Canapés are small hors d'oeuvres that are often decorative and served on a small piece of bread or pancake. They are the ultimate fancy appetizer that is typically served during cocktail hour (my favorite hour in the world)! I especially love how they can be eaten with your fingers in just one bite no utensils necessary!
Here is a delicious round up of my favorite kinds of canapés! From puff pastry to breads to crackers, all of these savory bites are uber fancy and will make you feel like you are the creme de la creme of caterers!
What Is A Canapé?
A canapé is a small piece of bread, cracker, pastry or vegetable topped with something savory, and topped with a garnish. They are typically served at a formal event with drinks before dinner.
They are similar to hors d'oeuvres in that they are elegant, made to be eaten in one bite and can be eaten with your fingers. They are the perfect party food.
How To Make Canapés
An amuse-bouche is a fancy French term for a pre-course appetizer. Many are made bite sized so they are similar to canapés. With that said, canapés are usually made with three parts. A base, a spread and a topping.
Choosing your base:
You can use any bread you have that is shaped like a baguette. Baguettes are long and skinny making them perfectly bite sized. You can choose from white, wheat, rye or pumpernickel bread.
As for the thickness, you want to keep your bread sliced thin. Aim for ½ inch thick slices.
Many caterers will cut out shapes in the bread to make them look fancier. You can cut rounds, squares, triangles or even star shaped. Sandwich bread is ideal for this.
Keep in mind that soft bread goes stale easily. So toasting your bread helps a lot. In fact, many caterers will serve canapés on STALE bread. Think crouton. This gives them a nice bite while allowing them to be made ahead of time without getting soggy.
If you want to serve canapes that are crispy or warm, you can bake or toast them at 400 to 425 degrees F for less than 10 minutes before topping.
Puff pastry dough is the perfect canvas for many different types of canapés. You can also cut puff pastry into any shape you want! The best way, in my opinion, is the serve your canapé in a vol-au-vent, or a hollowed out puff pastry cup.
Crackers are the easiest because they don't go stale easily. Plus, they are ready to go out of the package and give your canapés a nice crunch factor!
Choose your spread:
The spread is an important component and serves two purposes.
- It adds flavor to your canapes
- It allows your topping to stick acting as glue
There are a few different options here. You can use any of the following:
- ricotta cheese
- cream cheese
- cheese spreads
- compote butter
Choosing your topping:
Sometimes canapés are served on top of a thinly slices vegetables. Popular vegetables that are used are usually:
If using meat to place on your canapes, it is important to slice it very thinly. You want the ratio of meat to base to work.
- Shredded chicken
- Pulled pork
- Sliced filet
Seafood will offer a fancy option and does not need to be heated or kept warm. Below are the most popular seafood options that would work on any canape.
- Smoked salmon
A great way to serve shrimp and crab without cooking it is as a ceviche which cooks the seafood using acid instead of heat.
Choosing your garnish:
Garnishes are optional but definitely make canapes look and taste more finished. They don't need to be complicated or overly fancy either. Here are some popular garnish ideas.
- Fresh herbs
- Pomegranate seeds (great color)
- Drizzle of honey
- Balsamic glaze
- Arugula leaves
- Nuts or seeds (adds crunch)
Here are some fun and easy canapés you may want to serve your guests at your next party. Most can be made in advance, whether it be parts of the appetizer or the entire thing. Most are made to be served cold or at room temperature so you don't have to heat them up in the oven.
These Classic French Gougères are the most delicious, light and fluffy party food. They are the perfect appetizer to serve at your next dinner party or to simply enjoy with a good glass of wine!
These buttery puff pastry cups are filled with a caprese salad which we all love! It is a yummy easy appetizer everyone at the party will love!
Smoked salmon cucumber bites with avocado pea smash make an easy and delicious finger food!
These Dynamite Salmon canapes are always a favorite – gorgeous, easy to prep, served room temperature and delish! What else can you ask for?
Ravishing. Stunning. Gorgeous. All words to describe these radish rose tea sandwiches. Made with lemon butter, these bite-sized, open-faced sandwiches are perfect for tea time.
These crisp and crunchy bread cases are the perfect base for an easily prepared, full of flavour appetizer. These are perfect for entertaining yet simple enough for your pre-dinner drinks.
Herbed Vegetable Potato Pancakes are perfect for brunch, party appetizers, or a side dish. Top them with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Chive Cream for an elegant appetizer.
These Pickled Beet Goat Cheese Tartlets are a quick and gorgeous appetizer, perfect for the Holidays as well as for any other winter celebration.
Delicious Spinach Dip Cups are the easiest way to enjoy the flavors of spinach artichoke dip in an individual serving. A fun canape that is crispy, savory and filling, perfect for parties!
These smoked salmon canapes may look fancy, but they're pretty simple to assemble and will definitely impress company for any elegant event!
These wine-soaked apricot bites are the perfect canapé for your next party. Intrigue your guests with a range of exciting and surprising flavors and textures!
Need an easy make ahead appetizer for your next party? These mini toasts are one of the tastiest canapé recipes you’ll make! The topping is a mixture of , ricotta cheese, brie cheese, goat cheese, caramelized onions and honey. These minis are also great to make ahead!
These Mediterranean Sweet Potato Hummus Bites make a super flavorful and easy gluten free and vegetarian fancy finger food for entertaining.
This canape comprises of salmon and potato and are exquisite little mouthfuls that are preferably topped with creme fraiche and caviar. Your guests will remember this one!
These bites are a mini version of the popular Mexican dish. A fun bite-sized canape that's crunchy, creamy and packed with flavor! You’ll want to save the recipe for any future get-together!
These canapes are very easy to put together with just 4 simple ingredients and are full of flavor! These handheld crostini are the perfect bite sized snack for any formal event.
These lamb polenta bites are a uniquely fancy appetizer! The combination of paprika, coffee, and red wine makes the lamb incredibly flavorful. It balances out well on simple discs of polenta with a sharp bite fromt the onion.
These puff pastry caprese bites, made using ready-rolled puff pastry, are quick, simple and eye-catching. Perfect for any party table!
These cracker canapes are a fun way to celebrate the return of warmer weather! Check out this spread of beautiful and colorfully topped RITZ crackers!
Canapes don't need to take hours to assemble. These puff pastry chili squares are a modernized version brought to a fancier level. Surprisingly, they are super easy and quick to throw together! Your guests will love them!
These canape crackers and packed with flavor! A garlic and herb cheese spread is neatly piped onto flavored crackers and topped with caramelized onions. Fancy but simple is the best way to go.
Frequently asked questions:
"What is the difference between canapes and hors d'oeuvres?"
Canapés ARE hors d'oeuvres but they are a specific TYPE of hors d'oeuvre. A canapé is a small piece of bread, cracker, pastry or vegetable topped with something savory, and then topped with a garnish.
It is safe to say that all canapés are hors d'oeuvres but not all hors d'oeuvres are canapés!
"What is the best kind of bread to serve canapés on?"
I suggest any bread that is DENSE and not too wide in diameter. You don't want your bread to have holes in it or whatever is on top will seep through and cause a mess. You also want bread that is bite sized. Here is a recipe for canape bread that is ideal in texture and size.
"How do I make canapés in advance?"
This can be tricky but caterers do it ALL the time. Most canapés need to be assembled LAST MINUTE so you do not lose the texture and more importantly, so your bread does not get soggy!
To do this, prep everything the day before. Slice all your garnishes and whip up the toppings and store them in labeled containers so you know what goes with what. Then the day of the party, you can assemble everything quickly and efficiently.
Because canapés are smaller in size, you will need to keep the serving container in mind. You also don't want your canapés to slip around since they are often delicate.
If you are serving canapés that need to be kept warm, read my tips for how to keep food warm for a party.
"How long will canapes stay fresh for?"
Since canapés are placed on bread or crackers, they will eventually absorb the moisture causing them to become soggy after a few hours.
Caterers will use tricks like spreading butter or mayo onto crackers to prevent them from becoming soggy. Here is a great recipe to help prolong crackers.
"What are the five components of a cold canapé?"
Most traditional canapés are comprised of 5 components. They are:
- Base- This is usually a bread, cracker or puff pastry.
2. Spread- This is usually a cheese, mousse, or flavored aioli.
3. Topping- This can range from veggies to seared filet or even sliced salmon.
4. Garnish- The garnish is meant to add a pop of color and add to the flavor. You can use pomegranate seeds, fresh herbs, edible flowers, or veggies.
5. Glaze- This can be a simple balsamic reduction.
"When are canapés served at events?"
Canapés can be served whenever you want depending on the type of event. Usually at weddings or formal occasions where there is an upcoming dinner, canapés will be served for a durations of 1-2 hours anytime prior to dinner service.
If the event is an hors d'oeuvre only party, you can serve canapés throughout the entire event if you wish. Read my finger food guide to determine how many canapés you should be serving.
Final Canapés Thoughts
As you can see, most of these canapés look super fancy but they don't require that much time to put together. Using crackers or store-bought mini toasts are a smart way to save time! There are no rules to choosing your toppings but going with colorful ingredients will help make your canapés look catering-worthy!
Looking for more finger foods to serve?