Elevate your entertaining game effortlessly with our delightful array of easy starter recipes. Whether you're hosting a grand Christmas feast or seeking light, refreshing options for scorching summer days, we've got you covered. From dazzling dishes to captivate your guests to cosy gatherings for two, our dinner party starters cater to every occasion. Explore our recipes designed to impress a crowd or to create an intimate culinary experience for that special someone. With our easy-to-follow recipes, making a memorable impression has never been simpler. For more recipes suited to catering to the masses, check out our feed-a-crowd recipes, and for more options for date nights, check out our Valentine’s Day recipes and romantic recipes.
When planning your dinner party menu, consider all diet preferences. For more inspiration, check out our vegetarian starter recipes and vegan starter recipes.


Read on for our top picks for meat, seafood, vegetarian and vegan starters…

Meat starters

1. Jamon & wild garlic croquetas

A plate of jam and wild garlic croquetas piled up

Prepare these delectable jamón croquetas in advance to streamline your dinner party preparations. Once coated, these raw croquetas can be conveniently frozen, allowing for easy serving when guests arrive. With under 10 ingredients, they make for a delightful bite-sized starter that can satisfy up to 6 people. Pair them with a crisp green salad for a sophisticated sit-down affair, or serve as elegant canapés to enjoy while mingling and sipping drinks.

Discover more freezable recipes to help you get ahead on your meal prep.

2. Minted melon, tomato & prosciutto salad

Plate of melon, tomatoes and proscuitto

This dish shines with its quality ingredients: sweet Charentais melon, vibrant heirloom tomatoes, and savoury prosciutto create a harmonious flavour symphony. Perfect for a summer dinner party, it's an ideal choice for a sharing platter starter. With just 10 minutes to prepare, you'll be able to join in on the fun without missing a beat. Plus, there's no cooking involved, so you can stay cool and relaxed throughout.

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3. Easy pork & chive dumplings

Plate of dumplings

Try our homemade Chinese dumplings. Bursting with juicy pork and fresh Chinese chives, these dumplings offer a culinary adventure that's simpler to make than you might imagine. Gather your friends or family for a fun group activity as you assemble these delectable treats together. Plus, with the ability to make up to forty dumplings, you'll enjoy a generous portion that would otherwise cost a fortune at a restaurant.

Discover more Chinese fakeaway recipes to save money and recreate your favourite dishes at home.

4. Fig, burrata & prosciutto tartine

3 slices of sourdough topped with figs, burrata and proscuitto

Craft these vibrant fig, burrata, and prosciutto tartines for a visually stunning starter that's surprisingly easy to make. With just 10 minutes of preparation and two simple steps, you can savour the exquisite balance of sweetness from the figs, complemented by the prosciutto's saltiness and the burrata's creamy richness. Each bite is a heavenly symphony of flavours that will delight your taste buds.

Discover more sweet and savoury fig recipes.

5. Duck liver parfait, cherry compote & sourdough croutes

Duck liver parfait on a slice of sourdough topped with cherry compote which sits around the plate in multiple jars

Indulge in the velvety richness of our duck liver parfait, subtly enhanced with Grand Marnier and accompanied by luscious Morello cherry jam. Prepare this decadent dish in advance for your dinner party, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your gathering. You can make the duck liver parfait up to two days ahead, leaving just the sourdough to toast in the oven for a mere fifteen to twenty minutes before serving.

Check out our pate recipes for more smooth parfait recipes and more rustic chunky terrines.

Seafood starters

6. Smoked mackerel on toasted crumpets

Four crumpets topped with smoked mackerel, cucumber slices and radish slices. Three on a wooden counter and one on a plate

Enjoy our effortless starter – prepare the filling well in advance and chill until needed. When your guests arrive, simply toast the crumpets, heap on the flavourful filling, and adorn them with crisp slices of cucumber and radish. Their refreshing and peppery essence beautifully complements the creamy filling, creating a delightful contrast of flavours.

Try our smoked mackerel recipes for inspiration on pates, sandwiches, chowders and more.

7. Smoked salmon with prawns, horseradish cream & lime vinaigrette

Stack of smoked salmon, prawns and greens on a plate

This exquisite starter can be prepared in advance, with the final touch of dressed leaves added just before serving. It offers a perfect balance of decadence and lightness, ensuring you won't spoil your appetite for the main course. Additionally, it's gluten-free, catering to various dietary preferences with ease.

Discover more prawn starter recipes for an easy way to kick off your dinner.

8. Hot smoked salmon & beetroot platter

Plate of beetroot on top of yogurt with salmon and rocket

Present this delightful smoked salmon dish as a starter for special occasions like Christmas. Bursting with vibrant colours and varied textures from beetroot, rocket, and walnuts, it's sure to impress your guests. Notably, this dish is gluten-free and requires no cooking, making it a perfect addition to your Christmas spread. Everyone can enjoy it without missing out on the festivities, ensuring a memorable and inclusive celebration for all.

Indulge in our finest festive salmon recipes, perfect for Christmas.

9. Zingy grapefruit, prawn, avocado & tamarind salad

Platter of grapefruit, prawn, avocado and radish salad

Elevate your plate with a burst of vibrant colours and refreshing flavours courtesy of our blush red grapefruit salad, featuring succulent prawns, creamy avocado, and tangy tamarind. The Asian-inspired dressing, crafted from sesame oil, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, tamarind, and lime juice, adds a tantalising depth that perfectly complements the combination of prawns, grapefruit, and avocado.

Not just for breakfast, try our grapefruit recipes for inspiration on sweet and savoury ways to use this citrus fruit.

10. Potted crab

Dish of potted crab next to a slice of toast with it spread on top next to a lemon wedge

Prepare Tom Kerridge's tantalising crab starter with a subtle touch of smoked paprika for your next romantic date night. This dish can be made ahead, allowing you ample time to relax and savour the moment. Some friendly advice: consider saving the romantic kisses for before indulging in the dish, as your breath might not be the freshest afterwards.

Pick sweet brown and white meat from this grand shellfish and make our best ever crab recipes.

Vegetarian starters

11. Roasted red pepper soup with crispy croutons

Bowl of roasted red pepper soup topped with yogurt and croutons

Cosy up on chilly evenings with this vibrant soup infused with fiery chilli powder and harissa for an extra kick. While the crispy croutons are optional, they provide a satisfying crunch that elevates the dish. This flavourful starter not only warms you up but also boasts health benefits—it's low in calories and fat. Sticking to your diet shouldn't mean sacrificing flavour, and this soup proves just that.

Be bowled over by our nourishing soup recipes.

12. Halloumi, carrot & orange salad

Plate of carrot and orange salad topped with halloumi slices

Present this delightful halloumi, carrot, orange, and watercress salad with a captivating mustard and honey dressing as a simple yet satisfying starter. With just 20 minutes to prepare, it provides a nutritious serving of one of your 5-a-day. Plus, it caters to dietary preferences, being both gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly.

Celebrate the squeaky Cypriot cheese with our top halloumi recipes.

13. Baked feta with sesame & honey

Baked feta with sesame & honey

Combine the flavours of salty cheese and sweet honey to create a dish that’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Rich and decadent, serve with warm pitta bread for a communal starter, perfect for dipping and sharing amongst guests. You could even make your own pitta bread to further impress your guests. If you’d like to keep the dish gluten-free, then serve it with our gluten-free bread, or keep to the Mediterranean theme and try our gluten-free sundried tomato bread.

Bring a taste of Greece to your meals with our fabulous feta recipes.

14. Triple cheese & tarragon-stuffed mushrooms

Two mushrooms topped with cheese next to some salad leaves

Prepare these quick and flavourful triple cheese and tarragon-stuffed portobello mushrooms for a gluten-free starter that will be ready in just fifteen minutes. With only five ingredients needed and yielding two servings, this recipe is perfect for those impromptu date nights when you need a delicious dish in a pinch.

Discover our range of mouthwatering mushroom recipes.

15. Charred spring onions & romesco

Charred spring onions on a plate topped with romesco sauce

Despite its elegant appearance, this starter is surprisingly simple to prepare. Elevate your dinner party with this irresistible vegetarian dish, ready in just 20 minutes. Plus, you can prepare the sauce in advance for added convenience.

With our spring onion recipes, you can find more recipes that use the humble spring onion as the star of the dish.

Vegan starters

16. Padron peppers

Large dish of charred padron peppers topped with salt

Serve these padron peppers as a delightful side dish or starter, adding a Spanish-inspired touch to your meal. They're effortlessly simple to prepare with minimal prep and a quick cooking time of just five minutes.

Enjoy a taste of Spain without leaving your kitchen with our tapas recipes.

17. Moroccan-style vegetable platter

Platter of broad bean dip, beetroot slices, flatbreads, aubergine, tomatoes and mint

Delight your guests with this tempting Moroccan-style vegan platter, perfect for sharing as a starter. Infused with aromatic spices such as cumin, coriander, and paprika, it offers a delightful array of flavours to excite the palate. What's more, it's not just delicious—it's also packed with fibre, ensuring a healthy and satisfying choice for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Keep a crowd happy with these easy-sharing bites and grazing platter recipes.

18. Vegan terrine

Vegan terrine

Wow your guests with this vibrant vegan starter. A harmonious blend of plant-based soft cheese, herbs, and beetroot creates a delightful terrine topped with a crunchy walnut brittle for added texture. You can prepare both the beetroot and filling up to a day in advance and chill until needed. Even the walnut brittle can be made a week ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, ensuring minimal prep on the day of your dinner party.

Check out more of our terrine recipes.

19. Chicory cups with avocado & pink grapefruit salsa

Large plate of chicory leaves filled with chopped avocado and grapefruit

Kick off the festivities with these effortless and refreshing chicory cups filled with avocado and pink grapefruit salsa. This no-cook vegan starter is designed to serve a crowd, making it perfect for large gatherings with up to 18 guests. As chicory is in peak season in the UK from January to March, this dish becomes an ideal choice for springtime al fresco dining when the sun starts to shine and outdoor gatherings become more frequent.

Check out our chicory recipes for inspiration on using this leafy veg raw, cooked in tarts and more.

20. Tomato bruschetta

Slices of bread topped with tomato bruschetta

Make our simple tomato bruschetta as a classic Italian starter. Ideal for a summer gathering with friends, this easy dish is fresh, tasty and full of flavour. Prepare your tomato mixture ahead of time, and then when guests start to feel peckish, simply assemble it on lightly toasted sourdough slices.

Discover more Italian recipes, from pasta and pizza to rich and creamy tiramisu.


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