35 Fast and Fancy Appetizers for Your Christmas Dinner

updated Oct 20, 2021
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five crabbed stuffed mushrooms sit on baking sheet garnished with greens
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

When planning my holiday dinner, I always make a point to work in fancy appetizers that make the meal feel a little more special than our average dinner. But just because I go for fancy appetizers, doesn’t mean they require a lot of extra effort. I’m a strong believer that the best holiday nibbles are the ones that are the simplest to prepare yet feel special and even kinda fancy. That means leaning on smart grocery store finds, like frozen puff pastry or spices to give nuts a boost of flavor, or sticking with apps that can me made in advance.

Luckily there are plenty that fall in that category, from sweet and savory roasted nuts to creamy dips to really anything wrapped in bacon. Here are 35 of our best fast and fancy appetizers for your festive meal.

1 / 35
Mozzarella-Stuffed Peppadew Peppers Recipe
This 3-ingredient fast and fancy appetizer will impress your guests and won't tie you up in the kitchen.
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2 / 35
Ranch Pinwheels
This easy appetizer relies on store-bought puff pastry and your favorite ranch seasoning packet.
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3 / 35
Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts
Tender Brussels sprouts wrapped in smoky bacon with a creamy blue cheese dipping sauce is the ultimate keto appetizer.
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4 / 35
Everything Bagel Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
This fast and fancy appetizer comes together with frozen puff pastry, everything bagel spice, and grated Parmesan cheese.
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5 / 35
Salmon Rillettes
Don't let the fancy French name shy you away — salmon rillettes are as easy as mixing together chopped smoked salmon, softened butter, and aromatics. Then just grab the crackers or crusty bread.
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6 / 35
Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrot Hummus
This fragrant hummus keeps for up to seven days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. That means you can make it ahead of time, when you have a few moments to spare, and simply spoon it into a serving bowl when guests arrive.
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7 / 35
Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce
If you're still hanging on to the last bits of cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, this gooey baked brie can't be easier to assemble. Otherwise, a can of the whole berry stuff is a quick substitute.
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8 / 35
Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms
A filling of lump crab meat, Parmesan cheese, lemon, and chives makes these stuffed mushrooms extra special and festive.
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9 / 35
White Bean Artichoke Dip
This quick dip, made by simply puréeing canned white beans, canned artichokes, and spices, is sure to please both vegan and non-vegan guests alike.
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10 / 35
Whipped Feta Dip
When feta takes a quick whirl in the food processor with cream cheese, lemon zest, and fresh chopped chives, it transforms into the creamiest dip for veggies and crackers.
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11 / 35
Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade
Reach for a jar of pitted Niçoise olives to save yourself the hassle of pitting them before tossing them into the food processor.
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12 / 35
Curry-Roasted Pistachios
A spice blend like curry powder saves you the hassle of mixing up a bunch of ground spices yourself to toss with nuts before roasting.
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13 / 35
Wild Mushroom Tart
This tart is way easier to pull off than it looks, and it comes together with just a handful of ingredients.
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14 / 35
Cacio e Pepe Popcorn
If you love the classic pasta dish, this is right up your alley.
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15 / 35
Crunchy Chili-Lime Quicos
Maiz gigante are giant corn kernels from Latin America that you pop and season like popcorn. They're a fun alternative to crunchy roasted nuts and are just as simple to prepare.
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16 / 35
Furikake Popcorn
While this recipe calls for popping your own popcorn, feel free to take the easy way out and use store-bought already-popped popcorn. Adding a dash of salty, savory furikake makes it a perfect pair for crisp sparking wines.
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17 / 35
Prosciutto-Wrapped Avocado with Goat Cheese and Arugula
Salty strips of prosciutto and lemony goat cheese are rolled around creamy avocado slices and peppery arugula for an appetizer that few can resist.
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18 / 35
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
A can or two or chickpeas and whatever spices or herbs you have on hand are all you really need to make these irresistible crispy roasted chickpeas.
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19 / 35
Maple-Tamari Roasted Almonds
Maple syrup and tamari aren't flavors that join forces often, but after making these nuts you'll quickly learn they should be. The balance between sweet, salty, and savory is the ideal complement to those festive cocktails.
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20 / 35
Cheddar Olives
The fastest way to upgrade plain ol' olives is to wrap them in a quick cheddar dough and bake them until golden-brown.
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21 / 35
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Classic stuffed mushrooms are made even easier when you rely on extra-flavorful Italian sausage for the filling.
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22 / 35
Bacon-Wrapped Dates
A cloak of bacon makes just about anything feel a bit more fancy, and that includes dates.
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23 / 35
Sardine Snacking Toasts
While this simple combination of sardines, Dijon mustard, and quick-pickled red onions is lovely on broken Wasa crispbreads, it's also great on crostini.
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24 / 35
Make-Ahead Gougères
The secret to being the hostess with the mostest? Gougères in your freezer.
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25 / 35
Black Salt-and-Pepper Roasted Cashews
Don't be surprised when they get devoured in a flash.
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26 / 35
Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche Kettle Chips
Top potato chips with smoked salmon and suddenly they're a classy cocktail snack. Add some bubbles and you have a fast and fancy party.
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27 / 35
Smoky Puff Pastry Stars
Get out your favorite holiday cookie cutters for this one.
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28 / 35
Fresh Veggies with Cumin-Lime Yogurt Dip
This smoky, tangy dip is just the answer to instantly jazz up your veggie plate.
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29 / 35
Brown Butter and Tahini Dipped Radishes
It’s sweet and savory with a hit of saltines and a spicy punch — all at the same time.
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30 / 35
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.
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31 / 35
Greek Lamb Meatballs with Creamy Dill Dipping Sauce
Simple lamb meatballs are seasoned with oregano and lemon, seared until browned and crisp, and served with a creamy dill sauce.
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32 / 35
Caramelized Onion Dip
This big-batch dip is the perfect way to put a bag of onions to work. Serve with chips, veggies, or toasted bread.
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33 / 35
Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs
Is there a more beloved appetizer than a platter of freshly deviled eggs? I don't think so!
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34 / 35
Clams Casino
I love making this classic broiled clam dish with bacon and bread crumbs for a dinner party appetizer — it feels special, but is so very simple.
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35 / 35
Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese Skewers
Tomato-mozzarella salad epitomizes summer living, Italian-style, and putting it on a stick is simply an easier way for a crowd to enjoy it. It also ensures a perfect ration of cheese to tomato to basil.
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