Finger foods, as the name suggests, are foods that can be eaten without silverware. They are "mini" items, often passed around on trays at functions, and include a vast array of appetizers, snack foods, sandwiches and sweets. There are so many options that you can easily create a full buffet for 60 people just of finger foods, covering everything from meat to vegetables to desserts.
Meat wouldn't seem to lend itself easily to finger foods. Many buffet meats are roasts and, even when sliced, need to be eaten with a fork and knife. Putting meat on skewers or toothpicks easily solves this problem. Make Swedish meatballs or small chunks of steak and put a toothpick in each. Thread chicken pieces on a skewer for kabobs. Avoid fish, which easily flakes and breaks apart when eaten by hand. Instead, opt for oysters or shrimp, which can both be consumed as finger foods.
Cooked vegetables aren't the best choice for finger food. They often contain oils or butters that make them too messy to eat by hand. Instead, lay out an assortment of crudites -- raw vegetables cut into strips, such as celery, carrots, jicama and bell peppers of any color. You can also incorporate vegetables into dips. For example, make a ranch dip, spinach artichoke dip, black bean dip or hummus spread, and serve them alongside crostini or crackers. Buy cut and washed vegetables or prepared dips and spreads to cut down on preparation time. Lay out an assortment of rolls and quartered slices of deli breads for guests to butter and enjoy.
Just because it's finger food doesn't mean you need to rule out soup. Puréed soup served in small glasses adds a new twist to finger foods. You don't need a spoon to sip these soups, and the purée ensures no morsels remain behind. Let the soup cool before serving to avoid burned lips, or, better yet, serve a cold soup such as gazpacho.
Stuffed mushrooms, pepper poppers, pigs in a blanket, sliders, crab puffs, canapés, deviled eggs and small finger sandwiches make a spectacular spread on a buffet. Sandwich favorites include deli meats and cheeses, cream cheese with jam or jelly, and pimento cheese. Add color and variety to the buffet with grapes, any kind of berries, and melon cubes or balls on toothpicks. Strawberries dipped in chocolate will likely disappear faster than you can put them out.
The finger food dessert section can be your most versatile, from cupcakes to cookies to brownies and bars. Stay away from overly sticky items, like cinnamon buns or treats topped with hot fudge or caramel, which will have people looking for a fork or spoon rather than simply popping the dessert into their mouths. Of course, ladyfingers are the quintessential "finger food" dessert.
It's better to serve finger foods on the dry side to avoid the need for a fork. For example, don't serve mini meatballs swimming in sauce, which makes them messy to eat. Instead, outfit your buffet with an array of dips and sauces for guests to add their flavor preferences. Items like peanut sauce, creamy salad dressings, salsa, ketchup and ranch dip allow guests to put just a dab on their plates and avoid a mess.
Guests will likely return to the buffet more than once to refill their plates. Conservatively plan on three items of each food per guest. For example, three Swedish meatballs for 60 guests means preparing 180 meatballs. Guests may also be more likely to throw away their plates between buffet trips or use more napkins, so provide plenty of each.
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