Banish the Holiday Hangries with These Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers
The Holiday Hangries. You know what I’m talking about.
It’s what happens to your family in that space of time between your post-present big brunch and your expansive (and sometimes expensive) dinner.
They start trolling the kitchen. Opening ovens that shouldn’t be opened. Checking cupboards. Perusing the pantry. Standing with the fridge door open reminding you that “there’s ZERO food in this house.” Apparently because they’re starving and cannot possibly wait until dinner.
How to Halt the Hangries
It can be a battle to find crowd-pleasing appetizers. But if you want to tame those holiday hangries, bruschetta and crostini offer the best chance for a victory in my book.
These one- to two-bite wonders offer endless flavor options. You can pair the crunchy, salty, toasted, charred base with sweet or savory seasonal toppings.
Our holiday appetizer recipe roundup highlights three bloggers’ fall/winter creations and the end result is somehow four different appetizers. What??? More on that later.
Crostini vs. bruschetta—What’s the difference?
Crostini are made with an Italian loaf or baguette that is sliced to about a ¼” thickness, brushed with olive oil and toasted until lightly browned.
Bruschetta is typically made with a rustic or sourdough bread that is sliced (also about ¼” thick), rubbed with garlic and then grilled over a fire to achieve a char.
However, it seems as though crostini and bruschetta somehow (at least in the U.S.) veered from their traditional definitions and now both terms can refer to a toasted slice of bread upon which you place your topping of choice.
The bruschetta recipe we’re highlighting technically calls for a crostini preparation. So…is it a bruschetta or a crostini?
Here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter! If you’d prefer to use a rustic bread, rub it with garlic, and char it for the bruschetta recipe, go for it! It will definitely be delicious.
Put any of these appetizers out when the hangries hit and I guarantee everyone will survive until dinner.
Crostini with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Fig Jam
Butternut Squash Apple Bruschetta
Sweet Potato Crostini
Simple to Make−Crostini with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam
Get the recipe from: The Italian Dish
In a hurry and need something easy yet impressive? This is THE appetizer.
The Crostini with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam is my favorite no-fail, quick-prep, go-to appetizer of choice.
I found this recipe several years ago and I make it fairly frequently when we go to friends’ houses. There are many variations of this recipe out there, but Elaine Schurr McCardel from The Italian Dish first turned me on to these flavors and she deserves all the credit in my book.
At the time I first tried this, I was fairly new to using figs, but I’m always willing to try a new flavor. And so should you.
Eight Things to know about the Crostini with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam recipe:
- Once your crostini is toasted, this is an assembly-only app. Just slather the crostini with goat cheese, add some of the fig jam, roll the prosciutto and place it on top of the jam, then add fresh basil. Voila!
- If you really want it to be assembly only, you can use store-bought crostini. We won’t tell. It will be our secret.
- Fig jam can be tricky to find so you may need to plan ahead and purchase it online. Sometimes my grocery store has it, sometimes it doesn’t. I prefer St. Dalfour Royal Fig Jam because it’s chunky and adds a nice texture to the appetizer. This time I could only find the Kroger Sweet Honey Fig Jam which worked perfectly well as a substitution.
- This comes together in less than 20 minutes (10-12 minutes to cut and toast the crostini) and 8-10 minutes to cool the crostini and add the toppings.
- This is the ultimate scalable appetizer. You’re going to be buying a jar of fig jam, a package of prosciutto and a packet of basil (unless you have your own plant in your kitchen), so you easily will have enough to make more than the six crostini noted in the recipe.
- You can make this in advance as long as you cover the apps with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. I wouldn’t recommend making it much more than and hour or so ahead of time.
- The prosciutto can dry out if left sitting out once the apps are plated. If you’re planning to serve a large group over the course of a few hours, you could assemble extra crostini with just the goat cheese and fig jam, cover and refrigerate them, then add the prosciutto and basil to your standby crostini when you need to replenish.
- You will be amazed how quickly these appetizers disappear!
Keep this recipe handy as you’ll likely be making it again and again. Trust me, it’s that delicious!
Easy to Elevate−Butternut Squash Apple Bruschetta
Get the recipe from: Whitney Bond
I’ve been on a butternut squash kick lately and this recipe grabbed my attention because I hadn’t tried butternut squash in an appetizer.
Glad I gave this a go, because it’s hearty and delicious!
The combination of baked butternut squash and apple paired with creamy ricotta on top of a crostini provides all the textures your mouth didn’t even know it needed.
Six things to know about the Butternut Squash Apple Bruschetta
- This is a very simple recipe. It does require some prep and cooking time, but there isn’t anything too technical about it.
- I don’t recommend store-bought crostini for this recipe. Most store-bought crostini is made from a baguette and the topping for this appetizer is substantial. You’ll want a larger base (an Italian loaf) to hold all the yummy goodness.
- To make your butternut squash easier to peel, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. The time in the microwave softens the skin, making it much easier to peel.
- Be sure to cut your butternut squash and your apple in equal-sized cubes. This ensures the ingredients cook evenly. You don’t want to end up with mushy apples and super crispy butternut squash. Or vice versa.
- The pumpkin pie spices give this appetizer an unexpected, sweet flavor that is offset by the balsamic vinegar.
- This could be considered a dessert appetizer due to the sweet flavoring. Is that even a thing? If not, it should be.
This appetizer was universally loved, even by my husband who balks at anything with a sweet flavor.
Made to Impress−Sweet Potato Crostini
Get the recipe from: PureWow
I knew going in that I would have to hide the ingredient list for this from my “taste testers,” aka my husband and daughter, because they “don’t like” several of the ingredients.
They both claim not to like sweet potatoes. In addition, my husband refuses to eat salmon, claiming that “it’s too rich” and my daughter doesn’t go anywhere near cranberries because apparently “they are gross.” Were they wrong? Keep reading…
This appetizer is built on top of a crisp sweet potato chip, but I didn’t tell them that before I made them taste the final product. You know, because of the sweet potato.
Wait…did you say “on top of a crisp sweet potato chip?” Where’s the crostini???
Turns out “crostini” has also morphed into crispy sweet potato chips. In this case, we’re using the word crostini to mean vessel for yumminess. Don’t think. Just give it a try!
Seven things to know about the Sweet Potato Crostini recipe:
- BONUS BITES!!! This is a two-for-one appetizer which brings us to a total of FOUR appetizers rather than three! Once you crisp the sweet potato slices, you have two options for toppings. These are the best kinds of recipes. You prep the sweet potato crisps and then you impress your guests with two different appetizers built on the same base.
- Definitely brush the olive oil onto both sides of the sweet potato slices as opposed to drizzling the olive oil on. If you drizzle it, you’ll end up with extra olive oil on your baking sheet. This will increase your baking time and decrease the crispness of the sweet potato chips. How do I know this? Because I got lazy one of the times I made these appetizers and my sweet potato chips never reached full crispness. UGH. Don’t make the same mistake as me.
- Turn the sweet potato slices half-way through the cooking time to ensure both sides crisp up. They need to be crispy to support the toppings.
- Once the sweet potato slices are crisp, the appetizers come together quickly. It’s just assembly once the crisps are out and cooled.
- For the salmon-topped crostini, select whatever pre-sliced, smoked salmon you prefer. I used an applewood-smoked salmon.
- If you want to play up the lox and bagel taste of the salmon-topped crostini, you could add thinly sliced red onion, capers, and even some everything bagel seasoning.
- For the cranberry-almond crostini, be sure to toast your slivered almonds. Toasting brings out the nuttiness and adds a nice depth of flavor. You can either spread them on a baking sheet and place them in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes (flipping them half-way through) or you can toast them in a pan on your stovetop, continually shaking the pan to ensure they toast evenly. Either way, don’t walk away. They will burn in a heartbeat.
So, how did my sweet potato- and salmon-hating taste testers react to these appetizers?
They absolutely LOVED them.
As I mentioned, I refused to tell them what the base of the appetizer was until after they tried them. They both said they “didn’t at all care” that the base was a sweet potato which is high praise from them.
My husband declared the salmon-topped sweet potato crostini to be his absolute favorite, stating that he “could eat a lot of those.” Hmmmm…thought you hated sweet potato AND salmon.
As for my sweet potato- and cranberry-loathing daughter? Before she knew what the appetizer base was, she said “whatever you’re cooking smells delicious” (it was the sweet potato crisps) and then she proceeded to gobble up not only the salmon-topped crostini, but also the cranberry-almond bites!
Oh, wait. I knew.
I knew if they just tried something out of their comfort zone that they just might end up liking it.
Are you ready to get out of your comfort zone and try something new?
Let me know which recipe came out the winner of your appetizer war.