As both a sculptor and a foodie, I’m a huge fan of finger food. I find the tactile experience of moving my meal to my mouth by hand far more satisfying than the awkward process of cutting food with a knife and fork. Relying on serving utensils not only distances me on a sensory level from what I eat, but it often causes my food to go spinning off my plate in moments of overexertion or sliding into puddles of sauce from the wrong dish.
Using your fingers, on the other hand, allows for exquisite control over every morsel, delivering each one to your mouth with minimal fuss and mess aside from whatever splotches of food wind up on your hands. Moreover, this form of consumption gives you an understanding of the dish’s texture, which is an important measure of its quality.
Of course, there are certain dishes for which this approach will never succeed: soups, salads, and breakfast cereal with milk, just to name a few. Similarly, some menu items billed as “finger foods,” such as ribs, chicken drumsticks, or lobster tails, can be incredibly unwieldy to hold and devour. (Perhaps due to a deficiency of inner caveman, I personally can’t stand tearing meat off bone with my teeth, and hence I avoid ordering these dishes as frequently as possible.)
Yet some foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, are by nature perfect for eating by hand. Foods that are available in bite-sized pieces, such as individual berries or roots can be counted out for portion control without losing their snack-like appeal. They also satisfy your senses with bright colors and juices in a wide and welcoming array of textures. And there’s the added perk of healthiness far greater than any bag of popcorn, chips, or other processed food.
So, to get you started, here’s a whole list of finger foods to tickle your fancy.
Whether steamed or raw, these beans are one of my all-time favorite snacks. Essentially nature’s French fry, they offer the same delicious crunch with none of the fat or calories. This means you can comfortably eat plateful after plateful while watching TV or taking a break from studying.
Chock-full of antioxidants, these berries are a blessing for the body and a feast for the eyes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can buy them frozen instead of fresh to enjoy the chill of mini-popsicles.
Great for dipping into sauces while also sweet enough to stand on their own, strawberries are a fantastic snack as well as a healthy alternative to the classic party spread. If you’re looking for a low-key, DIY dessert, you can put them out next to a bowl of melted chocolate and let your guests do all the work!
Although I’m probably biased, I consider raspberries the best of the fruit family. Adorably petite and perfect for popping onto the tips of your fingers à la Amélie, they’ll never fail to brighten your day.
Embodying all the sweetness of summer in one tiny fruit, cherries can be enjoyed as quietly or as raucously as you choose. Cherry-inspired games include pit-spitting contests and stem-tying lessons for your tongue.
Trying a find a way to host a sober, gluten-free Wine & Cheese? Instead of pairing your cheeses with bread and alcoholic beverages, serve them with bunches of purple and green grapes. Or, if you’re looking for ice cubes that are as yummy as they are unlikely to melt into a watery mess, freeze some grapes and toss them into your drinks.
Fun to share among humans and dogs alike, bananas are one of the original finger foods. Just beware of its phallic connotations in public; I recommend breaking them into pieces to avoid giving people ideas!
Although a bit of a pain to peel, pomegranates have such great flavor and are so rich in antioxidants that they’re entirely worth the effort. Make sure to lay down a paper towel, however, and avoid getting the juice on your clothes!
Dried apple slices
The more “processed” version of the traditional study snack, dried apple slices require less preparation but are equally satisfying to consume. Personally, I went through at least three containers last year while working on projects for Drawing I.
An underappreciated classic, hardboiled eggs nonetheless offer one of the more unusual texture/flavor combinations on this list. They’re also pleasant to peel, especially if you’re a perfectionist like myself.
Whether “baby” or “regular,” carrots are one of the most entertaining snacks around. Ideal for Bugs Bunny impersonations and expressing annoyance (through sounds of crunching), they’ll never disappoint you as a source of fun or fuel on road trips.
I steal these little balls of protein from salad bars every single time I see them. Tasty, healthy, eye-catchingly green—you can’t get much better than this when it comes to beans. And you can sneak some extra salt into your diet by sprinkling it onto them unshelled.
With as many colors as the fall leaves and flavors ranging from the puckeringly sweet to the painfully acidic, cherry tomatoes offer all the thrills of ordinary tomatoes in miniature form, and then some. They were a hallmark of my Californian childhood and continue to be a favorite.
Sure, Cheerios are technically finger food for babies, but that doesn’t prevent this kind of cereal from being equally enjoyable for adults. As the box advertises, they’re heart-healthy and can be used to spell out secret messages for your friends.
Dark chocolate chips
Chocolate in bite-sized pieces is snack-meets-dessert in the best form possible. Just be careful not to eat the whole bag!