How Do I Choose the Best Make-Ahead Appetizer?

Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.

The best appetizers to prepare are easy to prepare a few days before the party, keep the flavor or improve the flavor, and combine with the rest of the food you are serving. Any appetizer that can be kept in the fridge for a day or two before eating is an ideal appetizer to prepare in advance. Sauces will develop flavor as they cool, for example. Some snacks, such as mini quiches or other baked goods, can be prepared in advance and then cooked on the day. Aperitif made in advance should require considerably less work on the day of the event than in advance.

Shrimp appetizers.

Consider the food you will be serving at the party when deciding on the best appetizer prepared in advance. If you’re serving a formal meal, a casual appetizer to make ahead, like gravy and fries, might not work well. Small sandwiches or crudités may work best. You can prepare the sandwiches in advance if you are not using ingredients that make the bread soggy. Raw vegetables can be sliced ​​a day ahead and kept tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.

French fries and sauce are an ideal appetizer for a casual party like a football party or a kid’s birthday. You can prepare the sauce a day or two ahead, let it rest in the fridge to let the flavors meld, and serve it cold, or bake or heat the sauce on the day of the party. Ideally, heating the dish on the day of the event should require little time and effort on your part. You want to be able to put it in the oven or on the stove while you do other things to get ready for the party.

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A plate of prepared antipasti.

Avoid making appetizers that will become soggy, dry out, or lose flavor if prepared too far in advance. If you want to serve cheese as an appetizer, consider molding a soft cheese, such as goat cheese or cream, into a log and topping it with nuts or dried fruit. Hard cheeses like cheddar will dry out if you cut them too early. Breads and other baked goods made too early can get stale and dry as well.

Tapenade served with a slice of bread. It’s usually best to make tapenade ahead of time so the flavors blend together.

If you plan on serving baked goods as appetizers, prepare the dough in advance and bake in the oven the next day. You can divide the cookie dough a few days ahead and freeze it on the baking sheets. Add a few minutes to the party day’s cooking time.

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