19 Crowd-Pleasing Make Ahead Appetizers

Prep these bites in advance for stress-free entertaining

When you're throwing a party—whether to celebrate the holidays or any other festive occasion—there's really no better way to welcome guests into your home than to offer a tray of delicious appetizers, perhaps paired with a tasty cocktail. But who wants to be rushing around cooking and mixing while your guests are there? The solution is to have some appetizers and drinks stored in your freezer or refrigerator for instant entertaining. From freezable baked appetizers to cheesy dips you can serve straight from the fridge, prep these bites in advance to take some of the stress and work out of hosting.

  • 01 of 19

    Pigs in a Blanket

    Crescent roll hot dogs "Pigs in a Blanket"

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Who doesn't love retro-inspired pigs in a blanket? Kids and adults alike will cheer for this recipe, which wraps hot dogs in crescent roll dough. Make them ahead and freeze up to 1 month in airtight freezer bags. Reheat straight from frozen on a baking sheet in the oven.

  • 02 of 19

    Chex Party Snack Mix

    Chex party snack mix

    The Spruce

    Everyone's favorite toasted, buttery, lightly-seasoned party mix with Chex cereal, peanuts, and pretzels is easy to make with this go-to recipe you'll use again and again. Make it well ahead of time, storing it on your counter top in an airtight container, up to 4 weeks. Try not to snack it all away before the party!

  • 03 of 19

    Creamy Crab Dip With Cream Cheese

    Creamy crab dip with cream cheese

    The Spruce

    Buffet parties, awards show viewings, and game day gatherings are made better with this creamy seafood dip. Canned crab meat, mayo, sour cream, and a few seasonings are all that's needed—plus Tabasco or cayenne for a kick if you'd like.

  • 04 of 19

    4-Ingredient Appetizer Meatballs

    4-ingredient appetizer meatballs

    The Spruce

    Your favorite frozen meatballs are transformed into a saucy party appetizer in this incredibly simple recipe that uses prepared barbecue sauce and grape jelly. Serve with napkins and toothpicks, so guests can help themselves.

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  • 05 of 19

    Muffin Cup Ham and Cheddar Quiches

    Muffin cup ham and cheddar quiches

    Diana Rattray

    Quiche doesn't have to mean slaving over pastry. These cute individual eggy bites are made with store-bought crescent roll dough and baked in muffin tins for easy preparation and clean-up.

  • 06 of 19

    Bisquick Sausage Balls

    Bisquick Sausage Balls

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    Full of flavor and easy to make, Bisquick sausage balls are a quick and delicious appetizer. The meatball recipe includes herbs, cheddar and cream cheeses, biscuit baking mix, and ground pork sausage. Keep frozen until you need them, then make the horseradish dipping sauce while they bake.

  • 07 of 19

    French Onion Dip

    French Onion Dip

     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    You can make French onion dip up to four days in advance and the flavor of this homemade version outshines any dried packet mix. Caramelized onions are mixed with sour cream, mayonnaise, and a variety of spices and seasonings that are kitchen staples. It's easy and a perfect chip or veggie dip.

  • 08 of 19

    Baked Thai Coconut Shrimp

    This recipe for baked coconut shrimp is special enough for fancy events, but it's baked in the oven, saving you the usual work of frying. If making ahead, freeze cooked shrimp on a baking sheet, then freeze in an airtight bag up to 3 months. Reheat straight from frozen, flipping halfway through, until warm and crisp. Serve with Thai sweet chili dipping sauce.

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  • 09 of 19

    Bacon Jam

    Bacon jam

    Photo from Grilled Cheese Social

    Crispy bacon is rendered down with caramelized onions, sweet brown sugar, tart apple cider vinegar, frangrant coffee, spiced chili powder, to create a savory jam that makes a fancy party appetizer, served on crostini (perhaps sprinkled with rosemary sprigs). Make it up to 2 weeks ahead, storing in the fridge in mason jars. Heat gently on the stovetop to warm before serving.

  • 10 of 19

    Spanish Ham Croquettes

    Spanish ham croquettes

    The Spruce

    Minced cooked ham and creamy bechamel sauce combine to create the filling for these pillowy golden-brown fritters that can be made ahead, frozen, and fried at the last minute before guests arrive.

  • 11 of 19

    Beet Hummus

    Beet hummus


    jenifoto / Getty Images 

    Beet hummus makes a colorful presentation on your party buffet table. Not only is this recipe healthy, with beets, tahini, and spices, but it tastes great! Make it up to 3 days ahead, stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. All you have to do on party day is add pita wedges or crackers and serve.

  • 12 of 19

    Baked Stuffed Potatoes

    Baked stuffed potatoes

    Lauri Patterson / E+ / Getty Images

    This twice baked potato appetizer is just right for fans of dressed potato skins, and can made in advance, to reheat on party day. Baked potatoes are hollowed out, and the flesh is mixed with sour cream, bacon, and cheddar cheese, then stuffed back in the skins, and baked until puffed up and golden brown. Freezes well up to 4 months.

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  • 13 of 19

    Classic Cheese Straws

    Cheese straws

    Ian O'Leary / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Cheese straws are a popular Southern appetizer that can be enjoyed on their own as a crispy, cheesy treat, or dunked into your favorite party dips. The dough is quickly mixed in your food processor and then formed into thin logs. To make ahead, place unbaked twists in the freezer, wrapped tightly in plastic. Then bake directly from frozen!

  • 14 of 19

    Buffalo Chicken Dip

    Buffalo chicken dip


    ALLEKO / Getty Images 

    This party-ready recipe has all the great flavors of Buffalo chicken wings in an easy-snacking dip form, and is made in your slow cooker. It's also a great way to use leftover cooked chicken, or you can buy a rotisserie bird. Make it up to three days ahead of serving, stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Warm in the microwave or oven to serve.

  • 15 of 19

    Celebration Cheese Ball With Pecans

    Celebration cheeseball with pecans

    The Spruce

    The retro party cheese ball is back in style, just in time for your next gathering! This easy recipe with cheddar and cream cheese covered in crunchy chopped pecans makes a delicious spread for crackers, veggies, crostini, or whatever else you like. Make it up to a week ahead and store in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap.

  • 16 of 19

    Appetizer Pulled Pork Sandwiches

    Pulled pork appetizer sandwiches


    bhofack2 / Getty Images 

    These mini pulled pork sandwiches will be a hit at any party. The pulled pork cooks low and slow in your oven, for tender and juicy meat. Make the meat and freeze it up to 2 months ahead in airtight bags. To serve, thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in the oven, moistened with some extra barbecue sauce. Serve on slider rolls.

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  • 17 of 19

    Jalapeno Poppers

    Jalapeno poppers

    TheCrimsonMonkey / E+ / Getty Images

    These cute, restaurant-style jalapeno poppers can be made as spicy or mild as you like, by using Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese, adjusting the chili powder, and seeding or not seeding the peppers. If making ahead, place prepared poppers uncooked in the freezer, and bake before serving.

  • 18 of 19

    Southern Pimiento Cheese Spread

    Southern pimiento cheese spread


    Jennifer Blount / Getty Images 

    Pimiento cheese spread is a much-loved Southern party appetizer that's simple to prepare with cheddar, cream cheese, pimientos, onion, and hot sauce. It also keeps for up to 2 weeks in your fridge in an airtight container, making it a great make-ahead appetizer recipe for serving with crackers, veggie sticks, or grilled bread.

  • 19 of 19

    Crescent Roll Pizza Pinwheels

    Pizza pinwheels

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    These fun pizza wheels are a snap to prepare with store-bought crescent roll dough. Simply fill the pastry with your favorite toppings, roll the whole thing up, and slice it into wheels for baking. If making in advance, prepare up to the point of baking, cover well, and freeze. Then bake straight from the freezer and serve with some warmed marinara sauce for dipping.