A gathering is best enjoyed when the host is involved. In the party, that is—not just the prep. Once you’ve spent time planning the event, the guest list, and the menu, the last thing you want to do when happy hour strikes is frantic, last-minute prep. If there’s one thing guaranteed to appease your guests in a timely manner, it’s easy make-ahead appetizers.

They’re a gift to hosts everywhere. There’s nothing like having food prepared ahead of time to mitigate the dreaded pre-party scramble. Couple that with make-ahead appetizers that are also relatively uninvolved, and you’ve unlocked the ultimate stress-free secret. The easy make-ahead appetizers ahead are not only beneficial to the host, but they’re sure to be enjoyed by everyone in attendance. Because we all need a little something to nibble on upon arrival.

Featured image of Ashleigh Amoroso’s spring happy hour.


30 Easy Make-Ahead Appetizers for Stress-Free Hosting

Appetizer hour is almost always my favorite part of the evening. It gives guests a chance to unwind, settle into the conversation, and snack on carefully crafted offerings that can tide them over until the main event. So what are you waiting for? If there’s a small soirée, an all-out party, or a gathering of any size in your future, these easy make-ahead appetizers are sure to solve the stress of hosting.

From dishes you can thaw to ones you can toss in the oven day of—these aren’t your traditional dishes, but we’re sure you’ll adore them just as much as we do.

Salads and Sides

mediterranean salad_make ahead appetizers

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Why We Love It: Talk about a vibrant first course—this blend of Mediterranean-inspired flavors is the perfect way to brighten up any gathering. A little bit tangy from feta cheese and balanced with crunchy kale, it’s a perfect opening act.

Hero Ingredient: A bit of flaky salt goes a long way.

sesame green salad

Sesame Salad

Why We Love It: This isn’t your typical side salad. Tossed in a sesame dressing—a blend of tahini, honey, and a touch of ginger—its simplicity will have you craving this dish every night.

Hero Ingredient: Ever had pistachios on a salad? Now’s your chance.

simple potato salad_make ahead appetizers

Simple Potato Salad

Why We Love It: Potato salad is still definitely a salad in my book, and this version is the most hassle-free adaptation of the classic Southern recipe. Elevated with smoked chipotle aioli, it’s fast, delicious, and holds up great in the heat.

Hero Ingredient: Fresh dill is a must-have.

simple green salad

Simple Green Salad

Why We Love It: When it comes to appetizers, sometimes simplicity takes the cake. That’s the case with this simple green salad inspired by the NYC staple, Via Carota. The punchy shallot vinaigrette creates the perfect blend of crunchy texture and tangy sweetness. If you’re in a pinch, prep the vinaigrette in advance. From there, this salad calls for only three simple ingredients.

Hero Ingredient: Toasted walnuts are a great way to add a nutty crunch.

strawberry caprese salad_make ahead appetizers

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: Have you ever seen a more summery salad? Fresh, juicy strawberries and extra-creamy burrata are the perfect complements for a world of flavor in every bite. This salad isn’t just delicious; it’s a stunning addition to any table.

Hero Ingredient: Burrata isn’t just a trend—it’s a lifestyle.

white bean and radicchio salad

Why We Love It: This Italian-inspired aperitivo is the perfect way to kick off a meal. Bitter radicchio leaves contrast with creamy white beans and Parmigiano Reggiano for a salad that’s sure to impress yet so easy to make. You can prep the beans and lemon vinaigrette ahead of time. Once that’s complete, all that’s left to do is toss everything together. To take it a step further, you can slice your radicchio a few hours in advance and chill it on ice to maximize its crunchiness.

Hero Ingredient: Those beans are next-level delicious. They’re cooked with olive oil, shallots, white wine, and chicken stock to seal the deal on flavor.

tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad with feta

Why We Love It: Beat the heat with this tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad. It’s juicy, refreshing, and full of fresh, seasonal flavors. A perfectly ripe tomato meets vibrant cucumber, creamy avocado, and salty feta to create a salad both you and your guests will love. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Hero Ingredient: Pickled red onions’ vinegary profile takes this salad to a new level.

watermelon tomato caprese salad_make ahead appetizers

Why We Love It: This Caprese salad makes the most of everything watermelon brings to the table. It’s loaded with juicy melon, crisp cucumber, creamy mozzarella, and vibrant basil. This fresh salad sets the tone for a delicious meal and even better conversation. Mix everything together a few hours in advance to let those flavors come alive in the fridge.

Hero Ingredient: Don’t skimp on the lime juice. It’s the contrast of sour lime and sweet melon that finishes this salad beautifully.

summer credites with classic ranch

Why We Love It: Crudités are a classic appetizer that guests of all ages will love. The recipe is loaded with fresh veggies and a classic ranch dip that’s tasty enough to make you want to lick the bowl. You can also prep the veggies beforehand and chill them over ice until you’re ready to serve, which will keep everything perfectly crisp.

Hero Ingredient: A dash of Tabasco in the ranch dip introduces a slight heat to complement the veggies.

burrata with pesto and figs

Why We Love It: A four-ingredient appetizer that you can make in under five minutes? Yes, please. Fresh burrata is always a crowd-pleaser, especially when surrounded by nutty pesto, sweet figs, and crusty French bread to soak it all up. Fire up the grill for quick pre-party bread toasting that won’t keep you from your guests. Goodbye, FOMO.

Hero Ingredient: You can use homemade pesto or store-bought, making your prep all the easier.

southern cheese rounds

Why We Love It: I don’t know about you, but in my book, cheese rounds are a staple at any respectable gathering. They’re classic, easy, and universally loved. These cheese rounds are completely textbook, with Rice Krispies, butter, flour, grated cheddar, tabasco, and cayenne to build the flavor and crunch.

Hero Ingredient: I like my cheese rounds to have a little kick, so hot sauce and cayenne win the prize.

watermelon salad with cucmber, mint, feta, and lime

Why We Love It: If you can’t tell, we’re a little obsessed with watermelon—and for good reason! It’s a true superstar that deserves to be celebrated. In this salad, watermelon is surrounded by cool cucumber, fresh mint, salty feta, and acidic lime to create something nothing short of magical. Serve this to guests before the main event to set the meal off on the right foot.

Hero Ingredient: Be sure to slap your mint before tearing it over this salad. It wakes up the flavor and amplifies the aroma.

Spring Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing

Why We Love It: Another winning crudités recipe, this platter with green goddess dressing is easy to put together. The entire tray takes about ten minutes to assemble. You can prep all of the veggies ahead of time (bell peppers are my personal favorite), as well as that gorgeous dressing. I recommend whipping up a little extra green goddess for week-long salad dressing and veggie dipping.

Hero Ingredient: A few capers in the dressing bring a salty, briny flavor to the mix.

bitter greens citrus, and proscuitto salad

Bitter Greens, Citrus, and Prosciutto Salad

Why We Love It: This isn’t your traditional lettuce-packed salad. Bright citrus flavors make for a bowl of excitement, complemented by a bit of salty prosciutto. Unique salads are something we strive to put on every table, and this might be one of our all-time favorites.

Hero Ingredient: I would have never thought to put prosciutto in my salad, but I can’t say I don’t love it.

Dips and Spreads

dips and crudite platter

Dips & Crudite Grazing Board

Why We Love It: There’s plenty to love about this grazing board. While veggies alone are always a satisfying crunchy and fresh bite, the dips are the real star of this board. The key here is to include a couple of options for guests to pick and choose from—such as a hearty bean dip or a creamy and rich jalapeño ranch.

Hero Ingredient: The caramelized onion in this board’s main dip is to die for.

smokey eggplant dip

Smoky Eggplant Dip

Why We Love It: If you’re short on time, this smoky spread is the perfect dish to put out in a pinch. It can easily be made the night before and refrigerated before serving. Top with smoked paprika and pine nuts to add to the smoky and spicy blend of flavors.

Hero Ingredient: Eggplant, of course.

ricotta with pears and honeyed pistachios

Ricotta with Pears and Honeyed Pistachios

Why We Love It: Any recipe with ricotta and fresh fruit is bound to be a hit, and nothing gets more simple than this delicious board. The pistachios’ sweet nuttiness is beyond, hitting your palate with a nice bit of indulgent crunch.

Hero Ingredient: I’m a ricotta lover till I die.

summer cheese board_make ahead appetizers

Summer Cheese Board

Why We Love It: I’m sorry to say that plain old cheddar cheese just won’t cut it for this elevated summer cheese board. (No hate!) Charcuterie-ing during the summer is all about choosing seasonal fruits and flowers, as well as meats and cheese that can withstand the heat of the season.

Hero Ingredient: A charcuterie board isn’t complete without a freshly sliced baguette.

carrot turmeric hummus with veggies

Why We Love It: A hummus packed with plant-based freshness and nutrition? Sign me up. This carrot turmeric hummus will have you and your guests glowing from the inside out. Turmeric helps fight inflammation, while carrots boost bone strength and keep blood sugar under control. Surround that foolproof formula with garlic, lemon juice, mint leaves, sunflower seeds, and voilà—you’ve got a winning appetizer for any event.

Hero Ingredient: Sumac joins the party and brings its tart, fruity flavor profile to the forefront of this tasty dip.

za'atar spiced citrus yogurt dip with roasted broccoli_make ahead appetizers

Why We Love It: A cool citrus yogurt dip helps kick off a meal in style—especially when it’s seasoned with shallots, za’atar, and cilantro (and takes less than ten minutes to build!). Prep this dip the night before, so all that’s left to do is plate up some crackers, fresh veggies, pita, or roasted broccoli.

Hero Ingredient: Fresh-squeezed orange juice is key. It brightens up the entire dip and introduces a welcome acidity.

peruvian carrot pesto

Why We Love It: On this list of easy make-ahead appetizers, dips are a fave—and this Peruvian carrot pesto is a real winner. It’s composed of cilantro, parsley, garlic, carrots, pumpkin seeds, and more, and makes the perfect pair for a cracker or veggie. Make this in advance, so all that’s left to do is surround it with accompaniments and enjoy!

Hero Ingredient: Red wine vinegar introduces just the right amount of acidity that keeps things light and complex.

squash hummus with whole tahini and pumpkin seeds

Why We Love It: Another veggie-forward hummus, this recipe swaps carrots for squash and is a total home run. It’s incredibly simple to make, which makes party prep that much more hands-off. This straightforward recipe uses only four ingredients to create something so much more than the sum of its parts. Serve with anything from fluffy pita to crispy pita chips.

Hero Ingredient: Toasted pumpkin seeds bring the crunch to this smooth hummus that makes it complex, though it’s inherently simple.

mint tzatziki with endive, romaine, and sugar snaps_make ahead appetizers

Why We Love It: This appetizer is a total flavor bomb. Raw veggies meet light tzatziki for a satisfying combination you won’t want to miss. It’s like a deconstructed salad, which makes it perfect for conversation-filled mingling. The mint tzatziki is made of grated cucumber, Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon zest/juice, and chopped mint and is seriously drool-worthy. Plus, whipping up a little extra to have on hand is never a bad idea.

Hero Ingredient: Trust me, you won’t regret stirring up a little extra tzatziki. You can thin it out with a little olive oil for a zesty salad dressing or keep it in the fridge for snacking.

raw carrot hummus

Why We Love It: Raw carrot hummus is packed with plenty of fresh flavors that are joined by tahini’s creamy nuttiness. Avocado oil, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, za’atar, and parsley flavor this dip to perfection. This hummus is a breeze to make ahead of time, store in the fridge, and pull out just before you’re ready to serve. Hosting made easy.

Hero Ingredient: The key to success is that crunchy za’atar. It’s herby, savory, and nutty, making it the perfect garnish for this savory hummus.

Toasts and Breads

Hummus Bruschetta

Hummus Bruschetta

Why We Love It: We recently snagged this stunning recipe from Radhi Devlukia, and our appetizer menu has been changed ever since. While this toast can be enjoyed in the AM as well, the sun-dried tomato and hummus combo is always one I lean on before the main course.

Hero Ingredient: A good-quality bread like sourdough or ciabatta is key.

carrot and hummus toast

Sautéed Garlic, Carrot, and Hummus Toasts

Why We Love It: Simple and delicious, this variation of hummus toast is a quick way to create a filling and savory appetizer for a large crowd. Simply pre-grate your fresh carrots the night before and toss them onto your hummus toast the day of.

Hero Ingredient: Sautéed garlic is a highly underrated toast topping.

ricotta and plum bruschetta_make ahead appetizers

Ricotta and Plum Bruschetta

Why We Love It: When it comes to serving something up quickly, crostini-inspired breads are the first thing that comes to mind. With only five ingredients, this ricotta and plum bruschetta is the perfect blend of sweet and savory.

Hero Ingredient: Green onions add an unexpected crunch to this tasty toast.

classic easy bruschetta

Why We Love It: When it comes to easy make-ahead appetizers, bruschetta is king. You can prepare your bruschetta mixture ahead of time, chill it in the fridge, and pull it out when you’re ready to serve. When the time comes, all you have to do is toast some sourdough on the grill, assemble, and raise a toast to simplicity!

Hero Ingredient: I’m a huge fan of balsamic glaze on bruschetta. There’s nothing like a sweet/savory combo to set the mood for a meal.

no-knead olive and rosemary focaccia

Why We Love It: If you’ve never tried your hand at homemade bread, this focaccia is a great place to start. It’s beginner-friendly and foolproof enough to give you a big dose of confidence. Plus, bread always makes for a killer appetizer.

Hero Ingredient: Not only is the focaccia dough amazing itself, but it’s studded with an impressive lineup of toppings. We’re talking olives, red onion, rosemary, everything seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes, and more. All of that drizzled with olive oil? Sheer perfection.

wild mushroom and ricotta toasts

Why We Love It: Mushrooms aren’t just a superfood—they also make an excellent toast topping alongside creamy ricotta and vibrant lemon zest. These toasts are such an easy appetizer for you to make and for your guests to enjoy. You can make the mushroom mixture ahead of time, so all that’s left to do before your party is toast up some crusty bread, slather with ricotta, and spoon mushrooms over top. These toasts make a first-class sidekick to a crisp glass of white. However you slice it, these are toast-ally delicious (sorry, had to).

Hero Ingredient: The finishing touches are key. Flaky salt, lemon zest, and fresh parsley take these toasts to new heights.

burrata toasts with caramelized walnuts and mint-pomegranate pesto

Why We Love It: Consider this appetizer a love letter to burrata. Its creamy, cheesy goodness earns it a top spot on my list. In this toast, burrata is surrounded by mint pesto, pomegranate seeds, figs, and sweet/salty caramelized walnuts. I mean… yum. Everything can be made in advance, too, from the mint pesto to the caramelized walnuts. Toast up some bread, spread over the burrata, drizzle with pesto, and top with figs, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds. Then, the only remaining challenge is trying not to fill up on these tasty toasts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hero Ingredient: Make a big batch of those caramelized walnuts for a yogurt or ice cream topping, anytime snacking, or granola making. They keep for a week at room temp or up to a month in the freezer. If you have the bandwidth to make an extra serving, you’ll be glad you did.

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