There is always plenty of opportunity for munching over the holidays. Whether it be at parties, open houses or church functions, trays of finger food are constantly inviting us to nibble. It’s easy to fill up fast but not really eat anything substantial.

One culprit that is responsible for that bloated, overstuffed feeling at the end of the night is bread and bread products. Now I love bread – and pita chips, tortillas, crostini, crutons, and all the other wonderful carb-crazy snacks, but in moderation. All too often the breadsticks, bruschetta and crackers take center stage and I ultimately fill up on starches instead of fresh ingredients.

This holiday season, I’m making a conscious effort to avoid serving finger food that includes bread and instead am being creative with seafood, vegetables, dried fruit, cured meat, cheese, and nuts. Once your eyes are opened to the possibilities, the options are really endless! And your gluten-intolerant friends will love you all the more for changing things up.

Read on for plenty of  inspiration for keeping your hors d’oeuvres fresh – while still staying simple.

15 {simple} Ideas for Gluten-Free Appetizers

1. Greek Salad Skewers

Why not feature a popular salad on a skewer? If crunchy and salty are your thing, then skip the chips and make these instead.

  • Black olives, pitted
  • Feta cheese, cubed
  • Cherry tomatoes, washed
  • Mini Cucumbers, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • short wooden skewers
  1. Toss feta with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of dried thyme.
  2. Assemble skewers by sliding an olive, cucumber round, and cherry tomato onto the stick. Finish with the square of feta so that it stands upright; here the feta acts as a base. Repeat until you have the desired amount of appetizers.
  3. Drizzle with more olive oil if you like and serve.

2. Vegetables & Dip

A pre-dinner snack can be as simple as  a bowl of fresh-cut crudités  with a tangy dip. Around the holidays I love to keep the selection fairly  monochrome for a pretty effect: celery, mushroom caps, Belgian endive, raw  turnip, white asparagus, cauliflower and white radish.

3. Gingered Clementine and Pomegranate Shrimp

These vibrant shrimp featuring seasonal citrus and pomegranate were posted recently by Simple Bites contributor Shaina of Food for My Family.

“These gingered clementine and pomegranate shrimp make fantastic appetizers. They come together quickly, cook even quicker, and then you’re left with tasty little shrimp covered in a sweet and spicy glaze. What’s not to love?”

Head to Shaina’s post to get this seasonal recipe.

4. Kettle Chip Scoops with Smoked Salmon & Dilled Cream Cheese

Babble contributor Brooke McLay boasts that her Potato   Chip Scoops with Smoked Salmon & Dilled Cream Cheese are a   two-minute appetizer. These bite-sizes morsels are simple, yet elegant   enough for any holiday get-together.

5. Cheddar & Hazelnut Stuffed Apricots

This easy, three-ingredient appetizer comes together quickly with no mess. Choose apricots that are soft, buy the oldest cheddar you can afford and be sure to toast the hazelnuts; your guests will be talking about these stuffed apricots until the new year.

To assemble: Use a sharp knife to open up the apricot. Place a small slice of aged cheddar and a toasted hazelnut inside the apricot. Place on a serving tray and repeat. Serve at room temperature.

6. Portobello Mushroom Skewers

Cubed, roasted portobello mushrooms and soft bocconcini cheese come  together with beautiful contrasting colors and flavors in these elegant Portobello  Mushroom Skewers from Guilty Kitchen.

7. Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

It’s no secret that pretty much anything wrapped in bacon is a hit at parties. I wrap apricots, dates and prunes in Italian bacon (pancetta), bake them and serve with toothpicks, and they disappear very quickly.

Alice of Savory Sweet Life has a much more original take on this popular appetizer: Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts. Crispy bacon and crunchy water chestnuts (from a can) with a sticky-spicy glaze and you’ve got yourself the perfect appy for New Year’s Eve.

8. Cherry Tomato Pesto Bites

These ingenious little tomato bites from Bakers Royale are mighty festive with their bright red colors. They’re also a perfect vegetarian option to offer those guests who aren’t heading straight for the bacon-wrapped goodies.
Head HERE to get Naomi’s recipe; just three ingredients!

9. Endive with Blue Cheese and Toasted Almonds

Here is another vegetarian simple bite that packs a punch. Garnish fresh  (festive red or pale yellow) endive leaves with a smear of creamy blue  cheese and topped with toasted almond slices. Choose a mild,  creamy blue cheese such as Saint Agur  and these will disappear faster than you can make them. Head HERE for the recipe.

10. Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

The lovely Wenderly shows up how to make Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus with just three ingredients and a lot of love.

11. Almond & Cream Cheese-Stuffed Olives

These are my new favorite quickie appetizer because the only take three ingredients and I always have those ingredients on hand during the holidays.
Head HERE for my short vlog where I show you how to quickly turn green olives, toasted almonds, and cream cheese into a pretty canapé.

12. Prosciutto & Melon

If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate where melons actually taste like something in December, then perhaps one of the simplest routes to go for finger food is to wrap a piece of cured Italian ham around a wedge of cantaloupe and secure with a toothpick.

13. Chile Lime Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are not just for summer barbecues and Babble contributor Shaina Olmanson proves that with her decidedly sophisticated Chile Lime Deviled Eggs.

14. Roasted Figs, Salami, and Stilton

At the risk of upstaging the main dish, try these delightful Roasted Figs, Salami, and Stilton canapes from The Meaning of Pie.

15. Dates Stuffed with Parmesan Slivers & Walnuts

Last but not least, I bring you these beautiful stuffed dates from Smith Bites. Once again, dried fruit, sharp cheese and nuts combine into the perfect bite.

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Are you entertaining over the holidays? Which of these appetizers strikes your fancy?