Impress your guests this party season with our round up of dazzling Christmas soirée nibbles.

Christmas party season is about to get into full swing. Whether you’re busy busting out your favourite cocktail dress for a sophisticated gathering or you’ll be donning a kitsch-fantastic Christmas jumper for your bash, one thing’s for sure: if you’re hosting, though regularly refreshing your guests’ glasses is of course imperative, so too is providing a morsel or two to counteract the effects. Sure, you could go and snap up half of M&S’s food hall – and, believe us, we have a lot of love for M&S party food – but for those who enjoy cooking up festive creations in the kitchen, there’s a canapé to suit every style of party.

Here are our favourites for 2019’s round of festive bashes, from the classic with a twist to the creative. Cheers!

Bread Sauce and Stuffing Croquettes

Olive Magazine


These are ideal for the Twixtmas party. We’ve all done it – made a volume of bread sauce so vast that we must bordering on some sort of bread sauce-specific dysmorphia – but these little beauties are the perfect way to make it seem like you meant to do it. You’re making the bread sauce anyway, so it’s hardly any more bother to roll up the leftovers into golf ball shapes, cover in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs and fry them in vegetable oil. The good news is that bread sauce is one of those things that seems to taste even more flavourful a day or two after the main event. Plus, this one abides by one of our central canapé commandments: they’re easy to scoff without a plate. Perfect.

Mini Welsh Rarebits

Waitrose Kitchen


The perfect canapé is something of a balancing act. It should be easy to eat, mess-free and, obviously, delicious, but ideally substantial enough to soak up some of the liberal amounts of wine going round at Christmas parties. Mini Welsh rarebits tick every box – and plus, who doesn’t love some souped-up cheese on toast in the winter? This recipe from Waitrose is a winner, correctly stipulating Caerphilly cheese and Worcestershire sauce for a really good bite. We also love the addition of the sweet pear and walnut relish for some complementary sweetness to cut through. The best bit about these? In the unlikely event that your guests will have left you any over, they’re perfect for a pre-bed snack – or even for breakfast the next morning.

Cocktail Sausages

Nigella


We can always rely on Nigella for a practical but tasty titbit. Sure, you’re hardly reinventing the wheel here, but why would you? After all, cocktails sausages remain the staple king of party food. Warming, delicious and easy to wolf in one bite, there is no secret to making them and nothing to fret over as your guests arrive. We love the simple pimping of the classic here, with Nigella’s addition of sesame oil, honey and soy, for a sweet and savoury flavour punch. We’ll be serving these up all month.

Mushroom and Mozzarella Arancini

Delicious Magazine


Christmas – with its turkey, goose and pigs-in-blankets – is every committed carnivore’s dream. But we think it only fair to spare a thought now and again for the vegetarians up and down the land who get short shrift every festive season, making do with just the veg on a plate. To that end, we love these tasty morsels from Delicious Magazine. Ridiculously moreish and hearty, they can be prepared ahead of time (you just need to fry them in some oil when guests arrive) to make perfect bite-sized treat. Plus, you can easily make them vegan-friendly by opting for non-dairy cheese alternatives.

Prunes and Gorgonzola Wrapped in Pancetta

Bruno Loubet


The perfect sweet and savoury canapé, these beauties are easy to make and look pretty impressive too. The genius brainchild of Bruno Loubet, the London-based, Bordeaux-raised culinary mastermind behind Grain Store restaurant, he may be retired from cheffing these days, but we’ll always bow to his gastro guidance. Having grown up keeping poultry, the family nonetheless only rarely ate meat, informing his own emphasis on giving an equal billing to vegetables on his menu. Though these canapés do feature pancetta, it’s used here as a Christmas treat – the kind of mindful approach to consumption that is gaining increasing momentum.


Beetroot Bites

The Botanical Kitchen


Another one for the plant-based folk out there this festive period. The Botanical Kitchen is a great resource for canapés; as its author and former Great British Bake Off contestant, Urvashi says, she’s big into what she calls ‘little food’. These beetroot bites are great. You can make the pastry casements as per her recipe, or for the lazier chef (erm, us), you can simply buy them ready-made. Or, for an extra healthy twist, serve them up on a lettuce leaf (yeah right). The red of the beetroot is festive, gorgeous and will lift any Christmas party gathering.


Smoked Salmon With Horseradish and Beetroot

Jamie Oliver


Christmas is never complete without the obligatory showing of a smoked salmon. We enjoy a blini with a Mimosa first thing in the morning as much as the next person, but this year we’re into the idea of mixing things up and really giving the salmon a kick courtesy of some horseradish. As Jamie suggests, you can serve a big old platter of this winning recipe as a festive starter, but we like the idea of pre-loading it onto forks as a showstopping canapé. The perfect accompaniment to a glass of fizz.

Turkey, Brie and Sausage Roll Bites

Taste


Summer picnic or winter party: we love a sausage roll at any time of the year. But since it’s Christmas, why not try to up the festive ante by encasing turkey within your sheets of puff pastry, as opposed to the standard sausage meat? Sure it makes their name a slight misnomer, but we’re not ones to quibble, especially when the results are this good. We love the addition of brie, which makes these little bites rich and delicious, and the apricot, which sweetens the deal. Impressive looking yet super easy to make.

Oysters with Apple and Horseradish Dressing

BBC GoodFood


Who doesn’t love a little luxury, especially at Christmas? For every fifth cocktail sausage-fuelled party, there is at least one bona fide soirée – the stuff worthy of noted ambassadors’ receptions – which requires a modicum of festive sophistication. If you’re hosting such a cocktail party, you can’t beat Diana Henry’s oysters with apple and horseradish. In so many ways, they represent a flawless canapé; they come on their own little dish, they are delicious and impressive, they can – and indeed should – be swallowed whole, and they take just five minutes to prepare. Serve with lashings of English sparkling wine and prepare for your guests to gush, ‘Monsieur/Madame, with these oysters you are really spoiling us.’ We reckon we can live with that.

Crostini with Rocket, Buffalo Stracciatella, Parma Ham and Pine Nuts

Great Italian Chefs


We’ll never not take an Italian twist on our food, which is why we love the Great Italian Chefs website, which collates recipes from the country’s top chefs and foodies, for all our culinary inspiration needs. Food writer, Valeria Necchio has come up trumps with these crostini, which require minimal effort to put together yet pack a serious amount of flavour into a single bite. If you can’t get hold of stracciatella, then fresh buffalo mozzarella will do the trick nicely. They are perfect for a Christmas drinks party but work equally well all year round.

Deep Fried Olives

The Wanderlust Kitchen


The olive remains a classic cocktail party staple for a reason. Bite-sized and salty, they are a totally self-contained no-work nibble to keep guests from going hungry. Sure, this deep-fried take on everyone’s favourite store-cupboard reliable requires a little more work, but the effort is absolutely worth it. Four ingredients and 15 minutes later, you can expect a totally transformed party canapé. We think stuffed green olives work best. Easy and delicious; we’ll drink to that.

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By Nancy Alsop
November 2019