What Are the Different Christmas Appetizer Ideas?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.
Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.

Different types of Christmas appetizer ideas usually end up as either hot or cold and either savory or sweet dishes. Hot appetizers are often preferable for Christmas, especially in areas that are very cold during December, though a number of cold dishes can also be enjoyable. Although savory foods are commonly served as appetizers, the holiday season around Christmas is often seen as a time of indulgence, so sweet dishes may be more acceptable than at other times of year. Within these different categories, there are a number of Christmas appetizer ideas ranging from hot artichoke dip or cold smoked salmon to chilled petit fours.

An appetizer with cheese, tomato, olive and basil.
An appetizer with cheese, tomato, olive and basil.

Christmas appetizer ideas can include a wide range of different food options, often based on the preferences and tastes of those preparing or eating them. Since there are so many possible options, it can be easiest for someone to approach them by breaking down the different choices into a few basic categories. This allows a person to prepare a number of appetizers that complement each other, without too much similarity.

Shrimp appetizers.
Shrimp appetizers.

Hot, savory appetizers can range from chicken wings and potato skins to crab cakes. For many people, Christmas is a time to be somewhat indulgent and decadent when it comes to food. This means that dishes can often be rich and savory, with seasonal ingredients that celebrate the festive time of year.

There are also a number of cold dishes that can be used as Christmas appetizer ideas. Standard foods like vegetable platters with dip or shrimp cocktail are often popular at holiday parties. There are also rich and decadent cold dishes like smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels or spinach dip with rye bread that someone can serve to delight guests and family members.

Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.
Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.

Christmas appetizer ideas can even include cold treats and desserts. Petit fours, for example, are small pieces of cake covered in fondant icing, which are often served at tea parties and other formal yet festive occasions. Small bites of cheesecake can act as a dessert or an appetizer, and beginning a meal with such a treat can make savory dishes that follow seem richer and more satisfying.

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    • Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.
      Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.
    • An appetizer with cheese, tomato, olive and basil.
      An appetizer with cheese, tomato, olive and basil.
    • Shrimp appetizers.
      Shrimp appetizers.
    • Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.
      Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.
    • Crab cakes.
      Crab cakes.
    • A Christmas antipasti platter.
      A Christmas antipasti platter.
    • Gouda cheese is often served with fruit and crackers.
      Gouda cheese is often served with fruit and crackers.
    • Spinach dip may be used as a Christmas appetizer.
      Spinach dip may be used as a Christmas appetizer.
    • Caviar appetizer with fromage blanc and fresh herbs.
      Caviar appetizer with fromage blanc and fresh herbs.
    • Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops.
      Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops.
    • Chickens wings are a popular Christmas appetizer.
      Chickens wings are a popular Christmas appetizer.
    • A Christmas appetizer platter may feature cold hors d'oeuvres like shrimp cocktails.
      A Christmas appetizer platter may feature cold hors d'oeuvres like shrimp cocktails.