Appetizer ideas that can stretch my dollar (and are company worthy!)

I’m planning to host a casual, holiday, open-house type gathering: wine, hot cider, and snacks. It’s a weekend afternoon affair (4p-6p).

Do you have any go-to budget-friendly appetizer ideas?

Bonus points for make-ahead and items that don’t need fussing with after they are set out.

It’s for about 50 people; I’m thinking I need about 6-8 different types of snacks available…

Thanks in advance for your input!

Deviled eggs. No brainer.


Guess it’s time to get over my fear of making deviled eggs (I can’t believe I’ve never made them before, and I love them!!).

My biggest fear/obstacle: Butchering the whites - even to this day, when I peel a hard-boiled egg, it looks like someone took a jack hammer to the outside of it. Is there a trick to peeling hard-boiled eggs that I haven’t discovered? My method is to crack on the counter and then as gently as possible peel back the shell. Sometimes it comes off in large pieces, but other times it’s in tiny, tiny pieces. It’s rarely a nice, smooth exterior.

I suggest you consider the small, bone-on/in pork bits sold as “riblets”. They’re from the process of sawing off the tips from ribs. They are excellent deep-fried, with only salt and pepper. Very cheap.

Also Arancini di Riso (Italian rice balls) are usually a big hit and take a buck a long way.

Also, kalua pig sliders…


It helps to bang up the eggs against the sides of the pot a bit after you drain the water. Also, peeling them under cold water, starting with the bottom side (where the air pocket is) makes things easier.

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You can also put “Golden Eggs” into the mix to add a little more interest/color. See,, but you can do this in a shirt sleeve or nylon stocking, too…

Stuffed breads. Take one pizza dough, roll as you would for a pizza, stuff with choice of meats and cheese combinations. Roll, bake, cut serve with appropriate dipping sauce. Some examples, pepperoni and provolone, marinara dipping / ham, Swiss, mustard or dressing / Reuben, corned beef, Swiss, saur kraut(strained) mustard or Russian dressing.

Mini meat balls, choice of marinara, Swedish, BBQ.

Bruschetta on toast squares.

Endive stuffed guacamole.

Bacon wrapped anything! (Water chestnuts are cheap) covered in BBQ sauce.

Personal quesadilla. (take tortilla spread cheese, roll, bake, slice) salsa dip.

Mac-n-Cheese bites. Stuff small crescent roll squares with a spoon of pre-cooked and refrigerated Mac-n-cheese and bake.

Mini/Individual tuna melts.

California rolls with artificial crab sticks. (Depends on your sushi rolling skills)

Hope these give you some ideas!


My method for hardboiled eggs that never causes hardship in peeling even if the eggs are very fresh.
Eggs at room temp. Gently place the eggs into a slow rolling boil. Set your timer 9 minutes. Remove and place in cool water for a few minutes. Gently tap the egg on all sides then roll it on your surface with gentle pressure to crack further. Peel.

Ideas for your party:
Pulled pork with slider buns and blue cheese coleslaw. If you have a crock pot, you can keep it warm and people can self serve their little sliders. Add a side of baked beans if you’re inclined.

Finger foods:
meatballs in marinara sauce (can also keep in crockpot - have toothpicks avail.)
bagna cauda with vegetable crudités and bread cubes
chicken liver pâté with side of balsamic caramelised onions and crackers or toast points
roasted olives or hummus topped with tapenade and pita chips
spiced cashews
parmigiana and prosciutto canapes (warm appetizer)
mini quiches or sliced frittata
Vietnamese summer rolls with a couple different sauces

I didn’t include cheese or cured meats as they can get spendy but they are sure easy.

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Saute 1# chicken livers with a little bit of onion, salt & pepper. Deglaze pan with some red wine & cool the whole works to room temp. Put it in the food processor with a block of cream cheese & process till smooth. If you like, put some green peppercorns in at the end so they’re broken up but not pureed. Put it in a buttered mold & chill in the fridge till you’re ready to serve. Any or various kinds of crackers go with it.


Yes, buy them already cooked and shelled. I can buy these in a 6 package at my local grocery and 2 or 3 dozen at Costco. Makes making deviled eggs simple. Half the eggs, scrap yolks into bowl, add flavorings, and pipe back into halves.

My other cost effective recommendation is sliced pork tenderloin. It’s great good temperature. Marinate, roast, cool, and slice. Service either with rolls and spread or toothpicks.

Good luck!


Cut zucchini into 1/8" strips lengthwise
dip in flour
dip in egg
fry on medium heat in oil till lightly browned
Remove and drain . Let cool
Add a small amount of capers to zucchini
Roll up lengthwise
pierce with toothpick if needed to hold them together
Squeeze of lemon over all
Serve room temp
Thanks Lidia for the recipe

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Do you have access to Kielbasy ? Or any smoked sausages - cut into bite size pieces served with grainy mustard aways a popular party food - accompany well with pierogi which are generally easy to find cheap and frozen - if frozen boil first if fresh you don’t need to - saute in butter serve with toothpicks and sour cream/kraut can be made ahead and kept warm in a tray in the oven

A fritatta is another favorite of mine - easy to make ahead serves well at room temperature in bit size portions and you can use pretty much anything you have on hand - “greek” works well - spinach,bacon,feta,tomato

Here’s a treatise on hard boiled eggs by Kenji from Serious Eats.

I find that if I buy the eggs a few weeks in advance, most of them peel nicely for me.

I also recently saw someone do hb eggs, but cut in half the other way. They really looked adorable, and much fancier than the usual way. As a garnish in the center of the display, you COULD do some quail hb eggs. They are also very nice. Or just pile up some of those eggs in the middle. Can you tell I’m into CUTE eggs?

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Veg platter…no fuss, no heating up, cheap, and you can hot rod it with a few different dipping options (sweet savory, spicy, ethnic, etc). Also friendly to those watching their diets for health or ethical reasons


pigs in a blanket. I throw a Kentucky Derby party every year and spend days making food and one year a pal of mine showed up with a tray of cheap old pigs in a blanket and those things got eaten in about five seconds.


We do the same thing every year for the holiday season. Party meatballs are always a huge hit - I serve them in the crock pot and either do honey mustard or grape jelly/chili sauce (sounds gross, but people seriously love it.)

Hot pepper jelly or Thai sweet chili sauce poured over blocks of cream cheese (you can cut it into a “tree” shape if you want to be cute by cutting a block on the diagonal and arranging it into a triangle) with crackers.

I make a hot clam dip, and put out veggies. Sometimes bruschetta.

Baked brie is also very popular. I buy the mini rounds at Costco and then just bake them with honey or brown sugar or something a little sweet - no crust.

Precooked and shelled eggs make it simple but don’t help to stretch the dollar. You pay for the convenience

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This all sounds perfect, Savor!

Would you share your recipes for:
-Grape Jelly/Chili Sauce (it does sound gross, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard raves for something like this)
-Hot Clam Dip (how do you serve it, to keep it warm)?


Not only that, I trust the egg shell. Impervious to many things. I am not sure I would trust an already broken egg when they essentially come in a perfect package already…