Looking for an easy, tasty and refreshing appetizer that will excite your senses? Look no further than a delicious strawberry and pretzel cracker combo! With its juicy, sweet flavor and satisfying crunch, this cold finger food is the perfect way to kick off any meal or party.
If you’re looking for the best appetizer for a summer evening or having friends for dinner, this strawberry appetizer with pretzel crackers should be on your list. Strawberry crostini with shallots and basil are incredibly tasty, with lots of strawberry flavor.
Of all the cold finger food appetizers, this is absolutely one of my favorites. It takes a little assembly time right before serving, but you can make the strawberry mixture a day or two in advance!
They are a great compliment to almost any other appetizer recipes that you might be serving from mini croque monsieurs to sausage balls.
I first made these for a birthday party for Natalie when she was in high school. I wanted an easy appetizer that kids would love and these were a hit. They have become my go-to appetizer in the summer when strawberries are in season, but you can also use frozen strawberries and make them in the dead of winter. They will brighten up your table.
You’ll top crisp pretzel crackers with cream cheese and a homemade strawberry mixture. Your strawberry topping is made with basil, brown sugar, and shallots; a tangy combination that’s highlighted by the tangy cream cheese.
You can make the strawberry topping ahead of time if you wish and assemble your crostini just before you want to serve them. It’s a beautiful, impressive appetizer that you’ll make again and again.
Typically, crostini are small slices of baguette that are baked crisp with olive oil and lightly seasoned for flavor. But for this recipe, use pretzel crackers as the ‘crostini.’ They both have a delightful crunch, but I prefer the saltiness the pretzel cracker provide.
What are pretzel crackers?
Pretzel crackers are the perfect combination of everything you love about pretzels blended with the shape and crunch of a cracker. They are crispier than a traditional butter cracker. The brand I’ve used is by Keebler and are called “Pretzel Flip Sides“.
They have a salty crispy taste like a flat pretzel and are great for a quick and easy appetizer.
Pro Tip: If you need to buy your strawberries in advance, learn the best way to keep strawberries fresh for weeks until you need them for your favorite strawberry recipes.
Why You’ll Love This Crostini Appetizer
- They’re easy to make.
- You can easily switch up some of the ingredients – try goat cheese instead of cream cheese.
- They look looks beautiful, so it’s an impressive snack or appetizer to serve to your guests.
- It’s a one bite finger food appetizer.
- Who doesn’t love strawberries!
What do shallots taste like in this recipe?
Shallots are a member of the onion family, so they do have an ‘oniony’ flavor, but it’s mild and sweet. Shallots are the onion that’s often found when a touch of mild onion flavor is desired, without it being overwhelming. You’ll often find shallots in vinaigrettes, sauces, marinades and homemade ranch dressing.
In this crostini recipe, the shallots add a subtle depth of flavor to the strawberry topping and help the dish retain a savory flavor instead of a purely sweet one.
Strawberry Appetizer Crostini Recipe Ingredients
- Strawberries – You’re going to chop these up. Choose the ripest berries you can find.
- Pretzel Crackers – You can choose a flavored cracker you think it will taste good with the strawberry basil topping, but I like salted pretzel crackers. You can use crostini or a butter crackers.
- Fresh Basil – Look for bright green leaves that don’t have brown spots.
- Shallot – Look for a shallot that feels heavy for its size, and that feels firm, with no soft spots. Small shallots will have a milder flavor, while larger ones will be stronger. Substitute with red onion or scallions if necessary.
- Cream Cheese – Any cream cheese brand will do. Even whipped cream cheese will be fine in this recipe. If you need to substitute it, you can use goat cheese, brie, or another spreadable cheese. You will need it to be slightly softened so that it’s easier to spread.
- Brown Sugar – Use dark brown if you have it, but light brown will also work, it adds just a hint of sweetness to the berry mixture.
Substitutions to try
- Make it more savory by using goat cheese instead of cream cheese.
- Make it sweeter by using mascarpone for the cream cheese.
- Spice it up and add some peppers to the strawberry mixture.
How To Make The Best Strawberry Pretzel Appetizer
Step 1: Make your strawberry spread.
Finely dice your strawberries into very small pieces. Chop the basil into small pieces and mince the shallot.
Stir everything together along with the brown sugar and place the bowl covered in the fridge.
Step 3: Assemble the crostini.
Spread cream cheese on each of your pretzel crackers, then top each with the strawberry mixture. Wait to add the topping until right before serving.
Tips for Making Perfect Crostini Appetizers
- You can make your strawberry topping ahead of time and assemble just before serving if you’d like. Just keep it stored in the fridge.
- Use fresh pretzel crackers, and don’t let the appetizers sit very long before serving. The pretzels will start to get soggy after about an hour or so.
- Let the cream cheese soften so that it’s easier to spread on the crackers.
How to Store Strawberry Crostini Appetizers
Try to assemble just the amount you need as they don’t save well. The crackers will absorb the strawberry mixture and get soft. After you’ve assembled your crostini, I recommend serving them right away. If necessary, store them in the fridge for a few minutes before serving.
You can store the strawberry topping separately in a bowl in the fridge for up to 1-2 days if you want to make it ahead.
I don’t recommend freezing the strawberry topping or the assembled crostini.
Questions That are Asked About Cold Finger Foods
What else can I use other than pretzel crackers?
You can use crostini or any other cracker or flatbread chip you’d like! There are lots of flavors that would taste good.
Do cracker crostinis get soggy?
Crostini can get soggy over time, so assemble your appetizers right before serving. This will prevent the crostini from soaking up the liquid from the cream cheese and the strawberry topping.
Can I make goat cheese crostini?
Yes, if you want to make strawberry and goat cheese crostini appetizers, you can swap out the cream cheese for goat cheese. It will yield a much stronger cheese flavor, but strawberry and goat cheese go very nicely together.
More Fabulous Appetizer Recipes to Love
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Strawberry Appetizers with Pretzel Crackers
- 36 Pretzel crackers
- 2 cups strawberries finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 4 tsp minced shallot
- 3 oz. cream cheese softened
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped strawberries, chopped basil, and minced. shallot along with brown sugar. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- To assemble, spread cream cheese on a cracker and top with some of the strawberry mixture. Sprinkle with pepper.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If you can’t find pretzel crackers, you can use Ritz crackers.
- Assemble these right before serving, the crackers will start to soften after an hour or so.
- You can use fresh or frozen strawberries.
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