The best starter recipes are the ones you feel would be most suitable for the occasion, plus those which go nicely before your chosen main course. Perhaps you want to make a hot meat starter recipe, a delicately flavoured fish starter or something with eggs, cheese or even fruit.
We have a lot of different starter recipes for you to browse and choose from, as well as plenty of handy starter making tips. You can make starters for two people to enjoy over a cosy dinner or lots of different snacks for a buffet or a big party.
You will find plenty of choice here, when it comes to starter recipes - everything from classic British starter recipes to exotic international fare. The starters you serve are the first food your guests will eat and they set the tone for the rest of the meal, so it important to know how to make the best starter recipes.
Some of the most famous starter recipes are meat-based ones. Succulent beef teriyaki, elegant carpaccio, chicken sate, rissoles and bacon-wrapped dates are just some of your options if you are thinking about meat starter recipes. You can make a meat starter no matter what you are going to make for the main course. It is better not to use the same meat in the starter and the main course but you can use variety.
What about a chicken starter recipe if you are having a beef main course or a pork starter recipe if you are serving chicken after? As well as contrasting the type of meat or poultry you use, you can contrast flavours. A sweet starter recipe might be good before a spicy main course for example.
Let your imagination guide you when you are deciding which delicious meat starter recipes to make.
Seafood starters like prawn cocktail, mussels or crab salad are classic dishes and they are simple to make. You can also use fish like cod, herring or trout to make tasty fish starter recipes. Canned mackerel can be made into a wonderful mackerel pate and caviar can be used both as a garnish and as an ingredient in your fish starter recipes.
A delicate fish starter is delicious before a meat-based main course but it could also go before a vegetarian or fish main course. Prawn cocktail would make a good starter before a fish risotto or seafood paella for a seafood-lovers' dinner.
When it's summer you aren't going to want to be standing over a hot hob. This is when tasty salad recipes, easy chilled fish starters and similar recipes come into their own. You can use fresh seasonal fruit like strawberries, watermelon or peaches for fish or chicken salads, chilled fruit and cheese kebabs and to make little tarts and pastries.
Vol-au-vents are nice to serve in the summer and anything else which is light and flavourful without being stodgy or heavy. Chilled soup recipes like homemade gazpacho make great summer starter recipes as well.
If you are having a dinner party and making an elaborate main course, the odds are that you would prefer something easy for the starters, unless you are going all out to impress!
There are lots of different hot starters you can make in advance and warm through, as well as cold starter recipes that you can make in the morning and leave in the fridge until you are ready to serve them. Remember that the whole point of starters is to give your guests something to nibble on while they wait for the main course, so a quick and easy starter recipe is nearly always ideal.
Quick and easy doesn't have to mean boring though - not at all! Some of the most classic and famous starter recipes are very basic. Parma ham draped over melon wedges is a classic appetizer, as is a five ingredient chicken salad or warm asparagus with two sauces. Nobody will be disappointed with a starter like that and you even find similar dishes in top restaurants (for ten times the price they will cost you to make, of course!)
For a buffet you can make a selection of simple snacks like cheese and olives on sticks, and then a few more elaborate ones too. Mix and match so there is something for everyone.
Enjoy looking through the easy starter recipes we have to offer and hopefully you will find the perfect ideas for starter recipes to make your dinner party or event go with a bang and be a wonderful success in every way!
Meat starters are very popular and you can choose from beef starters, pork starters, lamb starters, chicken starters and many more delicious starter recipes. Meat starters can be served before a fish course or before a meat course if you are going to be serving a different meat. Our meat starters look just as good as they taste and they won't take you too long to make. If you have carnivores coming for dinner, take a look at some of our best meat starter recipes.
Meat starters are one of the most loved types of starters and there is plenty of scope if you want to make something full flavoured and meaty. What about homemade meatballs or chicken sate? You can serve an elegant meat starter like carpaccio or an easy starter recipe with meat such as beef and potato rissoles, parma ham with melon or even spare ribs. Sausage rolls are great for buffets and so are mini empanadas or little meat pasties. There are hundreds of meat starter recipes to choose from.
Authentic Italian Meatballs with Basil
Aberdeen Sausage Starter Recipe
Beef and Potato Rissoles Recipe
Chicken and Walnut Pate Recipe
Curried Chicken Waldorf Salad Recipe
Parma Ham with Melon Recipe
Sticky Spare Ribs with Chinese Leaves and Noodles Recipe
Easy Marinated Chicken Skewers
Fish starters are great if you are planning to serve a meat main course. Fish starters include popular seafood starters such as mussels, prawn cocktail and more and we also have fish soup starter recipes in our soup section if you fancy a light, fragrant soup dish or a chowder. Fish starters are usually delicately flavoured and lightly fragranced but you might like to make a boldly flavoured fish starter recipe instead, depending on which fish you are using.
Fish starters don't have to be fiddly or difficult and there are lots of three or four ingredient fish starter recipes you can choose from if you want to keep things simple yet serve impressive and attractive food. Crabsticks, ocean pinks and tinned fish are low budget options if you want to make something tasty but inexpensive. You can make amazing fish pate with tinned fish or use ocean pinks to make a summer seafood starter. We also have prawn, lobster and crab starters if you want to make something memorable for a special occasion.
Hot Herring Starter Recipe with Mustard Sauce
Classic Prawn Cocktail Main Site Photo Recipe
Anchovy and Melon Salad Recipe
Catalan Mussels Recipe
Herring Potato and Dill Salad Recipe
Oysters in Chive Sauce Recipe
Prawn Cocktail Recipe
Tasty Tuna Fishcake Recipe
Fish Mousse Recipe
Aromatic Crab Cakes
Seafood Soup Recipe
Vegetarian starters are delicious, no matter whether your whole dinner is vegetarian or whether your main course is fish or meat based. Our vegetarian starter recipes include egg and cheese based dishes and we also use herbs and spices to make exciting dishes rather than bland ones. Not using meat, poultry or fish doesn't have to be a problem and our exciting vegetarian starter recipes are a testament to that.
Our vegetarian starters include dishes like baked camembert, bean salad, mini onion quiches and easy Italian bread salad. If you prefer not to use meat or fish, there are plenty of delicious vegetarian starter recipes to choose from, based on eggs, vegetables, cheese, nuts or a combination of these. Vegetarian starters can be hot, warm or chilled and there are some really good vegetarian dip recipes you can make too, like an artichoke dip or homemade hummus. If you want something unusual or more strongly flavoured, a starter recipe like pears with stilton and curd cheese might be right up your street.
Colourful Tuscan Bread Salad
Artichoke Dip Recipe
Bean Salad with Mozzarella Recipe
Camembert Baked in its Box Recipe
Mini Onion Quiches Recipe
Orange and Avocado Salad Recipe
Pears with Stilton and Curd Cheese Recipe
The Best Devilled Eggs
Soup starters make a great beginning to any meal and there are literally thousands of different soup starter recipes to choose from, including meat, fish or vegetables. Ideas include minestrone soup, tomato soup, vegetable soup, chicken soup and lots of others too. A consomme or thin, clear soup is nice if you are going to serve a heavy main meal and you don't want everyone to be full before they begin!
Chilled soups might be more unusual than hot soup recipes but they are wonderful if you are thinking about summer starter recipes. You can use fruit to make a sweet soup recipe or fish, meat or vegetables to make a classic dish. Spanish gazpacho is nice in the spring or summer. If you want something hearty and warming for autumn or winter, perhaps a carrot and chestnut soup or apple and parsnip soup sounds good to you. Our homemade soup recipes are really easy to follow and soup always makes a classic starter recipe.
International starters are very popular these days now that people are happy to be experimental about different cuisines. Whether you fancy making some Thai starter recipes, Chinese starter recipes, Japanese starter recipes or something else, we have some ideas for you. Some international starters are hot and spicy, some are gently aromatic and others are simple and mild in flavour. You don't have to serve an international meal after an international starter recipe. Mixing and matching is half the fun.
Gone are the days when starters had to be prawn cocktail, toast and pate or a bowl of soup. International starters like Finnish pasties, sushi, chicken kebabs, beef teriyaki and Mexican nachos are just as simple to make as classic British starter recipes and people love to try new flavours. International ingredients are widely available from leading supermarkets these days and you can add an international twist to a lot of classic starter recipes. We have exotic starters from all over the world to tempt your taste buds.
Special diet starters are handy if one of your guests has a special dietary requirement or if you are on the Atkins diet, South Beach diet or something similar and you still fancy a tasty starter recipe before your main course. Special diet starters don't have to be boring either. Just because you can't use a certain food or food group doesn't mean you can't make an exciting special diet starter recipe with the ingredients you are allowed to use!
Perhaps you want to make a starter recipe without using dairy products or something very low in fat. We have a variety of special diet starters for you to choose from, which means that you can make something delicious and appealing. You might even fancy one of our special diet starters if you are not following a special diet because there is a wide range to choose from, including dairy free asparagus with lemon and chives, vegan parsnip crisps, sweet cantaloupe melon with seafood and lots more.
Dairy Free Cantaloupe and Prawn Starter
Dairy Free Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Chives Recipe
Gluten Free Grilled Lettuce with Goat Cheese Recipe
Vegan Parsnip Crisps Recipe
Vegan Squash Crostini Recipe
5 minute starters are perfect if you are in a rush or if your planned starter has gone wrong beyond repair and you don't want anyone to know! Here we have some tasty meat, fish and vegetarian starters that you can make in an emergency with some common ingredients that you have in your kitchen cupboard or fridge already and don't worry - nobody will know that you made them at the very last minute.
This type of starter recipe is also ideal if you have a lot of food to make at once, for example if you are catering for a buffet. 5 minutes starters can be just as delicious as ones that take longer. Whether you want to make simple canapes, a quick and easy soup recipe, cheese and cold meat on sticks or an easy dip recipe, our 5 minute starters make it possible. There are hot and chilled 5 minute starter recipes so you can pick the perfect one for any occasion.
Starters are a very important part of a meal and it is important to know how to choose which starters you should make, as well as learning some tips for making the best starter recipes and presenting them attractively. Our starter articles will help you to make the best starters possible and guide you through the whole process, including ingredient selection, matching your starter recipes to your main courses and more. Whether you are a cooking novice or a seasoned chef, our starter articles can help you to create wonderful starters.
Perhaps you are wondering about the origin of a particular starter or just curious about the history of starters in general, in which case you might find our starter articles of interest. Did you know that some dishes which are considered desserts can also make great starters or that starters don't even have to be savoury? Visit our starter articles section for some fun facts and interesting trivia about starter recipes, as well as all the starter making advice you will need.
Starter Recipes for All Seasons
Starters Tips and Tricks
Ideas for Starters
Choosing the Best Starter Recipes for the Occasion
Different Kinds of Starter Recipes
Which Starters Should You Make
An Introduction to Starter Recipes
Why Homemade Starter Recipes are Best
The Evolution of Starter Recipes
Making Starters Everyone Will Love
Starter Recipes Around the Globe
Very Easy Starter Recipes
Top Tips for Gorgeous Starter Recipes
Top Tips for Gorgeous Starter Recipes
The Most Famous British Starters
There are a few guidelines you can follow if you want to know how to choose starters but there is also a lot of leeway. For example, appetizers should complement the main course rather than clash with it. Don't serve a chicken starter and then a chicken main course. Don't serve a salad appetizer and then a salad for the entree. And so on.
Just use your common sense. You might already have decided to make a beef starter recipe, in which case you can pick the one you want. If not, you can browse through our recipes and see which ones tickle your fancy.
If you are new to cooking and you haven't made many recipes before, you might like to stick to some of ours because they are all chosen for their simplicity as well as their great results.
If you want to be a bit more creative, you might want to adapt some of the them. This can be something very simple, like adding a couple of drops of Tabasco to a dish to spice it up or swapping a parsley garnish for a coriander one. Or it can be a bolder adaptation, like switching chicken for duck or Marie Rose sauce for aioli.
The more you make food, the better at it you will become. You will get a taste for which ingredients go with which others and you will know what to add if your creation is too sweet, too salty, too runny or too something else. You can also find some help for those problems in our articles and tips sections.
If you are a newbie in the kitchen you might want to forget any big changes for the moment. Converting a beef rissole recipe for vegetarians isn't the easiest thing to do and you might prefer to find a vegetarian appetizer recipe. The last thing you need when guests are coming over is stress!
We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths and we see food before we taste it. There are various factors which make food appealing - the look of the food, the aroma of the food and, of course, its flavour. A lot of people make the mistake of over-garnishing and over-decorating their starters.
If you want to present food that wouldn't look out of place in a top restaurant, it is vital to keep the garnishes simple. A sprig of parsley, a wedge of lemon or a sprinkling of paprika might be all you need. Most garnishes are not supposed to be eaten anyway so keep it simple and never serve a starter which has more garnish than edible food!
No amount of wonderful garnish will disguise poor food, of course, and the flavour of your dish is the most important element. Not all starters are equally attractive. A colourful tropical salad is always going to be prettier than a plate of meatballs but present food in a careful and attractive way because it helps with the whole eating experience and your guests will like the fact that you've taken care with their food.
If a recipe calls for a coriander garnish and you have lots of parsley but no fresh coriander, it's usually fine to substitute garnishes. There is no point in buying a package of coriander if you only need a couple of leaves for a garnish, especially since most people will simply pick it off rather than eating it anyway. Use your own judgement with things like this.
This photo shows a young couple making easy party appetizers together. If you start your dishes in plenty of time, you will not have to worry about anything. There are many make ahead appetizers that you can prepare in the morning and keep in the refrigerator until your guests arrive in the evening. This applies to both chilled appetizers and hot appetizer recipes, which just need to be popped in the oven for ten minutes to warm up. Decide in advance which appetizers to make and check if you have all the ingredients, and then simply follow one of our easy party appetizers recipes.
There are many types of starters, ranging from basic two or three ingredient combinations which you can put together in one minute flat, to the more elaborate and gourmet style dishes which are a mixture of many ingredients and take a long time to create.
There are different dishes for different occasions and you should always match the type of food you serve with the people who are going to be eating it and the type of occasion itself.
There is nothing wrong with sticking to tried and tested recipes if you aren't sure what to make. Perhaps you would love to try an exotic fusion dish or something with an unusual fish or meat, but there are a few good reasons to make a classic dish too.
Prawn cocktail, pate and toast, tomato soup and devilled eggs are all well-known and this is because they are well-liked. Classic recipes always stick around for a long time because they are loved, which is a good reason to pick a classic dish. Not only will your guests recognise it but the odds are that you have made it before and making a dish that you know how to make is less stressful than making something unusual or something you think your guests might not enjoy.
If you are having a dinner party you can ask your guests before they come if there is anything they don't like or anything they are allergic to. You don't want to spend two hours making an elaborate beef starter recipe only to discover two of your guests are vegans - imagine!
Maybe you are inviting guests who have eaten at your house before, in which case there is no harm in making the same starter as the last time, if they enjoyed it. Perhaps make a different main course instead.
Whenever possible, try to use fresh ingredients. If the recipe gives you the option of a tablespoon of fresh basil or a teaspoon of dried basil, you can use either but you already know that fresh basil will give a fresher tasting result.
Of course, if you only need the basil as a garnish, rather than as an ingredient, you can be more flexible. Use something else as the garnish if you don't have fresh basil. You don't want to buy a lot of it just to use a couple of leaves as a garnish, unless you will get around to using the rest of it in other recipes.
This same rule applies to fruit and vegetables. If a recipe calls for a handful of frozen vegetables or a handful of chopped, fresh ones, opt for the fresh vegetables. The starter will be tastier.
Use good quality meat, fish and seafood. Usually fresh meat and fish gives a better result than defrosted produce but this depends on the starters. If you are combining fish, cheese, herbs and lots of other ingredients to make a fish pate recipe, it won't matter all that much whether the fish is fresh or defrosted. Crockpot (slow cooker) starter recipes can work well with tougher cuts of meat because slow cooking can make them tender.
If you haven't made appetizers or snacks before, there really is nothing to worry about. In fact, starters are often easier than making main courses, even if this is where most of your cooking experience has come from. A lot of the recipes are easy by default, because they are snacks rather than larger recipes with more ingredients and components.
Begin with easy ones like a soup or salad recipe or chilled canapes, and you will gain experience and confidence for the next time. Every time you make food you are learning and you should also have fun. Cooking should be enjoyable if you are doing it right! You will enjoy the praise you get for your great starter recipes anyway.
You can find lots of helpful advice on our Starter Tips page. A lot of it is common sense though and our recipes will tell you how many people the starter will feed, how to make it, how to serve it and anything else you need to know about garnishes or presentation. Most of our recipes also have photos so you can get some clues from the photo about how to present the recipe and check that yours more or less resembles it.
There is no clear cut answer to that question but you narrow the possibilities down. Choose from hot or cold starters, meat, fish or vegetarian ones, something quick and easy or something impressive. Maybe you already know that two of your guests don't like pork and it is going to be a hot evening. That can make it easier. What about a chilled chicken salad or a classic prawn cocktail?
If you are new to cooking and already nervous about making starters, a main course and a dessert, then don't pick something complicated! You won't be impressing anyone if it goes wrong. Choose a classic recipe like homemade pate, baked camembert with redcurrant sauce or even pigs in blankets. Your guests will love the fact that you are serving a timeless classic and simple recipes like these are easy to make and will keep your stress levels down.
You won't want to be stuck in the kitchen all night so what about preparing some make-ahead snacks? You might need to be in the kitchen for twenty minutes before bringing out the main course but if you have the starters ready to serve, or in the oven warming up, you can sit with your guests when they arrive and enjoy some time with them before you all begin to eat.
If you are having four guests for dinner, it should be straightforward how much food to make. You might even like to make extra so you can have the leftovers for lunch the following day. But what about if you are in charge of a buffet and you're informed there will be "about eighty people, maybe a hundred" coming?
If this is the scenario it is impossible to guess exactly how much food you are going to need to make, right down to the last sausage roll. It is better to have a little food left over (preferably food that keeps) than run out of food and have hungry guests but there are a few things you can do to simplify things even further.
As well as the items you are going to make for the buffet or gathering, have some standbys to hand. Big bags of crisps and nachos, jars of olives, an extra block of cheese and a couple of French sticks can be kept in the kitchen just in case. If the starters are dwindling, you can get this emergency stock out and replenish the buffet table. If not, crisps, olives and cheese will keep until the next time you want them.
Keep your dishes simple and choose recipes you know you can make. If you follow those two rules you can't go too far wrong. Guests can be very forgiving if you do have a kitchen mishap, as long as you've tried, but if you are organised in the kitchen and follow the recipe, allowing plenty of time to make the dishes and garnishing them attractively, there shouldn't be any problems.
Choose which ones to make a day or two before the event and then if you can't find some of the ingredients you still have time to change your mind about what to do. Whether you choose a new, exciting dish or an old favourite, using one of our easy starter recipes will mean that your dinner should kick off very well indeed, at least where the food is concerned.
Keep the garnishes simple too, even if you are making fancy starters. A common mistake when making such a recipe is assuming the more complex the garnish used the better the dish will look, but actually this could not be further from the truth! A simple sprig of parsley in the centre of a bowl of pureed cauliflower soup is going to look classier than 3 sprigs of parsley, a sprinkling of nutmeg and a grinding of black pepper.
When in doubt, keep it simple. One basic garnish is all you need regardless of the starter you are making, and if the recipe is already colourful then you might not need any garnish at all. If you require more convincing, take a look at any dish prepared by a well-known chef and see how he or she chooses to garnish it.