Seafood Appetizers That Will Seriously Impress Your Guests

Fish and seafood are quite possibly some of the healthiest foods hiding out in your fridge or freezer. Fish, shrimp, and other kinds of seafood are typically rich in nutrients, with vitamins, minerals like calcium, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And both fish and seafood are the ideal stars for appetizers that will truly wow your dinner guests. After all, nothing says "special" quite like great-quality shrimp, crab, and fish.

When it comes to fish and seafood, it's important to pick the most sustainable options available. Using an app like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app will help you suss out the best choices in your region and make purchases that are good for your family and good for the planet too.

Seafood has a short shelf life, so be sure to do your shopping as close as possible to the day you plan to serve your dish. If that's just not possible, you can always opt for frozen seafood in a pinch. In many cases, you won't be able to tell the difference. Whatever dish you pick, however, rest assured that these are seafood appetizers that will seriously impress your guests.

Easy, breezy coconut shrimp

Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this coconut shrimp recipe is a surefire crowd-pleaser. And with this recipe, they're not relegated to restaurant tables alone. In fact, they're well within the reach of any home cook, no matter the experience level. And these little beauties can be ready in under half an hour!

Start things off by breading the shrimp in a seasoned mix of flour and shredded coconut. Deep fry them until they become crispy and golden brown. Then, all you need to do is serve the coconut shrimp hot, perhaps sprinkled with some fresh cilantro for bright, herbal flavor and alongside your favorite dipping sauce.

Crab cakes are a classic Maryland delicacy

Crab cakes are a classic for a reason, as these little appetizers show off sweet, fresh crab meat at its very best. You'll be glad you picked this crab cake recipe.

To make these little patties, combine lump crab with mayo, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, parsley, and that favorite seafood seasoning standby, Old Bay spice mix. Cooked in a skillet until crispy on the outside but still tender within, these crab cakes make the perfect appetizer any time of year. If you've got major crab fans at the table, consider doubling the recipe and serve with a green salad for a phenomenal main dish.

Crab-stuffed mushrooms are a one-bite wonder

While we're on the crab train, let's make a stop off in mushroom town. These crab-stuffed mushroom caps are packed with flavorful crab meat, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and a hint of spicy horseradish. Who knew that crab and mushrooms played so well together? Sprinkled with breadcrumbs for a lovely, textural crunch, the mushrooms are then baked in the oven until golden brown.

If you choose smaller mushroom caps, guests won't need to worry about being dainty when enjoying these. Since they shrink in the oven, they can easily become a one-bite passed hors d'oeuvre and pair beautifully with white wine or Champagne.

Light and crispy shrimp tempura

Tempura isn't unique to your favorite Japanese restaurants. You can perfect it at home with this tempura recipe. Best of all, making it yourself means that you can choose your favorite veggies and seafood to plunge into the light batter and fry until crisp and golden.

Shrimp is of course a no-brainer in this dish, being a frequent member of the classic tempura lineup. You can also bring in slices of sweet potato, mushrooms, broccoli, squash, or zucchini to make amazing co-stars to your seafood feature. Choose your faves and let the frying begin!

Summer rolls are a fun hands-on appetizer

If you're looking for a hands-on app you can make with your guests, why not ask them to roll up their sleeves and try rolling up a summer roll? 

These easy shrimp rolls come together quickly, especially if you prep the shrimp and sliced veggies in advance. And guests will have fun assembling their favorite combinations of colors, textures, and flavors. It'll be hard to resist double-dipping in the sauce, a heady combo of peanut butter, soy sauce, sweet honey, and spicy horseradish with a hint of garlic and toasted sesame.

No-cook ceviche is the perfect summertime starter

To impress your guests without ever having to turn on the oven, turn your attention to ceviche. This Peruvian combo of diced raw fish is "cooked," not with heat, but with the acid of lime juice. 

In this recipe, rich salmon dances with a combo of lime and orange juices, sweet mango, crispy cucumber, and piquant radishes. It's the perfect way to start dinner on a hot summer's day.

A cold appetizer with a kick of heat

Aguachile is a cousin of ceviche hailing not from Peru but from Mexico. Instead of salmon, shrimp play the starring role in this dish, "cooked" in a chile-spiked lime juice. That's where we get the dish's name, which translates from Spanish as "chile water". 

This aguachile recipe is served with fresh, crisp toppings that include red onion, radishes, and cucumber. Creamy avocado and loads of cilantro truly seal the deal and help to balance out the bite of the red onion and radishes. The finished dish is (almost) too pretty to eat! Consider serving it alongside some tortilla chips for a savory complement with plenty of texture.

Crab rangoon is really ran-good

If you're looking for a seafood appetizer that's a bit easier on the wallet, look no further than this affordable, but still very delicious crab rangoon recipe. Despite its name, this Chinese-American takeout standby is actually made with imitation crab meat, which means that it is less expensive and has a longer shelf life than the real stuff. 

Combined with cream cheese seasoned with garlic and onion, the imitation crab meat is wrapped in wontons and then deep-fried until the wrappers become crispy and golden. Be sure to serve the final result with your favorite dipping sauce, and always remember to wait for the applause from your satisfied diners!