Our Best Appetizers Under 100 Calories
Whether it's the holidays, game day, or a casual gathering of friends, serving an appetizer certainly gets the fun going. Unfortunately, so many bite-size nibbles weigh in with way too many calories for an entire meal, much less the first act to a bigger meal. This collection of party-worthy appetizers proves you can have it all: refined presentation with delicious, bold flavor without packing on the calories.
In some cases, the key to calorie restraint is about portions. Serving bite-size morsels that come in their own portion-controlled package, like Bruschetta with Peach Salsa and Melted Brie, adds a natural layer of restraint (as long as you can keep from eating the entire batch). And in other recipes it's all about smart ingredient choices. We substitute lower-fat ingredients when it makes sense (and when it tastes good), and we always try to serve appetizers with fresh veggies or fruit to round out the nutrition (and it also makes for a pretty presentation). At under 100 calories, each of these appetizers are sure to inspire your next gathering.
Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onions
Be sure to offer finger foods like deviled eggs that guests can enjoy with a drink in one hand. Steaming produces perfectly cooked, easy-to-peel eggs every time. You can cook the eggs and prepare the filling two days in advance, but wait to fill the whites until the day you plan to serve them.
Blue Cheese and Chive Straws
Blue cheese gives a bit of a bite, but is not overpowering to this delightfully crunchy snack. Prepare up to two days ahead and store in an airtight container at room temperature. We think they make a delightful nibble with drinks.
Dressing-Stuffed Mini Peppers
We love these stuffed peppers as an appetizer, but you can also serve them as a side dish. Be sure to use baby bell peppers and not mini sweet peppers (shaped like jalapeños) so they're big enough to accommodate the filling. As an alternative to broiling, you can char the peppers directly over a gas flame, turning frequently with tongs.
Smoked Salmon and Cheese Mini Twice-Baked Potatoes
This scrumptious low-cal finger food was developed by reader Abigail McMahon who was inspired by Ireland. "I love Ireland and the country's wonderful food. When I think of Irish food, the first items that come to mind are potatoes, salmon, and cheese." Luckily, this recipe has all three.
Mini Crab Cakes with Pickled Celery
Save 104 calories, 12.6g fat, and 156mg sodium over traditional mini crab cakes. You can bake these cakes up to 2 hours ahead of party time and rewarm in a 300° oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
Crab and Celery Root Rémoulade
An appetizer that will not weigh-down you or you meal. A melt-in-your-mouth mixture of crab and other fresh ingredients is tucked into a crispy leaf of Boston lettuce to make this a little explosion of flavor.
Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus with Prosciutto
Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Use any combination of herbs you like for this easy and tasty starter. We chose the trio of chives, tarragon, and dill, but feel free to use your culinary imagination for this one.
Roasted Beet Hummus
Beef Teriyaki Crisps with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Prepare the mayonnaise mixture and cook the steak up to a day in advance. There's no need to reheat it, just slice the steak about an hour ahead, and leave at room temperature. The savory delight paired with the creamy and spicy mayonnaise will surely be a hit.
Gingery Shrimp Salad Bites
Pick up inexpensive Chinese soup spoons at Asian markets, or serve on rice crackers or in hollowed-out pieces of cucumber. The chives, an optional sixth ingredient, perk up the look but aren’t crucial to the flavor.
Grilled Pepper Poppers
The three-cheese filling is a nice complement for the spicy peppers. You can also use a milder chile, such as a cherry pepper. Shredded cheddar cheese can take the place of Parmesan, if you like.
Smoked Salmon Bites
If you're looking for an appetizer that will delight your guests with its gorgeous presentation and rich, delicious taste, the search stops here. These beautiful canapés start with a base of candy cane (or Chioggia) beet squares, whose alternating ruby and white rings are stunning. (You can add more color to the platter by alternating candy cane beet and golden beet slices.) The beet stays raw, so the slices are crunchy and sweet and hold up nicely. Strips of smoked salmon get folded and layered on the beet base with a tasty filling of cream cheese, shallots, and lemon rind. The result looks similar to old-fashioned ribbon candy. The jewel-like topping of easy-to-find salmon caviar turns what's truly a simple make-ahead nibble into an absolute work of art that'll make you the talk of your social circle.
Indian-Spiced Roasted Nuts
This simple recipe makes a tasty party snack. Use your favorite nuts, and add a bit of heat with a dash of ground red pepper, if you like.
Smoked Salmon Salad in Cucumber Cups
Substitute gravlax or even flaked canned salmon if you prefer salmon that has not been smoked. Wasabi mayonnaise is available in the condiment section of most supermarkets. Or make your own by blending 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon wasabi paste, or more wasabi to taste.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Dates
This appetizer is assembled quickly and will likely be devoured at lightening speed. The saltiness of the prosciutto pairs wonderfully with the sweet date and savory creaminess of the goat cheese.
Mini Corn Bread Crab Cakes with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Bake the corn bread up to three days in advance, and keep in a zip-top plastic bag. Combine the sauce ingredients and assemble the crab cakes the night before; refrigerate separately. Any leftover crab cakes are terrific with a green salad.
Clams Casino with Pancetta
For easier shucking, steam clams over simmering water for two minutes or just until their shells barely open. Run a knife or small screwdriver around a shell's edge, and pop it open. If you partially steam the clams, reduce the broiling time by a minute or two. The clams may be unsteady on the jelly-roll pan, so you can line the pan with a bed of rock salt for more stability.
Green Olive and Artichoke Tapenade
This tangy spread is delicious as a dip with whole-grain crackers or spread on a sandwich of grilled vegetables (shown here). The olives are a great source of monounsaturated fats. Make this ahead and have it on hand for a party or simple lunch.