Whether you're throwing a dinner party or just want to indulge in a cozy Italian night at home, this collection of Italian appetizer recipes is sure to keep you and your taste buds satisfied. From classic antipasto to easy finger food, these delicious Italian appetizers are perfect for your next get-together.
Welcome to the flavorful world of Italian appetizers, where every bite is a celebration of rich culinary tradition.
These appetizers, or 'antipasto' as they're known in Italy, are much more than mere starters. They set the stage for the main course while introducing you to the unique taste of Italian cuisine.
Today, I'll be sharing a wide variety of Italian appetizers that you can easily whip up in your own kitchen.
From simple recipes, such as how to make your own antipasto platter, to those that take a bit more prep time, like zucchini fritters or Meyer lemon focaccia, there is something for everyone on this list.
So go ahead and explore the delicious flavors of Italy!
Why you’ll love these Italian appetizers
- Many of these recipes are easy enough for a beginner cook to make.
- Perfect for small gatherings or just a cozy night in with family and friends.
- You can easily adapt these recipes according to your own tastes and preferences.
- Not only delicious but visually stunning as well.
Antipasto platter ideas
A classic start to any Italian meal, an antipasto platter consists of a delightful assortment of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and pickled veggies that pair nicely together. There is no cooking involved.
That being said, building your own antipasto platter can be a creative and enjoyable process. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Select a variety of Italian cheeses like fresh mozzarella, sharp provolone, or gorgonzola for a balance of texture and flavor. Specialty cheeses like Prima Donna, burrata or marinated mozzarella balls would also taste delicious.
- Pair these with cured meats such as salty prosciutto, salami, and capicola.
- Don't forget to include marinated vegetables like artichokes and peppers, mixed Meyer lemon olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add a few slices of crusty Italian bread (ex: focaccia or French bread) to round out the platter nicely.
- Serve a few dips or vinaigrettes on the side for an added flavor boost. You can never go wrong with a high quality Italian olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
The best piece of advice I can give you when it comes to putting together the best Italian appetizer platter is to have fun with it, and to use high-quality ingredients as much as possible. Mix and match the ingredients, and you'll end up with an amazing plate!
26 Easy Italian appetizers to enjoy before dinner
Now, it's time to put together a few Italian appetizers that will make your dinner party even more special. Here are 26 amazing recipes for you to try:
Italian appetizers with protein
These next few antipasto recipes are perfect for adding an extra bit of protein to your appetizers.
Classic Tuna Carpaccio with Arugula, Capers and Pine Nuts
This authentic recipe is as visually stunning as it is delicious and takes just 20 minutes to make. It's topped with with coarse sea salt, buttery pine nuts, tangy capers, and a mound of peppery arugula dressed simply with lemon and extra virgin olive oil to really highlight the delicate flavor of raw tuna.
Spiedini alla Siciliana
This is an old family recipe that is great for parties and always a crowd-pleaser! These are meant to be small (think finger food) and are an excellent protein-rich appetizer.
Grilled Pizzas with Corn + Prosciutto
This awesome recipe is a white pizza that pairs sweet summer corn with salty prosciutto and creamy mozzarella, finished with fresh tarragon. Slice it up and serve as a no-fuss appetizer everyone at the table will enjoy.
Truffled Popcorn with Parmesan + Prosciutto
This cheesy, salty popcorn recipe can be an easy addition to an antipasto board or enjoyed on its own. The salty, savory flavor is a crowd-pleaser every time!
Brussels Sprouts with Anchovy Caper Butter
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes for Brussels sprouts. Salty anchovy caper butter is the perfect match for roasted, caramelized sprouts. I recommend serving this on bread, but you can also enjoy solo.
Warm Spinach Salad with Pancetta + Goat Cheese
Hearty spinach leaves, crisp red onions, creamy goat cheese, and meaty bits of pancetta are tossed in a tangy, mustardy vinaigrette. This is a steakhouse-inspired spinach salad that's the perfect starter for any protein! This salad is very simple to make thanks to the short ingredient list, but still has so much flavor.
Vegetarian Italian appetizer recipes
Here are a few delicious vegetarian Italian appetizers that you can enjoy, either as part of an antipasto platter or as the main event.
Fava Bean Crostini with Pecorino + Mint
This is an easy, elegant spring appetizer! Fresh Fava beans are usually only in season for a short time during late spring, and they can be a bit fussy to work with, but the labor of love is absolutely worth it. Creamy, lemony fava bean puree tops crispy toasted bread and is finished with sharp, salty Pecorino cheese and fresh mint. It's simple, seasonal, and so delicious.
Grilled Zucchini Bruschetta with Whipped Ricotta + Mint
This recipe is the perfect summer appetizer made with grilled zucchini, lemony whipped ricotta, and fresh mint piled high on grilled Italian bread. So easy and so good!
Easy Roasted Italian Long Hot Peppers
These roasted long hot peppers are a delicious classic Italian appetizer. I make this one often, as it takes just 5 ingredients and 20 minutes to make. You can enjoy them solor, or serve them on an antipasto platter with crusty bread. Any leftovers work well added to sandwiches or salads for an extra burst of flavor.
Crispy Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Herb Yogurt
These crispy zucchini fritters are quick to make, easy to freeze for later, and really easy to eat! Serve them with a tangy lemon herb yogurt for an awesome appetizer.
Farinata di Ceci: Italian Chickpea Pancake (Socca)
A savory Italian chickpea flour pancake that’s soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and is made in under 15 minutes with just 3 basic ingredients.
Easy Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes
This simple cheese-stuffed tomato recipe has only 5 ingredients and can be made in 20 minutes or less! The tomato is the star of the show here, and this recipe is best for summer months when tomatoes are in season.
Sicilian Pesto alla Trapanese with Almonds and Tomatoes
This pesto has only 6 ingredients, including almonds, tomatoes, and basil, and is prepared in just 15 minutes! I've used this several ways as an appetizer, as it works well on an antipasto board, spread over crusty bread, or drizzled on roasted vegetables.
Scaccia Ragusana: Sicilian "Pizza Babka"
This traditional recipe is a simple and unique bread preparation from Sicily. It's easier to make than it looks, and is a hit with everyone around the table.
Oven Baked Beet Chips
These beet chips are light and crisp, salty and satisfying. They're made in the oven, so they're healthy too!
Italian Chick Pea Fritters with Veggies
This nutritious recipe uses chickpea flour and lots of veggies! They're crispy, salty, and also vegan, and gluten-free! While this is a delicious authentic Italian appetizer, it's also a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables too.
Crispy Baked Parmesan Truffle Fries
This recipe is SO easy because there’s no frying! Learn my tricks to getting the crispiest oven-baked fries possible. Then, toss them with nutty parmesan cheese and earthy truffle oil herbs for a killer restaurant-quality appetizer.
Easy Shaved Asparagus Salad
This elevated salad is so simple to prepare and is a fantastic example of allowing simple, flavorful ingredients to speak for themselves! Raw shaved asparagus and salty pecorino Romano cheese are tossed with a simple lemon vinaigrette, then finished with a sprinkle of Italian flat-leaf parsley. So quick, so delicious, and perfect for spring!
Italian appetizers with a sweet side
These next few recipes are perfect for making Italian appetizers that have a bit of sweetness to them.
Blue Cheese Tartines with Apples + Arugula
This recipe makes the perfect fall appetizer, but I find myself making (and craving) it all year long. Tangy blue cheese, crisp apples, walnuts, and honey all play together beautifully.
Honey Roasted Plum Crostini with Burrata + Prosciutto
This recipe is an easy appetizer that's sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, and full of flavor. While I tend to make this most often in the summer, it's fantastic any time of year.
A classic Sicilian appetizer made with eggplant, olives, tomatoes, celery, and lots of other fresh ingredients. It's a cooked salad or relish with a sweet and sour flavor, known as "agrodolce" in Italian. It's a flavor combination I can't get enough of (and neither will your guests).
Roasted Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crostini
This simple but elegant appetizer is perfect for entertaining, especially around the holidays, but is casual enough to enjoy at family dinners too.
Meyer Lemon Focaccia
This appetizer is the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. It's a deliciously unique take on this classic Italian bread.
Grilled Peach Panzanella with Burrata
Sweet caramelized grilled peaches are paired with a big hunk of creamy burrata for a twist on this classic Tuscan salad. This is a go-to appetizer for me when I have fresh peaches on hand!
6 quick and simple Italian appetizer ideas
Want some more ideas for Italian appetizers that you can enjoy? Here are a few easy ones to try that require little to no prep:
- Crusty Bread - Dipped in Italian olive oil or topped with ricotta cheese.
- Antipasto Skewers - Made with cured meats, cheeses, olives, artichoke hearts, etc.
- Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - Or opt for quick and simple skewers using marinated mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes with basil leaves.
- Antipasto Salad - Same ingredients as the skewers, tossed with your favorite lettuce and vinaigrette dressing.
- Roasted Vegetables - My go-to's are roasted cauliflower and crispy Brussels sprouts.
- Marinated Olives - Served in a bowl, like these with Meyer lemon.
As you can see, making Italian appetizers to enjoy doesn't have to be tricky or complicated.
FAQs about Italian appetizers
Appetizers can include anything served before the meal, from small snacks to full-fledged dishes. Antipasto is a specific type of appetizer and usually consists of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and pickled veggies.
If you are serving pasta as the main course, a good appetizer to serve would be something light and simple. Perhaps a small serving of a Classic Tuna Carpaccio with some arugula and capers or lightly dressed greens and vegetables (like this Heirloom Tomato Salad- it's one of my favorites!).
One of the easiest and most delicious Italian appetizers to make for a party is some sort of crostini with a topping of cheese and herbs. These are fairly simple to assemble.
You can also easily put together an antipasto platter in no time- just choose a few cured meats, cheeses, olives, and pickled veggies from the store and arrange them on a platter.
Most Italian appetizers can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. The Oven-Baked Beet Chips are a great option to make ahead of time and add to your appetizer table when it is time to eat.
Depending on which type of appetizer you decide to make, you can prepare a few of the components ahead of time and simply assemble them before your guests arrive.
For example, let's take a look at these stuffed tomatoes. If you are trying to save some time, you can prepare the tomatoes by washing them, cutting the tops off, and leaving them ready in a container. You can also prepare the goat cheese stuffing in advance and simply fill the tomatoes and bake them before serving so that they are nice and warm.
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