Christmas Appetizers

Christmas is a time of joy, love, and gathering with friends and family. One of the highlights of this festive season is the delightful array of appetizers that grace our tables. From classic favorites to creative and innovative bites, Christmas appetizers add an extra touch of indulgence to the holiday celebrations. Here are a few of the best Christmas appetizers to tantalize your taste buds:

Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce

This elegant and easy-to-make appetizer combines the creaminess of baked Brie cheese with the sweetness of homemade cranberry sauce. The warm, melted cheese paired with the tangy cranberries creates a delightful flavor combination that is sure to impress your guests.

  • 8-ounce round brie cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, unroasted and roughly chopped
  • Fresh rosemary, to garnish
  • Assorted crackers
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel or slice off the top rind of the brie and scrape out a small amount of cheese to form a shallow hollow in the center. Place the cheese in a small baking dish like a pie pan. (If you plan on transferring the cheese to a serving dish after it’s baked, line the pie pan with a square of parchment paper.)
  2. Mix the cranberry sauce, brown sugar, vanilla, zest, and nutmeg. Top the brie with this cranberry mixture and sprinkle the hazelnuts over it.
  3. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the cheese is gooey. This is a delicate process, and baking time can vary. The goal is to take the cheese out after it has softened, but just before it collapses into a heap.
  4. If desired, lift the parchment paper and use a spatula to carefully slide the cheese onto a prettier serving dish. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve immediately with assorted crackers.

Shrimp Cocktail

A timeless classic, shrimp cocktail is a crowd-pleaser that never fails to impress. Serve chilled, perfectly cooked shrimp with a zesty cocktail sauce for a refreshing and light appetizer. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley to add a touch of brightness.

Keep this one simple and buy prepared cocktail sauce and cooked shrimp and assemble like picture shown.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This rich and creamy dip is a favorite at holiday parties. Made with spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, and a blend of melted cheeses, it’s the perfect comfort food for the festive season. Serve it warm with crispy bread slices, tortilla chips, or crackers.

18 small fresh artichokes(s), or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
1⁄2 lemon(s)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 cloves garlic, 1 peeled and left whole, 2 minced
1 sprig fresh thyme, or other fresh herb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 cups baby spinach leaves, about 12 ounces total weight, thoroughly rinsed and dried
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup mayonnaise
Dash cayenne pepper, optional
2⁄3 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons fresh creamy goat cheese, or crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs, dried or fresh
1⁄4 teaspoon ground sweet or hot paprika
1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄2 loaf French or sourdough baguette, cut diagonally into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices

Step 1 – Trimming the artichokes: Starting at the bottom of each artichoke, peel off the outer leaves until only tender green ones are visible. Peel and trim the stems. Cut off the top 1⁄2 inch and discard. Cut the bottoms in half lengthwise, or in smaller pieces for larger artichokes. Squeeze lemon juice over them and toss well.

Step 2 – Cooking the artichokes: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the whole garlic, thyme, artichokes, and 4 tablespoons water. Sauté 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Spread on a plate to cool.

Step 3 – Sautéing the spinach: Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the spinach and cook, turning occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel.

Step 4 – Draining the spinach: Enclose the spinach inside the towel and, over a sink or bowl, squeeze firmly to remove all excess liquid. Transfer the spinach to a plate and spread it out to cool. Meanwhile, position oven racks in the upper- and lower-third positions and preheat the oven to 400°F.

Step 5 – Chopping the artichokes: Put the cooled cooked artichokes, or thawed frozen ones, in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade. Pulse the machine on and off until the artichokes are very coarsely chopped, 5 to 7 seconds. Leave the artichokes in the processor.

Step 6 – Adding enrichments & seasonings: Add to the processor the mayonnaise, goat cheese, and mascarpone. Pulse the machine on and off several times just until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Step 7 – Pulsing in the spinach: Add the well-drained spinach and pulse the machine on and off several times more, just until the spinach is combined with the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and pulse briefly. The mixture should still have some texture.

Step 8 – Topping the dip & preparing crostini: Spoon the mixture into a shallow ovenproof gratin dish or other baking dish about 9 inches in diameter. Before baking, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, paprika, and Parmesan. Place the French bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Step 9 – Baking the dip & crostini: Pre-heat oven to 400°. Put the baking dip on the oven’s upper rack and the crostini on the lower rack. Bake the crostini until golden, about 12 minutes, and the tip is bubbling and golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 10 – Serving the dip: Transfer the baking dish to a heatproof trivet or pad on the serving table and surround it with the crostini. Serve immediately.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

These sweet and savory bites are an irresistible combination of flavors. Simply stuff pitted dates with cream cheese or goat cheese, wrap them in crispy bacon, and bake until golden and caramelized at 400F for about 10 minutes. The result is a delectable appetizer that balances the sweetness of the dates with the salty, smoky bacon.

Caprese Skewers

For a lighter option, create colorful and flavorful Caprese skewers. Thread cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and basil leaves onto skewers, then drizzle them with a balsamic glaze. The vibrant colors and refreshing taste make these skewers a perfect addition to any Christmas spread.

Mini Quiches

Mini quiches are a versatile appetizer that can be customized to suit any taste. Whether you prefer a classic quiche Lorraine with bacon and cheese or a vegetarian option with mushrooms and spinach, these bite-sized treats are always a hit. Serve them warm or at room temperature for a delightful savory snack.

  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
  • Salt and pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 375º F.
  • Spray mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
  • Using a small round cutter, cut pie crust and place into indentations of muffin tin and place in the oven to pre-bake for about 15 minutes. Alternately, you can place each of the premade phyllo cups into the muffin tin. For a crustless mini quiche, simply omit.
  • Whisk together eggs and heavy cream or half-and-half until light and fluffy. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper until well-combined. Stir in cheese. Pour into pie shells and top with add-in options as desired. Bake for for 15-25 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Remove from the oven and let rest about 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve warm.


Toasted baguette slices topped with a variety of flavorful toppings make for a versatile and delicious Christmas appetizer. Classic combinations include tomato, basil, and mozzarella or olive tapenade with goat cheese. Experiment with different toppings to suit your guests’ preferences and add a touch of freshness to your holiday table.

Simply bake at 450F for 3-5 minutes.

Stuffed Mushrooms

These bite-sized wonders are perfect for mushroom lovers. Remove the stems from large mushrooms and fill the caps with a savory mixture of breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, and cheese. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is golden brown. Serve them warm for a flavorful and satisfying appetizer.

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
24 baby portobello mushroom caps (about 12 ounces)
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . Using the side of a knife, mash the garlic with a pinch salt to form a paste. In a bowl, combine the garlic paste, roasted red peppers, 1 teaspoon olive oil and the sage.

Brush the mushrooms with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and stuff with the cheese. Arrange on a baking sheet, season with pepper and bake until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve warm, topped with the red pepper relish.

Cranberry Meatballs

Combine the tangy sweetness of cranberry sauce with succulent meatballs for a festive twist on a classic appetizer. Simply simmer pre-cooked meatballs in a sauce made from cranberry sauce, barbecue sauce, and a hint of chili flakes. The result is a delectable combination of flavors that will leave your guests wanting more.

  • 1 bag (32 ounces) frozen meatballs*, fully cooked
  • 1 can (14 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
  • parsley or green onions, for garnish
  • To the bowl of a slow cooker, add the meatballs, cranberry sauce, and chili sauce.
  • Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, or until heated through.
  • Adjust the heat setting to warm. The meatballs can be kept on the warm setting for about 3 hours for serving.

Cheese and Charcuterie Board

Create a beautiful display of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, crackers, and an assortment of accompaniments. Choose a variety of cheeses with different textures and flavors, such as creamy Brie, tangy blue cheese, and aged cheddar. Pair them with an array of cured meats like prosciutto, salami, and smoked sausages. Add some olives, dried fruits, nuts, and honey for a well-rounded and elegant Christmas appetizer.

Serve on a large round serving board.

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Crackers

Elevate your appetizer spread with elegant smoked salmon. Top bite-sized crackers or toasted baguette slices with a layer of cream cheese or herbed spread, then add a slice of smoked salmon. Garnish with fresh dill, capers, and a squeeze of lemon juice for a burst of freshness. These sophisticated and flavorful bites are sure to impress your guests.

Baked Ham and Cheese Pinwheels

These savory pinwheels are a crowd-pleasing option that combines the flavors of ham and cheese in a delightful way. Roll out puff pastry into a rectangle, spread a layer of Dijon mustard, sprinkle grated cheese and finely chopped ham over it, and roll it tightly. Slice into bite-sized pinwheels and bake until golden and puffed. Serve them warm for a delicious and satisfying appetizer.

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard divided
  • 12 slices thinly-sliced, good-quality deli ham about 10 ounces
  • 2 cups freshly grated gruyere Swiss, fontina, sharp cheddar, or similar melty cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • Chopped fresh parsley thyme, or chives (optional, for serving)
  • Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter (I pressed two long sheets together at the edges to create a single larger sheet). Unfold the first sheet of puff pastry in the center of the plastic, then roll it into a 10×12-inch rectangle. Spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Lay 6 ham slices on top, overlapping as needed. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.
  • Starting at the long (12-inch) edge, roll the puff pastry into a log. Trim the ends so that they are even, then tightly wrap the log with the plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and remaining mustard, ham, and cheese. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  • Once the log has chilled, using a sharp, serrated knife, carefully cut each log into 1/2-inch-wide slices. (If each log is 12 inches, you will get 24 rolls from each one). Arrange the rolls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the puff pastry is light golden brown and the cheese is hot and bubbly, about 18 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with chopped thyme, parsley, or chives as desired. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Toasted Gruyere and Cranberry Cups

One 10-ounce bag frozen or fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest plus 1/4 cup orange juice
(use my cranberry sauce)

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup grated Gruyere or Fontina cheese

48 frozen prebaked phyllo cups or hors d’oeuvre cups
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Mix the cranberries, sugar and orange zest and juice in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until the cranberries soften and start to burst, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the cream cheese and Gruyere in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth.

Place the phyllo cups on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the cranberry sauce into each cup. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture on top of the cranberry sauce. Bake until the cups are crisp and the cheese is melted and bubbling, 8 minutes. Sprinkle with chives before serving.

Remember, the best Christmas appetizers are not only delicious but also beautifully presented. Take the time to arrange them on festive platters, garnish with fresh herbs, or add a sprinkle of edible glitter for a touch of holiday magic. With these appetizers, you’re sure to create a memorable culinary experience for your loved ones during the Christmas season.

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