Set Up an Appetizer Bar
These finger food ideas are so much fun because your guests are the chefs!
On this page you will discover how to set-up an appetizer bar. An appetizer bar is just like an omelet or salad bar, except it is a finger food extravaganza!
Your guests' fingers will be all over this one. You provide the breads, crackers, cheeses, meats and veggies and your guests do all the work as they create their own unique appetizer combinations.
How about an appetizer bar potluck!
You devise the menu and ask quests to bring the finger foods such as hummus, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, feta cheese, etc. Be prepared to give your friends finger food ideas. Just for fun, ask your guests to share their appetizer masterpieces
To set-up an appetizer bar start with a table or counter top. It's probably best to have everything placed on one table or counter, so guests don't have to hunt down the goodies. Each guest will then construct their favorite flavor combinations from a selection of breads, spreads and toppings.
Let's Get Started
The foundation of all appetizers is the bottom layer, which can be any bread or cracker. Position these at the head of the buffet table along with toothpicks, skewers, mini-pitch-forks, forks, spoons, plates and napkins.
Spreads and dips are the "middles" and are the glue that holds everything together. These will line up next on the table
At the end of the table place the toppings. These morsels will the crowning flavor glory of your finger food creations.
Keep in mind that some spreads can double as toppings.
Breads, chips and crackers
Potato chips and potato crisps
Choose a brand that is generally uniform in size and is sturdy
Vegetable chips are very good and kettle chips are thicker. Use as a base just like crackers, especially with sour cream or mayo-based spreads/toppings
Make your own using fajita-sized corn or flour tortillas or purchase
Use medium-sliced cucumbers, large, flat celery stalks, large radish slices, mini potato pancakes, baby-baked potatoes
Purchase ready-made and slice into rounds. Brush with oil and broil until lightly golden and crisp, about 3 minutes
Breads, chips and crackers
Quality crackers; save the saltines for the kids
Cocktail rye and pumpernickel; mini rolls
Cheese straws or breadsticks
Sesame crackers or flatbread
Not too sweet crisp cookies or shortbread, meringue shells
Ready-bake pastry shells; brush with olive oil
Ready-bake thin pizza crusts; brush with oil, bake and cut into 2" shapes
Or make your own:
Crostini, Croutes, Bruschetta
Cheeses, spreads, meats and vegetables
Cheeses of all varieties; serve thinly sliced with small pieces of fruit and/or fruit preserves
White bean spread
Whipped cream cheese; plain or flavored; mix with herbs,dried fruits or nuts
Soft spreadable cheeses such as Boursin or Alouette
Flavored butters;mix softened butter with herbs and roasted garlic
Jams and preserves
The most versatile of sauce bases. Mayo can be combined with just about any herb or seasoning to create a very easy spread or topping
Avocado slices or chunky guacamole
Chopped shrimp; tuna
Mini sausages or hot dogs
Mini hamburger patties; use beef, turkey, pork or chicken
Shredded or diced chicken, pork or beef
Serrano or other thinly sliced ham
Thinly sliced deli meats; cut meats into 1-2" squares
Roasted zucchini, peppers, onions;
Chopped fruit; strawberries, kiwi, pineapple are good, keep pieces small
Sour cream mixed with chopped fresh herbs
Sweet and dill pickles;finely chopped
Sweet or savory chutney
Pickled onions/vegetables; chopped finely
Finely diced fresh or roasted red peppers
Thinly sliced chili peppers,red and green
Diced onion, garlic or green onions
Diced fresh plum tomatoes; seeds and pulp removed
Chopped black olives
Thin cucumber slices
Lemon/lime/orange; remove peel, slice, cut into wedges
Sesame seeds, black and white
Finely chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts