15 Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers Without Cheese

updated Nov 11, 2021
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Bowl of candied nuts on table. cocktail with a twist in the background. Plates and napkins around
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Andie McMahon

Anytime I have friends over for game night, dinner, or just to hang out and it comes time to make a plate of apps, my mind inevitably turns to cheese. Between cheese boards and indulgent cheesy dips, it has a way of being the default because it’s easy and most people love it. But, there are so many other crowd-pleasers to consider instead. From dips to meatballs and bite-size snacks, here are 15 cheese-free appetizers that everyone will love.

1 / 17
Puff Pastry Samosa Pockets with Sirloin & Pea Filling
Unlike traditional samosas, these are made with puff pastry for a buttery, flaky crunch. The filling is full of South Indian ingredients and flavors.
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2 / 17
Deviled Eggs
Put out a tray of deviled eggs and it's all but guaranteed they'll be gobbled up in no time. I like to make one batch of eggs, then use a variety of different toppings, like chopped chives, sweet paprika, everything bagel spice, and kimchi.
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3 / 17
Tomato Bruschetta
assembly: the best tomatoes you can find are tossed with a simple mix of fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil, then piled onto garlicky toasted bread.
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4 / 17
Papdi Chaat

Your party guests will love this South Asian street snack with boiled potato, chickpeas, and a range of different chutneys, all sprinkled with a chaat masala spice blend.

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5 / 17
Charred Onion and Chili Crisp Dip
This modern onion dip combines charred scallions and the garlicky heat of chili crisp with cool and creamy mayo.
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6 / 17
Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
If your goal is to wow your guests with the most impossibly delicious appetizer that will have everyone going back to seconds and thirds, this is it.
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7 / 17
Easy Romesco Dip
This Spanish-inspired roasted red pepper dip comes together quickly in a food processor.
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8 / 17
BBQ Meatballs
Bring the life to the party with these BBQ sauce-smothered cocktail meatballs.
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9 / 17
Copycat PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
There's hardly an app more popular than P.F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps, and this crowd-pleaser is surprisingly simple to make at home.
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10 / 17
The Best Homemade Hummus
Skip the store-bought stuff — making it yourself is so easy and will be far tastier.
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11 / 17
Cowboy Caviar
If you like a good chunky salsa, this is the party food you need in your life. If you have time, consider making it a day in advance to let the flavor meld.
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12 / 17
Pepperoni Chips
This easy recipe for crispy pepperoni chips is also gluten-free.
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13 / 17
Candied Cocktail Nuts
A savory-sweet mixture of maple syrup and red pepper makes for irresistible candied cocktail nuts.
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14 / 17
Salsa Verde
A simple combination of tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, chile pepper, and onion turns into a vibrant and tart salsa.
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15 / 17
Butter-Baked Saltines with Chili Crisp Yogurt Dip
Butter-baked crackers pair delightfully with a spicy, garlicky yogurt dip, made with plain yogurt and chili crisp. It transports well and wows any crowd, making it the ultimate potluck side.
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16 / 17
Marinated Olives with Basil and Orange Peel
For guarantee maximum flavor it's a good idea to mix this irresistible app together at least a day in advance.
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17 / 17
Chinese Bao Board
What is a Chinese bao board, you ask? It basically deconstructs the delicious buns found at Chinese bakeries and dim sum restaurants, making it perfect for parties and gatherings.
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