What are the Best Appetizers to Serve During Happy Hour?

Crab & Artichoke Dip on Bread

For many people, happy hour calls to mind elaborate cocktails and discounted beer and wine options, but appetizers are an equally important part of the happy hour experience. As restaurants continue to reopen for dine-in, it’s the perfect time to rethink your happy hour food menu. In today’s blog, we answer this important menu development question: what are the best appetizers to serve during happy hour?


Nachos are a time-honored happy hour food menu tradition. Not only are they easy to share, but they taste great. And it’s not just diners who love them. Executive chefs and restaurant owners love nachos because they’re easy and efficient to prepare and tend to have high profit margins. Plus, they’re incredibly versatile. Not only can you serve traditional Mexican-style beef nachos, but you can try other fun happy hour appetizer recipes, including buffalo chicken, blackened shrimp, pulled pork, or Greek chicken pita nachos. Remember, your happy hour food menu should reflect your restaurant concept, so don’t be afraid to get creative when creating the perfect nacho dish for your restaurant.

Tots & Fries

Looking for happy hour food ideas that won’t leave diners too stuffed to order an entrée? Tater tots and French fries make the perfect happy hour appetizer because they taste great and leave guests wanting more. Like nachos, there are so many creative ways to serve tots and fries, whether it’s chili-cheese fries, loaded “totchos,” pizza fries, or something a little more healthy like these homemade cauliflower tots. Plus, fries and tater tots are inexpensive, quick, and easy to make, which means your kitchen staff won’t be overwhelmed while they’re trying to focus on more labor intensive entrées.

Dips & Spreads

Crab & Artichoke Dip on Bread

You want happy hour appetizers to be cost-efficient, easy to prepare, easy to share, and not so filling that your diners won’t want to order an entrée, which makes dips and spreads a great go-to happy hour food menu item. Not only can you go with classics like spinach and artichoke dip, guacamole, queso, salsa, buffalo dip, hummus, or pimento cheese spreads, you can also get creative with things like butter crab and artichoke dip. Just make sure you have some fresh bread, crackers, or chips to serve with your delicious dips and spreads. You can even include fun drink pairings on the menu with your dips to encourage people to get a margarita with their guacamole or a glass of white wine with their cheese spread.

At McDonald Wholesale, we’re independently owned and operated, and we have great relationships with local food vendors throughout the northwest. Not only does McDonald Wholesale offer the highest quality ingredients, but we also provide restaurant marketing and other helpful services to our customers, including menu analysis and development. Contact us today to become a customer for life. In the meantime, check out our restaurant management blog where we cover everything from tips for dealing with rising food costs to how to grow your restaurant’s takeout business.

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