Photo: Randy Mayor; Food Styling: Blakeslee Giles; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower

Bruschetta and crostini are classic Italian favorites that can be dressed up for any holiday occasion. These appetizers are quick and inexpensive with big flavor and an effortlessly beautiful presentation. Spend less time deciding what to bring and be inspired by these topping combinations.

December 05, 2016

“… But what do I bring?”

That’s inevitably the first question that follows an invitation to yet another holiday soirée this season. Skip the search for the perfect appetizer, and make bruschetta or crostini—an app that’s balanced, sophisticated, and easy.

Though they have different names, there isn’t much of a difference between the two appetizers. Crostini means “little toasts” in Italian, and it refers to small, thin slices of toasted bread brushed with olive oil. Bruschetta is the name for traditional Italian garlic bread, derived from bruscare, meaning “to roast over coals.” Different types of bread are used for modern forms of these appetizers, but both refer to toasted bread served with delicious combinations of toppings.

These mini toasts are the only app idea you need because they are timeless, require minimal prep, and make a beautiful presentation. Simply toast slices of a French baguette in the oven and pile on the texture and flavor. Toppings are versatile, giving you freedom to use foods in their fresh, whole form for a quicker and healthier appetizer. Pick toppings that are in season and within your budget. Because so little prep is required, you can serve two to three different and playful flavor combinations with ease. Each recipe takes around 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the toppings. Most people have had some form of bruschetta or crostini; this is an opportunity to serve something that’s widely loved, in a new (and tasty) way.

Here, our best bruschetta and crostini, from sweet to smoked to savory.

1. Black-eyed Pea, Bacon, and Pickled Okra Bruschetta

Bring good fortune in the New Year with this hearty and savory bruschetta that incorporates black-eyed peas. If you aren’t a fan of pickled okra, use jalapenos or halved cocktail onions.

2. Lemony Herbed Ricotta and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

Smooth ricotta and roasted tomato capture the flavors of Italy and give this bruschetta a bright, festive appearance.

3. Pear, Brie, and Balsamic Bruschetta

The softness of pear and the richness of Brie is a classic combination. Top this bruschetta with a drizzle of a balsamic-honey mixture and you have a new app that puts a twist on a holiday favorite.

4. Chocolate-Tangerine Bruschetta

Serve tangy, refreshing tangerine with its best partner: chocolate. This is the ultimate sweet bruschetta for holiday parties because it merges winter citrus with chocolate-hazelnut spread, two indulgent seasonal holiday flavors.

5. Smoked Trout and Dill Cream Bruschetta

Tender smoked trout and dill cream made from crème fraiche, Greek yogurt, horseradish and fresh dill add to the irresistible texture of crispy toast. This bruschetta provides a flavorful break from simple apps.

Photo: Brian Woodcock

6. Sockeye Salmon Crostini

If you don’t love trout, try this crostini with velvety salmon, crème fraiche, shallots, and dill sprigs. Salmon provides texture and color for a gorgeous bite of bold flavors.

7. Cheese Crostini with Prosciutto

This recipe calls for slices of ciabatta bread rubbed with garlic, melted cheese, and prosciutto. Top with pepper and you have a savory app that resembles the familiar richness of cheese and bacon, but with sophisticated flair.

8. Goat Cheese Crostini

Go super simple with minimal ingredients. This goat cheese crostini is effortlessly delicious. Combine parsley, goat cheese, and garlic, and spread evenly over each slice of fresh, toasted French bread.

You can't beat the ease of building a tray of crostini for a holiday party. You can mix and match recipes for a tray of options, or you can stick with one much-loved option you know will make all guests happy. No matter how you stack your crostini, this is one recipe that will make absolutely everyone come back for seconds.