12 Frozen Appetizers You Should Buy on Repeat During the Holidays, According to Registered Dietitians

updated Nov 2, 2022
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fried mac and cheese balls stacked on a blue plate with a fork on the side
Credit: Kelli Foster

I know I’m not alone in my opinion that the best part of any meal — especially a holiday meal — is the appetizer part. A table covered with a spread of crispy phyllo pastries, cheeses and crackers, and chips and dip is my holiday happy place.

But as a busy registered dietitian, I rarely have the time or bandwidth to cook elaborate dishes. And that’s where frozen apps come in.

I love a frozen shortcut and wanted to discover some new-to-me options as we head into the holidays, so I asked my fellow registered dietitians for their go-to frozen holiday apps. Turns out, their heat-and-serve bites are mostly cheesy and veggie-forward (sometimes both!). I also heard about a cauliflower-crusted flatbread that requires a bit more prep, but the RD who makes it says, it’s “totally worth it.” What else made the list? Let’s see.

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“These perfectly savory and flaky tiny Greek pies have been a staple in my family for holidays, or even just on a special night in! The combination of spinach and feta is so flavorful and the crispy, flaky phyllo dough adds a delightful crunch. I love how they crisp up perfectly in the air fryer!” — Katie Beberman, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

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Trader Joe's

“These little bites from Trader Joe’s are basically pigs in a blanket, but with a Parmesan crust. The puff pastry is fluffy on the inside, crisp on the outside, and ultra buttery. And it doesn’t hurt that the mini beef hot dogs wrapped inside the bun are nitrate-free. They’re so easy to bake; there’s literally no prep!” Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, FAND

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Cali'Flour Foods

“My go-to flatbread bites — made from cauliflower crusts — require just a bit more prep, but are totally worth it. I bake these frozen flatbreads until they’re golden, then top them with pesto, tomato slices, and sliced mozzarella. It’s such a flavorful and unique twist on bruschetta. Plus, these cauliflower flatbreads are packed with protein and fiber to help you feel fuller longer.” Mackenzie Burgess, RDN

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Trader Joe's

“I absolutely love butternut squash mac and cheese (in fact, it’s one of my signature recipes!). But to make it into mac and cheese bites is a bit of a process. If I’m short on time, which, let’s be honest, happens every holiday season, I grab a few boxes of these from Trader Joe’s and bake them up for holiday get-togethers. They have a beautifully creamy and cheesy macaroni center and a crispy breaded exterior and are really, really easy to bake. Serve with a few dipping sauces and your guests will love you!” — Andrews

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Deep Indian Kitchen makes a samosa that is kept in my freezer for when I need to entertain in a jiffy. Made with real veggies and amazing spices, these samosas are just killer.” Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD

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“I decided to try these Farm Rich bites a few years ago after I couldn’t find mozzarella sticks for my dinner party. To my surprise, my guests really enjoyed them! I love the pizzeria-style crust, which makes them seem a little bit fancier!” Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD

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“Who doesn’t love pizza as an appetizer? This one from Sweet Earth doesn’t even taste like a frozen pizza. The flavor is yummy and topped with tons of veggies. Depending on how many people are in the room, I cook up a few of these and cut them into bite-sized pieces.” — Dr. Joan Salge Blakie, EdD, RDN

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“I was first exposed to this spinach and artichoke popper at a themed potluck event at work — and instantly fell in love. It has three different cheeses: Romano, asiago, and mozzarella. When you bite into it, you get a crunch from the crispy panko breadcrumb, plus the cheesy gooey texture, and the meaty artichoke. Each popper is also packed with so much spinach!” — Andrew Akhapong, MS, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian for Machkenthun’s Fine Foods

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“What I love about these plant-based sliders is that they make a great appetizer for all guests, regardless of dietary restrictions. And because they taste just as great as meat-based sliders, both plant-based eaters and meat-eaters will be happy to indulge.” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES

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“I found Kidfresh Meatballs when I was investigating chicken nugget options for my one-year-old. These have since become a staple in our household! The meatballs are smaller, which makes them the idea appetizer size. When baked, the they become slightly crispy (they also hold up well when microwaved). They’re also kid- and adult-friendly and pair well with a variety of flavors.” — Jennifer Fiske, MS, RD, LD

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“These mini quiches remind me of an appetizer my mom used to serve up during the holiday season as a kid. I first stumbled upon them at Costco a couple of years ago when hunting for quick appetizer ideas and they continue to be one of my go-to appetizers year after year. They come in two different flavors (Florentine and 3-Cheese) and are basically the cutest little bite-sized quiche ever. There is so much flavor packed in one bite. Not to mention, they’re simple to prepare and always disappear within seconds!” Elysia Cartlidge, MAN, RD

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Gourmet Kitchn

“I found these tempura green beans when I was shopping at Sam’s Club for a dinner party. Although I served a variety of appetizers at our party, this one was a big hit and a clear winner! It has a nice, crunchy texture and paired well with the wasabi sauce. I also love that it provides an additional way of enjoying more veggies.” Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND

Did your favorite frozen app make this list? Let us know in the comments below!