6 Insider Tips from a Washington DC Private Chef for a Successful Canapé Party

Canapé is a French term that translates to “couch.” This reflects the original construction of canapé, where a savory garnish was sitting atop a base such as bread, crackers or toast. These days, the canapé has evolved into an international term for “small bites”. I surveyed a few chef friends to see what they had to say about canapés and compiled them into 6 tips. Bonus: One of our Washington DC private chefs provided one of his special canapé recipes at the end of this posting.

Number 1: Theme

Don’t be afraid to take it international! Canapés don’t need to be restricted to French-themed foods. If it helps, think “tapas” (Spain), “izakaya” (Japan), “mezze” or pinpoint a specific country/region and move forward from there.

Number 2: Food gone mini

There are so many recipes out there! Where to start? Need some inspiration? Think of appetizers, entrées and desserts and then consider ways to make them bite-sized.

Private Chef Washington DC

Private Chef Chi’s Strawberry Shortcake is a great example of food that can go mini.

Number 3: One mouthful

Size is important. These morsels should be consumed in one bite.

Private Chef Washington DC

Bite-sized Canapé

Number 4: Staying away from ‘one notes’

Flavor, texture and color are important in all culinary creations. When your creation bite-sized, it’s imperative that it be packed with flavor and variation. You have one shot!

Private Chef Washington DC

Private Chef Giovanni’s mini chorizo corn muffins have a blend of flavors, colors and textures.

Number 5: Temperature

Be sure to incorporate varying temperatures—cold, room temperature and hot.

Number 6: Presentation

Canapés are usually passed around or set up buffet style. There are many ways to spice up your food presentation. Chef Giovanni suggests being creative with your presentation. Use trays, plates, Asian soup spoons, demitasse and/or verrines. Also experiment with varying the heights of your displays. The possibilities are endless!

Private Chef Washington DC


Enjoy hosting a canapé dinner with your friends or loved ones! Share these tips and share your own canapé ideas in the comments below. 

We also have many other blog posts to help you out with your entertaining needs, see our Top 5 Dinner Party Themes and other blog posts here.

Mini Sriracha Biscuit with Buffalo Chicken Salad
A deconstructed staple in American cuisine.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
For the Biscuit
  1. 2 c. (475 mL) flour
  2. 4 tsp. (20 mL) baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) baking soda
  4. 3/4 tsp. (3.7 mL) salt
  5. 2 tbsp. (30 mL) butter
  6. 2 tbsp. (30 mL) shortening
  7. 1 c. (240 mL) buttermilk, chilled
  8. 1 c. (240 mL) shredded cheddar cheese
  9. 1/2 c. (120 mL) Sriracha sauce
For the Chicken
  1. 3 filleted chicken breasts
  2. 1 egg, beaten
  3. flour
  4. cornmeal
For the Chicken Salad
  1. 2 c. (475 mL) crispy fried chicken breast (cut into cubes)
  2. 1/2 c. (120 mL) dill ranch dressing
  3. 1 tsp. (5 mL) tabasco or to taste
  4. 1 tbsp. (15 mL) lemon juice
  5. 1 c. (240 mL) diced celery stick
  6. 1/2 c. (120 mL) scallions
  7. salt & pepper to taste
  8. purple micro greens (for garnish)
For the Biscuit
  1. Preheat oven to 450℉ (232℃).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry mixture until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk.
  4. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
  5. Finally, stir in Sriracha and cheddar cheese.
  6. Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times.
  7. Press into a 1-inch thick round.
  8. Cut out biscuits with a 1-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.
  9. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.
  10. Bake until biscuits are tall and a light golden color on top, 10-12 minutes.
For the Chicken
  1. Dredge chicken in flour, egg and then cornmeal.
  2. Fry in cooking oil until golden brown.
For the Chicken Salad
  1. Cut fried chicken breast into cubes.
  2. Whisk together ranch dressing, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice.
  3. Add fried chicken breast, celery and scallions.
  4. Toss together and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon buffalo chicken salad onto mini biscuits.
  6. Garnish with a slice of celery, and a micro green.
  1. Chef Giovanni's inspiration: "I took a staple in American cuisine and deconstructed it. My objective was to uniquely incorporate the mouthwatering flavors of a buffalo chicken wing into one bite."