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Whether it’s game day, a cocktail party, or enjoying the sunshine by the grill, appetizers are a must for hungry guests. While homemade appetizers are fun and often delicious, making them can take you away from enjoying the festivities.
Having an arsenal of frozen appetizers ready to heat up can help you eat well, impress your guests, and enjoy yourself at the same time. If you’re looking for some healthy and delicious options, we have you covered with both the foods to buy and the unhealthy options to avoid. When you’re walking down the frozen food aisle, you should be aware of certain red flags on the nutrition labels of your favorite apps. Some of the biggest health culprits found in these frozen foods include sodium and saturated fat, both of which are related to a higher risk of heart disease if eaten in excess.
To help you host your next party without sacrificing your health, we asked dietitians to share their favorite appetizers to make entertaining a breeze, and also which ones they would never buy. Here are some of the best and worst frozen appetizers at the store, according to registered dietitians. Read on, and for more, don’t miss 15 Healthy Frozen Dinners for Easy Weekday Meals.
The 7 Best Healthy Appetizers
Fill your cart with some of these healthy, RD-approved appetizers.
PER 3 BITES: 180 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 3 g protein
Strong Roots Spinach Bites is a plant-forward app that makes eating veggies fun for kids and adults. “These no-added-sugar apps are vegan, easy to prep, and a great way to build more vegetables into the start of a meal,” says Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and author.
PER 6 PIECES: 250 calories, 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 570 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 15 g protein
Bibigo Steamed Chicken and Vegetable Dumplings are filled with ground chicken, providing a good source of protein for muscle repair and growth, says registered dietitian Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT. Nutrient-rich vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and onions offer essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that’s icing on the cake, Chun adds.
PER 6 PIECES: 180 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 7 g protein
Pizza rolls are a favorite for kids and adults, but they can be loaded with fat and sodium. Annie’s Three Cheese Pizza Poppers have only 2 grams of saturated fat and just 300 milligrams of sodium, or 13% of the daily value, making them one of the healthiest frozen pizza rolls around.
PER ⅔ CUP: 140 calories, 4.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (3 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 1 g protein
These poppable sweet potato puffs by Alexia have no saturated fat and offer 3 grams of fiber per serving. Perfect for enjoying before or alongside a meal.
PER 6 MEATBALLS: 140 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 10 g protein
“Not only are Kid Fresh Chicken Meatballs packed with lean chicken meat but also boast a delightful blend of hidden vegetables,” says Jessie Hulsey RD, LD, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian. “The combination of protein-rich chicken and a medley of veggies provides a well-rounded option that supports a balanced diet for both kids and adults!”
PER 1 SAMOSAS + 1 TABLESPOON CHUTNEY: 120 calories, 4.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein
These Potato and Pea Samosas by Deep Indian Kitchen are vegan, a little spicy, and filled with potatoes, peas, and chilis for an incredibly flavorful appetizer. Plus, each samosa has only 1 gram of saturated fat and packs 2 grams of fiber.
PER 3 OUNCES: 170 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein
Applegate Naturals Spicy Breaded Chicken Breast Bites are boneless, skinless, and perfectly seasoned with nothing artificial added, explains Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LDN. Manaker recommends serving these bites with dipping sauce and celery and carrot sticks for an easy and healthy snack plate.
The 7 Worst Appetizers
It may be best to leave these apps in the freezer section.
PER 3 PIECES: 220 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein
Just three of these TGI Friday’s Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers have 5 grams of saturated fat or 20% of the daily value! Not to mention the 470 milligrams of sodium, which adds up to 20% of the daily value for sodium.
PER 2 SANDWICHES: 340 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 620 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 16 g protein
“White Castle Cheese Sliders may be small, but they pack a big punch in terms of fat content, with a staggering 18 grams of fat per serving,” says Hulsey. A massive 8 grams of that fat comes from saturated fat. Eating too much of this unhealthy fat can lead to weight gain, increased cholesterol levels, and a higher risk of heart disease, Hulsey adds.
PER 6 ROLLS: 230 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 410 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 6 g protein
Pizza rolls aren’t a “healthy” food to start, but Totinos Pepperoni and Bacon Pizza Rolls are high in sodium, fat, and calories, making them one option that’s best left in the freezer case.
PER 5 PIECES: 310 calories, 25 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein
Just five of these Hebrew National Beef Franks in a Blanket will cost you 50% of the DV for saturated fat, and over 20% of the daily value for sodium. And that’s before you’ve dipped them in your favorite condiment.
PER 3 PIECES: 240 calories, 17 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein
One serving of Market Pantry Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños has 640 milligrams of sodium or a whopping 27% of your daily value. Snacking on these high-sodium poppers will make it almost impossible to the recommended daily sodium limit of 2,300 milligrams per day.
PER 3 STICKS: 270 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 650 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 12 g protein
Just three of these Farm Rich Breaded Mozzarella Sticks have 650 milligrams of sodium, which is the equivalent of 28% of the recommended daily limit. While they do have a good amount of protein for cheese sticks, and may be filling, the high sodium along with 5 grams of saturated fat get them on the list of worst appetizers for your health.
PER 5 PIECES: 260 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 580 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 7 g protein
The fried breading and cheesy interior of these SeaPak Budweiser Beer Battered Crab Poppers add so much sodium that one serving will get you 25 percent of the way to your daily limit – before adding the 230 milligrams found in the tartar sauce that comes with it!