Labor Day: your last whiff of summer before crop tops become turtlenecks and pumpkin spice makes its triumphant return. The long weekend means plenty of opportunities for entertaining, and whether you're planning a sit-down dinner or just hosting friends in the backyard, it's best to be prepared. Thing is, the holiday is meant to be spent working as little as possible, so whip up these 11 crowd-pleasing, low-lift appetizers to make every sun-soaked second last.
① Kentucky Benedictine Dip
This Southern dip is a delicious exercise in using your food processor. It's a creamy, cucumber-loaded beacon on a hot sunny day.
② Yogurt- and Harissa-Marinated Chicken Skewers
Stick it to ordinary grilled kebabs with this spicy harissa marinade. You were already planning on firing up the grill anyway, right?
③ Roasted Almonds with Crispy Herbs
Strategically placed bowls of snacks mean less effort on the part of both you and your guests when hunger strikes. The almonds roast in 10 minutes and instantly become party ready when tossed with quickly fried herbs.
⑤ Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Green Raisin Pesto
Get the ball rolling on Labor Day festivities with these fragrant mini meatballs. Add fresh crudités and grilled pita points to dip in the herb-packed pesto, and you'll have a platter that caters to vegetarian guests as well.
RELATED Fall's Best New Restos »
⑥ Chipotle Shrimp with Mango Sauce
Let the shrimp soak up the garlicky olive oil marinade overnight while you dream pleasant thoughts of gracious entertaining. Then blast them on high heat the next day to finish the job. They're just as delicious chilled, so feel free to make them early in the day to serve later.
⑦ Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Parmesan
Chef Suzanne Goin calls these one-bite wonders "meat candy." We suggest you take however many you think you might need, and triple it—they're that good.
⑧ Chicken Wings with Brown Butter-and-Spinach Sauce
Two words: brown butter. Chicken wings are generally buffalo-and-blue cheese camp, but take the path less traveled with this sophisticated version instead.
⑨ Vidalia Onion Rings with Beer Mustard
You don't have to visit your local pub to get top-notch onion rings. A buttermilk bath and a brew-based mustard sauce will make these crispy snacks the star of the snack table.
⑩ Greek Salad Skewers
Few things beat the novelty of food on a stick. These briny bites are easy to eat and even easier to make.
⑪ Roasted Poblano and Pecan Guacamole
It's not a party unless guacamole is invited. Hugh Acheson's nutty version has deep flavor that'll make your guests think you spent the day in front of a smoker—but the whole thing comes together in just 20 minutes.