12 finger food recipes that use three ingredients or less

When you're pressed for time but need to pull together some appetizers, the last thing you want to do is spend half the time prepping a long list of ingredients — especially when some of the simplest recipes will get you some pretty remarkable results. Sometimes, simpler really is better. Here are 12 recipes that use three ingredients or less to get you started.

Chicken wings

The combination of crisp chicken skin, juicy meat and a delectable glaze or rub make chicken wings an irresistible party appetizer. You can make your wings plain, spicy or sweet without having to pull every ingredient out of the pantry. For beautifully crisp wings, pat each piece dry with paper towels and give the chicken some time to air dry. For a sweet flavor, try this these honey-glazed wings. If you want to go with a classic hot wing, this recipe for buffalo chicken wings will hit the spot.

Salami crisps

When you fry or bake thinly sliced salami it becomes a thin chip — and it's beyond delicious! This is a pretty amazing way to turn one ingredient into a full-on appetizer. The chips are salty with an intensified salami flavor that makes them great to serve on their own, but you can use them for dipping, too. Choose quality meat, this isn't the time to go for the cheap stuff. Lay the salami slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, but don't let them overlap or you'll end up having to break the finished chips apart. Then put the baking tray in the oven and watch the magic happen. When you pull the salami chips out of the oven they'll still be slightly pliable but become crisp once they cool.

If you're willing to add one or two ingredients to this appetizer, offer mustard for dipping. For variety, you can serve the chips with two types of mustard, like prepared honey mustard and an old-fashioned grainy mustard that's full of crunchy seeds. This is one appetizer, however, that really doesn't require you to go to any trouble at all. If you only have a jar of spicy or yellow mustard, that will do just fine.

Jalapeno poppers

When they show up at the table, it always looks like jalapeno poppers took some know-how. The cheese filling is bubbling and hot and the peppers are soft and yet still retain a little of their crunch. One trick is to make sure you've got a flavorful filling, and if you're looking to make things as simple as possible, head to the dairy shelf and grab a container of chive-flavored cream cheese. These poppers, filled with the oniony cream cheese that becomes even creamier when it bakes, are wrapped with a small piece of sliced bacon for a smoky, salty, and creamy two-bite appetizer that are ready in less than 30 minutes.

Selecting jalapeños can also be a little confusing: the peppers can range from mild to hot and it's sometimes difficult to know what you've got until you bite into it. Here's one trick: At the market, examine the jalapeños for clues that will indicate the level of heat. If the skin is smooth and free of white or light brown markings, then the jalapeno was likely harvested while it was still a young pepper and the heat level will be mild. Jalapeños that spend more time on the vine will develop those light brown striations on the skin as they age. The skin will also redden as the pepper matures. These older peppers will have the most heat. To minimize heat, make sure to remove seeds and ribs.

Puff pastry, cheese and cranberry bites

It's amazing how simple it is to craft a bit of puff pastry dough into a stunning appetizer, but these cranberry-brie bites are the perfect three-ingredient creation. This appetizer is adorably cute thanks to the use of an everyday mini-muffin pan. By tucking squares of the puff pastry dough into each of the cups and baking them along with a little cube of brie cheese and a dollop of cranberry sauce you'll get a starter that's fit for a fancy gathering but easy enough for a casual occasion too. You have a choice here: whole-berry sauce or the smooth stuff. I like to use cranberry sauce with berries for an added layer of texture and an extra tangy pop of cranberry flavor. Freeze the cheese for a few minutes to make cutting easier.

Now that you see how easy it is to make these little starters, go wild with your own flavor combinations. A few I recommend are fig jam and blue cheese, apple butter and cheddar, guava jelly and Monterey jack, and apricot preserves and Camembert.

Shrimp skewers

Put shrimp on a stick, glaze it while it grills or broils and you've got party food (or at least quick-to-make starter that will stave off hunger while the dinner roast is in the oven). What is especially great about this appetizer is that you can make it really easy on yourself by asking the fish guy to shell and de-vein the shrimp for you. And if you ask nicely, I bet you can even get those shrimp threaded onto the skewers too. A simple glaze made from prepared adobo sauce and lime brings a spicy-smoky accent to this version of shrimp skewers. If you are threading the shrimp onto the skewers yourself, why not wrap each with bacon too. This recipe soaks shrimp in some hot sauce first for a buffalo style spin on shrimp.

Baked pear chips

When they're sliced thin and slowly baked in a low temperature oven, pears become a sweet crunchy chip . If you're having an appetizer buffet with both sweet and savory offerings these two-ingredient chocolate pear chips are a good choice. A super thin slice results in good crispy chips, so use a mandoline. For a savory spin on these fruity chips, set aside the chocolate and serve them spread with an herbed cheese spread like Boursin. You can also change up the flavor profile by adding spice. Sprinkle the chips with cinnamon sugar while they bake or try a different spice like garam masala, cumin or curry powder. If you're a big fan of apples, you can swap them in to replace the pears.

Crispy chickpeas

It's easy enough to open a jar and put out some nuts to snack on, but you can also go the extra distance with a bowl of homemade roasted chickpeas. These "baked beans" will deliver that same salty, nutty satisfaction and put a much smaller dent in your wallet. With a couple inexpensive cans of chickpeas, a few teaspoons of spice you already have in the pantry and a hot oven, you can create this irresistibly crunchy appetizer. To make sure the beans are as crisp as possible, blot them dry after draining and rinsing and let them sit out to air dry for up to an hour.

Baked figs

Sometimes all you need is really fantastic fruit and some cheese to make a stunning appetizer. When figs are in season, take advantage of their sweet, perfumed essence and exotic character and serve them baked with a dollop of goat cheese. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a subtle tangy-sweet finish. Figs don't need a lot of special prep: just remove the inedible stem and you're ready to prepare them however you'd like. Check here for more about fig varieties. While figs are a summertime treat, you can still run with the concept of baked fruit and cheese any time of year. Try persimmon with blue cheese in the fall or winter. In the spring, apricots' fleeting season is short. Stay on the lookout for when they arrive at the market and grill some of those delicate stone fruit (pit them first) and serve with crumbled goat cheese.

Wonton creations

Wonton wrappers are sitting right there on the shelf in the produce section and most people don't even realize they're just waiting to be made into a pretty awesome starter. Maybe you've ordered one of those fried appetizers with dipping sauce when you ate Chinese food, but did you know you can do a homemade version? All you need is cream cheese, wonton wrappers and sweet and sour dipping sauce.

But that's not all in minutes you can turn that paper-thin egg dough into a batch of the most lovely crackers. Season the wrappers before baking with sea salt or add herbs and spice like in this recipe.

Frico

Cheese really is handy when it comes to making simple starters that don't require a whole arsenal of ingredients. Frico, which essentially is fried cheese, is one of the easiest of appetizers to make and it only requires one thing — cheese. Your best bet is to start with a hard cheese. Classic frico is made with shredded Parmesan, but you can go with Asiago, Grana Padano, a dry aged jack cheese, or aged Manchego. The goal is to cook the cheese until it melts, spreads out a little and takes on a lacy appearance. You can make frico in a pan on top of the stove, but you'll have to do only a few at a time, or you can bang out a big batch by spooning the cheese (and if there are any seasonings) into heaps on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Watch frico carefully, they'll quickly go from golden to burnt. When you pull them from the oven, you can let them cool on the pan or give the cheese crackers a little flair by drooping them over the curve of a rolling pin or side of a wine bottle while they're still warm from the oven.

Shishito peppers

The first time I was served shisito peppers, I almost swooned. They weren't that pretty to look at, all blistered and burnt looking from their time being seared in a super hot pan. It was their charred pepper aroma that drew me in. They were served with a garlic mayo and the combination of creamy dip and mellow roasted sweet roasted pepper flavor sent me completely over the edge. When I realized how easy it would be to make this yummy treat, I called the local fresh market and asked to make sure they got these tiny peppers in. The key is to start with a searingly hot pan (cast iron is great, but not essential). Right when the peppers are finished, give them a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt and they are ready to eat. If you want to take them up a notch, stir up this two-ingredient garlic mayo and serve it alongside for dipping.

More chips

Just like you can slice up pears or apples and roast them slowly until they become crunchy chips, you can also treat beets in the same way. Their earthiness and bold magenta-red color give beet chips delicious flavor and stunning looks. The chips beg for some sea salt (and pepper too, if it's your thing) but that's about it. While beet chips can become a beautiful platform for a topping like hummus or ranch dip, these chips are pretty tasty all by themselves. Use a mandoline or a food processor with a thin slicer attachment to cut the beets and wear gloves to prevent your hands from becoming hopelessly stained for the rest of the day. Then you just need some oil and you're ready to bake the slices until they become crispy chips. If you want to bring in some complexity, chop up some rosemary and sprinkle it over the beets to flavor them as they bake.