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What are Some Examples of Hors D'Oeuvres?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hors d'oeuvre is a French word that means appetizer. Hors d'oeuvres are foods that are offered before a meal's main course. They are typically offered when there will be a significant amount of wait time before the main course of the meal is served. However, sometimes, they are served as the main course themselves. For example, a cocktail party host may decide to serve hors d'oeuvres with drinks as opposed to providing a more traditional meal.

When served before the main course, hors d'oeuvres are really not meant to fill a person's stomach. Instead, they are intended to allow the person to nibble on something while waiting for a more filling meal. At some parties, people are encouraged to mill about and socialize while consuming small bites of hors d'oeuvres. For this reason, they are often finger foods, such as chicken wingettes, which can be consumed without the need for silverware.

Hors d'oeuvres can be served as part of a sit-down meal either at home or in a restaurant. They can also be served buffet style, allowing each person to pick and choose from a selection of appetizers and then go back for seconds if she's not too concerned about the extra calories. Sometimes hors d'oeuvres are placed on trays and butlered, meaning a person or group of people stands in a room or circulates through the crowd offering the appetizers.

Practically any edible item that is offered before the main meal can be called an hors d'oeuvre, but cheese and fruit typically do not fall in this category. For instance, chocolate-covered strawberries and similar treats may be considered hors d'oeuvres, but strawberries by themselves don't fit into this category. Likewise, crudités are not considered hors d'oeuvres.

One of the most popular types of hors d'oeuvre is shrimp cocktail. It consists of steamed shrimp that are set on ice or simply chilled. It is usually served with cocktail sauce. It may also be served with melted, warmed butter and a seafood fork to keep the hands clean. Sometimes it is offered over fresh salad greens.

Another popular hors d'oeuvre choice is buffalo wings. For this appetizer, the wings are chopped apart, so that one part looks like a drumstick and the other part has a pointy end to it. The wingettes are either fried or baked and then smothered in a sauce that is both tangy and spicy. The sauce is usually made with butter, vinegar, and hot sauce, but many people swear by their own secret recipes.

There's really no limit to what you can serve as an hors d'oeuvre. For example, stuffed tomatoes, potato skins, pigs in a blanket, stuffed mushrooms and coconut shrimp are also popular favorites. Also, they're not just for parties and dinners planned for adults. Some people add fun to kids' parties with tiny pizza bites, chicken and pineapple kabobs, and mini burgers.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a DelightedCooking writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By LisaLou — On Oct 16, 2012

I guess I never realized that fruit served alone was not really considered an hors d'oeuvre. Usually when I see fresh fruit served at a party like this there is some kind of sweet dip that goes along with it. You also see many appetizers like this served with a toothpick, so you can just pick it up and pop it in your mouth.

I don't really think you can go wrong with serving about any kind of hors d'oeuvre. Most of the parties I go to are pretty casual and everyone is just happy to have something to nibble and snack on.

I have never been to a really fancy cocktail or dinner party where they come around with trays filled with hors d'oeuvres and wait on you hand and foot. It sounds like a lot of fun, but I have just never been invited to something this fancy.

By golf07 — On Oct 15, 2012

One of the most popular hors d'oeuvres I have seen at parties are the little smokies. These are small sausages that are in something similar to a barbeque sauce. Some people even go to the extra effort to wrap these in bacon which makes them incredibly good and hard to stop eating.

When I go to a party where there is a large selection of hors d'oeuvres I have to make sure I don't eat too many of them. It is easy to fill up on appetizers and then not be hungry when it is time to eat.

I also love the pickles that are rolled in ham and cream cheese. I never make these because they would never make it to a party because I would eat all of them.

By bagley79 — On Oct 14, 2012

If people are mostly going to be standing around while they are eating their appetizers I like to offer ones that aren't very messy. Even though many people like to serve buffalo wings, I find these too messy to eat standing around and also too easy to get the sauce on my clothes.

I prefer to serve finger food appetizers that are easier to eat. I don't think you can go wrong with an assortment of crackers and cheese or tortillas that are filled and cut up in smaller pieces.

By julies — On Oct 14, 2012
I always thought the word hors d'oeuvres was such an interesting word, and find it much easier to just call them appetizers. If I am attending a late dinner party, I always hope they will serve hors d'oeuvres. I am usually hungry when I arrive and know it will be awhile before we sit down to a meal. There is just something about eating and socializing that go together and I think most people plan on having some kind of appetizer before being seated for the meal.
By JackWhack — On Oct 13, 2012

@giddion – You are making me hungry! I love pigs in a blanket, even though they are very fattening.

I try to bring a less fattening hors d'oeuvre to parties so that people will have something to eat other than high-calorie foods. I like to cut angel food cake into small squares, top it with a bit of vanilla yogurt, and place a slice of strawberry and a few blueberries on top. I use low-fat yogurt, so this is basically a guilt-free hors d'oeuvre.

By healthy4life — On Oct 12, 2012

Cocktail party hors d'oeuvres are usually fancier than the kind served at other parties. I've seen many that I was afraid to even try, because I had no idea what they were!

I see a lot of olives, some sort of white cream, and little pieces of toast at these parties. However, the toast is sometimes covered in some kind of pureed meat dip that just looks scary. It is a grayish-brown color, and it just does not look appetizing.

By giddion — On Oct 12, 2012

The most common holiday hors d'oeuvres are pigs in a blanket. At just about every party I've ever been to around Christmas time, these have been served.

Some people make them differently than others. I like to wrap cocktail sausages in biscuit dough and bake them, but some people use crescent roll dough instead.

I've even seen pancake batter used as the blanket. This makes for a slightly sweet pig in a blanket that is really satisfying. However, it does make you want to eat more than you should.

By cloudel — On Oct 11, 2012

I like Mexican hors d'oeuvres. My friend threw a party and she baked small sections of tortillas with lime and cumin, and she topped them with salsa. She put them on a serving tray, and they made the perfect bite-sized snack.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a DelightedCooking writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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