By Carl Hanson
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The holidays are a hectic time, folks. To go the distance, you'll need to sustain and refresh yourself. These simple pantry staples let you throw together quick, wholesome snacks that error on the healthy side. They're also great options for any grazing guests that drop in unexpectedly during the holidays!

Holiday Pantry Checklist

Before we get to some top-rated recipes, here's a quick checklist of foods to stock in your pantry for quick holiday snacks.

  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Roasted Seeds
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter (and other nut butters)
  • Chutneys
  • Gold Fish and Chex Mix
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Popcorn

Nuts and Dried Fruit

Make quick trail mixes with roasted nuts and dried fruit, pile them onto cheese boards, or just grab a quick handful of these healthy foods. They'll carry you through the busy holidays until mealtime. You'll also love these super-quick "roasted" nuts that you make in the microwave.

"This is a great candied nut recipe I stole from my mom," says JVANEATON. "She likes walnuts, I like pecans. It's dead easy and my wife says she needs to leave the house when I make them, so she won't eat them all! Try experimenting with the spices, maybe clove or allspice!"

Photo by Meredith

"Excellent combo of sweet, salty and spicy," says pdiana. "Used parchment paper instead of foil. No problem with sticking."

Photo by Sherri

Chef John's Chocolate Energy Bars

Chef John's homemade energy bars feature Medjool dates, cashews, almonds, coconut, cocoa, vanilla and espresso. Chef John says, "If you compare these chocolate energy bars to similar fruit/nut bars sold at the store, I think they taste better, are nutritionally superior, and probably cheaper to make at home. The only problem is they look so good it takes your brain a millisecond to process that they're not going to taste like the fudge brownies they resemble."

Plantain Chips

A little sweet, a little salty, and all good! Use these green plantain chips to scoop up your favorite dips. "Try these with Chimichurri, an Argentine condiment made with parsley and olive oil," recommends kelseyintexas. "They're great together."

Photo by LatinaCook

Peanut Butter and Other Nut Butters

Add a smear to crackers or combine with dark chocolate for a super-simple, satieting snack. And don't forget Ants on a Log.

Make this homemade peanut butter in the food processor, Vitamix, or your blender. "The best homemade peanut butter," says Captain Jeff Marchant.

Photo by KGora

"This is a wonderfully fun, delicious, and nutritious snack for children and adults," says TAYL5286.

Photo by Melissa Goff

Gold Fish and Chex Mix

This buttery snack mix is seasoned with a variety of cereals, pretzels, bagel chips, peanuts -- the works! "I have had so many requests for this," says Christie407. "Sometimes I add a few extra bagel chips once the mix is done cooking because that is our favorite part."

Photo by Molly

Dark Chocolate

Mix it in with the nuts and dried fruit for a healthy, satisfying snack. If you can find dark chocolate chips, they're a terrific addition to trail mixes.

Chef John says, "For this to work as a savory bite, the chocolate must be very dark, bittersweet, and world-class. Look for names that are hard to pronounce. Labels with percentage symbols are always a good sign (the higher the percent, the better)."

Not your standard energy bites recipe. This one is kicked up with the addition of protein powder and chopped coffee beans and coconut. Store the balls in freezer or fridge.

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now

Crackers

Keep crackers in the pantry to pile onto a cheese plate for a super simple, satisfying holiday snack. Keep some hummus in the fridge for dipping. Check out these DIY crackers!

Homemade Artisan Crackers

"Making your own artisan crackers is extremely easy, and so tasty that they're well worth the effort!" says Jennifer Ranger. "Wrap them up in a clear bag tied with a pretty bow for gift giving that is sure to impress. Who makes their own crackers?!"

Photo by Carson's Mommy

Chef John's Cheesy Crackers

Chef John says, "These crunchy, crispy crackers have a big, bold cheese flavor," says Chef John. "They're vastly superior to anything you can get at the store. You can change up the cheeses and the spices. It's really a fun thing to play around with."

Photo by Chef John

Crispy Rosemary Sea Salt Flatbread Crackers

"Making your own 'fancy' crackers at home is a fairly basic operation," says Chef John, "and not only will they be less expensive than store-bought, but you can customize them any way you want."

Photo by Chef John

Chutneys

Add a dollop to your cheese board.

Mango Chutney

"I am a chutney lover, and this is the best of all," says PATTRICIA. "My favorite way of serving is on top of cream cheese with Triskets. I made this last summer, and gave away as Christmas gifts. Everyone LOVED it!"

Photo by SunFlower

Apricot Chutney

Here's a sweet and spicy apricot chutney made with apricot jam, roasted garlic, ginger, and white vinegar.

Photo by Reba J

Spiced Apple Chutney

"These types of fruit chutneys are some of the most flavorful things you'll ever taste," says Chef John, "and perfect condiments for those special occasion holiday dinners. If you like applesauce, you'll find this a fairly familiar experience, and despite the ingredient list, nothing really overpowers the fruit."

Photo by Chef John

Roasted Chickpeas

Make a big batch and keep on hand for healthy holiday snacking with a satisfying crunch.

Roasted Chickpeas

So simple with a satisfying crunch, this roasted chickpeas appetizer is made with canned chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), combined with olive oil and seasonings. "A delicious high fiber snack," raves akcpa.

Photo by larkspur

Indian-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

Garam masala and other spices are the key to these crispy roasted chickpeas. "Spicy roasted chickpeas are crisp, spicy little nibbles," says Naomi Witzke. "This is one snack that you can feel good about munching."

Photo by Scotdog

Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are mixed with olive oil, hot sauce, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin and roasted until golden brown. "This is a great, healthy snack or finger food that pairs well with a cold beer," says bpuckett87.

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Popcorn

A great anytime snack, popcorn is great plain with a little butter and salt or transformed into sweet or savory sensations.

Old-fashioned kettle corn. "Your family will never want plain popcorn again!" says SUE202. "If you use white sugar, it will taste like popcorn balls and if you use brown sugar, it will taste like caramel corn."

Italian Popcorn with Parmesan

Basic stovetop popcorn goes gourmet with Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and grated Parmesan cheese. Criscelda summed it up: "Yummy, easy and special. This would be good for a party."

Photo by bd.weld

Caramel Corn Snack Mix

"Soooo good!" raves Smileigh. "It's true...you can't stop eating it. The rice Chex cereal adds such a nice crunch to the mix. I've made this a few times now and it's great as-is. However, if you want to play with the recipe a bit, I've found that Reese's peanut butter baking chips are an awesome addition!"

Photo by Nisa Sloan


Check out our collection of Christmas Appetizer Recipes.