15 Trends and Tastes for Fall-Flavored Cocktail Hours
Blend formal with the familiar this fall with your cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres.

The smell of grilled burgers may be wafting through the summer air, but if you’re in the midst of planning a fall wedding, you likely are more interested in reception menus than backyard barbecues. There’s just something about fall foods that bring a sense of comfort but why not add a taste of formality to the familiar? Cocktail hour is the perfect time to experiment, from elevated home-style cooking to contemporary twists on the seasonal harvests. We asked some of our favorite chefs around the country to offer their hors d’oeuvre picks for the ultimate fall wedding cocktail hour.

Chef: Jenn Louis
Claim to Fame: Lincoln Restaurant in Portland, Ore.


Crostini with Braised Kale and Prosciutto: The end of summer brings earthy greens that pair beautifully with salty and rich prosciutto. “This is the perfect bite-size snack for both a casual and formal wedding,” explains Louis.


Butternut Squash and Chanterelle Tart with Fontina and Parsley: Fall squash and mushrooms are just hearty and warm enough to complement both red and white wine during a cocktail hour.


Chef: Jorge Chicas
Claim to Fame: Andaz in West Hollywood, Calif.


Melon with Jamón Ibérico: Any type of melon during the fall is beautiful and flavorful and the sweetness complements the cured ham perfectly. “I love the combination of sweet and salty, finished with California extra virgin olive oil,” says Chicas.


Rio Frio Caviar from Spain, Light Whipped Potatoes and Chives: The juxtaposition of caviar and whipped potatoes effortless blends formality with familiarity and is finished with olive oil and minced chives. “You can never go wrong with caviar and potatoes,” Chivas adds.



Chef: Kelven Book
Claim to Fame: Canard, Inc. in New York City


Wine with Cheese and Crackers: “We’ve been having fun with served items that would normally be found on a buffet as an hors d’oeuvre,” says Book. Their version of the go-to wine with cheese-and-cracker spread is a boat-shaped wonton crisp, stuffed with creamy brie, apple, sage and port glaze.


Caesar Salad: We’re seeing a rise of typical first-course items served in hors d’oeuvre form (think soup shots). Book’s appetizer twist on the Caesar salad features a sushi-style presentation with Caesar salad and a bit of jicama, topped with Parmesan foam.


Buffalo Wings Skewer: Football season standbys are made elegant by being skewed with celery stalks, giving them an instant wedding-worthy makeover and easy-to-eat efficiency.



Chef: Andrea Correale
Claim to Fame: Elegant Affairs Caterers in New York City


Sweet Potato Carrot Soup Sips: Served as a passed hors d’oeuvre in sake cups, this autumnal treat blends two of the season’s most beloved flavors in a cocktail-friendly taster.


Kobe Beef Frank Lollipops: This childhood favorite gets a grown-up taste with delicious Kobe beef dogs wrapped in a Dijon-infused pastry.



Chef: Dalis Chea
Claim to Fame: Herban Feast Catering in Seattle, Wash.

fall-hors-doeuvres-sweet-potato-dungeness-crab-cakes Sweet Potato and Dungeness Crab Cakes: An annual fall favorite with chipotle remoulade and minced chives, the bright burnt orange color reflects the color and décor themes of autumn nuptials.
fall-hors-doeuvres-bacon-wrapped-figs Bacon-Wrapped Figs: Stuffed with smoked turkey and apricot marmalade, this easy-to-make hors d’oeuvre showcases the fall’s seasonal bounty of figs.
fall-hors-doeuvres-seared-beef-loin Seared Beef Loin Canapes: The tasty finger food is given fall flair with Granny Smith apple-celery root slaw and horseradish cream delicately layered on top.
fall-hors-doeuvres-wild-mushroom-canapes Wild Mushroom Canapes with Truffle Oil and Smoked Curado Goat Cheese: Take advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s fall mushroom harvest with a canape piled with mushrooms, drizzled in truffle oil and sprinkled with smoked Curado goat cheese.


Chef: Ricky Eisen
Claim to Fame: Between the Bread in New York City


Duck Breast on a Wonton Floret with Grapes: Savory duck breast is balanced out with the sweetness of the grapes, stacked together on a wonton floret.


Beet Puree with Goat Cheese: This simple, yet elegant app mixes the earthy flavor of one of the season’s most sought-after veggies with the creaminess of goat cheese for a little sip of heaven.

Photo credits: Sweet Potato and Dungeness Crabcakes: Clane Gessel Photography; Seared Beef Loin Canape: Azzura Photography; Wild Mushroom Canapes with Truffle Oil and Smoked Curado Goat Cheese: Jen and Jody Photography; Bacon-wrapped figs: tablespoon.com