Between trimming the tree, wrapping gifts, helping Santa stuff those stockings and drenching your house in as many lights as your poor little exterior outlet can handle, you’ve (somehow) got to eat! And the Christmas season is party season! Which means you don’t just have to feed yourself—chances are you’ve got to put some finger food out for other people, too. And a store-bought tub-o-hummus isn’t going to cut it at a Christmas party. No way. Christmas appetizers need to be just as dazzling as the reflection of vintage bubble lights in the tinsel on your Christmas tree! So pop some Andy Williams on the turntable, and spend a little—and we promise, it’ll just be a little—time in the kitchen. We’ve rounded up our top 20 Christmas appetizer recipes right here for your holiday nibbling and noshing pleasure, so whether you’re looking for easy appetizers for a Christmas party or simply the very BEST Christmas appetizer to serve to your nearest and dearest on Christmas Day, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for here. And P.S. whenever one of these appetizers is a great make-ahead recipe, we’ve made note of that, just to make everything extra easy. Without further ado, here are our very favorite festive appetizer recipes.
Christmas Appetizers: Finger Foods Edition
It comes around once a year, and still, like clockwork, on December 1st you find yourself asking the age-old question: what are some good finger foods for Christmas day? Well, think no more, friends! We’ve got four killer Christmas finger food recipes right here! Plus, they pair perfectly with just about any cocktail you might serve.
- Bacon-Wrapped Scallops. Bacon-wrapped scallops are right up there with shrimp cocktail as an ultimate holiday party throwback! Grandma knew a thing or two about what to serve with highballs and sugar cookies. These splurge-y, savory bites will never go out of style.
- Deviled Eggs. It doesn’t get any more classic than serving deviled eggs at your Christmas cocktail party—especially if it’s got a bit of retro flair. Bonus? They’re inherently vegetarian and gluten free.
- Jalapeño Poppers. There are certain foods that disappear basically immediately as soon as you put them out. These cheesy, bacon-studded jalapeño poppers fall firmly into that category.
- Pecan-Stuffed Mushrooms. Not only is this classic vegetarian appetizer easy to make for a crowd, it can be made up to a day ahead of time, leaving you plenty of time for cocktail-shaking and playlist-making.
Dips! Quite Possibly the Ultimate Christmas Party Appetizer
What is the best food for a Christmas party? Well, honestly, we’d rather not pick just one thing. But if we absolutely had to pick a category of best christmas party foods, we’d pick dips. They’re indulgent and snacky, they can be surprisingly filling—which is especially important at holiday cocktail parties—and many of them are vegetarian and gluten free, so they work for people will all kinds of dietary needs. You can also often prepare them ahead of time—even hot dips can be thought of as “make-ahead” because the work of the recipe takes place before you pop them into the oven so there’s no last minute fussing around.
- Caramelized Onion Dip. Break out the Ruffles and dig into this creamy classic. *This is a great one to make at least a day ahead! It gets better as it sits.
- Queso Fundido. Have you ever had the pleasure of sinking a crispy tortilla chip into a melty vat of cheese dip filled with spicy chorizo? Would you like to?
- Spinach-Artichoke Dip. The one & only! This easy dip recipe is one we make year-round, but because it’s piping hot and cheesy, it’s always an extra big hit in the winter months.
- Perfect Guacamole. You may not think of guacamole as a Christmas appetizer but here’s the thing—everyone loves it. Obviously that’s a fact. At Christmastime it will be an unexpected surprise and it will disappear so, so fast.
Nothing Says Merry Christmas Like A Whole Bunch of Cheese
At least, that’s how we feel about it. Who doesn’t love cheese!? And if there’s ever a season to indulge, it’s Christmas
- Baked Brie. We dare you to look at this picture of golden-brown crust-covered gooey melty baked brie and NOT run immediately to the store to get all the stuff to make it. We double dare you.
- Cheddar & Onion Cheese Ball. Ahh yes, the classic Christmas cheese ball. It just isn’t Christmas until someone’s made a cheese ball. And maybe, just maybe, this year that someone will be you!
- Perfect Cheese Board. Our ideal thing to serve at a Christmas Eve party is a totally indulgent cheese platter with all the trimmings. It’s fun to make—an excuse to spend a little time and money at your local cheesemonger—and Christmas appetizers simply to not get easier to prepare.
- Pull Apart Cheese Bread. This is one easy appetizer recipe. It’s not fancy, but it’s always a huge hit. It’s melty cheese on bread! Of course everyone loves it!
- White Cheddar Beer Cheese Dip. There’s something very après ski about this cheesy, fondue-ish dip, and we love to dig into it around Christmas time. Glowy candles, a roaring fire and this rich dip and we can almost imagine ourselves in the land of hygge and tomten!
Our Favorite Shrimp Appetizers, Because Christmas Is the Time to Get a Little Fancy.
In many cultures, Christmas Eve is observed as a fasting day, and so a tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve—most famous, perhaps, is the delicious Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This is a long way of saying that serving shrimp on Christmas Eve is a downright must! It’s celebrational, observational, and it’ll make everyone feel just a little extra luxurious. Here are our very favorite shrimp appetizers:
- Shrimp Cocktail. Crank up the Frank & Dean Christmas record for this one, and maybe pour a nice dry martini to go with it! Classic shrimp cocktail can’t be beat, and our shrimp cocktail recipe is nothing but the very best. Plus! It’s served cold, and the shrimp needs lots of time to chill so this recipe isn’t just OK to make-ahead, it has to be made ahead. Yay!
- Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip. Is it a cheese appetizer? A shrimp appetizer? A DIP?! It's all of the above! This retro appetizer recipe is ultra easy, and incredibly good. It’s ready for its comeback!
- Baked Coconut Shrimp. Infuse your Christmas party with a little warm Mele Kalikimaka vibe and serve these crispy, yummy coconut shrimp.
Hearty Holiday Appetizers That Are Not Messing Around
These hearty appetizers are the kind of yummy, filling finger food you want to serve at a cocktail party. They’re the kind of things that people can actually fill up on, even if you’re not offering a proper, sit-down meal, and they’ll help soak up all of that Christmas punch you’ve been pouring.
- Swedish Meatballs. Gently warmed with spices and covered in a deliciously creamy sauce, Swedish meatballs are always a hit.
- Beef Empanadas. These hearty hand-held pouches of goodness are inching toward “meal” territory, but they still qualify (we think) as a heavy appetizer. Particularly for a multi-hour party with no proper meal.
- Tomato and Avocado Bruschetta. Sure it’s extremely out of season, but a little bright freshness is so welcome at the holidays, and this bruschetta is a glorious reminder of summer. We all need an (occasional) break from all of the butter-laden celebration food, right? Bonus: the red and green colors of this dish will just pop on your table!
- Grilled Scallops. Grilling is the perfect way to cook scallops! Quick, high heat is ideal for a food that you want to be certain not to overcook, and a light, quick kiss of char and smoke brings these gorgeous shellfish to life.