City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Prepared appetizers to have on hand

prepared appsEvery “self-respecting” Southern woman should keep a block of cream cheese in the fridge and a jar of red pepper jelly in the pantry, according to a book I once read. That way, our quintessential Southern hostess could quickly dump the jelly over the cream cheese and serve with crackers to any guests who happened by.

At this time of year when your to-do list is a mile long (and growing) and you have neighbors, friends and family passing through, you might need some nibbles to offer guests. If jellied cream cheese is not quite your style, here are a few prepared appetizers you might pick up to have on hand.

If you shop at:


  • Seafood Tortas by Inland Market: These molded cream-cheese based seafood spreads come in several flavors. They present nicely — just invert them and pop them onto your serving dish. The flavors in the crab and artichoke version with sun-dried tomatoes have broad appeal, making it a safe choice for guests. Other flavors include smoked salmon with pickled ginger, sesame and wasabi, lobster, roasted corn and basil, and shrimp with roasted tomatoes, zucchini and basil.

Trader Joe’s:

  • Masala Lentil Dip: This sweet and spicy dip with tahini, masala spices, brown sugar, ginger and garlic pairs nicely with toasted pita and raw veggies.
  • Pastry Bites with Feta and Caramelized Onions: These miniature puff pastries pack a sweet onion and creamy cheese interior when heated. You’ll find these and other flavors in the frozen section.

Whole Foods:

  • Smoked Salmon Dip (prepared by Whole Foods): Sure, you could do this yourself by blending some cream cheese, smoked salmon and seasonings together. But, if you don’t have time, try this very smoky version with crackers or veggies. You can usually find this in an ice case near the seafood counter.
  • Curry Chicken Samosas with Chutney (prepared by Whole Foods): Packed two to a box, these oversized triangles are stuffed with spiced chicken, potatoes, green lentils and onions. As you would expect, they get a touch soft when heated in the microwave according to package instructions. But the flavors, especially when served with the accompanying chutney, override that flaw. You’ll want to cut these in half to serve as appetizers. You might also pick up some extra chutney for serving.

Share ideas! Tell us your favorite prepared appetizers and where to get them.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

19 comments Add your comment

Not Alton Brown

December 21st, 2011
2:00 pm

–Cheese straws from Rhodes Bakery Christmas must..
–Cajun Sweet and Hot Snack mix from Fresh Market
–Poor mans Smoked Salmon (tuna) dip– use high quality albacore tuna in can and add liquid smoke….don’t laught till you try it,

2 (6 ounce) cans tuna in vegetable oil
3-5 tablespoons liquid smoke (to taste)
3 tablespoons cajun seaoning


December 21st, 2011
2:08 pm

I’m making spinach dip, without spinach. Using collards from my garden.

ATL Montrealer

December 21st, 2011
2:43 pm

English sausage rolls for me :)

no pepper jelly

December 21st, 2011
3:39 pm

i like to take a can of crescent rolls and smear the inside with ground turkey sausage, roll it up, slice it and cook it. it’s good for breakfast/brunch of just whenever and really easy and YUMMY.


December 21st, 2011
3:39 pm

Enter your comments here


December 21st, 2011
3:53 pm

A big tin of Chex mix, a Hickory Farms summer sausage with cheese, a big jar of mixed nuts, mini sausages and crescent roll dough for “pigs ‘n a blanket”, lots of booze and wine… I also have the cream cheese and red jelly on standby as well.


December 21st, 2011
4:42 pm

One of my favorite fast ones is a block of goat cheese, and then you pour a jar of good spaghetti sauce over it and bake. Good with crackers and crostini, fresh basil if you have it. I am also a fan of munster “dip”. Cube munster cheese, add roughly chopped garlic, bake until bubbly, about 20 mins. serve with crackers and chips. Sooooo good. And easy. and fast. I like easy and fast. Of course, pepper jelly and cream cheese are a southern must. My grandmother was always a fan of her cheese ring. shredded cheddar, mayo, garlic, nuts (i think she used walnuts?) with strawberry preserves. best on ritz. :)


December 21st, 2011
4:50 pm

Ok… confirmed with the grandmother… it’s chopped pecans. :)


December 21st, 2011
6:56 pm

thanks for the tips, I’ll be sure to ‘lift’ some of those next time I’m in Krogers/Whole Paycheck. Freebies are best!

Sophie's Choice

December 21st, 2011
10:30 pm

Hot crab dip in a crockpot– my family would start a revolution if I ever dared not make it at Christmas. Thaw & serve cooked shrimp, with spicy cocktail sauce & lemon wedges. Thaw & serve pinwheel tea sandwiches (you can get them in the freezer section of any Sam’s club). Set out some olives, cornichons, assorted crackers, & some mixed nuts, & your guests will fall on this spread like a pack of wolves!

Jenny Turknett

December 22nd, 2011
4:45 am

Loving the suggestions here! Art, how awesome that you have the cream cheese and red pepper jelly! ;)


December 22nd, 2011
7:39 am

A family tradition is to have pimento cheese stuffed celery. We also cook frozen meatballs in the oven then drop them into a pot of warmed grape jelly. Simple and very tasty. Add a little hot pepper flakes to the jelly for spice.


December 22nd, 2011
10:03 am

Better than the red pepper jelly is a concoction called “Jezebel”: Mix together a small tin of ground mustard, a half-jar of prepared horseradish, 2 tbls black pepper, a 10oz jar of apricot preserves and 10oz jar of apple jelly in a small saucepan, heat and stir until well-blended. Cool in the fridge, pour over a block of cream cheese and serve with water crackers.


December 22nd, 2011
11:59 am

Elle — we do the meatballs with grape jelly too, except we use chili sauce. 1 jar of each. :)


December 22nd, 2011
3:23 pm

Ed, I’m definitely going to give that “Jezebel” a try… sounds great!


December 22nd, 2011
4:09 pm

The cream cheese with red pepper jelly goes great into those pre-made frozen phyllo shells – makes a great 2-bite app & so easy!

@Ed – my mom serves jezebel sauce over pork tenderloin – yummy!


December 23rd, 2011
4:19 pm

trying the Jezebel as I write. the portions are not exact but I went with it any way. How big a tin of mustard? How big a jar of prepared horseradish? Fun to be adventurous, particularly when I am hurting some unsuspecting reveler!


December 23rd, 2011
10:47 pm

Jar of BBQ sauce, small jar of grape jelly, in a crockpot with those little smokies. Yum!


December 24th, 2011
9:47 am

It is a 1.37oz tin of dry mustard. I would guess about 3 heaping tablespoons of the prepared horseradish. I’ve googled the Jezebel sauce and see a few variations available.