Suggestions for simple canapes

Joined Jun 16, 2015
So like the title says, I need a couple of suggestions for really simple, and I mean REALLY simple canapes. Especially ones that don't need any really special ingredients or take too much time to prepare.

Long story short my name was mentioned by a friend, who knew I took up culinary, and now I'm going to be catering for an event in less than a week, due to the previous caterer cancelling due to illness (food poisoning strangely enough). Unfortunately I'm more of a baker, taking up a full culinary course rather than only baking just because I could, so I have next to no experience in this matter. Only upside is, since it was last minute, my friends, who are also coordinating the event, volunteered to help me with the cooking but only one of them has any experience working in a kitchen outside their homes.

I already have the entrees and desserts for the buffet as well as salads planned out but nothing in the way of canapes, the ones I see online either A)take too much time to prepare (mainly due to the number of guests and lack of experienced helpers), B) too costly with the remaining budget, or C) use ingredients not commonly found here. So in short I need some that are easy and simple to make and uses commonly available ingredients.

I was aiming for maybe 3 or 4 different kinds to have enough variety. We're expecting about 300-400 people, possible more, so simplicity really is what I'm aiming for here especially since I don't have a lot of skilled/experienced help.

Thanks in advance.


Joined Jul 5, 2013
Here's an idea to play with, using a marinade and sauce of choice.

Firecracker Shrimp in Won Ton Wrappers

Bloody Mary Gazpacho Shooters topped with a shrimp.

Pesto deviled eggs topped with toasted pine nuts or a shrimp.

Smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and dill on party-sized pumpernickel or rye.

Mini (duck filled?) tacos.

Gyoza/won tons/pot stickers filled w duck etc, or whatever you like.
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Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Meat skewers, or satays, are quick and simple and people love them.  Soak wooden skewers, thread on thin strips of marinated chicken, beef, pork or shrimp, grill, chill and reheat at the event.  These are pretty quick to make and you can make a wide variety just by changing the marinade and/or the dipping sauce that you serve with them.  For a lighter version skewer grape tomatoes with small balls of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic syrup.  These are a little clichéd, but people still love them and they are simple and quick.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Some classic finger sandwiches, easier if you can find horizontally slice pullman loaves. 

Wonton wrappers baked in muffin tins make great little cups for a salad.

Stuffed cherry tomatoes with goat cheese or...

Celery sticks filled with flavored cream cheese.

Fruit skewers

Baguette slices (toasted?) with topping. 

Anything served on individual spoons. 

Cucumber rounds with various toppings like salmon pate. 

Sweet pea guacamole

Little red new potatoes hollowed out as a container for….

Deviled eggs with different fillings and a garnish.

roast filet mignon with small rolls for little sandwiches. 

profiteroles/choux paste with savory fillings. 

cooked mussels on the half shell with topped with...

Sausage slices with mustard/honey topping. 

chilled soup in a cucumber cup.

Cheese stuffed mushrooms.

A simple terrine or pate.

Spreadable pate' with bread slices. 

Belgian endive leaves as an individual serving container for chicken salad.

Antipasto platter.

Hummus with bread slices.

Baba ganoush? with bread slices.

Okay, now I'm hungry. Good luck.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Large party sounds like a nice little (unexpected) payday coming your way.

Will the cocktail hour nibbles be passed or stationary?



Joined Jul 5, 2013
Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet) cut in wedges or squares, served on party picks.

Sliders, sliders, sliders - pulled pork, etc.

Roast beef and asparagus bundles. Smear roast beef w horseradish/mayo, wrap around chilled / cooked asparagus. Secure/wrap bundles w scallion.

Pizza squares - smoked salmon/cream cheese, etc.
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Joined Jun 16, 2015

That's a lot more than I was expecting. Still, I really appreciate the help. I'm way past the deep end here and yeah, the unexpected payday is pretty much the only upside here. Never really coordinated an event like this, worked one but certainly not as kitchen head, and despite working with friends, the fact that all but one won't know most of what needs to be done is definitely a setback.

I'll definitely need to check around to see which ingredients are available and their costs so I can finalize the menu. Still, this definitely helps a bunch. Thank a lot everyone.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
How formal of an event? Informal setting can be a simple meats, cheeses, vegetables, dips, crackers spread and people help themselves.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
You only need something for them to nibble on as you are feeding them dinner.

For that size crowd the standard is at least 4 different items and 6 pieces per guest but you can talk to the hosts about setting out lots of nibbles  since you want the meal to shine.

Have a server on bowl and napkin refill duty...nothing looks worse than an empty bowl.

@MaryB  's suggestions plus nuts, kibble (not kibbeh lol) a couple of cheese wheels with fruit, veg, crackers and crusty bread.

Then prepare 3/4 different more substantial apps (creamy soup shooters and fancy proteins) to pass.

Good luck and if you need more technical advice don't be shy about asking in the catering forums.


edit.... now that I think of it one bite portions of Kibbeh might be a great idea after all !

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Joined Jun 16, 2015
Hi again. I just wanted to thank you all for all suggestions. Event finished just a couple of hours ago and everything was pretty much a success in my eyes. And by success I mean nothing went wrong that couldn't be fixed, there were no major complaints about the food (just a few minor ones about some food items lacking in flavor), and I survived the night, and the previous day of prepping.

Though I certainly hope I'm never volunteered for something like this again. Everyone I worked with were former classmates, all still good friends, but their general lack of skill, and knowledge in some cases, slowed us down quite a lot. I spent more time running around fixing mistakes, mistakes that could have been avoided if they'd asked me whenever they came to something they weren't sure of instead of guessing. 

Oh well. They event is done, the day is done, and I can get back to focusing on my baking.

Again, a huge thank you to everyone. I really appreciate the help.

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