Are you searching for easy appetizers to bring to an upcoming holiday party or summer BBQ?
Or maybe you need an assortment of snacks for an office function or just a casual play date with neighborhood moms and kids.
Do you want something that works for gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, etc.?
Would you like an appetizer that offers whole-food options?
Whatever the case, my favorite crowd-pleasing easy appetizers should fit the bill!
This easy appetizer platter can be tweaked, altered, and adapted to appease the most sophisticated taste buds and the pickiest of eaters.
It works for vegetarians, vegans, whole-food enthusiasts, and almost other dietary restrictions you can come up with.
You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you’d like — there are countless options to fit every budget.
It’s so quick and easy to throw together, it transports well, and the majority of it can be prepared well in advance!
Are you interested yet?!?!
These easy appetizers are perfect at any time of year, for any type of party.
In fact, our family loves it so much we often eat large appetizer platters as our full meal — especially during the holiday season and during pool season!
My Favorite Easy Appetizers
I think the “success” of these easy appetizers is due to the fact that I break it down into 5 main parts… all of which can be easily customizable based on your tastes, preferences, budget, guests, and the time of year.
Let me show you how I set it up!
Part 1 = Meats
Meat can sometimes be tricky for appetizers (especially if it needs to stay really warm or really cold) but I feel that SOME type of meat is essential for a well-rounded appetizer platter.
My go-to, super-simple meat options are:
- sliced summer sausage (sometimes a few different varieties and flavors)
- pepperoni and/or pepperoni bites (turkey or regular)
- salami rolls (thinly sliced salami from the deli, rolled up and held with a toothpick)
- shrimp cocktail
Of course, I love hot meat options as well (meatballs and these bacon-wrapped sausage links are 2 of my favorites) but those aren’t always practical and can’t always be transported well.
For a quick appetizer, I usually stick with the cold cut meats. I always have them sliced and prepared well in advance so there’s no last-minute work besides setting the meat on platters for my guests to grab!
Part 2 = Cheeses
This is probably my favorite part of my easy appetizers — our whole family LOVES cheese!
Plus, there are so many amazing varieties of delicious cheese available at most grocery stores that it’s very easy to get creative and prepare a gourmet-looking appetizer tray with minimal effort or expense.
NOTE: our Aldi store has a huge variety of fancier cheese for pretty reasonable prices!
I usually try to have at least 3 or 4 different cheese varieties, and I slice/serve them differently as well.
- medium or sharp Cheddar cut into small cubes
- Colby Jack sliced thinly for crackers
- Mozzarella in little balls
- the mini Babybell cheese pods (these are always a big hit with kids!)
- string cheese cut into small chunks
- a cream cheese spread or savory cheese ball for crackers or raw veggies
There are endless possibilities when it comes to delicious cheese!
Get as fancy or stay as frugal as you want with cheese — even the spray cheese in a can could go over well depending on your crowd and the type of party you’ll be serving the food at.
The beauty of all these different cheese options is that they can all be sliced, cubed, or prepared in advance and simply stored in separate air-tight containers until you’re ready to serve them.
Part 3 = Crackers, Nuts and/or Seeds
When it comes to crackers, nuts, and seeds, there are more options than I could ever list! Just pick a handful of your favorites and keep them in your pantry (or freezer) and you’ll always be ready to throw a quick appetizer platter together.
Here are some of my favorite very simple options:
- Wheat Thins
- Club crackers
- Some sort of “grain” cracker (like a thicker, more substantial cracker)
- Goldfish or veggie straws (for the kids!)
- Cashews (my favorite!)
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds (especially great in the fall)
- Chex mix
- Candied walnuts, pecans, or peanuts
I usually decide on my cracker choices after I know what types of meats and cheeses I’ll be serving.
I will also include chunks of crusty bread if I think it works (or even homemade rolls).
Part 4 = Fruits
My main objective with fruit is to choose varieties that can be eaten without utensils (no peaches!) and that won’t turn brown or taste bad after sitting out in the open (no bananas).
I also try to pick fruits that go well with the meat and cheese I’m serving.
- Grapes (I serve them in small clumps on basically every appetizer tray).
- Sweet Cherries (I like these in the summer, but they are a bit messy if you don’t pit them first)
- Thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (the tangy flavor pairs well with cheese, and if you soak them in Sprite or lemon juice for a few minutes, they won’t turn brown as quickly)
- Berries (blackberries and strawberries are favorites because they are big enough to just pick up and eat, but small enough that they don’t need to be pre-sliced)
- Dried Fruit (almost any variety could work). My favorites are Craisins, Raisins, Cherries, Apricots, Banana chips, and Papaya.
If you don’t mind using utensils, then you can include cubed melons, other berries, peaches, pears, pineapple, etc.
And again, you can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. We ALWAYS have dried fruit in the house, and almost always have grapes and apples — so if I’m in a pinch, grapes, apples, and craisins are what I serve.
Oh, and I usually do NOT serve fruit dips like caramel, marshmallow dips, or cream cheese-based dips because I personally just never make them or have them in the house. However, these dips would be delicious additions to your easy appetizers, as long as you have large enough plates and plenty of silverware for your guests.
Part 5 = Veggies
Although there are so many options when it comes to raw veggies, I try to stick to more “common” varieties when I make my appetizer platters.
- Baby carrots
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Sliced sweet or bell peppers
- Small chunks of broccoli and cauliflower
- Sugar snap peas
I like to choose at least 3-5 different veggies, and I try to make sure they are all different colors so the platter looks nicer. I usually DO include some type of vegetable dip and hummus.
Olives and pickles often go over well on these types of trays. My homemade refrigerator dill pickles are often requested at our holiday parties!
That’s it – my favorite 5-part foolproof easy appetizers!
It might seem like I listed off a lot of food above, but that’s simply because I want to share a variety of options for you to consider.
When I actually make up an appetizer platter, I often only choose 2-3 options from each category (sometimes less if I know everyone likes the same things.)
You can get as fancy as you want with presentation too — sometimes I just put out plastic food storage containers with the different types of food in it. Other times, I break out all sorts of cool serving trays and platters to display everything nicely.
As I mentioned above, this 5-part easy appetizer platter can work for almost any party and almost any time of year. Just mix up the contents based on in-season fruits and veggies, whatever meats and cheeses you have in the house, or whatever is on sale at the grocery store.
The great thing about including 5 different food groups in these easy appetizers is that almost everyone should be able to eat something (regardless of their dietary restrictions).
- Vegetarians can eat everything but the meat
- Gluten-free can eat everything but the crackers
- Nut-free can eat everything but the nuts
- Dairy-free can eat everything but the cheese
- Anyone on a whole-foods diet can pig out on the fruits, veggies, and nuts
There’s a little something for (almost) everyone on this easy appetizer platter!
What are your go-to easy appetizers?
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