This collection of 46 unique Italian appetizers features savory meatballs, simple salads, and crowd-pleasing skewers that are perfect for your Italian feast!
As someone who claims an Italian heritage, I’m just tickled to put this list of Italian appetizers together.
I grew up with my dad’s whole family eating and cooking and getting together for any reason or holiday, noshing antipasto and pizzelle cookies, and trying to hear each other over bickering or belly laughing (or both).
Antipasto, the Italian word for “appetizer,” is a traditional meal starter for many families back in the day and is certainly available in some form at many restaurants serving Italian food.
Antipasto, sometimes spelled “antipasti,” as the spread of Italian snacks, often includes cured meats like prosciutto or capicola salami, olives, peperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, pickled artichokes, cheese, and giardiniera—vegetables like carrots and bell pepper in oil or vinegar.
Think of it like a charcuterie board with an Italian flair!
My family rejected anchovies, though!
We stepped right out of that tradition!
We’ve curated some yummy recipes from around the web that will add-chef’s kiss-to your entrees, setting your Italian meal up for “mangia!”—success!!
What makes appetizers Italian, you ask?
I tend to navigate the menu based on how much tomato sauce, oregano, and basil a recipe might feature, but they are so much more than that.
Fresh tomatoes, olives, pasta, crusty bread, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, balsamic, and truffles, all add to what I have in my head that screams “Italian food.”
Here is a selection of delicious Italian Appetizers to start your Italian feast off right.
Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer that is always a winner.
The thick crusts of bread topped with fresh diced tomato, balsamic vinegar, and herbs are just so delicious.
Ripe romas and tangy balsamic vinegar were made to go together and in this recipe.
The combination stirs the taste buds perfectly.
Keep in mind that the bread should be warm and toasty, and the topping should be chilled.
So plan ahead with this one.
Leftover grilled tomatoes make an amazing bruschetta, just FYI.
Italian meatballs, when cooked properly, will have a slight, crisp char on the outside yet tender on the inside.
My grandmother made very large meatballs.
They were round but, otherwise, were the size of softballs! You don’t have to make yours this big, but one meatball was the meal when she was cooking.
The bread crumbs you use to bind the meatballs should be fresh and not stale.
If you want the best, consider making your breadcrumbs.
The sauce you put on the meatballs is as important as the meatballs themselves.
So choose a marinara sauce that will speak to your crowd.
An antipasto platter is the appetizer plate that you serve before you serve your main pasta dish.
As I mentioned above, in my house, the antipasto platter tends to be the star of the show.
We jam ours with various olives, cheeses, and meats and offer sliced Italian bread on the side.
There are a few ingredients that are standard for each platter.
Fresh mozzarella or even marinated mozzarella balls are key.
Then there is the meat which is generally salami, pepperoni, or both.
Feel comfortable experimenting with this Italian appetizer because there is no wrong way to put it together.
This is an adaptation of the classic Caprese salad.
This appetizer is so easy to make.
You only need cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, mini mozzarella balls, and your best balsamic vinegar.
I do recommend that you turn the balsamic vinegar into a glaze, but that is simple and only takes a few minutes.
Caprese salad is one of my favorite Italian appetizers.
It’s easy to make or add on top of a bed of mixed greens.
The rich flavor of the balsamic vinegar against the juicy perfection of a tomato is just mouthwatering.
Then when you combine that with torn fresh basil leaves and Mozzarella, you can make a simple yet out-of-this-world starter.
It is a classic appetizer that everyone enjoys.
If you want a fresh-tasting authentic Italian treat, consider marinating your olives.
It is easier to do than you probably imagine.
Another option to keep life simple is to run to your closest Central Market and hit up their olive bar.
There you can pick out a large variety of marinated olives.
That is what I do, and it works out super well.
Italian nachos are crunchy and covered with cheese, black olives, and creamy alfredo sauce.
Instead of tortilla chips, the toppings are piled on crunchy fried wontons.
The cheese is mozzarella, and they have sliced black olives and banana peppers.
Then add in chicken and diced bell peppers to boot.
These are packed with flavor, and now I need some.
Fried ravioli stuffed with cheese cooked until golden brown with that perfect crunch is heavenly.
Then if you sprinkle it with a bit of shredded parmesan and minced parsley while it is still hot, you have a delicious Italian appetizer.
Finally, finish off this appetizer with a dipping marinara sauce.
Baked shrimp stuffed with breadcrumbs, crushed garlic, parmesan cheese, and herbs is always a big hit.
Serve this appetizer with chilled white wine, and the flavors will meld together.
This is an appetizer that you want to serve warmly, so keep that in mind when menu planning.
10. Fried Mozzarella
Crunchy, gooey fried mozzarella is so fun to pop in your mouth.
When the cheese is perfectly melted, they stretch out to create a fun treat.
The trick that makes this recipe, so simple to create is that it uses string cheese.
You can cut the string cheese into cubes, then batter and fry it.
While it isn’t required, I love to dip my fried cheese bites in a tangy marinara sauce.
11. Fried Calamari
When fried calamari is cooked properly, it is golden, crispy, and light.
As you will see in this recipe, it is recommended to fry up frozen calamari.
The trick to making good calamari is to not overcook it.
If you do, it will become rubbery.
So the moment that they start to turn golden brown is when you want to pull them out of the oil.
I prefer a garlic aioli dipping sauce for these instead of the Peri-Peri sauce referenced in the recipe.
Stuffed mushrooms are the best IF they are well done.
When we eat out, it is always a given that we will order these.
We don’t even need to discuss it.
Our Stuffed Mushroom recipe is made using portobello mushrooms and stuffed with turkey sausage, pepper, and goat cheese.
We keep the recipe simple but always wind up adding in something extra.
Feel free to experiment with this recipe and add your favorite herbs and spices.
13. Garlic Bread
When garlic bread is loaded with butter, garlic, and parmesan cheese and is toasted to perfection, I can’t get enough of it.
My struggle is forcing myself to stop eating it and eat other food. (Hello, vegetables, girl.)
When it’s hot and crispy, I pull it apart and dip it in my sauce—comfort food heaven!
Whatever you decide to top your garlic bread with, the secret is to start with fresh bread.
Pro tip: How to reheat garlic bread (as tasty as day one!)
14. Garlic Knots
Then God gave us garlic knots, and the world has since been a happier place.
The key to delicious garlic knots is to use about five times as much minced garlic as you think you should.
The secret to easy garlic knots is to use pizza dough.
Starting with this foundation makes the recipe quick and simple.
These bite-sized appetizers are unique visually and in taste.
With this appetizer, you get all of the Italian flavors and the heartiness of chicken.
You cook the lasagna noodles until they are al dente, and while that happens, you cook up the chicken.
You wrap the chicken in the noodle, then top it with a spicy marinara sauce and mozzarella.
The best part is that you use creamy ricotta cheese to hold it together.
Whipped ricotta, sliced strawberries, fresh basil, and tangy balsamic on a perfectly toasted crusty bread.
This is a strawberry balsamic crostini, and when I eat one, I am full of delight.
When putting this together, find the freshest loaf of french bread that you can find.
Also, get the most beautiful strawberries you can buy because they are the star of this show.
You can make this fluffy and airy bread at home, and when you do, you can control the outstanding flavor.
It is important to note that you will need to allow the dough time to rest.
So this is a plan-ahead Italian appetizer.
But the results are so worth the wait.
Focaccia bread is pronounced “fuh-KA-cha” and it is an Italian yeast bread that is topped with salt, herbs, and olive oil.
This roll up is creamy and filled with everything delicious.
A pinwheel is a tortilla that has cream cheese, mozzarella, pesto, and other goodies spread across it.
Then it is rolled up and sliced into round pieces.
This is finger food that is sure to be a hit at your next event.
These deviled eggs have fresh basil, garlic, and lemon-parmesan panko.
So this is a unique Italian flair to an American picnic classic.
21. Hot Caprese Dip
This hot dip is made of cheeses, herbs, and diced tomatoes.
The big question is will you use toasty bread or chips as your dipping device?
You can put this cheesy appetizer together in advance and then throw it in the oven when you are ready.
Basil pesto is so darn flavorful.
So when I discovered that you could add it to hummus and have an Italian-themed appetizer, I got excited.
Burrata is a very special cheese.
It is a mild creamy cheese wrapped in mozzarella cheese.
It is special and beautiful.
When it melts, it turns into something so rich and creamy that you know there will not be any leftovers.
Don’t let the simplicity of this appetizer fool you because it is rich in flavor.
This appetizer is made from stuffed phyllo dough cups.
Phyllo dough is such a fun and flaky pastry.
These cups are stuffed with goat cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and other yummies.
These are so easy to pop in your mouth one right after another, so I recommend making more than you think you need.
Dough balls stuffed with mozzarella cheese and pesto then brushed with garlic butter and herbs–sounds so delicious!
This appetizer is also made with pizza dough to make it easier on you.
My only real tip with this perfect recipe is to use more garlic.
More garlic is always the answer to any question.
This is such an elegant appetizer that just simply tastes refreshing.
We can’t stop making this one in our house.
If you can get your hands on heirloom tomatoes for this recipe, do it!
Whatever kind of tomatoes you do use, just make sure that they are firm and ripe.
Hot tip: Learn how long tomatoes last.
Let’s be honest, making bread can be a bit intimidating, but this recipe is fairly easy.
Well, it is easy for a bread recipe.
You don’t need a bread machine for this one.
It rises in two hours.
The ingredients required are flour, salt, water, and dry yeast.
Good things come to those who wait, right?
This Italian appetizer is exactly what it claims to be.
It is a fig slice topped with gorgonzola cheese and wrapped in prosciutto.
This appetizer is beautiful on the plate and quick to put together.
There is a piece of arugula tucked in under the prosciutto for style and grace.
Don’t forget to add that extra touch of fresh cracked pepper on top.
These polenta pieces are lightly dipped in Italian breadcrumbs and fried up to just enough to make them crispy.
Then they are placed on a serving tray and topped with freshly made basil pesto.
Try making the pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts and see how you like the flavor.
It can be fun to experiment with different ingredients.
Zucchini is a frequently used vegetable in Italian cooking, so it was easy to think Italian when creating this fritter appetizer.
I cook these in the air fryer just to keep things simple.
Guests will snatch these up so fast that you should double the batch.
Fondue is a fun finger food that is both sophisticated and fairly easy.
Gnocchi dipped in cheese fondue.
Tortellini dipped in cheese fondue.
This is just gonna make everyone smile.
So a stromboli is all of the goodness of pizza but nestled inside the pizza dough instead of an open face and flat.
You can use pre-made pizza dough for this easy recipe.
When it’s done, cut it into strips, and–bam–you have an appetizer that was simple to make.
Serve with warmed marinara for dipping.
Man, I sure love a hot dip.
As a young adult, my entertaining abilities got stuck in mixing french onion dip packets into sour cream and leaving it at that.
But this is real slow food, baby.
This Spinach Artichoke Dip is made in a slow cooker, which makes life easier.
Throw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, and then head out to find a nice crusty bread to use as your vessel to eat this delicious cheesy appetizer.
I want to caution you because soon you will find marinating mozzarella highly addictive.
The mozzarella will marinate in olive oil, garlic, and fresh seasonings.
This recipe will only take you 10 minutes to put together.
Then allow it to marinate for as long as you can stand it.
Wait at least 10 minutes.
Yes, it will be a tough, long torturous 10 minutes but do your best.
Olive Ascolane is tasty green olives stuffed with meat and deep-fried, named after the city of Ascoli in the central Italian region of Le Marche.
The chefs of affluent homes likely created them to make use of scraps of meat that would otherwise go to waste.
Meats, such as chicken, beef, and pork, are used to stuff the olives before being braised in white wine.
Avoiding breaking the olives while stuffing them is the most challenging part.
The question is, how?
Keep this recipe, and learn all the tips and tricks.
37. Eggplant Pizza
This pizza recipe uses eggplant not as a topping but as a crust.
It’s a fresh take on the classic one, especially if you crave pizza but are not into extra calories.
You can get more vegetables in every bite while still enjoying all the delicious pizza flavors.
Also, you don’t need as much cheese as you think.
A light cheese coating melts and browns beautifully, giving you enough to fulfill your cravings without overpowering the eggplant.
When there’s too much cheese, it becomes rubbery and takes over.
With classic pizza toppings like fresh basil and oregano, this dish will have you reaching for more and more.
I get an intense sweet tooth sometimes, and while I do give in to temptation on occasion, it’s nice to be able to satisfy my cravings with something that comes naturally sweet.
So, let’s taste some dates.
Among variants of dates, Medjool dates have an indescribable caramelly sweetness and chewiness.
They’re larger and flatter, making them perfect for stuffing and filling.
When combined with creamy goat cheese that is both buttery and airy and slightly sweet, tangy mascarpone, it delivers a sweet-savory combination that is out of this world.
Wrapping them in salty prosciutto will give them an authentically Italian touch.
If you’re fond of pesto, you’ll love this cheesy pesto bread because it’s easy to tear apart and stuffed with flavorful, vibrant basil pesto.
The dough used to make the homemade bread is laid back, and the resulting loaves are light, fresh, and fluffy.
Honey, olive oil, and an egg enrich the dough with flavor and tenderness.
It has a gorgeous golden brown exterior and a soft, supple interior.
Some little melting cheese, such as Parmesan, to complement the savory pesto makes these rolls truly spectacular.
Quick recipes for appetizers and dips are a must in my book, and I’m sure for you, too.
What could be better than nibbling on grilled bread spread with creamy ricotta and popping the whole thing in your mouth at once?
The bright lemon and sticky honey are a lovely match to the fluffy ricotta.
Almost sweet enough for dessert (and it can be!) thanks to the swirling of olive oil and honey on top.
For a dash of woodsy, piney, and peppery flavor, sprinkle on freshly cracked peppers and fresh rosemary (or your favorite herb).
Dip fresh vegetables or fruit like strawberries in this lemon ricotta dip, or serve it alongside crackers or crostini.
41. Italian Calzone
Originating in Naples, Italy, Calzone swiftly became a popular street dish since it could be eaten fast and efficiently while standing.
I love calzones because they’re like pizza in a little “pocket,” with all types of savory twists tucked into a chewy, golden crust that bakes up beautifully hot and pillowy.
With the caramelized onions, meaty mushrooms, broccolini, and sweet butternut squash, the mozzarella adds a variety of creamy textures and flavors that I enjoy.
What’s more, it fills the kitchen with the aroma of a warm, cozy Italian restaurant.
Dunk it in some marinara sauce.
From the aromatic bay leaves to the sweet yellow onions to the layer of stringy cheesy breadcrumb coating, this dish for beef spiedini is bursting with authentic Italian tastes.
The breadcrumb covering the thin cut of beef keeps the meat tender and moist while crisp outside.
Spiedini is traditionally prepared on a grill or in a pan with olive oil.
This dish, on the other hand, is much more hassle-free because it just requires a quick bake in a hot oven and a light coating of olive oil.
Parmesan is the one cheese I always have in my fridge.
As if by magic, anything this cheese touches becomes greatly more delicious, and it’s also quite tasty when eaten on its own, especially when baked into delicate Parmesan crisps.
They’re delectably briny, savory, and crispy all simultaneously.
You can eat these parmesan chips as a low-carb treat or garnish them on salads and soups for some extra texture.
These Italian Taralli are a mashup between a pretzel, cracker, and a breadstick but taste far better.
It’s a yeast-free, olive oil-and-white-wine-infused dough that’s nice and pillowy.
It’s lightly toasted and scrumptious.
These fennel-seed-studded, ring-shaped pastries are boiled before they’re baked for that wonderful airy texture.
Nothing beats the indescribable freshness of fully ripe juicy cantaloupe, and the salty taste of Prosciutto makes a sublime perfection with its salty-sweet contrast.
Finger foods like these melon chunks on skewers are a lot of fun, and they also give a splash of color and a summery, vibrant vibe to the appetizer table.
This recipe is no fuss, no cook, and comes together in no time.
Cheesy, ooey-gooey risotto encased in a golden, crunchy crumb.
What else can I say—the Italians are brilliant!
Using a light coating of Panko bread crumbs to the compacted rice ball, arancini barely absorb any oil and doesn’t have the typical fried flavor or texture.
The best way to enjoy them is warm out of the oven when the cheese inside is all melty and yummy.
Even if “fried” foods aren’t your thing, this dish will win you over.
The bottom line
There are no rules whatsoever that say you have to make these mouthwatering Italian appetizers to serve BEFORE dinner.
I hereby give you the freedom to make these AS DINNER.
Or how about as part of the brunch table?
Go forth and enjoy these Italian appetizers any time of the week and feel good about your decisions.
Looking for more Italian favorites?
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- Italian Meatballs
- Antipasto Platter
- Caprese Skewers
- Caprese Salad
- Marinated Olives
- Italian Nachos
- Toasted Ravioli
- Stuffed Shrimp
- Fried Mozzarella
- Fried Calamari
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Garlic Bread
- Garlic Knots
- Mini Chicken Parmesan Lasagne Rolls
- Strawberry Balsamic Crostini
- Herbed Focaccia Bread
- Pesto Tortellini Skewers
- Pesto Pinwheel Roll-Ups
- Italian Deviled Eggs
- Hot Caprese Dip
- Basil Pesto Hummus
- Burrata Crostini With Tomato Jam & Pesto
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Goat Cheese Bites
- Pesto Mozzarella Stuffed Dough Balls
- Marinated Tomatoes
- Rustic Italian Crusty Bread
- Fig, Prosciutto & Gorgonzola
- Tiny Fig Pizzas
- Parmesan Crusted Polenta
- Cheesy Baked Zucchini Fritters
- Gnocchi Cheese Fondue
- Pepperoni Stromboli
- Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Marinated Mozzarella Balls
- Fried Stuffed Olives
- Eggplant Pizza
- Cheese-Stuffed Dates With Prosciutto
- Pesto Pull-Apart Rolls
- Whipped Ricotta With Honey & Lemon
- Italian Calzone
- Spiedini Alla Siciliana
- Black Pepper Parmesan Crisps
- Taralli (Italian Pretzel)
- Prosciutto With Melon & Mint
- Skim through our Italian Appetizers list.
- Select the appetizer you’re looking for.
- Prep the ingredients as instructed.
- Spill your thoughts on our Facebook page!