My Favorite “Foolproof” Appetizers

I lovemaking new things, both for my family and when entertaining, but it’s great to have a few tried and true recipes that you know will turn out great every time. I have made both of these “foolproof” appetizers for years – jalapeno cheddar crackers and caramelized bacon.

Not only are they delicious, but I love that both can be made ahead so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. If I have a larger crowd, I will put these out with a cheese, meat, fruit and veggie plate and a bowl of marcona almonds (trader joes).

We have loved every single detail of our recent kitchen renovation. The number one most adored change was taking out the sink and leveling out the island. We use it every single day! Here’s how I had it set up.

Jalapeno Cheddar Crackers

I always have the dough on hand in my freezer for my very favorite Cheddar Jalapeno Crackers and they are ALWAYS a hit!  Just pop them in the fridge to thaw them the night before and you can pull this fabulous appetizer together in no time flat.  I usually make 2 batches at one time since the recipe only uses about half of a block of the cheese and half of a jalapeno.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¹⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced
  • 5 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (I used chipotle chili pepper as it was the only thing similar I saw at Publix.)
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt

Place the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheddar, jalapeño, and chipotle chili powder and pulse again. With the food processor running, add the ice water all at once. Continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Cut the dough in 3/8-inch-thick slices (should make 32-34 crackers). Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Caramelized Bacon

If caramelized bacon isn’t just the most delicious so-Southern appetizer, I don’t know what is. It’s right up there with deviled eggs and pimento cheese for me. This bacon is best served the day you make it, but also at room temperature so it is easy to make ahead. I like to do it the morning of so that my house smells like a wonderful candle rather than bacon. Haha!

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top. I find mine cooks best on the bottom rack of my oven.

Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Add the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs.

Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it’s underbaked, the bacon won’t crisp as it cools.

While it’s hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.

Tips for Easy Happy Hour Entertaining

In addition to these great recipes, I shared a video of a quick, easy week night happy hour I set up for my neighbors on the porch back in 2016. The ideas have not grown old.

This post has other tips and tricks for easy entertaining.

Easy Flower Arranging Tips From A Novice

Earlier this week I shared the details on my flower arrangement.

You can view a step-by-step video on how I make my arrangements here:

Kitchen Tour

And finally, you can take a tour of our updated kitchen here:

All of the sources and photos from the kitchen are here:

It’s finally Friday and I could really go for some of these appetizers right this minute! If you have any “foolproof” appetizers, feel free to share the details. Some of my best recipes come from y’all!

Ina Garten Foolproof (favorite cookbook ever)
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4 thoughts on “My Favorite “Foolproof” Appetizers

  1. Since I have bacon obsessed boys, I am definitely trying that one…actually both sound amazing! Also, I love seeing your kitchen again. It’s always been so pretty but the makeover is just so spectacular! Love every inch of it! Have a great weekend!

    1. Yes! My boys go crazy for it. I had to hide it this particular day until our guests came. Haha! And thank you – we are really enjoying it.

  2. It seems hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since you posted that video! I’ve always done cheese straws, but will try this recipe next time to change it up. Happy Weekending! xo

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