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Thanksgiving Appetizers

Updated on March 3, 2012

Thanksgiving recipes - Thanksgiving ideas

Do you serve Thanksgiving appetizers to your guests before the big feast? Doing so can actually be a good idea, especially if your dinner guests are going to have to wait a while before the main attraction. Sampling a couple of Thanksgiving appetizers will keep your guests happy and “prime” their appetites, and it will also give them something to do while you’re completing the finishing touches to your dinner and your entrée Thanksgiving recipes. You’re going to have your hands full already, so I strongly suggest using make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizers.

Cheese spreads

I love using cheese spreads as appetizers, and for Thanksgiving appetizers, I often make them into holiday-related shapes. That’s something great about cheese spreads and cheese balls – they’re “moldable.” For example, I make one appetizer with cream cheese and almonds, shaping it into a pinecone. I also make one with cream cheese, cheddar, and dried cranberries, and I shape it into an ear of Indian corn.

Fruit and cheese platters make nice Thanksgiving appetizers.
Fruit and cheese platters make nice Thanksgiving appetizers.

Cheeses and cheese platters

Another good idea for Thanksgiving appetizers is to make a fruit and cheese platter. Use small slices of different cheeses, a fruit or two, and maybe some nuts. Pair the platter with a nice wine and some light crackers for an elegant Thanksgiving appetizer.

Veggies and dips

Dips are super quick and easy to make, and, of course, you can always buy already made dips. To make the offering more suitable as Thanksgiving appetizers, use attractive containers. I like to use food as containers, especially red, yellow, and orange bell peppers. The vibrant fall colors are reminiscent of autumn foliage, so they’re perfectly appropriate for your Thanksgiving theme. You can also use the bell pepper shells to hold strips of bell pepper, scallions, and thin carrot sticks.

Choose fruits in autumn colors, slice them, and serve with dips or sauces.
Choose fruits in autumn colors, slice them, and serve with dips or sauces.
Roasted figs stuffed with cheese make delicious Thanksgiving appetizers!
Roasted figs stuffed with cheese make delicious Thanksgiving appetizers!

Fresh fruits

Fresh fruits always make good appetizers. For Thanksgiving appetizers, use fruits in greens, reds, and yellows. I like to use apple slices and serve them with a fruit dip or with caramel sauce. Red, gold, green, and yellow pear slices work well, too. You might also consider drizzling tart fruit slices with honey.

Another Thanksgiving idea is to roast fresh fruits. I like roasted figs stuffed with cheese. Yum!


If Thanksgiving Day is chilly in your neck of the woods, soup would be a welcome appetizer or first course. Of course practically any hot soup would work, but those made with traditional Thanksgiving foods would be even better. Consider, for example, pumpkin soup, butternut squash soup, sweet potato soup, or corn chowder.

Hot drinks

Don’t overlook hot drinks as Thanksgiving appetizers. Serve these alone or with food appetizers. Mulled wine, spiced cider, and hot cranberry-apple punch are all good ideas. If you have kids in attendance, you could serve hot cocoa to them.

Toasted nuts

Most people love toasted nuts, and they work well as Thanksgiving appetizers. In the South, lots of hostesses use pecans at Thanksgiving, largely due to the fact that the holiday occurs during the height of the pecan harvest. I like to toast my pecans in the oven with butter, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, and ground red pepper.

Of course, you can make spiced roasted nuts with any type of nuts. Pecans just happen to my personal favorite.

I used pie crust and small ramekins to make these tiny pumkin tartlets.
I used pie crust and small ramekins to make these tiny pumkin tartlets.

Sweet bites

Tiny desserts also make wonderful Thanksgiving appetizers – just remember to keep them very small so that they won’t ruin anyone’s appetite for the feast. An easy way to make these is to use frozen phyllo cups, which you won’t even have to cook. You just thaw, fill, and serve. You might also use small tart shells in the same manner. Either can be filled with pudding, custard, or cheesecake. To make them more attractive, you can garnish them with fresh fruit.

Another idea is to use shot glasses or small never-been-used votive candle cups to make dessert shooters. Place a vanilla wafer or other small cookie in the bottom of the glass to serve as the crust, and fill the glass with a no-bake pie filling or pudding and top with a squirt of whipped cream.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Ready for your Thanksgiving appetizers now?

I hope I've given you some ideas for Thanksgiving appetizers. Just remember - you want these to be appetizers, so the servings need to be small. You don't want your guests to fill up before the dinner you've worked so hard on! You can find the recipes for several of these Thanksgiving appetizers, along with other Thanksgiving recipes, by clicking the links I provided in the first paragraph of this article.


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