Put down the takeout menu and pick up your kitchen implements. Chinese appetizers are even better when made at home than ordered from your favorite restaurant, and you'll have the added satisfaction of telling your guests you made them yourselves. From egg rolls to dumplings to lettuce wraps, Chinese-inspired starters are the perfect party food, even if your party isn't strictly Asian themed.
Some of these recipes are considered Asian-fusion fare, while others are traditionally Chinese. Feel free to put your own spin on them once you master the techniques to suit your audience.
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Spareribs are often part of a pu pu platter—a selection of Chinese appetizers. There's a range of flavors that can be used, and they're all delicious. Some enjoy the flavors of honey and garlic, others go for a spicier presentation, and still others use black bean and oyster sauce. This hoisin version is relatively simple and wallet friendly. This recipe will serve four to six people as a meal portion, or about double that as an appetizer.
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Chinese Pork Pot Stickers
These popular dumplings, steamed on one side and pan-fried on the other, are very easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. Choose a basic pork recipe for the same flavor you've enjoyed before. This version also includes instructions for making the dough, but you can buy premade wrappers, too, if you prefer. They're delicious served with soy sauce and ginger, hot chile oil, or dumpling dipping sauce.
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Traditional Crab Rangoon
Crab rangoon, also called crab puffs, are an American-Chinese invention featuring a crispy fried wrapper and a creamy crab and cheese interior. Instead of rolling into a log or pinching into a half-moon, crab rangoon are formed into triangles or flower shapes before frying, which makes them especially pretty on your appetizer platter. Dip them in a little soy or hoisin sauce for extra zing.
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Chinese Chicken Wings
No matter the flavor, you just can't go wrong with chicken wings. The Chinese-inspired kind has become popular to serve in place of the spicy Buffalo version. These have the same addictive crispy exterior but are coated in Asian-inspired flavors. Served with garlic, hoisin, and honey marinade, these are bound to get people licking their fingers.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Vegetable Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are an excellent choice for a party, since they can be eaten with your fingers and don't make a mess. If you're looking for a vegetarian or even vegan option for your guests, these veggie spring rolls will satisfy everyone. Make sure to chop the vegetables finely and mix well, to ensure they cook through.
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Asian Lettuce Wraps
Just because you're watching what you eat doesn't mean you can't enjoy a fun finger-food at the party. And lettuce wraps don't skimp on the flavor. The chicken and vegetables are stir-fried in an oyster-flavored sauce before being wrapped in iceberg lettuce. If you have leftover chicken in the fridge, this recipe comes together even quicker; just add the chicken toward the end of stir-frying to blend the flavors.
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Fried Shrimp Toast
A popular dim sum appetizer, shrimp toast lives on Chinese restaurant menus all over the country for good reason. It does require a few steps, but enjoying crisp, savory shrimp toast at your party is well worth it. Don't skip the lard; it gives the toast a crunchy, airy texture just like at the restaurant. If you'd rather not deep-fry them, this recipe also includes a baked option.
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DIY Steamed Pork Buns
There's simply nothing like that feeling when the top comes off the steamer basket at a dim sum restaurant, revealing pillowy, meaty steamed buns inside. Replicate that joy at home with homemade char siu bao, or pork buns. The slightly sweet umami meat complements the fluffy bun perfectly, and they'll definitely please your guests.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Healthier Baked Egg Rolls
Egg rolls are always popular when ordering Chinese takeout, but you don't have to fire up a pot of hot oil to make them. This easy baked recipe uses ground chicken and foregoes the oil, for a lighter version. When assembling egg rolls for a party that requires eating while standing, roll each one small enough to hold and eat in about two bites. For a different flavor, try stuffing them with marinated pork, mushrooms, water chestnuts, cabbage, and bean sprouts.
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Fried Shrimp Balls
These delicious shrimp balls include water chestnuts for a little extra crunch, and taste great with sweet and sour sauce, cocktail sauce, or Chinese spicy mustard. You can also make them gluten-free by using gluten-free soy sauce and cornstarch in the recipe.
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Lotus Leaf Wraps
Pretend you're running your own dim sum restaurant with these sausage-filled lotus wraps. Give yourself a couple of hours to soak the lotus wraps ahead of time, so they're easier to fold. The black mushrooms also need about half an hour to soften, and the chicken can marinate during that time as well. It takes some work to make these at home, but the results are delectable.
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Chinese Soup With Tofu
When you need a starter for a sit-down party, a warm clear-broth soup is just the thing. Cubes of tofu, healthy spinach, and hearty mushrooms will be the perfect kickoff to your meal. Use Chinese soup spoons—available online or at your local Asian market—for authentic flare.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Baked Chicken Wonton
The great thing about wontons is that you can fill them with pretty much anything your heart desires. These baked chicken wontons will surprise guests who are expecting pork, and make a nice contrast if you're also serving pork buns and crab rangoon.