food recipes

These appetizers only take a few minutes to make

Call it what you want—appetizer, hors d’oeuvres or finger food—you can never have too many tricks up your sleeve when it comes to party fare. And you don’t need to prep all week (or even all day) to assemble a gorgeous array of hand-held treats. Take the four recipes below, for example. The ingredient lists are short, the preparations simple and the presentations stunning.

From tender pieces of pork shimmering in a sweet and savory glaze, to juicy steak bites shellacked with honey, soy and zingy garlic, meatballs scented with cumin and studded with onion, garlic, parsley, and mint with creamy cucumber and dill-spiked yogurt and buttery-crisp phyllo shells filled with creamy hummus and roasted peppers, all of these snacks offer an explosion of flavor in every bite and can be made in minutes.

I’ve also provided tips for how to make them ahead of time, if that’s more your style.

Feeding a crowd? Simply double or triple the recipe to suit your needs.

Recipe: Hoisin-glazed pork bites

Easy appetizers allow you to spend more time enjoying your guests.

Hoisin sauce is a salty-sweet blend of fermented soybeans, garlic, chile peppers and spices. It’s as thick as molasses and is often used as a glaze or stir-fry sauce. Look for hoisin sauce next to the soy sauce at your favorite grocery store.

Make ahead tip: This dish is best served just after cooking, but you can cut the pork into bite-size pieces and refrigerate for up to 24 hours to save time.

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil 
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • Slurry: 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned on all sides. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds more.
  2. Add the hoisin sauce and mirin and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add cornstarch slurry to the pan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Top with cilantro and serve.

Recipe: Honey Garlic Steak

Easy appetizers allow you to spend more time enjoying your guests.

Make ahead tip: The soy sauce mixture can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. To save time on party day, cut the steak up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean steak of choice, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped green onions for serving

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, water and garlic. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook until browned on all sides.
  3. Add the soy sauce mixture and butter and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the steak is cooked through and the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Top with green onions and serve.

Recipe: Mediterranean Meatballs with Tzatziki 

Easy appetizers allow you to spend more time enjoying your guests.

Roasting the meatballs: This recipe couldn’t be easier because the oven does all the work as the meatballs cook perfectly, with all sides caramelized, as excess fats drip away. Even cleanup is a breeze.

Make ahead tip: The meatballs and can be shaped in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days before roasting. The tzatziki can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Tzatziki:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup diced seedless cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • Juice of one lemon

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. To make the meatballs, combine the beef, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Mix well and shape the mixture into 20 to 24 meatballs. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the tzatziki, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. Serve the meatballs with tzatziki on the side.

Recipe: Vegetarian Hummus Cups with Roasted Red Peppers  

Easy appetizers allow you to spend more time enjoying your guests.

Look for the phyllo shells next to the puff pastry and regular phyllo dough in the freezer aisle of your favorite grocery store. Have fun with the hummus: Choose your favorite hummus flavor or try something different, like roasted garlic or roasted red pepper.

Make ahead tip: This appetizer is best served soon after assembling. The hummus softens the phyllo in the bottom of the cup, and over time, it can get mushy. That said, these cups can sit for up to an hour before serving.

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 15 frozen fully-baked phyllo shells
  • 5-6 tablespoons prepared hummus of choice
  • 3-4 tablespoons diced roasted red peppers
  • Chopped fresh chives

Preparation:

  1. Bake the phyllo cups as instructed on the package.
  2. Fill the cups with about 1 teaspoon hummus each. Top with roasted red peppers and chives.