Party Food Basics: Appetizer Shells

So, you’re having a party, and you need appetizers… some small bites that will taste yummy and appease those hoards of guests. But also be easy to serve, easy to eat… So, you figure I’ll buy some of those little edible cups (phyllo shells, or what not) and fill them with my savory or sweet treats. Easy right? Well yeah, but when you go to the store, and remember what your party budget is, those things can get pricy! So, here’s an easy way to make appetizer shells for both your sweet and savory treats, that won’t cost more than a few dollars for about 50 shells.

What can you do with these? Just about anything. Any sort of filling that would work on pie would be great… A cream filling piped into the shells? A Perfect little mini dessert! Goat cheese and cranberries? A marvelous appetizer. May be a salmon/cream cheese mixture, topped with a slice of cucumber? Perfect! Use your imagination of course…

The only caveat I’d say is that you don’t want something that has to cook for a long time, as you’d over cook the shells. But I used these, pre-cooked, for a sweet potato tartlet for my last party, and they worked wonderfully.

Caveat: Of course, they will cost a little more of your time than buying storebought…

You’ll need:

* mini sized muffin pan(s) (I like the non-stick version, no spray required)
* Either a cookie cutter, or juice glass to cut out your rounds. (Size depends on your rounds, but about 2+ inches in diameter. Test it out to see)
* Pie Crust: Homemade (cheaper but more work, and the added bonus of you know what’s in it) or storebought (if you’re pressed for time, this example uses the Pillsbury All Ready pie crusts you find in the refrigerator section of your local grocery)
* Rolling Pin or something to roll out the dough with.

Instructions below the photo gallery. Click on a photo to view larger or as a slideshow.

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400.
1. If using store bought dough, let it sit out to room temp, then unroll dough. You may want to roll it slightly more with your rolling pin, to flatten out the edges.
2. Cut out your rounds. They should be slightly larger in diameter than the top of your muffin cup, and when pressed down into it, come a little more than half way up the sides (see pics).
–Once you’ve cut all you can out of the pre-rolled out dough, press the scraps back together, and roll out again. Make sure the dough is rolled as thin as before, or a little thinner. Cut more rounds from that, and continue until you’ve used up all the dough.
3. Press the round into the muffin tin, pressing down.
4. Poke holes with a fork in the bottom and sides of each cup (this is called “docking” the crust, and keeps it from puffing too much*)
*you can also dock the crust prior to placing it in the cups, if that’s easier.
5. Fill each cup with dried beans or other pie weights (Also keeps the crust from puffing as much. You can skip this step if you dock well, but I still found I got a nicer shape with the beans.)
6. Bake in ~400 degree oven for ~5 min. (Ovens, pans, and dough varies, try your first batch to confirm times. I did mine in my little toaster oven and this was what I used. You want golden tan color on the top and no burning on the bottom.
7. Let cool to touch and remove from pan, remove beans, let cool.

(Based on my original post at

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