Holiday Appetizers: savory favorites


It’s a semi-word thrown around quite easily these days, usually referring to smart phone applications (“apps”) like Instagram, Words with Friends, or Angry Birds (which apparently is at the top of the app popularity totem pole).

But when the holidays roll around, “app” means only one thing to me: appetizer, quite possibly my favorite food group.

Chips and dip, cheese and crackers, crostini and baked artichoke spread… Anything crunchy/salty/savory paired with anything rich/creamy/spreadable is a welcome break from the holiday cookies, candy, and other sweets so ubiquitous right about now.

So, without further ado, enjoy this tasty baker’s dozen of our favorite holiday appetizers. Bet you can’t make just one!

Flaky Cheese Twists (pictured above) – These tender, assertively cheesy pastries are absolutely addictive. And even better, they’re made from puff pastry dough that’s ridiculously simple to make. See step-by-step instructions.

Herb and Garlic Puffs – Have you ever made cream puff shells? These are the same thing, only accented with  herbs and garlic, then deep fried. Enjoy these delightful little treats with plain mayonnaise – or its garlicky cousin, aioli.

Spicy Garlic Nuts – Is holiday prep making you nuts? Then GO nuts! Baking nuts brings out their wonderful flavor; and when you add garlic oil, pepper, chili powder, and other spices, you create an irresistible treat. See step-by-step instructions.

Cheesy Pepperoni Bites – Cheese, onions, and pepperoni, all wrapped up in a tiny, tender biscuit: bite-sized pizza!

Vermont Cheese Crackers – Sure, you can buy cheese crackers at the supermarket. But there’s something about making your own crisp, fresh-baked crackers that’s just SO satisfying… See step-by-step directions.

Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip – Here’s a guilt-free way to enjoy the crunchy outside (and juicy inside) of a restaurant-style zucchini stick. This is our top-ranked appetizer recipe – don’t miss it! See step-by-step instructions.

Garlic and Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms – No self-respecting appetizer roundup could fail to include baked stuffed mushrooms. Our version includes flavored olive oil, cheese, garlic, and crunchy Panko bread crumbs.

Pizza Twists – These chewy yeast bread sticks filled with cheese and herbs make wonderful appetizers. Or serve with a salad or soup for a quick and light holiday meal.

Crunchy Crackers – You know those absolutely delicious Doctor Kracker crackers you see at the store? Here’s our wonderfully tasty clone. See step-by-step instructions.

Hot Popper Dip – This dip has all the great spicy flavors of hot poppers, but without stuffing or frying. It comes together in a snap, and can be made ahead, then reheated in the oven or microwave. See step-by-step instructions.

Spicy Jalapeño-Cheddar Mini Muffins – These savory mini muffins make a quick and easy appetizer. Or serve them with a pot of chili at your post-sledding supper party – the possibilities are endless.

Taco Dip – This dip combines the cool crunch of lettuce with black beans and a creamy, spicy cheese layer. It’s perfect for scooping with homemade toasted pita chips.

Self-Rising Garlic Sticks – Easy biscuit dough is shaped into sticks, bathed in garlic butter, then baked up into soft, pull-apart biscuit sticks. If you’re a fan of garlic bread, you’ll love this appetizer version.

And there you have it – everything you need for nibbling, snacking, grazing, and noshing. Happy holidays from the app elves here at King Arthur Flour!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Joyfulness

    I made the Fast and Easy Puff Pastry Cheese Twists today. They turned our fantatic. This was my first-ever attempt at making a pastry dough. I was impressed with this recipe and how truly easy and quick it was to prepare. The outcome was more than I hoped for. My husband loved them too. They were truly incredibly flakey, buttery and very, very tender. I think these cheesey twists would be great with an egg dish at breakfast.
    Oh my yes! What a great suggestion! ~ MaryJane

  2. annapolprior

    The herb and garlic puffs in the picture above look fried, yet the recipe link leads to a recipe and picture that clears shows the puffs are baked. Were the ones pictures in this post fried? Can you give guidelines for the frying?

    You’re right, Anna – I grabbed the wrong photo. Sorry about that! Those are Herb and Garlic Puffs. I’ll fix that link ASAP. Thanks – PJH

  3. peaceland

    Mary Jane – just wanted to let you know that my “KAF Combo Appetizers” – were a huge success. I put Pepperoni and Italian blend cheese in at the dough making stage…short rise (I was kind of in a hurry) – rolled out like most of the twist recipes show… some melted butter, KAF Pizza seasoning, fold, cut, twist, another short rise, then bake … PERFECT even my 8 year old grandson said they tasted almost like pizza! THANKS KAF for all you do for the BAKERS of the WORLD! — Funny I read the other comments – I have a JOB App – that I’m working on — and baking is always better than vacuuming!
    Fantastic! We had the pizza pepperoni sticks for a quick easy lunch on Christmas eve, plus I made a loaf version for panini that is in the freezer. Great that it worked out so well for both of us. 😉 ~ MaryJane

  4. Alice

    Just made a batch of parmesan shortbread with a tablespoon of your pizza seasoning mixed into it. Wonderful flavor, but just a bit too much butter in the recipe I used. Does KAF have a savory or cheesy shortbread recipe?

    Hmm I don’t believe that we do! However I will certainly pass the request along and maybe our test kitchen will try it!-Jon

  5. peaceland

    Well, I’m going to put these ideas to use and come up with something that will use my Sourdough Discard as part of an APP…these ideas really have the creative juices flowing! I’m thinking a twisty type bread pepperoni type app. Maybe I’ll call it a KAF Combo App!! Also, just finished Holiday Butter Cookies! It’s a KAF kind of day!

    I’ll be home around 5:30. A double batch should do it. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  6. Laurie

    Thanks for the inspiring ideas!
    In our house “apps” also refers to the college applications that our high school senior has been working on. Almost finished!
    PLEASE tell me your secret! I can’t get my senior to start ;0 ~ MaryJane


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *