You’re hosting a get-together, and serving cocktails. But what snacks can you serve with it? A bowl of peanuts poured from the tin is undoubtedly tasty but looks lazy and unimpressive.
A quick search on Pinterest will show you endless canapés and hors d’oeuvre — they look super complicated and intimidating.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of ideas and recipes that anyone can follow. They taste great, but most importantly, look way fancier than they really are.
Let’s dive right in.
Say Hello to Your New Best Friend: Crostini
There is so much you can do with toast — and we don’t mean serving your guests grilled cheese sandwiches with their margaritas. Crostini are essentially toasted rounds of baguette slices with lots of toppings.
The best part? You can make all of them in one go. As long as you have a sheet pan and a preheated oven, you can keep churning these babies out and topping them up with pre-prepared ingredients. They’re cute, look fancy and make the perfect sophisticated finger food.
Sushi Meets Crostini
If you have access to sushi-grade fish, there’s no reason why you can’t make it part of your finger food. Making sushi (sashimi and maki rolls alike) takes skill and equipment, but you can still make sushi-inspired crostini.
Toast your baguette slices and then smother them with some cream cheese, thinly sliced pickled cucumber, and a slice of raw salmon. You can also experiment with other fish such as tuna or yellowfish.
Cream cheese goes great with salmon and is a nod to the classic California sushi roll. You could also put a small dab of wasabi and serve some good-quality soy as dipping.
Good Old Bruschetta
It doesn’t matter if you can’t pronounce bruschetta, this snack is delicious and so easy to make. All it takes is a few good-quality ingredients.
Start with the best sourdough you can get your hands on. Toast sourdough slices in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil. Once they’re toasted, rub a clove of garlic on the surface.
Chop some ripe tomatoes (you can use Roma, plum, or even cherry tomatoes), fresh Italian basil, and season generously with flaxy kosher salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. After stirring to combine, spoon these onto your toasted sourdough slices.
You can even drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil in the end. The best part? All that extra virgin olive oil will prevent your guests from getting too drunk on one too many cocktails!
Vegan Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Crostini
You’re likely to have at least one vegetarian or vegan friend at your dinner party. This one is sure to win their heart.
Caramelizing onions is really easy, you thinly slice onions and then cook them down in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add in some balsamic vinegar, salt, and brown sugar, and in about an hour, you should have a sticky jam-like mix of caramelized onion.
You do have to stir it once in a while, but it makes your entire house smell incredibly fragrant.
Sizzle some shitake mushroom slices and top them over your caramelized onions on the baguette slices and you’re done with yet another incredible cocktail snack.
Oven-Roasted Chicken Wings
We don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate chicken wings. They’re the perfect saucy, spicy, greasy snack that everyone can’t resist. The good news is that you don’t have to spend too much time sweating over a stove and deep-frying chicken wings.
Here’s a way you can make chicken wings in the oven. Make a mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and smoked paprika. Toss your wings in this flour mixture and then bake them on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake them at high heat for 30-40 minutes.
Your chicken wings will come out perfectly crispy and cooked. The oven will ensure that the fat of the chicken wings’ skin renders and makes them greasy enough. At this point, you can serve them as it is, or toss them in some garlic parmesan gratings, or store-bought buffalo sauce.
Even though this might seem like more effort than the crostinis, you can definitely make more a lot more wings in one go! Depending on the size of your pan, you can easily make two or three dozen chicken wings in one shot.
A great vegan plant-based alternative is to follow the same process, but with cauliflower florets.
Who doesn’t enjoy fried food? You don’t have to wait till you go to your favorite sushi restaurant in order to give your guests the Tempura fried food experience. Tempura is also much crunchier and tastier than regular crumb-fried protein.
The difference is that crumb fried is formed with layers of bread crumbs and eggs while tempura is a batter. It’s really simple to make tempura batter — you only have to mix ice-cold water with rice flour. You also get a special tempura flour that supposedly produces better and crunchier tempura snacks, but regular rice flour will also do.
While tempura shrimp are the most common use of tempura batter, you can virtually fry anything in tempura batter. We recommend cauliflower florets, asparagus, and oyster mushrooms as plant-based options. Alternatively, you can also try using chicken and fish morsels in tempura batter to make a platter of tempura.
Once you make the tempura batter, you can easily dip lots of different ingredients in the batter and deep-fry them together.
Most tempura snacks go well with sweet chili sauce as a dip. We also recommend a wasabi-honey dip for a sweet and pungent kick.
The key to making cocktail snacks is to get a few basic ingredients in place and then make lots of different combinations and variations to give the impression that you’ve done much more work than you actually have!
A little bit of effort definitely goes a really long way when it comes to cocktail snacks. Let us know about your favorite cocktail snacks.