7 Tips On How To Serve Hors D’Oeuvres or Starters


There are few things before a meal that better prepare the palate than an appetizer or two. The sensory assault of elegance and simplicity, the taste bud explosion of one small but powerful bite and, finally, the desire for more. Hors d’oeuvres are appetizers that, if served perfectly, can weave as much magic into the evening as the meal soon to follow.

Hors D'oeuvres

I’m going to take a little detour New York’s way and share some tips on this topic, brought to you by Mary Cleaver, an eco-friendly New York City caterer. You and your guests are gonna love what she has to say, especially when you’ve implemented these ideas.

Tip 1 – Variety: Serve 3-4 varied hors d’oeuvres to your guests. The general observed idea is each person is going to eat ten pieces in, say, two hours. Use this fact as reference when you make your appetizers so you don’t overflow or run too short.

Tip 2 – Time Management: You won’t be glad to see time isn’t favoring you. When your guests start pouring in but the hors d’oeuvres aren’t pouring out of the oven on time then it’s going to spell some trouble for you. Get your appetizers prebaked before they get there. Now all that’s left is for you to warm up those trays when your guests arrive so you can focus on other more important greeting-socializing and meal-preparing duties.

Tip 3 – Backup: If, however, your hors d’oeuvres aren’t yet ready you can always rely on some dips, cheeses and/or bite-sized veggies. Now your guests have something to nibble and don’t feel anything is lax at the party/dinner event.


Tip 4 – Ovens: These by far get you the crispiest hors d’oeuvres of all. So if you are serving pastries and some instruction manual or other says you should microwave them, don’t do it. Not all pastries are great when crisp.

Tip 5 – Assistance: Suppose you have help in the kitchen and you feel you must delegate something to that person. Serve the hot hors d’oeuvres yourself and give that other person the task of monitoring and filling the cold-food trays. This way you get to converse with your guests while serving the hot ready-to-eat hors d’oeuvres. This way you don’t miss a beat in your event, both in the preparation and socializing zones.

Tip 6 – Drinks: Most parties, dinner events and so on have a full bar at the guests’ disposal. This is not often a good idea because it may take a lot of work to keep your guests from staying thirsty. Some of them may even ruin their appetite and not know it. If, however, you prepare just two drink options like mojitos and margaritas ahead of time and in bulk, place them in pitchers and with glasses on a tray, your guests will serve themselves without going overboard because they will be more conscious of whether or not everyone is getting their share of the ‘bar’. The glass pitchers and the level of liquor in them does indeed help with managing the moment.


Tip 7 – Hot & Not: The hot hors d’oeuvres should always be the ones to serve first, especially the bites that have melted cheese on top. Cold cheese on appetizers isn’t all that yummy. Crispy bread based hors d’oeuvres like soufflés, taquitos and breaded shrimp will also need to follow the hot-first rule. When it comes to veggie appetizers, like spanakopita, spring rolls and samosas it’s alright to bring them out to eat when they’re at room temperature.

There is, of course, plenty of other advice out there concerning how to serve hors d’oeuvres. These almost always depend on your event and the theme you have going for you. For instance I’ve relied on Mary Cleaver’s advice to craft this blog post. Her serving idea is ideal for formal, casual-friendly or family oriented events where hors d’oeuvres are called for. This is the need for most people reading this blog post.

You can spice things up, get diversity in there and even some themes, all based on what kind of party or event you got planned. This idea goes out to those party-loving people who want something more than the everyday.

Hors d’oeuvres are ‘first impressions’ in their own right so you’d best get them perfect. The rest of the event will flow like a smooth stream.

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