77 Best-Ever Appetizers For A Crowd

77 Best-Ever Appetizers For A Crowd

Every Southerner knows the appetizer spread is the star of any party, so we’ve rounded up the best appetizers for a crowd that are easy to make, ready to serve, and sure to leave an impression.

Let’s be honest—it’s not the stocked bar at a holiday soirée, the riveting conversation at a dinner party, and not even the most exciting round of Yahtzee at game night. It’s the bacon-wrapped, cheese-laden bites, dips, and spreads we’re housing faster than you can say Jack Robinson. When we say we’d rather fill up on a hefty dose of tasty, bite-sized appetizers all night than on a three-course meal, we aren’t playing. With our 77 most popular appetizers, you’ll reign as snack queen of the party.

Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Move over whipped feta, we have a new favorite cheese spread that’ll sure to be turning heads at your get together. “The perfect combination of creamy, savory, meaty, umami, salty, and sweet,” said one reader.

Warm Spinach-Sweet Onion Dip with Country Ham

This classic dip gets a Southern twist with sweet onions and country ham. Prepare it in advance and reheat it in a skillet on the grill. Trust us, this shareable appetizer never disappoints at any tailgate or party.

Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

We can’t resist a bite-sized appetizer, especially when there is bacon involved. All you need for this four-ingredient snack is bacon, buttery crackers, maple syrup, and pepper.

Antonis Achilleos

Forget the tortilla chips. These peppers make a much cuter vessel for melty queso. Baked until golden perfection, these bites are party-ready.

Antonis Achilleos, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Andrea Fanning

We love bruschetta and don’t think it should be limited to the traditional tomato version. Catch us whipping up this tangy version with goat cheese that delivers a slight kick.

Antonis Achilleos, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Andrea Fanning

Whether you’re hosting taco night or a watch party—this is the ideal appetizer. Loaded with Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, poblanos, and scallions you won’t be able to stop with one dip.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis

The recipe calls for making two 15- x 6-inch filled rectangles and cutting them into smaller portions after baking. To make mini pastries, start by slicing each sheet of store-bought frozen puff pastry into five strips and crimping all four edges of each before baking.

Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Talk about a top-notch host gift and holiday snack. Pair these crispy, cheesy crackers with a bottle of wine, and you’re more than set. We’ve also included three creative flavor variations for the discerning crowd.

Oxmoor House

Get ready to call these bites your “most talked about, sought after, and begged for recipe.” In a delicious turn of events, only three ingredients will get you there, too. Everyone loves a handheld snack, especially one wrapped in bacon glazed with brown sugar.

Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

For another Southern take on a classic snack, this cheese dip does the job. Crunchy, cayenne-spiced pecans it give a festive kick. Serve with toasted baguette slices or your favorite crackers.

Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Good thing it’s easy to double or even triple this smoky snack mix recipe—watch as it performs quite the disappearing act. Crunchy, smoky, and a little addictive, this Chex mix appetizer is perfect for casual drop-ins and holiday parties alike.

Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop styling: Claire Spollen; Food styling: Chelsea Zimmer

It’s too easy to pop these potato skins into your mouth, so be careful that they don’t disappear before every guest has arrived. The five-ingredient recipe is simple, delicious, and no-fail with guests of any age. You can bake the skins in advance and then add the filling before serving.

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Nothing spices up sliced veggies and water crackers like a creamy, spicy red pepper and feta dip. Take this spread to the next level by adding quinoa and in-season cherry tomatoes on top—then, dip away.

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Mushrooms aren’t a crowd-pleaser for everyone, but we’d argue that these pastry-filled cups are. Frozen phyllo cups make the recipe a breeze. Best part: This appetizer can be made ahead and takes just 5 minutes to bake.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

It’s not a Southern party without a cheese ball, particularly during the holidays. Master the classic appetizer by making this best-ever recipe that gets major flavor from smoked cheese and ham, plus the traditional dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Anna Hampton

Don’t be surprised when a snack intervention heads your way—because it’s impossible to stop eating these crackers. We dressed up store-bought crackers with ranch dressing mix, dried dill, and garlic powder. The end result? Our easiest-ever, pop-in-your-mouth snack.

Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

If you’re going for the wow factor, this sheet pan snack has you covered. We’re serving this appetizer at every tailgate or movie night this year. Add your favorite toppings: We recommend avocado, jalapeño, sour cream, cilantro, and hot sauce.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Make every chicken wing or tender into bonafide Nashville Hot Chicken. This recipe is meant to be a dip for chicken wings and the like. To speed things up, pick up cooked wings from your favorite restaurant or grocery store.

Laurey W. Glenn

If there’s ever a time when you need to pull a snack out of a hat, these cheesy, pepper jelly-packed bites have your back. They might look a little fancy, but they actually only take five ingredients and 18 minutes of prep. Sounds like a winner to us.

Brian Woodcock; Styling: Rachael Burrow

This warm and spicy concoction puts a Creole spin on a cheesy seafood dip. Loaded with sausage, bell pepper, celery, okra, and shrimp, the dip is delicious on sliced bread or crackers. Crown the mixture with a panko and butter mixture, and place under the broiler for a few minutes for the finishing touch.

Photo: Hector Sanchez

A classic appetizer, reimagined. This spicy bite-sized snack is stuffed with a heavenly chicken-cream cheese filling and then wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon. Broiling crisps the bacon while softening and toasting the peppers.

Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Tami Hardeman

We reckon it was a no-brainer to use bacon and buttery crackers together. They’re a match made in snack heaven. It should go without saying, but this two-ingredient bacon-focused appetizer will be your easiest crowd-pleasing snack ever.

Jennifer Causey; Food Styling: Loren Wood; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Everyone will love these hearty little pies. Filled with chicken, carrots, and peas, the mini savory pot pies use refrigerated crescent dough to save you time. A muffin tin makes it easy to transform this suppertime favorite into two-bite servings.

This Southern take on traditional hummus is something we can get behind. Using black-eyed peas instead of chickpeas, this hummus recipe has a smokier quality. Sprinkle paprika on top to brighten the color.

Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Our favorite part of these puffed-up bites? They’re surprisingly easy to make, thanks to store-bought puff pastry. We also love the flavors, from the Buffalo chicken to the blue cheese dressing and chopped parsley. This recipe makes 40 rolls, so it’s perfect for a party.

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

For some Southern families, it just wouldn’t be Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas without this traditional appetizer spread. If you refrigerate it, the texture and flavor improve when it sits at room temperature for 20 minutes. We recommend rounding out this recipe with crudité and bread.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Hearty and satisfying, this recipe was made for a crowd, especially when the crowd will be staying awhile. Make it in a slow cooker for ultimate ease, then finish the sliders under the broiler once everyone’s ready to eat.


While this savory tart could just as easily be enjoyed as a dessert, we think it’s the perfect simple, yet elegant way to kick of any gathering.

Stacy k. Allen, Props: Josh Hoggle, Food Stylist: Melissa Gray

This popular recipe combines unexpected ingredients in the best possible way. And these shrimp-stuffed peppers are especially delicious when served with a spicy queso dip. Use raw shrimp, which won’t overcook under the broiler.

Perfect for every event from football tailgates and holiday parties to bridal brunches, this meatball recipe has been around the Southern party circuit a time or two—and for good reason. The meatballs soak up a beefy red wine-tomato sauce on the stove. This recipe makes four dozen meatballs.

Hector M. Sanchez

Southerners have known for decades just how reliable cheese wafers are when it comes to pleasing hungry house guests. They’re quick, easy, and undeniably delicious—what else could you ask for? This five-ingredient recipe is made using crispy rice cereal, sharp Cheddar, and spicy red pepper.

Once you’ve mastered a go-to dip recipe, you’re set for any potluck that might show up on your calendar. The delicious blend of creamy cheese and just a little bit of heat has long made crab mornay a Southern classic. Keep with tradition and serve toast points on the side.

Photographer: Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

This recipe starts with a package of Hawaiian dinner rolls. It’s a great recipe for a crowd because you simply fill each sandwich with meat, cheese, and secret sauce—then bake and serve. Try it once and this hearty appetizer will become a go-to. It’s even easy to transport.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Cheese balls never fail us. This appetizer makes everybody smile and takes only 15 minutes to prepare. Dried beef (otherwise known as chipped beef) makes a wonderfully savory and salty coating in this version.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Your guests will keep swiping this bite-sized appetizer, but you can always double the recipe to be safe. These sausage balls are crispy, fluffy, and filling, like mini biscuits with sausage and scallions mixed in. Yum.

Will Dickey

Now you can luxuriate in every cheesy bite fully encased in the crispy topping you love. This recipe starts with a classic cheese sauce on the stovetop, but you’ll chill the casserole dish in the fridge before scooping the creamy macaroni into balls and rolling them in a breadcrumb coating. Stick them back in the fridge until your guests arrive so you can serve them hot from the fryer.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Your guests will flock to this pimiento cheese appetizer in flatbread form. Use a store-bought pizza dough (warm it to room temperature for easy stretching) and cover it with the ingredients of a classic pimiento cheese dip. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top and serve extra cheese on the side.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Shellfish lovers will appreciate that this dip doesn’t skimp on the lump crab meat. Red bell pepper and Old Bay bring on that classic crab cake flavor, but this recipe adds minced jalapeño chiles for more heat. This creamy dip is delicious on bread, endive leaves, sweet mini peppers, and other fresh vegetables.

You can serve this cheesy chicken dip straight out of the slow cooker for a no-fuss presentation. Just put together a platter of tortilla chips and celery sticks and let the guests take care of the rest. The recipe makes about 5 cups of filling dip, so it will definitely keep your crowd satisfied.

Caitlin Bensel

Speaking of the slow cooker, who can forget this blast from the past? Spicy chorizo, chiles, and Velveeta merge into one gooey dip that can hang out in the slow cooker for the duration of the party. Serve it with tortilla scoops.

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

As any experienced party host knows, brie softens to velvet when baked in the oven. We’ve made it even better by adding a mixture of honey, dried cherries, and pecans on top. Keep an extra round of brie in the fridge in case you need to refill the platter—with only 10 minutes of hands-on time, this recipe won’t steal you away from the party.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Ali Ramee; Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland

Frozen meatballs, a few pantry staples, and grape jelly combine into one easy appetizer. Seriously, this recipe only takes five minutes of hands-on time, and you’ll get a batch of sweet and spicy meatballs at the end. Set the slow cooker on the table with a pack of toothpicks on the side, and you’re done.

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

We love the versatility of a fondue, which can served with anything from sliced cooked bratwurst to bread slices to roasted vegetables. A Sterno is key to keeping your creamy fondue from clumping together. Change the character of this recipe by experimenting with different beers.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Pizza and popper fans will rejoice once they catch sight of these sweet peppers filled with cream cheese and topped with the makings of a pepperoni pizza. This easy recipe can be scaled up for a larger crowd and prepared on the go. And it’s gluten-free to boot.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

It’s impossible to beat anything sandwiched between crowd-favorite Hawaiian rolls. These simple and easily transportable sliders guarantee you’ll be left with an empty dish.

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Dig that cookie press out of storage, because these tangy cheese straws with a kick are downright addictive. The dough uses just three ingredients plus seasonings, so you’ll have them ready to bake in no time at all. These cheese straws can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

Salty cured ham meets fresh melon and creamy mozzarella for the ultimate savory/sweet combination. These skewers are equally easy and impressive. Set out one tray and keep a backup in the refrigerator.

Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

The classic guacamole recipe you’ve been dreaming of only takes five minutes to prepare. Set out a big bowl of salty, restaurant-style tortilla chips to go with it. Topping the guacamole with a thin layer of pico de gallo can slow down the browning that occurs when it’s exposed to the air.

Southern Living

With the help of a cookie cutter, you can turn your standard fruit salad into a fun party appetizer. We chose watermelon, apples, and blueberries in red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July, but you can customize your fruit for any holiday or event. If you use apple slices, toss them in lemon juice to prevent browning.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

There’s no event at which pimiento cheese isn’t welcome, spring, summer, fall, or winter. We recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself for the best texture. Feel free to add your family’s favorite ingredients to taste, like shredded onion, Worcestershire sauce, jalapeño, cayenne pepper, or even pickles.

Iain Bagwell

Hearty finger foods like these Bacon-Wrapped Potatoes keep hunger at bay until dinner is ready. The best part of this recipe is the homemade queso blanco, which you can keep warm in a fondue pot or small slow cooker.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

These adorable taters have a filling that falls somewhere between deviled eggs and potato salad. Capers, dill, and lemon zest give the filling added zing. We used petite red potatoes for the skins, but any small potato will do the trick.

Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

We substituted chicken-apple sausage for the usual mini wieners. One can of refrigerated crescent rolls makes 8 or 10 servings, depending on how many chicks your guests gobble up. You can always grab a backup can for a second batch.

Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

This smooth and creamy twist on guacamole blends in sour cream and mayonnaise. It’s also a great way to stretch your avocados when you’re expecting a crowd. Try it with tortilla chips, bell pepper strips, and celery sticks.

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

These colorful crostini are just what you need for your next springtime get-together. They feature the best the season has to offer, like sweet and juicy berries, fresh mint, and creamy goat cheese. You can substitute ricotta if you prefer.

Alison Miksch

There’s so much you can do with a muffin pan and squares of puff pastry—now’s your chance to get creative. Here, we simplified tomato pie with a handheld version that you can pop in your mouth. Try experimenting with your favorite cheeses and herbs.

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

A box of frozen puff pastry also serves as the base for these Spicy Cheese Twists. Sandwich grated Gouda, cayenne, and garlic powder between two layers of defrosted pastry (one sheet will make 12 twists, so check how many are included in the box). Cut and twist into bowties for baking.

William Dickey

No cooking is required for this toothpick version of everyone’s favorite summer salad. Get the kids to help skewer the tomatoes and mozzarella. Place the skewers in a collection of cocktail glasses, then scatter the glasses around the appetizer table.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Claire Spollen

You can’t lose with this two-ingredient recipe that everyone will rave about. That’s right: Drizzle butter on saltines, bake, and present to your guests. People love to eat them straight out of the oven, but any sort of dip or spread is delicious too.

Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

It’s a party, so we’re going to call this platter by its fancy French name. You can select any vegetables for this tray, but the key is to choose a few with vivid, contrasting colors. Don’t skip the homemade dip, a zesty blend of Greek yogurt, horseradish, dill, lemon, and smoked paprika.

James Ransom, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Pickled okra fans will rejoice when they see this healthy version of pigs in a blanket. You will rejoice when you discover how easy these are to make. Wrap jarred, pickled okra pods in thin slices of country ham. Serve with honey mustard sauce on the side.

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Guests will love dipping crackers, toasted baguette slices, or pita chips in this bright, herbal dip. This healthy variation of hummus also tastes delicious with roasted vegetables. Za’tar Mediterranean spice blend adds an extra wow factor.

Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

We love our deviled eggs in the South, but egg salad is just as delicious and very easy to scale up for a crowd. This wonderfully fresh recipe includes minced radishes, dill leaves, and scallions. Cut baguettes into thin slices and scoop the egg salad on top, or let the guests take care of that step themselves.

Southern Living

Collard greens steal the show in this spinach-dip-style recipe. Set out a warm, gooey casserole dish and watch the dip disappear. Serve with baguette slices and chips.

Southern Living

We reimagined the beloved sandwich as a dip loaded down with a full pound of bacon. As is, the recipe serves eight, but we have a feeling everyone will be going back for seconds. Consider pulling out a bigger baking dish to double it, and stock up on the baguette.

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

This decadent dip is just the ticket when you’re looking to go all out for a special event. Fresh lump crab meat, three cheeses, and a few tangy and spicy ingredients meld into one dreamy dip. Colorful endive leaves make a fun scoop for crab dip.

Photo: Iain Bagwell

This four-ingredient recipe is incredibly simple. Just keep a close eye on your pecans while they are roasting in the oven so they don’t burn. The recipe yields 4 cups of salty, spicy nuts that can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Will Dickey

Everyone will be charmed by this blast from the past no matter their age. What makes our pigs extra special? We use puff pastry instead of crescent dough and sprinkle the wrapped hot dogs with everything bagel seasoning. Serve with Dijon mustard on the side.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Life seems richer after you taste this cream cheese dip loaded with bacon, almonds, and onion. It will vanish quickly whether you serve it with crackers or chips. You can make the dip up to three days in advance and store it in the fridge.

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

This gourmet snack mix would be a hit at any dinner party, especially during the cooler months when people are craving a sweet and salty blend of dried fruits and nuts. This recipe gets even more flair from prosciutto that’s been crisped in the oven, not to mention the cranberry-hazelnut crackers.

Morgan Hunt Glaze; Food Stylist: Margaret Monroe Dickey; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Baked brie can be a hit any time of year, even in the middle of summer. For the beach season, top it with fresh peaches coated in sweet and spicy pepper jelly. Each round of brie serves up to eight people.

These little cookie-like wafers will surprise your guests when they take a bite. Made with rice cereal and a double dose of sharp Cheddar, there’s no shortage of cheesy flavor in every crispy bite. Serve with soft, spreadable cheese and pepper jelly on the side.

Southern Living

This dainty appetizer is perfect for serving at a holiday cocktail party or before Thanksgiving. Mini phyllo pastry shells are loaded with brie, cranberry sauce, and chopped pistachios. Even better, these savory, simple bites bake in just six minutes.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

This Texas caviar is a tangy mixture of black-eyed peas, hominy, chopped onions and peppers, green tomatoes, and Italian dressing, Set out a big bowl of Texas caviar at your next pool party or barbecue, and serve it with tortilla chips, just like a standard salsa.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: William Smith

Stuff sweet crescent rolls with spinach-and-artichoke dip to create this fan favorite. Guests will find it so much easier to eat while holding a refreshment. Pro tip: Brush the tops of your crescents with egg wash to give them a pretty brown glow.

Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

This recipes calls for just four ingredients and five minutes of prep time, making it the dish to whip up when guests drop in on a whim. It pairs well with fresh veggies, crackers, bread, and just about any munchies you have in the kitchen cabinet. Double the recipe for a larger crowd.

Gooseberry Patch

This no-cook appetizer combines sweet apple slices, salty ham, and tangy blue cheese into one wonderful mouthful. We recommend Gala apples, which have a crisp bite and a nice balance of sweet and tart. A half pound of smoked, sliced Virginia ham will make 60 bite-size skewers.