Food

15 Christmas appetizer recipes to get your feast started off right

Appetizers are arguably the most important part of the meal — especially at big holiday feasts like Christmas. Not only do they set the tone for the entire night, they must also strike the delicate balance between satiating your guests while you prepare the rest of the meal and whetting their appetites so they're ready to chow down when you give them the green light.

So, we've hand-selected some of our favorite Christmas appetizer recipes and ideas for you — from hors d'oeuvres to dips and salads to soups — that will accomplish just that. Remember: "A delicious holiday is a happy holiday." — Us, just now.

RELATED: 41 last-minute gift ideas for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Rating:
( rated)
Get the recipe

Potato pancakes are Ina's husband Jeffrey's favorite holiday dish. Her secret for the crispiest and creamiest ones is to combine both grated and mashed potatoes.

Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
4
Get the recipe

These crab-stuffed mushrooms may look and taste decadent, but they're light and airy, which means they won't fill your guests up — no matter how many they eat — before the main event.

RELATED: Mini mac n' cheeses, plus 3 more easy last-minute holiday appetizers

Kale Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs
Siri Dali's Kale Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs.TODAY, November 15th 2016.
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
10
Get the recipe

Full of unique flavors and textures, this salad would be a perfect addition to your holiday table.

Root Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta
Stephanie Izard's Root Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
4 to 6
Get the recipe

The layers of flavor from the caponata are simple but great, while the salty bacon and capers and sweet raisins provide a variety of textures.

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

TODAY's Christmas Cookie Challenge: Viewers share their beloved recipes

Play Video - 4:58

TODAY's Christmas Cookie Challenge: Viewers share their beloved recipes

Play Video - 4:58
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Yield:
7 dozen mini meatballs
Get the recipe

These mini meatballs might just become the star of your party. They're bite-sized and perfect for serving with drinks.

RELATED: Christmas dinner ideas: appetizers, mains, sides and desserts recipes to try

Crostini with Ricotta, Brussels Sprouts and Maple Bacon
Crostini with ricotta, Brussels sprouts and maple bacon
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
8
Get the recipe

This is Bobby Flay's go-to make-ahead holiday appetizer. Everything can be made in advance; all you have to do is assemble.

Chestnut, Celery Root and Apple Soup
Chestnut soup
Alamy Stock
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4
Get the recipe

Star chef Daniel Boulud's creamy fall soup combines nutty chestnuts with sweet celery root and apples. It can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen so it's ready when you are.

Martha Stewart's Kale-Ricotta Dip
Martha Stewart's kale-ricotta dip
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4-6
Get the recipe

Other greens work well here, too: spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collards, beet greens, and turnip greens each contribute their distinctive flavor, all with slightly different results.

RELATED: 'Tis the season for Christmas cocktails! 6 recipes to try

Phyllo & Prosciutto Asparagus Cigars
Phyllo & Prosciutto Asparagus Cigars
Brandon Goodwin / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Get the recipe

Crunchy, salty and cheesy — this easy-to-make appetizer will definitely be a hit at any holiday bash.

Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
12
Get the recipe

Here's what Ina says about this recipe: "OMG. It may be the best thing I've ever made! Whenever I serve it on a cheese board, my guests always insist on taking the leftovers home!"

Easy Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Pancetta and Sage
Easy Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Pancetta and Sage
Quentin Bacon
Rating:
( rated)
Prep time:
Servings:
4
Get the recipe

The flavors for this dish come from traditional Roman saltimbocca: veal cutlets with sage and prosciutto. The tender prawns balance the meatiness and crispiness of the bacon, and the sage, tempered by the lemon, makes it all very fresh-tasting.

RELATED: Christmas cakes, cookies and pies: Holiday desserts to make now

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Try Katie Lee's easy prime rib and classic mashed potatoes for the holidays

Play Video - 4:06

Try Katie Lee's easy prime rib and classic mashed potatoes for the holidays

Play Video - 4:06
Twice-Baked Potato Bites
Twice-Baked Potato Bites
Daniel Krieger / The Laws of Cooking...and How to Break Them
Rating:
( rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
Servings:
20 to 30
Get the recipe

Who knew that the humble new potato could be turned into shell casing for a bullet of flavor? In this powder keg, the surly nature of the cheddar cheese (plus some butter and sour cream) roughhouses the creamy new potatoes. These little bombs of sharp versus subtle are a perfect snack or party treat.

Sunny's Easy Holiday Brussels Sprout Salad
Turkey Trot: Sunny Anderson's brussels sprout saladTODAY, November 16, 2016.
Rebekah Lowin / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
4
Get the recipe

Sunny Anderson's brussels sprouts salad has the big flavors of the holidays — cranberries, pecans, rosemary, nutmeg — while still being fresh and light. It's a refreshing reprieve from all the heavy eating of the rest of the meal.

Marinated Herbed Feta
Make Ina Garten’s cranberry martini and herb feta for the perfect party
David Anderson / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
8
Get the recipe

Serve this clean and bright marinated feta with toasted pita triangles or on a Greek mezze platter with hummus, olives and stuffed grape leaves.

RELATED: 12 tips for avoiding weight gain during the holidays

Borlotti Bean Soup with Rosemary and Pancetta
Nathan R Congleton / TODAY
Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
6-8
Get the recipe

Cranberry or borlotti beans are kidney shaped with red streaks. Used in all kinds of Italian soups and stews, they're worth seeking out. This soup is pure comfort.

TOP