Tastes may change but one thing remains constant. Food—whether it’s on a pop, skewer, toothpick, or kabob—is more fun when it’s on a stick. People of all ages seem to gravitate to snacks, from classic candied apples and corn dogs to trendy cake-pops and hand pies, when they’re bite size and impaled for quicker consumption.
Some states in the Midwest, including Minnesota and Iowa, even have fairs dedicated to food on a stick. And while I can enjoy cheese-stuffed corn fritters speared and served on a greasy paper plate with as much relish as the next gal, in my daily life I’d rather co-opt the playful part of the pick and ditch the fried factor.
I recently began giving my children toothpicks for stabbing healthy finger food like fruits and veggies, and I swear their appetites have doubled. I have a hunch that if more food were impaled, my little boys would be that much more interested. Toothpicks are fine, but for some of the food-on-a-stick picks I’ve gathered here, I’m thinking of buying a box of cocktail swords. If there isn’t a genius out there who’s made them out of compostable potato starch yet, I may see if I can find a metal set that’s not too sharp on the tip. Or, I might suck it up and be environmentally unfriendly for a day in the interest of good healthy fun.
I honestly think my kids would eat every one of the skewered foods below—and my goal is to make a new recipe every few days for them to try. But it would also be fun to host a themed party where everything—appetizers, salad, main dish, and dessert—is served on a stick. To plan your party, you could even share this post with friends and suggest a type of skewer appetizers for them to contribute.
10. Penguins on a Stick
Black olives, cream cheese, and carrots. These three simple ingredients aren’t exactly going to create a taste revolution, but these little birds are beyond adorable.
9. Fruit on a Stick
Fruit is far more fun when it’s skewered. Marshmallows secure the fruit in place, making these snacks even more awesome. Just make sure your children don’t deconstruct their skewers and make off with all the marshmallows—especially if you serve this as an appetizer.
8. Salad on a Stick
Wrap a glazed pecan, cherry tomato, and a bit of goat cheese with a single leaf of Bibb, spinach, or romaine for the ideal bite every time.
7. Caprese on a Stick
Stab a single Bocconcini—a mini ball of fresh mozzarella—and a grape tomato with a toothpick, then wrap with a freshly picked basil leaf and drizzle with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar to create this savory appetizer.
6. Watermelon Caprese on a Stick
For a fresh take on caprese, use a melon baller to create little globes of watermelon, and then skewer them with ciliengine mozzarella balls. Toss strips of basil leaves on top and drizzle with a mixture of honey and balsamic.
5. Entrée on a Stick
Pintxos—or “pinchos”—are a traditional snack found in bars of Northern Spain. The Spanish word “pintxo” means “thorn” or “spike” and proves that food on a stick is not just a crass American tradition. The recipe for Pinxtos Morunos from the new cookbook entitled “Pintxos” looks amazing. Dress up this dinner-on-a-stick with the spicy salsa verde for the adults, and keep it salsa-free for the kids.
4. Grilled Pineapple on a Stick
Caramelize agave-and-lemon-marinated pineapple skewers on a grill, and then top with toasted coconut. Once the kids get their sweet fix, spike the adult marinade with rum and get the high-test batch going. Adults can pretend they’re in the tropics while the kids burn through their fructose frenzy.
3. Melon Stars on a Stick
Use cookie cutters to cut fruit into fun shapes, and then marinate it in a mixture of mint leaves, lime juice, and brown sugar. Kids will clamor for this healthy alternative to ice cream, cake, or cookies. And parents of gluten, lactose, and nut-free kids will appreciate that their children can partake of dessert for once.
2. Bananas on a Stick
Of all fruits, bananas arguably have the most brilliant natural packaging. Just peel and eat—no stick needed. Unless they’re ensconced in chocolate and frozen, in which case the stick is quite handy. This dessert is universally loved, and it’s pretty darn healthy if you use good-quality chocolate. Top with toasted nuts or coconut while the chocolate’s still melty for a little extra nutrition.
1. S’mores on a Stick
Some might argue that s’mores are a classic dessert that shouldn’t be tinkered with. Personally, however, I’ve never liked how the seemingly symbiotic relationship of toasty marshmallow, melty chocolate, and crunchy graham gets all out of whack once your cracker breaks. By serving your s’mores on a stick, you get around the sad crumble. Toast your marshmallow. Dip in melted chocolate. Roll in crumbled graham. Enjoy mess-free deliciousness!
Do you have any great recipes for toothpick desserts or skewer appetizers? I’d love to hear about them!