Entertaining — it's one of life's simple pleasures. What's better than catching up with friends over delicious food and drink? We certainly can't think of anything.
But between all the shopping, cleaning, and cooking — emphasis on the cooking — hosting can sometimes feel like more trouble than it's worth. Because let's be honest: As much as we all love a good get together, the idea of spending hours dicing, julienning, and chopping is enough to make us avoid party planning all together.
When it comes to hosting, we believe that the best appetizers are straightforward, require minimal ingredients, and, oh yeah, still taste super delicious. Why waste precious time and energy on fussy recipes with mile-long ingredients lists and instructions more complex than a Russian novel?
The rules for making crowd pleasing appetizers are 1. Use good ingredients, 2. Take shortcuts where you can, and 3. Keep things as simple as humanly possible.
After all, good food doesn't have to be complicated.
Here are five appetizers that prove delicious dishes don't always require hours in the kitchen.
1. Warm Smokey Chipotle Bacon Ranch Cheese Dip
This cozy appetizer is everything a dip should be — warm, cheesy, with just a little bit of smokey spice. Best of all? You can whip it up in no time flat with only cream cheese, roasted chipotle peppers, cheddar cheese, mayo, Hidden Valley Bacon Ranch Dips and a sprinkle of parsley for garnish.
Um, yes please.
2. Mini Avocado Toasts
Avocado toast — it's elevated, it's fresh, and it's the perfect choice for a throw-together appetizer that looks upscale but requires hardly any prep. Just slice some 'cados, spread them on mini toasts, drizzle with EVOO and fresh lime, and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.
Does it GET any easier than that?
3. Spinach Artichoke Tzatziki
We all love traditional spinach artichoke dip, but let's be honest: Even the classics could use a little updating once in a while. This spinach artichoke tzatziki is a seriously delicious take on spinach artichoke dip.
With only artichokes, cucumbers, greek yogurt, dill, and a packet of Hidden Valley Spinach & Artichoke Dips, you can create this refreshing, no-cook app that's anything but basic.
4. Watermelon, Feta, And Mint Skewers
Spoiler alert: Skewers aren't for meat n' veggies anymore.
These 3-ingredient watermelon, feta, and fresh mint masterpieces are a mouthwatering combo of sweet and savory, and bonus: The finished product looks like it belongs in an art museum.
5. Sweet Peppers Stuffed With Herbed Cheese
These colorful little guys may look gourmet, but making them couldn't be easier (your guests don't have to know that, though!).
Just start by mixing your favorite soft cheese with a packet of Hidden Valley Chive & Onion Dips, spread the mixture onto some halved sweet peppers, and finish with a sprinkle of paprika and fresh thyme (and a drizzle of honey if you're feeling particularly fancy).
6. Mini Smoked Salmon Bagels
Nothing says brunch quite like smoked salmon bagels. These cuties are perfect to make for an elegant brunch on those days when you don't feel like turning on the oven or stove.
All you need are mini bagels, smoked salmon, sliced cucumbers, cream cheese, and fresh dill.
Pro-tip: For a more DIY experience (that involves even less work for you), arrange all the ingredients on a pretty tray and let your guests assemble these treats themselves.
For more quick and easy recipe ideas, click here.
Images: Ashley Batz; Food Styling: Heather Meldrom; Prop Styling: Alex Silva; Art Direction: Mary Blount; Design Director: Bry Crasch