13 Simple Holiday Appetizers: SparkRecipes SlideShow

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13 Simple Holiday Appetizers

by Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer

So many holiday parties, so little time to invent a festive and tasty appetizer for each one. But don't stress! We have compiled our 13 favorite holiday appetizers and party dishes, with tips on easing prep and making them even more festive.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Nuts are a holiday tradition, but plain ones can be a bit boring. You can spice them up any number of ways, but we like this recipe that's equal parts hot, sweet, and smoky.

Creamy Blue Cheese Ball

Cheese balls are the quintessential party food--and for good reason. They come together quickly, are packed with flavor and serve a crowd. This one is rolled in pecans for crunch, but fresh chopped dill, basil, and parsley would also be delicious.

Sauerkraut Balls

For the uninitiated, sauerkraut balls seem odd. But they actually taste very little of fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut plays a supporting role, adding a sour note to this small bite. Sausage, cream cheese and onions, along with plenty of spices and herbs, provide most of the flavor. These creamy sausage balls are rolled in breadcrumbs for a crunchy finish.

Smoked Salmon Dip

Stretch your party budget by turning pricey smoked salmon into a tasty dip. It's ready in no time and is sure to impress your guests. Fresh dill adds a festive finish. Serve with pumpernickel cocktail toast or cucumber slices.

Rumaki (Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts)

Rumaki were all the rage in the '70s. We've brought them back and given them a delectable update. Smoky, sweet, and crunchy, we've added zucchini for a pop of green.

Polenta Rounds with Creamy Pesto

For a party, use a fluted cookie cutter to create bite-size polenta rounds, then top with goat cheese, sun-dried tomato paste, pesto, and/or pine nuts. The simple toppings are the perfect holiday color scheme, and only you'll know this dish takes 15 minutes from start to finish.

Easy Cucumber Cups

In addition to a veggie tray with dip, serve these cucumber cups, filled with creamy hummus, for a fresh and crunchy bite. For an even merrier dish, top with half a grape tomato.

Bruschetta Stuffed Mushrooms

For a party, we love these bruschetta-stuffed mushrooms. There's always plenty of bread and crackers at parties, and this dish is not only warm and comforting, it's easier to eat--no more trying to balance juicy tomato chunks atop a slice of bread!

Baked Zucchini Parmesan Bites

Warning: Make a double batch of these addictively crunchy, tasty zucchini bites. People will gobble these up in minutes. Serve with ranch dip or marinara sauce (or both)!

Shrimp Pot Stickers

Thanks to store-bought wonton wrappers, these shrimp Rangoon dumplings are ready quickly. Serve with Soy-Garlic Dipping Sauce spiked with snipped cilantro.

Cheesy Pizza Dip (with Goat Cheese and Basil)

This three-ingredient dip is embarrassingly simple to make, but it likely will become the highlight of your buffet table. Warm melting cheese with herbed tomato sauce, scooped onto toasted bread? Oh, yes!

Santa Strawberries

For something sweet at your Christmas party, try these Santa strawberries, stuffed with cream cheese frosting. They're adorable yet quite simple to assemble. For a savory take on this dish, use goat cheese and drizzle the platter with balsamic vinegar.

Caprese Shots

Turn Caprese salad into a fun party food by serving it in shot glasses.