There is just something special about a spread of mini bite sized appetizers that have a tendency to make any party feel much more classy and FUN!
Here I put together the ultimate guide to finger foods! I talk about the history of finger foods, finger food ideas, how to freeze them properly, how to prepare them in advance, recipe ideas and more!
The History of Finger Foods
Finger foods have been around for some time now. Believe it or not, they became popular around the prohibition era when they had speakeasy bars. Cocktails would be served illegally and they would accompany those illegal drinks with small foods that were easy to serve and eat to keep people happy and also keep them drinking!
Not that’s my kinda party! 🙂
Now there’s always a debate over what is considered a “finger food”. How many fingers should you technically be using? Keep reading!
Read more about how finger foods originated!
What Foods Are Considered “Finger Foods”?
Finger foods are small, bite sized foods that are meant to be eaten directly with your hands, no utensils required! Instead of fork and knives, people will often serve these mini appetizers with skewers or toothpicks for easy eating!
If it takes you more than three bites MAX to finish it, it is most likely not a true finger food! One bite foods are the best kind of appetizers to serve because they require no napkins and little to no mess!
Canapé s vs. Hors d’œuvres
Canapés are types of hors d’œuvres that are small in size and prepared with decorative precision. They often look pretty and are meant to be eaten in ONE BITE. These are typically made from mini or thin slices of breads or tiny pancakes. On that, the main item sits over top and then it is often garnished with herbs or a sauce. Check out these delicious canapés!
Hors d’œuvres are an appetizer typically served before dinner as a pre-meal snack. They are often served at cocktail parties or in restaurants.
What Are Some Examples of Hors d’œuvres?
Hors d’œuvres are usually fancy versions of appetizers. They are beautifully put together and also meant to be eaten in one bite. Here are a few photos of some elegant hors d’œuvres you can expect to see during a cocktail hour.
A lot of hors d’œuvres are made using puff pastry dough. Puff pastry is a popular vessel to serve all kinds of foods either inside or on top of. They are used for both savory and sweet finger foods and the fact that they are easy to pick up with your hands makes them all the more favorable.
What Are The Best Finger Foods To Start With?
Ahh, the possibilities are endless. There are so many different types of finger food appetizers you can serve before dinner! Some of the BEST finger foods are the ones that require no warming up or re-heating!
Did you check out these 14 Fun Appetizers That Take Less Than 30 Minutes!
Cold finger foods are a dime a dozen. They are often hard to find and not always the tastiest. With that said, they are extremely convenient to have on hand and require little to no preparation the day of!
Ask Yourself These Questions!!
Choosing which finger foods to serve depend on two things.
- “What can I, as a host, manage and afford?”
- “Do your guests have any dietary preferences?”
If you do not have the time or bandwidth to assemble 60 mini sliders, don’t do it! If you can’t afford crab claws, go with something less expensive!
If your guests are keto, GF, vegetarian, vegan or have other allergies, you may want to serve appetizers that safely check off all the boxes OR have a few different varieties for each guest to be happy with.
Start off with LIGHT appetizers!
If you are serving a large dinner after appetizers, the biggest mistake hosts make is serving a heavy appetizer spread! You do not want to fill your guests up so they don’t have room in their bellies for more! Think about serving lighter snacks instead of heavy, protein or bites packed with carbs.
Can You Prepare Finger Foods In Advance?
Yes! There are two types of finger foods you can prepare in advance:
- The type that needs to be reheated.
- The type that can be served at room temperature (or cold).
The kind of finger foods that need to be reheated are best if they are made ahead of time the day (or night) before. Then, popped in the oven to reheat or crisp up.
If you are serving cold appetizers, they can be entirely assembled a day or two before the party, then pulled straight out of the fridge and served!
Need more finger food ideas? Take a look at this round up of these Cold Finger Foods all which can be made in ADVANCE!
Can You Freeze Finger Foods?
Yes you can! But keep in mind, certain foods do not freeze as well as others! The best way to go about doing this is to do a ‘test freeze’. Assemble one appetizer ahead of time, if possible, and freeze that one by itself overnight. Then allow it to defrost in the morning to see if it held up well and most importantly, TASTES well.
You also want to keep in mind that when defrosting food, moisture will ruin the texture of the food. If your appetizers are meant to be crunchy or crisp, you need to be mindful of this! When reheating food, keep the temperature at about 300-350 degrees F so your not drying out pre-cooked food.
Prevent Freezer Burn!
Good, sturdy freezer bags are necessary for preventing freezer burn. You want to lock out as much air as possible! These REUSABLE FREEZER BAGS are awesome! They will allow you to freeze your food for much longer periods of time.
Tip* I like to use a straw to suck out the last bit of air from my bag right before I seal it shut. It mimics a vacuum sealer and works like a charm!
Want to know more? Read how to freeze food!
How To Plan A Finger Food Menu
I am a huge fan of serving JUST finger foods at parties. Especially when there is a large crowd of people. There are TWO types of menus you can have. A HEAVY hors d’œuvres menu and a LIGHT hors d’œuvres.
A heavy menu is when you are ONLY serving appetizers at your party. No dinner or other food after. This means you should plan to have more appetizers per person.
A light menu is when you are planning on serving more food afterwards. This means you can plan on having less food per person.
Caterers typically follow a these guidelines:
Here is my cheat sheet!
Pros and Cons of Serving Heavy hors d’œuvres:
- A lot of variety for all guests
- Great for mingling
- Allows for multiple stations
- Ability to set up food warmers and forget it
- Fun to eat
- Guests can help themselves
- Can be labor intensive
- Sometimes more expensive
- Difficult to determine how much food to serve
Easy Finger Foods Ideas
Here are a few LISTS of finger foods you may like:
Choosing which appetizers to make will depend on a few details. What you, as a host, are looking for and what your guests like. Do you want to serve inexpensive finger foods? Easy? Fancy? Skewered? Hot? Cold?
What are they expecting? What are their dietary concerns? Are they keto, GF or vegan?
These are the types of questions that need to be answered before you make your party food menu! Then, you can decide on what are the ‘best’ finger foods for YOUR party.
Any food that is tiny and bite sized will be easy to eat without utensils. My suggestion is to stick to those appetizers that you know everyone will love. I find that allergies are something you can’t “cheat on”. So its best to play safe. You don’t want 5 different meat appetizers or all your appetizers to have bread when you have guests who are allergic.
Examples of Popular Finger Foods
Finger foods are served all around the world! Whats “popular” will vary from country to country however, there are appetizers that are most commonly served at events regardless of location. Those are:
Looking For Party Food Inspiration?
Check out my collection of finger food recipes that are all bite sized and easy to make!
Do you love finger foods as much as me?? Subscribe to my mailing list to receive new recipes each week!
The Ultimate Guide To Serving Finger Foods At Your Party
I hope this guide was helpful to you in one way or another! If you are planning to serve finger foods at your next party, my two biggest tips for you are:
- Do as MUCH in advance as possible!
- Ask for help from friends and family!
Although we don’t want to admit, we cannot do everything ourselves so accept any help you can get and over-prepare! Any other questions, feel free to reach out at [email protected](dot)com. I love hearing from my readers!
Next questions is, how are you going to keep all that food warm? Click the post below!
Here are some fun graduation party buffet and finger food ideas!
Also, here is a lenghty list of 97 Finger Foods Ideas For Your Next Party