23 Best and Worst Frozen Appetizers on Store Shelves
When it comes to celebrations, everyone knows the pre-game and the after-party are always more fun than the main event. And we'd argue that the same rule holds true when it comes to eating: Appetizers—the food world's equivalent to a pre-party—and desserts are always the best parts. That said, if you're hosting a (virtual) party or just want to kick off a dinner with some light bites, you'll want to take care in curating your menu—especially if you're going the frozen appetizer route.
While pairing crudites and a cheese plate with some frozen mini burgers can take the stress out of entertaining, there are so many ways it can go wrong. Will the food actually taste as appealing as it looks on the box? And in terms of nutrition, are you basically serving fancy fast food?
To answer these questions, we braved the tundra that is the frozen food section and examined the most popular frozen appetizers. Below, you'll find a culmination of our detective work: the best and worst frozen apps in the supermarket. And if you really want to step up your cooking skills, check out these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
FIRST, THE BEST…
Cape Gourmet Cooked Shrimp
Pair this unadulterated source of protein with some cocktail sauce for a simple yet filling appetizer.
Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs
A dusting of vinegar, mustard seed, turmeric, and paprika gives these tater-tot-esque bites a flavor your guest won't be able to get enough of.
Cascadian Farm Straight Cut French Fries
The ingredients list for these Cascadian Farm fries is short—just organic roasted potatoes and organic canola oil. Can't beat that!
Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites
For something that's 90% bread and cheese the fat and carb count isn't too out of control. Plus, we love that these taste like a blend of pizza bites and mozzarella sticks but look far more "grown-up."
Annie's Three Cheese Pizza Poppers
These bite-sized snacks are filled with cheesy goodness—yet manage to stay light in the fat and sodium department.
Applegate Organics Organic Chicken Strips
The relatively light breading makes Applegate's strips less fatty than other nuggets in the frozen food section. To take these strips a bit more "fancy," set out a trio of different dips: a classic ketchup, some honey mustard, and a homemade ginger sesame. Create the latter by combining 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, 1 minced scallion, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. It's totally easy to make!
José Olé Chicken Taquitos Rolled in Corn Tortillas
These taquitos keep their fat count reasonable thanks in part to their little corn sleeping bags, which are lower in fat than flour tortillas.
Foster Farms Mini Corn Dogs Honey Crunchy
At only 55 calories per dog, the damage potential here is relatively low. Better yet, these bad boys go from frozen solid to sizzling hot in just under 10 minutes!
Tommy's Superfoods Brussels Sprouts
If you don't consider Brussels sprouts a legit app option, it's time to get on board. Veggies that have traditionally been seen as side dishes are now popping up at restaurants across the nation as appetizer offerings. We're fans of Tommy's blend of sprouts, mushrooms, onions, pepper, olive oil (one of the planet's top healthy fats), and spices because it's reminiscent of a flavor profile we'd drum-up in our own kitchens. Set out some toothpicks next to the serving bowl to make it easy to dig in.
Dr. Praeger's Kale Puffs
Since these are made with kale instead of plain ol' potatoes, you can view them as being a bit fancier than a typical tot. Plus, if you wind up with leftovers, it's no biggie at all. Packed with fiber and low in calories and sodium, this tater-tot alternative is a must-try for picky little ones and fast-food-loving grown-ups.
And if you really want to step up your cooking game, here are easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.
NOW, THE WORST…
Gorton's Popcorn Shrimp
Shrimps are among the sea's greatest gifts. But giving them the fryer treatment is not ideal!
TGI Fridays BBQ Bacon Angus Sliders
With an ingredient list as long as a baby registry, these nutrient-void, high-calorie sliders are a definite no-go.
Ore-Ida Tater Tots
This is a way to mess up a perfectly good spud. Each of these tots has an entire gram of fat! All that excess oil makes them a bit reminiscent of soggy cafeteria food. Do yourself a favor and skip 'em!
Totino's Pepperoni & Bacon Pizza Rolls
Eating bacon and pepperoni together is already a recipe for disaster, but aside from its poor nutritional profile, these rolls are coated with titanium dioxide, a whitening agent proven to cause liver and tissue damage in mice.
Ore-Ida Onion Ringers
Ore-Ida somehow managed to cram 60 calories and more than 3 grams of fat into each of these fried circles of adulterated onion. Considering most of us down at least five or six of those things at once, that's definitely not good news for your waistline.
Hebrew National Beef Franks in a Blanket
There's never a good excuse to serve up an appetizer that has trans fats—ever.
Market Pantry Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños
It's never a good idea to serve something that's 80% cream cheese and breading—and these poppers are no exception. Plus, the fact that just three of these things carry a quarter of the day's fat is downright mind-blowing.
SeaPak Budweiser Beer Battered Crab Poppers
Here, crab, cheese, and jalapeño peppers are fried in a crunchy beer batter to create these little bites. The problem with these? It's far too easy to eat quite a few bite-sized treats like this in one sitting, and soon enough, you'll be consuming more than half of your daily sodium.
TGI Fridays Boneless Chicken Bites Buffalo Style
Looking for some caramel coloring in your chicken bites? Didn't think so! Along with all that sodium, these mini chicken options aren't the best.
White Castle Cheese Sliders
With these calorie-jammed sliders on your appetizer table, no one will be hungry for the main meal.
Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders
"Gluten-free" may distract you from the fact that these nuggets have more calories from carbs than their gluten-containing counterparts. You may as well just stick with those unless you or your dining companions are following a gluten-free plan.
Trader Joe's Breaded Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
It's always a better option to just eat mozzarella string cheese minus the breadcrumbs, as it's nearly impossible to just eat two and walk away.
Market Pantry Macaroni & Cheese Bites
If cheese is what you crave, there are far less fatty and starchy ways to get your fix.