10 of the Best Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers.

Panzanella Salad Recipe - 10 of the Best Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers

It’s Christmas EVE! This post is from the archives but is one of my favorites. I wanted to share my favorite thing when I entertain (or have a party to go to!)… make ahead appetizers. As you probably know from previous entertaining posts, I am ALL ABOUT doing as much prep ahead of time so that I can enjoy my time with family & friends. Making appetizers ahead of time is a game-changer. These are my tried and tested most popular appetizer recipes. Some of them can even be made a few weeks in advance, just stick ’em in the freezer so that you’re prepared.

You can either prep ’em ahead of time for when you’re hosting your holiday party… or, bring them with you to a friend’s gathering! I make this spinach & artichoke dip almost every year – it’s so easy and is 100% foolproof. You can’t mess it up.

the ten best make ahead appetizers for all your holiday parties. | spinach and artichoke dip from Real Simple Magazine

The Best Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers

hope these inspire you to up your appetizer game this holiday season! 

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

As I mentioned above, this is one of my absolute favorite appetizers to make (and eat)! I love Real Simple’s suuper easy recipe… we (my family and I) have been making this for years now and it never disappoints. Make it ahead, store it in the fridge til you’re ready… and then just pop it in the oven. It’s suuuuuuper simple and easy to make (or, as my mom pointed out, you could be really lazy and buy the frozen Trader Joe’s version). Whichever you choose, just don’t forget a bag of pita chips!

the best make-ahead holiday appetizers | salmon gravlax | the stripe

Smoked Salmon or Salmon Gravlax

This one is a little fancy and is definitely inspired by my dad and my parents old restaurant! The salmon gravlax was one of their best-selling recipes, is ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser, and actually pretty easy to make at home. Buy some smoked salmon or gravlax (or make it using this recipe), and then make little toast triangles (we cut the crust off of the bread and then cut the bread across each diagonal). Serve with red onion jam, capers, and a mustard dill mayonnaise (here is a recipe for that)  YUM.

the best make ahead appetizers | how to make pigs in blankets

Pigs in Blankets

Pigs in a blanket are another one of my favorite go-to appetizers. They are SO good, especially once people get hungry and/or if drinking is involved. I like to keep things reallllllly simple. I’ll take out Pillsbury Crescent Dough, and wrap it around mini franks.  My “secret weapon” is that I put a tiny piece of American Cheese inside each blanket. No one can tell it’s there but it makes a huge difference. Delish! Prep ahead – line a few baking sheets and pop them in the fridge til it’s time to cook. You could also freeze them. More tips here!

Panzanella Salad Recipe: The Stripe

Panzanella Salad

This is another favorite in my family. I love that Panzanella is mostly healthy (it’s packed with nutrients and yummy veggies) but then it’s all decadent with the vinaigrette and croutons. YUM. We swear by this recipe! If you are traveling with it, keep the cut up veggies + croutons separate and then mix it all together with the dressing when you get to your destination.

the ten best make ahead appetizers for all of your holiday gatherings | goat cheese stuffed mushrooms from food & wine magazine.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Mmmmmm I LOVE goat cheese and it’s typically lower in calories/fat than other cheeses. So good. This recipe is super super easy to make and you can totally make it ahead (the recipe says you can make ahead by up to one day… just remove from the fridge and serve at room temperature).

the best make ahead appetizers | potato apple pancakes with caviar and creme fraiche.

Bite Size Potato Apple Pancakes with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

Your guests will appreciate how fancy this luxe caviar appetizer looks, but it’s barely any work. You can make the crème fraîche ahead of time (the pancakes too), and just assemble when everyone arrives.

Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

This is a recipe that I adapted from Martha Stewart (full post here) and I just LOVE it. I mean everyone loves bacon, and it’s positively delicious with some sliced baguette and fresh ricotta cheese or even goat cheese. It also makes for a cute hostess gift or even a party favor if you’re the one entertaining… just double the recipe and put the extra in little jam jars. When stored in an airtight jar, it keeps for a couple of weeks.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip

Anytime I make this recipe, my guests go completely wild. It’s such a crowd-pleaser. Maybe because you get to eat it with delicious, salty potato chips. I don’t know, the bowl is always scraped clean. It’s one of my go-to’s (dips are just so yummy and easy) and just SO GOOD. Be prepared for all of the compliments. If you make a double recipe or do end up with leftovers, it will keep for 3-4 days. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

the best make ahead holiday appetizers | caprese roasted red pepper crostini recipe

Caprese Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Crostini

Oh my god why are these so addictively good? This is the perfect recipe to make if you know you’ll have a vegetarian at your table. But it’s so good. The combination of the red pepper hummus and the caprese = beyond. It’s really easy to make but the combination of flavors is truly epic. Sweet and spicy all at once.

Warm Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip

Warm Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip

I know, I know, another dip! But it’s so good. This one is perfect for a chilly winter night. The squash is sweet; the cheeses are savory.. it’s rich and creamy and just delicious. Serve with pita chips, crudite (I love this one with broccoli!) or slice up and toast a baguette.

what are your favorite make ahead holiday appetizers? I’m always looking for new ones to try!

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. I get so excited looking at all the Thanksgiving dishes even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Hong Kong! Everything looks so good! 😀

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    11.21.18 Reply
  2. Melinda:

    I make caprese skewers. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and then skewer onto a long toothpick: 1/2 cherry tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese ball, other half of tomato. Display on a platter with some balsamic vinegar. It’s always a crowd pleaser and requires zero cooking!

    11.21.18 Reply
  3. Lisa Autumn:

    Oh yum! Now I am hungy haha x

    Lisa | lisaautumn.com

    12.24.19 Reply
  4. Perfect! I’m having a potluck party with my girlfriends on Boxing Day and I’m in charge of the salad so this is great! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    12.24.19 Reply
  5. Sharon:

    These all look delicious! Though I also agree Trader Joe’s spinach dip is good and so easy!!

    12.25.19 Reply
  6. Brianna B:

    I always do a baked Brie with cherry preserves wrapped in puff pastry when I’m asked to bring an app. My friends now call it “Brie by Bri” since my name is Brianna.

    12.29.19 Reply