Skip to main content

Easy “No Cook” Appetizers for Summer Entertaining

This recipe and photography were provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at 

It’s finally summertime and as the song says, “the livin’ is easy.” Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to be. We can’t wait to have friends and family over for cookouts and general good times, but hey, let’s keep it simple. How about some light appetizers with big flavor but no cooking? After all, everyone appreciates just a little nibble with a delicious cocktail, beer or glass of wine before a meal. Whether hamburgers on the grill or something fancy, appetizers are an amazing party starter: they keep everyone busy and happily munching away while the main meal cooks. You can even make a meal completely out of appetizers, which we’ve done more than a few times at our house.

The secret to a successful appetizer, in my opinion, is to keep it tasty, quick and easy to make. My rule of thumb is that if they take more than a few minutes to assemble, then they have to be able to be made ahead of time and sit in the fridge or freezer until the party starts. Whether it’s an impromptu get together with friends and family or a party planned weeks ahead, these “no cook” appetizers allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying yourself.

Herbed Goat Cheese Bites are the perfect one-bite flavor blast. Whether you serve them with toasts or just as they are, they are even better made advance, sitting in the fridge, waiting for their close up when the party starts. They also make good use of the fresh herbs you may have growing in your herb patch. The tang of goat cheese combined with the herbs, sun dried tomatoes and olive oil is one of the most perfect appetizers as these balls go equally well with cocktails, beer or wine.

Herbed Goat Cheese Balls

Next up is Prosciutto-Wrapped Grissini which are long, thin breadsticks wrapped with, you guessed it, prosciutto. With only two ingredients, this appetizer couldn’t be easier to assemble. Make sure the prosciutto is thinly sliced and it will wrap like a dream. Crispy breadsticks wrapped with salty ham… how could that be wrong?

Prosciutto-Wrapped Grissini

My summer appetizer table often includes an olive-based dip. A fan favorite for years has been Green Apple Slices with Tapenade. The tart Granny Smith apple slices are the perfect foil for a salty dip made with kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon and lots of olive oil. It’s a taste of sunshine in every bite. As much as the apple is an enchanting vehicle for the tapenade, you can also put out a tray of veggies cut into thin strips. Celery, carrot, fennel and cucumber come to mind and would be a beautiful centerpiece for the table as well. Let people spread or dip their own to make your job even easier.

Green Apple Slices with Tapenade

I couldn’t resist adding a refreshing summer cocktail, so I included Vanilla Basil Lemonade to round out the offerings. A special drink makes any day a party and this potion is perfect virgin or with shot (or two) of vodka. A vanilla bean and a handful of fresh basil leaves is steeped in sugar and water then combined with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. I like mine with a topper of fizzy water and a garnish of lemon and basil. Make it up a day ahead and this summertime quaffer will be ready when you are.

Vanilla Basil Lemonade

With so much flavor packed into each little bite, these easy-to-prep, no cook recipes will be your summertime go-to finger snacks. Guaranteed to get any party started, all you need is two fingers to nosh on these little morsels, no silverware needed. Don’t thank me. Just have a great time out there!

Carla Snyder in her kitchen
By Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

This site is not optimized for your current browser (Internet Explorer 11).

Please switch to one of the following browsers for a complete viewing experience:

Chrome Logo Chrome Firefox Logo Firefox Edge Logo Edge