7 Make Ahead Appetizers

7 Make Ahead Appetizers

'Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry. Unless you end up spending hours making all the eats, in which case, you're left with little time for the whole drink and be merry part. And, let's be real, who wants to give up that? I know I am not alone when I say "Not me!'.

Thankfully there's a little something called make ahead appetizers. I'm sure your familiar. If not, get familiar! They come in many forms, shapes, sizes and flavors. Cheese and crackers, dips and chips, crockpot favorites...so many apps that can be easily prepped ahead of time. I've rounded up a few of my favorites here today. With plenty of holiday gatherings and festivities still on the calendar, it's safe to say that having a few of these recipes in your back pocket will definitely come in handy.

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Pepper jelly + cream cheese is nothing new. In fact, it's been around for longer than I've probably been alive. And yet, it's just too good to give it up (even if it is something grandma would make). This easy spin on the classic (simply beat the cream cheese and pepper jelly together instead of pouring the pepper jelly on top of the cream cheese) is a fun way to modernize the recipe just a bit. Add in orange zest or a splash of tabasco for another twist, and garnish with pomegranate seeds or chopped fresh cranberries and fresh herbs (I like cilantro). This dip will need to chill for at least a few hours, if not overnight, so it's perfect for make ahead situations (just wait to add the garnishes until right before serving).

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Another recipe that is a classic with a bit of a twist (quite literally actually). While regular cheese sticks are always a hit, adding chopped fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes are an easy way to elevate this favorite make ahead app. Simply sprinkle a sheet of puff pastry with 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil, a 1/4 cup of grated parm and a sprinkle of salt (bonus points if it's truffle salt). Then slice into thin strips, twist and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool and store in an airtight bag or container until ready to serve. These can be made up to a day in advance.

This recipe is so quick + simple, I was able to share it on my Instagram. Obviously, it was too easy and delicious to not share, too. The dip is essentially a festive spin on this white bean dip recipe. While pomegranate seeds, jalepeano and toasted almonds might seem like an odd combination, the mix of sweet with spicy and crunchy with creamy could not balance out more perfectly. In fact, this is so good, you'll forget just how healthy it actually is (vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free).

A trail mix that's equal parts smokey, crunchy, spicy and sweet aka what you'd want to be eating in a cabin, on a mountain trail, or, ya know, just at a cozy Christmas party. This can be made over a week in advance, but it might not last a full week in your house (It didn't in ours.) so plan accordingly if you're making it in advance for a party.

Another healthy dip that's perfect for in advance (even a few days advance). Plus, it's green (Duh!), so it really doesn't get more festive than this.

All the crunch. All the sweet. All the spice. Make it days in advance but only if you trust yourself to not eat it all because it is just that darn good!

An easy copycat version of a Trader Joe's favorite that can be made a day in advance. Plus, it's nice upgrade from grabbing and bringing/serving plain ol' cheese + crackers.