The paleo diet avoids grains, refined sugars, and dairy, and instead, relies on animal proteins and fresh produce. The idea is to eat like our earliest ancestors ate, those hunters and gatherers who came along before farming practices were refined. Even though there probably weren’t a lot of cocktail parties 10,000 years ago, today’s paleo eaters can still enjoy finger foods and appetizers with these delicious recipes.
1. Bacon Spinach Dip with Artichokes
Keep your hunger at bay before the main course with this hearty appetizer. This recipe calls for mouthwatering bacon bathed in paleo-friendly garlic mayonnaise. Scoop it up with artichoke leaves instead of chips or bread. A medium artichoke gives you 10 grams of fiber for just 64 calories.
2. Guacamole Deviled Eggs
The paleo diet is high in protein but still values fresh produce. This recipe combines all that with protein-rich eggs and avocados to make a savory guacamole. Though avocados are abundantly rich in many nutrients, the combination of monounsaturated fats, fiber, potassium, and phytosterols confer many heart health benefits when consumed.
3. Zucchini Hummus
Creamy hummus has become a staple cocktail hour dip. Unfortunately, beans aren’t paleo-friendly, but that doesn’t mean hummus is off the menu. Enjoy this zesty recipe that uses zucchini instead of garbanzo beans, flavored with tahini or sesame paste.
Top tip: Dip with a variety of raw or barely steamed vegetables as scoops instead of the traditional pita bread.
4. Ahi Poke Stack
Appetizers don’t have to be heavy or greasy. This recipe combines crisp tomato, creamy avocado, and salty tuna for a truly fresh dish. Three ounces of raw tuna provide a whopping 20 grams of protein for less than 100 calories.
5. Sesame Coconut Chicken
If you think going paleo means saying goodbye to your favorite crispy deep fried foods, think again. Here’s a recipe that uses almond flour and coconut to coat juicy chicken. There’s a load of yummy spices too, including picante cayenne. It’s important to note that this recipe uses a yogurt-based dipping sauce, which most paleo dieters consider off limits.
Top tip: Substitute the non-paleo yogurt sauce with a homemade, paleo-friendly garlic mayonnaise — it’s easier than you think. Just combine egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, and oil.
6. Roasted Spiced Cauliflower
This recipe upends cauliflower’s bland reputation. Baked in savory spices and coconut milk, it’s anything but boring. Cut the baked cauliflower into wedges for small cocktail plates or enjoy it in larger portions for dinner. Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C and folate, and will help you reach your recommendation of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
7. Stuffed Mushrooms with Sautéed Kale
Stuffed mushrooms are the kind of appetizer that can turn cocktail food into a real meal. Serving these mushroom caps on a platter over a bed of kale makes for an enticing presentation. You could also leave out the kale, or dice it and incorporate it into with the mushroom stuffing. White or cremini mushrooms are easy to handle when you’re juggling a cocktail glass.
8. Tortilla Chips
Corn and other grains aren’t allowed on the paleo diet, so you might miss one of the best things about snaking and appetizers: the tortilla chip. This recipe remedies that problem with almond flour and flax meal. You roll the dough out like a tortilla and slice it into triangles before baking. These chips taste delicious and hold up to your favorite salsas or dips like guacamole.
9. Avocado Tomato Salsa
Here’s a recipe that combines your favorites parts of salsa (fresh and spicy) with your favorite part of guacamole (creamy avocado). There’s not an empty calorie in this low-calorie appetizer.
10. Butternut Squash Soup
Mmm, sweet and creamy… that sounds like a cheat on the Paleo diet, but not in this case. Coconut milk makes this tangy, bright orange soup feel luxurious on the tongue, while also keeping your heart healthy by only providing healthy fats. Butternut squash itself, meanwhile, is a great source of folate and vitamin A.
11. Pizza Sticks
When you chose a paleo diet, you might have given up on ever having pizza again. This recipe can bring back a lot of what you crave from pizza in a finger food that works great as an appetizer. Enjoy these flavorful “bread” sticks with tomato sauce. Did we mention that they’re also gluten-free?
12. Italian Zucchini Rolls
This recipe combines the salad-satisfying crunch of zucchini with creamy, savory cheese and bacon. Zucchini is a healthy source of vitamins A and C, antioxidants which protect your cells from damage. Vitamin A also protects your eyes from macular degeneration.
13. Cabbage Chips
Eating Paleo might make you miss your daily dose of chips, whether they be potato, corn, or pita. Here’s an easy work-around for chip lovers – bake some cabbage leaves. They turn out crisp and dippable (as long as you don’t load them too much), with a satisfying crunch. Cooked cabbage provides about 10% of your daily folate need. Folate deficiency can cause weakness, shortness of breath, and irritability.
Kabobs make great cocktail party and appetizer fare. These cook up quickly too, in case your party is of the last-minute variety. Succulent lamb provides 1.5 milligrams of iron in a 3-ounce serving (most women need about 18 milligrams per day).
15. Zuppa Toscana
Here’s an excellent appetizer or first course on a cold winter day. Zuppa Toscana translates to “Tuscan soup,” a delicious Italian traditional soup. Traditionally, this soup is made with a cup of heavy cream, an ingredient that is definitely not paleo friendly. In this alternative, coconut milk is used to achieve that velvety cream texture without the dairy.
16. Sweet & Savory Shrimp
The honey and coconut aminos – a paleo-friendly alternative for soy sauce – balance perfectly in this dish. A 3oz serving of shrimp offers up over 20 grams of protein. It’s also a source of zinc, which helps your immune system fight disease and helps your skin heal. Shrimp is also on the safe-fish list if you’re pregnant.
17. Parsnip Fries
These fries are made from parsnips, since potatoes are not considered paleo friendly. They also include a surprise ingredient: nut butter. Use almond or chunky peanut butter to get the best results.
Top tip: Not sure why potatoes aren’t paleo friendly? The basic formula for whether a plant food is paleo is whether or not you can eat it raw.
18. Garlic Artichoke Hummus
Hummus is one of the best spreads to include on a party platter, but not if you’re on a paleo diet. Luckily, you can serve up delicious hummus without using garbanzo beans. Densely delicious and nutritious artichoke hearts have the star role in this recipe, enhanced by lemon and garlic. Just a half-cup of artichoke hearts provides 7 grams of dietary fiber. That’s about 25 percent of your daily need.
19. Shrimp Ceviche
Traditional ceviche “cooks” raw fish with the acidity of citrus juice. If you’re curious about ceviche but haven’t been ready to try it, here’s a recipe that gives you the flavors of ceviche with cooked shrimp. The lime and orange juices used here will give you plenty of vitamin C, while the tomato supplies plenty of vitamin A and also vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. This recipe is both paleo friendly and heart healthy.
20. Lemon and Olive Tapenade
If nuts and olives are your idea of prime appetizers, you’ll enjoy this recipe, which puts those two savory ingredients in one dish. Almonds certainly pack a nutritious punch. One-half cup provides nearly a quarter of your daily requirement of calcium, and the magnesium necessary to process it. Almonds are also one of the highest-fiber and highest-protein nuts.