7 Make-Ahead Appetizer Recipes to Always Have on Hand

By arjun
8 Min Read
7 Make-Ahead Appetizer Recipes to Always Have on Hand


Hosting guests can be an absolute pleasure, but the hustle of preparing food can often steal the joy of being a gracious host. That’s where make-ahead appetizers come to the rescue—they’re the ultimate lifesaver for anyone planning a gathering. These recipes not only alleviate the stress of last-minute preparations but also ensure a scrumptious spread that’s ready to go whenever you are. With make-ahead appetizers, you can relish the excitement of entertaining without being tied down by the kitchen.

Benefits of Make-Ahead Appetizers

  1. Effortless Hosting: Spend more time mingling with guests than in the kitchen.
  2. Enhanced Flavor: Many dishes develop deeper flavors when prepared in advance.
  3. Stress-Free Prep: Reduce stress by preparing in advance and enjoying the event.
  4. Versatile Options: Accommodate various dietary needs and preferences easily.

Recipe 1: Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.
  5. Serve with crackers, bread, or vegetable sticks.

Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare the dip a day in advance, cover, and refrigerate. Bake just before serving.

Recipe 2: Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 24 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 12 slices bacon, cut in half widthwise
  • 24 whole almonds, toasted (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Stuff each date with a toasted almond (if using) and wrap with a half-slice of bacon.
  3. Secure with a toothpick and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy.
  5. Serve warm.

Make-Ahead Tip: Assemble the bacon-wrapped dates a day ahead and refrigerate. Bake when ready to serve.

Recipe 3: Marinated Cheese and Olives

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces block of your favorite cheese (Cheddar, Gouda, etc.), cubed
  • 1 cup mixed olives
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, etc.), chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crackers or bread for serving


  1. In a jar, combine olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Layer the cubed cheeses and olives in a shallow dish or container.
  3. Pour the olive oil mixture over the cheese and olives, ensuring they are covered.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Serve with crackers or bread.

Make-Ahead Tip: This appetizer can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.

Recipe 4: Caprese Skewers

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella balls
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Toothpicks or skewers


  1. Thread a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, and a mozzarella ball onto each toothpick or skewer.
  2. Arrange the skewers on a serving platter.
  3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze just before serving.

Make-Ahead Tip: Assemble the skewers a few hours ahead and refrigerate. Drizzle with balsamic glaze before serving.

Recipe 5: Caramelized Onion Tartlets

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • Fresh thyme leaves for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  3. Cut the puff pastry into squares and place them on a baking sheet.
  4. Spoon caramelized onions onto each puff pastry square and top with crumbled goat cheese.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
  6. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves before serving.

Make-Ahead Tip: Caramelize the onions a day ahead and store in the refrigerator. Assemble and bake the tartlets before serving.

Recipe 6: Stuffed Mushrooms

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 24 large mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Finely chop the mushroom stems.
  3. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems, sauté until tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  5. Stuff each mushroom cap with the mixture and place on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare the stuffing a day ahead, stuff the mushrooms, cover, and refrigerate. Bake when ready to serve.

Recipe 7: Shrimp Cocktail

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Cocktail sauce:
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • Hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and lemon halves, simmer for 3-4 minutes until shrimp are pink and opaque.
  2. Remove shrimp and plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Drain and refrigerate.
  3. In a bowl, mix together ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using) to make the cocktail sauce.
  4. Chill the cocktail sauce in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  5. Arrange shrimp on a platter with the cocktail sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Make-Ahead Tip: Cook and chill the shrimp ahead of time. Prepare the cocktail sauce and refrigerate separately. Combine and serve when ready.


A well-curated selection of make-ahead appetizers can revolutionize your hosting routine. These recipes aren’t just about convenience; they present a lineup of delectable choices that are bound to leave a lasting impression on your guests. Whether it’s the luscious creamy spinach dip or the savory stuffed mushrooms, these appetizers guarantee that you can entertain effortlessly, freeing you to fully enjoy every cherished moment of your gathering. So, prepare ahead, elevate your hosting prowess, and indulge in the art of seamless entertaining.

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