Chef John's 20 Best Holiday Appetizers and Snacks
This Christmas, invite Chef John's best bites to the party! Enjoy holiday appetizers and snacks featuring top-rated recipes from Chef John, including classic dips and spreads, toasts, party nuts, poppers, puffs, and croquettes. It's the next best thing to having Chef John cater your holidays.
Crispy Rosemary Sea Salt Flatbread Crackers
Here's the perfect companion for your cheese ball. "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." One caveat: "Please pay attention to your baking time."
Pine Cone Cheese Ball
"Any cheese ball is a welcome addition to a holiday party spread," says Chef John. "But when it looks like a pine cone, you're talking about a real showstopper."
Baked Crab and Artichoke Dip
A great party snack! Cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise form the delicious base, along with Cheddar, herbs, and seasonings. The best part of baking the dip in a bread bowl? You can eat the bowl! The second best part? No serving dish to clean! Serve it hot with crackers.
Chef John's Green Hummus
Simply toss a handful of ingredients into a blender and seconds later you're done! "This simple, basil-spiked 'green' hummus is a great twist on everyone's favorite spread."
Chef John's Cheese Sticks
"These super-simple breadsticks are easy, cheesy, and there's no dough to make because we're going to use frozen puff pastry for this," says Chef John. "They're very cool for entertaining."
Chef John's Shrimp Toast
"While virtually unknown compared to most other popular fried party snacks, these shrimp toasts are easy to make and every bit as delicious, and addictive, as those Buffalo wings or jalapeño poppers."
Mini Philly Cheesesteaks
These mini Philly cheesesteaks are made with all the classic cheese steak ingredients, only in open-face form — chopped up, spooned onto slices of baguette, and baked until beautiful.
Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts
The world's best party snack! And so simple to make. Chef John chooses walnuts, pecans, cashews, and almonds for his nut mix, spicing them up with cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. "I find this technique much easier than the stovetop pan method," says Chef John. "You'll get beautiful, perfectly frosted nuts that are roasted evenly, with no bitter burned spots."
Bacon Jalapeno Popper Puffs
"You'll love these shockingly light puffs," says Chef John. "All the same familiar flavors are there, especially when served with the easy cream cheese dip, and the prep is much easier."
Sausage-Stuffed Cherry Pepper Poppers
An incredible party appetizer: Bite-size cherry peppers (use the jarred kind; they're already seeded and cleaned for you) are stuffed with spicy Italian sausage. Stuff the peppers, bake the peppers; yes, it is that simple. "These things are the best beer food ever," says Chef John. "They're almost too easy to make."
Italian Rice Croquettes
It's Christmas comfort food, Italian-style. Turn rice into delicious Italian croquettes. Roll them in bread crumbs, and pan fry to a crispy, dark brown outside. Then serve them hot, on their own or dipped into tomato sauce or aioli. "It would be a great addition to any party menu," says Chef John.
Chef John's Crab Rangoon
"These crispy crab and cream cheese wontons are one of the most addictive, delicious, and crowd-pleasing appetizers ever created," says Chef John. "That is, if the filling has enough crab in it. I'm using a 1 to 1 ratio of crab to cream cheese." Fry up a bunch, and serve with a quick ketchup-based sweet and sour sauce.
Chef John's Party Cheese Puffs
Make twice as many as you think you'll need -- these beautiful cheesy puffs are totally addicting! "And they're as easy to make as they are delicious," says Chef John. "Usually Gruyere cheese is used, but I had some very sharp farmhouse Cheddar cheese in the fridge, so I decided to use that. As long as you are using a very sharp, full-flavored cheese I don't think you can go wrong."
Chef John's Spicy Shrimp Cakes
"If you want to enjoy shrimp cakes in their most pure form, give this recipe a try," says Chef John. "It takes just a few minutes if you use your food processor. These little fried cakes are delicious served with Thai chili sauce."
"The textural contrast between the crispy outside and moist, savory inside is a wonder to behold," says Chef John. "The taste is just as impressive. Intensely flavorful and satisfying. Serve with remoulade sauce."
Perfect Pot Stickers
"Homemade pot stickers are so versatile," says Chef John. "You can fill them with anything you want and as full as you want. And the play between the crispy, crusty bottom, and the tender parts, makes for a truly unique dumpling. These are filled with ground pork, green onions, ginger, and cabbage."
Baked Stuffed Brie with Cranberries & Walnuts
This may be the ultimate Christmas party appetizer. Watch the video to see Chef John split the wheel of brie cheese, stuff it with walnuts and cranberries, and wrap it in puff pastry. "One of the most common mistakes people make when serving cheese is not letting it come to room temperature first," says Chef John, "so that all the flavors can be fully realized. This beautiful baked stuffed brie takes that principle to the next level."
Butternut Mascarpone Gnocchi
Much easier and lighter than traditional, potato-dough style dumplings, this cheese-based version features butternut squash and mascarpone cheese. "Prepare your palate for some incredibly light, tender, and delicious gnocchi," says Chef John.
Shrimp and Jalapeno Nachos
"What better way to 'fiesta' than with this beautiful plate of alternative nachos?" asks Chef John. "This will make a very delicious change of pace to the traditional version. Each nacho is separate from the next so you don't end up with a plate containing one giant nacho that you have to pull apart."
Fig Brulee with Burrata Cheese
"These were amazing with the fresh, creamy burrata," says Chef John. "But any style cheese plate would benefit mightily from the shiny, sexy fruit. If cheese isn't your thing, go grab a pint of vanilla ice cream, forget all about that sweet-savory thing, and just go full-dessert."