In my house, New Year’s Eve is all about finger food. Dips and dippers, charcuterie and bread, and an assortment of one- or two-bite appetizers are always on hand to ring in the turn of the calendar.

In the other hand, of course, is a glass of Champagne. Nothing goes better with bubbly than something golden brown and crispy. In other words, fried. But I’m not fond of frying.

Deep-frying takes a lot of commitment. It can be messy, in addition to lending a distinctive odor to your home for a few days. It also takes a considerable amount of oil, which can be expensive. That’s why I’m more partial to shallow pan-frying, a technique I use in this week’s Crispy Cream Cheese and Sausage Wontons.

For this recipe, wonton wrappers, which typically can be found in the produce section of your grocery store, are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, Italian sausage, fresh basil, garlic and enough red pepper flakes to make it interesting. Egg wash is brushed around the edges and the wonton wrapper is folded over and sealed.

When filling the wontons, it’s important that you carefully press out any air pockets. Even a small pocket of air will expand, once the wonton hits the hot oil, into a big bubble. That will either make it impossible to brown the wonton evenly, as the bubble will prevent it from lying flat in the skillet, or it will burst and some of the filling will ooze out into the oil. Neither outcome is optimal, so taking an extra preventive moment in the filling process is worthwhile.

The beauty of this dish is that once filled, the wontons can be frozen for up to a month and then cooked directly from the freezer.

When ready to cook them, a thin layer of oil is heated in a large skillet and the wontons are pan-fried until browned.

I like to arrange them on a serving platter and shower them with more Parmesan and a sprinkling of julienned fresh basil.

Serve alongside a quick dipping sauce, made with marinara sauce and a touch of balsamic vinegar, which cuts through the richness of the wontons.

Easy and delicious, this addictive appetizer will never make it to midnight, but will certainly make your New Year’s Eve celebration a tasty one.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.