The world of chicken appetizers is a fun world: skewers, balls, rolls, wraps, sliders…all made with chicken! They are perfect for all sorts of casual get-togethers for friends and family, from New Year’s parties to kids’ birthdays and barbecues in the back yard. Arrange a chicken appetizers buffet if you are hosting such a get-together, or prepare an easy chicken appetizer recipe to a ‘bring your own food’ party.
Chicken appetizers are quite versatile, but they all have two important attributes in common – easy and simple. In addition, they are light, which makes them ideal for parties that involve alcohol, mingling, and dancing because who’s got the time to sit and dine at the peak of the party? Plus, chicken appetizers allow for a minimum mess- they’ll save you a load of dirty dishes after your guests leave. So, ditch the silverware and let’s talk finger foods.
Why Chicken Appetizers?
To be more precise, why choose this type of poultry meat over other types? The health benefits of chicken meat include a high content of protein, essential vitamins, and minerals which result in weight loss, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as reduced risk of cancer.
The USDA inspects all the chicken meat sold in the market (both fresh and frozen) as well as in the farms. This control ensures that there is no risk of diseases and confirms the quality of the meat. USDA claims that growth hormones are not used while raising chickens. However, if you still have concerns, choose organic chicken meat.
Marinades for Chicken Appetizers
Marinating the meat is the moment when the taste starts developing. This is the moment when you decide whether you want your chicken appetizers classic or with a twist (think Thai, Italian, Mexican…).
If you need an idea for an easy marinade recipe, here is a ’quickie’: 1 cup olive oil, 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup soy sauce, and ½ cup vinegar.
Besides flavoring, the marinade will make the meat softer. The duration of marinating varies depending on the recipe, but the general rule is – the longer, the better.
Place the chicken meat in a zip-lock plastic bag. Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, then pour them over the meat. Shake and seal the bag, pressing gently to remove excess air. Place the bag on a plate and keep in the fridge overnight.
If you don’t intend to use the marinated chicken the following day, feel free to freeze it. The marinade will work its magic even at very low temperatures. Freeze the zip-lock bag containing the chicken and the marinade on a plate until completely solid, then remove the bag and store in the freezer. You can keep it there for up to 3 months.
When you feel ready to prepare an easy chicken appetizer recipe, transfer the zip-lock bag to the fridge 24 hours in advance. Do not defrost the bags on the kitchen counter at a room temperature in order to avoid making a mess and possible bacteria spreading.
Now, all you need to do is to cook.
Tips and Tricks for a Perfectly Cooked Chicken Meat
Before we move to cooking, let’s talk about safety measures. When working with meat, make sure you wash your hands and all the working surfaces before and after. This is to avoid bacterial infections. Also, store different types of meat separately.
When it comes to the cooking temperature, to be sure that any bacteria present in the chicken is killed, the meat must be cooked above 165° F.
Chicken breasts. Most of the chicken appetizer recipes require skinless and boneless chicken breasts. There is a reason why this part of the chicken is the most commonly used – chicken breasts are low in fats, cook very fast, and are extremely versatile.
Chicken breasts are inexpensive and widely available in the supermarkets pre-cut in half or as a whole. One whole skinless and boneless breast typically makes about 2 cups of cooked chicken. Pre-marinated chicken breasts are usually baked or grilled. They can also be basted, i.e. brushed with sauce while cooking. Other options for chicken breasts are pan-frying, stir-frying or threading them on skewers.
Chicken wings. To prepare a finger-licking crispy appetizer, it is best to bake the wings or cook them on the barbecue. It will save you the mess from deep-frying them.
Whole Chicken. Easy chicken appetizer recipes are THE solution when you don’t know what to do with your leftover chicken. In case you are cooking a whole chicken for the first time, you can choose to roast it as is, or carve it into parts first. If you don’t like engaging yourself in such an activity, buy pre-cut parts from the supermarket.
Types of Chicken Appetizers
As mentioned at the beginning, there are many types of chicken appetizers. It is impossible to go through all of the varieties separately, but let’ looks at some general tips and tricks.
Skewered Chicken Appetizers
When it comes to skewered chicken, the possibilities are endless. Starting from the type of skewer sticks you use to the various methods of preparation. The most inexpensive and most commonly used skewers are the round bamboo ones.
When preparing authentic Thai or Yakitori chicken appetizers, choose bamboo skewers. The paddle-style bamboo sticks come with small built-in handles, they’re disposable and biodegradable. Soak the skewers in water for a few minutes before you start skewering the meat chunks. This is to avoid burning when they are on the grill.
If you are looking for a long-term option, buy the flat metal skewers, whereas if you are in pursuit of the unusual, serve your chicken appetizers the Portuguese way – with the skewer hanging from a hook on a stand.
Puff Pastry Chicken Appetizers
The same type of puff pastry can be used to make several different chicken appetizer recipes, like wraps, rolls, wontons, fold-overs, cups… All these recipes are great for giving your leftover meat a fresh makeover.
One option is to buy it from the stores, but puff pastry is very quick to make. Homemade light and flaky pastry needs only four ingredients – plain flour, water, butter, and sea salt – and beats the store-bought variation by far.
When in a rush, wrap your chicken leftover together with rice, corn, or other vegetables of your choice, in a tortilla wrap. To emphasize the Mexican twist, complement with taco spice. Read the selection of sauces and dips below.
Besides cheese (any kind your heart desires), to prepare this easy chicken appetizer recipe you also need minced chicken. Mincing the chicken with a knife requires a lot of skills and patience. That is why it is wise to turn to the food processor for help.
Rinse the chicken pieces under cold running water, then use a paper towel to pat them dry. Remove the skin, fat, bones, and tendons, then chop the meat with a knife. Place the chopped meat in a food processor and pulse in brief bursts until fully minced.
All that is left to do is add the herbs and spices to the formed cheeseballs. Cook at medium-low temperatures. If you cook at very high temperatures the outer part of the ball will brown very fast, whereas the inside will remain uncooked. Also, be careful not to overcook the appetizers, otherwise the cheese may burst out of the ball.
Dips and Sauces to Complement Your Chicken Appetizer Recipes
No chicken appetizer recipe is complete without a suitable dip or a sauce. And when it comes to dips for chicken appetizers, you can choose from a wide range of varieties. Here are just a few suggestions.
Thai pineapple and peanut butter sauce is perfect to give your chicken appetizers an Asian twist. This fruity and sticky sauce is made pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, powdered garlic, and grated ginger, all simmered and mixed with some creamy peanut butter. Don’t forget the sesame seeds sprinkled on top!
Indian curry-based dip. Red and green curry paste are widely available and a great fast and simple solution when you are in a hurry – just toss the chicken appetizers in them before cooking. However, the homemade Indian curry dip variation is even better. Mix curry powder/paste, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and minced onion in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 3 hours. It is ridiculously easy and so delicious!
Jalapeño is a hot Mexican dip based on cream cheese, combined with shredded Mexican cheese. If you don’t have Mexican cheese at hand, feel free to use Parmesan. The recipe also calls for one cup mayonnaise, four fresh or canned diced jalapeños, four diced green chilies, a cup of breadcrumbs, and 1/4 cup butter.
Tzatziki is a Mediterranean sauce that will freshen up any chicken appetizer recipe. Combine 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup peeled, grated, and drained cucumber, 1 crushed clove garlic, a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and chill before use.