Frozen apps are an impromptu party-thrower's best friend. When you've got your hands full with the main event, who has time to even think about pre-dinner nibbles? And when the game is on and you've got a hungry crowd, having a few boxes of ready-to-heat snacks in the freezer is the best insurance against serving a bag of half-stale chips.
And guess what? The same place where you can shop for a festive new table runner is also a great place to stock up on frozen appetizers.
I've been exploring Target's Archer Farms label (see their most popular snacks here). This budget-friendly brand offers more than a dozen frozen appetizers, ranging from the usual suspects (potstickers) to the unexpected (lobster and cheese bites). In the interest of keeping you from inadvertently stocking your freezer with duds, I tried the most popular items and ranked them.
- Lobster & Cheese Bites: Anything with lobster always piques my interest, but I half suspected these would seem better in theory than reality. I mean, it's lobster, at Target. But we were all pleasantly surprised by how tasty these little croquettes were. Think lobster bisque, in solid form.
- Feta & Caramelized Onions in Flaky Phyllo Cups: Flaky little phyllo cups filled with soft feta cheese and topped with sweet caramelized onions. They're that simple, and just as tasty as they sound.
- Parmesan Cheese Puff Pastry Wrapped Mini Dogs: My cadre of tasters included several staunch fans of pigs in a blanket (i.e., pastry-wrapped mini hot dogs), and they absolutely loved these. The mini dogs were a bit smoky, which was a great contrast to the Parmesan puff pastry. Even better, they were sprinkled with caraway seeds, which added another dimension of flavor.
- Crab Rangoon: This app features crab and cream cheese tucked into wonton wrappers and then fried into crispiness. Although these weren't as good as the kind you find at Chinese-American restaurants, they went down easy.
- Spinach & Goat Cheese Wood-Fired Pizza: Of the frozen pizzas, this one had the most flavor, thanks to thick slices of goat cheese. It's perfect for slicing into small pieces and serving as an easy app.
- Pork & Vegetable Potstickers: These potstickers were passably good, but not great. Although we had no trouble polishing off the box, we couldn't help but wish that the filling had more flavor and the wrappers were thinner.
- Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers: These are essentially identical to the pork potstickers, but with even less flavor since they were made with chicken. The dipping sauce that came with both varieties was at first way too sweet, but made acceptable with the addition of a little rice vinegar.
- Margherita Wood-Fired Pizza: The kids in the group declared this was better than their school cafeteria's pizza, but that's about the most praise this bland pizza earned.
- Mushroom Risotto Bites: From their fake truffle-oil aroma and flavor to their unappealing mushy texture, these rice balls were our least favorite by far.
Do you have a favorite frozen appetizer at Target?