Recipes for Cocktail Party Appetizers: Finger-Lickin' Good Party Bites

Cocktail party appetizers should always be little bite of food that are easily eaten with the fingers, off of a napkin, with little sauce so that hands stay clean for those schmoozy moments of handshaking. You really don't want your guests to be dripping and dribbling sauces down the front of themselves, on to rugs and/or each other!  

Seafood is one of the all-time great cocktail party appetizers. It's quick and easy to prepare, easy to serve hot or cold and doesn't require a ton of sauce to give it flavor. With its gentle natural sweetness, seafood is the ultimate in appetizer goodness.

The appetizer recipes you'll find below are mostly fairly simple, and definitely easy to eat. But they're so tasty and full of flavor that you're guests may be worried about looking impolite when they lick their fingers clean!

When you're done looking at these great ideas for cocktail party hors d'oeuvres, check out the following pages for even more fun party bites:

  • Cold Hors d'Oeuvres RecipesLINKS
  • Finger Foods for Parties
  • Spicy Shrimp Appetizers
  • Puff Pastry Party Appetizers

Hot and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Appetizer

Shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon
To start off our cocktail party appetizers, we are going to add some kick in our step, with a bit of spice. You can play with this recipe a bit by using different types of cheese or peppered bacon as substitutes for the feta and regular bacon.

No matter what variation you opt for, these little cocktail party appetizers are to die for delicious. Tender and flaky shrimp, creamy-salty melted cheese, a splash of spice, and crispy-smokey bacon... it's one of those appetizer combos that dreams are made of!

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  • 20 raw 16/20 shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
  • 8 oz. feta cheese (cut into chunks)
  • 3 Ancho peppers, seeded and slivered
  • 10 slices hickory smoked thick-sliced bacon, cut in half
  • 20 toothpicks, soaked in white wine
Directions: 1. Prepare your grill so that it's well-oiled and warmed to a  medium-low heat. While that's warming you're going to butterfly your shrimp by cutting down the back nearly all the way through. Open the shrimp up on a clean cutting board. Put a chunk of feta on each with slivers of Ancho then wrap the shrimp closed with bacon secured by a toothpick.  

2. Cook on the grill top until the bacon crisps and the shrimp turns pink (on average 10 to 15 minutes). If you don't want to grill, these broil quite nicely too. Just watch closely as there's a fine line between done and burnt!

Spicy Crab and Clam Portobello Mushrooms Recipe

Portobello mushrooms with clams and crabmeat
Keeping with our "spicy" theme, stuffed mushroom are another cocktail party appetizer staple. Stuffing them with seafood combines the best of all worlds, and adds an elegant and unique touch to this classic hors d'oeuvre recipe.

The ingredient list might look a little long here, but remember: the mushrooms can be made up entirely ahead, and simply cooked before serving. This is a great option if you're looking for make ahead recipes to serve for your cocktail party.

You can also find some more great make ahead appetizer recipes right here.

Makes 60 small mushrooms or 30 larger ones.

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  • Ingredients:
  • 1/4 c. salted butter
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large red onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 tbs. fresh minced garlic
  • 2 (6.5 oz. ea) cans chopped clams, drained
  • 1/2 lb. cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chicken or vegetable bouillon granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 c. croutons
  • 1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 lb. cooked lump crabmeat
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 lbs. smallish portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1 cup shredded fresh parmesan and Romano cheese
Directions: 1. Melt the first 1/4 cup butter in a large frying pan. Stir in the celery, onion, and garlic, cooking them over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add the chopped clams and salad shrimp, cooking for 3 more minutes, until the mixture is hot.  

2. Drain off excess liquid from the pan (all but 1 tablespoon). To this base add the bouillon granules, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and stir. Now toss in the croutons, bread crumbs, and crab meat. This is the stuffing for these tasty cocktail party appetizers.  

3. Prepare a baking dish with the final 1/4 cup of butter and white wine. Stuff each mushroom cap, placing them evenly spaced in the baking dish. Sprinkle the Italian cheese over top. These need to cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes (they'll be bubbly and lightly browned).

Creamy Crab Rangoon Bites

Crab Rangoon Appetizer Bites for a Cocktail PartyI absolutely love the two spicy cocktail party appetizer recipes you'll find above-- they're so full of flavor. But if you want to cool things down a bit, try some crispy and creamy Crab Rangoon bites... but with a twist!

These little crispy bites use fresh or frozen crab meat and a lovely touch of garlic... they're nothing like the cheap and flavorless version you'll find at your local Chinese takeout. I promise you that your guests will keep coming back for more.

As a bonus, you can assemble these cocktail party appetizers completely ahead of time, cover them, and bake them up right before serving. Easy peasy.

Makes 4 dozen appetizers.

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  • Ingredients:
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. crabmeat, flaked
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 48 wonton wrappers (you can use spring roll wrappers)
Directions: 1. Combine all your ingredients but for the wonton wrappers in a bowl. To the side, have the wonton wrappers ready but covered with a damp towel so they don't dry up.  

2. Line each cup of a mini muffin pan with one wonton wrap. Fill with 1-2 tsp. of the crab mix. From here you can go one of two ways with this recipe. Synch up the tops of the crab bites leaving them in the muffin pan to cook. You can accomplish this by dampening the wonton edges and pressing them together as you might a piecrust. Or, you can take each out of the muffin pan, fold them over, seal with a bit of water and bake on an oiled cookie sheet. Both methods yield similar results.  

3. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, and enjoy these tasty cocktail party appetizers piping hot.


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Planning a special event and looking for more cocktail party appetizers and tasty party bites to serve? We've got tons! Check out:

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