It’s summertime. That means more outdoor gatherings that revolve around grilling, smoking, and even frying. But, while you’re guests are waiting for the main course, you can’t leave them high and dry without any snacks. Especially if great cocktails are involved.
Skip the potato chips straight from the bag or the store-bought crudité platters. Your friends and family deserve the best. That’s why we reached out to eight acclaimed chefs from across the country to provide mouth-watering appetizer recipes anyone can make. Many of these recipes you can prep the night before, so you’re not left scrambling the day of the party and have some time to enjoy yourself.
Courtesy of Chef Sam Marvin
This brussels sprout and pistachio recipe comes from chef Sam Marvin of Echo & Fig in Las Vegas. It’s simple yet delicious and is ready in ten minutes. It combines a ton of flavor, plus great texture, and can double as a side dish.
Ingredients (2 Servings)
- 2 fl oz olive oil
- 1 oz whole skin off pistachios chopped
- 12 oz brussels sprouts; leaves only
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 lemon juiced
- Heat sauté pan over medium heat
- Add brussels sprouts, pistachio, salt, and pepper
- Saute until leaves begin to soften but are still bright green; about 2 minutes
- Add butter and melt to coat
- Squeeze lemon juice and toss
Courtesy of Chef Robert Wohlfeil
Thr3 Jack in Minneapolis is where you can find this dish from chef Robert Wohlfeil. This unique take on the meatball is sure to impress your guests and is versatile for reuse in other dishes the next day if they don’t get gobbled up.
Ingredients (Makes 8 Meatballs)
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 2 oz sourdough bread (no crust)
- 1/2 lime, zested
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 oz mint, freshly chopped
- 1 oz parsley, freshly chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 oz olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp minced shallot
For Yogurt Sauce (Makes 2 Cups)
- 16 oz Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Whip the egg and pour over the sourdough bread and mash together well until they are a uniform consistency.
- Combine all other ingredients and mix by hand. Avoid over mixing.
- Portion the meatballs to 2.5 oz balls. Roll into a firm ball and layer on a lined baking tray.
- In a preheated 375F oven, cook meatballs for 11-14 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 155F.
- Serve with yogurt sauce and fresh herb garnish.
For Yogurt Sauce
- Grate the cucumber and squeeze out excess moisture before mixing with the remaining ingredients.
- Combine all ingredients well.
- Serve with the lamb meatballs.
Courtesty of Executive Chef Seizan Dreux Ellis
Cafe Gratitude is a popular chain in California known for its excellent plant-based menu. This beer-battered, young coconut calamari from executive chef Seizan Dreux Ellis will be a hit for all your vegan and vegetarian friends.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
For the Coconut
- 8 cups ½ inch thick strips fresh young Thai coconut (2-3 coconuts)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Beer Batter
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose bakery flour blend
- 1 cup garbanzo flour
- 2 teaspoons dulse flakes or granules
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup gluten-free beer
- 1 cup sparkling water
For Frying and Plating
- Rice bran oil or neutral oil of your choice
- Himalayan sea salt
- Finely chopped parsley
- Spicy cocktail sauce
- Lime wedges
- Marinate the coconut: In a large bowl, combine the coconut strips, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix well, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
- Make the beer batter: In a large bowl, sift together the gluten-free flour blend and the garbanzo flour. Add the dulse, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour in the beer and sparkling water and whisk until smooth.
- Assemble: In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 2 inches’ worth of frying oil. Alternatively, you could do this in an electric fryer. If so, follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- While the oil heats, remove the marinated coconut from the refrigerator and transfer it to a colander to strain off any excess liquid. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and place it next to your frying station.
- Working in batches, dip the coconut strips in the beer batter, drop them into the hot oil, and fry until they are a dark golden color, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the coconut strips with a fork or slotted spoon as they fry to make sure they’re cooked evenly on all sides.
- Transfer the fried coconut to the paper towel-lined plate to drain, and season with a bit of salt. Repeat with the remaining coconut, bringing the oil back up to temperature in between batches.
- Garnish the coconut calamari with parsley and serve immediately with a side of cocktail sauce and few wedges of line to sprinkle.
Courtesy of Chef Kevin Gillespie
Forget pigs in a blanket and elevate your gameday meal with this recipe from former Top Chef contender and Atlanta area restauranteur Kevin Gillespie. Chef Gillespie says to use Conecuh sausage if you can. It’s a high-quality pork sausage sold all over the United States. If you can’t find any, use any good-quality, coarsely ground smoked pork sausage the size of a fat hot dog.
Ingredients (Make 8 Hearty or 16 Bite-Sized Snacks)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic,
- about 1 small clove
- 8 ounces spicy smoked Cajun sausage or kielbasa, casing removed
- 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into ¼ by 1½-inch slices
- 1 long jalapeño pepper, sliced into thin rings
- 1 (8-ounce) tube refrigerated
- crescent roll dough
- ¹⁄³ cup crumbled cotija cheese or
- other mild cheese
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the garlic.
- Cut the sausage into 2-inch lengths. Split each piece of sausage lengthwise down the middle, stopping just before you cut all the way through.
- Hold the sausage open and stuff with one slice of Monterey Jack and 2 slices of jalapeño.
- Remove the crescent rolls from the tube and separate them into triangles.
- Place one piece of sausage lengthwise on the wide end of each piece of dough.
- Fold the ends toward the center, burrito-style, and roll to completely cover the sausage.
- Pinch the edges of the dough closed.
- Place on the baking sheet, brush each roll with the garlic butter, and sprinkle with the cotija.
- You’ll need to press the cheese into the dough using your fingers.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the smoked paprika, and serve warm.
Note* For bite-size portions, cut the crescent roll triangles in half. Split the 2-inch lengths of sausage completely in half lengthwise, and then split the halves just down to the skin so they’ll open up. Stuff with a smaller piece of Monterey Jack, some jalapeños, wrap and bake as directed.
Courtesy of Chef Stephan Bogardus
This bright and fresh take on hummus is one of chef Stephan Bogardus’s (The Halyard) favorite dishes. English pea hummus stores well for three days and can also be made using frozen peas. Just thaw the peas and apply the same ratio/process.
Ingredients (Makes 1 qt.)
- 2 cup fresh shucked English peas (blanched and shocked in cold water)
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup top-quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp mint (chopped)
- 1 tbsp tarragon
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 1 tbsp chive
- 1 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
- In a food processor, crush the blanched English peas and salt until very smooth for about one minute.
- Scrap the inside of the food processor and incorporate any unbroken peas.
- Slowly add the olive oil and purée until smooth.
- Remove the mixture and combine the herbs and black pepper, then stir until fully incorporated.
- Enjoy with your favorite chips or farm-fresh vegetables in a crudité.
Courtesy of Chef Mark Ellman
This decadent ahi tuna dish comes all the way from Hawaiian restaurant Honu in Maui. Chef Mark Ellman has a story behind this signature dish. Although not 100% raw, it is definitely primarily raw. The ahi is seared on the outside edges for just five seconds a side. This is known as “tataki.” Japanese fishermen would filet the fish and then “tataki” it to preserve it. It’s like a natural Saran Wrap. A Japanese lady once told Ellman that “tataki” means to swat or hit with a hot iron. He translates that to mean cooked at high heat for a very short time in the restaurant industry.
Ingredients (Serves two to four)
- Slice the ahi block into eight pieces, 2” x 1” x 1/4” each (use only sushi-grade ahi tuna)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 slices tomato – one red, one yellow, 1/4″ thick, sliced in half
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 slices dense bread (whole grain such as flaxseed), 1/4” thick, brushed with clarified butter
- 4 Tbs edamame puree (recipe below)
- 2 Tbs basil, julienne
- 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs Villa Mondori Balsamic (or a comparable, aged, thick balsamic)
- 1 Tbs microgreens
For Edamame Puree
- 1 cup frozen edamame, defrosted
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
For Edamame Puree
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth, about two minutes.
- Chill before using.
- Sprinkle ahi slices with sea salt and season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
- Grill the bread and then slice it in half.
- Spread the edamame on the bread and add the seasoned tomatoes.
- Top the tomatoes with two (or four) slices of ahi.
- Top the ahi with the basil and a drizzle of EVOO.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar on the bruschetta and around the plate.
- Top with microgreens.
Courtesy of Chef David Guas
Celebrity chef, owner of Bayou Bakery, and host of the Travel Channel’s American Grilled, David Guas brings us another appetizer recipe that could also double as a side dish. This is a quick and easy take on traditional Mexican street corn.
Ingredients (6 Servings)
- 6 ears fresh corn
- 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. lime zest
For Herbed Cotija Cheese
- Toss together all ingredients until combined.
- Light charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to 350-400 degrees (medium-high).
- Pull back husks from ears of corn; remove and discard silks.
- Tie husks together with kitchen string to form a handle.
- Soak corn in cold salted water to cover 10 minutes; drain.
- Grill corn, covered with grill lid, 15 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally.
- Brush corn with melted butter; sprinkle with Herbed Cotija Cheese.
Courtesy of Chef Derrick Fox
When it comes to shareable apps, the chicken wing remains supreme. This recipe is brought to you by chef Derrick Fox, MasterChef season 6 runner-up and Thor Kitchen brand ambassador. Between the dry rub and the two sauces, these wings provide three tiers of garlicky goodness. Think about serving some mint julips to mask the garlic breath.
For Chicken Wings
- 2 lbs chicken wings
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp salt
For Basil Pesto
- 1 cup basil
- 1 cup spinach
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- Olive oil
For Garlic Parmesan Sauce
- 2 cups grated (not packed) Parmesan cheese
- 2 sticks melted butter
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- To get nice, crispy baked wings, combine baking powder, garlic powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, then add your wings.
- Coat the wings evenly by tossing them in the mixing bowl, and feel free to use your hands!
- Put the wings on a baking rack over a foil-lined baking sheet, then place in the oven at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Increase the heat to 425 degrees and cook for another 40 minutes until the wings are cooked through and crispy.
For Garlic Parmesan Sauce
- Grate 2 cups (not packed) of Parmesan cheese into a mixing bowl.
- Add minced garlic.
- In a saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. You can clarify the butter if you’d like by letting the milk solids separate, then straining them out with cheesecloth.
- Let the butter cool a little, and then pour the butter over the cheese and garlic and whisk.
- Once the wings are cooked, toss them in the garlic parmesan sauce.
For the Basil Pesto
- Add the basil, spinach, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and minced garlic into a food processor.
- Turn on the food processor and drizzle olive oil through the spout until the pesto becomes smooth.
Courtesy Chef Leo Osorio
These crispy cylinders of greatness come from executive chef Leo Osorio of Kush Hialeah—the oldest deli in Florida. This dish is the perfect example of an app you can make ahead of time, store in the freezer, then bust out on the day of your gathering.
- 1 cup Sauerkraut
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
- 3 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1 1/2 Lbs. Corned Beef
- 1 lb. Swiss Cheese
- 4 eggs lightly beaten
- 4 cups of bread crumbs
- In a food processor, pulverize rye bread until fine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Beat eggs, place them into a bowl and set them aside.
- In robot-coupe (food processor) mix onions, sauerkraut (strained), corned beef, and cheese.
- Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Weigh out 1.5 oz. portions of the mixture and shape the croquettes into a cylindrical form. Place on an oiled sheet pan and cool (15-20 minutes)
- Dip chilled croquettes into egg wash, then breadcrumbs, and place on a baking pan.
- Place breaded croquettes in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
- Once croquettes are frozen, fry at 325 degrees until golden brown.
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