With summer here it’s definitely party season: Dinner parties in the backyard, Fourth of July celebrations, graduation gatherings – we love all of them. But when it’s too hot to put out a whole roast, we’ve curated some fantastic appetizer ideas and hors d’oeuvres for summer parties from around the web. No plain chips and dips here, no ma’am. These recipes are all creative, impressive, and substantial enough that when you offer plenty, they can become the entire meal. (Think protein!)
But then, having plenty of food on hand isn’t just about being good host or hostess.
We strongly believe that if you’re going to be serving libations of the alcoholic variety, it’s extra important that everyone has enough to eat, so that anyone driving home is absolutely safe to do so. So we’re happy to offer these great party appetizer recipe ideas on behalf of our sponsor Breathometer—a really clever, sleek, portable device that plugs into your smartphone to help you make sure you’re in the best possible shape to get home safely.
If we can be frank, we know a few people who have one too many glasses of wine and aren’t as okay as they think they are; we take that seriously when we’re hosting our own parties. Having a Breathometer on your iPhone or Android phone can be a nice, discreet way to pull that friend aside who might need a little encouragement from an observant host or hostess to eat a little more, maybe hang out a little longer before heading home or grab a cab instead.
And as we all know, staying appropriately sober has so much to do with getting enough food in that body of yours to begin with. So let’s start with fun appetizers!
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For an easy protein-packed appetizer, design a pretty charcuterie board like the one above by Nalata Nalata. Pack it with high-end cured meats and cheeses from your local butcher. They can recommend which will go well together (though we say, “all of them!”) then all you have to do is slice and serve.
While those caprese salads are a great staple of summer, for a more creative alternative, try this Grilled Watermelon and Manouri Cheese appetizer by Chef Michael Psilakis is like summer on a plate. Or substitute a great feta cheese if manouri is hard to come by. It’s light, refreshing and super impressive on a plate, especially with those little sprigs of dill, mint leaves, and balsamic to make it look pro.
Another way to amp up a traditional caprese appetizer, is this yummy combination of fried mozzarella, basil, and nectarines with balsamic glaze at Half Baked Harvest. Seriously, this looks amazing.
Tiny sandwiches are so easy for parties—guests can hold them with one hand and eat without too much mess. (Though a small napkin at the ready isn’t a bad idea!) This Filet Fondue Sliders recipe spotted at How Sweet Eats uses filet mignon and arugula, making it pretty upscale for a slider. The fondue cheese topping? That’s just fun.
Who can resist chips and dip at a party? No one. Skip the sour cream dips though and go for a great guac. while you can whip together a basic recipe literally in under 5 minute, for something a little more special, try this Mango-Pomegranate Guacamole from A Cup of Joe that our food editor Stacie swears by.
Related: 5 seriously great guacamole recipes
We are drooling over the Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Fig Jam Crostini from The Italian Dish. Fig jam is an absolutely amazing accompaniment for all kinds of cheeses, but the sweetness coupled with the tart chevre and the silky prosciutto is one guests will snatch up. Make sure to have lots on hand. Shortcut: Grilling your own bread for crostini is easy, but you can easily buy ready made mini toasts too.
Deviled Eggs are so hot right now, and setting up a Deviled Egg buffet bar could be so fun. We love this Deviled Eggs recipe, Purgatory Edition (ha) at Food 52 that blends greek yogurt with the mayo. Meghan offers quite a few clever topping ideas including truffle salt (yum!), chopped olives, pesto, and preserved lemon–you could even put them all out and let your guests garnish their own. Just be sure to keep the eggs cool if you’re going to be outside!
How smart: These Tortellini Skewers with Purple Basil via Dana Treat’s blog (adapted from Martha Stewart) are so pretty, and the lemon-parmesan dip that accompanies them sounds delicious. You serve them room temperature, so you can even prep them the them the day before. No last minute skewering. Yay!
If you need something creative for the vegetarians or vegans (let’s be honest, crudite can get old), check out these wildly impressive Collard Roll Ups with Coconut Curry Kale at Food 52. They’re like little sushi rolls, aren’t they? Only they’re filled with shredded carrots, avocado and kale, and get a sweet-spicy kick from garlic, horseradish, curry powder, a little maple syrup and orange juice. We think even the carnivores might grab more than a few of these.
Thanks so much to our sponsor Breathometer for Android and iOS. It’s a pocket size gadget that fits in your smartphone through the audio jack, then connects to a companion app. Blow into it for an estimate of your BAC to help you make the best decisions. And we’re all for that. Order a Breathometer now with code COOLMOM for free shipping. Plus, if you register with them you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $250 Amazon gift card.
Be safe out there this summer please!