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Real Women Approved: 17 No-Fuss Appetizers To Make This Weekend


I am so excited about this “reader favorites” roundup. I think this is quickly becoming one of my favorite types of posts.

On Instagram stories (if you’re not following along on Instagram, make sure to join the party over here!) every so often, I pop on and ask you guys to submit your favorite recommendations on a given topic–I always find you give the best recommendations, so why not share them with everyone!?

Our first reader recco post was a compilation of your favorite books, and it is seriously the BEST book list! I still refer back to it each time I need a new read. I’m slowly making my way through it and have loved EVERY recco so far! (I already finished The Nightingale and The Paris Architect, which I could NOT put down–and I just started The Alice Network!)

The second reader recco post was your favorite Fall recipes, so if you need more inspiration after this post, be sure to head on over there! (Get ready for pumpkin overload!)

Yesterday, I found myself thinking, “uh oh. I have to bring several appetizers to parties over the next few days and I got NOTHIN. I wonder what my Instagram fam’s favorite easy appetizer recipes are!” (Although I used the term “apps” so some of you thought I was referring to iPhone applications ?) SORRY.

Anyway, these all look seriously AMAZING. Some of them are so easy that they only require two ingredients!

Some other recommendations I have if you’re in an even bigger pinch and can’t make anything: Trader Joe’s potstickers (many of you recommended these and I will agree) and their egg rolls are also delicious. I also recently tried their cauliflower onion dip (in the frozen section) and it was CRACK I tell you. Why do we even bother to cook anymore when we have Trader Joe’s?

Anyway, if you’re looking to get your Martha on (but not really) over the next week or so, here are 17 recipes that look fancy but actually aren’t at all.

(P.S. if you’re less of a chef and more of a mixologist, head over here for my festive apple cider mule recipe!)

Okay! Let’s get cooking ? (ish.)

1. Caprese Pesto Skewers:

Okay, I figured I should go first and kick us off by sharing one of mine one of my favorite party go-to’s ? – Caprese Pesto Skewers!

All you have to do is toss grape tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls (called boccacini, if you can’t those, you can always just cube a couple regular balls of fresh mozz!) with pesto (I buy the fresh kind at Trader Joe’s but you can find it in most grocery stores!), salt, and pepper. Assemble on skewers and drizzle with balsamic glaze. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can also add in some pre-cooked tortellini as well (those go on skewers really easily!)

2. Ham and Cheese Party Sandwiches:

“I am obsessed with these little sliders! They’re always a hit. (But I tend to make them only around the holidays because they’re on the heavier side for an app!” –Emily

Jess’ note:

I make these all the time too and they are so addicting, my friend Courtney actually introduced me to them. We call them “hamwiches.” Funny back story: one time a few years ago (we hadn’t been dating THAT long) I wanted to make them for Neal’s roommates for the Superbowl. For some reason I just had Neal’s credit card when I went to the store downstairs in his building and I misread the recipe and basically asked for quadruple times the amount of ham, and it ended up being $40 worth of ham ? (not even including the other ingredients!) Now each time I make them, he reminds me when I charged like $50 worth of hamwiches to his credit card. 

3. Apple and Butternut Squash Crostini:

“This crostini recipe from One Small Blonde is an easy app that everyone will love!” says Sarah. “I made them for thanksgiving and they were a hit! They’re a geat mix of sweet, filling and light. Plus, your kitchen smells amazing while making these. I cheated and used Trader Joe’s balsamic glaze. It’s a must-have if you haven’t tried it yet!”

4. Charcuterie Board:

Colleen gave two thumbs up for the charcuterie board. “I love how you can make it as simple as you want. Or go all out! I love to include marcona almonds, triple cream brie, a simple cheese (cheddar or bellavitana merlot) and one that’s fun or festive like cranberry. I included a truffle cheese from Mariano’s for Thanksgiving that was a hit, too!”

5. Mini Croque Monsieurs:

I think the best part about this one is that it’s another “no recipe recipe. Elizabeth says, “I don’t really have a recipe for it, but they’re always a crowd pleaser! Baguette (or other crusty bread) sliced and topped with a smear of butter (Jess’ note: Kerrygold butter is THE. BEST.) topped with thinly sliced ham and swiss cheese. Bake in an oven until cheese is gooey!

6. Fancy but actually not fancy goat cheese log:

Christine’s go-to easy goat cheese log looks super fancy but is actually a snap. All you have to do is start with a goat cheese log in the store. Then, in a separate bowl, mix olive oil, minced garlic, chopped thyme, rosemary, dried cranberries (other dried berries work great too). She makes the mixture the day before and lets it meld together in the fridge. Pour it over the log just before you’re ready to serve. “My favorite way to serve it is with Raincoat Crisps crackers from Whole Foods that have rosemary, raisins and pecans in them!

7. Cranberry Jalapeno Dip

This dip was actually recommended multiple times! Val says, “I’ve literally made this dip three times this holiday season and it’s alwys a hit! Kind of unexpected ingredients but it’s super refreshing with a little kick” and Lexi says, “I was just introduced to this recipe at Thanskgiving and I’m already planning on making it for Christmas with my family. It’s SO ADDICTING! It sounds weird, but the sweet and spicy combo is amazing.”

8. Easy Riffs on Baked Brie:

Katie has been making brie with jalapeno jelly for years and it’s always a hit! You can find the recipe here on her blog! She adds pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and cranberries for a fresh touch, too!

Sarah makes hers with honey and chopped nuts. “Put it in the oven at 350 with honey drizzled on top for about 10-15 mins in an oven-safe baking dish. When it comes out, sprinkle chopped nuts (any kind) and serve with Granny Smith apple slices and crackers. You can adapt a zillion different ways!

Sarah (different Sarah, haha!) and C. both love to wrap theirs in crescent roll dough and serve it with veggies, apples, or mini bruschetta bread bites!

9. Cranberry Brie Mini Tarts

Hannah says, “I make these cranberry tarts every year for my family! This recipe calls for homemade cranberry sauce, but I’ve made it with whole cranberry sauce in a can (I like the Ocean Spray Whole Berries!) You can also use any preserve or jam you like. Raspberry is delish. It takes just minutes to make and people love them!

10. Easiest Riffs on Bacon Wrapped Dates:

If you’ve never made bacon wrapped dates, Vija stands by this recipe (only 2 ingredients!) which she says is “super easy and always a crowd pleaser!”

Or, you could try Marissa’s version, which just adds a brown sugar glaze. Mix 4 tablesppons of brown sugar with 1/4 cup of water and pour mixture over the dates. Bake at 375 until bacon is fully cooked!

Even better, Roz suggests that you just pick up some of Trader Joe’s frozen bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. They’re delicious! HA! That’s my kinda recipe 😉

11. The most addictive Chili Cheese Dip:

Marissa’s go-to Chili Cheese dip recipe sounds AMAZING and so easy (I second this, because my friend Hadley often makes it for parties and it’s so addicting!) Just spread cream cheese on the bottom of an oven-safe dish, then spread beanless chili, then top with shredded cheese. Heat in the microwave until the cheese is melted! Serve with Fritos or your favorite tortilla chips.

12. Crispy Prosciutto and Pear Cups:

Ali always makes these crispy prosciutto and pear cups from Martha Stewart. “This is such an easy app that always impresses when we have folks over! I love it because 1. It can be made ahead of time 2. who doesn’t love prosciutto and 3. You can easily swap out the pairs for your fruit of choice (apples or melon would be wonderful!)”

13. Greek Salsa:

Shannon’s Greek Salsa sounds creative and delicious! “It’s great to take to a party since you don’t need to use their oven or bring it warm.” She says. ” To make, start with a container of fresh salsa, add 2 chopped avocados, 1/2-1 cup of feta, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste and a splash of red wine vinegar. Serve with Tostitos”

14. Ina’s Hummus:

Ashley loves Ina Garten’s hummus recipe because it’s easy to customize–”just keep throwing stuff in til it tastes the way you want it!”

15. Cream cheese & pepper jelly spread:

Mary’s favorite go-to is about as easy as it gets. “Honestly, it’s embarrassingly easy but so good. It’s just cream cheese, pepper jelly, and ritz crackers!”

16. Pimento Cheese Dip:

Monica says, “Pimento cheese is a southern favorite that’s such an overall crowd pleaser! I make a batch of this dip for most potlucks, BBQ’s, house parties, etc and it’s easy to save yourself a few leftovers for a grilled cheese or as a burger topper!”

17. Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole:

Okay, so this isn’t actually an app, but more of a side–it was too delicious looking not to include! Nicole says “I made this Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole as a side for thanksgiving and it was a huge hit so I’m making it again for Christmas!” She loves all of Half Baked Harvest’s recipes!

I hope you have THE BEST holiday ever! Lot’s of love from our family to yours!