If you're looking for easy finger food ideas for your next party then you've come to the right place! Whether you're offering a casual finger food buffet or a fancy cocktail hour, I'm confident you'll find a few hand-held appetizer recipes that are ideal for any event!
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This post is one of my most popular for a reason. There's just something so exciting about a spread of appetizers at a party. Finger foods just make any party feel much more welcoming and more importantly, FUN! It allows everyone to mingle while snacking. And we ALL love snacking especially when those finger foods are made bite-sized!
So below I put together a list of easy appetizer ideas and examples you should consider making for YOUR next party. They are all perfect for serving to a crowd, most of which can be made ahead of time. These recipe are great for dinner parties, small gatherings or a classy appetizer buffet.
But before we dive into the list, let's first discuss what is classified as a "finger food".
What Are Finger Foods?
Let's start with WHAT finger foods are because I see many hosts offering finger foods that need a PLATE in order to enjoy them. This, in my opinion, defeats the purpose.
Finger foods are ideally small, bite-sized foods that are meant to be eaten directly with your hands, no utensils required! Instead of fork and knives, people will often serve these mini appetizers with skewers or toothpicks for easy eating!
If it takes you more than three bites MAX to finish it, it is most likely not a true finger food! One bite foods are the best kind of appetizers to serve because they require no napkins and little to no mess!
Finger foods have been around for some time now. Believe it or not, they became popular around the prohibition era when they had speakeasy bars. Cocktails would be served illegally and they would accompany those illegal drinks with small foods that were easy to serve and eat to keep people happy and also keep them drinking!
Not that's my kinda party! 🙂
Now let's continue the debate over what is considered a "finger food". How many fingers should you technically be using? Keep reading!
Read more about how finger foods originated!
Party Finger Foods: Canapés vs. Hors d’œuvres
Fancy fingers foods are perfect for cocktail parties and special events or holidays like Weddings or New Years Eve! They are sure to impress and perfect for adults. Below I talk about the differences between canapes and hors d’œuvres to help you decide which fancy finger food you should serve to your guests!
Canapés are types of hors d’œuvres that are small in size and prepared with decorative precision. They often look pretty and are meant to be eaten in ONE BITE. These are typically made from mini or thin slices of breads or tiny pancakes. On that, the main item sits over top and then it is often garnished with herbs or a sauce. You'll see these often at fancy cocktail parties where adults just need their fingers to enjoy!
Check out these delicious canapés!
Party Hors d’œuvres
Hors d’œuvres are an appetizer typically served before dinner as a pre-meal snack. They are often served at cocktail parties or in restaurants.
These fancy finger foods are usually upscale versions of appetizers. They are beautifully put together and also meant to be eaten in one bite. Here are a few photos of some elegant hors d’œuvres you can expect to see during a cocktail hour. These are all very finger food friendly and so cute!
A lot of hors d’œuvres are made using puff pastry dough. Puff pastry is a popular vessel to serve all kinds of foods either inside or on top of. They are used for both savory and sweet finger foods and the fact that they are easy to pick up with your fingers makes them all the more delicious!
What Are The Best Finger Foods To Start A Party With?
Ahh, the possibilities are endless. There are so many different types of finger food appetizers you can serve before dinner!
Some of the BEST finger foods are the ones that require no warming up or re-heating!
Let's be honest. Finger tasty COLD finger foods are like finding a needle in a haystack.
They are difficult to come by and not always very tasty. This is unfortunate because they are extremely convenient to have on hand and require little to no preparation the day of! Plus, you can serve them at room temperature!
Before Deciding What To Serve, Ask Yourself These Questions!!
- "What can I, as a host, manage and afford?" (come up with a budget!)
- "Do your guests have any dietary preferences?" (vegetarians, gluten free, allergies?)
If you do not have the time or bandwidth to assemble 60 mini sliders, don't do it! If you can't afford crab claws, go with something that is inexpensive and budget-friendly!
If your guests are keto, GF, vegetarian, vegan or have other allergies, you may want to serve appetizers that safely check off all the boxes OR have a few different varieties for each guest to be happy with.
Preparing Finger Foods In Advance
Although not all finger foods can be prepared ahead of time, we all love it when we find ones that we CAN make ahead.
There are two "types" of finger foods that can be made in advance.
- COLD FINGER FOODS: Cold finger foods need to be reheated. Other than dips, These are foods like dairy-based appetizers, meat or seafood.
- ROOM TEMPERATURE FINGER FOODS: Room temp. finger foods do not need to be cold to be enjoyable. These are foods like puff pastries, some veggies, crackers and breads.
Hot finger foods will need to be reheated since they are almost impossible to serve fresh unless you are expected a crowd of less than 6. They are best made ahead of time the day (or night) before. Then, popped in the oven as your guests are arriving so they are sure to be nice and hot for them.
Check out my post on how to keep food warm for parties.
If you are serving cold finger foods, they can be entirely assembled a day or even two days before the party, then pulled straight out of the fridge and served!
Planning Your Menu
I am a huge fan of serving JUST finger foods at parties. Especially when there is a large crowd of people. There are TWO types of menus you can have. A HEAVY hors d’œuvres menu and a LIGHT hors d’œuvres.
A heavy menu is when you are ONLY serving appetizers at your party. No dinner or other food after. This means you should plan to have more appetizers per person.
A light menu is when you are planning on serving more food afterwards. This means you can plan on having less food per person.
Caterers typically follow a these guidelines:
Here is my cheat sheet!
Pros and Cons of Serving Heavy hors d’œuvres:
- A lot of variety for all guests
- Great for mingling
- Allows for multiple stations
- Ability to set up food warmers and forget it
- Fun to eat
- Guests can help themselves
- Can be labor intensive
- Sometimes more expensive
- Difficult to determine how much food to serve
A List Of The Best Party Finger Foods
Here is a list of EASY finger foods that you might want to add to your finger food party menu! All of these recipes are great to serve at any party because of not only how simple they they are to throw together but because they can serve a small or large group of people!
Game Day Finger Foods
The big game is coming up and you need some game day finger foods that will please everyone right? Well take a look below! All of these recipes are simple finger foods that will be great for any tailgate party!
These bacon wrapped pork bites are so easy to make and are packed with flavor! You get sweetness from the maple syrup and saltiness from the bacon making them such a great finger food to serve at your next football party!
The perfect tasty game day finger food! These Crispy Philly Cheesesteak Wonton Cups use wonton wrappers to get their crispy shell. Best of all they are baked so you can make these ahead of time in BULK for any party or tailgate!
Meatball appetizers are a huge finger food trend! These easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are my favorite football finger food! Made with Franks Red Hot sauce and brown sugar, they are spicy, sweet and covered in sauce! Plus, they’re gluten free AND can be kept warm in your slow cooker for hours!
These are perfect for game day because they are made with beer so they obviously go well with it too!
These Loaded Irish Pub Nacho Fries are a spin off of an appetizer a local Irish Pub serves. Served on crispy waffle fries topped with a homemade cheese sauce, they are the perfect appetizer for any sports party or tailgate!
These Cheesy Garlic Italian “Dunkers” use Pillsbury’s canned pizza dough so they are super easy to make and perfect for the big game! Serve them with a side of your favorite marinara sauce for dipping and you’ve got a tasty finger food snack for adults and kids!
These pizza cones are a cool twist on that boring pizza we all tend to resort to on game days! They use Pillsbury pizza crust and are stuffed with pepperoni and three different cheeses then formed into a cone! All you need is some tin foil and you can get your fingers ready!
Sausage Stuffed Mini Peppers (w/ Cream Cheese)
These cute mini stuffed peppers are always a favorite! Stuffed with sausage and cream cheese, they are easy to make and full of flavor. Make them the day before and warm them up before guests arrive!
Gravy fries! The ultimate finger food! This snack is smothered with a homemade brown gravy and topped with melty, gooey mozzarella cheese. They are perfect for a tailgate/football party!
Holiday Finger Foods
The holidays are coming up and you want to put out some easy but festive holiday appetizers that wont break the bank right? Here are some easy crowd pleasing finger foods that will be sure to satisfy everyone this season!
These sausage balls are a popular holiday or Christmas appetizer that many families like to serve for brunch or as an appetizer! Either way, they are delicious and the perfect finger food!
These holiday pecans are a fancy but easy snack for those who need some munchies to serve with drinks or cocktails! Best of all, they can be made days in advance and served at room temperature!
These merry little Christmas deviled eggs are so cute, so festive and incredibly tasty! All you need are a few pink pepper corns and a few parsley leaves to make these jolly appetizers finger food friendly!
This Roquefort Cheese and Pear “Bruschetta” is the perfect finger food to serve at your holiday dinner party! They are everything you want from a salad appetizer but in a couple
If you love homemade stuffing, these biscuit cups are for you! They're a sweet and savory holiday appetizer everyone will go crazy over! Buttery biscuit dough is stuffed with maple sausage, onion, rosemary and dried cranberries. A great finger food that needs to be at the top of your holiday menu!
Cold Finger Foods
Cold finger foods are the best! They can be made 1-3 days in advance and be taken straight out of the fridge! What's easier than that? Check out this list here for more cold finger food ideas!
This is a super light and refreshing dip that is great served with tortilla chips! It is a fast appetizer that is best served COLD! All you need is your fingers and a chip! 🙂
This pear prosciutto appetizer recipe is a delicious cold finger food that is refreshing and tasty! Plus, they are ready in 10 minutes and require no baking!
These baby peppers are roasted and stuffed with a creamy feta cheese filling! They could not be any easier and are always crowd-pleasing finger food that is served cold!
Stuffed with a whipped ricotta sage mixture, topped with a honey roasted almond and drizzled in more honey, these savory sweet bites are one quick and delicious finger food that is delicious served cold!
If you’re looking for quick finger foods to serve at your next party, these fun melon and prosciutto skewers are an easy appetizer everyone will love!
These costini are an easy yet delicious finger food that can be prepared way in advance! Toast your bread up before guests arrive and have your ricotta and red peppers ready to go in the fridge for topping!
This Mozzarella Ball, aka burrata cheese, appetizer is one of my most raved about recipes. The creamy burrata and garlicky peppers is perfect for topping crusty bread. It's best served cold!
Quick Finger Foods
Quick finger foods are the best when you don't have time or need to make a lot in a small window! These finger foods below all take less than 30 minutes to make and can be on the table in no time!
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus has to be one of the easiest (yet most popular) finger foods. They take 5 mins to prep, has only 3 ingredients and just needs to bake in the oven for 15-20 mins. For canapés I estimate around 3 per person but they’re definitely popular so make sure you make some extra.
These blue cheese apples drizzled with hot honey and topped with chopped walnuts. They’re the perfect finger food for friends and so quick to throw together with just 4 simple ingredients less than 5 minutes of your time!
These Glazed Apple Chicken Sausage Bites are one of my favorite appetizer recipes to whip up! Slices of chicken sausage smothered in a sweet onion glaze, they are ready in just 10 minutes!
These ridiculously crunchy & addictive Cheese & Onion Crispy Roasted Chickpeas take just 5 minutes of prep time! The perfect savoury snack or munch on but just a warning, once you start eating them you just can't stop!
Make-Ahead Finger Foods
Finger foods that can be made ahead of time are where it's at these days. If you are busy, working or taking care of kids, you will want to make your appetizers way in advance so before company arrives, all you need to do is make sure you (and your house), are in tip-top shape! Check out more make-ahead finger foods that you can serve at room temperature!
This is an easy finger food that can be made in advance and served either hot or at room temperature. Just assemble each triangle the day before and keep them in the fridge until your ready to bake them off! Who wouldn't want a crispy cheesy phyllo appetizer?
If a pierogi and mushroom had babies, these would be the result! A fun and creative finger food that has everything you want from a pierogi but without the pasta! They're stuffed with mashed potatoes, bacon and cheese, your guests will love this creative flavor combination!
Tea sandwiches are such a fun brunch time snack to serve with or without tea! I like to make these AHEAD of time when expecting company. It is best to serve them cold (or room temperature) so no fussing with reheating! Traditional tea sandwiches are ideal for afternoon bridal, baby showers or a simple brunch party!
These Spicy Garlic Roasted Chickpeas are an irresistible healthy snack that I love putting around the house in small bowls when I am expecting company. They are so irresistible and way too easy to eat!
Simple/Easy Finger Foods
Simple and easy finger foods are what we all look forward to! They make having a party enjoyable and also manageable. All recipes below have just a few ingredients so they are simple to make but still pack a ton of flavor!
These Cheesy Stuffed Garlic Bombs are an easy and quick way to enjoy garlic knots but 1,000 times better! I use Pillsbury's canned biscuit dough because they yield an incredibly soft and tender dough every single time. Your fingers with love the gooey cheese!
These Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites are a savory delight of an appetizer featuring so many of my favorites. It is simple and perfect for small gatherings made with just 6 ingredients! The appetizer is packed with flavor, not messy to eat, and quite portable.
Phyllo Spanakopita Bites
A deliciously easy finger food, these spanakopita bites are a different twist on the traditional Greek spinach pie made with just a few simple ingredients!
These grilled lamb chops are actually very simple to make but tastes like they took hours! The trick is to purchase pre-frenched lamb chops and to let the marinade do all the work. Then grill and serve!
This roasted eggplant spread is not only simple to make but it is also made with just a few simple ingredients. I love how healthy it is and that it can be served rustic style with a loaf of crusty bread.
This homemade bruschetta caprese is a unique twist on your classic Italian bruschetta recipe made with sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella and baked until melted and crispy. A simple finger food your guests will be diving in for!
Iberico Parmesan Asparagus Fingers
These cute little phyllo bundles are a simple finger food to make considering then only have five ingredients! Asparagus is rolled in phyllo and brushed with butter before being baked to golden perfection.
Inexpensive Finger Foods
Man oh man are parties are expensive! If you can make a lot of food on a decent budget, you will be able to enjoy party planning much more and not feel completely drained (both you and your bank account) post party. These finger foods are all relatively cheap and can feed larger groups at once.
If you love fried green tomatoes, fried red tomatoes will become your favorite party food! Crispy, fresh and packed with flavor! They are inexpensive to make especially if you buy tomatoes in bulk and can be reheated as guests arrive.
Since sliced sandwich bread is inexpesive and I use a canned tomato soup, all you need to spend money on is the cheese! I also love that these are FILLING which means you don't need to make a lot, saving you more money! And how fancy too?!
These crab bites are made with imitation crab meat and boxed tempura batter so they are super inexpensive and surprisingly simple to make! Plus, they tastes just just crab!
This Air Fryer Brown Sugar Buffalo Shrimp recipe is the perfect appetizer for the Big Game! Coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and slathered in a sweet and spicy buffalo sauce, you will be licking your fingers clean in UNDER 15 MINUTES!
Last Minute Finger Foods
Finger food ideas for those last minute guests who like to spring up on us! These are all great because most of the ingredients come from our pantry and can be assembled quickly at the last minute!
These easy Ham and Cream Cheese Roll Ups are such a delicious make ahead appetizer, snack or finger food to serve a crowd at any party! I love that they can be put together last minute too!
These Phyllo Cups are a deliciously easy, cold appetizer to serve at any party or enjoy as a snack at home! They can be made last minute and on the table in no time since they require zero baking and are just 3 ingredients!
Party Cheese Balls: 3 Killer 10-minute Recipes. A great snack to serve at parties! Serve with crackers, chips or a baguette, I love how easy and quick they are to make! Plus, they can be rolled last minute for a creamy, tasty finger food all will love!
This delicious tuna tartare recipe is made with avocado and dressed in an Asian sauce. The perfect healthy finger food served on top of a cracker and ready in just 15 minutes! It is the perfect recipe to pull out of your pocket last minute that will wow guests.
Fancy Finger Foods
Fancy finger foods do not have to be expensive or even difficult! The trick is to make them look fancy. No one needs to know that they were actually quick and easy!
These Asian spiced, grilled shrimps are briefly marinated in Ketjap Manis (a sweet soy sauce) and other spices and then grilled to perfection for some juicy and wickedly delicious shrimp! Add your favorite Truscuit cracker and spread a generous amount of hummus, sweet mango and chopped herbs for a fancy finger food!
These Mini Canapé Toasts are a fancy finger food that is simple to put together! The topping is a mixture of , ricotta cheese, brie cheese, goat cheese, caramelized onions and honey. These minis are also great to make ahead and can be served at room temperature!
Herbed Vegetable Potato Pancakes are perfect for a fancy brunch like an early baby or wedding shower! Top them with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Chive Cream for an elegant finger food!
Baked pears with Chevrot goat cheese, honey & pecans is an easy finger food that looks super fancy. Pears are sliced thin, baked then topped with tangy goat cheese, honey, pecans and fresh rosemary. Impressive enough to serve for dinner parties but light enough to save room for dinner.
This vegetarian appetizer is a delicious finger food option that guests will LOVE! A twist on your classic grilled cheese, this recipe is made with cream cheese, basil and roasted red peppers.
Raclette with potatoes and cornichons is a very Swiss dish. However, these three items are not usually served in this manner. I just love raclette, and this appetizer makes a great addition to any party or event.
Blinis are a classic fancy finger food that people love! This recipe is made with crispy prosciutto and sweet cranberry sauce, the flavor combination is so good!
These Caramelized Pearl Onions Baby onions are sautéed in a sweet and savory balsamic glaze. To make these finger food friendly, I serve them with fancy skewers alongside cheese and some good wine. The sauce is also great for dipping bread into!
Finger Food Serving Tips
I hope you found at least THREE finger food ideas for your next party! If you are planning to serve a few, my two biggest tips for you are:
- Do as MUCH in advance as possible!
- Ask for help from friends and family!
Chafing dishes should be used as much as possible whenever you can to help keep food warm. Crock pot appetizers are very convenient and can be used for softer appetizers like meatballs or dips. They can be served with skewers or mini toothpicks to make them finger food friendly. Mini sandwiches can be made in advance and served cold.
Although we don't want to admit, we cannot do everything ourselves so graciously accept any help you can get from friends and family and always be sure to over-prepare!
Any other questions, feel free to reach out at BiteSizedKitchenBlog@gmail(dot)com. I love hearing from my readers!