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Amuse-bouche (pronounced ahmooz-boosh) is a French term that comes from the combined words amuser (to amuse), and bouche (mouth). As the only culinary category explicitly dedicated to entertaining your mouth, a good amuse-bouche can be the perfect bite to start your dining experience.



What Is an Amuse-Bouche?

In fine dining, amuse-bouche are the small bites preceding the main course. An amuse-bouche is not usually included on the final bill, so they are often presented to diners as a “gift from the kitchen.” An amuse-bouche is typically a little bite that packs big, interesting flavors.

In a more casual setting like a dinner party, an amuse-bouche is equivalent to a canapé or hors d’oeuvre: Small bites (smaller than an appetizer) that are easily eaten by hand. An amuse-bouche is meant to awaken the palate, preparing it for the more substantial meal to come.

10 Amuse-Bouche Ideas

The art of the amuse-bouche is a balancing act between simplicity, ease, and cleverness. Pick an amuse-bouche recipe idea that showcases your style, your love of seasonal ingredients, a new technique, or a cheeky nostalgic tone.

  1. Gazpacho shooters: Serve single-portion gazpacho “shooters” in small vessels like a shot glass for a playful way to start your dining experience. Learn how to make gazpacho with our recipe here.
  2. Ceviche spoons: Soup spoons are an easy way to present a composed bite, especially one that involves a loose texture like ceviche. Top the ceviche with onion, tomato, and coriander for an even more flavorful bite. Try our recipe for shrimp ceviche here.
  3. Crispy bacon-wrapped dates: Highlighting the harmony of sweet and savory ingredients is a foolproof technique for creating an amuse-bouche. Wrap pitted dates in strips of bacon then roast until the dates are caramelized and the bacon is crispy. Secure with a toothpick for easy serving.
  4. Tomato-basil bruschetta: Simple, refreshing toppings on toasted crostini capture big flavors in one to two bites.
  5. Smoked salmon with cream cheese: Served on crostinis, or assembled on spoons, this amuse-bouche idea is a deconstructed riff on bagels and lox. Top with a few capers, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a tuft of dill to complete the homage.
  6. Belgian endives: Belgian endives, a vegetable with bitter, colorful, and narrow leaves that hold their shape, are a perfect way to present an amuse-bouche without creating waste. Tuck a bit of soft cheese (think goat cheese or triple-cream Brie) on the wide ends and top with a seasonal compote like apricot, citrus, or rhubarb.
  7. Deviled eggs: Deviled eggs are perhaps the most commonly served amuse-bouche, and there are many ways to make them your own. Dunk the hard-boiled eggs in a beet brine for a striking magenta hue, or step things up a notch with a truffle-porcini tapenade folded into the creamy centers.
  8. Gougères: Gougères are a one-bite, airy, cheesy pastry puffs, like a savory choux that leaves guests craving another.
  9. Blini with trout roe caviar and crème fraiche: Pre-assembled blinis with good caviar and tart crème fraiche are an elegant way to start the evening.
  10. Cheese: When in doubt, serve good cheese. Shards of high-quality Parmesan cheese pair especially well when drizzled with locally creamed honey or aged balsamic vinegar.
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