Appetizers are key to throwing a successful party -- we've got three reasons why. First, they give your guests something to eat while you're getting the food ready. Second, it keeps them out of your hair when you're cooking up a storm. And third, it's good to have a lot of appetizers just in case -- if either you don't end up having enough of the main meal or it doesn't turn out quite as you expected. Though it's okay to be serving store-bought chips and dips, you can do so much better. We've got a number of appetizers that will impress even the biggest critic.
If you're pressed for time, see our easy appetizers like crostini. They're quick to put together with just a few, simple ingredients (see our goat cheese crostini with pickled peppers). But if you've got some more time on your hands and want to really impress your guests, you can make more elaborate appetizers like salt cod croquettes, hush puppies with tomato jam or even fancy cheese gougeres that can serve as little sandwiches. We've got appetizers that suit all your needs, with everything from fancy canapes to easy appetizers in the slideshow below.
Salt Cod Croquettes
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/salt-cod-croquettes_n_1058661.html" target="_hplink">Salt Cod Croquettes recipe</a></strong> These Brazilian-style croquettes make the perfect appetizer, because they go well with a cold beer or a Caipirinha. The creamy interior and crispy exterior will have you reaching for more.
Squash Blossoms With Pimento Ricotta
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/squash-blossoms-with-pime_n_1059208.html" target="_hplink">Squash Blossoms with Pimento Ricotta recipe</a></strong> This appetizer of squash blossoms takes inspiration from italy and the South. The blossoms are stuffed with pimento ricotta and presented on top of crostini.
Vegetable Summer Rolls With Chile-Lime Dipping Sauce
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/vegetable-summer-rolls-wi_n_1058771.html" target="_hplink">Vegetable Summer Rolls with Chile-Lime Dipping Sauce recipe</a></strong> Bell pepper, avocado, cucumber, alfalfa and rice noodles are packed into these Vietnamese-style summer rolls. Serve with a tangy dipping sauce.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/gorditas_n_1058418.html" target="_hplink">Gorditas recipe</a> </strong> Bring the flavors of Mexico to your party with this favorite street food. The gorditas are very easy to make with just masa harina (corn flour), water and oil for frying. Top them with shredded chicken, sour cream, cheese and salsa.
Goat Cheese Crostini With Pickled Peppers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/goat-cheese-crostini-with_n_1058415.html" target="_hplink">Goat Cheese Crostini with Pickled Peppers recipe</a></strong> This appetizer couldn't be any easier. All you need to do is spread toasted slices of baguette with goat cheese and top each with pickled peppers and chopped chives. It's simple yet flavorful.
Hush Puppies With Green Zebra Tomato Jam
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/hush-puppies-with-green-z_n_1058498.html" target="_hplink">Hush Puppies with Green Zebra Tomato Jam recipe</a></strong> For this recipe, green zebra tomatoes are cooked into a sweet, spicy and savory jam that's perfect for dipping into with fluffy hush puppies.
Bacon And Gorgonzola Cornbread Sliders With Chipotle Mayo
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/bacon-and-gorgonzola-corn_n_1383800.html" target="_hplink">Bacon and Gorgonzola Cornbread Sliders with Chipotle Mayo recipe</a></strong> These unique sliders use corn muffins flavored with chives and gorgonzola as the buns. Top the mini burgers with sauteed onion and cheddar cheese.
Zucchini-And-Pepper Gratin With Herbs And Cheese
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/zucchini-and-pepper-grati_n_1058807.html" target="_hplink">Zucchini-and-Pepper Gratin with Herbs and Cheese recipe</a></strong> To create this elegant appetizer, top slices of zucchini with sauteed vegetables and grated Swiss cheese. Bake in the oven to melt the cheese and serve hot or at room temperature.
Shrimp-And-Pork Spring Rolls
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/shrimp-and-pork-spring-ro_n_1060881.html" target="_hplink">Shrimp-and-Pork Spring Rolls recipe</a></strong> You can easily find spring roll wrappers in the supermarket to make them at home. The filling in this recipe includes sauteed shrimp, ground pork, jicama, carrot, cucumber, green beans and eggs for a play on texture.
Bacon-Wrapped Rice Cakes With A Jalapeno Ponzu
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/bacon-wrapped-rice-cakes-_n_1061463.html" target="_hplink">Bacon-Wrapped Rice Cakes with a Jalapeno Ponzu recipe</a></strong> This Korean-style snack features slices of rice cake wrapped in bacon, seared until crisp. Serve with an easy dipping sauce made from Asian condiments and hot jalapeno.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/cheddar-goug232res_n_1060862.html" target="_hplink">Cheddar Gougeres recipe</a></strong> These French puffs are flavored with cheddar, but you can use any hard cheese. They're delicious served as they are, but you can also make mini sandwiches with them.
Crostini With Roasted Hatch Chiles and Goat Cheese
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/crostini-with-roasted-hat_n_1056744.html" target="_hplink">Crostini with Roasted Hatch Chiles and Goat Cheese recipe</a></strong> Grilled hatch chiles make a flavorful and summery topping for these crostini, which are spread with herbed goat cheese.
Fried Pickles With Ranch Dressing
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/fried-pickles-with-ranch-_n_1061349.html" target="_hplink">Fried Pickles with Ranch Dressing recipe</a></strong> Fried pickles? Why not? Use small gherkins, pickle slices and cocktail onions. A dip in buttermilk batter turns them extra crispy when fried. Serve with ranch dressing.
Goat Cheese And Chorizo Rolls
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/goat-cheese--chorizo-rol_n_1058413.html" target="_hplink">Goat Cheese and Chorizo Rolls recipe</a></strong> These Argentinian-inspired appetizer rolls are easy to make when you use store-bought phyllo dough. The filling includes flavorful chorizo and goat cheese.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/jalapeno-poppers_n_1058005.html" target="_hplink">Jalapeno Poppers recipe</a></strong> Everyone will love these grilled jalapeno poppers filled with cream cheese and wrapped in smoky bacon.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/lamb-pizzettes_n_1058514.html" target="_hplink">Lamb Pizzettes recipe</a></strong> These Middle Eastern-inspired pizzettes feature crisply sauteed spiced ground lamb and yogurt, which top toasted mini pitas.
Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/mini-panamanian-beef-empa_n_1058560.html" target="_hplink">Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas recipe</a></strong> The dough for these empanadas comes together easily and quickly, guaranteeing you will have flaky pastries. The beef filling is packed with vegetables and flavorful seasonings.
Scandinavian Pickled Herring Bites
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/scandinavian-pickled-herr_n_1062310.html" target="_hplink">Scandinavian Pickled Herring Bites recipe</a></strong> This Scandinavian appetizer is simple and refreshing. Slices of cooked red potato get topped with pickled herring, sour cream and dill.
Olive And Garlic Tapenade
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/olive-and-garlic-tapenade_n_1059869.html" target="_hplink">Olive and Garlic Tapenade recipe</a></strong> Don't bother buying olive tapenade when you can make a much more flavorful version at home. All you need are olives, garlic, anchovies and fresh herbs to make this spread.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/spanish-meatballs_n_1057020.html" target="_hplink">Spanish Meatballs recipe</a></strong> These pork-and-beef meatballs take on Spanish flair from paprika. Serve with tomato sauce and bread for dipping.
Smoked Salmon And Caper Grilled Appetizer Pizzas
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/smoked-salmon-and-caper-g_n_1061364.html" target="_hplink">Smoked Salmon and Caper Grilled Appetizer Pizzas recipe</a></strong> These mini pizzas are made right on the grill. Then they're topped with cream cheese, slivers of smoked salmon, capers and cucumber slices. They go perfectly with chilled white wine.
Korean Sushi Rolls With Walnut-Edamame Crumble
<strong>Get the <a href="Korean Sushi Rolls with Walnut-Edamame Crumble " target="_hplink">Korean Sushi Rolls with Walnut-Edamame Crumble recipe</a></strong> These flavorful Korean-style sushi rolls are filled with carrot, pickled vegetables, walnuts and edamame. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.
Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/toasted-pistachio-cheese-_n_1058751.html" target="_hplink">Toasted Pistachio-Cheese Arancini recipe</a></strong> Leftover rice or risotto get reinvented into these balls, called arancini (small oranges) in Italian. They're filled with mozzarella, peas and pistachios. Coating them in panko ensures they fry up extra crispy.
Deviled Egg Spread
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/deviled-egg-spread_n_1058370.html" target="_hplink">Deviled Egg Spread recipe</a></strong> Instead of making deviled eggs in their egg halves, serve them on toast to create these open-faced finger sandwiches.
Wasabi Crab On Endive
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/wasabi-crab-on-endive_n_1049373.html" target="_hplink">Wasabi Crab on Endive recipe</a></strong> Spicy wasabi mayonnaise kicks up lump crabmeat to create a flavorful filling for endive leaves, which act as little cups to hold the filling. Garnish with cilantro.
Smoked Salmon Tartare
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/smoked-salmon-tartare_n_1049369.html" target="_hplink">Smoked Salmon Tartare recipe</a></strong> Sliced radishes function as the foundation for this appetizer of smoked salmon, sour cream and dill. It's easy to make and very flavorful.
Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/slow-roasted-cherry-tomat_n_1049680.html" target="_hplink">Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta recipe</a></strong> To make this easy appetizer, all you need to do is roast cherry tomatoes until they break down. Toss with basil and vinegar to make a flavorful topping for toasted baguette.
WATCH: How To Cook Stuffed Tomato Canapes