The doorbell rings; it’s the day of a dinner gathering, and guests are arriving. They’ll leave coats and cares at the door as they’re greeted by hugs and how-are-yous—ushered into an evening to savor. Before dinner, there’s no better way to make loved ones feel welcome than with an assortment of starters to snack on while everyone settles in. Plus, if your guests are anything like our friends and family, they’re sure to arrive hungry. Providing something to curb their appetite gives you extra time to finish the rest of the meal.
Whether served at the table or enjoyed huddled around the kitchen island (our favorite way)—the following appetizers are our go-to small plates. These dishes kick off an evening simply and deliciously, building anticipation for the courses to come.
Hosting tip: The key is to choose two or three appetizers that are easy to pull together quickly, so they don’t add stress to the planning and prepping process.
When the time comes to get cooking, we’ve got plenty of handy pieces to help prepare a memorable meal.
Gooey, soft brie with a sweet pecan spread on top and served with slightly tart apple slices.
Bright bursts of salty olives and savory herbs dress up this bread that’s rich with olive oil.
A crunchy exterior that gives way to a soft, bready inside—the perfect vessel to serve up dips, cheeses, or butter.
Hearty root vegetables paired with a zesty vinaigrette for a simply delicious salad.
From Broccoli Pesto Pasta—Everyday Cooking with Samantha Seneviratne
A twist on the Hanukkah classic—latkes elevated by an assortment of creative toppings.
From Hanukkah Latkes—Zoë Bakes with Zoë François
Colorful, marinated olives sautéd in a pan of anchovy paste, pimentón, rosemary, and thyme.
From Spanish Food and Fun—Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines + Katie Button
Crisp apples wrapped in a symphony of sweet and salty flavors and accompanied by a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Bite-sized mushrooms decadently filled with a mix of herbs, sausage, and cheese.
Bon appétit! We hope these recipes can serve as a starting point for your next gathering—helping guests feel right at home, from the very first bite.
Then to simplify sharing what you make, our kitchen collection is filled with timeless serving boards, trays, utensils, and more. These are quality pieces you can build on through the years and feel good about pulling off the shelf time and again.
More to Savor:
Find a handful of the recipes featured above in Jo’s cookbooks, Magnolia Table, Volumes 1-3, alongside more of her favorite starters like Party Queso, Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, Ham & Spinach Puffs, and Crispy Salmon Bites.
Or, explore the rest of our online recipes—by Joanna Gaines and our friends on Magnolia Network.