Learn about heavy appetizers and hors d'oeuvres to serve at your next party
Heavy appetizers are perfect to serve at a cocktail hour, as the main meal, or during cocktail parties. This article will teach you about what's considered a heavy appetizer and hors d'oeuvre, as well as recipe ideas! Plus, you'll learn how to plan the correct serving sizes for a party.
Have you ever attended a party that promised you heavy appetizers, but you ended up leaving hungry? Today, I want to help you make sure that never happens at a party or event you plan!
We're talking all about how to plan the types of appetizers you want to serve. Plus, I'll give you tips for suggested serving sizes!
What Are Heavy Appetizers?
Heavy appetizers are food that will fill people up!
A heavy appetizer is typically served before dinner to hold people over before eating the main course. Or, multiple heavy appetizers could be served as the main food. This is usually something you would see at a cocktail party.
While there is no true definition of a heavy appetizer, here are some things that make traditional appetizers more filling:
- They are full of protein or have a protein component. This could be something like shrimp cocktail, chicken wings, or smoked salmon canapés.
- The appetizers have some substance or bulk to them. Think of appetizers like mini sliders or puff pastry bites. Oftentimes these appetizers have multiple ingredient components that make them substantial to eat.
- Pair a variety of appetizers together to make up a mini meal. Be sure the flavors of each appetizer coordinate with each other. This could be a mix of hot or cold appetizers, as well as bread, cheese bites, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and various proteins.
- Mini sizes of dishes that could traditionally be served as part of the meal. Some common examples could include soup shooters, skewers of shrimp, or even small portioned lamb chops.
What's the Difference Between Hors D'oeuvres & Appetizers?
The term 'hors d'oeuvres', which is a French word, translates to "outside the work." This came from the restaurant industry when the service staff used to prepare small bites of food for guests while the kitchen staff prepared the full, hot meal.
Typically, hors d'oeuvres are defined by the following:
- They're small, bite-sized (like finger foods)
- They're visually pleasing to look at
- Good flavor, but nothing overpowering
- The flavors should complement whatever foods will follow for the main course
While appetizers have many of the same principles and characteristics, the main difference is that appetizers are served as the first course (an introduction to the meal). Hors d'oeuvres are served to whet an appetite and prepare for the meal.
Appetizers and hors d'oeuvres are usually broken up into two categories:
- Cold appetizers/hors d'oeuvres
- Hot appetizers/hors d'oeuvres
Heavy Appetizer & Hors D'oeuvre Recipes
There are many popular hors d'oeuvres that you can serve at a party. Here are some of my favorite heavy appetizer recipe ideas:
- 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 and served with a peanut dipping sauce.
- Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs: Mini meatballs served on a toothpick are perfect for a party. This recipe is stuffed with mozzarella cheese to make them even more filling.
- Smoked Salmon Canapés: 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. They're a super elegant hors d'oeuvre!
- Sushi: Sushi is raw or cooked fish/shellfish rolled on seasoned rice. Sashimi is raw fish eaten without rice. Either would make amazing party appetizers!
- Shrimp Cocktail: This can be expensive if you're serving it in large quantities. However, try making it at home for a large costs savings. There are many beautiful presentation ideas for shrimp cocktail including in mini shooters or on a buffet tray.
- Fig and Goat Cheese Phyllo Cups: You only need three ingredients to make a quick, easy, and amazing tasting appetizer. This is a great vegetarian friendly option.
- Prosciutto Wrapped Pears with Blue Cheese: Cocktail picks make a beautifully presented appetizer. These pears are wrapped with prosciutto to give a sweet and salty combination.
- Cheese Board: You can make mini cheese boards with your favorite charcuterie (salami, prosciutto, soppressata), along with your favorite cheeses like blue cheese, parmesan cheese, baked brie, or cheddar. This is a great protein-packed appetizer.
- Antipasto Skewers: Antipasto Skewers are loaded with zesty flavors like mozzarella, salami, olives, tomatoes, and basil. They're a great finger food option for a party.
- Creamy Tomato Soup Shooters: These mini tomato soup shooters are topped with fun grilled cheese croutons. This idea could be used for many different flavors of soup!
- Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip: Dips of many kinds make great appetizers. There are many options including cream cheese based dips, sour cream dips, and more! Serve with crusty bread and fresh vegetables to bulk up the appetizer.
- Pulled Pork Nachos: This is a great heavy appetizer for a casual get-together. The tangy, acidic bite from the coleslaw and marinated onions packs a nice punch with the pulled pork.
- Sausage Rolls: Easy sausage rolls are a twist on a traditional savory British pastry. They're a great option if you need a kid-friendly appetizer.
- Grilled Peach and Lemon Ricotta Crostini: The grill infuses just the right amount of smokiness to this dish. It's an ideal dish for entertaining because it comes together so quickly & effortlessly!
- Roast Beef Sliders: These hearty sandwiches are delicious and easy to make in bulk. Hot roast beef and swiss cheese are melted together on a slider bun. Then, they're brushed with a delicious sauce on top.
- Deviled Eggs With Bacon Roses: You may not think of this as an elegant appetizer, but that's far from the truth. Tiny bacon roses dress up the classic deviled egg to make them a beautiful, crowd pleasing party appetizer.
- Feta and Spinach Puff Pastry Bites: These savory bites are super filling and loaded with savory flavors of garlic, green onions, artichokes, and a mixture of delicious cheese.
Suggested Appetizer Serving Sizes
If you're hosting a dinner party, wedding happy hour, or just having friends over for a game night, you may be wondering the correct portion size for heavy hors d'oeuvres and appetizers.
In general, here's how much food to plan for. Of course, be sure to account for the appetite of your guests:
- If you're serving appetizers before dinner, plan on about 6 small items per person
- If you're serving hearty appetizers as a regular meal, plan on 10-15 small portions per person
All you have to do is multiple the number of people on your guest list by the number of suggested servings listed above. This standard formula should show you exactly how many small bites to make!
You can grab my free printable food quantity guide to help you plan the best estimates on how much food to serve at your next party!
How To Serve Appetizers
There are two common ways to serve appetizers or hors d'oeuvres at a party.
- For a fancy cocktail party or wedding, try passed hors d'oeuvres. These are served on a tray and passed around by wait staff. These can be appetizers on paper cocktail napkins or in small dishes. They are usually able to be easily grabbed from the tray and eaten in a few bites.
- For more casual parties or events, try buffet style hors d'oeuvres. There are many presentation styles including one large buffet table or several smaller tables. Think through the various colors and serving equipment that you need to use on the buffet table(s) before finalizing a layout.
Different events call for different types of setups. Think through what will work best for your specific event or party.
Be sure to keep in mind the fun platters, baskets, and trays you can use to serve appetizers. Whatever you do, make your display visually pleasing and enticing to eat. That's part of the fun of appetizers and hors d'oeuvres!
Great article! I'm hosting my family over for a dinner party soon, and this article has been so helpful in my planning process. I'm going to do all appetizers and a wine pairing for each.