25 Cheap Appetizers You Can Make for $5 or Less

Table full of appetizers

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Closeup of Deep Fried Raviolis with Fresh Parsley Arranged in a Circle with Marinara Dipping Sauce in the Middle on a White Plate

Easy Appetizers for Under $5

Whether you’re in the thick of holiday get-togethers or just in a party-throwing mood, it's always nice to have a few easy recipes in your repertoire. Bite-size appetizers are a great way to keep costs down, especially when not everything needs to be made from scratch. These easy, cheap appetizers serve about 10 to 15 people, from meat eaters to vegetarians to vegans. Prices are rough estimates based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and an informal survey of grocery prices.

Related: Costco Prepared Meals That'll Feed Your Whole Family

Ham and Cheese Wheels on a White Square Plate with a Tiny White Square Plate with Marinara Sauce

1. Ham and Cheese Wheels ($5)

Deli ham and cheese get turned into a crowd-pleasing combo with the help of store-bought pizza dough. Roll out the pizza dough ($3) as thin as possible without tearing it and line it with a few thin slices of deli ham and cheese ($2). Roll up the dough with the ham and cheese inside and bake at 450 degrees until bubbly and golden brown. Once cool, slice into bite-sized rounds.

Related: How Many of These Bucket-List Sandwiches Have You Tried?

A Pile of Fried Raviolis on a White Plate with a Small Round Bowl of Marinara Sauce in the Middle on a Blue and White Checkered Napkin
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

2. Fried Ravioli ($5)

At about 20 cents per piece, frozen ravioli make a great inexpensive appetizer when fried in oil ($1) until golden brown and served hot. People love rich, cheese-filled treats, and because they are so heavy, you’ll only need one or two servings per guest.

Related: The Best Fried Foods Around the World

Closeup of a Meatball Surrounded By Blurred Meatballs on a Wooden Stab with Bits of Parmesan Cheese
Lauri Patterson/istockphoto

3. Meatballs ($5)

Frozen meatballs cost about $3 a pound and offer large portions. Simply heat them up in the sauce of your choice ($2), such as barbecue or marinara, and serve with toothpicks for a cheap, easy appetizer.

Related: Delicious Foods Worth Buying at Ikea — and Some to Skip

Closeup of Mini Spinach Pies on a Wire Baking Rack with a Tan Napkin Underneath

4. Mini Spinach Pies ($5)

Frozen spinach ($1) and a light sprinkling of feta ($1) in crispy phyllo dough ($3) is a classic flavor combination. To assemble, thaw and season the spinach and combine with feta. Put a spoonful into the phyllo of any shape and bake according to the instructions on the phyllo packet.

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Closeup of Pigs in a Blanket on a White Square Plate

5. Pigs in a Blanket ($5)

An appetizer recipe list wouldn’t be complete without pigs in a blanket, the king of cheap holiday appetizers. Create this favorite using one package of break-and-bake croissant dough ($2) and a package of hot dogs ($3). Cut the hot dogs into bite-size pieces and wrap in a small piece of dough. Bake until the dough puffs up and starts to turn golden.

Pizza Bite on French Bread with Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Red and Green Peppers with Fresh Basil and Oregano on a Wooden Cutting Board

6. Pizza Bites ($5)

This appetizer is perfect for a group that includes kids and couldn't be easier to make: Cut a baguette or cheaper Italian loaf ($1) in half lengthwise and spread with marinara ($1), then top with low-moisture shredded mozzarella ($3). Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let it cool slightly before slicing into bite-size pieces.

Closeup of Four Rows of Sixteen Stuffed Mushrooms on a White Wax Paper
Eduardo Ramirez Sanchez/shutterstock

7. Stuffed Mushrooms ($5)

Break the stems off two packages' worth of button mushrooms ($4). Chop a quarter of an onion (25 cents) and sauté with the stems. Place the mix into the mushroom caps and top with seasoned breadcrumbs (50 cents), then bake in a hot oven until the caps are soft. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (25 cents).

Four Slices of Quesadilla on a White Plate with a Side of Salsa and White Queso Dipping Sauce on a Blue Napkin

8. Quesadilla ($5)

To make a simple quesadilla, simply heat a flour tortilla (25 cents) in a pan, sprinkle with shredded cheese (50 cents), and top with another tortilla (25 cents). Flip and heat until the tortillas are brown and cheese is melted. After making four quesadillas, cut them into six slices and serve with salsa (25 cents).

Closeup of Five Dumplings with Chopsticks on a Black Rectangle Plate with a Small Black Bowl of Dipping Sauce
Rich Legg/istockphoto

9. Dumplings ($5)

A bag of frozen dumplings is just $4 at Trader Joe's and other stores and comes with nearly 30 pieces. Use the leftover money for a dipping sauce, such as soy, chili, or sweet mango. Keep a bag or two in the freezer for last-minute plans.

Focus on a Metal Tray of Mini Grilled Cheese Appetizers with a Male Server Holding It

10. Mini Grilled Cheese ($5)

A simple grilled cheese with two slices of bread (50 cents) and two slices of cheese (50 cents) becomes a party hit when cut into bite-size pieces. Cut each of five sandwiches into quarters and stack high on a platter; figure at least two pieces of this American favorite per person.

Closeup of Four Cinnamon Swirl Rolls on a White Plate

11. Cinnamon Swirl Rolls ($4)

Save money and time by using store-bought crescent dough and layering with your own filling. Roll out one can of store-brand crescent dough ($3) and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar ($1) — use dark brown sugar for a more robust flavor — in equal parts. Roll up and bake according to the product's specifications.

Top View of Six Biscuits with Scallion Butter Equally Positioned on a Baking Pan, Three Have Slices of Butter
Lynne Mitchell/istockphoto

12. Biscuits with Scallion Butter ($5)

Ready-made biscuit dough is a quick and easy way to prepare this warming appetizer. Store brands offer packages that make eight pieces for as little as $2. Divide each package in half for mini biscuits, or let guests indulge in full-size buns. To add sophistication, use a food processor to combine a small bunch of chopped chives ($1) with a stick of room-temperature butter ($1) to slather on the hot biscuits.

Papas Bravas on a White Plate with a Side of Mayonnaise Sauce in a Small Bowl

13. Papas Bravas ($5)

Crispy potatoes are a delicious snack in nearly every culture. To make this Spanish-style appetizer, cut four large potatoes ($4) into small cubes. Bake until the skin turns crisp, which should leave the potato soft inside. Sprinkle with smoked paprika ($1)  before serving with toothpicks for easy snacking. If your guests are paleo or you just prefer their color, you can also use sweet potatoes.

Closeup of a Few Onion Tarts on a Slab of Slate

14. Onion Tarts ($4.25)

To create simple and delicious onion tarts, start by defrosting a box of puff pastry ($2) and cutting into small squares. Sauté two large onions with olive oil and a few sprigs of thyme ($2.25). Take a small spoonful of the mixture and place in the center of each square, then bake according to the package instructions.

Focus on Five Roasted Vegetable Skewers in a Herb Marinade on a Stovetop Grill Pan

15. Roasted Vegetable Skewers ($4)

Transform two onions ($1.50), three carrots (50 cents), and a large potato ($1) into a delicious appetizer by cutting and roasting the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs (50 cents). Once done, load a toothpick with one of each veggie and drizzle the skewers with balsamic vinegar (50 cents) for a plant-based veggie tray.

Top View of Several Pieces of Garlic Bread on a Sheet of Wax Paper

16. Garlic Bread ($3.50)

Slice a baguette or cheaper Italian loaf ($1) lengthwise and slather with butter (50 cents), chopped garlic ($1), and chopped parsley ($1). Put the halves together, wrap in foil, and bake until warm and crispy on the outside. Slice into pieces and enjoy while hot.

Two Homemade Chips in a Glass Bowl of Salsa, Surrounded by More Homemade Chips and Two Slices of Lime on a Slab of Slate

17. Homemade Chips and Salsa ($5)

To make a quick salsa, combine a can of whole peeled tomatoes ($1), an onion (75 cents), a handful of cilantro (50 cents), and a chili pepper (50 cents) in a food processor and mix until combined but still chunky. Next, heat one cup of vegetable oil ($1) in a pot and add corn tortillas cut into triangles to make homemade chips ($2) — or opt for a large value bag of chips (also around $2) from a supermarket.

Closeup of Nine Cheese Straws on a Slab of Marble
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18. Cheese Straws ($4.50)

A humble package of puff pastry ($3) transforms into decadent cheese straws with a light sprinkling of parmesan and dusting of cayenne pepper ($1.50). Simply roll out the dough, distribute cheese evenly — pressing it lightly into the dough — and cut into strips. Twist the strips and bake according to the directions on the package.

Top View of Celery in a Black Ringed White Ceramic Bowl with a Small White Bowl of Olive Dip

19. Celery With Olive Dip ($5)

Celery is a healthy and cheaper alternative to classic chips that's an ideal match for a creamy, savory dip. For a simple appetizer, whip together one packet of onion dip seasoning ($1) with a container of sour cream ($2). Serve with one bunch of cut-up and de-stringed celery sticks ($2).

Potato Chips in a Wooden Bowl Near a Small Wooden Bowl of Powdered White Salt

20. Potato Chips ($4)

This quick recipe uses just a few potatoes, some oil, and the power of a microwave. Cut thin slices from three large russet potatoes ($3) and coat lightly with 2 tablespoons of a high-heat oil such as peanut (50 cents), then microwave on a plate for 3-5 minutes until the potatoes brown. Season with salt and other spices of choice while still hot (50 cents).

Closeup of Marinated Green, Kalamata, and Black Olives in a Wooden Bowl on a Brown Basket Weave Placemat

21. Marinated Olives ($4)

A simple jar of olives ($2.50) can be turned into a gourmet appetizer with a few tweaks. Drain the olives of their brine and add to a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (30 cents), the peel of a lemon (75 cents), and a few sprigs of rosemary ($1). Let the mixture marinate overnight for a deeper flavor.

Homemade Kettle Corn Popcorn Coming Out of a Bag on a Wooden Table
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

22. Popcorn ($3)

This delicious and dirt-cheap snack is a budget standby. A dollar's worth of kernels easily makes 15 cups of popped corn. Supplement with some oil for popping ($1) and a little butter and salt ($1) for a treat that goes with a casual party atmosphere.

Closeup of Shelled Peanuts in a Wax Paper Lined Tin Bucket on the Right Side

23. Peanuts ($3)

Roasted and salted peanuts are a fun appetizer, though they can be a bit messy. Having people shell their own limits the number of calories consumed, leaving more room to try other foods. A pound of peanuts can be found for about $3.

Focus on Several Fruit Skewers on a Glass Serving Tray

24. Fruit Skewers ($4)

Take advantage of seasonal fruit, cutting apples and pears into chunks and dressing with lemon juice and cinnamon before alternating them on toothpicks for an easy bite. Two of each fruit ($4) is be plenty for nearly 30 skewers.

Closeup of a Vegan Salad Bite on a White Rectangle Plate with Tomato Garnish
Dining Innovations/Yelp

25. Vegan Salad Bite ($4.75)

One bell pepper ($1.50), a quarter onion (25 cents), 2 ounces of olives ($1), and one romaine heart (50 cents) is enough to make a tray of refreshing salad bites. Dress with a simple combination of lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper ($1.50) and layer on a skewer or toothpick for full-flavored finger food.