Wow your guests with a happy hour at-home experience with these 35 easy and fun simple cocktail hour snacks. This post will provide a slew of simple but delicious happy hour appetizers as well as helpful tips and cocktail pairings that will wow the crowds.
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Happy hour with friends is always a good time. Grab a delicious cocktail, and some tasty and easy happy hour snacks, and turn on a good playlist and enjoy a super fun night.
Struggling to decide what to bring or serve at a happy hour or cocktail party? You've come to the right place.
Here are 35 shockingly simple, yet so flavorful and delicious, happy hour appetizers. With a mix of healthy options and indulgent options, there is something for everyone on this list.
Need help figuring out how much food to make for happy hour? Grab my free guide for food serving sizes so you know exactly how much food to make.
1. Grilled Peach & Lemon Ricotta Crostini: Grilled peach and lemon ricotta crostini is an elegant, but simple appetizer. The grill infuses just the right amount of smokiness into this dish. It’s an ideal dish for entertaining because it comes together so quickly & effortlessly. If peaches aren't in season, try using another type of fruit. Pears, grapes, berries, supremed orange segments, or even jam would be lovely on top.
ENTERTAINING TIP: This appetizer cooks up in under 5 minutes. But, if you want things to go even quicker, have the baguette pre-sliced, the ricotta mixture whipped up, and the peaches sliced up. Then, all you have to do is throw the bread and peaches on the grill and ask a friend to help assemble the crostini.
PAIR WITH: A glass of champagne, prosecco, or, a grilled peach and lemon rum cocktail
2. Spicy Marinated Feta: All you need is four ingredients, along with a few spices to make this mouth-watering marinated feta. No cooking is required! The best part is you can prep this dish ahead of time (up to 48 hours) and all you need to do is pull it out of the fridge, warm up some pita, and you're ready to go. This would be a perfect food idea for work happy hour since it's easy to transport.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Need to turn this small happy hour snack into a more substantial appetizer? Try serving it with some roasted garlic hummus and veggies. If you need an impressive spread, try making this Greek appetizer platter.
PAIR WITH: A glass of your favorite rosé or dry white wine.
3. Smoked Salmon Canapés with Cucumber: These smoked salmon canapés with cucumber are the perfect bite-sized food. The canapés are made with seafood and a lemon artichoke cream cheese spread. These party snacks can be served cold, making them an easy dish to whip together. Serve the salmon canapé appetizers along with your other favorite hors d’oeuvres.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Be sure to have a platter or tray on hand that you can use for all your entertaining purposes. I like neutral platters so your hors d'oeuvres can shine!
PAIR WITH: Pomegranate and Blood Orange Gin Martini
4. Hummus Platter: This Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style recipe is perfect for serving at parties or to feed a crowd. This homemade hummus is perfectly creamy, silky smooth, and whipped to perfection. One batch of hummus can be topped with three different flavors to provide some variety. Serve alongside warmed pita and your favorite crudités.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Make sure to ask your friends and family before they come over for cocktail hour if they have any allergies. You want to be sure everyone has something they can eat, so it's better to be prepared ahead of time. Hummus is a great option because it's healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
PAIR WITH: A light and refreshing gin & tonic
5. Bacon and Onion Dip: Try this elevated take on your traditional French onion dip mixed with a base of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Plus, it has bacon, and bacon makes everything better. The dip can sit in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so this works great as a make-ahead snack. Serve with chips, crackers, or raw veggies.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Remember to plan ahead when you're entertaining. I like to go grocery shopping almost a week before, then I can focus on prepping the food 1-2 days in advance. Need help with this part? Grab my free party planning checklist.
PAIR WITH: Your favorite beer
6. Pulled Pork Nachos: These are a crowd pleaser as far as happy hour munchies go. The tangy, acidic bite from the coleslaw and marinated onions packs a nice punch with the pulled pork. Make things even easier (and quicker) by purchasing pulled pork that can be heated in the microwave.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Sheet pan appetizers, like this, are perfect for happy hour occasions when you're watching a sports game. Prepare everything ahead of time, then pop the nachos in the oven during halftime or a break in the game.
PAIR WITH: Watermelon Margarita on the Rocks
7. Individual Cheese Board: These mini, single-serve charcuterie boards look very elegant, without the fuss of putting together a huge platter. The best part? Nobody has to share their cheese board for one. Feel free to switch out the cheese with your favorite types or whatever is available.
ENTERTAINING TIP: This appetizer is great for those times during the winter when people tend to get sick and you don't want to share germs. Don't forget to grab some cute, little plates to serve up the cheese board.
PAIR WITH: Red Wine Sangria
8. Apricot Honey Baked Brie: Make this easy, melty brie cheese with dried apricots, honey, and almonds. A few minutes in the oven will transform this cheese into something special. Place it alongside some small accouterments to make an elegant and sophisticated treat.
ENTERTAINING TIP: If friends offer to bring over food for happy hour, ask them to bring something that goes along with a dish you're already making. Crackers, dry-cured salami, raspberries, or blackberries would be perfect to pair with this brie.
PAIR WITH: Blackberry Blood Orange Cocktail Refresher
9. No Cook Appetizer Skewers: These appetizer skewers are super simple to make and require only a few ingredients. These make-ahead toothpick appetizers are served cold, so no need to worry about keeping your appetizers hot during a party or get-together. With only 15 ingredients, you can make endless combinations of your favorite finger food appetizers.
ENTERTAINING TIP: To serve these for a party, all you need to do is grab a cute tray and pile them up. I’d suggest grouping each of the same appetizer skewers together in case someone has an allergy. Then they’ll know to steer clear of certain skewers that they can’t eat.
PAIR WITH: Lavender Lemon Pisco Sour
10. Beef Brochettes: These beef brochettes are marinated in a delicious Asian-style sauce made with soy sauce, lemongrass, fish sauce, and more. Then, the beef skewers are grilled (in 5 minutes) and served with a peanut dipping sauce. This is a great heavy appetizer that would be perfect for any casual or fancy get-together.
ENTERTAINING TIP: If you're planning a whole happy hour menu, be sure to include something that has lots of protein to keep people full.
PAIR WITH: Coconut Daiquiri with a Twist
11. Cast Iron Skillet Queso: The entire recipe is made using a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. The cream cheese, yellow cheddar, and white cheddar melt together for a perfectly smooth cheese dip. Plus, Tajín seasoning adds the perfect amount of spice to this dish.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Presentation is everything with this queso dip. Take the time to make your appetizer visually appealing to entice people to dig in. Garnish this queso with cilantro and jalapeños for a bright green pop.
PAIR WITH: Margarita Flight
12. Whipped Spicy Feta Dip: This whipped dip is made from feta cheese and Greek yogurt. Then, flavor is added with Calabrian chili pepper paste, garlic, and lemon juice. It's a flavorful, creamy appetizer that you can make in under 10 minutes. Serve with warm pita wedges and crudités.
ENTERTAINING TIP: There’s no need to stress about making food right before happy hour. Prepare dishes like this one ahead of time. This dish can be made 3 days ahead of time and still taste just as good, if not better, than when it was made fresh. For dishes that can’t be made ahead of time, try prepping all of the ingredients so the cooking process is as quick and easy as possible.
PAIR WITH: Hibiscus Tequila & Sprite Cocktail
13. Blistered Edamame: Enjoy an East-Asian-style snack with this blistered edamame recipe. With just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes, you’ll have a healthy and tasty snack. With a salty and slightly spicy exterior, nice char, and a hint of acidity, these finger foods are the perfect tasty and simple appetizer dish.
ENTERTAINING TIP: While it is not the most filling dish. This blistered and seasoned edamame is super easy to serve and present, and even easier to eat. For the best serving look, I like to lay it out on a serving bowl or plate with a few lime wedges spread out and around. That way guests could enjoy an extra burst of citrus flavor.
PAIR WITH: Your favorite sake
14. Balsamic Bread Dipping Oil: Empty out the spice and herb cabinet and enjoy this tasty balsamic bread dipping oil. Super easy and mess-free to make, without any loss of flavor, what more could you ask for in a happy hour appetizer? A tasty blend of herbs, oil, and balsamic is simple, fresh, and light. This dipping oil can be left out at room or warm temperatures for extended amounts of time without worry of spoiling, making it super convenient as a wine night snack.
ENTERTAINING TIP: The easiest way to serve this dipping oil is by mixing it up in the bowl you want to serve it in. This avoids having to transfer it and allows for a minimal mess prep. Grab a fresh baguette or loaf of crunchy bread from your local bakery and slice it up alongside the dipping oil. I recommend serving the oil with a spoon, a fork, or a mini whisk because the longer it sits, the oil will separate from the balsamic and other ingredients. The whisk allows all your guests to get the best possible dip when they go in.
PAIR WITH: A glass of white or rosé wine
15. Crispy Roasted Eggplant Bites: Inspired by the infamous eggplant parmesan, these crispy roasted eggplants are super tasty and healthy finger food. A lovely herb and breadcrumb crust on the eggplants provides a beautiful crunch. This dish is great for large groups because it’s bite-sized and only takes about 30 minutes to make. This Mediterranean-style appetizer is great served with a feta cheese and Greek yogurt dip or a number of other Mediterranean-inspired dips.
ENTERTAINING TIP: This dish is great because it is worry-free to serve to a large group. It is gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto. Garnish these roasted eggplant bites with some fresh parsley for a fresh burst of green color.
PAIR WITH: A refreshing limoncello spritz
16. Greek Appetizer Platter: Put together a beautiful Greek appetizer platter full of tasty dips, fresh vegetables, cured meats, and pita bread. This platter is not only beautiful but super quick and simple to make. You can either make the dips yourself or if you’re in a rush, buy them transfer them into nice bowls, and garnish them to look pretty. A big platter is great for giving your friends plenty of options to choose from without having to slave away in the kitchen all day.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Be sure to grab various items for people to munch on and dip with. Throw in whole-wheat pita bread, cucumber ‘chips’, carrot ‘chips’, different types of olives, and anything else to help diversify the board. The more variety on one board, the fewer other things you have to prepare to keep the crowds pleased.
PAIR WITH: A glass of white or rosé wine
17. Bacon-Wrapped Dates: Indulge in a Spanish, tapas-style appetizer in these sweet and savory bite-sized bacon-wrapped dates. Just a few ingredients are needed to put together this fan-favorite snack. The beauty of bacon-wrapped dates is the freedom you have to choose whatever filling(s) you desire. From cheese to chorizo, you can provide your guests with options to fit their desires.
ENTERTAINING TIP: The nice part about these bacon-wrapped dates is that you need to skewer them with a toothpick during the cooking process. Leave that toothpick in and party-goers can easily pick them up and enjoy. Be sure to have cocktail napkins nearby, these treats can be a little greasy to the touch.
PAIR WITH: Lambrusco Sangria
18. Grape Jelly Meatballs: It's all about the sauce here. These bite-sized meatballs are sweet and tangy and an amazing appetizer. Take your favorite mini meatballs and turn them into these delicious bites. Serve them as is, with toothpicks, or turn them into mini sliders.
ENTERTAINING TIP: This recipe takes a couple of hours to complete. Be sure to plan ahead and give yourself ample time to prepare the meatballs. Alternatively, feel free to make them a day or two before, and reheat them before serving. If you choose to serve the meatballs as is, a chopped parsley garnish is a great way to add some color and freshness and makes them look prettier.
PAIR WITH: An Old Fashioned
19. Pimento Cheese: A southern favorite, this creamy and melt-in-your-mouth mixture is a great dip and spread. In no time at all you can have a tasty tip to serve at your next gathering. You can customize the flavors by adding in your favorite hot sauce or adjusting some of the seasonings. Every happy hour party needs something creamy and cheesy, and this dip is a great way of taking care of that.
ENTERTAINING TIP: You can pre-spread this dip onto some crackers to save your guests the trouble of spreading it themselves, and avoiding the chances of a double-dipper. Alternatively, have this out with a number of different crackers, chips, and vegetables. Store and serve this pimento cheese dip in a jar for a nice presentation and convenience when putting it away.
PAIR WITH: Bourbon on the rocks
20. Mini Cheese Balls: Creamy, cheese, nutty, and super easy to enjoy, these mini cheese balls are a must try at the next happy hour gathering. Throw together a tasty cheese mixture and roll your delicious balls. Then, coat them in toppings of your choice. Some great options are toasted nuts, seeds, or bacon bits. There is a ton of freedom with this recipe, not just with the coating but you can choose to season and adjust the flavor of your cheese balls however you desire.
ENTERTAINING TIP: With so much opportunity with this appetizer, a great idea is to have a handful of different flavors and different coatings on your cheese balls. Just be sure to distinguish to your guests which is which- especially for people with allergies. A fun way to label these is with a mini flag- using a toothpick as the pole. Serve them on crackers, an herb garnish, or even fruit such as apples or peaches.
PAIR WITH: A gin and tonic
21. Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms: Another great and simple appetizer for happy hour, holidays, and everything in between. This is a great and simple way to feed a lot of people with a little work. Load up your mushroom tops and pop them in the oven and you are good to go.
ENTERTAINING TIP: These stuffed mushrooms make your life easy when serving. Get them spread out on a plate and let the people pick ‘em up and pop ‘em in their mouths. You can adjust the stuffing to be vegetarian and avoid allergies (besides mushrooms and dairy). If you want an extra crunchy exterior, dip your stuffed mushrooms in a bit of seasoned bread crumbs.
PAIR WITH: A Hugo Spritz
22. Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls: Take your classic ‘pigs in a blanket’ up a notch with these super tasty puff pastry sausage rolls. A tasty Italian-style sausage with a crunchy buttery puff pastry exterior is bound to be a fan favorite at the next gathering. Surprisingly easy to make, in about 30 minutes you’ll be serving up a happy hour snack that will have people coming back for more.
ENTERTAINING TIP: While these puff pastry sausage rolls are easy finger food, they can get a bit messy and crumbly. Serve with small plates and/or cocktail napkins to keep the crumbs away.
PAIR WITH: A vodka martini
23. Buffalo Chicken Dip: Turn your leftover roast chicken or even your Thanksgiving turkey into the tastiest buffalo chicken dip that'll have people scraping the bowl to get every bit of it. Hearty and cheesy, this is definitely one of the more indulgent items on the happy hour spread. Break past a super yummy crispy cheese top layer and dig into the ooey-gooey chicken goodness underneath.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Every dip needs its chip. I find that tortilla chips are best for buffalo chicken dip. They're a bit stronger and crunchier than most other chips, making them perfect for scooping and contrasting the soft texture of the dip. Garnish your dip with some finely chopped green onions for a nice color contrast and a bit of freshness to cut through the richness of the dip.
PAIR WITH: A tequila soda
24. Ricotta Dip with Roasted Grapes: Quick, simple, and delicious, this ricotta dip with roasted grapes is a great sweet and creamy snack. Ricotta, grapes, and some seasonings are all you need to throw together this beautiful and unique appetizer. Make sure to use seedless grapes to avoid an unwanted crunch when you go to eat.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Slice up a fresh baguette or sourdough loaf and toast it off to create the perfect vessel for enjoying this dip. You can serve the bread on the side or spread the ricotta on yourself and top it with one or two of the roasted grapes.
PAIR WITH: A classic martini
25. Crab Meat Salad: Much less indulgent than a buffalo chicken dip, this crab meat salad is super easy to throw together. This recipe avoids the use of mayonnaise to add a creamy factor, making it super healthy and great for adding balance to the rich appetizers you choose to serve. A ceviche-style appetizer, this crab meat salad is fresh, light, and citrusy.
ENTERTAINING TIP: This salad is amazing as is. Have little salad bowls or small plates, serving tongs, and forks for eating. Fill up a mason jar or a water glass with the forks for a convenient and nice presentation. If you’re not using disposable cutlery, you could also have another cup beside it for use/ dirty utensils. Just make sure you label the two cups.
PAIR WITH: A classic lime margarita
26. Stromboli Pizza: Slice into a cheesy Stromboli pizza and serve it at your next happy hour event. Make your own pizza dough or buy some pre-made from the store and construct this Italian-inspired snack. Just like a normal pizza, the topping and sauce options extend as far as your imagination.
ENTERTAINING TIP: I suggest making two different stromboli pizzas when serving as an appetizer. One meat and one vegetarian option is perfect for giving your friends options to choose from. Also, slice the stromboli into convenient-sized portions. It’s always better for people to have to get seconds than it is for people to throw food out. Serve the stromboli alongside a dipping sauce such as a marinara or pizza sauce.
PAIR WITH: a light or medium-bodied red wine
27. Caramelized Onion Tartlets: These caramelized onion tartlets are super fun little bites that do not skimp out on flavor. Enjoy all the best things about a French onion soup in the convenient little bite of a mini tart. Don’t shy away from the task of making homemade pie crust, it’s easier than it seems.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Garnish these tartlets with a little extra thyme for a nice touch. If you have one, use a heated serving tray to keep these tarts nice and warm all night long for your guests.
PAIR WITH: Prosecco, cider, or light beer
28. Tortellini Caprese Skewers: Tortellini caprese skewers are vibrant, fresh, and simple appetizers that are perfect for your next party. So simple, but so good, these skewers are amazing because you can make them ahead of time. Just four simple ingredients are needed to create this Italian-inspired hors d'oeuvre.
ENTERTAINING TIP: While you can serve these with a balsamic dipping sauce, I find that the skewers make it hard to dip into a sauce. Instead, choose to use a balsamic glaze and drizzle it over the top of the skewers.
PAIR WITH: a Fitzgerald cocktail
29. Bacon potato Skins: One of the most iconic appetizers out there, especially for game days. Whether it's the Superbowl or a supper party, these bacon potato skins are going to be a fan favorite. These iconic bar snacks are easier to make than they seem. In no time, you and your guests will be enjoying crispy and cheesy bacon potato skins.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Serve these scrumptious potato skins alongside your favorite ranch dressing, bleu cheese dip, or sour cream. Top these crunchy snacks with chopped chives or green onions for an extra tasty touch. If you want to serve these extra hot and crispy, wait to bake them until about 10 minutes before serving.
PAIR WITH: a pale or amber ale or an IPA
30. Spinach Artichoke Dip: Indulge in this super creamy spinach and artichoke dip with no shame. This healthy dip is amazing with just about any chip, cracker, or crunchy vegetable. Simple to make, be sure to whip this up for the next wine party, happy hour, or game day.
ENTERTAINING TIP: This spinach artichoke dip is also great served with some crusty bread like a baguette. This dip takes just under an hour to make, plan ahead by making it a day or two before to ease your workload on the day of the event. Be sure to heat this tasty dip back up until bubbly when serving.
PAIR WITH: A perfect lemon drop martini
31. Baked Ricotta: An Italian-inspired cheesy dip of your dreams, this baked ricotta dip is irresistible. This recipe takes a Sicilian classic and evolves it to have more flavor and gooeyness by adding pecorino romano, mozzarella, and herbs. Sweet, salty, and herbal, with just a touch of citrus makes this a super balanced dip.
ENTERTAINING TIP: A great way to make sure this dip is served hot and bubbly is by cooking it about halfway early in the day before guests arrive. Then, about 20 minutes before it’s time to grub, pop it back in the oven to finish it off.
PAIR WITH: a glass of white wine
32. Guacamole: Who doesn’t love guacamole and tortilla chips? Break out the avocados for your next gathering and whip up a batch of super tasty guac to keep everyone satisfied. This recipe uses pickled jalapenos but feel free to change, swap, and adjust the ingredients and ratios to make the guacamole that's best for you.
ENTERTAINING TIP: When serving large amounts of people, it is always better to err on the more ‘bland’ side of the flavor spectrum. This means unless you know how everyone in attendance likes their guacamole, take it a little bit easy on the spice and reduce the amount of jalapenos used. A great way to allow guests to bump up the flavor is to pair the guacamole with a pico de gallo or a spicier salsa.
PAIR WITH: a spicy margarita
33. Tomato & Cheese Focaccia Bread: This focaccia stems from the region of Puglia, Italy. Bite into this traditional focaccia Pugliese with my cheesy twist. Enjoy the crunchy, airy, and chewy goodness of focaccia bread paired with a classic tomato and cheese combo.
ENTERTAINING TIP: The nice thing about this focaccia recipe is you can portion it however you please. Cut the focaccia into bite-sized pieces, or rectangular snack portions. Additionally, this focaccia is a twice-baked bread. This is great for events because you can have it ready to go for the second back and simply pop the bread in the oven for serving.
PAIR WITH: A glass of your favorite wine
34. Whipped Goat Cheese Dip: Quick and easy whipped goat cheese dip is perfect for a light snack. This vegetarian dip is loaded with herbs and garlic giving it plenty of flavor. This dip is great because you can prep it ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator, and bring it out right before serving.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Pair this creamy dip with a toasted baguette, crackers, or grilled peaches. You can pre-scoop the dip onto the different vessels and have it spread on a platter for an easy grab-and-go snack. If you store this dip ahead of time in the fridge, wait to drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top until after you pull it out to serve.
PAIR WITH: A peach and basil cocktail
35. Poke Nachos: Enjoy these Hawaiian-style nachos loaded with fresh fish, avocado, onions, and plenty more. Poke is a staple in Hawaii that has spread like wildfire in popularity all around the world. Cubed tuna is mixed with different flavors and paired with other ingredients to make a super fresh and tasty treat. Switch it up a notch by making some crispy wonton chips and making the best poke nachos that everyone will enjoy.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Because poke is made from raw tuna, do not make the poke mixture too far ahead of time. For the best and freshest result, buy, cut, and serve the poke the same day. Switch up the other ingredients paired with the tuna to personalize the flavors in your poke nachos.
PAIR WITH: A margarita flight.
Need More Ideas?
Check out 15+ heavy appetizer ideas. This article will teach you about what's considered a heavy appetizer and hors d'oeuvre, as well as recipe ideas.