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There’s no better way to welcome guests to your home than with an irresistible array of tempting hors d’oeuvres. And during the colder months, warm appetizers are especially appealing. From artfully arranged canapés to classic mini crab cakes or casual dips, it’s easy to impress with starters that look delicious and taste even better.

Appetizers are traditionally passed during the cocktail hour before the main-course meal, but can also be served buffet-style when hosting a casual open house or get-together. Ingredients can be prepped in advance, then baked, grilled or reheated before the doorbell rings. Here are a few of our party favorites:

classic canapes

Classic Canapés

Served in single-bite sizes, these hors d’oeuvres traditionally have a bread or cracker base with a savory topping. Think baked crabmeat with Parmesan, or cherry tomatoes and beef tenderloin with tangy horseradish cream. Bake canapés in the kitchen, arrange on a beautiful platter, and then serve when they’re melt-in-your-mouth warm.

Delicious Dips

Slow cookers are ideal for making and serving warm dips and spreads. They are easy to prepare in advance, and warm in the slow cooker before guests arrive. Put the slow cooker on the serving buffet, and it will keep your appetizer at just the right temperature – from party beginning to end. Need some ideas? Turn up the heat with a spicy chili con queso, or prep a creamy asiago cheese dip served with toasted baguette-style French bread slices. It’s an invitation to dig right in.

Grilled & Skewered Snacks

Stovetop grill pans make it simple to get that distinctive grilled look and flavor right in your own kitchen. Also known as brochettes or kabobs, these skewered appetizers are easy cook and serve. Just skewer shrimp, chicken or vegetables and grill until done. Keep the skewer in place so guests can easily pick them up, and pair with a sweet or spicy Asian, Thai peanut or roaster pepper dip.

mini bites

Mini Bites

Think of all the different individual-size starters you can make with a 24 cup Mini Muffin Pan. Line the cups with phyllo dough, and get creative with your fillings: baked asparagus & goat cheese, ham & spinach quiche, or brie & hot pepper jelly. Small bites can have big flavor!

Calphalon Nonstick 24 Cup Mini Muffin Pan »