The history of serving food prior to the start of the meal, or as a buffet of small plates, dates back to the early Greeks and Romans. Hors D’oeuvres, popularized by the French, literally means “outside of the work.” That’s why it’s a great idea to bring hors d’oeuvres to a dinner party. The party host takes care of the main work of the meal, and guests can contribute with a “starter” that literally “gets the party started!”

“Officially,” appetizers are the first course in a meal at the table. Like hors d’oeuvres, they whet the appetite, but appetizers are meant to be served with a fork and knife. Eat hors d’oeuvres with fingers or a toothpick. Appetizers are usually just one item, while hors d’oeuvres are multiple bite-sized samplings passed around on trays or spread out on a serving table with other selections, much like Spanish “tapas.”

Whatever you call them, the idea of appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, tapas and small plates have taken on many forms in American dining and dinner parties. Virtually all cultures indulge in morsels designed to whet the appetite. But coming up with an appetizer for your next dinner party can feel like as much “work” as the work of the dinner party itself!

With this post, we’ve tried to take some of the work out of your next dinner party. We researched and tested a variety of recipes to find appetizing appetizers that would meet our criteria:

1) Can be used as the first course to a meal (appetizer), or as small bites that could be served as finger food (hors d’oeuvres)
2) Uncomplicated to make and pleasing to the eye as well as the palate
3) Can be served at room temperature – don’t need to be cooked or heated in the host’s kitchen

Try any of our favorite appetizing appetizer recipes at your next dinner party!

Asparagus Wrapped in Puffed Pastry

Crab Puffs with Almonds and Horseradish

Seasoned Artichokes

Cheese Puffs Stuffed with Prosciutto

Devilish Eggs

Champignons Topped Rustic Toasts

Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche “Sliders”

Caprese on a Stick


Bacon Wrapped Dates (or figs when fresh in season)