Tomato salad with burrata and warm 'nduja dressing

Best ever starter recipes

  • Easy

Our 46 best ever starter recipes are simple yet impressive. From Asian sashimi to veggie cauliflower fritters, our starters will delight hungry guests


Looking for easy starter recipes? Try one of our dinner party starters for simple but impressive entertaining. We have vegetarian starter recipes from creamy burrata to stunning courgette flowers and smart soups with pickled mushrooms. Or try one of our seafood starters – scallops, ceviche, smoked salmon and more. 



  • We use mussels, burrata, shrimp and more in our starter ideas

Seafood starters

Charred octopus with chilli and lime romesco sauce

Try this simple, refreshing twist on the classic Spanish sauce. Pepped up with chilli and plenty of lime, it works beautifully with the buttery-sweet charred octopus.

A blue plate topped with orange sauce and octopus that has been grilled

Herb and chilli calamari

Liven up crisp, golden squid rings with coriander, peanuts and chilli for an easy seafood starter.

Calamari Recipe For Squid Rings

Scallop shell pies

We serve these pretty pies in their original scallop shell and top with flaky puff pastry, a perfect way to start your dinner with friends.

Scallop Pie Recipe

Smoked salmon, beetroot and sorrel

Put smoked salmon at the heart of this smart fish starter recipe from Jackson Boxer at his Hebrides-inspired Notting Hill restaurant, Orasay. Here's how to make it at home for your next dinner party.

Smoked Salmon Starter Recipe with Beetroot

Scallop, celeriac and shiitake

Make the most of scallops in this seafood starter from Jackson Boxer at his Hebrides-inspired Notting Hill restaurant, Orasay. Here's how to make it at home for your next dinner party.

Scallops Recipe with Celeriac and Mushrooms

Brown shrimp Ranhofer

Put shrimps at the heart of this easy starter recipe. Ranhofer is a creamy, luxurious sauce spiked with brandy and cayenne pepper. The original dish uses lobster but we've switched for brown shrimp to make it an easy dinner party starter.

Brown Shrimp Ranhofer Recipe

Moules marinière

Mussels make a great sharing starter. Check out our easy recipe for moules marinière (mussels in white wine sauce). This classic French recipe is a great way to impress dinner party guests. Pop on the table with some dipping bowls and crunchy bread and let everyone dig in. We've got plenty more mussels recipes here.

Moule Marinière Recipe

BBQ scallops

Looking for a simple summer starter recipe? Try our easy barbecue scallops, perfect for a quick yet impressive dinner party starter. You’ll need to get scallops in shells from a fishmonger – ask them to clean them for you and keep the shells for cooking. If you’re grilling, use little beds of coarse salt to keep the scallops level. Try our top scallop starter recipes here.

BBQ Scallops in Shell Recipe

Smoky salmon tartare with lemon and capers

If you love serving smoked salmon for a Christmas starter, this is a great modern twist. The salmon is finely chopped and tossed in a fragrant dressing of lemon, shallots and capers. Serve with thin slices of melba toast.

Garlic chilli clams on sourdough toast

Make our easy, low calorie garlic chilli clams with crunchy sourdough toast for a show-stopping starter. This easy recipe is ready in just fifteen minutes making it perfect for a last minute dinner party.

Fresh Clam Recipe with Chilli and Soughdough Toast

Sea bream ceviche with charred swetcorn

This easy starter is a traditional Latin American dish. Our recipe is gluten-free and uses sea bream, a great fish that works well with the zesty limes and a kick of chilli. It is super quick and easy, a perfect show off starter.

Sea Bream Ceviche

Thai-style fishcakes with sweet and sour cucumber pickle

Thai fishcakes make brilliant party food or a dinner party starter as you can fry them in advance and keep warm in the oven. The easy cucumber pickle adds an authentic Southeast Asian touch. More fishcake recipes here...

Baked-in-the-shell queenie scallops

This recipe for baked-in-the-shell queenie scallops makes for an easy but impressive starter. Plus, it's a low-calorie but luxurious dish

Seared tuna tataki

This simple Asian dish is super-healthy and will have your tastebuds singing. It's only 211 calories, too. Ask your fishmonger for sashimi-grade tuna.

Vegetarian starters

Grilled vegetable antipasti

Kick off a classic Italian meal with these gorgeous grilled veggies. Serve with fresh focaccia, olives and cured meats for an impressive spread.

Grilled Vegetable Antipasti Recipe

Greek lamb-stuffed courgettes

Make the most of this versatile vegetable by topping with spiced lamb mince, pine nuts and feta in this crowd-pleasing Mediterranean dish.


Green silk handkerchiefs (hand-cut spinach pasta)

Take your dinner party starter up a notch with homemade vibrant green pasta made with spinach and tossed in nutty brown butter and sage sauce.

Handkerchief Pasta Recipe with Spinach

Pea and Yorkshire Fettle croquettes with mint mayo

Check out these crispy croquettes with peas and crumbly Yorkshire fettle. This impressive veggie recipe comes from chef Chris Boustead of new Islington restaurant, Linden Stores.

Pea Croquettes Recipe with Feta and Mint Mayo

Burrata with savoury granola

Everyone loves burrata for an impressive starter. Try our creamy burrata recipe with savoury granola, it will provide a talking point for your guests. Try our top vegetarian entertaining recipes here.

Burrata Cheese Recipe with Savoury Granola

Asparagus, goat’s cheese and lovage

Make this vibrant asparagus starter recipe with creamy goat's cheese and fresh lovage, perfect to impress friends at your next dinner party. This dish comes from chef Johnnie Crowe at his new East London restaurant, Nest. Make the full dinner party menu from Nest with our recipes adapted to home cooking, here...

Asparagus and Goat's Cheese Recipe served on a round white plate on a dark brown wooden table

Fried courgette flowers with honey and vinegar

Beautiful finger food to start your dinner party. Packed with sweet and tangy flavour, these courgette flowers with honey and vinegar are a great starter for any summer dinner party. What's more, they look impressive and are quick and easy to make.

Fried Courgette Flowers Recipe With Honey and Vinegar

Broccoli tempura with ponzu dipping sauce

Looking for a vegan starter recipe? Try this crunchy purple sprouting broccoli in crispy tempura batter. Ready in under 30 minutes, this dish will make an impressive vegan dinner party starter.

Broccoli Tempura with Ponzu Sauce

Fil0-baked fresh figs with peppered goat's cheese

An easy starter or an impressive canapé for your next dinner party. Check out our vegetarian recipe for crunchy filo-baked fresh figs stuffed with peppered goat’s cheese. 

Filo-baked fresh figs stuffed with peppered goat’s cheese

Mozzarella sticks with spicy dipping sauce

An easy starter idea for everyone to dig into. Try our gooey mozzarella sticks with a punchy dipping sauce. Blocks of mozzarella stand up better to deep-frying and will still give you that cheesy, stringy ooze. These are best cooked from frozen, so they are a perfect nibble to squirrel away for when you have friends round. Our super indulgent cheese recipes are all here to try.

Mozzarella sticks

Asparagus with butter, balsamic and capers

This recipe for asparagus with butter, balsamic and capers makes a great starter or lunch. Plus, it's ready in just 15 minutes and is under 300 calories.

Steamed Asparagus Recipe With Butter, Balsamic and Capers

Soup starters

Mushroom soup with pickled mushrooms

Looking for an impressive soup starter? Try our creamy mushroom soup with simple pickled mushrooms. This super easy recipe is smartened up with a pickled mushroom topping. Here are our other soup recipes to try...

Mushroom Soup Recipe With Pickled Mushrooms

Green gazpacho with burrata and prosciutto

For a refreshing starter idea, try this vibrant gazpacho recipe with punchy jalapeños, crispy prosciutto and creamy burrata. Chilling this gazpacho will allow its flavours to develop fully. You could use red tomatoes, but you won’t get as vivid a colour.

Green Gazpacho Recipe with Burrata and Prosciutto

Melon gazpacho

This sweet melon gazpacho is a refreshing light summer meal or starter. Packed with plenty of flavour and topped with crispy parma ham, this dish has under 250 calories per serving.

Melon Gazpacho Recipe

Starters from around the world

Chicory with mixed pulses and grains

Check out this chicory salad with lentils, borlotti beans and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. This easy recipe comes from Italian restaurant Bancone in Covent Garden.

Chicory with Grain Salad Recipe

Classic manti

If you’re seeking proper comfort food to start your dinner you can’t go far wrong with dumplings. The Polish have pierogi, Italians have ravioli, the Chinese have dim sum – and in Turkey they have manti. Check out our recipe for classic manti, these dumplings are the perfect dinner party starter.


Chicken wings with sanbei sauce

A really impressive starter from Taiwan. Check out these delicious chicken wings with punchy sanbei sauce. This recipe is easy to make and comes from new Taiwanese restaurant XU in London's Chinatown. Try XU's mapo tofu recipe here for a vegetarian main course.

Chicken wings with sansei sauce, Xu restaurant

Scallops with Vietnamese herb sauce

Scallops make a fab starter recipe. These grilled scallops are super easy to make, low in calories and look impressive. Served with a vibrant Vietnamese herb sauce. Make your dinner party a Vietnamese feast with our top recipes.

Scallops with Vietnamese herb sauce

Ham hock rillettes with pistachio salt

This recipe for ham hock rillettes with pistachio salt comes from Salt and Honey in London and makes a great dinner party starter.

Thai red curry mussels

This recipe for Thai red curry mussels is a great new way to serve mussels. It's a really easy dish to make, is ready in just 30 minutes and is under 300 calories but is still packed with flavour and a great chilli kick.

Baba ganoush with cumin crispbreads

Serve this baba ganoush with cumin crispbreads as a meze starter with hummus, olives, lamb kofte or falafel. You can keep with crispbreads in an airtight container for up to three days.

Meat starters

Grilled peaches with burrata

Juicy peaches give a sweet contrast to creamy burrata and salty serrano ham in this showstopping summer salad to share as a starter.

A grey plate topped with green leaves, orange peaches and a ball of white cheese

Summer deli board

Put together our pick of the charcuterie and veggies and serve with melted brie for an easy sharing starter.

Charcuterie Board Recipe

Pigeon, hummus and pomegranate

Turkish flavours such as pomegranate brighten up this impressive pigeon starter recipe from Chef Chris Gillard of London restaurant EartH Kitchen. Read our full restaurant review of EartH Kitchen here.

Pigeon Breast Recipe with Hummus and Pomegranate

Asparagus gnocchi with prosciutto crumbs

Put asparagus at the heart of this gnocchi dish. Livened up with crunchy prosciutto crumbs, this dish makes for a quick and easy starter. Try our best gnocchi recipes here...

Asparagus Gnocchi Recipe with Prosciutto

Marinated figs with mozzarella and serrano ham

Check out our easy fig recipe with creamy mozzarella, salty serrano ham and peppery rocket. These easy pickled figs make a simple recipe for your next dinner party with friends.

Marinated Figs with Mozzarella and Ham

Tomato salad with burrata and warm 'nduja dressing

One of our most impressive starters yet. With the spice of the 'nduja, the crunch and freshness of the vibrant tomatoes, and the creamy indulgent burrata, this fresh tomato salad is a great summer starter.

Tomato salad with burrata and warm 'nduja dressing

Griddled avocados with crab and chorizo

Check out this quick and easy avocado recipe with crab salsa and spicy chorizo. This simple avocado dish is ready in just 20 minutes – a great starter recipe for a summer dinner party. Love avocados? We've got plenty more recipes here...

Grilled Avocado Recipe with Crab and Chorizo

Duck, chicken and sour cherry terrine

This indulgent terrine is an impressive starter recipe to make for your guests. Packed with rich meats and pistachio jewels, this is a starter your guests will remember.

Easy Terrine Recipe with Duck, Chicken and Sour Cherry

Steak tartare

This classic dish doesn't have to be intimidating. This simple recipe makes for a great dinner-party starter, just multiply the ingredients by how many guests you have.

Tomatoes and lardo on toast with basil oil

Try our quick and easy recipe for tomatoes and lardo on toast with a super light basil oil. Crunchy toasted soughdough topped with soft and velvety lardo, and good-quality juicy ripe tomatoes, this recipe works really well as part of an antipasti. We love toast toppings, so try our recipes here.

Tomatoes and lardo on toast with basil oil

BBQ fish sauce chicken wings

Your next dinner party will go down a treat if you start with our sweet and sticky BBQ chicken wings. This gluten-free recipe is super easy to make and a real crowd pleaser at any summer BBQ or dinner. Try one of our Vietnamese recipes for a fresh and punchy dinner party spread.

BBQ Fish sauce wings - sticky bowl of mini wings with lime wedges