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What are the Different Types of Finger Food?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Finger food is perhaps the most casual term for hors'd'oeuvres or small appetizers. Typically small and devoured in one or two bites, finger food is a staple of many parties and special events. You can adapt just about any food to become handheld, allowing you to create fun, festive, and even fancy food to suit any type of evening.

For a casual party or kid's event, simply miniaturize favorite foods for easy snacks. For a mini-hamburger than can be eaten in two bites, cut dinner rolls in half for buns and cook or grill burgers the size of meatballs. Top with a half-slice of cheese and all the fixings for a perfect finger food. Spear a cocktail wiener on a wooden skewer an dip in cornbread batter before deep-frying for a mini-corn dog. For the ultimate kid-friendly finger food, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and use cookie cutters to cut out mini-versions in fun shapes.

For an adult party, finger foods can be as simple or complex as you can dream up. For those pressed for time, an attractive plate of cut-up vegetables or fruit with a few dipping options can make a lovely display. Try arranging jicama, celery, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes with salsa, ranch dressing, or a spicy garlic dip. For a basic dessert option, slice apples, mangoes and firm peaches and serve with a chocolate or caramel dipping sauce. Just because these finger foods are basic doesn't mean they aren't delicious, and can work quite well when time or budget is a concern.

If you love a cooking challenge, the world of finger food is wide open to you. Try wrapping asparagus in bacon and puff pastry dough and then roast in the oven in garlic and olive oil. Stuff jalapeño peppers with cream cheese and salsa and char over the barbecue, or deep fry in batter. For the truly adventurous, get out the seaweed and the sticky rice and try your hand as a sushi master. For those a little timid around raw fish, why not try miniature wrap sandwiches made with flour tortillas, herbed goat cheese and roasted pepper strips?

Using one cooking method for the whole spread of finger food can be a saving grace to your event. For instance, an entire meal can be set around different styles of grilled kebabs. Soak each type of meat or vegetable in a different marinade to create a world of different flavor combinations. You can even grill tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and guava for dessert kebabs. Give the whole meal a middle-eastern flair by serving with lots of pita, hummus, and other appropriate dips.

Desserts should never be neglected by finger food enthusiasts. This is the day to break out those mini tart or cupcake pans and let your mind go wild. Take small sheets of puff pastry and fill with applesauce or jam for miniature turnovers. Or bake a few super-fancy cookies, such as meringues, to create a towering display of mini-treats. Finger food options are bound only by the imagination, and though the size requirement is small, the innovation can be enormous.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for DelightedCooking. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon338250 — On Jun 12, 2013

When it comes to finger food, the possibilities are endless! Almost anything can be made 'mini' and therefore 'finger food'.

By abiane — On Oct 04, 2010

@Kamchatka - The cupcake business really is having "its moment." It has taken off completely and it's so simple and unexpected when some one comes up with a new gourmet flavor. The easy finger foods always seem to be the most tasty because you can really focus on the ingredients rather than huffing over the stove for hours just to make a few pieces. There is a great snack recipe for a Rolo on top of a mini pretzel.

You put the Rolo on the pretzel and bake for just a couple minutes at low heat in the oven. Once done, you pop your favorite nut on top (I use cashews) and let it cool. They are fabulous and gone every time I make them!

By Kamchatka — On Oct 04, 2010

@wecallherana - I feel like cupcakes are on the border line of not being a finger food. The best finger foods are the type that can be carried away without leaving trash behind. I'm all for the eco and green concept as well and there are great options in finger foods for that also. It really is a great business to get involved with aside from catering. I think the cupcake business is having it's moment as well.

By wecallherana — On Oct 04, 2010

@gameaddicted - My favorite is the themed finger food recipes for holidays such as Halloween. Christmas doesn't have so many impressive recipes, but Halloween brings out creativity in everyone and I think it's a really fun holiday. I respect people that don't celebrate it, however, and we try not to get too carried away. But there are great graveyard cupcakes and such to make around that time of year.

By lmorales — On Oct 04, 2010

@gameaddicted - Yes! There are so many companies out there that will do finger food catering for your event. It doesn't matter if it's just a small get together or a wedding for 250 people. Finger foods are great appetizers and some people even make them the main event. I had several different finger food appetizers for my wedding's cocktail hour before the reception went off and it was really the best thing. It kept my food costs down immensely - if you can imagine that.

By gameaddicted — On Oct 04, 2010

Typically, there are great finger foods for parties all over the place. Especially when it comes to the holidays there are all kinds of little treats to be had and everyone likes sharing a recipe or two.

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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