I had the best of intentions to scour thrift stores in an effort to score the cheesiest of all holiday sweaters, preferably one with pom-poms and a faux-fur collar. While I’ve yet to begin my hunt, I have been busy dressing my food in red and green, including today’s Christmas Appetizer Bites.

Cream Cheese appetizer cups with pesto on a plate

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I might not have an ugly sweater to show my spirit, but my food is ready for a holiday soiree.

From Winter Salad, White Spiced Wine, and Feta Dip, as of late, my recipes all seem to be tinged with red and green and PLENTY of holiday spirit.

Today’s cute little Christmas appetizer bites were made using one of my favorite easy appetizer hacks: mini phyllo shells

Flakey, fully-baked phyllo dough that’s shaped for popping right into your mouth, these mini shells are an ideal vehicle for all sorts of sweet and savory ingredients.

Last month, I used them to make these Mini Fig Goat Cheese Bacon Bites, and today I’m giving them an Italian twist with a creamy sundried tomato, pesto, and Parmesan filling.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Christmas Appetizer Bites in phyllo dough on a serving plate are a festive holiday appetizer

5 Star Review

“I made these for a Christmas party and cut the recipe in half – wish I hadn’t everyone loved them and they were so easy to make.”

— Lynn —

How to Make Christmas Appetizer Bites

These sundried tomato pesto bites can honestly be enjoyed year-round for birthdays, wedding showers, or a fancy date night at home. But their festive Christmas color scheme and impressive taste also make them the best Christmas appetizer to share with friends, family, and loved ones this holiday season.


The Ingredients

  • Mini Phyllo Shells. My best-ever appetizer shortcut. I love how easy and versatile these flaky little tartlet shells are for sweet and savory appetizers. (Try swapping in phyllo shells with the filling of these Crab Artichoke Toasts.)
  • Pesto. Good quality store-bought pesto is my second shortcut to easy, yet impressive Christmas appetizers (although the Creamy Basil Pesto from my Well Plate Cookbook will forever be my favorite).
  • Light Cream Cheese + Greek Yogurt. A winning combo of healthy and creamy that keep the filling light but also indulgent.
  • Parmesan. Finishes off the vibrant, cheesy filling making it good enough to serve on its own as a dip.
  • Sundried Tomatoes. Bursting with tangy, sweet flavor, these festive red gems bring the bites to life and are a natural complement to the pesto and Parmesan. (Keep the sundried tomatoes coming by serving this Sundried Tomato Pesto Quiche for Christmas brunch.)
  • Fresh Herbs. A sprinkle of fresh basil and parsley acts like tinsel on the finished filled tarts for added color and freshness.
a platter of festive appetizer bites in phyllo dough cups

The Directions

  1. Remove the phyllo shells from their box.
a mixing bowl of cream cheese and greek yogurt blended together
  1. Beat the cream cheese and Greek yogurt together until smooth.
a creamy mixture of cream cheese, herbs, and Greek yogurt for Christmas tarts
  1. Stir in the pesto.
addding sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan to a creamy appetizer filling
  1. Fold in some sundried tomatoes and Parmesan.
  2. Pipe the filling into each phyllo shell, and top with additional sundried tomatoes and herbs. ENJOY!
Easy Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Bites. Creamy cheese and pesto filling with sun dried tomatoes on top.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Assembled Christmas appetizer bites are best eaten within a few hours of assembling. They may be stored in the fridge for up to two days however the phyllo shells will lose their crispness.

Make Ahead

The filling for these Christmas appetizer bites may be made up to two days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge before filling the phyllo cups. Stir the filling before piping if the ingredients have separated.

Recommended Tools

Christmas appetizer bites on a serving platter being taken by a hand

Now that I have my red-and-green eats courtesy of these simple, lively sundried tomato pesto bites, all I need is the attire to match.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Mascarpone Cheese Instead of Cream Cheese?

I have never used mascarpone cheese in this recipe, however, I think it would be a fantastically delicious swap. If you try it, let me know your results.

What If my Sundried Tomatoes Are Not Packed In Oil?

If you only have access to sundried tomatoes that are vacuum-sealed rather than packed in oil, I would suggest letting them soak in a bit of olive oil for up to an hour before using them to rehydrate them. Otherwise, they may be tough and chewy.

I Can’t Find Phyllo Shells. How Else Can I Enjoy These Christmas Appetizers?

Several readers have reported simply using the filling as a dip of spread. Serve the filling with crackers, pretzel rods, or toasted baguette slices and watch as it magically disappears to resounding mmmm’s and ahhh’s amongst your guests.

Cream Cheese appetizer cups with pesto on a plate

Christmas Appetizer Bites

4.84 from 6 votes
Christmas appetizer bites are a festive and easy holiday appetizer with cream cheese, pesto, sundried tomatoes, and phyllo dough shells.

Total: 25 mins

Servings: 30 bites

Ingredients
  

  • 2 boxes mini phyllo shells 30 total
  • ounces reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto I recommend DeLallo
  • 1/2 cup diced olive-oil packed sundried tomatoes  patted dry
  • 1/2 cup  freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Remove the phyllo shells from their box and place them on the counter, keeping the shells in their protective tray until ready to use.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and Greek yogurt until smooth.
  • Mix in the pesto until evenly combined.
  • Then on low speed, add 2/3 of the sundried tomatoes and Parmesan and beat just until blended.
  • Pipe or dollop the pesto filling into each phyllo shell, then transfer to a serving plate. Top with the remaining sundried tomatoes and chopped parsley or basil. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to four hours.

Notes

  • FOR EXTRA CRISP SHELLS: Arrange the shells in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • TO STORE: Assembled Christmas appetizer bites are best eaten within a few hours of assembling. They may be stored in the fridge for up to two days however the phyllo shells will lose their crispness.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The filling for these Christmas appetizer bites may be made up to two days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge before filling the phyllo cups. Stir the filling before piping if the ingredients have separated.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 30)Calories: 67kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgPotassium: 57mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 183IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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23 Comments

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  1. I made these for a Christmas party and cut the recipe in half – wish I hadn’t everyone loved them and they were so easy to make.5 stars

    1. Whoooo hoooo! I am so happy you loved these Lynn! Thank you for trying a recipe and reporting back how they turned out. It really means a lot!

  2. We made this recipe as appetizers for a wedding. Everyone loved them. We doubled the recipe and filled 5 packages of mini fillo shells, and we still had filling leftover. We put the remainder out in a bowl. Everyone was eating it with crackers. Great recipe, looks good for company and is easy to make.5 stars

    1. Patricia, I’m glad to hear this recipe was a winner at the wedding! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

  3. These look amazing. Can I make the filling three or four days early and store in the fridge and assemble on party day?!

    1. Hi Matt, yes, I think you could make the filling ahead! It will for sure be good for 2 days, but you could probably stretch to 3. Just mix it back up if it separates at all. I hope you enjoy!

  4. I can’t have Parmesan cheese, I use sheep cheese which has a stronger taste, could I use the sheep cheese instead?????

    1. Hi Dianna, yes, you can substitute another cheese that’s similar in texture or flavor to the Parmesan! I hope you enjoy the bites!

  5. Can I substitute the Greek yogurt for sour cream? No one in my family will eat Greek yogurt.   They find it too tart. 

  6. Absolutely love these I found your recipe last year and made it for the holidays, the family loved it!!!? Usually they fight me tooth and nail about any new aditions or twists to the traditional holiday meal ( specifically turkey/ham only made one way, marshmallow and sweet potato casserole, stuffing, rolls and a canned veg, and pie. ?) Don’t get me wrong all of these are good but it gets a little bland eating the same thing every year. Anywho I was planning on making this again this year but the stores around here have been having issues getting the phyllo shells and pastry in, I was wondering if you might have a suggestion for a substitute or alternate method with the same filling? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thank you!!?5 stars

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m so happy to hear that these have been a hit! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review! Another reader has reported success with serving the filling as a dip with crackers, which sounds like a delicious idea. I hope this helps!

    1. Yes Kelsey. These are either cool or at room temp. For a warm appetizer, check out these Cranberry Cream Cheese Appetizer Bites: https://www.wellplated.com/cranberry-cream-cheese-appetizer-bites/

  7. Hi, I love your recipe so much. There is only one thing I am wondering about, did you modified your recipe by alternating the mascarpone cheese to Greek yogurt for the filling? Because if I recall correctly I followed your recipe last Christmas and I made this with mascarpone cheese.
    Just wondering and thank you so much for this great recipe.

    1. Hi Mia! This recipe has always used Greek yogurt, but I think mascarpone could be a delicious twist. I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed the bites!

  8. These were not my favorite, but I think it may be an issue of 1) having only jarred pesto on hand and 2) my not loving that much cream cheese in a bite of anything. If I try it again, I would use high quality prepared pesto. Also, I might reduce the cream cheese altogether or use whipped cream cheese. It made about 3 x more filling than I could use for 3 boxes of the phyllo cups and so I’m not sure what I did wrong.

    What I am LOVING is that by having tried this recipe, now I know about Athens phyllo bites themselves! Where have I been? So I am going to try your goat cheese/ fig /bacon recipe next.4 stars

    1. Hi Martha! I agree if cream cheese is not your thing, then these are probably not going to be enjoyable to you. Thanks for trying it out!