Cooking the perfect holiday meal is stressful enough without adding extra courses to the labor. But keeping your hungry guests satisfied while they wait for the main dish doesn't have to be a chore if you include tasty appetizers from the frozen food section of your local grocery store on the menu. Sure, a themed charcuterie board would be cute and festive, but wouldn't you rather have more time to enjoy the occasion instead of spending it arranging prosciutto slices in the shape of Santa's face? Less labor and more fun sounds like a Christmas miracle everyone can appreciate.
If it's possible to serve a Christmas meal entirely in a can, then including fun and familiar small bites from the freezer is a no-brainer. You'll find a trove of tasty treats to tray up and set out with no more work than it takes to lay them on a baking tray and pop them into the oven. Our picks for the best frozen appetizers to lighten your workload include savory bar bites, intriguing international delights, and sweet treats, all intended to make your feast an easier feat. These options are not only popular with shoppers and our own taste-testers as convenient alternatives to homemade fare, but they're also high-quality food you can serve with confidence. Mariah Carey can sit this one out because all you'll want for Christmas are these fast and easy frozen appetizers.
Good & Gather Pork Bao Buns
When traditional tastes seem a little overdone, Good & Gather Pork Bao Buns make a lovely global Christmas dinner addition to your table. Good & Gather is Target's signature brand, boasting high-quality food products to make eating well an easy accomplishment. Each bun contains succulent pork seasoned with hoisin sauce, onion, and scallions. They're great with an Asian dipping sauce like red chili or honey sesame served on the side. Whether you're planning a smorgasbord featuring flavors from around the world or just looking to add a touch of international magic to your favorite dishes, make room among the platters for this special selection.
Customer rankings on the Target site are high, with a 3.8-star out of 5-star average among more than 500 reviews. Satisfied shoppers love that two buns can be heated in the microwave in only a minute. Shop early and stash a few boxes in your freezer to have on hand when the big meal arrives. Each package contains six buns, so make your purchases accordingly for your Christmas crowd. Eaters with seafood and shellfish allergies should be cautioned that the filling also contains oyster sauce, though the packaging only shows warnings for sesame, soy, and wheat.
Trader Joe's Mini French Baguettes
Rather than baking any more than necessary, let Trader Joe's Mini French Baguettes bestow the gift of prepared bread to both you and your guests. The company employs a French bakery that uses no strange ingredients or weird chemicals in its recipe, just the wholesome goodness of wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt for an authentic bakery taste and texture. With individual serving-sized baguettes, you can pile a plate high on your buffet table or serve your guests their own table bread with a single loaf at every place setting. They're the perfect size for scooping up dips and sauces, as well as enjoying on their own with a pat of easy-to-prepare homemade garlic butter.
To prep these beauties, place them fully frozen directly onto your oven rack at 400 F for six minutes or longer, depending on your ideal doneness. As for the taste of the finished product, reviewers like Mrs. Trader Joe's Cart give Trader Joe's Mini French Baguettes a 10 out of 10 rating, praising the easy prep and explaining that the diminutive size is perfect for smaller meals. With six baguettes per box priced at around $4.49 as of November 2023, you can easily serve a medium-sized group for under $15.
Louisa Toasted Ravioli Four Cheese
Your usual Christmas spread will get an Italian upgrade with Louisa's Toasted Four-Cheese Ravioli on the menu. These crispy pillow-shaped puffs are stuffed with Asiago, Romano, mozzarella, and ricotta cheeses for a decadent blend of gooey, chewy deliciousness. Whether you prefer using a traditional oven, air fryer, or convection cooking, you can bake the ravioli in about 10 minutes per batch. A box contains 24 ravioli, which Louisa considers six servings, though you can make them go further by serving them on a small platter and letting your friends and family take a few at a time. Heat up some jarred marinara sauce as a topper or dipper and you have a Christmas dish that brings tidings of comfort and joy from the Old World.
Having Louisa's restaurant-quality morsels is a simple way to add a gourmet touch to your spread without biting off more kitchen work than you can chew. Walmart reviews are overwhelmingly positive for these edible party favors, with over 50 reviews averaging a 4.6 overall rating. After trying out the air fryer prep method, YouTuber JKMCraveTV taste-tested the ravioli with and without a dipping sauce, raving about the abundance of cheese, pleasant seasoning, and a crunch you can hear on camera.
Budweiser Beer Battered Cheese Sticks
When Budweiser, the self-proclaimed king of beers, adds a line of battered apps to its product catalog, you'd best believe it's an occasion worthy of your Christmas table! Budweiser Beer-Battered Cheese Sticks use the classic Budweiser brew to flavor the crispy coating applied to a blend of mozzarella and white cheddar cheese sticks, for a treat that's crunchy and gooey at the same time. It's everything you love about snack food, and it's ready to heat and serve for the happiest hour of the whole season. Whether your holiday party is a simple get-together with longtime friends or a full-fledged festival with the whole family, this appetizer is a beloved creation that brings the best of pub grub to your holiday happenings.
YouTuber Starving Actor Food Reviews is generous in his praise for the seasoning and texture, noting that the batter doesn't impart a perceptible beer flavor. He enjoys them even without a sauce and bestows the sticks a 7.7 rating overall. Our own taste testers at Mashed also heaped acclaim on the quality of these cheesy pleasers, calling out the combination of creamy and salty flavors.
Member's Mark Mini Quiche Assortment
Quiche in any form adds an instant air of sophistication to a gathering, but single-bite versions like Member's Mark Mini Quiche Assortment bring an extra touch of magic to your spread. You get 24 each of ham and Swiss cheese and spinach and Swiss combinations, each served in a crisp pastry crust cup. That's 48 miniaturized bakes in a single box priced at around $11, depending on your location, making for an affordable premade appetizer to accommodate even a sizeable crew. With an average 15-minute cook time in air fryers, conventional, and convection ovens, these quick-bake quiches may turn out to be one of the best Christmas side dishes for feeding your revelers hearty eats with minimal fuss.
Sam's Club members are more than charmed by these tiny treats, granting the product close to 600 mostly-glowing reviews averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars. Consumers call out their party-ready quality, even noting the flexibility of serving these for breakfast. So if you happen to have any Christmas brunch or breakfast gatherings on your calendar, a few boxes of these petite poppers will provide a punchy platter brimming with easy elegance and great flavor.
Delizza Belgian Mini Cream Puffs
Looking for something sweet to serve without having to haul out the frosting bag and the stand mixer? Delizza Belgian Mini Cream Puffs are bite-sized pastries that pack big dessert flavors in adorably small cloud-shaped packages. Each European-style pastry shell is filled with fresh whipped cream. You can choose from a 30-count package that's perfect for a mid-sized Christmas coterie or buy these in 320-count bulk quantities for a full-fledged holiday gala.
The Delizza website says six puffs count as a serving, though with other sugary selections on your dessert table, you can make them go much further. Unlike any pastry you might feel compelled to whip up at home, these gems are ready to eat right out of the package — just thaw and serve. Of course, if you're going for a fancier presentation, you can dust them with powdered sugar, drizzle them with chocolate or caramel sauce, or stack them in your own crafty croquembouche tower.
Over 100 ratings on the Target website amount to a 4.7-star out of 5-star average, proving customers are delighted with Delizza's delicious desserts. You'll find the 30-count box priced at around $7.50 in your area, making these puffs the cream of the crop for your Christmas culinary collection.
Cooked Perfect Homestyle Meatballs
Whether you spear them on skewers, stake them on toothpicks, or serve them in a savory sauce with a spoon, few holiday tables are complete without meatballs in the mix. Cooked Perfect Homestyle Meatballs make it simple to add savory nibbles that work well as a stand-alone hors d'oeuvre or as part of a larger dish. They're flame-broiled and flavored with a seasoning blend that lets you pass them off as homemade.
A 64-ounce bag delivers a whopping 128 bite-size meatballs to your yule line-up, though you can pick smaller bags to suit your serving needs. These smaller portions are also perfect for adding to casseroles when a larger recipe calls for more steps than you're willing to commit to. There's no shame in hacking your Christmas cooking game in every way possible.
Our taste testers have enjoyed these meatballs on many holiday occasions, either dressed in sweet and smoky barbecue sauce or served in a grape jelly concoction. They're perfectly al dente and provide a hearty helping for such a small bite. If you're throwing a party with a buffet-style meal, consider heating and serving them in a slow cooker to keep them piping hot from start to finish.
P.F. Chang's Chicken Mini Egg Rolls
The classic pairing of Christmas and Chinese food favorites gets a restaurant-style boost from P.F. Chang's Chicken Mini Egg Rolls. This package is part of the fast-moving P.F. Chang's merchandise line and makes a perfect addition to a diverse menu where every dish represents a different culture's Christmas classics. In each crisped wrapper, you'll find dark meat chicken with shredded carrots and cabbage, plus a packet of the restaurant's famous sweet and sour dipping sauce to make the experience complete. A box contains eight miniature rolls, with two rolls per serving, so you may need a few boxes to make sure your elves are properly fed. With the notable quality of P.F. Chang's on your table, it's impossible to tell how quickly plates will empty.
Target lists a 3.8-star out of 5-star average over more than 600 reviews for these luscious little nuggets, with reviewers even giving shout-outs to the air fryer cooking method. You have the luxury of cooking them for two minutes in the microwave or 14 minutes in a conventional oven to suit your preference. Whichever you choose, you'll have hot and crispy egg rolls stamped with P.F. Chang's seal of approval, ready in a flash to share with your Christmas mates.
Signature Select Greek Style Spanakopita
Take your Christmas celebration in a Mediterranean direction by heating up Signature Select Greek Style Spanakopita for the occasion. These tasty pastry triangles are filled with spinach, three luscious cheeses, and quintessential Greek seasonings set to take your taste buds on a Christmas adventure to a destination where flavor is an art. From the flaky phyllo dough to the tender fillings, you'll have a traditional Greek specialty you can serve with any menu you choose. You'll find 12 appetizers per box, providing six servings for your inner circle to enjoy. Whip up a homemade tzatziki sauce to serve on the side for an extra-special island touch.
Signature Select is a house label created by Safeway and its affiliate chains, and the company's frozen appetizers are a distinctive offering among a line of options that includes several multicultural dishes in bite-ready sizes. Reviews at Shaw's are largely complimentary, with consumers praising the pairing of these spanakopita bites with wine. If your party is more of a drinks-and-apps affair, you'll have an unexpected treat that's no trouble to prepare right out of the box.
Hebrew National Beef Franks In A Puff Pastry Blanket
Sausage wrapped in flaky pastry dough has never been as holiday ready as Hebrew National's Beef Franks in a Blanket. Imagine the hearty, high-quality Hebrew National franks swathed in puff pastry, already cooked and waiting to be heated and presented to your Noel noshers. Yes, it's the cocktail-wiener-in-a-wrapper that we've all come to know from holiday parties, but with the exceptional reputation of the all-beef frank purveyor right in the center of the celebration. If you've ever tried to make your own blanketed pigs and cursed the day you thought using Pillsbury dough would make things easier, you'll be happy to know that with these dynamite dogs, your days of rolling up appetizers are in the past. Hebrew National has got you covered, just in time for the party!
While reviews on the company's site are favorable as far as the flavor of these appetizers, several do call out the tricky cooking instructions. Though they're easily heated and served, they do require a bit of attention to prevent burning. Better yet, haul out your trusty air fryer and increase your chances of getting these edible gifts on the table without a hitch.
Totino's Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
You may have thought of Totino's Pepperoni Pizza Rolls as an easy after-school snack or a quick dinner on nights when the workday throws you for a loop. But add these popular popovers to your holiday celebration stockpile and you have an instant party on a plate. These convincing pizza wrap-ups are a knock-out for all ages, giving you a sure-fire fun food for any crowd. They're available in bags containing between 15 and 160 rolls, ensuring a joyful time around the Christmas tree no matter how many carolers are in your squad.
The company website has been showered with over 1,600 reviews, resulting in a 4.5-star out of 5-star average, a seriously impressive feat for such a simple yet enjoyable hors d'oeuvre. Get optimal results by adding a single layer of 40 rolls to a baking sheet and popping it into a conventional oven at 425 F for 15 minutes or so, though you can heat smaller batches in the toaster oven if it's more convenient. Either way, you'll have the party hopping with a familiar favorite many guests may not have had in a very long time — a new-again Christmas memory!
El Monterey Steak & Cheese Taquitos
If tamales are part of your Christmas dinner traditions, try accenting them with El Monterey Steak & Cheese Taquitos, tasty tortillas containing real cheese and shredded steak in a thoroughly dippable tube shape. It's like eating a full-sized taco without the shell cracking and dropping all your fillings on the plate. Served with jarred salsa, bean dip, or a can of queso, you have all the fixings for a fun Mexican starter that will accent a more diverse menu or signal the beginning of a flavor fiesta for your tamale or pozole banquet.
These taquitos are a favorite with our taste test crew, who have included them in Christmas feasts with the family and intend to do so again — they're that fantastic! With 20 taquitos in a box and a suggested serving size of three, you'll have enough to keep a mid-sized room satisfied as you bring out the rest of the selection. Double up for larger groups and if you want to make sure any late arrivers have a chance to join in on the Christmas taquito bash.
Green Giant Buffalo Popcorn Cauliflower
Maybe a veggie tray is already part of your Christmas plans, but unless it includes Green Giant Buffalo Popcorn Cauliflower, it's not the show-stopping flavor celebration it could be. Buffalo popcorn cauliflower is a crispy, breaded stand-in for the ever-popular small bite popcorn chicken, using the power foods' cruciferous crunch as a base instead of meat. The result is a fiery and delicious plant-based treat you can serve with extra Buffalo sauce, BBQ sauces, or ranch to replicate the experience of popcorn chicken. It's also a sneaky way to get your guests — especially the younger ones — to eat their vegetables.
Eating Green Giant vegetables in this form makes them a much friendlier party food; no one ever got excited by a can of green beans on the appetizer table. But if you're hoping to serve these to a vegan crowd, be warned -- these bites are only vegetarian, due to the inclusion of butterfat in the recipe. For anyone interested in lowering their meat intake while still enjoying a happy hour favorite, these cauliflower nuggets will be the star at the top of the Christmas tree.
Read the original article on Mashed.