Impromptu guests? Too many people, not enough time? Shops closed? Fear not. Here's a list of ingredients to keep in your storecupboard, fridge and freezer so you can rustle up sumptuous canapés at the drop of a hat. Oh, and the recipes to go with them, of course.


Need even more nibble-sized inspiration? Check out our canapé recipe collection for sweet and savoury bites to get the party started.

1. Frozen pastry

Sausage rolls on board

It's always good to have a pack of pastry in the freezer as it opens up a world of canapé opportunities.

Puff pastry An essential for cheese straws and great for mini sausage rolls, you can also use it to make palmiers. Make them ahead of time and pop them in the freezer to use as and when. Simply cook for a little longer straight from frozen.

Shortcrust pastry Savoury tartlets can easily be made using ready-rolled shortcrust pastry. Top with smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese.

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Filo pastry Filo triangles are a freeze-ahead favourite. Spicy sweetcorn & feta samosas contain a good selection of storecupboard ingredients so you could assemble them on the day, but for ease, make them ahead, along with these spinach & ricotta filo bites.

Sweet shortcrust pastry Either keep a pack of sweet pastry and a jar of mincemeat in your stores, or simply make these from-the-freezer mince pies to cook straight from frozen over the festive season.

2. Parmesan

Cheese straws and pate

Ideal for simple cheese straws, you can also make moreish crisps to eat on their own, or to serve with a soup shot: heat the grill to high. Line a baking sheet with parchment and divide 175g grated parmesan into 12 long strips. Grill for 1 min or until the cheese has melted and is lightly golden. While still warm and a bit flexible, release the biscuits from the baking parchment with a palette or cutlery knife, then cool until firm.

3. Rye bread

Salmon toasts on plate

Cut rye bread or pumpernickel into small squares and use as a base for our bite-sized salt beef on rye bread with mustard sauce, roasted salmon rye toasts or in these retro prawn cocktail squares.

4. Frozen peas

Pea toasts on board

A few frozen peas can go a long way. A simple pea soup is quick to make for a tasty pre-dinner treat. Season it a little more than usual and serve in shot glasses or have a go at these summery pea & feta toasts. Try a twist on the classic dip with our pea & artichoke hummus, or bring some spice with our potato & pea samosas.

5. Mini baguettes

Selection of canapés on board

Keep a pack of skinny mini baguettes in the freezer for the perfect bruschetta base. Defrost, slice and toast in the oven, then add a smear of tomato purée, some black olives, capers and a handful of other Mediterranean ingredients (such as jarred peppers or artichokes) from the storecupboard. Our niçoise toasts are bound to go down a storm. Need an easy, non-meaty alternative nibble? Try our vegan 'smoked salmon' toasts, with brined carrot ribbons.

6. New potatoes

Mini potatoes with sour cream and chives

Mini jacket potatoes are always a winning party bite; add sour cream and a few snipped chives for a cute canapé. Try budget-friendly twists, too, like our mini jackets with caper soured cream. Turn a humble spud into a tapas-style dish with our baby potatoes in sea salt with herb salsa. The herb-crusted tatties and zingy salsa are a match made in heaven.

7. Chipolatas

Canapé selection on slate

Turn a standard sausage into something special with our simple tips. Our glazed honey & mustard sausages are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. You could also try a sticky barbecue sauce to glaze for a meaty and moreish nibble with very little prep. For a burst of festive flavours, try our cranberry & ginger sausages. Freeze a pack of chipolatas and defrost on the day.

8. Smoked salmon and crabmeat

Avocado toasts with quail's eggs on plate

Where would we be without smoked salmon on a special occasion? Serve on toasted mini baguette slices, with melba toast, or on rye, then garnish simply with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper, or a dollop of crème fraîche and chives. Make a batch of our elegant smoked salmon & herb blinis in under 20 minutes, or try our Irish-inspired potato cakes with smoked salmon & cream cheese. Browse our smoked salmon collection for more fabulous fishy inspiration.

A couple of tins of crabmeat go an equally long way. Try mixing with a little lemon juice, mayonnaise and parsley for another simple yet stylish seafood topping. Make our mini avo toasts with crunchy radish and zingy lemon, or add some heat with our crab, lime & chilli toasts.

9. Ready-to-serve nibbles

Hummus with vegetables and pitta bread

A selection of help-yourself bites bulk out party food and require very little effort from you. Check use-by dates to make sure they'll last until you need them. Choose your favourites from:

  • hummus, tapenade or other dips
  • prosciutto, salami or chorizo slices for a platter
  • marinated olives, artichoke hearts or roasted peppers
  • nuts
  • veg for crudités
  • pitta and breadsticks

Go to a little more trouble and make our rosemary-flavoured olives, a bowlful of sweet caramelised nuts, or our silky smooth luxury hummus.

10. Baking basics

Chocolate traybake on board

Stock up on the storecupboard essentials; eggs, butter, self-raising flour, baking powder, sugar, chocolate.

A traybake cut into small squares is a great way to create a sweet canapé in a hurry. Try our crowd-pleasing banoffee traybake or our fruity orange & passion fruit traybake. Alternatively, buy in some chestnut purée and double cream to make mini Mont Blancs.

As well as the big ten, it's also worth buying a few well chosen items from the following list, depending on your personal taste:

  • fresh herbs for flavour and garnish
  • sour cream, crème fraîche, mayonnaise or cream cheese for toppings
  • lemons or limes for flavour as well as a zesty garnish
  • capers or cornichons as a garnish
  • blue cheese or mozzarella for toppings
  • icing sugar to decorate

More ideas for party food

How to style a Christmas party
Easy finger food ideas
Our ultimate party food collection
Vegetarian party recipes


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