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How to prepare delicious appetizers like a pro

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Prepare enough for your guests. The standard rule is to serve four to six pieces for each person. If you are planning an evening event that does not provide a main course and only has an appetizer, you should prepare 10 to 15 pieces per person.

Cook in advance. For any appetizers that need to be cooked or assembled, do as much of the actual preparation as early as possible. A day in advance is ideal.

  • Appetizers that need to be served warm should be prepared early and rewarmed as guests start arriving.

  • Do your cooking in an oven to make sure that the appetizers are crisp. Avoid cooking anything in the microwave, even when there are instructions on how to do so.

  • The only appetizers you should avoid baking too far in advance are those that will become soggy after being refrigerated, like soufflés or meats coated in a crispy batter. Do as much preparation as you can earlier in the day, then bake the appetizer, planning just enough time for the baking to finish immediately before your first guest should arrive. Continue keeping these appetizers warm in the oven as the rest of your guests roll in.

Create appealing displays. The appetizer selection should be visually appealing, but the way you arrange the appetizers also needs to catch the eye. Consider arranging the foods in a unique way or decorating the serving platter the foods will sit on.

  • Use toothpicks and small plastic skewers to hold small complementary pieces of food together. You can even use thin pretzel sticks to accomplish the same purpose as long as you pair them with options that match well, like cheese and sliced meat.

  • For appetizers that need to be contained inside small dishes, like pasta salads and fruit salads, choose a non-conventional dish to serve them in. Options include martini glasses, hollowed out orange peel shells, tea cups, and sterilized candle holders.

  • Remember to decorate the platters, as well. Non-edible decorations can include doilies and decorative placemats. Edible decorations include green leaf lettuce, parsley, and edible flowers.

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