Little Women Recipes for an Appetizer Party

As soon as Little Women is available to stream at home (sometime in March!), why not invite friends in for a Little Women-themed gathering while you watch the movie? The film was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Greta Gerwig), Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), and Best Musical Score. And it won an award for Best Costume Design.

So, here are my suggestions for a Little Women Menu featuring great party appetizers from Little Women. Enjoy them while you watch (or re-watch) this masterpiece with your friends.

A great menu for a Little Women Watch Party includes:

• Spice-Trade Deviled Eggs
• Hannah’s Turnovers
• Roast Beef Picnic Sandwiches
• Jo’s Shellfish Relish
• Amy’s Pickled Lime Sugar Cookies


If you’ve seen “Little Women,” you’ve likely fallen in love with Saoirse Ronan‘s “Jo” and Florence Pugh‘s “Amy.” You likely loved Greta Gerwig’s intelligent and moving adapted screenplay, including this thoroughly honest line from Jo:

And what a Jo she is!

“Women have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. They’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. I am so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But—I am so lonely.

The costumes added depth and texture, and while I personally didn’t remark on it, the musical score was also highly acclaimed enough to snag an Academy Award nomination.

It all adds up to a “Best Picture” nomination (along with other “bests”). And a great reason to enjoy serve some appetizer recipes from Little Women as you watch this beautiful movie.

Here are the appetizers I suggest. I’ve also posted recipes for a Little Women dessert buffet, if you’d rather go that route.)

All recipes are in my book, “The Little Women Cookbook: Tempting Recipes from the March Sisters and Their Friends and Family”:

1. Spice Trade Deviled Eggs

These deviled eggs contain Sriracha in the filling and are topped with chutney. So, are they truly true to the 19th-century? You bet! The spice trade was in full swing during the time of Little Women (1868/1869). In fact, Laurie’s grandfather was a spice trader. Here’s what Laurie (in one of his more louche moments) says about grandpa’s métier:

“[Grandfather] wants me to be an India merchant, as he was, and I’d rather be shot. I hate tea and silk and spices, and every sort of rubbish his old ships bring, and I don’t care how soon they go to the bottom when I own them.”
Of course, Laurie might not have loved spices, but cooks at the time sure did! And the Sriracha? No, Laurie’s grandfather’s ships probably didn’t bring in the chile-vinegar sauce. But, the 19th-century recipe, from which I modeled these eggs, called for a chile vinegar … and that’s very Sriracha-ish and truly true to food of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy’s time.

Make-Ahead Angle: Make these up to one day in advance, but wait until just before serving to spoon on the chutney.

2. Hannah’s Turnovers

These will not only wow your guests, but they are absolutely straight from the novel. Hannah made turnovers every day for the girls to warm their hands on their way to school and work. While they made a great mid-morning snack for the March sisters, I prefer them as an appetizer with a cocktail.

The mostly savory handhelds feature a butter and cheddar-cheese crust with just a dot of sweet jam in the middle. They might be my favorite recipe from the book.

Make-Ahead Angle: You can freeze them a few weeks in advance; reheat in the microwave at 30-second intervals until hot, but be sure to let them cool a bit before serving, as the jam centers will be very hot. You can also make them two days in advance to refrigerate; again, reheat in the microwave, but cool them a bit before putting them out to serve.

3. Roast Beef Picnic Sandwiches

Copyright Columbia Pictures, Inc.

So … what do YOU think might have been in the picnic baskets for Laurie’s boating party? While the preparations for the picnic were a big deal in the novel, Louisa May Alcott didn’t tell us exactly what was in the baskets, darn it! I did a lot of research into the food of the 19th century, and found that these lovely Roast Beef Picnic Sandwiches would have fit right in.

They’re super easy. Just go to a deli and get some quality roast beef, chop it up, and mix with a few fresh stir-ins. I would, however, cut them into triangles for a more party-like presentation.

Make-Ahead Angle: Stir up the filling as directed in the recipe. Refrigerate up to 8 hours. Assemble sandwiches about an hour before guests arrive; refrigerate until ready to serve.

P.S.: Your vegetarian guests might like the Cheese, Celery, and Butter Sandwiches, also in the book.

4. Jo’s Shellfish Relish

Remember Jo’s ill-fated dinner party for Laurie in the novel? When planning it, she says, “Oh, there’s corned beef and plenty of potatoes, and I shall get some asparagus and a lobster, ‘for a relish,’ as Hannah says.”

Lobster was a big deal in the March family’s time! It was cheap food (so cheap, in fact, that Amy gets thoroughly embarrassed when a classy boy she knows sees her coming home from the market with a lobster).

A great lobster dip (or shrimp or crab, if you prefer) will fit right into the theme of a Little Women Party. Oh, and it calls for cream cheese, which was, indeed, a popular ingredient at the time. Consider this quote I found from a period cookbook:

“For cream cheese – the kind brought to market in Philadelphia, make it not from cream but of milk warm from the cow mixed an equal quantity of last evening’s milk.”

Pretty vivid and interesting, isn’t it? (I loved researching this book — it just gave me so many insights into the way people cooked, with things like “milk warm from the cow.”)

Make-Ahead Angle: Make up to 24 hours in advance; refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Amy’s “Pickled Lime” Sugar Cookies

Yes! You  have to have a sweet recipe, and why not make it one that nods to Amy’s “pickled lime” fiasco at school. Remember how much trouble she gets into for bringing in those darned limes?

As I mention in my book, pickled limes at the time were made by treating limes with salt and letting them stand for a week. Then they were rubbed with turmeric and pickled in a mixture of garlic, onions, cloves, ginger, vinegar, and mustard seeds.

I tried very hard to come up with a true-to-the-time recipe, but honestly, they were an out-and-out fail. And  I didn’t want to put anything in my book that didn’t taste great. I also wanted to have a few recipes for “starter cooks” — easy recipes that young cooks could make. That’s why I decided to go with these cute sugar cookies, topped with lime frosting and a little lime candy wedge, that playfully nod to Amy’s “pickled limes,” but taste a lot better. They’ll be fun on a buffet!

Make-Ahead Angle: These can be frozen for up to 1 month in advance (yes, even frosted and decorated — I do it all the time). Thaw in fridge before serving. Or, make them up to 2 days in advance; keep in refrigerator until serving time).

I’ll leave you with a few more photos from the book:

Recipes in the book include (from top left): Hannah’s Cottage Pie, Amy’s Parisian Profiteroles, Fruit-and-Nut Trifle, Pink-and-White Ice Cream Dessert, Spice-Trade Deviled Eggs, Amy’s Pickled Lime Sugar Cookies, Hannah’s Turnovers, and Blanc-Mange.


Note: This post uses affiliate links, which means that if you purchase anything from Amazon through one of these links, I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support!


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