How Do I Choose the Best Fall Appetizers?

Cynde Gregory

When autumn leaves begin to paint the trees in a kaleidoscope of colors, home cooks everywhere begin to think about food in a different way. Summer fare is typically lighter, such as salads made with berries or grapes as well as standard salad veggies, cold soups, and anything that can be grilled. In autumn, the garden yields heartier veggies, and diners are drawn to dishes that complement cooler weather. Choosing the best fall appetizers is largely a matter of taste, but the wise cook takes advantage of seasonal treats such as maple sugar, nuts, and cranberries when planning an autumn appetizer tray.

Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.
Salmon canapés with crème fraîche, caviar and dill.

Nothing says autumn like a wheel of baked brie. The simplest of fall appetizers requires little more than baking the wheel until cheese oozes and serving it with hearty crackers or bread. One way to dress up a baked brie wheel is by adding some chopped pecans or walnuts and a little dried fruit, such as golden raisins or dates. Cooks can top the brie with strawberry, blueberry, or mixed fruit jam and wrap it in puff pastry prior to baking for a brilliant presentation.

Winter squash can be used to make fall appetizers.
Winter squash can be used to make fall appetizers.

One use for any leftover brie is to spread it on small rounds of bread together with onions that have been cooked in apple or pear cider. These open-faced delights are especially yummy served with thinly sliced apple and sprinkled with walnuts. These will disappear off the serving platter even before it gets set down.

Blueberries are often used in fall appetizers.
Blueberries are often used in fall appetizers.

Cheese balls are perfect fall appetizers and easy to create. Cream cheese and shredded cheddar or jack cheese form the base, and creative cooks can decide what to add. Some pumpkin puree adds taste and a decidedly autumn-like orange color. Incorporating finely minced apple offers crunch.

An antipasti platter.
An antipasti platter.

A wonderful savory winter squash or pumpkin spread requires a number of ingredients but is well worth the effort. Cooked and cubed squash or pumpkin, roasted pumpkin seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes or tiny patio tomatoes that have been oven roasted is where this appetizer begins. Minced garlic and onion and some fresh sage or basil adds complexity to the flavors. Softened cream cheese or a little sour cream works, too, for those who like creamy treats.

Stuffed mushrooms provide a wide variety of fall appetizer options.
Stuffed mushrooms provide a wide variety of fall appetizer options.

Another tried-and-true favorite among the wealth of fall appetizers is the wonderfully versatile stuffed mushroom. The stuffing can be as simple as seasoned bread crumbs or can offer a symphony of tastes to savor by adding blue or cheddar cheese along with minced onion and garlic. Other possible additions include cream cheese and pine nuts or other chopped nuts. For diners who don’t restrict meat, sausage or ham makes these little morsels into a mini meal.

Fall appetizers might make use of roasted pumpkin seeds.
Fall appetizers might make use of roasted pumpkin seeds.
Ginger's spicy flavor is a perfect complement to many squash or pumpkin appetizers.
Ginger's spicy flavor is a perfect complement to many squash or pumpkin appetizers.
A seasonal platter with walnuts, pears, and cheese.
A seasonal platter with walnuts, pears, and cheese.
Caviar on toast is an elegant accompaniment to fall soups.
Caviar on toast is an elegant accompaniment to fall soups.
Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops.
Broiled, bacon-wrapped scallops.
Sausage rolls are a popular finger food.
Sausage rolls are a popular finger food.
Chicken wings are a popular appetizer.
Chicken wings are a popular appetizer.
At an autumn party, let guests assemble their own canapes.
At an autumn party, let guests assemble their own canapes.

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