Crostini are quick to make and completely customizable.

Easy-to-Make Party Appetizer Ideas

by Elizabeth Smith

When you are throwing a party, appetizers can serve as a prelude to the main course or, if you have enough of them, act as the main party food. Even if you are short on time, you can make impressive, delicious appetizers that will keep your guests happy and satisfied.

1. Crostini

Crostini look and sound complex, but are easy to assemble. Start with pre-made crostini or make your own by slicing narrow French bread and toasting them in the oven. A dusting of dry salad dressing mix makes a zesty seasoning for the bread. Finish each slice by adding a variety of toppings. For a fresh taste, cut up tomatoes, mix them with olive oil, basil, and salt. You can also toss in beans, corn, and cut-up avocado for a more Southwestern flair. For a heartier appetizer, use a piece of folded deli ham topped with a piece of Swiss cheese.

2. Taco Cups

For quick miniature taco cups, use scoop tortilla chips that are shaped like tiny cups. Fill each one with a spoonful of taco meat and top it with shredded cheese, cut tomato, and a bit of sour cream or salsa. Try a drop of creamy salad dressing as a flavorful substitute for sour cream. You can get as complex as you want with the taco cups, depending on the amount of time you have. Consider making vegetarian options with seasoned black beans instead of taco meat, or use ground turkey instead of beef for fewer calories and fat grams.

3. Crock Pot Meatballs

If you are very short on time, make crock pot meatballs. Put the meatballs going ahead of time in your crock pot; they can cook while you are at work or getting ready for the party. When they are done, leave them in the pot on low heat so they stay warm. Pile the meatballs on serving trays. Include a dish of toothpicks and a pot of dipping sauce like barbecue or salad dressing so guests can eat them easily without making a mess.

4. Hummus and Pita Chips

For a healthy, filling appetizer, put out hummus and pita chips. If you have time, make your own pita chips by cutting up pita halves, brushing them with oil and salt, and baking until crispy. Serve the pita chips with a small bowl of hummus; for a more complex dish, use two or three flavors of hummus.

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