These colorful and fun antipasto skewers are a house specialty ~ everybody gets their own personal appetizer selection right on a stick ~ we make them for game days and the holidays, through spring and summer parties, and right back round again.
I’m famous for my antipasto skewers!
They might be the perfect party appetizer ~ they work for all kinds of gatherings, big and small, they’re fun to make and they have so much personality. They can fill in for either the appetizers or a salad course, and they’re portable! I’m at the point now where if I don’t bring them, friends are disappointed.
If you do the job right the colors really pop and the flavors can be quite adventurous. I like to thread on little hot chili peppers here and there so you never know when you’re going to get a zippy bite — I’m a little mischievous when it comes to my skewers 😉
The hardest part about assembling these easy skewers is opening up all the little jars and containers!
I make them an hour or two before I need to serve them, cover the tray with a damp towel and put it in the fridge to keep everything fresh. The sky is literally the limit for what you can skewer up. I like to stick with classic antipasto type stuff, like cured meats, olives, cheeses, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pickled things, and peppers. That way you know everything tastes good together. You can make all the skewers the same, but I think that’s kind of boring, so I layered mine willy nilly, and no two turn out alike. It’s fun to grab a skewer and see what you get!
Antipasto skewer ingredients
- cherry tomatoes
- marinated mushrooms
- marinated peppers
- Italian meats
You’ll find all the ingredients at the regular grocery store
Check out the olive bar if your store has one, they often have interesting bite sized antipasto type things. That way you can buy just what you need. Specialty stores like international markets, gourmet stores, delicatessens, and wine and cheese shops, often have more unusual items. Trader Joe’s is a good source, too.
Tips for making appetizer skewers
Be sure to get pitted olives, of course.
Choose one cheese that you can cut in chunks, and then grab some mozzarella balls for variety.
Anything marinated is a good bet because it brings instant flavor to the mix.
Look for color and texture variation.
Stuffed olives and peppers are good choices.
Pepperoncini add a nice kick of heat, and you could also used pickled jalapeños.
Fresh basil and cherry tomatoes lend an important element of freshness.
An assortment of Italian meats like salami and prosciutto give the skewers a delicious gravitas.
Unexpected extras like balsamic pickled onions, tiny marinated mushrooms, or roasted garlic cloves make it special.
The mild sweetness of the cheeses and meats offsets the tanginess of the pickled stuff — and there’s an occasional spicy bite in there too — so the whole thing is an adventure to eat.
Skewers are entirely customizable
This is one of those posts that is more of an inspiration than a formal recipe. Keep everything bite sized, and use what you like. If you keep to a theme like Italian, Greek, Mediterranean, vegan, etc, it will be easier.
Reader Rave ~
“I have been making these skewers since you first posted them! I’m making a bunch today for New Years Eve, I just leave off the basil and they stay perfect in the fridge. I do cover them with a damp towel . I’ve made it a point to track down every ingredient you used in yours, and everybody loves them, thank you!” ~Jen
More fun appetizers ~
- Festive Olive Wreath
- 7 Layer Smoked Salmon Dip Recipe
- Cheesy Brussels Sprout Dip
- Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
- Baked Caramelized Onion Dip
- Gone Loco Party Mix
- fresh mozzarella balls, marinated or plain
- cheddar or smoked Gouda cheese, cut in cubes
- fresh basil leaves
- pitted olives
- pickled onions
- sliced dill pickles or gherkins
- cherry tomatoes
- canned or marinated artichoke hearts
- assorted Italian cured meats like salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto
- anything else you can find!
- wooden or metal skewers I used 8 inch wooden skewers
- pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze, optional
- Open all your containers and set up a work assembly line. Have a hand towel nearby as your hands will get a little bit oily.
- Drain cans that need to be drained, and spoon out some of the ingredients so you have easy access.
- Be sure to leave enough room at the bottom of each skewer so that people can pick them up easily. I like to start with something dry like a cherry tomato for ease of handling.
- You can make all the skewers alike, or thread them randomly. Fold the basil leaves in half, and then in half again if they are large. If they are small they can go on as is.
- Fold sliced round meats like salami the same way as the basil. For prosciutto cut it and then roll or fold until it becomes a neat little package.
- If anything is too large, cut it so that it is roughly the same size as everything else. I cut artichokes in half or even in quarters. I sliced larger marinated peppers in half. Just use your judgement, and don't worry if some things hang out a little, that's part of the charm of these skewers!
- Lay the finished skewers out on a tray or a baking sheet, and cover with a damp cloth. Refrigerate.
- It's best to use within an hour or two. If possible, transfer the skewers to a clean serving tray right before serving. If you like, you can drizzle the skewers with the pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze at the last minute.
notes and variations
- If you're feeding a crowd, make these up to a couple of hours ahead, but no more. You want everything to be fresh. Cover with a damp towel and put in the refrigerator. The basil will definitely wilt if you make these too far in advance, so leave it off if in doubt.
- Use thin, cocktail type skewers, mine were 8" bamboo, like these. Grilling skewers will be too thick.
- Keep an eye toward color variation, so your skewers aren't drab. Yellow or orange cherry tomatoes, bright red stuffed peppers, the white mozzarella, and the basil really help bring the skewers alive visually.
- These aren't meant to be finger food, your guests will need a plate, and a fork.