit the spot. These are the best appetizer recipes for tangy chicken wings, buttery crab cakes, upgraded egg rolls, and more, there are easy to make and even easier to devour.

Spicy honey garlic chicken wings

Spicy honey garlic chicken wings
A Dash of Dolly

Courtesy of A Dash of Dolly


For the chicken wings:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings split
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, coconut aminos, tamari
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch
  • Sesame seeds
  • Thinly sliced green onions

For the spicy honey garlic sauce:

  • 8-10 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoon water


For the chicken wings:

  1. Pat the chicken wings dry and then add them, the soy sauce, ground white pepper, and garlic powder to a large bowl and marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Once the chicken wings are marinated, toss the chicken wings into the potato starch.
  3. Air fryer method: Add chicken wings to the air fryer basket and cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes shaking halfway through, afterward turn the air fryer up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Frying method: Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet with 1/4 inch height. Once heated, add the chicken into the skillet, but don’t overcrowd the skillet. Cook in batches if you need to. Fry for 12-15 minutes flipping halfway through.
  5. Oven method: Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chicken wings to the baking sheet in a single layer, Roast for 20 minutes, flip, and roast for an additional 10-12 minutes or until chicken wings are cooked through and golden brown.
  6. Toss cooked chicken wings in spicy honey garlic sauce, and garnish with sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions.

For the spicy honey garlic sauce:

  1. During the last five minutes of the chicken cooking, add the honey, gochujang, soy sauce, and water to a small saucepan.
  2. Mix the ingredients and bring the sauce to a light simmer.
  3. Add in the garlic, stir, and let simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the garlic has infused sauce.

Authentic Maryland-style crab cakes

Authentic Maryland-style crab cakes
Hangry Woman

Courtesy of Hangry Woman


  • 16 ounces of jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup of finely crushed crackers (I used Ritz) (sub almond flour for keto/low carb alternative)
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire


  1. In a medium bowl, mix the egg, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and mayo.
  2. Fold crab meat into the mixture. Add the Old Bay, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, parsley, and crackers and fold them into the crab meat.
  3. Scoop the crab cakes into 1/4 cup crab cakes and place them onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. This is enough for six crab generous-sized cakes.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the mixture can set. You can also make this the night before and cook the crab cakes the next day.
  5. Place in the oven and broil on low for 10 minutes and then 6 minutes on high until lightly browned. Spritz lemon on top and serve with remoulade.

Philly cheesesteak egg rolls

Philly cheesesteak egg rolls
First and Full

Courtesy of First and Full


  • 1 pound thinly sliced ribeye
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese
  • 1 ounce Velveeta
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • Egg roll wrappers
  • 1/3 cups sweet chili sauce, for dipping


  1. In a large skillet on high heat, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter and brown the steak until it begins to brown; about 4-6 minutes.
  2. Add the thinly sliced bell peppers and onion. Stir till they become tender; about 3 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the Velveeta cheese, provolone cheese, and milk. The mixture will begin to get creamy after about 4 minutes. Watch carefully and continue to stir to avoid burning!
  4. Season with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. To assemble: Brush the side of the egg roll wrapper with water to help them stay together after rolled.
    Turn the wrapper so it looks like a diamond, with a corner facing you. Place approximately 2 tablespoons of filling in the lower middle of the diamond and fold the corner closest to you over the filling.
    Tightly fold the sides over the middle, then roll the filling towards the opposite corner. Set aside till ready to fry. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  6. To fry: Preheat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (Or try one of these tips to know when oil is ready)
    Fry them in batches until golden brown on both sides and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot with sweet chili sauce!

Herb bacon-wrapped shrimp

Herb bacon-wrapped shrimp
Clean Foodie Cravings

Courtesy of Clean Foodie Cravings


  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon raw sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound wild-caught shrimp-16-20 shrimp (peeled and deveined with tail on)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 8-10 slices no sugar bacon
  • 16-20 skewer sticks
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed ghee


  1. To begin, add parsley, cilantro, avocado oil, pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and garlic powder in a mixing bowl, stir to combine, and set aside.
  2. Toss shrimp with black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Cut bacon slices in half width-wise and wrap each piece around one shrimp and secure with a skewer stick.
  3. Heat ghee in a skillet over high heat until the ghee starts to smoke. Add about half the shrimp to the skillet and lower the heat to about medium. Sear the shrimp for about 3 minutes on each side. Repeat with the other batch of shrimp. Then, immediately transfer the shrimp to the bowl with the herb sauce.
  4. Toss the shrimp with the herb sauce and make sure every shrimp is well coated. Transfer the shrimp to a serving dish and serve immediately with fresh lemon juice.

Lamb meatballs

Lamb meatballs
Thr3 Jack

Courtesy of Chef Robert Wohlfeil

Thr3 Jack in Minneapolis is where you can find this dish from chef Robert Wohlfeil. This unique take on the meatball is sure to impress your guests and is versatile for reuse in other dishes the next day if they don’t get gobbled up.


For the  meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 ounces sourdough bread (no crust)
  • 1/2 lime, zested
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ounce mint, freshly chopped
  • 1 ounce parsley, freshly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 ounce olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot

For the yogurt sauce (makes 2 cups):

  • 16 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


For the meatballs:

  1. Whip the egg and pour over the sourdough bread and mash together well until they are a uniform consistency.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and mix by hand. Avoid overmixing.
  3. Portion the meatballs to 2 1/2-ounce balls. Roll into a firm ball and layer on a lined baking tray.
  4. In an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, cook meatballs for 11-14 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Serve with yogurt sauce and fresh herb garnish.

For the yogurt sauce:

  1. Grate the cucumber and squeeze out excess moisture before mixing with the remaining ingredients.
  2. Combine all ingredients well.
  3. Serve with the lamb meatballs.

Chonchos in ponchos

Chonchos in ponchos
Angie Mosier

Courtesy of Chef Kevin Gillespie

Forget pigs in a blanket and elevate your gameday meal with this recipe from former Top Chef contender and Atlanta area restaurateur Kevin Gillespie. Gillespie says to use Conecuh sausage if you can. It’s a high-quality pork sausage sold all over the U.S.  If you can’t find any, use any good-quality, coarsely ground smoked pork sausage the size of a fat hot dog.

Ingredients (make 8 hearty or 16 bite-sized snacks):

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 small clove
  • 8 ounces spicy smoked Cajun sausage or kielbasa, casing removed
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/4-by-1 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 long jalapeño pepper, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 (8-ounce) tube refrigerated
  • Crescent roll dough
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese or
  • Other mild cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the garlic.
  3. Cut the sausage into 2-inch lengths. Split each piece of sausage lengthwise down the middle, stopping just before you cut all the way through.
  4. Hold the sausage open and stuff with one slice of Monterey Jack and 2 slices of jalapeño.
  5. Remove the crescent rolls from the tube and separate them into triangles.
  6. Place one piece of sausage lengthwise on the wide end of each piece of dough.
  7. Fold the ends toward the center, burrito-style, and roll to completely cover the sausage.
  8. Pinch the edges of the dough closed.
  9. Place on the baking sheet, brush each roll with the garlic butter, and sprinkle with the cotija.
  10. You’ll need to press the cheese into the dough using your fingers.
  11. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the smoked paprika, and serve warm.

Note: For bite-size portions, cut the crescent roll triangles in half. Split the 2-inch lengths of sausage completely in half lengthwise, and then split the halves just down to the skin so they’ll open up. Stuff with a smaller piece of Monterey Jack, some jalapeños, wrap and bake as directed.

Ahi bruschetta

Ahi bruchetta

Courtesy of Chef Mark Ellman

This decadent ahi tuna dish comes all the way from Hawaiian restaurant Honu in Maui. Chef Mark Ellman has a story behind this signature dish. Although not 100% raw, it is definitely primarily raw. The ahi is seared on the outside edges for just five seconds a side. This is known as “tataki.” Japanese fishermen would fillet the fish and then “tataki” it to preserve it. It’s like a natural Saran Wrap. A Japanese lady once told Ellman that “tataki” means to swat or hit with a hot iron. He translates that to mean cooked at high heat for a very short time in the restaurant industry.


For the bruschetta (serves 2 to 4):

  • Slice the ahi block into eight pieces, 2 inches by 1 inch x 1/4 inch each (use only sushi-grade ahi tuna)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 slices tomato — one red, one yellow, 1/4 inches thick, sliced in half
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 slices dense bread (whole grain such as flaxseed), 1/4 inches thick, brushed with clarified butter
  • 4 tablespoons edamame puree (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons basil, julienne
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Villa Mondori Balsamic (or a comparable, aged, thick balsamic)
  • 1 tablespoon microgreens

For the edamame puree:

  • 1 cup frozen edamame, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


For the edamame puree:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth, about two minutes.
  2. Chill before using.

For the bruschetta:

  1. Sprinkle ahi slices with sea salt and season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill the bread and then slice it in half.
  3. Spread the edamame on the bread and add the seasoned tomatoes.
  4. Top the tomatoes with two (or four) slices of ahi.
  5. Top the ahi with the basil and a drizzle of EVOO.
  6. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on the bruschetta and around the plate.
  7. Top with microgreens.
  8. Serve.

Grilled corn with herbed cotija cheese

Grilled corn with herbed cotija cheese
Bayou Bakery

Courtesy of Chef David Guas

Celebrity chef, owner of Bayou Bakery, and host of the Travel Channel’s American Grilled, David Guas brings us another appetizer recipe that could also double as a side dish. This is a quick and easy take on traditional Mexican street corn.

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 6 ears fresh corn
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest


For the herbed cotija cheese:

  1. Toss together all ingredients until combined.

For the corn:

  1. Light charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit (medium-high).
  2. Pull back husks from ears of corn; remove and discard silks.
  3. Tie husks together with kitchen string to form a handle.
  4. Soak corn in cold salted water to cover for 10 minutes; drain.
  5. Grill corn, covered with grill lid, for 15 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally.
  6. Brush corn with melted butter; sprinkle with the herbed cotija cheese.

Garlic Parmesan chicken wings with basil pesto

Garlic parmesan chicken wings with basil pesto
Thor Kitchen

Courtesy of Chef Derrick Fox

When it comes to shareable apps, the chicken wing remains supreme. This recipe is brought to you by chef Derrick Fox, MasterChef season 6 runner-up and Thor Kitchen brand ambassador. Between the dry rub and the two sauces, these wings provide three tiers of garlicky goodness. Think about serving some mint julep cocktails to mask the garlic breath.


For the chicken wings:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoosn garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the basil pesto:

  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil

For the garlic Parmesan sauce:

  • 2 cups grated (not packed) Parmesan cheese
  • 2 sticks melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic


For the wings:

  1. To get nice, crispy baked wings, combine baking powder, garlic powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, then add your wings.
  2. Coat the wings evenly by tossing them in the mixing bowl, and feel free to use your hands!
  3. Put the wings on a baking rack over a foil-lined baking sheet, then place in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for another 40 minutes until the wings are cooked through and crispy.

For the garlic Parmesan sauce:

  1. Grate 2 cups (not packed) of Parmesan cheese into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add minced garlic.
  3. In a saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. You can clarify the butter if you’d like by letting the milk solids separate, then straining them out with cheesecloth.
  4. Let the butter cool a little, and then pour the butter over the cheese and garlic and whisk.
  5. Once the wings are cooked, toss them in the garlic Parmesan sauce.

For the basil pesto:

  1. Add the basil, spinach, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and minced garlic into a food processor.
  2. Turn on the food processor and drizzle olive oil through the spout until the pesto becomes smooth.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven Johnson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven Johnson is a chef-turned-content strategist. He now helps companies attract and retain more customers through content…
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