Quick and easy canapes to pass around at a party, including savoury and sweet nibbles from blinis to vol-au-vents, from mini ice cream cones to meats on sticks
"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 (opens in new tab). "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."
The word 'canapé' actually means 'couch' or 'sofa', because traditional canapés are served on a piece of bread, so it is said to look a little like someone sitting on a sofa. Our pea and prawn crostini, or beetroot blinis, are good examples. Anything else (on sticks, in glasses, or served on spoons) is technically an appetiser, though, in modern parlance, the two are interchangeable. "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."
Originally savoury, they were a starter or a pre-starter. These days, however, they're just as likely to be sweet, and sometimes are served as buffet food (opens in new tab), like a two-course standing meal: savoury first, followed by puddings. You could even go sweet-only - perfect for a baby shower or as an afternoon tea (opens in new tab)-themed event.
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 up.
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 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 (opens in new tab)
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 multiple 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 (opens in new tab)
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 grown-up dos.
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
17. Leek and blue cheese pizza
Serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
Slice this unusual pizza into small squares to pass around at parties. Pizza always makes a great canapé as you can slice it into as many or as few pieces as you need. It’s best served warm but you can cook and slice it up before your guests arrive and keep it in a very low oven until you’re ready to serve.
This one uses a defrosted portion of pizza dough, rolled into a square for easy portioning. But it’s adaptable too. You could use a piadina flatbread (try Crosta & Mollica’s) or even plain naan bread to make the base.
Get the recipe: Leek and blue cheese pizza (opens in new tab)
18. Steak on sticks
Makes: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 11 mins
"Sometimes the simplest recipes are the tastiest," says Jessica. "Using high-quality steak will ensure the most flavour and an enjoyable texture. It's really important to rest the steak well before slicing so that it's as tender as possible.
"It's a nice idea to serve these canapés with classic warmed steak sauces such as peppercorn or béarnaise. They should be served and eaten quickly as they will become toughen up if left to go cold."
Get the recipe: Steak on sticks (opens in new tab)
19. Smoked salmon blinis
Makes: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins
One of the most quintessential party canapés - brilliant at anything from a high summer garden party to Christmas cocktails. If serving in summer, pass them around and then keep any spares in a cool, shady place so the salmon doesn’t start to discolor.
Salmon goes so well with champagne, crémant, or cava. The bold, fresh flavours of the fizz balance well with the oily fishiness of the salmon. Using packet blinis, you really can make two dozen of these in just a quarter of an hour.
Get the recipe: Smoked salmon blinis (opens in new tab)
20. Smoked salmon, cottage cheese and rocket rolls
Makes: 16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins
Canapé spreads can be a minefield of high-calorie counts, but with these, you and your guests can enjoy a treat, guilt-free. They’re actually Slimming World-approved.
"You can try this recipe with smoked trout or salami if you prefer," says Jessica. "It's best to secure the rolls with a cocktail stick and chill to firm up for 30mins before serving. You can arrange them on a bed of rocket or watercress. This is mostly for presentation but is edible and delicious too."
21. Chilli Philly potato cakes
Makes: 16-20 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins
These bite-sized treats are always really popular. Serve with the homemade dip, or alongside some shop-bought ones for variety. Most people will want three or four each, so adjust your batch size accordingly. The only extra time is when you’re shaping the little potato cakes into balls and flattening them, so making extras doesn't lengthen the cooking time too much.
Get the recipe: Potato cakes (opens in new tab)
22. Chocolate and cranberry cheesecake shots
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins + 2 hrs cooling time
Another cheaty cheesecake-a-like. Make these in shot glasses and serve them up to your guests with coffee spoons (regular teaspoons will be too large to get to the bottom of the pudding.)
If you don’t have shot glasses or spoons, you can make this as one large cheesecake instead. We recommend using a loose-bottomed, square tin. Cut the cheesecake into portions, and place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes before serving, to firm them up a bit and make them easier to pick up.
Get the recipe: Chocolate and cranberry cheesecake shots (opens in new tab)
23. Mini vegetable frittatas
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins
A brilliant, Spanish fiesta-inspired recipe. These are like little quiches but they don’t have any pastry. That means they’re not only suitable for vegetarians but also for any guests who are gluten-intolerant.
They are lovely served hot or cold, depending on the type of party you’re throwing. In winter, we’d recommend cooking them in advance and then reheating them in the oven just before serving. In summer you can serve them straight from the fridge, made a day or two in advance.
Get the recipe: Mini mushroom and onion frittata (opens in new tab)
24. Courgette curls with salmon and cream cheese
Makes: 15 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 25 mins
The classic smoked salmon and cream cheese combo are given a modern and healthy twist by adding a little courgette instead of serving it up on bread.
It's another great option for slimmers (make it with extra light cream cheese and fat-free cottage cheese), or anyone who can’t eat pastry. Have a discard bowl handy that people can put their used cocktail sticks in.
Get the recipe: Courgette curls with salmon and cream cheese (opens in new tab)
25. Rose Turkish delight
Makes: 35-49 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 30 mins
"Another easy recipe to prepare ahead of time," says Jessica. "Cut these into dainty little squares and serve as a petit four. Why not create a little sharing board consisting of these, the peanut caramel from above and a selection of cake pops from below?"
Of course, you can buy Turkish Delight but serving up the homemade stuff is a whole other level of impressive hosting. Good Turkish delight is also expensive, whereas, with this version, you get a really large batch for about £2.70.
Get the recipe: Rose Turkish delight (opens in new tab)
26. Cheese and chutney scones
Makes: 8-12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins
These little round cheese and chutney scones are so delicious. And because you don’t need to roll out and use a scone cutter to make them, they’re even quicker than regular cheese scones to make.
Jessica says, "Serve these sliced and topped with a selection of different ingredients. You could do some with salted butter and others with additional cheese and chutney. They'll be great warm or cold."
Get the recipe: Free-form cheese and chutney scones (opens in new tab)
27. Apple doughnuts with apple purée
Makes: 28 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins
Ever considered making doughnuts as a sweet canapé? They're not as hard to make as you may think. It only takes 30 mins to cook a batch of 28. Serve with apple puree, as we do in this recipe, or swap for melted chocolate, Nutella, or even something as simple as strawberry jam.
Get the recipe: Apple doughnuts with apple puree (opens in new tab)
28. Pigs in blankets
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
Sausages make the perfect party food for anyone from adults down to toddlers. You probably don’t even need a recipe for pigs in blankets because they’re so easy to do, but this one gives you lots of top tips too to make sure you get them perfectly every time.
It might feel like a bit of a Christmas treat, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. Sausages wrapped in bacon are a great idea at any time of year. Serve in a bowl and leave out cocktail sticks so people don’t have to get their fingers dirty.
Get the recipe: Pigs in blankets (opens in new tab)
29. Twisty sausage rolls
Makes: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
While we’re on the subject of sausages, how about this twist on the pig in a blanket classic? In the US, the term pigs in blankets usually refer to sausages wrapped in pastry rather than bacon, so these are our little American-inspired canapés.
We’ve used ready-rolled puff pastry to make these, to keep it really simple. All you need to do is cut it into strips. This is one of the quickest hot canapé recipes we have - 24 treats in just 20 minutes.
Get the recipe: Twisty sausage rolls (opens in new tab)
30. Devilled eggs
Makes: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins
Another brilliant retro classic canapé that makes a big plateful of food in less than half an hour. With a good hit of spicy Tabasco, these are great at grown-up parties.
This version has crab meat mixed in with the filling, but if you want a veggie-friendly version, simply leave it out and add in a pinch of paprika. Refill the egg halves with a spoon or, if you have time and you really want to go for a traditional look, use a piping bag and a star piping attachment.
Get the recipe: Devilled eggs with crab (opens in new tab)
31. Cheese and chive puffs
Makes: 16 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 35 mins
These cheese and chive puffs make great finger food. Serve in a clear bowl or a woven basket lined with some pretty napkins for a rustic look.
If you haven’t made choux pastry before, it might seem a bit daunting but it’s actually pretty easy as long as you follow our recipe and don’t over-baked the balls.
Get the recipe: Cheese and chive puffs (opens in new tab)
32. Potato skins with dips
Makes: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1hr 35
Potato skins make a brilliant chip 'n' dip style option. This recipe includes three different dips for you to serve them with, but if you’re pressed for time, just serve up salsa and some sour cream with chopped chives mixed in. Don’t be put off by that cooking time either - there is practically no work involved. You will scoop the flesh out of these potatoes, but don’t discard it. Save it to make bubble and squeak or fishcakes another day.
Get the recipe: Potato skins with dips (opens in new tab)
33. Cake pops
Makes: 20 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1-2 hrs, plus cooling and setting time
Cake pops are the ultimate party treat. You can take as long as you like over them, and theme and decorate them for your party. If you need a quicker option, use shop-bought sponge cake and reduce the making time to about 40 minutes plus setting time.
"These are a really fun option for children but you can put a sophisticated spin on the flavours if serving to adults. Why not try coffee-flavoured sponge and dip in crushed walnuts of cacao nibs," says Jessica.
Get the recipe: How to make cake pops (opens in new tab)
34. Chocolate honeycomb mousse pots
Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
These little chocolate honeycomb mousse pots are ideal for a sophisticated bash. Sprinkle shards of Crunchie bars on top of the chocolate mousse for a simple but impressive finishing touch. You can make the mousse go further by serving it in smaller glasses. Try serving in egg cups for an Easter-themed bash, topped with smashed Mini Eggs.
Get the recipe: Chocolate honeycomb mousse pots (opens in new tab)
35. Cheese and pickle straws
Makes: 25 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins
These homemade cheese straws are deliciously served with a couple of dips. The pickle makes them better than any versions you can buy in shops, too. They’re really easy to make - just be sure to keep a close eye on them while they’re in the oven.
Serve these with a traditional picnic-themed spread, with Scotch eggs and pork pies. Alternatively, they are good at cocktail parties because you can hold them in one hand and your drink in the other.
Get the recipe: Cheese and pickle straws (opens in new tab)
36. Crushed pea and bean toasts
Makes: 6-15 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins
This recipe was actually created as a starter rather than canapés. However, to serve up at a party, you can either simply cut the toast in half, or use slices of toasted baguette instead.
This is one of our quickest finger food options. Once you know what you’re doing, you can knock out a batch in 10 minutes or so. It’s cheap too - use frozen peas and broad beans to keep the costs really low.
Get the recipe: Crushed pea and bean toasts (opens in new tab)
37. Moroccan chickpea cakes
Makes: 16 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins
These make a lovely addition to a canapé spread because many of your guests will not have tried them before. These are great for home entertaining. The bulk of the recipe comes from a tin of chickpeas, so it’s cheap to make. Use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, to make it even cheaper if you prefer. Serve with a creamy garlic dip.
Get the recipe: Moroccan chickpea cakes (opens in new tab)
38. Seeded Parmesan biscuits
Makes: 30 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 minutes, including chilling time
These make great nibbles on their own, or you can serve them with cheese as part of a spread. They’re especially good with baked camembert, dipped into the melted cheese. Make them vegetarian by using a Parmesan cheese alternative.
Get the recipe: Seeded Parmesan bites (opens in new tab)
39. Mini macaroons
Makes: 34 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 50 mins
You can buy swanky mini macaroons from patisseries, but why bother when you can make them yourself at home in less than an hour? This version will definitely work out cheaper. Plus you can adjust the colour to suit your own party spread.
One batch makes 34 macaroons. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, you can experiment with adding flavours like cocoa or peppermint to the macaroon, or chocolate, caramel, or pistachio to the frosting. They also make a great take-home gift for people.
Get the recipe: Mini macaroons (opens in new tab)
40. Parma ham and mozzarella bites
Makes: 20 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins
These little mozzarella bites look fancy but they're easy to make and can be rustled up in no time. There’s no cooking, chilling, or waiting.
“If you'd prefer to make them meat-free, swap the parma ham for half a cherry tomato,” says Jessica. “You could secure a basil leaf to each bite for an elegant garnish. And try drizzling them with balsamic vinegar for an extra flavour punch.”
Get the recipe: Parma ham and mozzarella bites (opens in new tab)
41. Vegan carrot cake with frosting
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins
This is a perfect pudding for serving up if you have vegan guests at your party. The recipe makes six portions but you can cut them smaller for a canapé version - between 12 and 15 pieces.
Non-vegan guests won’t complain either - the sweet stodginess of the base and the creaming topping are really reminiscent of carrot cake, but a healthier version.
Get the recipe: Raw carrot cake with vegan frosting (opens in new tab)
42. Hot and spicy chicken skewers
Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins
The skewers are easy to make and they only take 10 minutes to cook - just make sure to leave at least a couple of hours for the chicken to marinade first. This recipe includes a dip to go with the chicken, but for speed, you could just serve it with hummus or sweet chilli sauce.
Get the recipe: Hot and spicy chicken skewers (opens in new tab)
43. Watermelon, cured ham and feta
Makes: 28 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins
These require no cooking at all, so they’re really quick and easy to do. You could even get the kids to help with assembly. The watermelon is such a brilliant summer contrast to the salty ham and feta. Make these up a day in advance and just keep them in the fridge until needed.
Get the recipe: Waterlemon, cured ham and feta (opens in new tab)