8 Party Foods to Please Any Crowd

‘Tis the season for parties. Whether you will be hosting or attending a get-together, chances are you are thinking about the food. It’s the most important part of any occasion. Here are 8 foods you can bring to any party that are sure to be crowd pleasers, and 3 things to leave at home.

1. Bacon-wrapped Weenies

These were served at my cousin’s house one Christmas Eve. I planted myself next to the slow cooker that night. Best Christmas Eve ever!

Then for my son’s birthday party, I decided to make this delicacy. Of course it was a hit. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was that there were none leftover.

Mouth-wateringly salty and sweet. Oh bacon-wrapped weenies, how I love you.

Ingredients
  • Cocktail Weenies $2.96 for 7 servings
  • Bacon $5.68 for 18 slices (cut each slice in half or thirds)
  • 3/4 cup Brown sugar $0.20
  • Maple Syrup (expensive but you only need a drizzle)

Total: $8.84 / $1.26 per serving

Instructions

Set oven to 325 degrees F. Cut each slice of bacon in half or thirds. Wrap each cocktail weenie with bacon and secure with wooden toothpick.

TIP: Do not use plastic toothpicks — they will melt. Call me stupid because we learned this the hard way.

Place on foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the sugar is bubbly. To serve, put in slow cooker with liquid on low setting.

2. Chicken Nuggets

Whether it’s a party for picky kids, drunk adults, or both, chicken nuggets are sure to please.

You can pick these up from the grocery store or a fast food restaurant. But if you really want to impress, try making this recipe. I recently wrote about this recipe on how to recreate restaurant meals at home.

Ingredients:
  • Chicken bought on BOGO sale $8.46 for 2 lbs (1 lb made 5 servings) = $0.85 per serving
  • 2 eggs at $0.23 each = $0.09 per serving
  • Pantry items (flour, salt, pepper, other seasonings)
  • And the secret ingredient: pickle juice
    • save the juice the next time you get pickles!
    • Makes 5 servings
      • Total per serving = $0.94
Instructions:

Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Add 1 cup pickle juice and marinate 30 minutes in the fridge.

Drain and dry chicken. Cover with flour, dip into beaten egg and back into the seasoned flour (2 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder). Fry in canola oil until golden brown and delicious!

3. Salsa

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party without chips and salsa.

Ingredients:
  • 7 Roma tomatoes (approx. 1 pound) $1.69
  • 1 jalapeno $0.20
    • remove the seeds and membrane for less spicy salsa
  • 1 white onion $1.27
  • cilantro $0.25
  • 1 clove garlic $0.05
  • juice of 1/2 lime $0.13
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • Total is $3.59 for two 16 oz. jars
Instructions:

Cut the ends off the tomatoes and half them. Chop onion, garlic, jalapeno (remove the seeds and membrane), and cilantro. Add the lime juice, salt, sugar, and cumin then pulse in your food processor until you reach the desired consistency.

Or, if you don’t cook, you can buy it from the store: $3.49 for 16 oz from the supermarket deli. But of course, I prefer the taste (and cost) of making it fresh.

4. Fresh Guacamole

Like salsa, guacamole is always a welcome addition to any party. It’s easy to pick up a package at the store. But it’s also easy to make your own.

Tip: To prevent it from turning brown, gently press the plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole to protect it from the air.

Ingredients:
  • Avocados $2.52 = $0.19 per serving
  • Pico de gallo: (tomato $1.48, onion $0.74, jalapeno (free from our garden), lime juice (free from our lime tree), cilantro $0.49, makes 13 servings) = $0.21 per serving
  • 1 clove garlic $0.05
  • spices

Total $5.28

Instructions:

Pit and half 3 avocados. Toss with juice from the pico de gallo (about 1 tablespoon). Add 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and mash with a potato masher (TIP: leave some chunks for texture). Add minced garlic and pico de gallo, stir to combine. Cover directly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours.

5. Buffalo Chicken Dip

One year my sister offered Buffalo Chicken Dip as an appetizer at one of her parties. I tried it, and quickly turned away. Although I love cold chicken, this dip served cold was hard for me to swallow.

A few months later, someone brought this dip heated to a friend’s party. My friend (the host), husband, and I spent the entire night standing around this dip. The three of us ate the entire bowl!

Buffalo Chicken Dip has quickly become my favorite party food. I’ve not tried making this from scratch yet. I buy a few packages whenever it is buy-one-get-one free at the grocery store. One my husband and I keep (and sneakily eat when the kids are in bed) and the other I will contribute to whatever party I am attending that week. 

Cost: $5.49 for 16oz from the supermarket (found in the deli section)

6. Spinach Artichoke Dip

For as long as I can remember, spinach dip was served at all of my family meals. We take a round loaf of bread (I like to use pumpernickel), hollow out the middle, and fill it with the dip. The bread removed from the middle is broken apart into small pieces that are placed around the dish to use for dipping.

This is another dish that I’ve not tried making from scratch yet, but do enjoy at every party.

Cost: $5.49 for 16 oz spinach dip, $5.99 for spinach artichoke dip (found in the deli section)

7. Homemade chocolate chip cookies

Another quick, easy, and inexpensive contribution to any party that people will love is homemade chocolate chip cookies. They are easy to make from scratch. The recipe can be found on the back of any package of chocolate chips.

TIP: For chewy soft cookies, remove from the oven when the sides start to brown and the middle is still pale. Carry-over cooking will finish the job but not over cook your cookies into bricks!

There are different types of chocolate chips.  I am a firm believer that all chocolate should be milk chocolate.

8. Beer, Wine, Liquor, or Non-Alcoholic Specialty Drink

Of course, no party is complete without a refreshing beverage. If you or the hosting party do not imbibe, consider bringing a unique non-alcoholic beverage for people to try.

Everyone’s favorite Smirnoff The Reindeer!

A specialty drink from another country (e.g., Inca Kola, La Bebida del Peru) or holiday-themed drink (e.g., Eggnog for Christmas, witch’s brew for Halloween) would be a fun contribution to your party.

 

Three Things NOT to Bring

1. Peanuts

Whenever providing food to share, I would recommend avoiding anything made with peanuts. Allergic reactions to peanuts can be serious. Some people become ill at even the smell of peanuts.

At home, we cook our chicken nuggets using peanut oil, but I recommend using a different oil if cooking for a party.

If you do bring food with even a trace of peanuts, it should be clearly labeled so.

2. Foods Requiring Extra Serving Dishes or Utensils

I love a good soup party. Every Christmas Eve, my husband’s family makes huge pots of soups: chili, chicken tortilla soup, potato soup. It’s a tradition to which I look forward every year.

But unless it’s a soup party for which the host will plan to have bowls and spoons, avoid bringing anything that would require extra serving dishes or utensils. Disposable items will create a tremendous amount of waste for one dish, and reusable items will lead to double the dishes for the host to wash.

Your dish should be a contribution, not more work for the host 🙂

3. Stinky Foods

You’d think people would know this, but sadly this point sometimes needs to be emphasized. Whether the dish itself has a strong aroma or it can lead to bad breath amongst the guests, please be sensitive to smell. No durian fruit, please.

 

What are your favorite party dishes?

 

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