Appetizers: What Are They?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 5, 2022

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Appetizers are small bites of food served before the main course to stimulate the appetite. Any dish can be an appetizer if it’s served before the main course, so let’s look at the types of appetizers people usually serve.

What are appetizers

What are Appetizers?


Cocktails are the perfect way to get the party started! They can be a mix of bite-sized pieces of fish, shellfish, drinks, and fruits. They should be fresh, attractive, and have an eye-catching appeal. Here are some examples of what you can find in a cocktail:

  • Fish, crayfish, prawns, shrimps, or oysters served with a tangy sauce
  • Chilled fruit juices like orange, pineapple, grapefruit, or tomato
  • Chopped fruit pieces coated in a natural yoghurt

Hors d’oeuvres

Hors d’oeuvres are small portions of highly seasoned foods that are meant to be eaten by hand. They can be either hot or cold. When making hors d’oeuvres, simplicity should be the main criteria. Here are some examples of hors d’oeuvres:

  • Small items served on a skewer, stick, or toothpick like bacon-wrapped oysters, satay beef skewers, or cheese and fruit kebabs
  • Small pastry shells filled with savoury or sweet ingredients like mini-quiches
  • Small fried items like meatballs, wontons, samosas, and egg rolls served with a dipping sauce
  • Cut raw vegetables served with a dip or dips served with crackers or chips
  • A simple bowl of nuts served with drinks before dinner
  • Deviled eggs


Canapés are bite-sized or two-bite-sized finger foods that consist of four parts: a base, a spread or topping, and garnish or garniture. They can be served hot or cold and should be dainty, petite, fresh, and have an eye-catching appeal. Here are some examples of canapés:

  • A base of a small piece of bread, pastry, or crackers like crostini and bruschetta
  • A flavourful spread like real butter, flavoured cream cheese, or mayonnaise
  • A topping of meat, seafood, vegetable, or fruit like steak, prosciutto ham, smoked salmon, lobster, or shrimp
  • A garnish like tiny minced onions, herbs, or caviar


Relishes/Crudité are pickled items and raw, crisp vegetables like julienned carrots or celery sticks. They are usually served in a slightly deep, boat-shaped dish.


Petite salads are small portions of salads that usually display the characteristics found in the most salads. Salads come in two types: plain and compound. Plain salads include cucumber, tomato, and beetroot salads. Compound salads include Salad Russe (dices of mixed vegetables in mayonnaise), Salad Waldref (dices of apple, celery, and walnut bounded with mayonnaise), and Caesar Salad (lettuce with vinaigrette dressing along with garlic, croutons, and grated parmesan cheese).


Soup is the perfect teaser to the main course. They complement what is served after it and are seasoned with flavours that stimulate the appetite. Here’s an example of a delicious soup appetizer: Chicken Taco Soup.


Savoury dips are popular accompaniments to appetizers. They can be served with chips, crackers, or vegetables. Examples of dips include hummus, guacamole, salsa, and tzatziki.

Stimulating Your Appetite With Different Types of Appetizers

Preparing and Serving Appetizers

When it comes to appetizers, presentation is key. They should look attractive and taste delicious. Here are some tips for preparing and serving appetizers:

  • Make sure the appetizers look appetizing. Use colorful ingredients and arrange them in an attractive way.
  • Don’t forget the flavor. Use herbs, spices, and other flavorings to make the appetizers as tasty as possible.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate the appetizers by combining too many ingredients.
  • Serve the appetizers at the right temperature. Hot appetizers should be served hot, and cold appetizers should be served cold.
  • Don’t forget the garnish. A few sprigs of parsley or a sprinkle of grated cheese can take an appetizer from good to great.

Making Appetizers Fun

Appetizers don’t have to be boring. Get creative and have some fun with them! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make mini versions of your favorite dishes. Mini tacos, mini pizzas, and mini burgers are always a hit.
  • Serve something unexpected. Try making an appetizer out of something you wouldn’t normally think of, like watermelon or popcorn.
  • Get your guests involved. Have your guests make their own appetizers, like mini quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Make it interactive. Serve your appetizers in a way that encourages your guests to interact, like a build-your-own taco bar.
  • Don’t forget the presentation. Serve your appetizers on a fun platter or in a creative way.

Appetizers are a great way to get your guests in the mood for a delicious meal. With a little creativity and some tasty ingredients, you can create appetizers that are sure to please.

Delicious Appetiser Ideas for Your Next Party

Hot or Cold?

Are you throwing a party and don’t know what to serve? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Appetisers are the perfect way to get your guests in the mood for a good time. Whether you’re serving up hot or cold dishes, there’s something for everyone.

  • Cheese and crackers
  • Chopped veggies with dip
  • Sliced or small fruits
  • Canapés
  • Club sandwiches
  • Spring rolls
  • Arancini balls
  • Mini hotdogs
  • Miniature meat pies
  • Sausage rolls

Easy to Eat and Enjoy

Appetisers are the perfect way to keep your guests happy without having to worry about them needing to sit down with a bowl of soup. All of these delicious dishes are easy to handle with just a napkin and easy to eat in one or two bites. So your guests can keep on mingling, dancing, and chatting without having to worry about their plates.

The Perfect Pairing

If your guests are planning on consuming alcohol, appetisers are the perfect way to cut down on alcohol absorption. So why not serve up some delicious snacks to go with your drinks? Trust us, your guests will thank you for it!

Time to Get Cooking!

Ready to get cooking? Check out our amazing collection of appetiser recipes and get ready to wow your guests! From classic favourites to modern twists, we’ve got something for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!


Appetizers are a great way to get your taste buds ready for a delicious meal. Whether you’re looking for something light and refreshing like a cocktail or something more substantial like a hors d’oeuvre, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to try something new, like a RELISH or CRUDITE, and don’t forget to use your chopsticks like a PRO! And remember, appetizers are the ‘APPETIZER’ to your meal, so don’t fill up too much or you won’t be able to enjoy the main course!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.