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If you’ve got a holiday party or a summer gathering on the calendar, this collection of simple, flavorful Italian appetizers are sure to impress!
They’re colorful, generous, fast to make loads, and most of them can be served at room temperature. Oh – and they look and taste amazing!
If you think about Italian food, antipasti or Italian appetizers provide some of the most delicious moments in an Italian meal. Because they’re hearty, packed with flavor and perfect to share and celebrate.
Who loves Italian appetizers? Everybody loves them.
What does antipasti mean?
Antipasti (or antipasto) literally means ‘before the meal’ in Italian. And it’s essentially the beginning of a looooong meal (trust me here, I’m 100% Italian : ).
Just clutch your glass of wine in one hand and use your other to grab moist focaccia, scrumptious crostini, bruschetta, cheese, olives while you’re having a lovely, sometimes loud, conversation with family and friends.
Popular ingredients to make easy Italian appetizers
The list of Italian starters can be endless!
The variety of flavor and textures from Norther to Southern Italy is simple amazing, but seasonal produces are usually the main ingredient in Italian dishes, regardless of the region.
And although here at The Clever Meal we share mostly vegetarian recipes, in this collection of Italian appetizers I’ve decided to offer a wider array of traditional recipes including fish and meat.
But let’s see which are the most popular ingredients in the Italian cuisine when it comes to antipasti:
Fruit & vegetables: plenty of olives and extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplants, artichokes, mushrooms, and much more. Italians turn simple, seasonal ingredients into fabulous rustic antipasti.
Italian cheese: from the soft, mild mozzarella cheese, ricotta, gorgonzola to the savoury aged parmesan or pecorino cheese. Cheese is definitely a must.
Carbs: crispy ciabatta bread, focaccia, pizza, crackers, grissini or taralli are absolutely stars of the show when it comes to a classic Italian antipasto platter.
Beef: the most popular meat is the savoury and salty Prosciutto di Parma, or Parma Ham. This cured ham is the result of traditional, artisan techniques, and it’s served thinly sliced along with bread, breadsticks or crostini. But cooked ham, bresaola, salami, pancetta and mortadella are also popular appetizers.
Fish: the variety of Italian appetizers include also many recipes featuring fish and seafood, especially in South Italy. From anchovies and tuna to prawn and mussels. If you love seafood, there’s plenty to chose from!
Here you'll find some of the best Italian appetizer recipes. ENJOY!
Italian rice balls (Arancini)
Deliciously crispy and golden outside, soft and creamy inside with a core of molten mozzarella, these Italian rice balls or “arancini di riso” are sure to please a crowd!
Italian Spicy Olives
Flavoured with garlic, herbs and chili, these Italian spicy olives are juicy and packed full of flavor. They make a terrific appetizer, the perfect finger food for cheese boards or parties.
Whipped Ricotta Crostini
In this easy crostini recipe the crispy bread, the fresh flavor of the whipped Italian ricotta, the sweetness of the honey and the aromatic thyme make a sensational combination. Best part? They're ready in 15 minutes and make an easy holiday appetizer that’s elegant, indulgent and sweet.
Pinzimonio is one of the easiest, simplest and most versatile Italian antipasti. It’s light, healthy, delicious and absolutely perfect to celebrate local, seasonal, fresh produce.
Caprese antipasto Skewers
These caprese salad skewers are a crowd pleaser, the little bites are SUPER easy to assamble, and deliciously fresh. Made with just three basic ingredients, this is one the best vegetarian appetizer recipes to make this summer.
Super easy focaccia recipe (no-knead)
It’s so hard to resist the AMAZING smell of freshly baked focaccia when you pass by a bakery in Italy. Its golden crisp oil-scented crust and chewy texture are absolutely delicious. Serve it with a cheeseboard, olives, soups, salads, it’s perfect for sharing and so easy to make it in 1 bowl!
Ricotta Meatballs (no-meat recipe)
These melt-in-your-mouth tender ricotta meatballs cooked in tomato sauce are so easy to make with a handful of ingredients. They make a wonderful meatless appetizer or meal that’s full of flavor and delicious.
This Mediterranean olive bruschetta with torn juicy olives, shaved parmesan, and celery served on toasted garlic Italian bread is crispy, fresh and perfect for sharing.
Marinated Mozzarella Balls
Marinated mozzarella balls with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, pepper and a little chilli combine with the creamy mozzarella taste so delicious. This is the perfect crowd-pleasing appetizer ready in just 5 minutes!
This Bruschetta recipe is a classic Italian one, definitely one of those gems that proves you can make incredible food in minutes with a few quality ingredients. It's simple, delicious, and perfect for warm summer nights.
Roasted Artichoke Hearts
These roasted artichoke hearts with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese are deliciously crispy, infused with herb and garlic flavour, the perfect bite size appetizer that charms everyone who tries it!
Mozzarella in Carrozza
Everyone loves this classic Italian appetizer. It’s essentially a fried mozzarella sandwich, crisp on the outside and melted on the inside. A glorious cheesy treat!
Herbed Whipped Ricotta
Easy to make and economical, this whipped ricotta is fresh, creamy, herbed, garlicky and goes so well with just about anything. And it's ready in about 5 minutes!
Tuscan-Style Tomato Panzanella Salad
Panzanella is a delicious Tuscan salad that helps you to put to good use juicy tomatoes and also makes a fanstasti, fresh appetizer!
Bread and Beans, the Italian way!
These no-frill, fresh-and-flavorful, speedy beans on garlic bread require just a few pantry staples and are ready in less than 10 minutes. They're also economical, vegan and make a lovely crowd-pleaser appetizer.
Prosciutto and Melon (Prosciutto e Melone)
When it comes to Italian appetiser, prosciutto e melone is an all-time favourite and a definite crowd-pleaser. There is something enticing about the combination of salty and sweet flavours which is amazing!
Green Olive Tapenade
This Italian-style green olive tapenade with sun-dried tomatoes makes a quick appetizer that’s economical, easy, and full of fresh flavors. It’s also vegan and gluten free.
This classic Sicilian appetizer combines roasted (not fried) eggplant with sautéed bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, olives and capers. Red wine vinegar and honey make it irresistibly tangy and sweet. You’re going to love caponata!
Bruschetta with fresh Mozzarella
You’ll love this quick bruschetta with mozzarella that’s crispy, juicy and full of fresh flavor. It comes together in no time and it’s simple, delicious and makes a fantastic appetizer!
"Italian" Russian salad
The Russian salad is a classic Italian vegetarian appetizer made with veggies and mayonnese. My mum used to arrange it nicely in a ceramic plate, and decorate it with hard-boiled eggs. It was amazing.
Crispy Baked Polenta Fries
These crispy baked Italian polenta fries are made from scratch and baked to perfection with a crisp-golden surface and a rich, velvety center. Serve these crunchy fries as a appetizer with dips and or marinara sauce, and you are not going to be able to stop eating them.
Focaccia with Tomatoes (super easy!)
This golden brown Italian bread with tomatoes is the ultimate comfort food! It’s perfectly soft, chewy, topped with juicy tomatoes, crunchy flaky sea salt, and fruity olive oil. Best of all, it’s so easy that you can make it in 1 BOWL.
Sun Dried Tomato Cream Cheese
Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil make one of the most pupular ingredients used for appetizers, especially in southern Italy. In this recipe, the delicious and rich tomatoes are blended with fresh bsil and combined with creamy soft cheese to make a dip that is sure to please everybody.
Oven Baked Italian Meatballs
These tasty popular Italian meatballs are soft, juicy, and extra tasty. Serve them with crusty bread and everyone will come back for more!
Easy Breadstick Recipe
This breadstick recipe doesn’t require any stand mixer and makes irresistible crispy breadsticks, also known as grissini. Serve them with cheese, olives, or on your charcuterie board: they’re perfect with classic Italian antipasti.
Heirloom Caprese Salad
A delicious caprese salad will make a statement at your summer parties, and it's simply perfect served as Italian appetizer and delicious with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
These Italian Taralli are crunchy and tasty, very popular and available throughout Italy, they are mainly produced in the south, in Puglia and Campania. They are irresistible, one of my fav snacks!
Impepata di cozze (Peppered Mussels)
To make this Neapolitan classic, you simply steam mussels in their own juices with nothing but generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper. Garnish them, if you like, with some chopped parsley and lemon wedges. It's so simple but utterly delicious.
Sun Dried Tomato Paste
Sun dried tomato paste is always a huge hit! And it’s so rich, piquant and keeps well for days! Serve it along with focaccia, italian breadsticks or pesto bread, it makes a great addition to any Italian appetizer platter.
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Italian stuffed zucchini flowers are one of my favorite summer Italian appetizers. The zucchini flowers are stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella then coated in a light batter and fried unitl light, crispy and delicious!
Asparagus wrapped with prosciutto
This is another classic Italian antipasti made with asparagus and Parma ham. It's tasty, super quick and perfect for a dinner party!
Salsa verde is a must when it comes to Northern Italian antipasti, it's easy to make, piquant, and goes so well with anchovies, fresh cheese like Italian tomini, and thin slices of beef fillet.
Italian Stuffed Cherry Peppers
This is a scrumptious Italian appetizer recipe also known as Peperoncini Ripieni. It's a year round appetiser, full of flavor and perfect on an Italian appetizer platter.
Focaccia with Olives (Easy | No-Knead)
This super easy focaccia with olives is absolutely delicious, moist with golden oil-scented crust and tasty, juicy olives. It's perfect for sharing!
Stuffed green peppers
These scrumptious peppers are wisely filled with leftovers and taste soo good. This is a delicious recipe that comes from the South of Italy,
This artichoke bruschetta IS easy to assemble and ready in less than 15 minutes! The crispy bread is topped with a mix of artichoke hearts, creamy ricotta, tangy lemon juice, herbs and extra virgin olive oil. It’s so fresh and full of flavor.
Pizza with Gorgonzola, so delicious!
This amazing pizza with indulgently creamy gorgonzola, parmesan cheese, and toasty walnuts can be served as a scrumptious appetizer and goes so well with a glass of white wine! YUM.
Smoky Beans on Toast
Here is another bruschetta recipe topped with scrumptious smoky cannellini beans, thyme, and chili flakes. It's full of Italian flavors like fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
This Italian giardiniera is one of the best known and classic preserves, made with a mix of your favourite vegetables and eaten as an antipasto with crusty bread. This is one of my mum's recipe that we used to enjoy all year round!
Crostini with Ricotta & Peas
These crispy crostini with soft ricotta and peas make a delicious canapé full of fresh flavor and with a lovely texture. It’s so economical and easy to whip up, perfect for any gathering all year round.
Easy Pesto Bread
This irresistible pesto bread is crispy outside and soft inside, with a subtle delicious pesto flavor. It tastes and smells amazing, it goes beautifully with Italian antipasti and looks lovely too!
Chickpea Bruschetta with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Also this simple chickpea bruschetta will please everyone’s tastes in no time. Alll you have to do is rubbing your toasted bread with a garlic clove (don’t skip this step!) and enjoy smashed chickpeasm, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs.
How to Make Crostini
Golden, toasted crostini are amazing and so versatile, absolutely the perfect base for your party appetizers or a fun light meal with accompaniments.
Looking for more appetizer recipes?
Check out these collections of 50 vegan appetizers, 25 dairy-free appetizers or easy vegetarian appetizers, they are all packed with delicious recipes. Below more appetizer ideas to inspire you, and perfect for sharing:
If you make one or more of these delicious Italian appetizers, or you have a question, let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you and get your feedback! x
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40+ Italian Appetizers
- 12 baby mozzarella balls (in water)
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- ½ Tablespoon tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- salt, to sprinkle
- freshly ground black pepper, to sprinkle
- balsamic glaze or basil pesto, to drizzle (optional)
- Layer a basil leaf, a cherry tomato and a mini mozzarella ball onto a skewer followed by another fresh basil leaf, and repeat if your skewer is long enough. Otherwise use another skewer to make 12 small servings.
- Place all your lovely skewers on a serving plate, season with fine salt, pepper and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You can also drizzle them with some basil pesto or balsamic glaze, if you wish. Serve at room temperature.
What a wonderful collection, love all of them! Thank you!
I’m so pleased to hear that! Thank you. X