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Taste Test: The Best Frozen Appetizers

We taste-tested dozens of frozen appetizers from the grocery store and online to find our favorite hors d'oeuvres for any party or holiday. So preheat the oven, toss the boxes and practice your most gracious smile -- these winners practically guarantee compliments.
frozen appetizers

BEST PIZZA ROLL

Schwan's Snack Rolls, Pepperoni Pizza Flavored

These aren't your average pizza rolls: The pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella are housed inside a "supercrispy" wrapper, which trounced other "soggy," "doughy" entries. Tasters gushed over how the "spicy, saucy" filling and golden-brown exterior came together in a "tasty combo of crunch and chewiness." These "handy" goodies earned a permanent spot in the freezer. ($9 for 24, schwans.com)

BEST JALAPENO POPPERS

Poppers Cream Cheese Jalapenos

We had some serious popper lovers in the room, and they found perfection in Poppers' "creamy, crunchy, spicy" bites. (They also rated the brand's cheddar variety a close second.) The whole peppers -- breaded from stem to tip and bursting with cheese -- delivered spice without being too hot. "The cream cheese cools the jalapeno heat," said one taster. ($3.60 for 9, at grocery stores)

BEST PIG IN A BLANKET

Artiko Franks in a Blanket

This small, "snappy" dog swaddled in "delicate pastry" from Independence, Missouri-based Artiko leaped over the competition. Judges said the "flaky wrapping" and juicy, all-beef center was "everything you want" in a cocktail frank. Said one taster, "I could eat a dozen -- asy." ($18 for 20, artikochef.com)

BEST SPRING ROLL

Chung's Shrimp Spring Rolls

Just when the mushy, salty competition had convinced us there wasn't a good roll to be found outside an Asian restaurant, these beauties came along. The "hearty" spring rolls -- stuffed with cabbage, carrot, celery, shiitake mushrooms and shrimp -- delivered "fresh taste" and "layers of crispy pastry." ($3.50 for 5, at grocery stores)

BEST PARTY MEATBALL

Farm Rich Meatballs

We wouldn't hesitate to serve our guests Farm Rich's version of this cocktail-party staple. "It tastes like Nana's meatloaf!" one judge said. The onion-flecked orbs of "quality meat" (a beef-and-pork blend with a garlicky kick) emerged from the oven "browned outside and soft inside" -- just begging for the sharp end of a toothpick. ($7 for about 76, at grocery stores)

BEST CHEESE STICK

Alexia Mozzarella Stix

Amazing but true: We found our favorite cheese sticks in a health-food market! These all-natural, "satisfyingly gooey" snacks are made with real mozzarella that's rolled in herbed breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil; the result is "Italian-restaurant taste." Note to hosts with acting skills: Get rid of the box -- these "look like they were breaded by you." ($4.60 for about 12, at grocery stores and natural markets)

BEST ODDBALL

Fillo Factory Brie & Raspberry Fillo Rolls

These "quick and easy" yet "glamorous" apps wowed palates with their "flaky" exterior and sweet-savory center of "oozing cheese and fruity preserves." The secret ingredient: toasted almond flakes, which add texture to the pillowy rolls and temper the raspberry filling?s sweetness. "Indulgent" and "delicious," these all-natural snacks are a glass of bubbly's perfect match. ($6.50 for 12, at select stores including BJ's Wholesale Club)

Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in December 2008.

 

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