The 3-Ingredient Appetizer My Dad's Been Making for Years

The secret behind the embarrassingly simple appetizer we're asked to bring to every holiday party.

casual christmas potluck party with people gathered around a table of appetizers.
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You know those dishes that you grow up eating, that are must-haves on every holiday menu? Well, mine are my dad's stuffed mushrooms. These little creamy, comforting bites of joy were not only passed around at every holiday gathering at our house but also a prerequisite for any party we got invited to elsewhere, as well. For as long as I can remember, "Jack's stuffed mushrooms" were a given.

It wasn't until I wanted to bring them to a holiday potluck in college and got the recipe out of my dad that I realized how embarrassingly simple they are. An important note — my dad worked in a restaurant kitchen throughout his 20s, and many of his recipes were from those chef days. So when I learned this recipe has no more than three ingredients, I was shocked. And now, I'm sharing his secrets with you, too. Sorry, dad!

How to Make My Dad's Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

It starts simple enough, with mushrooms, of course. Specifically, cremini, or baby bella, mushrooms. I like to look for a package with more uniform size mushrooms vs. one with some small and some large. Grab a couple of packs depending on how many people you have to feed — generally, I like to account for about 3-4 mushrooms per person depending on how much other food you're serving.

Other than the mushrooms, you'll need just two more ingredients (not counting salt, pepper, and butter, or oil). A soft garlic-and-herb cheese, like Boursin, and seasoned Italian breadcrumbs. That's it. But the real genius comes from a hack that adds flavor and moisture, and reduces waste.

Rather than discarding the stems, as you usually would for stuffed mushrooms, my dad likes to finely mince them. He adds them to a pan with a tablespoon or so of butter or olive oil, and sautées them until they're cooked down and have released their moisture. He then adds the seasoned breadcrumbs to the cooked mushroom stems, seasons with salt and pepper, and cooks the mix until the breadcrumbs have toasted. The stems add more umami-rich mushroom flavor to the filling and help the breadcrumbs clump together without having to use a ton of butter or additional ingredients.

All that's left to do is assemble. Each mushroom cap gets filled with garlic-and-herb cheese until about 3/4 full, then topped with as much breadcrumb mix as you can pack down in there. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until the mushrooms are soft and tender to the touch, about 20 minutes, and you're done.

With three ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you've got the easiest, most elegant appetizer on the holiday table. Perfect as pass-around hors d'oeuvres for cocktail parties or potlucks, this recipe has carried our family through the holiday season year after year. I hope you'll give them a try, but be prepared — you might just get requests for "those yummy stuffed mushrooms" from here on out.

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