Easy Appetizers for Last Minute Entertaining

Around my neighborhood, once the weather breaks I get a lot more "pop in's", company that stops by at the last minute.  I like to keep some staples on hand so I can whip up a quick and easy snack to pull out quickly.

Here is my list of ingredients I like to always have around.  I keep the non-perishable stuff in a bin in my Pantry labeled "Entertaining":

Cream cheese
Kirkland's Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (from Costco)
Little crispy breads
Canned chicken
Shredded cheddar
Canned artichokes
Frozen spinach
Block cheeses
Wasabi peas
Mixed nuts
Black beans
Soft drinks

With these basics added to some fresh fruits and veggies, you can pull together a quick spread that is a step above ordinary chips and pretzels.

Cream cheese is most versatile,  you can whip up some things like...

Raspberry Chipotle Cheese Spread:  Place a block of cream cheese on a plate and pour Raspberry Chipotle Sauce over.  (The cream cheese will have a creamy, smoky brie taste.) Surround with crackers.

You can also make a similar spread using cocktail sauce and tiny frozen (thawed) shrimp.

 Easy Fruit Dip:  mix equal parts softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff + a bit of almond extract.

Stuffed Strawberries:  Fill cored strawberries with fruit dip and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs

Pistachio'd Grapes:

Buffalo Chicken Dip:  I got this recipe from a friend and I swear it shows up at nearly every party.

1 8oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 large can chicken
6-8 oz Frank's Red Hot sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
6-8 oz ranch dressing

Combine ingredients and bake 350 degrees 25 - minutes, until bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.

Artichoke Dip:  I got this recipe from my sister in law about 10 years ago and still make it several times a year!

1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayo
1 can chopped artichoke hearts
1 med sweet onion, diced
1 clove diced garlic
Bread crumbs

Saute the onions until golden, add the garlic during the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Meanwhile, combine cheese, mayo, and artichokes.

Add the onions and garlic and stir to combine.  Pour into baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes.

You can alter this recipe to make it a crab dip or spinach dip by substituting 1 cup of either for the artichokes or adding chopped crab or spinach in addition to the artichokes.

Black Bean Dip:  In 5 minutes you can whip up my favorite black bean dip from the Food Network.

1 plum tomato, diced
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Place the tomato, onion and cilantro into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the black beans, cumin, hot sauce and salt, to taste, and pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth. Scrape into a decorative bowl and garnish with cilantro sprigs. 

Serve with tortilla chips and carrot sticks.

So, now you are ready for last minute company.  Come back tomorrow for my Entertaining Check List to help you be party ready in minutes!

What last minute snacks do you like to whip up for company?


  1. I make a Mexican White Sauce that people go crazy for and it is something that you can only get at a limited number of Mexican restaurants (apparently). You eat it with corn tortilla chips and I swear it is addictive...sweet, spicy and creamy. Another "go to" is "Garlic, garlic" spread made with dried minced garlic, cream cheese and mayo. It is delicious and also has the added benefit of keeping vampires at bay!

  2. I like to keep stuff on hand for impromptu gatherings during the summer, too. With the pool in the back, I can count on entertaining drop by guests a good chunk of the summer. I like being able to grab cherry tomatoes from our yard for stuffed tomato appetizers, and fresh fruit is always nice to keep on hand. I also like to keep a batch of gf puff pastry in my freezer, because you can quickly come up with fancy looking appetizers with that.

    Your go to recipes sound delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I substitute graham crackers with toasted almond flour. still good! plus gluten free. :)

  4. These all look so good! I found a bean dip that is super simple and tastes great: 2 cans black beans drained added to one small container of pico de gallo (from the grocery store), 2 diced avocados, and about 1/2 cup raspberry chipotle marinade. Serve chilled with tortilla chips. Sweet and spicy!

  5. Those stuffed strawberries look AMAZING!!! Perfect for summer guests!


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