So, you're having a dinner party. Appetizers are essential to your gathering, and you want to get them right! But how many appetizers do you need? Too many might spoil your guests' dinner - but not enough is even worse!
Serve 4 to 6 appetizers per person at a dinner party. It depends on when you serve them and your dinner's content. An early or heavy dinner means you can aim for fewer appetizers per person. A late or light dinner means you should aim for more appetizers per person.
This article will explore several topics in the realm of dinner party appetizers. This includes how many appetizers are too many, how many varieties to serve, and more.
More than 6 appetizers per person are too many. You don't want to fill your guests' bellies before dinner. Generally, you will need enough for each guest to eat 2 of each type of appetizer you serve. For very large parties, you can lower this to 1.5 servings per person per appetizer.
However, for high-protein appetizers such as mini sliders, deviled eggs, or bacon-wrapped shrimp, you can plan for 1.5 servings per person. This holds true for smaller parties as well.
You can do the same for starchy appetizers for parties of 20 or more guests. This includes things like garlic bread, dumplings, rolls, and pastries. Aim for 1.5 servings per person.
For appetizers that cannot be separated into single servings (like chips and dips), aim for 1 oz (30 g) per guest in total. You can lower this to ½ oz (15 g) per person for large parties if desired.
It'sIt's best to serve at least 3 varieties of appetizers for a basic dinner party. However, the more people you have, the more variety you need. For larger parties, you should serve more than 3 varieties. Some people have dietary limitations, and some will not enjoy certain appetizers. You want to have enough variety so that everyone can eat something before dinner is served.
Now, this should give you an overall idea of how many (or how much) appetizers you need per person. But the more interesting question is how you can serve the appetizers without a table. Check my article on hosting a dinner party without a table for some clever and resourceful tips and tricks.
Appetizers come in several categories, including protein (meats), starch (bread and pasta), fresh (fruit and veggies), snacks (chips and crackers), and Dips/spreads. Regardless of the size of your party, choosing the right variety of appetizers is essential.
Choose a mix of these varieties to appeal to different tastes and dietary needs. Always have at least one protein appetizer, one starch appetizer, and one fresh appetizer. Providing variety will also help you avoid overfilling your guests' bellies before dinner while not leaving them hungry and impatient.
Finally, consider allergies and dietary restrictions by asking your guests if they require anything special. Alternatively, you can choose at least one vegan and allergen-free option and/or label each appetizer with allergen information. That way, your guests will know what is safe to eat should they be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or have a food allergy.
As I mentioned, some guests will have dietary restrictions. The most common include vegetarian, lactose intolerant, and gluten-free. Nut allergies are also a consideration. However, you can choose a vegan, gluten-free, nut-free appetizer to cover all your bases.
Below is a list of suggestions, all of which appeal to guests without dietary restrictions as well. These appetizers are almost exclusively in the "fresh" category. However, some overlap in the dips/spreads and snacks categories.
Other popular vegan and gluten-free options include baba ganoush and 'Bitchin' Sauce, but neither are nut-free. Baba Ganoush contains tahini, which is made from sesame seeds and may trigger nut allergies. Bitchin sauce is made from almonds.
Most people consume at least some sort of meat regularly, and providing a bit of protein will help tide your guests over until dinner. For this reason, you will also want to have at least one protein-rich appetizer alongside your fresh and starchy options. These can be meat or seafood appetizers.
Lastly, remember that many vegetarians will eat bread, cheese, seafood, and eggs. Therefore, most of the above appetizers are excellent choices, as they usually appeal to meat-eaters, too.
Another appetizer staple is the starchy type, made up of bread or pastry. These can be anything from dumplings to mini croissants to garlic knots. They may be stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables. Below are a few popular suggestions, but starchy appetizers come in the widest of varieties! There are hundreds of alternatives and variations for every item on this list.
Although dips/spreads and snacks can be considered two different categories of appetizers, they are inseparable. What would dips and spreads be without snacks to eat them with, after all?
Appetizers from these categories are optional for small dinner parties but are among the easiest to provide. They require little to no preparation (unless you like to make everything from scratch!). However, for larger parties with more than 3 varieties of appetizers, dips, spreads, and snacks can help bulk up your options easily.
Though not typically considered its own category of appetizers, sweet options deserve an honorable mention! They add a nice variety when paired with spicy, fresh, or savory flavors. They're great for holiday parties, too.
Usually, sweet appetizers involve a rich, creamy cheese element, a sweet fruit element (often a jam), and a crunchy, savory bread or cracker element. Toasted or candied nuts are also a great addition! Below are some examples that are sure to please even the most discerning palate!
Salads are another classic addition overlapping the fresh, protein, and starch appetizer categories. They come in endless varieties, including green salads, fruit salads, seafood salads, and pasta salads. They can even be hot or cold! Serve them in a large bowl and provide guests with disposable plates and cutlery.
Below are a few suggestions to give you ideas, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, more possibilities out there!
For more help throwing a dinner party your guests will always remember, sign up for our free Ebook: Our Delicious World: Favorite Dinner Party Recipes from Around the World.
Throwing a great dinner party doesn't have to be complicated or strenuous! Choose at least 3 types of appetizers and serve about 6 servings total per guest (or about 2 servings per guest per type of appetizer). Choose at least one appetizer from the protein, starch, and fresh categories, and remember to consider your guests' allergies and dietary restrictions. Finally, and most importantly, have fun!