Fun Finger Food Ideas

Friends having a picnic of appetizers on a board with deli meats, crackers and fruit

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.

Host an appetizer 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

The Set-Up

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.

  • The possibilities are endless so encourage your guests to be creative

  • Show your creativity by choosing flavor combinations that work well together and can be used interchangeably

  • Offer both hot and cold and sweet and savory treats

  • Also have already assembled appetizers available for very hungry guests or guests who may not be able to participate

  • There are many incredibly good breads, crunchies, spreads, sauces, meats and seafoods available in the supermarket. Look in the gourmet aisle for something unique

  • Purchase as many items as can fit your budget and prepare as many as your time and patience can handle

  • Olives, pickles and nuts are a must. Also have on hand, vinegars, olive oils, flavored oils, mustards, chili sauce, steak sauce and variety salts and pepper

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.

The Bottoms
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

Tortilla chips
Make your own using fajita-sized corn or flour tortillas or purchase

Vegetable bases
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

More ideas for bottoms...

Breads, chips and crackers
Cocktail rye and pumpernickel; mini rolls
Naan flatbread
Cheese straws or breadsticks
Sesame crackers or flatbread
Corn cakes
Bagel chips
Pita chip
Melba Toast
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

The Middles
Cheeses, spreads, meats and vegetables

Cheeses of all varieties; serve thinly sliced with small pieces of fruit and/or fruit preserves
Eggplant spread

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
Pastry cream
Nut butter
Jams and preserves
Mayonnaise, mix with herbs and seasoning 
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

The Toppings

Sour cream mixed with chopped fresh herbs
Horseradish sauce
Hollandaise Sauce
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
Basil leaves
Cilantro leaves
Finely chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts

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