20 appetizers that will make you skip dinner entirely

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Appetizers so great, you’ll toss the dinner menu out the window. These 20 starters are the perfect excuse to call it quits early and dive straight into snacking bliss. Forget the formalities of a full meal; these bites are all you need for a great evening. So grab a plate, because once you start, you might not want to stop. Dinner? What dinner?

A person holding up a cucumber slice topped with taco dip.
Taco Dip with Cream Cheese. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Jalapeño Cranberry Dip

A cracker being dipped into a dish of jalapeño cranberry dip.
Jalapeño Cranberry Dip. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Jalapeño Cranberry Dip is great when you need an appetizer that doubles as a party starter. This dip features the sharp taste of cranberries paired with spicy jalapeños blended into a smooth, creamy base made from cream cheese and heavy cream. The result is a dip that strikes a balance between spicy and sweet, making it perfect for keeping the conversation lively. With its eye-catching color and bold flavors, who needs to rush to the dinner table when you have such a crowd-pleaser?
Get the Recipe: Jalapeño Cranberry Dip

Whipped Feta with Honey Dip

A plate of whipped feta with honey dip and crackers on it.
Whipped Feta with Honey Dip. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This dip is great for when you want to start the party early and keep it going. Whipped Feta with Honey Dip combines smooth feta cheese, creamy cream cheese, and a bit of lemon zest, all blended into a creamy texture. Just drizzle it with honey and it’s ready to pair with your favorite dippers like crackers, pita bread, or fresh veggies. Ready in a flash, it’s perfect for those times when you want to prep ahead and relax on the day of your event. The dip is so good, that it might just make you forget about cooking a main dish altogether.
Get the Recipe: Whipped Feta with Honey Dip

Cold Shrimp and Cucumber Appetizer

A person holding a cucumber with shrimp and guacamole.
Cold Shrimp and Cucumber Appetizer. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

The Cold Shrimp and Cucumber Appetizer is perfect for a light but impressive start to your meal. Featuring seasoned, cooked shrimp and crisp cucumber slices, all topped with fresh homemade guacamole, this dish is as refreshing as it is easy to prepare. Ready in about 25 minutes, it’s a go-to for last-minute gatherings. Not only does it look great on the plate, but its fresh flavors also make it hard to stop at just one. You might not need a main course when your appetizers are this good.
Get the Recipe: Cold Shrimp and Cucumber Appetizer

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts on a plate.
Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

These Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts serve as a memorable appetizer made with minimal effort. This dish combines the crunch of water chestnuts with the rich, crispy texture of bacon. It takes about an hour to prepare, with the bacon being pre-baked to enhance its crispiness before wrapping around the chestnuts and getting a final bake with a brush of ketchup, brown sugar, and soy sauce for added flavor. This appetizer is not just easy to make ahead of your event, it also frees you up to take care of other hosting duties. The sweet bite is so good that your guests might just forget about dinner.
Get the Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Loaded Zucchini Boats

Three loaded zucchini boats on a plate.
Loaded Zucchini Boats. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Loaded Zucchini Boats serve a hearty start to any gathering. Filled with bacon slices, melted cheese, and a dollop of sour cream, these zucchini boats are baked until golden and delicious. They require just 10 minutes of prep time and about 40 minutes in the oven. These boats are a perfect option if you’re looking to impress with minimal kitchen time. They are so filling and flavorful that your guests might just hope dinner is delayed a bit longer.
Get the Recipe: Loaded Zucchini Boats

Baked Tomatoes with Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese

Baked tomatoes with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese garnished with parsley.
Baked Tomatoes with Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Baked Tomatoes with Parmesan and Mozzarella are a great appetizer for those seeking something cozy and cheesy without much hassle. All you need is 25 minutes to slice the tomatoes, top them with mozzarella and Parmesan, and bake until the cheese is bubbly and hearty. This simple dish not only delivers great flavor but also acts as a great conversation starter among your guests. The combination of melting cheeses and fresh tomatoes serves as a perfect reason to linger over appetizers and postpone the main course just a little longer.
Get the Recipe: Baked Tomatoes with Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes

A baking sheet with garnished parmesan crusted potatoes on it.
Parmesan Crusted Potatoes. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes are a great option for hosts looking to add a substantial yet straightforward appetizer to their spread. These potatoes take about 50 minutes to prepare, involving slicing, coating in a Parmesan mix, and baking until golden and crisp. This appetizer is not just easy to whip up but also can be prepared in advance, reducing your workload during the party. The crispy, cheesy coating makes these potatoes so good that your guests will be too busy enjoying them to think about dinner. Plus, they serve a good start to any meal that might make everyone happy to just keep snacking.
Get the Recipe: Parmesan Crusted Potatoes

Taco Dip with Cream Cheese

Cheesy taco dip in a white baking dish.
Taco Dip with Cream Cheese. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Taco Dip with Cream Cheese is the perfect choice for a quick and straightforward appetizer, ready in just 15 minutes. It combines cream cheese and sour cream with taco seasoning, then layered with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and shredded cheese to create a rich and flavorful dip. It’s incredibly easy to assemble, making it great for unexpected guests or last-minute get-togethers. Serve this with tortilla chips or sliced veggies, and watch it disappear before dinner even crosses your guests’ minds. This dip not only saves time but also keeps everyone content and occupied with its great flavor and variety.
Get the Recipe: Taco Dip with Cream Cheese

Sausage Balls with Cream Cheese

Sausage balls on a plate with a side of dipping sauce.
Sausage Balls with Cream Cheese. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you’re looking for a hearty and easy-to-make starter, Sausage Balls with Cream Cheese are the way to go. They mix spicy Italian sausage with creamy cheese and are rolled into balls that are baked until golden. Preparation is a breeze, and you can have these ready in about 30 minutes. You can even make them a day ahead of your party prep. These sausage balls are so filling and rich in flavor, that they can easily turn from a simple appetizer into the star of your evening.
Get the Recipe: Sausage Balls with Cream Cheese

Halloumi Fries

Halloumi fries with dill dip on a plate.
Halloumi Fries. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Halloumi Fries are a great choice for an out-of-the-ordinary appetizer. Slice up some Halloumi cheese, coat each piece in a mixture of flour and spices, and bake until they’re crispy. The seasoning mix of smoked paprika, garlic powder, and a touch of salt and pepper adds a delectable depth to the fries, making them good to enjoy on their own or with a choice of dipping sauces. These fries are best served hot and fresh, ready in about 25 minutes. They bring a crunchy texture and a nice salty kick to your appetizer lineup. With a snack this good, guests might linger around the appetizer table a little longer than expected.
Get the Recipe: Halloumi Fries

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms on a serving tray.
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms are perfect for keeping your guests engaged right from the start. These mushrooms are generously filled with a hearty mixture of Italian sausage, cream cheese, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and a rich mix of herbs and spices. You can prepare the filling up to two days ahead, which means less rush on the day of your event. Simply stuff and bake for about 20 minutes, and they’re ready to serve. These mushrooms are so rich and full of flavor, that they could easily turn from a simple appetizer into the star of the show.
Get the Recipe: Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Chili Cheese Dip

Chili cheese dip in a baking dish with toppings.
Chili Cheese Dip. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Chili Cheese Dip is a real crowd-pleaser and incredibly easy to prepare, making it a great choice for a casual get-together. It’s a creamy mix of cream cheese, cheddar, spices, salsa, and chili that only takes about 30 minutes to whip up. This dip is versatile, pairing perfectly with everything from chips to sliced veggies or even bread. It’s so good and filling that your guests might linger around the dip bowl a bit longer, putting the main course on pause while they enjoy the rich, spicy flavors.
Get the Recipe: Chili Cheese Dip

Zucchini Bites

A zucchini bite being dipped into a dipping sauce.
Zucchini Bites. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Zucchini Bites serves a light yet good start to any party. These bites are made by combining grated zucchini, melted cheese, and a dash of Italian seasoning, then baking them into crisp tots. They’re quick to make, taking only about 30 minutes from start to finish, and are perfect with marinara or sour cream for dipping. The bites are so flavorful and easy to munch on that they might just convince your guests that these alone could suffice for the evening, slowing down the rush to the dinner table.
Get the Recipe: Zucchini Bites

Jalapeño Spinach Artichoke Dip

A dish of jalapeño spinach artichoke dip with a spoon scooping out a serving.
Jalapeño Spinach Artichoke Dip. Photo credit: Plays Well With Butter.

Jalapeño Spinach Artichoke Dip is a perfect mix of spicy and creamy, sure to draw attention at any gathering. It blends cream cheese, jalapeños, spinach, artichokes, and a mix of cheeses, creating a complex flavor enhanced with Parmesan, sour cream, and spices. This dip is not only easy to make but also cooks in just about 50 minutes.
Get the Recipe: Jalapeño Spinach Artichoke Dip

Bacon Wrapped Mini Peppers

A plate of bacon wrapped mini peppers.
Bacon Wrapped Mini Peppers. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Bacon Wrapped Mini Peppers are a guaranteed hit at any party. They are stuffed with a flavorful filling of cream cheese, cheddar, and Everything Bagel seasoning, then wrapped in bacon that crisps up perfectly in the oven. They take about 45 minutes to prepare and cook, and you can even make them ahead for your party preparations. These peppers are so packed with flavor that they might prompt your guests to fill up on appetizers alone, potentially making dinner an afterthought.
Get the Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Mini Peppers

Spicy Tuna Cucumber Boats

Spicy tuna cucumber boats on a plate.
Spicy Tuna Cucumber Boats. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Spicy Tuna Cucumber Boats are the go-to choice for a light yet spicy snack that keeps the conversation going longer at your gatherings. They combine the cool crunch of cucumber with the spicy kick of tuna mixed with cream cheese and spices. Just slice the cucumbers, hollow out the centers, and fill them up. These boats are ready in just 10 minutes and cater perfectly to health-conscious guests looking for a snack that’s both quick and flavorful. They’re so good that your guests might forget they’re waiting for a main course, letting everyone relax more and rush less.
Get the Recipe: Spicy Tuna Cucumber Boats

Chicken Bacon Ranch Poppers

A chicken bacon ranch popper skewered by a toothpick.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Poppers. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Poppers are all about bringing big flavors in small bites. They fuse juicy chicken with crispy bacon and melted cheese, drizzled with a homemade ranch seasoning made from mayo, sour cream, and spices. You can whip these up in about an hour or even prepare them ahead of time for your party prep. These poppers serve as a filling appetizer that makes dinner seem less urgent, keeping your guests content and focused on the fun and flavors at hand.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Bacon Ranch Poppers

Bacon Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sliders

A hand holding a toothpick with a bacon egg and cheese breakfast slider.
Bacon Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sliders. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Bacon Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sliders serves a creative spin on traditional breakfast items featuring crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, and a touch of mashed avocado on small buns made with halves of hard-boiled egg whites. Easy to assemble and ready to serve in just 30 minutes, these sliders not only bring a playful element to your gatherings but also ensure that guests have a good start.
Get the Recipe: Bacon Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sliders

Bacon Tomato Avocado Cucumber Boats

A plate of bacon tomato avocado cucumber boats.
Bacon Tomato Avocado Cucumber Boats. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

These Bacon Tomato Avocado Cucumber Boats make a fresh and fast appetizer that’s always a party favorite. The crispness of the cucumber combined with the rich textures of cream cheese, mashed avocado, bacon, and tomatoes serves a refreshing yet delicious bite. These are ready in 10 minutes and are perfect for guests who prefer lighter fare before the main meal. The delicious balance of flavors and the quick prep time mean less stress for you and more time for fun. They’re so good that dinner might just take a back seat.
Get the Recipe: Bacon Tomato Avocado Cucumber Boats

Cucumber Tomato Bites

A hand holding a cucumber tomato bite.
Cucumber Tomato Bites. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Cucumber Tomato Bites are your answer to a light and refreshing appetizer that’s ready in a flash. Top slices of cucumber with a spicy mix of cream cheese, mayo, and hot sauce, and then garnish with cherry tomatoes for a juicy finish. These bites are ready in 15 minutes and are best served chilled, making them a great choice for hot days or indoor gatherings. The combination of fresh ingredients and quick preparation makes these bites a hit, often leading guests to linger over the appetizers instead of looking forward to dinner.
Get the Recipe: Cucumber Tomato Bites

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