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Our selection of the best quick and easy canapé recipes includes classics like smoked salmon blinis, plus some mini desserts too - the perfect party food.
If you're planning for a Christmas party or marking any special occasion, this is the place to find all the inspiration you need for finger food – either to serve on trays, waiter-style, or as buffet food. You could even go sweet-only – perfect for a baby shower or as an afternoon tea-themed event. We've also included some festive ideas for those of you looking for Christmas buffet ideas.
"Canapés are a chance to give your guests a little glimpse of what they can expect from your dinner party but they are also a really fun option if you're hosting a themed event," says Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom. "It's important they are bite-sized and easy to eat, in most scenarios your guests will only have one hand free because the other will be holding a drink of some kind."
"If you're serving a canapé ahead of a dinner, make sure you don't fill your guests up too much," says Jessica. "Allow for 2-3 canapés per person and keep the portion sizes of indulgent ingredients like cheese or fried foods quite small. It's better to have your guests wishing for more than feeling too full."
Quick and easy canapes recipes and ideas
1. Cheat’s goat’s cheese and cranberry tartlets
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
These sound so fancy but they’re actually a frugal little treat. You make them by cutting a disc out of a slice of bread - one slice per canapé. You don’t need to use fancy bread. Standard stuff works best and gives a lovely crisp shell. If you’ve got an old jar of cranberry sauce in the cupboard after Christmas, this is a great way to use it.
The bread leftovers can be made into melba toast for dipping into homemade dips. Or you can just put them in a food processor, whizz them down to breadcrumbs, and keep them in the freezer for topping homemade pies and bakes.
Get the recipe: Cheat’s goat’s cheese and cranberry tartlets
2. Halloumi dippers
Makes: 40 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 mins
Crisp halloumi canapés are such a treat. They are coated in extra light and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. However, if you want to keep costs down you can use normal breadcrumbs - either homemade ones very finely processed, or preserved ones from a packet.
Jessica Ransom, Senior Food Editor says, "These deep-fried little cheese bites are incredibly indulgent so we recommend allowing 2-3 max per person. After frying, they should be sturdy enough to pick up with just fingers but providing small forks or cocktail sticks will make it easier for your guests. Why not upgrade these canapés to a simple starter? Cut the halloumi into slightly bigger chunks and serve with a rocket salad and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to cut through the fattiness of the cheese."
Get the recipe: Halloumi Dippers
3. Chicken Katsu skewers
Makes: 18 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins
These look so beautifully arranged on a long-serving platter with a dipping sauce in a bowl at the end. And, whereas lots of canapés are quite a strain on the waistline, these are low fat and high in protein, making them a pretty healthy option.
They are best served warm. However, it’s really easy to cook them in advance and then just keep them on a low shelf in a warming oven, already skewered up and ready to go, for up to an hour before you plate up. Cover them with some foil to keep them from drying out if you use this method.
Get the recipe: Chicken Katsu skewers
4. Peanut butter caramel
Makes: 48 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 30, plus cooling and setting time
"A delicious nutty take on the classic Millionaire's shortbread," says Jessica. "These are a great option for after dinner with a shot of espresso. Make them the night before then cut them into shape on the day of serving and arrange them on your platter so they are ready to go. They would make a really nice addition to a sweet grazing board and can be cut into triangles or squares."
This is such a useful recipe to have in your repertoire. Not only is it a great choice for a canapé, but it’s also great to make for charity bake sales - cut into larger portions for people. Don’t be put off by the long cooking time for these - a lot of it is downtime while you’re waiting for things to bake or set. They’re easy to make and you get nearly 50 from a batch so the payoff is huge.
Get the recipe: Peanut butter caramel slice
5. Smoked salmon and pea vol-au-vents
Makes: 18 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
Vol-au-vents are the classic party nibble. Don’t worry about them looking old-fashioned - they don’t. In fact, they have a really cool retro appeal. You could really lean into the retro vibe and serve them up with a range of other classic party nibbles, from blinis to devils on horseback (dates wrapped in crispy bacon).
This recipe is quick and easy to do because it uses ready-made frozen vol-au-vent cases. No need for cutting shapes out of a puff pastry sheet.
Get the recipe: Smoked salmon and pea vol-au-vents
6. Mini Parma ham veggie tarts
Makes: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
These are a little bit like a pastry-free version of a mini quiche. The parma ham forms a crisp case, and no pastry means they are gluten-free - great for guests with wheat intolerance. Serve these up on a board or a china plate as the ham will be a little oily, which can discolour paper plates. Place your napkins nearby too because people will probably want to wipe their fingers.
They are easier than they look to create, with only five ingredients. Vary the filling vegetables according to what you like and what’s in season. In spring and early summer during the British season, mini asparagus spears are often on special offer making them a great value.
Get the recipe: Mini Parma ham veggie tarts
7. Pea and prawn crostini
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins
Pea and prawn crostini are so easy to make and you can knock out a dozen in 15 minutes. It’s really easy to multiply the amounts for this recipe but remember, although they are very quick, most of the time is in assembling the crostini. If you’re making double, expect it to take twice as long.
"If you don't like peas, swap for classic guacamole either homemade or shop-bought. Squeeze over a little lime juice before serving for zing and a sprinkle of chilli flakes if you like spice," says Jessica.
Get the recipe: Pea and prawn crostini
8. Spicy salmon and guacamole cones
Makes: 16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins
Serve up these delicious Mexican-inspired mini corn tortillas at a summer party with a fiesta feel. They're quite spicy, so probably best for a grown-up do.
If you want to have a crispy case, more like a taco, try this trick. Make up the corn tortillas into cone shapes and secure them with a toothpick to stop them from unraveling. Bake them in the oven for a couple of minutes until they harden on the outside. Leave to cool and then remove the toothpicks before filling them.
Get the recipe: Spicy salmon and guacamole cones
9. Beetroot blinis with garlicky mushrooms
Makes: 30 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 30 mins + 30 mins for the yeast to develop
These are so colourful and dainty, that they make a delightful little platter. Serve them up with other blinis like smoked salmon, to make the plate a rainbow.
This recipe includes actually making your own blinis, so you will need an hour in total. However, you can do this section in advance and just heat the blinis in the microwave before assembling and serving, or use shop-bought ones.
Get the recipe: Beetroot blinis with garlicky mushrooms
10. Mini lamb kebab skewers
Makes: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
This is one of our most popular recipes because it’s easy to make, and so tasty. Each mini kebab is served on a stick, so your guests can dip in the minty yogurt dip without getting their hands greasy.
Make the kebabs and the sauce up a day in advance and just keep them chilled and ready to grill just before serving.
Get the recipe: Mini lamb kebab skewers
11. Strawberry cheesecake pots
Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
There is nothing difficult about this recipe, though you need a little precision and patience when you’re putting them together. It's a great canapé for a small-ish garden party when you don't have to make more than 6-10.
These use fat-free yogurt and extra light cream cheese to keep them as low-calorie as possible.
Get the recipe: Strawberry cheesecake pots
12. Beetroot and goats’ cheese crostini
Makes: 20 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
These look so professional but they’re really easy to make and assemble. To keep your assembly line speedy, wear plastic gloves and place the beetroot by hand. That way you won’t get purple-stained fingers for the party.
Cut the baguettes thinly and on the horizontal to get the long finger effect for the crostini, which allows you to add four quarters of beetroot per canapé. Don’t skimp on the orange zest and thyme leaf garnish - it adds a beautiful flourish.
Get the recipe: Beetroot and goats' cheese crostini
13. Crispy prawns with sweet chilli dip
Makes: 30 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
Party food that everyone can pass around and share. "Try using prawns with the tails still attached. They look more elegant and provide the perfect ready-made handle for easy eating," says Jessica. Remember to leave a discard bowl for people to leave the tails in though.
If you’re short on time, you can just use sweet chilli dipping sauce straight from a bottle, but adding the lemon and soy just gives it a little something extra.
Get the recipe: Crispy prawns with sweet chilli dip
14. Caramel cream Nutella lollies
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 mins + 5 hrs chilling
Sweet canapés are just as important as savoury. Keep these in the fridge until people have eaten their fill of savoury canapés and are ready for them.
An hour before you bring them out, put the serving plate to chill in the freezer. This keeps them cool for longer if people don’t eat them straight away. If you leave them out on a sunny day, the chocolate will melt and leave brown puddles behind.
Get the recipe: Caramel cream Nutella lollies
15. Crushed potatoes with smoked salmon toppers
Makes: 18 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins
If you're bored of the same old salmon blinis, try making them with crushed potatoes instead. They have a lovely crispness that is a brilliant contrast to the salmon.
These are really easy to portion up as each base is exactly one small potato, so you know exactly how many you’re going to get. Make sure you grease your baking tray well as you don’t want the finished potatoes sticking to it just before you assemble them.
Get the recipe: Crushed potatoes with smoked salmon
16. Smoked salmon roses on rye toast
Makes: 6 | Skill level: medium | Total time: 25 mins
These smoked salmon roses may look fancy but they're actually really easy to make. Apart from toasting the rye bread, they don’t need any cooking at all. You can speed up the process by simply spreading the cream cheese mixture onto the rye toast, but piping it from an icing bag with a star nozzle makes it so pretty.
If you’re serving this to a group that includes people with gluten intolerance, replace the rye bread with a really dense, dark gluten-free bread with lots of seeds.
Get the recipe: Smoked salmon roses on rye toast