Easy Cold Appetizers (Finger Food, Dips & Skewers)

Every host needs easy party food such as these cold appetizers that can be served at room temperature. I’ve got you covered with recipes that you can make ahead and they taste great! You’ll find finger foods, dips, hors d’oeuvres, skewers and charcuterie boards that come together in minutes using simple ingredients.

photo collage of cold party appetizers and dips.

I’ve collected my favorite easy appetizer ideas that fall into one or more categories including make-ahead, quick and easy, or simple ingredients. And they all hold up well over the coarse of a party.

These are ideal for your next girls night in, a cocktail party, casual game day watch parties, showers or happy hour.

Why You’ll Love These Recipes

  • Make Ahead Recipes. This group of appetizers can be completely made ahead and stored in an airtight container until ready to serve. In the case of dips, you can cover them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready.
  • Quick & Easy. I love to plan parties but I don’t want to spend all my time making everything from scratch or doing lots of different steps. These recipes can be prepared quickly and easily for most cooking levels. The most time consuming recipes are those that require assembly like food on-a-stick or toothpick, and mini sandwiches.
  • Simple Ingredients. All the recipes can be made with regular ingredients you’ll find at most grocery stores. No specialty products required. If you’re concerned about perishable foods, just know it should be safe to let finger foods and dips sit out for a couple of hours. This includes recipes with cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise.

Expert Tips

Mix and match from the list below. Serve 2 or 3 finger foods along with one of the cold dips, one of the skewers, and a cheese board for an hors d’oeuvres party. That way there’s plenty of variety.

Double any of the recipes for a larger crowd.

Create spectacular dishes by garnishing your serving platters with fresh herbs or edible flowers. And some dishes might benefit from a sprinkling of flaky sea salt or fresh ground pepper on top.

shrimp cocktail inside an ice bowl made with lemons.

How To Keep Food Cold

  • Keep cold dip chilled by placing the serving bowl on top of a larger bowl that’s filled with ice and a little water. Sprinkle with some salt to keep the ice bath temperature cold. Adding water to the ice also allows you to nestled the serving bowl into the ice rather than sitting on top of it.
  • Make an ice bowl for serving shrimp cocktail or marinated shrimp.
  • Lay thin ice packs on a tray or board, place a decorative napkin of tea towel to cover them, and place your serving dish on top to help keep it chilled.
  • You can fill a glass or ceramic baking dish with water and freeze to create your own ice tray. Place a smaller dish on top of the ice sheet, or cover it with a layer of flatleaf lettuce and serve the food right on top of the lettuce.
  • Set out smaller amounts at a time and keep the remainder in the fridge. Replenish as necessary.

Easy Cold Appetizers

Create an entire party around easy appetizers made from simple recipes you can serve at room temperature. You can serve make ahead finger food along with dips and spreads. It's the perfect way to entertain at home.

Food On A Stick

Serving appetizer skewers makes it easy to pick up and hold food while you're socializing. Whether it's a combination of ingredients layered onto a wooden skewer, or a simple pick with a couple of items, you'll love these classic party recipes.


Add a sweet appetizer to the table with fresh stuffed strawberries. They look fancy when they’re stuffed, or you can simply serve the dip in a bowl with fruit on the side.

Finger Food

These include popular finger food your party guests will love. You can pick them up with your hands and eat them in two or three bites. Some make great hors d'oeuvres passed on a tray, too!

Cold Dips

Dips, spreads and cheese balls make terrific room temperature appetizers. It may just be the best way to serve food to a crowd because you don't have to make individual portions.

Party Sandwiches

Mini sandwiches are make-ahead appetizers that are hearty enough to help soak up cocktails or double as dinner. They can be prepped ahead and served at room temperature.

Charcuterie Boards

Cheese boards and charcuterie boards have become a party staple. They're an ideal way to present room-temperature food and they require minimal work. Plus, there's sure to be something on there to please even the pickiest eaters.

I feel certain you’ll love these easy cold appetizers. Have fun picking and choosing different items to create the perfect party menu for entertaining.

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