36 Must-Make Cheese Appetizers
for People Who Love 😍 Party Food

Rating:
5/5 (1 Review)

When it’s party time, cheese appetizers are always the whey to go. They say, “Welcome to my home. I like you more than chips and salsa.” They say, “I like you so much, I turned on the stove for you.” Or maybe they just say, “This cheese dip is way too addictive to eat alone. Please come over.”

 

 

While historians debate the origin of the appetizer, we can safely say that cheese appetizers have been a part of the American party scene for well over 100 years.

The word appetizer first appeared in the United States and England in 1860. As drinks before dinner became the fashion, hosts began serving appetizers as well. And by 1918, the Fannie Farmer cookbook contained a section of party-appropriate finger foods, including Cheese Wafers.

Today, the notion of just what kind of dish constitutes an appetizer is as varied as the kinds of parties we serve them at. From the elegant canapés you’ll find at swanky tea parties and backyard croquet tournaments, to the heavy hors d’oeuvres your Uncle Ted can’t get enough of at afternoon weddings, to the cheese trays and appetizer extravaganzas served at nearly every American Super Bowl party—it doesn’t matter what you call it … just don’t call it late to the party.

Scroll down. Temptation awaits.


Quick Guide

5 CREAM CHEESE APPETIZERS

4 MORE CHEESE DIPS

3 CHEESE BALL APPETIZERS

4 MEAT AND CHEESE APPETIZERS

7 CHEESY NACHOS, RINGS, FRIES AND TOTS

5 CHEESY BREAD APPETIZERS

2 CHEESE APPETIZER TRAYS

BONUS: 6 CHEESE AND CRACKER APPETIZER IDEAS


 

5 CREAM CHEESE APPETIZERS

a large bowl of spinach artichoke dip

Cream cheese is much more than a breakfast spread. So. Much. More. It’s the base, the foundation, the mother (if you will) to all manner of easy appetizer recipes and party dips. So, put down that bagel and unearth grandma’s vintage chip set.

There’s dipping to do.

 

1. SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP

Perfectly designed for any well-intentioned adult who needs to disguise their vegetables to get them down. Give yourself credit for the antioxidant-rich spinach, then give yourself over to the sharp and creamy goodness that is Cooper® cheese.

 

2. HOT REUBEN DIP

Reintroducing the Reuben, deconstructed. This dip has all the goodness of its classic forebear, melted down into a bowl of snackable, dippable goodness. It’s salty, tangy, and just a little bit sweet—not unlike your party guests, perhaps.

 

3. SPICY MARYLAND CRAB DIP

East Coast meets FarEast in this updated version of the classic Maryland crab dip. We transform this Chesapeake Bay standard and give it an Asian-inspired profile with soy sauce and Sriracha. Add in some Cooper® Sharp, and we promise grandma Nettie will still approve.

A bowl of Maryland crab dip with crostini.

 

4. CHEESE BLT LAYERED PARTY DIP

Mmm, the classic BLT: toasted white bread layered with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Delicious, but a messy, dribbly meal for even the neatest among us. Here we’ve refashioned this classic combo into a layered dip. It’s all the elements of a BLT, with none of the mess. Although, to be fair, we haven’t seen you eat cheese dip, so.…

 

5. BACON CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

Bacon in the morning, bacon in the evening, bacon at party time.

This pork-packed spread is equally happy alongside a cracker plate or atop your morning toast. Whip up a batch for your party and hope-against-hope there’s some left over for your morning snack, breakfast or elevensies. Talk about a double-duty bacon dip — that’s some pig.


4 MORE CHEESE DIPS

 

bowl of nacho cheese dip with tortilla chips

Cheese dip. It makes the world a better place to be. Sharp, white, mild, spicy, drunken-beery. Doesn’t matter. You make it, we’ll eat it. Because cheese dip is the reason chips were invented (probably).

 

6. SANTA FE CHILI DIP

A casserole dish full of cheesy chili dip seen from the top, next to a bowl of tortilla chips.

In golf parlance, a chili dip is any missed shot in which the club strikes the ground behind the ball, resulting in little to no contact. Just how this phrase came to be part of the great golf lexicon, we cannot say. But here’s what we do know:

The only chili dip we enjoy is with a big bowl of tortilla chips, and it’s always a hit with Cooper® cheese.

 

7. SPICY WHITE QUESO

A maxed-out Tex-Mex-inspired cheese dip is the melt of choice at nearly any Southwest stadium, restaurant, or house party. Keep it warm in a slow cooker on the lowest setting, serve with tortilla chips, and then give your party guests room to gather round.

Permission to eat straight from the bowl? Granted.

 

8. MASON JAR CHEESE SAUCE

Consider it the mac daddy of all cheese sauces. Consider it liquid temptation in a Mason jar. Consider it the tastiest, cheesiest dip you’ve ever eaten all by yourself during a six-hour Hulu marathon.

 

 

9. CHEESE ALE PRETZEL DIP

Here’s one recipe worth its pretzel salt. But don’t let that rave review fool you. This beer dip is simple to make. Just melt 2 cups Cooper® Sharp Yellow with 1/3 cup Pilsner beer. It’s really that easy. Finishing the bottle is “optional.”


3 CHEESE BALL APPETIZERS

 

 

It doesn’t matter whether it’s fresh or fried, a cheese ball is always a little sphere of magic. So whip up any of these recipes and ball it a day.

 

10. CHEESY FRIED RISOTTO BALLS (ARANCINI)

Originating in Sicily in the 900s, the name for these fried risotto balls means “little oranges,” for the golden color they get from frying. A tasty, handheld appetizer, this classic dish is meant for sharing. Which we do, on occasion.

A plate heaped with cheesy fried risotto balls, a variation on arancini

 

11. CRANBERRY FRIED CHEESE BALLS

Fried cheese balls are the kind of late-night snack those fast-talking Gilmore Girls could down with glorious impunity on any given weeknight. But these are the fancier, gourmet-version Lorelai would bring along to stave off the disapproving glances of her ever-proper mother. Skip the doilies, just bring on the delicious.

 

12. CRANBERRY-ORANGE SAGE CHEESE BALL

Don’t throw shade on the cheese ball. This retro party classic is uniquely American in its origin, dating possibly as far back as the Jefferson White House, if cheese ball legend is to be believed. So find a spot to tuck this in on the buffet table, between the meatballs and the cocktail wienies. It’s the right thing to do — patriotic even.


4 MEAT AND CHEESE APPETIZERS

a baking sheet full of cheesy potato skin appetizers

When you walk into a party and see any meat and cheese combo app, you know you’re in for a good time. We’ve got the Cooper® cheese. Now bring on the meats!

 

13. CHEESY BACON POTATO SKINS

Warm potato + bacon + Cooper® cheese = the perfect party starter. Added bonus: you can eat them with one hand, leaving the other free to open the door, pass out beers, and wave people through to the backyard.

Party math, aced.

 

14. CHEESE STUFFED BBQ MEATBALLS

cheese stuffed BBQ meatballs on a wooden appetizer tray

BBQ meatballs are a mainstay of the American party canon for a reason. A perfect combination of sweet and smokey, they just belong. This particular recipe, however, takes meatballs to a whole new degree with a cheesy, melty center of Cooper® cheese.

Cue the chorus of wow.

 

15. PULLED PORK POUTINE

When you want to eat like a Canadian, turn to poutine. (To correctly pronounce this dish in its native French, think of one shirtless Russian leader and you’ll get close.) In its most basic form, poutine is a plate of fries and cheese curds covered in gravy. Today, though, you’ll often find it zhuzhed-up with shredded beef or pulled pork. It’s one of the greatest culinary experiences of all time.

 

16. CHEESE, HAM, TOMATO AND ROSEMARY SKEWER

appetizer skewers with ham, cheese, and tomato on a rosemary sprig

Appetizer skewers are the ultimate Pick. Me. Up. (Seriously. Make a lot. They’ll go fast.) Here we’ve pulled out a neat little caterer’s trick and use rosemary sprigs as the spear for bite-sized cubes of ham, cheese, and cherry tomatoes. Not feeling quite that fancy? Your standard cocktail picks will do — and nicely.


7 CHEESY NACHOS, RINGS, FRIES AND TOTS

 

 

Bring on the bar bites. You want fries with that? Yes, and onion rings, and loaded tots, and all the cheese that’s fit to chip. Hint: If it’s on the starter menu at your local gastropub, it’s sure to be a party favorite. (If you can bear to share, that is.)

 

17. CHEESE FRIES

The perfect complement to any gathering, these cheese fries thrive on their simplicity. Take one bag of crinkle-cut fries and top with a Cooper® Sharp White cheese sauce. So easy it feels like cheating.

 

18. JERSEY DISCO FRIES

large plate of Jersey disco fries, covered in melted cheese and gravy

These fries have cheese on top (obviously), but also gravy and Cooper® Sharp White (be still my taste buds!). Disco fries are a long-time New Jersey staple, so the next time someone says, “Hey isn’t that just a Canadian poutine?” feel free to roll your eyes. Then give them a plate of these.

 

19. PERFECTLY MELTY CHEESE NACHOS

Supremely shareable, nachos are a go-to snack for game day or any casual group gathering. Whip up a simple creamy cheese sauce (better than the ballpark’s), and then load them up with seasoned ground beef and classic toppings like tomatoes, jalapeños and olives.

 

20. CHEESESTEAK NACHOS

large tray of cheesesteak nacho appetizers with melted cheese

Inspired by the iconic Philadelphia cheesesteak, here’s a surprising but oh-so-satisfying riff on classic nachos. Featuring thinly sliced steak, sautéed peppers and onions, and our Mason Jar Cheese Sauce, there’s a little bit of Philly on every chip.

 

21. BACON CHEESEBURGER TOTCHOS

These tater tots are dressed to impress, topped with burger, bacon, and Cooper® cheese sauce. You know, the way nature intended.

 

22. LOADED BLT ONION RINGS

A plate of onion rings smothered in melted cheese and topped with diced tomatoes, bacon and chives.

For the intrepid pioneers. For party planners who are willing to push the limits. For those who say, “Show me something new, gosh darn it!” Hark. We give you: loaded onion rings. Because anything good is better with … more good.

 

23. CHEESE STUFFED SWEET POTATO BITES

The average American eats about 8 lbs. of sweet potatoes every year. (Compare that to a whopping 117 lbs. of your classic spuds.) Do your part to end potato tyranny and whip up a batch of these.


5 CHEESY BREAD APPETIZERS

bowls of soup topped with large cheese croutons

Bread—it’s a household favorite. And now you can take that carb-y goodness one giant step further by topping/filling/dunking it with Cooper® cheese. There won’t be any leftovers for tomorrow. But let’s focus on the here and now, and how good it tastes.

 

24. CHEESE GARLIC CROUTONS

These are not your salad’s croutons. These are the croutons that belong on top of a steamy crock of French onion soup. Next to a plate of pasta. As an after-school snack. Or on your appetizer spread. They’re just the right amount of cheesy goodness for whatever you have planned.

 

25. GOLDEN CHEESE STIX

The inimitable Ina Garten once said, “You don’t have to do everything from scratch. Nobody wants to make puff pastry.”

That may be true. But everyone wants to EAT puff pastry! So, make like a famous chef and stock your freezer with this ultra-buttery, flakey prepared dough—ready to bake with shreds of Cooper® cheese.

 

26. CHEESE APRICOT CROSTINI

tray of crostini topped with cheese and apricot jam

Crostini—sounds fancy, but as party food goes, this one is fairly accessible. It’s toast. You can do this. We promise you can.

 

27. CROSTINI WITH CHERRY RASPBERRY PRESERVES

Channel your inner Heidi with this Cooper® cheese toast topped with cherry raspberry jam. Best eaten on a mountainside with a grandfather, goats, and a boy named Peter. Or inside your house, with a dog maybe, and any friends who come to visit. That works too.

 

28. JALAPENO POPPER PULL-APART BREAD WITH DIPPING SAUCE

jalapeño popper pull-apart bread with bowl of cheese sauce in the middle

Jalapeño peppers—oh that sweet, sweet burn. It’s so delicious you want to keep eating. But pretty soon your forehead is sweating, your nose is running, and your mouth is on fire. It might not be pretty, but it sure is tasty. Good news is, a side of dairy will counteract the heat. So pull off another bite and pass the Cooper® cheese sauce.

This pepper ain’t got us beat.


2 CHEESE APPETIZER TRAYS

cheese and charcuterie displayed on a wooden cheese board

Equally at home at the tailgate party, the pre-dinner mixer, and the formal Saturday night soiree, the cheese platter plays one steadfast role: harbinger of happiness.

 

29. CHEESE AND MEAT PLATTER

Charcuterie—it’s a fancy word for what is, today, a standard plate of cured meats, found at many an unpretentious gathering. Here we feature a meat-lovers selection of salami, soppressata, prosciutto, and beef sticks. Add in some olives and a pound of Cooper® White (cubed and sliced for visual variety). Then step back, survey your creation, and think, “Tray très chic.”

 

30. THE ULTIMATE CHEESE ENTERTAINING PLATTER

cheese platter with fresh veggies, fruit, olives, and prepared meat

Too busy to cook?

Want to be the hit of the party without actually, you know, cooking? Then kick your cheese platter game into full gear. As a general guideline, aim for a variety of colors and textures, with a mix of fresh fruits and veggies, cured meats, and, of course, Cooper® cheese.


BONUS: 6 CHEESE AND CRACKER APPETIZER IDEAS

And now, to round out our cheese appetizer recipe round-up we offer a bonus selection of six stacked snacks. Start with a base cracker, add a layer or two of Cooper® cheese and top with the accoutrement of choice. Try any of the combinations below. Snack solved.

 

31. APPLES AND COOPER® SHARP

Nature did a pretty good job with apples. But throw them on a cracker with a slice of Cooper® cheese? Magic.

 

32. BLT CRACKERS

It’s a sandwich! No it’s an appetizer! Bacon, lettuce, tomato and Cooper® cheese go bite size on a cracker.

 

33. PIZZA CRACKERS

There’s no occasion in life that can’t be improved by pizza. Seize the moment by topping crackers with Cooper® cheese, pizza sauce, and a slice of pepperoni. Heat under the boiler for 2 or 3 minutes.

 

34. GUAC BITE

Who says tortilla chips should have all the fun? Get your crackers in on the guac game with a slice of Cooper® Sharp Black Pepper and a dollop of guacamole.

 

35. EGG BITE

Cheese and crackers look eggcellent topped with a slice of hardboiled egg, dill, and a dash of paprika.

 

36. PESTO PICKUP

Pesto presto. Top crackers with slices of Cooper® Sharp White and a dab of prepared pesto. It’s so easy to be green.


WILL YOU MELT WITH ME?

 

 

Cooper® cheese. You could say we’re fans. Melted, shredded, stacked or solo, it’s delicious in every iteration.

It’s so good, in fact, that trips to your appetizer table will turn into lingering and eventually full stops. By the end of the night, everyone will be happily parked, systematically scraping out the last bit of dip and inhaling the last cheesy slice.

It will have been a delectable evening. A night of noshing that had your guests saying, “Wow! This is so good.” Which, while complimentary, isn’t the best manners with a mouth full of cheese.

But you’ll forgive them. Why? Because you have a secret stash of cheese appetizers hidden in the way, way back of your fridge, behind the spinach and the soy milk.

So you can safely say, “Eat on my friends. Eat on.”