How Many Appetizers per Person?


How many appetizers per person should be served?
How many appetizer pieces should you serve for a dinner party?
How many different types of appetizers should you serve at a cocktail party?


The “rule of thumb” answer as to how to many appetizers to serve per person is to figure that the average person will eat 5-7 appetizer bites during the first hour of a party and then 2-4 in the next hour. Yes, some people will clean out an entire tray in minutes and others will completely pass up the opportunity to grab one, but caterers seem to agree that these numbers represent the average number of appetizers consumed per person at a cocktail party. Of course, there are many variables…

appetizers per person

How Many Appetizers per Person?

A Formula and Other Considerations

appetizers per person

The basic formula that most caterers consider standard for determining the number of pieces of each appetizer recipe that you should make for a two hour cocktail party is: 12 pieces per person times the number of people attending divided by the number of different appetizers being served.

  • It’s good to mix heavy and light appetizers and hot and cold appetizers in order to keep everyone happily snacking.

  • If you are also serving a meal afterward, try to coordinate the appetizers with the meal.

  • If you are serving a heavy meal, serve lighter type appetizers.

  • If the appetizers are served during mealtime and might replace a meal for many people then opt for some hearty appetizers, for instance sliders.

  • Be sure to offer appetizers that will satisfy both the meat eater and the vegetarian.

  • Also, be sure to put out plenty of napkins.

  • For a dinner party, calculate about 6 appetizer bites per person. Serve 2 to 3 different appetizer items and offer appetizers to only whet their appetite, without ruining it.

  • For a cocktail party, estimate about 8 to 12 appetizer pieces per person for an typical cocktail party of about two hours in length. Guests will generally eat about 5-7 appetizer pieces each during the first hour and then about 2-4 appetizers in each subsequent hour.

  • If that all sounds too complex, here’s a cute calculator to instantly help calculate the total number of appetizer bites needed: instant appetizer calculator.

  • Keeping all the above in mind, how many different/unique appetizer recipes should be served at a party?
    A general rule here is about 3 different appetizer recipes for 10 people, 5 different appetizer recipes for 30 people and 7 different appetizer recipes for 50 people. Keep on adding 2 more unique recipes for each additional 20 people that will be attending the party.

    How Many Appetizers per Person?

    Additional Info

    Don’t forget to turn any leftover appetizers into meals the day after. Veggie platters make great roasted vegetables or can easily be turned into a tasty stir fry. Any fried foods can be placed into the toaster oven briefly for a re-heat and re-crisp. Store bread crisps wrapped on the counter and bruschetta in the fridge. Beware of dips containing mayonnaise that may have sat out too long or close to heat, they may need to be tossed.

    To make deviled eggs, see our deviled egg instructions.

    For lots of ideas on making mini muffins that can be put to use as appetizers, see our muffin pan ideas and more muffin pan recipes.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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