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9 Delicious Tropical Cocktail Party Appetizers: Easy Ideas!

Get ready to embark on a flavor-packed journey to the tropics. These easy-to-make tropical cocktail party appetizers will make your taste buds do a happy hula dance!

My family has taken some vacations to tropical places over the past few years.

We’ve visited Antigua, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

A few of those spots were ports of call when we took a cruise, but that still counts as a visit, right?

During these trips, one of my favorite parts (besides the beautiful blue water, white sand beaches, and gorgeous weather), has definitely been the food.

The flavors that infuse tropical dishes are so fresh and vibrant.

My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

If you’re hosting a cocktail party, or heading to a gathering with friends or family and need an easy appetizer recipe, why not treat everyone to the tastes of the tropics?

I’ve put together nine easy appetizers that remind me of our tropical vacations.

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Ways to incorporate tropical flavors into appetizers for a cocktail party

One thing comes to mind when I think about the food we’ve had in tropical locations: fruit!

So many dishes include some of the fruits that grow on the islands.

An easy way to give your appetizers a tropical taste is to include some pineapple, mango, plantains, melon, citrus, or fresh berries.

Try mixing up a marinade that uses lime or pineapple juice as the acid, then grilling the meat or veggies to amp up their flavor.

Or include a chunk of mango or melon on a cocktail skewer along with a meatball.

Coconut is another way to add some tropical flavor.

What are some creative presentation ideas for tropical cocktail party appetizers?

Fresh pineapple as a centerpiece on a cocktail party table displaying assorted appetizers on cocktail picks.

I love using produce when putting together a charcuterie board or appetizer display.

Hollow out bell peppers and use them to hold a creamy dip or salsa.

Crack open a coconut and use half of it as a bowl.

Or use a fresh pineapple to display assorted party bites on skewers.

How many appetizers should I plan per guest?

If you’re hosting a dinner with friends, plan on approximately four appetizers per guest.

You don’t want them filling up on the small bites beforehand and then not enjoy the meal and dessert!

However, if you’re hosting a cocktail party where appetizers are the only food being served, the general rule of thumb is 12 appetizers per person.

The big joke in my family is that I always make too much food, but I can’t help it!

The idea of someone being hungry after coming to my home makes me feel so anxious.

So I tend to make three to four pieces of each kind of appetizer I serve per person for a cocktail party.

I may end up with some leftovers, but I’ll just enjoy them for lunch the next few days!

Can you make any of these tropical appetizers in advance?

Whenever I entertain, I’m always looking for recipes that I can make a day or two in advance.

After all, I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day beforehand!

My favorite recipes are those that can be made or assembled ahead of time, then just need to be grilled or cooked before serving them.

Every tropical cocktail party appetizer recipe I’m sharing can easily be prepared a day or two beforehand.

9 Tropical Cocktail Party Appetizers

More and more people have a variety of dietary restrictions or needs, so I’ll be including a note about each of these tropical appetizer ideas to let you know whether they’re vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or keto-friendly.

Tropical Fruit Plate or Skewers

Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Plate of cut tropical fruit including kiwi, pineapple, mango, melon, and raspberries for a cocktail party.

When we visited the Dominican Republic, each day the butler for our villa prepared a fresh plate of cut fruit for us to enjoy.

We all loved munching on the delicious fruits, so any time you host a tropical cocktail party, be sure to treat your guests to the same kind of experience!

If you want, you can make fruit kebabs, but I prefer keeping the individual fruits separate.

Particularly if you’re serving some more adventurous options like dragon fruit, passion fruit, or papaya.

That way your guests can pick and choose the fruits they like best.

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates

Gluten-free

Plate with bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and almonds.

When I was younger, my mom would make dates stuffed with almonds and then roll them in sugar.

They were so good!

Our local Cuban restaurant takes this idea to a whole new level by filling the dates with goat cheese too. Then they wrap them in bacon and bake them.

The sweet and salty flavors are delicious together.

Soften the goat cheese for an hour or two on the counter beforehand, then put it into a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with the corner cut away so you can easily pipe it into the dates.

To make this tropical appetizer extra easy, I buy pitted dates.

Use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the date open longways, pipe in the goat cheese, add an almond, and then wrap them with enough bacon to go all the way around with a little bit of an overlap.

I added a little passion fruit over the goat cheese before wrapping the date with the bacon for an extra tropical touch.

You can use pre-cooked bacon so they cook up faster.

Bake them at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

To make ahead, assemble the dates and then refrigerate them for up to three days before baking them.

Tropical Cocktail Meatballs

Gluten-free, Keto-friendly, Dairy-free

Tropical cocktail meatballs on bamboo skewers with a wood bead on the end displayed in a serving dish.

Meatballs are always a crowd favorite at any cocktail party!

You can buy frozen meatballs to make them easy, but those often contain all kinds of fillers.

It’s so easy to make and bake your own meatballs.

The great thing about making your own is you can skip any Italian seasoning and add some tropical seasonings to give them the taste of the islands.

I made these meatballs with some Caribbean jerk seasoning.

There are a variety of tropical sauce options, like this Hawaiian sauce recipe.

To make these in advance, simply prepare the meatballs and the sauce a day or two ahead. Then heat them up in a saucepan before the party.

I like serving them on skewers so they’re easy to pick up and can be eaten without any utensils.

Caribbean Bean Dip and Chips

Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Dairy-free

Ramekin of Caribbean bean salad with a basket of tortilla chips for a tropical cocktail party appetizer.

When we visited Puerto Rico, one of the most delicious dishes to me was a light bean salad.

Instead of the cloying sweet dressing you find on most American bean salads, this one was dressed with a little olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro.

This Puerto Rican bean salad recipe is easy to make ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

You can serve it as a salad in little serving cups like these that include a spoon, or serve it as a dip with tortilla chips.

Another fun option that would look pretty on a table is to put some of this bean salad in endive leaves and display them on a plate.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Jicama and Mango Skewers

Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Jicama and mango wrapped in prosciutto on cocktail picks with monstera leaf tops and a bottle of Tajin.

Have you ever had jicama?

It’s a mild-tasting tropical vegetable that’s high in fiber and low in carbs that’s crunchy like an apple.

I’ve enjoyed it in some coleslaw-like recipes when we traveled.

A super easy tropical appetizer is to combine slices of jicama and fresh mango then wrap them in prosciutto.

You can dip the ends of the fruit in Tajin seasoning, or toss the mango and jicama in a mixture of lime juice and Tajin to add some spice.

The heat of the Tajin is a great contrast to the sweet and salty fruit and prosciutto!

You can assemble these skewers the day before your cocktail party and refrigerate them until serving time.

Hawaiian BBQ Kebabs (Huli Huli Chicken)

Gluten-free, Keto-friendly, Dairy-free

Plate with huli huli chicken kebabs on circular skewers for a tropical cocktail party.

One of the classic dishes in Hawaii that’s easy to replicate at home is Huli Huli Chicken.

I created a keto-friendly version of this classic Hawaiian dish that’s one of my family’s favorite summer meals.

The meat is marinated overnight in a sweet and slightly spicy barbecue sauce.

To serve it as an appetizer, thread chunks of the chicken onto kebab skewers (I love these circular ones) and grill them about an hour ahead of when you plan on serving them.

This gives the skewers time to cool down so your guests can easily handle them without getting burnt!

The chicken is delicious at any temperature.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Toasted Coconut

Gluten-free, Vegetarian

Plate with goat cheese stuffed dates with almonds garnished with toasted coconut.

Remember those dates I wrapped in bacon?

This is a vegetarian version of those tasty tropical party bites.

Soften the goat cheese for an hour or so beforehand, then add it to a pastry bag with a star tip.

Use kitchen shears to cut a slit longways in pitted dates, then pipe the goat cheese inside.

I tend to get generous with the goat cheese…

Then pop an almond in the center and voila! you’ve got a delicious tropical appetizer.

A few options if you want to mix things up:

  • sprinkle them with toasted coconut
  • mix fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme into the goat cheese before piping it into the dates
  • drizzle the dates with hot honey
  • use seasoned almonds like habanero bbq, smoke house, or wasabi and soy sauce.
  • sprinkle them with Tajin or cayenne

You could even try two or three of these options to offer your guests a variety of sweet and savory flavors.

To make these ahead, assemble them the day before your cocktail party and refrigerate until party time.

Melon Wrapped in Prosciutto with Tajin

Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Bottle of Tajin next to slices of honeydew melon wrapped with prosciutto held by cocktail picks with bamboo beads.

Sweet honeydew melon is delicious when you wrap it with salty prosciutto!

You can stop right there for a super easy tropical bite, or you can kick it up a notch and sprinkle the skewers with Tajin seasoning.

I love making a variety of small bites on skewers and providing my guests with several different flavor options.

These simple skewers can be made the day before you serve them and refrigerated until it’s time to serve them.

Grilled Pineapple

Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Dairy-free

Plate of fresh grilled pineapple rings.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy pineapple is hot off the grill.

The natural sugars in the pineapple caramelize a bit and the flavor is just amazing!

I shared tips for picking the best pineapple and step-by-step instructions for preparing it and grilling it.

You can serve rings of this tasty treat at a cocktail party, or cut it into chunks and serve it on skewers.

A few variations:

  • Sprinkle it with brown sugar or monk fruit
  • Seasonings to try: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, Jerk seasoning, Garam Masala, curry powder, cayenne

You can make the grilled pineapple a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve it, or grill it along with the Huli Huli Chicken Kebabs.

Tropical Fruit Trifles

Gluten-free, Keto-friendly, Dairy-free, Vegetarian

Mini plastic cups of keto tropical trifle parfaits with a variety of diced fruit on a white platter.

This isn’t really an appetizer, but I have a huge sweet tooth, so no cocktail party is complete without some kind of dessert.

Sure, that fruit plate is sweet, but I want something a little more!

These delicious Tropical Trifles made from coconut cake with coconut custard and tropical fruit are perfect for a tropical cocktail party.

Not only are they tasty, but they also look so pretty on the table.

These nine simple tropical appetizer ideas are sure to be a hit at your next summer party or tropical-themed party.

The hardest part about them is deciding which one will you’ll make first!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Diane

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

SOOOO many great appetizer ideas! I can't wait to try a few.

AnnMarie

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

We'd love to know which ones you try!

Wendy McMonigle

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Wow! These all sound delicious. I think it’s party time!

Anne

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Thanks, Wendy! We sure had fun with this theme!

Renae

Wednesday 21st of June 2023

Yum! So many great ideas. My mouth is watering.

Anne

Wednesday 21st of June 2023

We really enjoyed them all so much!