Appetizer vs Hors D’oeuvres: What’s The Difference?

Today, we’re going to be looking at the differences between appetizer vs hors d’oeuvres. You’ll probably be familiar with both, and already know that they’re both extremely popular in relation to food. But they are most certainly not the same thing! Let’s first take a look and what they are, and then we’ll get onto the differences between them.

What Is An Hors D’oeuvres?

An hors d’oeuvres is a small savory dish, that are more commonly known as finger foods. There are a range of hors d’oeuvres you can find, including:

  • crudités
  • antipasto
  • pastries
  • canapes
  • mini quiches
  • bruschetta

Hors d’oeuvres are usually bite-sized and eaten with your fingers. You’ll usually find them paired with cocktails, where you can mingle and enjoy the food and drink.

What Is An Appetizer?

An appetizer gets its name because this dish is meant to stimulate your appetite. Again, it’s a small dish – but it can be a food or drink. You’ll enjoy appetizers before the serving of your meal.

Differences Between Hors D’oeuvres and Appetizers

  • When to Eat. As we’ve seen, hors d’oeuvres are served before the meal officially begins, whereas the appetizer signifies the beginning of your meal
  • Size. Another significant factor is portion size. While hors d’oeuvres are usually eaten with a singular bite or two, appetizers are slightly bigger. They usually take several more bites to finish
  • How You Eat. Hors d’oeuvres are finger foods, so are most often eaten with your hands. Appetizers are eaten with cutlery
  • Setting. Appetizers are part of a sit-down meal, whereas hors d’oeuvres are usually for a social event. You will be standing and mingling while eating your hors d’oeuvres, so it’s usually a little more relaxed
  • Selection. With an appetizer, you usually only have one – but with hors d’oeuvres, it’s not unusual to have several different types

Events to Celebrate has great appetizers vs hors d’oeuvres quiz you may like to try to see if you’ve cracked the difference between the two! It gives you a range of scenarios and you must identify whether the guests are enjoying an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres! You can take the quiz here.

Differences Between Hors D’oeuvres and Canapes

Canapes are a type of hors d’oeuvres. Hors d’oeuvres can be small servings of anything savory, whereas a canape has a distinct definition and has to include the following:

  • base
  • spread
  • topping
  • garnish

Canapes may be a small piece of bread or pastry, with a topping. Whereas hors d’oeuvres can be absolutely anything. This is why canapes are always hors d’oeuvres, but hors d’oeuvres are not always canapes.

Examples Of Hors D’oeuvres

If you’re looking for some inspiration for hors d’oeuvres for your wedding day, why not try some of these? Some of our ideas include:

  • Crab and Avocado Toast
  • Smoked Shrimp
  • Bruschetta
  • Olives
  • Greek Salad Skewers
  • Blini with Salmon
  • Devilled Eggs
  • Stuffed Mini Peppers
  • Crab Pinwheels
  • Meatballs
  • Pork Satay
  • Sausage Pinwheels
  • Mini Quiches

Examples Of Appetizers

The most popular appetizers for a wedding are much more common knowledge, and they’ll be foods you’re already familiar with (and probably love!). Some of the most popular appetizers to enjoy at a wedding are:

  • Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
  • Crab Cakes
  • Chicken Skewers
  • Mini Sliders
  • Spring Rolls
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Beef Satay
  • Chicken Tempura
  • Lobster Mac and Cheese

Depending on the size, you may be able to mix and match the appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. The main difference between the two is sizing and time of serving, so experiment all you like! Don’t choose something because it sounds good, be sure to choose tastes and flavors that you like.


I hope this article has helped you to identify the differences between an appetizer vs hors d’oeuvres. While they’re all the same delicious small food, it’s important to know the differences; especially if this is something you’re planning to serve on your wedding day. Your caterer will likely have tonnes of options to choose from and can help you navigate the menu if there’s anything you’re still unsure of.

Did you have appetizers or hors d’oeuvres at your wedding? I’ll be honest, my wedding was extremely chill and we had a buffet in the daytime and the evening – so this wasn’t something I ever needed to consider. That’s why I’d love to hear your experiences, so feel free to let me know any responses in the comments below. Sharing is caring!


Is hors d'oeuvres appetizer or starter?

If you're wondering whether an hors d'oeuvres is an appetizer or a starter, the answer is: neither! Appetizers and starters are essentially the same thing, but hors d'oeuvres are separate. Served outside the main courses and the "set meal", they deserve their own category.

If it's small, you're served it while standing up and you can finish it within a bite or two - it's a hors d'oeuvres. If it's small, you're served it sitting down and you can finish it within four or five bites - it's an appetizer or a starter. This is the biggest distinction between the two, and the easiest way to differentiate them.

What is the difference between hors d'oeuvres and canapes?

Now where do canapes come into it? Canapes are finger foods that are most often served when guests are mingling - does this mean they're the same as hors d'oeuvres...not quite! The most important point to remember is that canapes are a variety of hors d'oeuvres but not all hors d'oeuvres are canapes. Let's take a closer look at this!

What makes a dish an hors d'oeuvres rather than an appetizer?

They both sound very similar by definition, right? But there are some distinct differences between the two. For starters (excuse the pun!), hors d'oeuvres are not part of your "standard" meal. They are usually served separately or before the meal, whereas the appetizer is the first part of the "standard" meal. In fact, did you know that hors d'oeuvres is French and quite literally translates to "outside the meal"?!

Exit mobile version