36 Appetizers for Holiday Entertaining

Southern Starters Never Tasted So Good

Southern Appetizers
Jill Chen/Stocksy United

Although the South is not best known for its appetizers and finger foods, there are some noteworthy exceptions. For example, the Benedictine spread was created between 1893 and 1925 by Jennie Benedict, a caterer and restaurant hostess in Louisville, Kentucky. The cucumber-cream cheese spread is often tinted with green food coloring and served as a dip or on bread rounds. A fun and festive spread, especially for Christmas. 

Below, you'll find a long list of party food, including tortilla roll-ups, dips and spreads, meatballs, mushrooms, and so much more. So sit down and buckle up, because we are going to give you a crash course in some of our favorite Southern starters.

  • 01 of 36

    Southern Pimiento Cheese Spread

    Pimiento Cheese Spread
    Diana Rattray

    Serve this delicious spread with pickles, olives and baguette slices. Or serve it with your favorite crackers or sturdy chips. The choice is yours. Either way, this starter is sure to delight.

  • 02 of 36

    Crock Pot Rotel Dip With Ground Beef and Cheese

    Rotel Dip with Ground Beef
    Diana Rattray

    This dip is always a hit, and it's quite versatile. Ground beef is added to the cheese mixture along with tomatoes and onions. Add mushrooms, peppers or other ingredients if you'd like to dress this dip up further.

  • 03 of 36

    Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

    Bacon Wrapped Scallops Appetizer
    Iain Bagwell / Getty Images

    This impressive appetizer is super easy to prepare, and your guests will thank you! You might also like this bacon-wrapped shrimp.

  • 04 of 36

    Baked Spinach Balls

    Baked Spinach Balls
    Diana Rattray

    These baked spinach balls make an excellent appetizer for the vegetarians on your guest list. They're made with spinach, stuffing mix, and Parmesan cheese.

    Many packaged stuffing crumbs include chicken broth, so be sure to check labels if you're making vegetarian spinach balls.

    Serve them with marinara sauce for dipping and enjoy!

    Continue to 5 of 36 below.
  • 05 of 36

    Baked Chicken Wings With Spicy Peanut Sauce

    Chicken wings with peanut sauce
    Diana Rattray

    A spicy peanut sauce flavors these baked chicken wings. Serve the chicken wings with a garnish of chopped peanuts and cilantro.

  • 06 of 36

    Appetizer Pulled Pork Sandwiches

    pulled pork sliders
    Diana Rattray

    Make these sandwiches as big or as small as you like. If you make your own buns, you can control the size. Alternatively, you could use purchased slider buns or small dinner rolls. 

  • 07 of 36

    Cheddar Bacon Puffs

    Bacon and Cheddar Puffs
    Diana Rattray

     These airy little cheese puffs are full of cheddar and bacon flavor.  Bake them for a party or family snack. They will be appreciated!

  • 08 of 36

    Basil Walnut Spread

    Basil Walnut Spread on Toast Rounds
    Diana Rattray

    This easy spread takes just a few minutes to make, and it is fantastic on toasted baguette slices or crackers. The spread is made with Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, fresh basil, walnuts, garlic, and seasonings.

    Continue to 9 of 36 below.
  • 09 of 36

    Tex-Mex Taco Beef Sliders

    tex mex taco sliders with beef and cheese
    Diana Rattray

    These Tex-Mex taco beef sliders are easy to prepare and assemble, and they're always popular with friends and family.

  • 10 of 36

    Tortilla Pinwheels With Cream Cheese Filling

    Tortilla pinwheels

    The Spruce


    Serve these easy tortilla roll-ups with your favorite salsa, guacamole, or Ranch dressing.

  • 11 of 36

    Clam Dip With Cream Cheese and Mayonnaise

    Clam Dip With Chips
    Diana Rattray

    This easy dip is made with canned minced clams, cream cheese, and mayonnaise. You'll have a tasty, creamy dip in less than 10 minutes.

  • 12 of 36

    Crockpot Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs

    bacon wrapped hot dogs
    Diana Rattray

    Bacon-wrapped hot dogs are slow cooked to perfection with brown sugar. Use sliced hot dogs or mini wieners to create this hot-diggity-dog concoction.

    Continue to 13 of 36 below.
  • 13 of 36

    Dilly Deviled Eggs

    Deviled egg
    Diana Rattray

    Who doesn't love deviled eggs? This version is made with a combination of chopped dill pickle and some dried dill weed.

  • 14 of 36

    Macaroni and Cheese Croquettes

    Macaroni and Cheese Croquettes with Sriracha Mayo
    Diana Rattray

    Serve these deep-fried delicacies with a spicy Sriracha mayo or aioli. They are amazing!

  • 15 of 36

    Party Ham Rolls

    Party Ham Rolls
    Diana Rattray

    Everyone loves these little ham sliders, and they are a snap to prepare and bake.

  • 16 of 36

    4-Ingredient Bean Dip

    Easy Bean Dip
    Diana Rattray

    Refried beans, cubed cheese, and salsa are among the ingredients in this easy dip. Kick the heat up a notch with jalapeño peppers or some cayenne pepper.

    Continue to 17 of 36 below.
  • 17 of 36

    Easy Pizza Crostini Appetizer

    Pizza crostini appetizers with Parmesan cheese.
    Diana Rattray

    All you need for this appetizer is a baguette, some chopped pizza toppings, and cheese. Bake them until the cheese has melted and enjoy!

  • 18 of 36

    Celebration Cheese Ball

    Cheese Ball with Crackers
    Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    This tasty cheddar and cream cheese ball is rolled in chopped pecans. It's an excellent spread to serve with crackers.

  • 19 of 36

    Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms With Parmesan Cheese

    Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
    Diana Rattray

    The stuffing for these mushrooms includes crab meat, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. 

  • 20 of 36

    Baked Pepperoni Pizza Dip With Variations

    Pepperoni Pizza Dip
    Diana Rattray

    This pizza dip is baked with all of your favorite topping items. There are lots of variations. We recommend making two batches: one for meat lovers and one for vegetarians.

    Continue to 21 of 36 below.
  • 21 of 36

    Deep Fried Corn Dogs

    Deep fried corn dogs with mustard
    Photo: Diana Rattray

    Use little smokies or cocktail wieners to make these snack-size corn dogs. 

  • 22 of 36

    Hot and Spicy Baked Chicken Drumettes

    Buffalo Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese
    Heath Patterson / Getty Images

    These drumettes are baked to crispy perfection and then tossed with a spicy sauce. This is a recipe you'll make again and again.

  • 23 of 36

    Fontina, Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

    Spinach, Bacon, and Fontina Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
    Diana Rattray

    Melted fontina cheese throughout the simple fresh spinach and bacon filling makes these stuffed mushrooms as delicious as they are easy. 

  • 24 of 36

    4-Ingredient Appetizer Meatballs

    Meatball appetizers

    The Spruce

    Jazz up your favorite frozen meatballs with this easy currant jelly barbecue sauce. 

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  • 25 of 36

    Tangy Slow Cooker Cocktail Franks

    Cocktail franks in barbecue sauce in slow cooker

    Paul Poplis / Getty Images

    A homemade tangy sauce is cooked and served from the slow cooker. Supply toothpicks, napkins, and plates.

  • 26 of 36

    Southern Grape Jelly Meatballs

    Grape jelly meatballs

    The Spruce


    These meatballs are one of the South's favorite appetizers. Smothered in grape jelly, what's not to love!

  • 27 of 36

    Baked Potato Skins With Cheese and Bacon

    potato skins
    Diana Rattray

    Crispy baked potato skins make a tasty appetizer. Serve them with Picante sauce or fresh salsa.

  • 28 of 36

    Easy Shrimp Dip

    Quick and Easy Shrimp Dip
    Diana Rattray

    This easy shrimp dip takes just a few minutes to fix, and it is a delicious dip to serve with crackers, chips or vegetables. 

    Continue to 29 of 36 below.
  • 29 of 36

    Baked Sugared Pecans

    Sugared Pecans
    Diana Rattray

    These sugared pecans are a nice break from all of the savory appetizers.

  • 30 of 36

    Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers

    Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers
    Diana Rattray

    These peppers make a nice topping for French bread slices. They're great for burgers or a sandwich tray as well.

  • 31 of 36

    Spicy Cajun-Style Chicken Wings

    cajun spicy wings
    Diana Rattray

    For those of you who are looking for a creole-style starter, we recommend making these spicy cajun-style wings. Feel free to make these chicken wings as spicy as you like.

  • 32 of 36

    Classic Cheese Straws

    Cheese Straws

    Ian O'Leary / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    A generous amount of sharp cheddar cheese and a dash of cayenne flavors these Southern cheese straws.

    Continue to 33 of 36 below.
  • 33 of 36

    Spicy Cheese Dip - Chili Con Queso

    Cheese Dip
    Diana Rattray

    Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and salsa get together in this tasty dip. Serve it with chips or crackers.

  • 34 of 36

    Pigs in a Blanket

    Crescent Roll Hot Dogs "Pigs in a Blanket"
    Diana Rattray

    Bake these yummy snacks for a holiday or game day gathering. Kids love them!

  • 35 of 36

    Stuffed Mushrooms With Clams

    Stuffed Mushrooms With Clams
    Diana Rattray

    MInced clams with garlic and bread crumbs make a simple yet tasty stuffing for these mushroom caps.

  • 36 of 36

    Southern-Style Deviled Eggs

    Southern Deviled Eggs
    Diana Rattray

    Sweet pickle relish is the key ingredient in these fabulous Southern deviled eggs.