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House Warming appetizers

I am having a house warming party and having trouble thinking of good finger foods that will please, without me having to be in the kitchen the duration of the party warming up and cooking items. Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

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  1. I'm a big fan of pinwheels and Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Dip. If you put out that dip, you pretty much don't have to worry about a thing except giving copies of the recipe to folks. Now for the disclaimer: a number of 'hounds hate this recipe...it is,and I admit it, very low-brow. But every function I've ever brought this to has accepted it enthusiastically, maybe TOO enthusiastically (just shows the caliber of crowds that I run with)...heh. If you think you want the recipe, do request it or search for it on this board; it may not be a good match for your crowd and I do respect that!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Last year my planned app fell through right before a big tailgating party and I threw together the buffalo chicken dip in a panic. I was mortified to be bringing this to a foodie tailgate, but people raved and couldn't get enough (even foodies like comfort food once in a while) Now I'm forced to bring this dip to every tailgate!

        1. re: emmie

          For me, the opposite happened. I was going to a party and decided to try to prepare this buffalo chicken dip right before. After I tasted it, I just couldn't bring it to the party. It was too tangy, too rich, with no kick to it. Even though the crowd wasn't a gourmet one, I would have been too embarrassed to show up with the chicken dip. I ended up buying some cookies instead.

      1. I imagine that you are going to get some great suggestions, so I'm going to share one that I think is a little bit strange. I do a rather large holiday party each year and in the past have always served hearty hors d'oeuvres rather than a sit down meal. (This year I think I'm going to just rent a bunch of tables and make a meal, precious little bites for between 50 and 100 is getting to be too much!!) I always do baby lamb chops, crab cakes, and spanakopita because they are so well received and I add more exotic hors d'oeuvres from there. But last year my husband asks if I would please make bacon wrapped water chestnuts.

        My internal reaction was Yuck! These are not going to go with my duxelle phyllo bites and my asparagus spears with serano ham!

        But my more adult side led me to agree and fulfill this one simple request. I made a rub of spices (chipotle, Coleman's mustard, celery seed, that sort of thing) and brown sugar and coated some excellend thick cut bacon from the butchers. Then I rinsed my canned whole waterchestnuts (definitely no time for fresh) and rolled each one in half a slice of bacon. I must have made at least 200 of them. And every last one of them was eaten!

        I got so many compliments on them that I was a little bit offended. I'd been hand making double batches of spanikopita and freezing them for weeks and the stupid bacon water chestnuts are getting the raves! In fairness, the water chestnuts were making a debut and they smelled and tasted wonderful. And when a dish as quick and cheap as that stands up to jumbo lump crab cakes, I put it on the permanent list. I don't care if it's campy, they were really good!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kater

          This sounds really good. Could you give more details such as how it was cooked? Also, do you think that this would work for a dinner party as a "light" hors d'oeuvres served before a meal?

        2. A simple mango curry shrimp salad served in wonton cups was a big hit at a recent party at my place. Very easy to make ahead, and spoon out as needed.

          I would suggest lining the bottom of each wonton cup with a single cilantro leaf, so that it doesn't get soggy from the salad.


          1. Hi ME, the first thing I would like to suggest is that you use the search feature here on the site because this exact question is asked several times a month. Try searching on the words appetizers and make ahead -- you should find a few threads that will give you some ideas. I'm always reading these threads because there are always new and interesting replies and I am also looking for new ideas!

            When I do an all finger food party, I to make a variety of goodies choosing recipes that use beef, chicken, pork, cheese, veggies, seafood, etc. -- variety of main ingredient is key. Sometimes I like to choose a theme for the party, like Italian, or Spanish, or Indian, etc. That often helps organize a party.

            If you consider a theme from a Mediterranean climate, that helps immensley because so much of the food is served room temperature and can be made ahead.

            Make a big basket of crudite and have a little fondue pot of bagna cauda as a dip and a more traditional ranch dip, perhaps.

            Make a huge platter of traditional Italian antipasto, with cheeses, meats, olives, peppers.

            Buy some pizza dough (or make it) and do a couple of versions of foccacia that can be cut into small squares. These don't have to be served straight out of the oven.

            Asparagus or little bundles of green beans, wrapped in proscuitto are different and can be assembled ahead. Mushroom caps with a sliver of chorizo or pepperoni and some garlic and olive oil, grilled or baked (can be assembled ahead and broiled).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Terrie H.

              Proscuitto slices wrapped around ripe cantelope, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cracked black pepper is always a hit at our holiday parties. If you can find a ripe cantelope it is really easy, refreshing, and even picky eaters tend to love it.

              A recent hit was Martha's fava bean dip on crostini which has favas, mint, olive oil and lemon juice and is topped with pecorino. Actually, I'd recommend getting your hands on Martha's hors d'oeuvres handbook. It is great inspiration and everything we have made from it has been delicious. Other perennial faves include the Candace's (sic) Basil Cheese Loaf and the Salmon Mousse on endive leaves from the New Basics cookbook. Phyllo triangles filled with spinach and feta, bound with a little egg are not too difficult to make ahead, freeze well, are easy to bake at the last minute, and are always yummy.

              One great suggestion that I read years ago was to buy as many largish shrimp as you can afford, and just serve them around the rim of a pretty glass bowl filled with ice with cocktail sauce on the side. People absolutely love this and really appreciate it as well. I have also done a raw oyster bar with several sauces, but this wasn't nearly as popular as the shrimp.

            2. I love open houses and with some planning, they can be easy to do. I like to make things that can be pretty much prepared before the event and then thrown together at the last minute. An antipasto is ideal and can be a beautiful "centerpiece" to your buffet table along with a nice cheese platter and assorted breads.

              Here is a recipe I love because I can make the topping for the brie a day or two in advance and then just stick it in the oven before the guests start to arrive.

              1 large brie round
              1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
              1 cup fresh basil
              1 cup fresh parsley
              2 cloves garlic
              1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
              1 tablespoon olive oil

              Chop sun dried tomatoes, and cover with hot water for 15 minutes.
              Chop basil and parsley.
              Mince garlic.
              Drain tomatoes well, squeezing out excess water.
              In saute pan, heat olive oil and saute tomatoes 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
              Add garlic and continue to saute, stirring constantly.
              Add balsamic vinegar, basil and parsley.
              Stir constantly for 1 minute and remove from heat.
              Remove as much rind as possible from brie.
              Put in an oven-safe dish, cover with tomato mixture and heat at 350 degrees until bubbly.
              I serve this with crackers and crostini.

              1. Here's another favorite of mine. It's easy and you can make the bread filling a day or two in advance (stored separately-stuff the bread just before baking). It's requested by a lot of friends when I ask what I can bring to a function. It's always one of the first appetizers that vanishes.

                Artichoke Cheese Dip in a Bread Bowl

                1 10 inch round loaf of bread, sourdough(or whatever you can find)
                1 can artichoke hearts
                1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
                1 cup jack cheese, shredded
                1 cup mayo
                1 clove garlic, minced (I usually use more)
                1 onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
                1 cup parmesan cheese

                Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Hollow out the bread, and save the pieces for dipping. Chop the artichokes and mix all ingredients together and put into bread. Put top back on bread. Wrap in foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours until done.
                Use french bread slices and tortilla chips for dipping.

                  1. I just had a party last night and did a double batch of these Mahogany Chicken Wings. They are so easy and very good - you could add chili to the marinate to make them spicy, otherwise, even kids can eat them, but have a good sophisticated flavor for adults too. I finished them under the broiler to finish caramelizing, but they sat around for many hours and were still great at the end of the party.


                    1. One of the easiest things that I do - usually during the holidays - is Lemon Dill Shrimp. They're sauteed in garlic and chili flakes, then tossed in fresh lemon juice and dill. They taste better the next day - and are served cold or room temp, with a toothpick. (How easy is that?!) Let me know if you want the recipe.

                      1. Hi Val

                        Not sure if you're still looking for ideas, but this weekend I played with using puff pastry and figs because I always like to use seasonal ingredients. So if you can find figs in the market, I have this fun recipe called "Fig in the Blanket." Get it? :)

                        The recipe is posted on my food blog, www.singleguychef.blogspot.com

                        I also did a version that's like a flat bread that you can cut up into smaller pieces and serve. Both are great because of the sweet figs and savory Gorgonzola cheese and prosciutto. And I think the puff pastry just makes it easier to handle as finger food. It was really easy to make and fast to cook in the oven. Let me know if it works out for you!

                        1. We had this at our tailgate this past weekend and it was fabulous. You can easily change it up to suit your tastes.

                          In a pie plate spread a container of Alouette cheese spread. On top of that a small container of hummus and on top of that 8 oz crumbled feta. Seed and dice (rather finely) a tomato and a cucumber and mix them with some chopped black olives and spread mixture on top of feta and drizzle it with a small amount of olive oil and serve with pita chips.

                          1. If you haven't chosen a chicken appy...

                            Pineapple Chicken Tenders

                            1 cup pineapple juice
                            1/4 cup packed brown sugar
                            2 tablespoons light soy sauce
                            2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins or strips
                            1 pkg. wooden skewers, soaked overnight in water

                            1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Remove from heat just before the mixture comes to a boil.
                            2. Place chicken tenders in a medium bowl. Cover with the pineapple marinade, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
                            3. Preheat grill for medium heat. Thread chicken lengthwise onto wooden skewers.
                            4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken tenders 5 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. They cook quickly, so watch them closely.

                            1. I always make nuts for snacking. About 15 years ago Gourmet had a recipe for rosemary pecans that are terrific, easy, and real crowd pleasers. I've also made many other kinds of flavored nuts. They freeze well (a year!), which is nice--you'll have New Year's covered!

                              1 Reply
                              1. Here you are--very easy and delicious.

                                Roasted Rosemary Pecans

                                2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                2 tablespoons (packed) finely chopped fresh rosemary
                                1 teaspoon Kosher salt -- (or 1/2 teas reg)
                                1/4 (scant) teas cayenne
                                2 cups pecan halves

                                Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

                                Add butter to a 8" x 8" baking dish and place in the oven until melted. Remove from the oven and add the rosemary, salt, and cayenne; mix well to combine. Toss mixture with the pecans until very well coated, then spread pecans into one layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 2 cups.

                                Great wrapped as Christmas gifts. I always 2x the recipe. {Freeze beautifully.}

                                1. Get some corn tortillas and use a mini muffin tin to make small tostada cups, then fill them with some scallop ceviche, a bean and salsa mixture, or anything similar. The cups and ceviche can be made a day ahead, filled just before serving and will stand up to moist fillings without getting soggy. Fast to assemble and easy to prepare.