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How Do I Choose the Best Hot Appetizer?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

When choosing a hot appetizer, you'll want to consider the number of guests, your budget and the other foods to be served at the meal or event. You will also want to consider the dietary requirements of your guests. It is particularly important to decide whether the hot appetizer will be served as part of a sit-down meal, a self-service buffet or passed around on an appetizer platter. Once you make decisions about the types of food to be served, as well as the way in which you plan to serve it, you'll be in a better position to start searching online to find resources for hot appetizer recipes.

Your first consideration when choosing a hot appetizer should be what kind of menu you have planned for a meal. Ideally, your hot appetizer should not duplicate foods that will be served as a main course or side dish. The appetizer should also not be so large so as to extinguish the appetites of your guests or fellow diners. On the other hand, if you are planning a party meal, you may wish to serve a buffet made up entirely of hot and cold finger foods. In such cases, you will want to make sure that you have a variety of appetizer foods available to your guests, particularly if you know that some guests have food allergies, are vegetarian or vegan or have other dietary restrictions.

Shrimp appetizers.
Shrimp appetizers.

If you are unaccustomed to preparing multi-course meals, you may wish to choose a hot appetizer that can be made ahead of time and then plated at the time it is served. If you are making small hors d'oeuvre-style appetizers for a party, select some recipes that can be prepared in advance and then frozen. This will allow you to prepare some of your appetizers several days ahead of your party, reducing your workload on the day of the event.

Chicken wings make tasty hot appetizers.
Chicken wings make tasty hot appetizers.

Be considerate in your choice of hot appetizers. If you will be hosting a formal event, avoid hot appetizers that can drip onto formal clothing or that must be eaten with the fingers. Instead, choose a hot appetizer that can be consumed with a fork, or that can be skewered with a toothpick or fork if served as a cocktail buffet. Less formal events, on the other hand, can merit slightly “messier” appetizers such as chicken wings, but it is always a good idea to have plenty of napkins on hand for your guests to use.

Discussion Comments


@pleonasm - That's actually a really good idea for appetizers, because they often cool down very quickly, especially if they are being carried around.

I do think that it's probably a good idea to stick with either hot or chilled appetizers, along with room temperature ones, rather than try to have all three. Few people will want to have something very hot followed by something very chilled while nibbling.


@Iluviaporos - I wouldn't just serve quiche though, as people often have strong opinions about, or allergies to eggs. If you only have adults to worry about then cheese fondue is my personal favorite. It's considered cute these days, rather than a cliche and if you've got a good fondue kit then you don't have to worry about keeping the cheese warm or anything like that, once it's started.

Just make sure that you take safety precautions and don't use this if it's likely there will be a lot of kids running around, because hot cheese can be dangerous.

You can use a fondue kit to set up other hot appetizer dips as well, which is a particularly good idea if you've got a long get-together and it's likely everything will cool down.


Tiny quiches seem to be the way to go in my opinion. Every time I've had an occasion where I needed to serve a hot appetizer I've just bought some of those from the supermarket and they are always the first thing to disappear. It's really easy to heat them up right before you need them as well, which can be difficult if you're making something from scratch.

In theory they don't need to stay piping hot for people to enjoy them either, which can also be a problem with some kinds of appetizers.

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    • Shrimp appetizers.
      Shrimp appetizers.
    • Chicken wings make tasty hot appetizers.
      By: Joshua Resnick
      Chicken wings make tasty hot appetizers.
    • Appetizers at restaurants are often served buffet style.
      By: sattriani
      Appetizers at restaurants are often served buffet style.
    • When stocking a light buffet for a cocktail party, be sure to include at least one hot appetizer that is vegetarian.
      By: .shock
      When stocking a light buffet for a cocktail party, be sure to include at least one hot appetizer that is vegetarian.