9 Great South American Appetizer Recipes

Salted loin dish served with french fries

 Víctor Augusto Mendívil / Getty Images

In South America, appetizers take two forms: as first courses (entradas) or as finger foods (bocaditos "little bites").

Most Latin American parties feature trays of bite-size bocaditos, allowing guests to sample everything without feeling too full. This tradition came to Latin America from Spain.

This spread is followed by a couple of plates of bite-sized South American sweets.

  • 01 of 09

    Chicken Empanadas

    Chicken Empanadas Recipe

     The Spruce

    You will find empanadas throughout South America. For an appetizer, make them smaller or bite-sized. The traditional chicken filling includes caramelized onions, olives, and pieces of hard-cooked egg. But you can be as creative as you like. Because they are as good cold as hot, you can simply set them out or pass them rather than have to produce them hot from the oven.

  • 02 of 09

    Twice-Fried Green Plantain With Aji Dipping Sauce (Patacones)


     The Spruce / Marian Blazes

    Patacones (known as tostones in Central America) are twice-fried rounds of green plantain. Fried green plantain (plátano verde) is starchy and sweet, and absolutely fantastic dipped in creamy aji amarillo sauce.

  • 03 of 09

    Baby Potatoes With Creamy Aji Amarillo Dipping Sauce

    Aji Amarillo pepper

    HannLeonPhoto / Getty Images

    Potatoes are sweeter when they are small, and bite-size potatoes are perfect for dipping. Simply cook baby potatoes until they are done. Spear them with toothpicks so your guests can dip them in the rich cream ají sauce, made with aji amarillo chile pepper paste.

  • 04 of 09

    Fried Cheese Sticks (Tequeños)

    Fried cheese sticks (tequenos)

    Proformabooks / Getty Images

    Kids will have a blast helping you roll these crispy fried cheese sticks known as tequenos. They'll help you eat them too. Make pastry dough or use wonton wrappers to encase salty white cheese. Fry until they are golden brown and crispy. Tequeños are a Venezuelan invention, where they are often bite-sized and served with guasacaca, a salsa that is similar to Mexican-style guacamole.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Brazilian Risoles


    The Spruce / Marian Blazes

    Brazilian risoles (an import from Indonesia) are like breaded empanadas. The dough is rolled out and filled, breaded, then deep-fried. This chicken and cheese filling will please your guests. You can make them smaller or bite-sized for appetizers.

  • 06 of 09

    Manchego Cheese and Quince Paste Hors d'Oeuvres

    Dulce de Membrillo con Queso

    Ambrose Little / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Quince paste served with manchego or goat cheese is a popular appetizer or light dessert or breakfast. You will see this combination in Spain as well as in South America. This is the perfect no-fuss appetizer if you are hosting the get-together, or easy to bring if you don't have the time, equipment, or skills for cooking.

  • 07 of 09

    Argentinian Picada

    Meats and cheese

    Paul Poplis / Getty Images

    A picada is a wonderful Argentinian tradition of serving a tray of artfully arranged finger foods for everyone to share. It's a genius idea for entertaining. People simply "pick" at the foods (the name ​​picada comes from the Spanish verb picar) while they enjoy wine or beer and socialize.

  • 08 of 09

    Stuffed Fried Yuca (Yuquitas Rellenas)

    Yuca balls

    The Spruce / Bren Herrera

    These crispy little balls are made by shaping the mashed yuca around a piece of queso fresco, then rolling them in bread crumbs and frying them until golden brown.

    The result is a crispy shell around a soft starchy filling, with melted cheese in the very middle. Fried yuca balls are excellent dipped in salsa a la huancaína, a spicy cheese sauce.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Pizza Empanadas

    Empanadas de Pizza

     istetiana / Getty Images

    Appetizer-size empanadas filled with pizza toppings like mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and pepperoni are always a hit with kids and adults.