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What do you serve on a small plate?

Serving food on small plates is a great way to make appetizer-sized portions for appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and more. Here are some ideas for delicious bites to serve on small plates:


Small plates are perfect for serving appetizers at a party or gathering. Here are some appetizer ideas to serve on small plates:

  • Bruschetta – Dice fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil and spoon over toasted bread slices
  • Prosciutto-wrapped melon – Wrap bites of cantaloupe or honeydew melon with prosciutto
  • Deviled eggs – Hard boil eggs, cut in half, and fill with a mixture of egg yolk, mayonnaise, mustard, and spices
  • Caprese skewers – Skewer grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and basil leaves
  • Bacon-wrapped dates – Stuff dates with goat cheese and wrap with bacon, then bake until crispy
  • Crab cakes – Make mini crab cakes and serve with remoulade sauce
  • Smoked salmon crostini – Top crostini slices with smoked salmon, dill cream cheese, and capers

Side Dishes

In addition to entrees, small plates allow you to offer bite-sized side dish options:

  • Roasted vegetables – Roast carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or other veggies in olive oil and seasonings
  • Corn and zucchini fritters – Make mini fritters with grated corn, zucchini, eggs, and flour
  • Hasselback potatoes – Cut potatoes into thin slices without cutting all the way through. Brush with oil and bake.
  • Honey glazed carrots – Cook sliced carrots and toss in honey, butter, and fresh thyme.
  • Sauteed greens – Quickly saute spinach, kale, chard, or other greens in olive oil and garlic.


Serve single-serving desserts on small plates for a sweet treat:

  • Mini fruit tarts – Press pie dough into mini tart pans and bake, then fill with fresh fruit and glaze or cream.
  • Chocolate mousse – Make individual chocolate mousses and garnish with freshly whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
  • Panna cotta – Serve individual panna cotta desserts topped with fruit sauce or compote.
  • Macarons – Make an assortment of colorful French macarons sandwiched with buttercream or ganache.
  • Cream puffs – Pipe eclairs and mini cream puffs and fill them with sweetened whipped cream or pastry cream.
  • Lava cakes – Make individual molten chocolate lava cakes and serve warm with ice cream.

Savory Bites

You can also serve these savory, non-dessert options on small plates:

  • Sliders – Make mini sandwiches on rolls or buns using beef, chicken, pork, or vegetarian patties.
  • Sausage balls – Form bite-sized sausage ball appetizers with sausage, cheese, and biscuit dough then bake.
  • Meatballs – Make your favorite style of meatballs in bite-sized portions.
  • Stuffed mushrooms – Remove mushroom stems and stuff caps with sausage, cheese, or other fillings.
  • Pinwheels – Spread tortillas with cream cheese, meat, and veggies then tightly roll up and slice.

Food Presentation Tips

Here are some tips for beautifully presenting and serving food on small plates:

  • Use decorative small plates – Choose plates with color or patterns to add visual interest.
  • Artfully arrange food – Pay attention to colors, shapes, and heights for an appealing look.
  • Include dipping sauces – Offer sauces in mini ramekins or bowls on the side for dipping.
  • Garnish with herbs – Fresh herb leaves like parsley, basil, or cilantro make pretty garnishes.
  • Stack ingredients – Try arranging ingredients vertically for a striking presentation.
  • Skewer or pick ingredients – Piercing foods helps secure them neatly and adds visual flair.
  • Serve in odd numbers – Place 1, 3, or 5 items on each plate rather than even pairings.

Serving Small Plates

Here are some tips for serving small plates at a party or gathering:

  • Provide a mix of options – Offer a variety with different colors, textures, flavors, etc.
  • Serve in courses – Start with lighter appetizers, then move to more filling foods.
  • Offer vegetarian choices – Cater to guests with vegetable, cheese, and meatless options.
  • Replenish popular items – Keep an eye on which plates need refilling and replace as needed.
  • Set up a help-yourself area – For casual affairs, allow guests to grab small plates themselves.
  • Provide small napkins – Have cocktail napkins available for convenient eating and minimal mess.
  • Use small utensils – Toothpicks, cocktail forks, and spoons make eating easier.


Serving bite-sized foods on small plates allows you to offer guests a variety of flavors and encourage sampling different items. Appetizers, side dishes, desserts and more are all perfectly suited for small plates. With some creative presentation and easy serving tips, small plates can make hosting fun and delicious.