last-minute cheese plate ideas
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If you just nabbed a last-minute invite to Friendsgiving, or your original family plans fell through and your pals are graciously bringing you into the fold, you still have time to contribute something more than a bottle of wine (although that’s almost never unwelcome). These easy recipes for party food, and suggestions for gussying up store-bought items, will ensure everyone is extra-glad to see you when you walk in.

And frankly, these easy, last-minute appetizers and snacks will carry you through the whole holiday season ahead.

Pro Tips to Keep in Mind When Bringing Food to Parties

Some of these nibbles do require a minimal bit of cooking, while others are more a matter of assembly, but they’re all ready to eat upon arrival, because you do not want to be making demands on your host’s oven (or encroaching on their kitchen in general).

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Be sure to bring anything you need to serve your dish as well—like toothpicks, a nice platter or bowl, a cheese knife, or a pie server, so you don’t require any special accommodation. As a bonus (even if you don’t also leave the serving vessel behind as a host or hostess gift), you’ll be even more esteemed for your thoughtfulness, and likely to be invited back to all the good parties!

There is a certain school of thought that says you shouldn’t bring anything edible—so as not to upstage the host or interfere with their carefully curated menu plan—but if you’re headed to a more casual Friendsgiving feast, especially if it’s a potluck, it should be more than a-okay.

Last-Minute, Easy Party Appetizers and Snacks

And now, the recipes.

Cheese Balls

best cheese ball (the turducken of cheese balls)


A classic appetizer that’s infinitely adaptable and ridiculously easy to make (though it does benefit from at least a few hours in the fridge for the flavors to meld), a cheese ball is always a worthy option. If you have the time, you can make our massive and multi-layered Turducken of Cheese Balls recipe for a real showstopper, but a simpler version is totally fine—and faster.

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Cheese Truffles

You could simply make mini cheese balls—or you could make mini cheese balls with a surprise inside. All you have to do is roll sweet red grapes in a soft cheese like Boursin or chevre (flavored with herbs, spices, or pepper, perhaps). Then roll the “truffles” in finely chopped toasted nuts or fresh herbs for extra flair and flavor. Get the Goat Cheese Covered Grapes with Pistachios recipe.

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Veggie Platter with Quick Homemade Dip

The veggie tray is another time-honored option, but do one better than picking up a party platter from the store and assemble your own from the pick of the produce section, with a quick homemade dip alongside. Cutting up fresh veggies means they’ll be prettier and tastier, and you can assemble a more interesting selection than just cauliflower and baby carrots. Try including some crisp fennel, jicama, kohlrabi, or radishes in addition to the usual bell peppers, cucumbers, and broccoli. You can also just bring your dip with a bag of chips if that’s easier to transport.

Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers

Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers recipe


If you have time to roast red bell peppers (and find Aleppo and Urfa pepper if you don’t already have them in your pantry), you have time to whip up this cheesy, sweet-hot, addictive dip. Get our Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers recipe.

Spinach and Basil Hummus

spinach basil hummus


Otherwise, you could go with classic hummus, but bump it up with add-ins like spinach and basil for something special. A good quality store-bought brand can also work as a base; just doctor with a few extra ingredients, decant it into a bowl, and no one will know the difference unless you tell them. Get our Spinach and Basil Hummus recipe.

Cream Cheese and Herb Dip

Easy Cream Cheese and Herb Dip recipe


For the least amount of effort, simply stir some scallions and fresh herbs (try sage for the occasion) into cream cheese and sour cream. Quick, easy, eternal. Get our Cream Cheese and Herb Dip recipe.

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Impromptu Cheese Plate

last-minute cheese plate ideas


Cheese plates are the answer to so many questions (like “What should I eat for dinner/get my BFF for Christmas?”), and they’re surprisingly easy to put together last-minute as long as you have access to a store with a decent selection.

Just pick up three to five types of fancy cheese, plus some high-quality accompaniments, like roasted nuts, nice crackers, fresh fruit, olives, honey, and/or other condiments. (See tips on building a perfect cheese plate if you’re not sure exactly what to get.)

Ideally, bring along some sort of plate, board, or platter on which to array your finds, in case your host doesn’t have one available. Ditto knives, picks, and other necessary accessories—but don’t stress too much if that’s not an option, because it’s the thought (and the cheese) that counts. Besides, you don’t want or need to get too elaborate, since this is just meant to be a group nibble before a big meal.

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Roasted Nuts

Pretty much any nuts plus any herbs plus a hit of salt = snack perfection. Buy your nut of choice (or a mix) from the bulk bins—make sure they’re raw and unsalted—and toss them with your desired seasonings on a baking sheet, then toast carefully in a low oven so they don’t burn. Bring them along in a bowl and bask in the warm glow of adoration.

Roasted Rosemary Walnuts

Roasted Rosemary Walnuts recipe


Rosemary is a classic Thanksgiving flavor, and it holds up well in the heat of the oven, so it’s a natural choice for flavoring whatever type of nuts you like. Get our Roasted Rosemary Walnuts recipe.

Spiced Candied Pecans

Spiced Candied Pecans recipe


If you want to go the salty-sweet route, these buttery pecans are coated in sugar, kosher salt, a little pepper (black and cayenne), and thyme. Get Donald Link’s Spiced Candied Pecans recipe.

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Baked Cheddar Parmesan Cheese Crisps

These lacy crisps almost make themselves, especially if you use pre-shredded cheese. Simply form rough piles of it on a baking sheet (with additional seasonings or not) and bake until they melt; they crisp up as they cool, for a perfectly elegant and delicious (and keto-friendly!) nibble, either along with other snacks or on their own to offset a pre-dinner drink. Get the Baked Cheddar Parmesan Cheese Crisps recipe.

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Marinated Olives

Buy some olives, chop up some other tasty things like garlic cloves and oranges, and mix them all up with oil, vinegar, and spices. Ideally, they’d mingle in the fridge overnight, but 15 to 20 minutes will do in a pinch. You could also throw some bocconcini or firm feta cubes into the mix if you’ve got a dairy-loving crowd.

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Simple Cocktail Components

Even better than bringing yet another bottle of Prosecco all by itself? Bringing all the ingredients you need for a simple cocktail—think seasonal mimosas made with apple cider instead of OJ, or a three-ingredient concoction like classic White Russians or whiskey gingers (just choose high-quality brands, of course).

Ideally, they should be drinks you can build in a glass without need of a shaker or anything else, including ice just in case there’s not a ton to go around (so make sure your booze and mixers are well chilled ahead of time).

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Store-Bought Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie recipe


Unless you have specifically been assigned pie, you probably need to know your crowd (and especially your host) before you go with this option; if someone’s a serious baker and is already providing perfect pies, they may not warm to a store-bought sweet, even if they pretend to (and even if it’s from a really fantastic bakery, which might just make them feel outdone).

If you’re confident it would go over well, though, you can sweeten the deal even further by bringing along homemade whipped cream to dollop on top. It’s incredibly easy, especially if you have a stand mixer or electric beater, and you can add a bit of booze or flavored extract if you wish. Get our Easy Whipped Cream recipe.

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No-Bake Dessert Tart

Chocolate Ganache Tart recipe


Bringing along a homemade treat that’s not a direct competitor to the pumpkin and/or pecan pies that are already likely to be present may be a safer and more widely appreciated move—and if you choose a quick no-bake dessert, it won’t be too much harder on you, either. Get our No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart recipe. (You have the option of baking the shell if you prefer homemade pastry, but the filling is just melt-stir-and-set.)

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Dessert Dip

Tiramisu Dip


Even easier than that? Dessert dip! They’re pretty much all fabulous, and most are a cinch to mix up in a matter of minutes. You’ll probably spend more time deciding which cookies, fruits, and biscuits to buy to serve with it. Get our Tiramisu Dip recipe.

And if all else fails, you can always bring a couple cans of cranberry sauce—you’re sure to find at least a few fans in the group!

For more tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes, see our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving and our Ultimate Guide to Friendsgiving.

Related Video: The World’s Fastest Pumpkin Pie

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jen is an editor at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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