Make-Ahead Party Food with Recipes (Sweet and Savory!)

This menu of Make-Ahead Party Food is pleasing for any dinner party, cocktail party, birthday, wedding reception, and beyond! Featuring both sweet and savory, each appetizer is served in its own shot glass so your guests can grab-and-go while they mingle.

Make-Ahead Party Food

Christmas is now a memory, and it’s hard to believe the New Year is just days away. Like many of you, I’ve been eating well this week, capturing some fun moments, and generally trying to soak up all the holiday spirit and goodwill before it slips away. So, I wanted to share the little workshop party we held before our holiday break.

Both savory and sweet, this menu of make-ahead party food requires little cooking, – just some assembly required. These appetizers are adaptable to any gathering, although I find them so cocktail party-worthy!

Much like My Holiday Open House Menu, I created these appetizers so I could spend more time with my guests instead of being tethered to the kitchen. After years of being both host and cook, I rely on make-ahead recipes. For a cocktail party feel, I love using clear shot glasses to make single servings. They are an inexpensive investment, like this pack of 40 for under $20. And they can be reused forever!

Make-Ahead Party Food

Everything Bagel Hummus Shots with Grilled Crostini

This is a good one to make if you have guests that are vegetarian or vegan. Buy prepared plain hummus and stir in some toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a little garlic powder. Pipe the hummus into the bottom of 15 shot glasses. Then top each with a little Everything Bagel Seasoning just before serving.

Serve the hummus shots with a grilled crostini standing upright or bagel chips balanced on top. Consider assembling a few with gluten-free crackers on a separate tray for guests with gluten intolerance.

Marinated Mozzarella

No cooking, no baking, just assemble and serve! Slice block mozzarella into 1-inch cubes. Then, make a dressing of olive oil, Italian spices, garlic powder, and chopped sundried tomatoes. Mix it all together and add in the cheese; toss to coat. It’s so easy and it looks special. It tastes special, too! The creamy almost blank canvas flavor of the mozzarella is enhanced by that garlicky herbaceous flavor. One tip – be sure to use a good condiment-worthy olive oil!

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

This is an easy evergreen appetizer that just requires dressing up some large cooked cocktail shrimp. Bloody Mary mixer is the stand-in for cocktail sauce, which is lighter and so flavorful. Charleston Bloody Mary Mix is my go-to for this appetizer. Add a little to the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses, and top with skewered shrimp that have been finished like any good Bloody Mary – with a squeeze of citrus and a generous grind of black pepper.

Make-Ahead Party Food

Charcuterie Cones (or Shot-cuterie, if served in shot glasses)

This cute appetizer is a good segue from our savory fare to the sweet. Why? Because it contains both sweet and savory bites. Include salted nuts, a square of sharp cheese, dark chocolate pieces, dried fruit, rosemary sprigs, artisan crackers, blue cheese-stuffed olives, berry and salami skewers.

The cones don’t have to match each other exactly. It’s good to make a few veggie friendly cones and gluten-free options. I used biodegradable natural wood cones for serving (along with cone holders), because they hold a little more food than a shot glass. But you can use 3 oz. shot glasses even small Mason jars.

Make-Ahead Party Food

Citrus Supremes with Prosecco Sabayon

They say good things come in small packages, and this is especially true for this little bubbly-inspired dessert. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and prosecco in a bowl over simmering water until thickened. It doesn’t take long at all to make a luscious sabayon. As for the citrus, you could spend a lot of time with the messy business of segmenting grapefruits and oranges. Or, you could just buy a big jar of Del Monte’s Citrus Salad. This no-sugar added option does the work for you.

Layer sabayon into shot glasses and top with the citrus. A few pomegranate arils on top of each shot will make them even prettier.

Bourbon Ball Ganache Shooters

And now for something completely different! Skewered bourbon balls are made for dipping into the silky bourbon ganache they’re perched atop. This utilizes my favorite 5 Minute Bourbon Ball recipe. Bourbon balls can be made far ahead of serving because they mellow with time. These were perfect for the holidays but I can’t wait to make them for a Derby Day treat.

Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Regular blog readers know that panna cotta is my go-to for make-ahead desserts. This particular flavor combination is more for winter holidays. You can find the recipe for it right here. However, if you’re looking for more evergreen flavors, check out this post for White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Orange Chocolate Sauce.

Make-Ahead Party Food
Make-Ahead Party Food on display!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this departure from the usual post. The recipe card will include most of the recipes with a couple links to the desserts that already live on the blog. I hope you can use this post as a resource to help increase the enjoyment of your gathering, while minimizing your work!

Make Ahead Party Food Menu (Sweet and Savory!)

Heather Baird
Get a head start on making delicious appetizers for your next gathering. Use shot glasses to portion single servings so your guests can grab-and-go while they mix-and-mingle.
Everything Bagel Hummus Shots, Marinated Mozzarella, Bloody Mary Shrimp Shooters, and Charcuterie Cones offer savory flavors. While Citrus Supremes with Prosecco Sabayon, Bourbon Ball Shooters, and Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce round out the party with sweetness.
The Charcuterie Cone recipe is for 15 near matching cones; however, I suggest you vary some of the cones to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free guests.
Please note that prep and cook time is approximate.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 40 mins
2 hours chill time 2 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 40 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 15 people

Equipment

  • shot glasses 15 for each recipe, 1.5 oz. capacity
  • cocktail skewers
  • Toothpicks
  • biodegradable wood cones optional

Ingredients
 
 

Everything Bagel Hummus Shots

  • 10 oz. plain hummus 1 container
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Everything Bagel Seasoning for garnish
  • 1 baguette sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Olive oil

Marinated Mozzarella

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes in herb oil chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 16 oz. block mozzarella part skim
  • Chive sprigs optional

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

  • 15 large cocktail shrimp cooked peeled with tails on
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 oz. Bloody Mary Mix Charleston recommended
  • Parsley sprigs for garnish

Charcuterie Cones

  • 6 oz. salted almonds
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate bar tablet style for breaking
  • 15 Turkish dried apricots
  • 15 blue cheese-stuffed olives
  • 1 pint fresh berries raspberries and blackberries
  • 12 oz. thin cut salami rounds
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar block cubed
  • 15 cocktail onions
  • 15 sprigs rosemary for garnish
  • Assorted crackers

Citrus Segments with Prosecco Sabayon

  • 2 cups mixed citrus segments such as Del Monte no sugar added Citrus Salad
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Prosecco
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate arils such as POM wonderful POM-POMS

Bourbon Ball Shooters

  • Bourbon Ball Recipe prepared to fit inside shot glasses
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce (linked)

Instructions
 

Everything Bagel Hummus Shots

  • Combine the hummus, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix well. Place in a piping bag or zip-top bag with the corner snipped. Pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons of hummus into the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses. Place all of the glasses inside a 9×13 baking pan with sides taller than the height of the shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap until party time.
  • Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil. Drizzle a nonstick grill pan with olive oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Grill bread slices on both sides and set aside to cool. When cool, place bread in a zip top bag and store until ready to serve.
  • 1 hour before serving, sprinkle each hummus shot with a little bagel seasoning. Stand a baguette slice upright into the shot glasses. Place shots on a tray and serve.

Marinated Mozzarella

  • Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Cube the cheese small enough to easily fit into shot glasses. Add the cheese cubes to the olive oil dressing and toss to coat.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The marinade may solidify a little due to the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. This is normal. Allow the bowl to stand at room temperature until the marinade loosens. Stir to coat.
  • Skewer 2-3 cubes of marinated mozzarella on toothpicks and place inside 15 shot glasses. (You may have leftover cheese cubes, which can be placed in a bowl near the shot glasses with toothpicks for guest refills.) Place the shot glasses in a deep 9×13 inch baking pan taller than the shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap. Before serving, add 1-2 sprigs of chives to each glass, if using. Spoon some of the marinade in the bottom of the bowl over the cheese cubes in each glass just before presenting.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

  • Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Place on a shallow plate. Drizzle with lime juice and zest. Grind black pepper generously over the shrimp. Thread one shrimp onto each of fifteen 4-inch cocktail skewers. Cover with plastic wrap until party time.
  • Pour Bloody Mary mix into fifteen of 1.5 oz. shot glasses, approximately 1/3 of the way up the glass. Top each glass with a skewered shrimp and garnish with a parsley sprig. Present on a serving tray or tiered stand.

Charcuterie Cones

  • Divide the salted almonds between the the cones. Place a square or two of chocolate into each of the cones. Add apricots. Thread olives and salami on skewers. Thread two or more berries onto some skewers. Stand skewers upright into each cone. Add a cube of sharp cheddar to each cone.
  • Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Add artisan crackers to each cone or have them on a platter nearby.

Citrus Segments with Prosecco Sabayon

  • Pat citrus segments dry with paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready for assembly.
  • In a stainless steel bowl over simmering water, constantly whisk the egg yolks, sugar and Prosecco until mixture reaches 160° and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap so that it rests on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Make this up to two days ahead.
  • Divide sabayon evenly between 15 shot glasses. Top with citrus segments standing upright in the glasses and garnish with pomegranate arils. Serve with small cocktail or demitasse spoons.

Bourbon Ball Shooters

  • Skewer bourbon balls with a 4-inch long cocktail skewer. Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature.
  • Combine the semisweet chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at 100% power in the microwave for 1 minute. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms, then stir in the bourbon. Store in a lidded jar in the refrigerator until party time.
  • Before serving, heat the ganache in the microwave until liquid and pourable, about 45 seconds (heat in 30 second intervals). Divide ganache into the bottoms of each of 15 shot glasses. Top each with a skewered bourbon ball for dipping. Consider including small demitasse spoons so guests may enjoy every last dop of bourbon ganache (plastic silver cocktail spoons are available at most dollar stores!).

Notes

To further shortcut the hummus recipe, Boar’s Head makes a prepared Everything Bagel Hummus which is gluten-free and vegan.
Make room in your refrigerator ahead of time! The beauty of make-ahead doesn’t come without one caveat; you will need lots of refrigerator space. 
Using heavy-bottomed real glass shot glasses adds a nice touch. These are inexpensive and can be reused. I’ve linked in the blog post a set of 40 for under $20. You may also search thrift stores and charity shops for shot glasses that cost even less!
Keyword bloody mary shrimp cocktail, bourbon balls, charcuterie cones, citrus sements, easy appetizers, everything bagel hummus, finger foods, make ahead party food, marinated mozzarella, panna cotta, prosecco sabayon, shot glass appetizers, shot glass desserts, shrimp cocktail
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Lakshmi Achuta
Lakshmi Achuta
22 hours ago

Amazing spread, Heather! Best wishes for the New Year 🎉🎊