Put down the takeout menu and pick up your kitchen implements! Chinese appetizers are even better when made at home than ordered from your favorite restaurant, and you’ll have the added satisfaction of telling your guests you made them yourselves. From egg rolls to dumplings to lettuce wraps, Chinese-inspired starters are the perfect party food, even if your party isn’t strictly Asian themed.
01. Chinese Pork Potstickers
These popular dumplings, steamed on one side and pan-fried on the other, are very easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. Choose a basic pork recipe for the same flavor you’ve enjoyed before. This version also includes instructions for making the dough, but you can buy pre-made wrappers too if you prefer. They’re delicious served with soy sauce and ginger, hot chili oil, or dumpling dipping sauce.
02. Vegetable Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are an excellent choice for a party since they can be eaten with your fingers and don’t make a mess. If you’re looking for a vegetarian or even vegan option for your guests, these veggie spring rolls will satisfy everyone. Make sure to chop the vegetables finely and mix well, to ensure they cook through.
03. Fried Shrimp Toast
A popular dim sum appetizer, shrimp toast lives on Chinese restaurant menus all over the country for good reason. It does require a few steps, but enjoying crisp, savory shrimp toast at your party is well worth it. Don’t skip the lard; it gives the toast a crunchy, airy texture just like at the restaurant. If you’d rather not deep-fry them, this recipe also includes a baked option.
04. Lotus Leaf Wraps
Pretend you’re running your own dim sum restaurant with these sausage-filled lotus wraps. Give yourself a couple of hours to soak the lotus wraps ahead of time, so they’re easier to fold. The black mushrooms also need about half an hour to soften, and the chicken can marinate during that time as well. It takes some work to make these at home, but the results are delectable.
05. Chinese Soup with Tofu
When you need a starter for a sit-down party, a bowl of warm clear-broth soup is just the thing. Cubes of tofu, healthy spinach, and hearty mushrooms will be the perfect kickoff to your meal. Use Chinese soup spoons — available online or at your local Asian market — for authentic flare.
06. Baked Chicken Wonton
The great thing about wontons is that you can fill them with pretty much anything your heart desires. These baked chicken wontons will surprise guests who are expecting pork and make a nice contrast if you’re also serving pork buns and crab rangoon.
Some of the recipes above are considered Asian-fusion fare, while others are traditionally Chinese. Feel free to put your own spin on them once you master the techniques to suit your audience.