As we all know, first impressions are key. So, when planning event, the minute your guests walk through the door you’re going to want to wow them with your hospitality to set the tone for a day or night of merrymaking. There is simply no better way to ensure attendees feel warmly welcomed than by meeting them with a good glass of fizz plus a bite to eat. While bowl food and grazing tables might be all the rage these days, we’re of the opinion that you can’t beat a classic canape. They’re a classic for a reason and are just the right thing to keep hunger at bay without completely filling people up before a meal.
As much as we are fans of traditional serving styles, we’re not complete old fashioned and think that some of the best event canape ideas happen to be contemporary combinations. To make sure we were bringing you the best ideas for your next event we looked to the experts to advise us. Being lucky enough to have a little black book of some of London’s top event caterers in our armoury, we took inspiration from the best in the business. From impressive vegan canape ideas through to mainstays with a spin, the below are a failsafe selection of the most popular event canape ideas from incredible caterers who have spent years working out the key to culinary success on a large scale.
When working on your list of event canape ideas it’s worth remembering that sometimes less is more. While you might want plenty of choice when it comes to varying dietary requirements, we think a few choice selections in generous quantities are better than hedging your bets and doing just a couple of everything your caterer offers (plus, more variety typically equals a higher cost, so it can also be a great way to stay within budget).
Once you’ve decided on your canape ideas, don’t forget to tidy up all the last details. Will they be served with napkins or will gusts have plates? Will you have roaming servers or a few tables instead? Run through your event in your head and compare a couple of situations for each step of the day or night so that you can iron out all those little details before the big day rolls around.
Rice Paper Rolls
The beauty of a rice paper roll is that you can pretty much wrap anything up in one and they’ll taste good and look pretty – two boxes we’re always keen to tick when planning an event. Berkeley Catering make theirs with fine vegetables with a peanut drizzle for a vegan option, but if you prefer you could use fat king prawns or strips of poached chicken for a carnivorous version. Don’t forget the dips, and a scattering of fresh herbs across the top never went amiss either.
Who makes them? Berkeley Catering
Just because risotto is traditionally served as a larger main dish doesn’t mean it can’t translate well as an event canape. The clever people at Noble House Events make theirs with asparagus, pea and mint and then portion it up into bite size quantities before serving it in Parmesan baskets. This zesty green combination is perfect for spring parties, but during the winter you could substitute the veggies for seasonal swaps like mushrooms with truffle or even sweet butternut squash contrasted with salty pancetta crisps.
Who makes them? Noble House Events
We’re pretty sure it’s a fact that everyone loves deep fried food. There’s something about the crunch of a golden coating and a hot interior that makes croquettes absolutely addictive, and like all the best canape ideas they can be tweaked depending on guest preference. These ones from Zara’s Kitchen are flavoured with walnuts, wild garlic and truffle for the perfect autumnal flavour profile. Classic croquette picks include ham and chicken as well as veggie-friendly cheese ones which always go down well.
Who makes them? Zara’s Kitchen
The humble sausage roll is every event planner’s friend thanks to their mass-appeal. Buttery, flaky pastry surrounding rich sausage meat is just about as British as it comes, and these can be given all sorts of twists too. We love Asian inspired ones flavoured with sesame oil, spring onion and ginger as well as veggie rolls that combine softy sauteed carrots and leeks with cheese and seeds for a wonderful hand-held snack. Down in a couple of bites, sausage rolls need no cutlery or crockery and are guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.
Who makes them? Pique Food
Panaisse have been commonplace in France for years but until recently weren’t often seen on canape menus in the UK. That’s changed now though, with these tasty little snacks all over the menus of some of London’s top restaurants. They’re essentially chickpea chips and are wickedly moreish. Think a salty crust and an almost-melting centre. Top London caterer Social Pantry use them as one of their vegan options and flavour them with garlic before serving them with harissa yogurt and fermented apricot for a bit of a Middle Eastern spin.
Who makes them? Social Pantry
The original finger food, traditional tacos are actually just a couple of bites rather than the big dinner plate ones that have become popular in supermarkets. Harking back to the sweet mini ones, we think tacos make ideal canapes and can be filled with all sorts of delicious things. If you’re willing to get a bit creative, you can even cast aside the corn shells in favour of something a bit different. These creations from Indulge Catering use crispy chicken skin as the exterior and are filled with prawns and radishes.
Who makes them? Indulge Catering
Would it be a British party without a Scotch egg? A little nod to the beige buffets of yesteryear (except a whole lot more appealing) are these ham hock, piccalilli, and cress iterations from Rocket Food. Fancy a whole range of different Scotch eggs? How about casing them in black budding, chorizo or Thai-style chicken mince instead? Once you’ve got the filling sorted it’s all about the dip – we love ours with a rich roasted garlic aioli for extra punch.
Who makes them? Rocket Food
Okay, a mezze plate isn’t strictly an event canape idea, but we still think it deserves some consideration for your next gathering. Mezze plates are great – in our opinion – because they’re so diverse. Pile them high with stuffed vine leaves, olives, feta cheese, roasted veggies and all kinds of dips for a please-all solution to pre-dinner nibbly bits. If you’d prefer not to organise a traditional sit-down meal these can make great sharing food between tables too if bulked out with plenty of flatbreads and a few salads.
Who makes them? Hampstead Catering
Edible Cup Canapes
Edible cups give us serious 80s vibes, and we mean that in a good way. Pretty nifty and fuss-free (canapes served in non-edible cups or on spoons are too much of a faff by our standards) these are not only delicious, but they create a quick-start talking point too, ideal for mingling guests. These cups are filled with pea mousse, but the options are just about endless. We’d love chicken liver parfait ones or even sweet puds like cheesecake.
Who makes them? Chilli Bees Catering
If you’re just doing a drinks reception and going without a full supper, don’t skip the sweet canapes. Just a few well-placed treats make the perfect ending to an afternoon or evening of drinks and will ensure everyone feels fully satisfied with a little sugar hit. These gorgeous biscuits by Tart London are as visually appealing as they are delicious (they’re cardamom, lemon and pistachio, if you’re wondering) and are just the right size for a couple of bites. Other sweet canape favourites include mini ice creams and dinky cheesecakes.
Who makes them? Tart London
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