Whether and how parties reach across ethnic lines matters for the quality of democracy, the state of interethnic relations and substantive minority representation in plural societies. Existing explanations have focused on how politicians facing electoral incentives to seek broader support attempt to either redefine or transcend ethnic identities, but have overlooked the various ways, in which candidates from one ethnic community often directly address the ethno‐political interests, concerns and demands of other communities whose votes are being courted. To address this gap, we introduce the concept and develop a typology of cross‐ethnic appeals in plural democracies. Drawing on primary research in India and Kenya—two countries with salient ethnic divisions and ethnic party systems—we show that cross‐ethnic appeals are common, follow the logic of our typology, and can result in increased resources and representation for some electorally pivotal minorities, even going beyond what coethnic politicians have offered. The article contributes to the emerging academic literature on how parties foster cross‐ethnic linkages in plural societies. Our argument has implications for ethnic boundaries, the structure of political cleavages and the substantive representation of minorities in multiethnic states.