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7 No-Fuss Party Appetizers

By Elizabeth Bomze Published

Don't shortchange the cocktail hour just because you're preparing an elaborate meal. These easy appetizers will impress and still allow you to enjoy the party.

Appetizers help set the mood for the main meal, or they can serve as the centerpiece of a gathering. We're here to help you plan your party and craft impressive (yet easy) recipes. Many of the recipes below can be made ahead, a few are no-cook, and most require very little hands-on time. 

Make the Right Amount

  • If your meal is to follow in less than an hour:
    Serve one to three appetizers; three to four pieces per person

  • If your meal is to follow in more than an hour:
    Serve one to three appetizers; four to six pieces per person

  • If it's a cocktails-only gathering:
    Serve five to six appetizers; 10 to 12 pieces per person

  • Goat Cheese Log with Hazelnut-Nigella Dukkah

    Nutty, oniony hazelnut-nigella dukkah adds crunch to creamy, tangy goat cheese in this lively appetizer. Even better, it's no-cook and can be made up 2 days ahead.

    Serves: 8 to 10

    Total Time: 40 minutes, plus 2½ hours cooling/resting

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  • Blistered Shishito Peppers

    Once mostly available only in restaurants as a trendy bar snack or appetizer, fruity, grassy Japanese shishito peppers are increasingly available at farmer's markets and grocery stores. They require no prep and take barely any time to char in a skillet. Serve sprinkled with kosher salt.

    Serves: 4 to 6

    Total Time: 15 minutes

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  • Black Pepper Candied Bacon

    Equal parts sweet, savory, salty, smoky, and satisfying, our black pepper candied bacon comes together with just three ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Serves: 4 to 6

    Total Time: 45 minutes

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  • Gravlax

    Curing salmon for gravlax is a simple one-step process that barely requires any effort, just hands-off time. The gravlax can also be made up to 1 week ahead. Serve it sliced thin on its own or on our Deli Rye Bread with crème fraîche, shallot, and herbs.

    Serves: 6 (Makes about 1 pound of salmon)

    Total Time: 10 minutes, plus 3 days chilling 

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  • Muhammara (Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Walnut Dip)

    Walnuts add creamy richness to this vibrant alternative to hummus, which also features the tang of pomegranate molasses and the warmth of paprika and cumin. We like roasting our own red peppers, but using the jarred kind makes this Middle Eastern condiment even easier. Make the dip up to 3 days ahead. Serve with pita chips, fresh warm pita, or raw vegetables. 

    Serves: 8 (Makes about 2 cups)

    Total Time: 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes chilling

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  • Black Olive Tapenade

    We use 3 parts bright, fruity, water- or brine-cured olives to 1 part earthy, salt-cured olives in this rich, lusty condiment. Spread it on crusty bread for a quick yet elegant appetizer. The tapenade can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. 

    Serves: 6 (Makes about 1½ cups)

    Total Time: 15 minutes, plus 18 hours chilling

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  • Spiced Fruit and Nut Conserve 

    This conserve featuring supple golden raisins, dried apricots, and creamy medjool dates soaked in ruby port and mixed with almonds and pistachios will make any cheese plate that much more special. It can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.

    Serves: 12 to 16 (Makes 2 cups)

    Total Time: 20 minutes, plus 45 minutes cooling

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