15 Merry Make-Ahead Christmas Appetizers

olives rolled in puff pastry on a plate
Photo: Allrecipes

One of the smartest ways you can prepare yourself for a busy holiday season is with make-ahead Christmas appetizers that you can stash away days to weeks in advance. Some recipes you can keep in the freezer to thaw and bake at a moment's notice. Other recipes actually taste better if you make them in advance and let the flavors develop in the fridge. Either way, a little advance work pays off throughout the season.

01 of 15

Cranberry Brie Bites

cranberry Brie bites in a pile
Caroline Spaulding

These creamy-tangy little bites are essentially a tiny baked Brie — and we promise no one will be able to resist them. Prepare up to three days in advance, wrap well in plastic, then refrigerate before baking, as Julie Hubert suggests. Best of all? After they're baked, they taste great at room temperature so you don't have to worry about having to serve them immediately.

02 of 15

Chef John's Party Cheese Puffs

party cheese puffs on parchment paper

Also known as gougeres, these simple cheese puffs can be prepared up to one month in advance. Homecook nightfall used a plastic storage bag with the end snipped off to "pipe" the dough onto parchment before baking. Be sure to cool these completely before placing them in the freezer. Rewarm as many as you need on a baking sheet in a 325°F oven.

03 of 15

Cocktail Meatballs

Cocktail Meatballs in white spoons for serving

Cook up a batch of these popular appetizers in advance, let them cool, and then flash-freeze for easy storage. Simply reheat with their sweet and spicy cranberry sauce in your slow cooker an hour before your guests arrive for an easy, popular appetizer. Allrecipes home cook pinksnowflakeliz says, "I made these for a Christmas party, and I think out of the whole spread, these were the best thing at the party! Perfect amount of sweet and tangy."

04 of 15

Traditional Christmas Cheese Ball

cheese ball with crackers
Jennifer Baker

This is one of those recipes that's best to make in advance. The trick to keeping your cheese ball fresh in the fridge for up to one week is to wrap it well. Start with a layer of plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil to preserve both the shape and flavor. Remove the cheese from the wrapping, roll in your crunchy bits, then let sit at least 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

05 of 15

Pesto Puff Pastry Pinwheel

Pesto Puff Pastry Pinwheel on parchment paper

This beautiful-looking puff-pastry pinwheel only calls for four ingredients but makes a spectacular addition to an appetizer table. Magda notes this holiday appetizer just "begs to be pulled apart!" You can bake this pinwheel, cool, and freeze. When your guests arrive, you can take it straight from the freezer and place it in a preheated oven until warmed through. It tastes great at room temperature, too.

06 of 15

Marinated Olives

two jars of marinated olives

Esmee Williams points out that these are "better than what you can buy at the store and much cheaper." Experiment with your favorite flavors or follow the recipe as is to enjoy Mediterranean-inspired flavors of fennel and rosemary. If you choose to use fresh garlic in the marinade, add it a few days before you plan on serving.

07 of 15

Crab Rangoon

several pieces of Crab Rangoon
Laura Russell

Anna uses crispy and creamy Crab Rangoon as "a conversation piece while the guests are trickling in," as she enjoys frying them fresh and serving them piping-hot. You can form the wontons around the filling ahead of time, then freeze them before frying. Pop them straight from the freezer into the hot oil, drain, and serve hot.

08 of 15

The Best Smoked Salmon Spread

smoked salmon spread in a red dish

Smoked salmon spread develops an even better flavor when left to sit in the refrigerator for a day or two. Make sure to cover it, though, so the spread doesn't absorb other flavors from fridge contents. Note that if you make this in your food processor, it will turn out like a mousse; if you make it in your stand mixer, it will be a little more chunky. Your choice.

09 of 15

Easy Mini Quiches

stack of mini quiches with parsley garnish
Alberta Rose

Mini quiches are perfectly adaptable for every palate. Add spinach or mushrooms, swap out the cheese for your favorite variety, or omit the bacon for a vegetarian option. You can prepare and bake these as directed, then freeze them in a single layer in a covered container. Reheating them is as simple as baking in a 400 degree F oven for 7 minutes. MLK73 notes that these are also "easily portable" if you're traveling and need to bring an appetizer to share.

10 of 15

Olive Puffs

olives rolled in puff pastry on a plate

This easy two-ingredient recipe is just olives and frozen puff pastry. Recipe creator Syd says, "You can make these ahead, and freeze; allow 30 minutes for the pastry to thaw before baking." Use a variety of olives for an eye-catching presentation.

11 of 15

Candied Nuts

candied nuts in a glass jar
Bukwheat Queen

Candied Nuts hold their own alongside fancier, more time-consuming appetizers. Though the recipe calls for peanuts, reviewers have tried pecans or almonds instead. Store them in an airtight container for up a week in the pantry and up to four weeks in the fridge.

12 of 15

Caramelized Onion Dip

caramelized onion dip in a bowl

If serving this Caramelized Onion Dip as pictured, with fresh veggies, doesn't seem festive enough, go with veggie chips! Make it the day before.

13 of 15

Cream Cheese Kolacky

sweet kolache pastries filled with jam
Mary Chris Harrison Boeh

If your holiday crew hankers for sweet appetizers, this easy kolacky recipe will do the trick. Fill them with your favorite fruit jam and pinch the dough, but don't bake them. Instead, keep them in the freezer for up to a month, using parchment paper to keep them from sticking together. When you're ready to serve them, just transfer them straight from the freezer to the oven.

14 of 15

Herbed Pomegranate Salsa

pomegranate salsa in a glass bowl
Julie Castro

Let our Herbed Pomegranate Salsa marinate in the fridge for up to three days. Making it in advance gives it the chance to really absorb the tangy lime juice and heat of the jalapeno and serrano peppers.

15 of 15

Classic Savory Deviled Eggs

Classic Savory Deviled Eggs

You can make this classic appetizer's filling up to 48 hours in advance, storing it in an airtight container. Just wait to stuff the whites the morning of or the night before, if you're serving them for lunch. This keeps your filling fresh and flavorful.

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