Easy Appetizers to Get the Holiday Party Started

Spanakopita for an Easy Holiday Appetizer

Katie Curtis shares some of her favorite recipes for quick and delicious holiday apps

As a food blogger with six kids and a husband who travels, I’ve learned which appetizers take too long or have too many ingredients to pull off at the holidays. Finding quick and delicious apps to bring to everything from tailgate parties to New Year’s Eve soirees keeps stress low and merrymaking high. These apps don’t involve food processors or frying multiple things and are much tastier (and healthier) than anything in the grocery frozen food section. Some guests (like my husband) love meat, but I have options for vegetarians.

Food Blogger and Coastal Design Contributor Katie Curtis

My mom used to make a big pan of spanakopita at the holidays, a time-consuming dish to assemble. Still, the smell of dill and feta always gets me into the holiday spirit, so I came up with fast and easy spanakopita tartelettes. For carni-vores, I make lamb meatballs. Mini potato rösti are made simple by using already hashed potatoes such as Organic Hash Browns from Alexia Foods. Another favorite, dates with bacon and goat cheese, which is traditionally made by wrapping the bacon around the date, which can be tricky and makes cooking the bites evenly trickier. Instead, crumble cooked bacon and mix it with the goat cheese, then stuff the dates. Pop them in the oven for some sweet, tangy, salty goodness.

Potato Rosti for an Easy Holiday Appetizer

Potato Rösti with Three Toppings

Makes 16 individual rösti

For the rösti

1 package (400 grams or about 2 cups) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 small onion, grated (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon salt

For the toppings

Bacon and Cheddar
⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons crumbled cooked bacon

Sour Cream and Chive
⅓ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Salmon, Crème Fraîche and Dill
⅓ cup crème fraîche
2 ounces smoked salmon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill


  1. Set the oven to 450°F. In a bowl, combine the potatoes, butter, onion, and salt.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup halfway with the potato mixture, pressing it with a small cup or spoon so it is densely packed. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are slightly golden and easily removed after running a knife around the edges (cook for a few more minutes if the centers are too soft). While still warm, sprinkle the cheddar cheese on ⅓ of the rösti so the cheese melts.
  3. Let cool 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of each rösti with a knife and gently remove from the tin. To serve, place the rösti on a tray or platter in three rows—one for the cheddar rösti and two for the rest. Sprinkle the cheddar rösti with crumbled bacon. Finish the next row with sour cream and chives. Top the last row with salmon, crème fraîche, and dill. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Stuffed Dates with Goat Cheese and Bacon for an Easy Holiday Appetizer

Stuffed Dates with Goat Cheese and Bacon

Makes 16–18 dates

8 slices bacon
16–18 dates, pitted
4 ounces goat cheese, softened at room temperature


  1. Cook the bacon using your preferred method. Let cool and crumble or finely chop.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut a slit halfway across the top of each date. (A pitted date already has a slit, but you will need to enlarge it. If using whole dates, create a slit as you remove each pit.)
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the goat cheese and crumbled bacon. Fill each date with the mixture and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving (the dates will be very hot). Serve hot or at room temperature.

Spanakopita for an Easy Holiday App

Spanakopita Tartelettes

Makes 30 tartelettes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
½ teaspoon salt, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 eggs
30 phyllo dough shells


  1. Set the oven to 375°F. In a saute pan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add the spinach and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach is wilted. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, feta cheese, dill, eggs, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Turn the spinach mixture onto a cutting board and finely chop it. Add it to the cream cheese mixture and stir.
  4. On two baking sheets, evenly space the phyllo shells and fill them halfway with the cheese/spinach mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the shells start to brown around the edges. Serve hot or at room temperature. Cooked tartelettes can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 week. To reheat, bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.

Easy Holiday Appetizer Lamb Meatballs

Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce

Makes 40 meatballs

For the meatballs

2 pounds ground lamb (can use beef but lamb is better)
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup crumbled feta
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning (Cavendar’s or other brands)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs

For the dipping sauce

7 ounces Greek yogurt (about ⅔ cup)
½ cup cream cheese
½ cup finely chopped cucumber
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the meatballs

Set the oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with your hands until well incorporated. Form the mixture into walnut-size balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before transferring to a serving tray. Serve hot or at room temperature.

To make the dipping sauce

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors mingle. Serve on the side with meatballs.

Craving more recipes? Check out Katie’s blog The Humble Onion and browse Coastal Design’s Recipes.

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