3 Easy and Meaty Holiday Appetizer Recipes for a Festive Gathering

The holidays are a time for celebration, gathering with loved ones, and enjoying delicious food. As a host you want to serve snacks and appetizers that feel special yet don’t require hours in the kitchen. The solution? Meaty holiday appetizers!

Meat appetizers are satisfying hearty, and full of festive flavors. They feel indulgent for the season yet come together with ease. In this article, I’ll share my 3 favorite easy meaty holiday appetizer recipes to wow your guests. These finger-licking bites are sure to be the hit of your holiday table!

Why Serve Meat Appetizers for the Holidays?

Before diving into the recipes, let’s look at why meaty appetizers are a fantastic choice for holiday gatherings:

Hearty and Substantial

Unlike lighter veggie appetizers, meat appetizers are hearty, filling, and satisfying. They hold your guests over before the main meal with protein and bold flavors. Heartier appetizers mean happier guests!

Festive and Indulgent

The holidays feel indulgent, so leaning into richer, meatier appetizers fits the spirit of the season. From bacon to sausage, meaty bites feel celebratory.


Picky little eaters? Meaty finger foods appeal to kids and adults alike. Chicken tenders, meatballs, and mini sandwiches disappear quickly!

Easy to Make Ahead

Last-minute hosting stress is no fun. Many meaty appetizers can be prepared ahead of time and reheated easily. That means you get to actually relax and enjoy the party!

3 Easy Meaty Holiday Appetizer Recipes

Without further ado, here are my 3 favorite meaty holiday appetizers to serve this season. These recipes check all the boxes: easy to make, full of holiday flavors, and sure to satisfy a crowd. Let’s get cooking!

1. Bacon-Wrapped Smokies

Cocktail sausages wrapped in crispy bacon make for a perfectly easy meaty appetizer. The combination of pork sausage and bacon is a true crowd-pleaser, especially with kids. I use grape jelly as a sweet glaze along with spicy brown mustard to balance the flavors.

These appetizers come together in just 30 minutes. Prepare the sausages up to 3 days ahead so you can quickly bake and glaze them right before your event.


  • 1 pound cocktail sausages or “smokies”
  • 8 ounces bacon, slices cut in half
  • 1/3 cup grape jelly
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Wrap each cocktail sausage with a piece of halved bacon strip and place on baking sheet seam-side down.

  3. Bake for 15 minutes then remove sheet from the oven. Drain excess grease.

  4. In a small bowl, mix grape jelly, mustard, and red pepper flakes until combined.

  5. Brush the glaze over the baked bacon-wrapped smokies. Return to oven and bake 5 more minutes.

  6. Serve immediately or let cool completely then refrigerate overnight to reheat later.

These sweet, spicy, and savory bites are irresistible! The prep can be done in advance making them a totally stress-free appetizer.

2. Loaded Potato Skins

Potato skins loaded with all the fixings make for the perfect hearty and filling appetizer. Crispy potato shells get filled with savory bacon, melted cheese, green onion, tomato, and sour cream.

This recipe does take a bit more hands-on time than the others. However, the potato skins can be assembled up to 2 days ahead then quickly baked right before guests arrive. They can also be baked fully the day before and reheated.


  • 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke holes in potatoes with a fork and bake for 1 hour until tender. Let cool.

  2. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato.

  3. Brush the potato skins with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skins on a baking sheet, skin-side down.

  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Let cool slightly.

  5. Fill each potato skin with bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions, and tomatoes.

  6. Return to oven and bake 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.

  7. Top with dollops of sour cream and extra green onions. Serve immediately.

Can’t get much better than a loaded, cheesy, bacon-filled potato skin! Enjoy this satisfying appetizer on its own or pair it with a creamy spinach artichoke dip.

3. Italian Meatballs

No holiday gathering is complete without a platter of tasty meatballs. For my easy Italian-style meatballs, I use a mix of ground beef and pork plus Italian seasoning to keep the flavor profile simple. They’re baked in the oven so minimal work for you.

Make these savory, oven-baked meatballs up to 3 days ahead. Then reheat them gently before serving with warm marinara sauce for dipping.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For serving: marinara sauce, parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, panko crumbs, milk, garlic, egg, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Mix gently until uniform.

  3. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet without overcrowding.

  4. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway, until browned on the outside and cooked through.

  5. Transfer meatballs to a serving platter and top with warm marinara sauce and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

These savory baked meatballs check all the boxes. They’re easy to make, full of flavor, and ideal for serving a crowd. The best part? Prepare them ahead so you can simply reheat and serve!

Make Ahead Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Hosting

Part of what makes these meaty appetizers so perfect for the holidays is that they can be fully or partially prepared ahead of time. Here are some make-ahead tips:

  • Assemble uncooked meatballs or sausages up to 2 days ahead. Refrigerate on a baking sheet until ready to bake.

  • Bake fully cooked meatballs or bacon-wrapped smokies 1-3 days in advance. Let cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat gently before serving.

  • Make marmalade glaze for bacon-wrapped sausages up to 5 days ahead.

  • Prepare baked potato skins (loaded or unloaded) fully the day before and reheat on a baking sheet for 10 minutes at 375°F.

  • Partially prepare potato skins 1-2 days in advance. Store baked shells in the fridge then fill and bake right before the event.

Follow these make-ahead tips so you can actually relax and spend time with your loved ones, not stress in the kitchen.

Meaty Bites for Holiday Entertaining Success

When it comes to easy yet impressive holiday appetizers, savory meat options never disappoint. These bacon, sausage, and meatball appetizers are sure to be a hit with family and friends this season. The hearty bites keep guests satisfied while waiting for the main meal.

3 Easy, Delicious Holiday Appetizer recipes!


What are the 3 different ways to serve appetizers?

I like to refer to the three common methods as plated, seated, and drive-by: Plated: an appetizer course served to guests already seated around a formally set table.

What is a good appetizer for a holiday party?

Creamy spinach dip is always a hit as a holiday appetizer, served in a bread bowl or with crisp crackers. It’s easy to make! Bacon wrapped water chestnuts are a simple but elegant appetizer. Watch them disappear at your next party! Easy to make and popular with everyone, pickle roll ups (pinwheels) are a fail-proof, always-a-win appetizer recipe.

What’s a good Christmas appetizer?

Here’s a super easy Christmas appetizer that’s always a hit: cranberry cream cheese dip! Make an easy cranberry sauce, then serve it over cream cheese with a topping of sliced green onions and chopped salted pecans. Add crackers for dipping and it’s a quick appetizer everyone will love!

What are the best 3-Ingredient appetizers for Holiday Entertaining?

Click the slideshow gallery button to view the best 3-ingredient appetizers for holiday entertaining. You’ll find favorites in this collection such as everything parmesan crisps, spinach dip pinwheels, crockpot cranberry meatballs and more! My personal favorite is the 3-ingredient cranberry pepper jelly dip.

What is the easiest party appetizer?

The easiest party appetizer on the planet is also the most delicious. Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly Sauce is a lifesaver for hungry crowds and cocktail parties, so make a double batch! Skip the coffee shop sous vide egg bites and make this Mini Quiche Recipe instead.

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