41 Thanksgiving Appetizers to Keep the Family Happy
Let us inspire you with Thanksgiving appetizer ideas that are so yummy, varied, simple, and eye-catching, that you might just run out of room before the main course
Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Nuts and Herbs Cheese Log, Phyllo-Wrapped Baked Brie, and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. Photograph by Olga Ivanova.
(Want more Thanksgiving recipes and tips? Check out our big Yummly Thanksgiving page!)
Some of my favorite Thanksgivings have been spent at my cousin Paula’s annual gatherings. She always encourages us to come early so we’ll have plenty of time to relax and chat — or watch the Dallas Cowboys game.
Of course, as soon as she opens the door our appetites roar to life from the aroma of Thanksgiving turkey and savory side dishes cooking in the oven. But since dinner won’t be ready for quite awhile, party appetizers — not to mention some bubbly to go with them — are always an important part of the occasion.
Finger foods are my favorite way to eat, so I love preparing an appetizer to bring to special occasions. But there's bound to be a variety of dietary needs, so cooking can get a little complicated. One person might be gluten-intolerant, another is vegetarian, and someone else decided to launch their low-carb diet during the biggest food holiday of the year.
If that's the case for you, too, no problem. We’ve put together a carefully curated list of wonderful hors d’oeuvres — organized for almost every need from kid-friendly to keto — as well as some fabulous favorites for those lucky folks who can eat anything.
And of course we haven't sacrificed flavor or style. You'll find plenty of special seasonal touches to the classics, like pumpkin hummus, and autumn pear and prosciutto hors d’oeuvres. There's a spectacular crudité platter designed to look like a turkey, as well as scrumptious munchies.
No matter what your tastes — or which current diet trends your family members and guests are following — these Thanksgiving appetizer recipes are a great start to a Thanksgiving dinner that will joyously include everyone. (And be sure to keep them in mind for the next holiday party!)
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Favorite Thanksgiving appetizers
Let's start with Thanksgiving nibbles for those lucky diners who can eat anything they want.
Everybody loves stuffed mushrooms, and when you load them up with crab meat, cream cheese, Parmesan, herbs, and buttery crackers, you've got a holiday treat that the gang will be looking forward to next year, too.
Layers of crispy phyllo dough wrap around creamy baked brie, with a touch of honey to set off the cheese's saltiness. This easy party snack looks impressive but is a snap to whip up. Serve it with crackers and apples, and you've got this in under 45 minutes total time.
Looking for an extra-easy appetizer? Spinach artichoke dip, the popular party staple, has only five ingredients, including frozen spinach, mayonnaise, Parm, and Monterey Jack cheese. Give 'em a stir, add a blanket of cheese, and bake until bubbly.
Light, flaky phyllo dough creates a crispy cup for creamy butternut squash seasoned with fresh sage and topped with a flavor-burst of bacon. For an artistic touch, use a pastry bag to create squash rosettes or another decorative filling.
One of my cousin’s regular Thanksgiving guests is Philippine-American, and she steals the show with traditional lumpia. Preparation is easy with ready-made wrappers that you’ll fill with ground pork, shrimp, onions, green onions, water chestnuts, and seasonings. Just a warning: Grab one before you set them out, because they’ll be gone in a flash.
Chef Gordon Ramsey’s version of this classic Italian specialty is pure perfection, with a crisp-fried shell surrounding a center of wild mushrooms, risotto rice, and melted mozzarella. Bonus perk: You can make the risotto the night before and eat a bit for dinner.
Make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizers
Thanksgiving is always labor-intensive, but with these make-ahead appetizers, you’ll have a lot more time to enjoy your guests on the big day.
Crisp crostini toasts (aka bruschetta) keep beautifully made a day ahead. At serving time, set them out with store-bought Mediterranean toppings and put your guests to work to assemble their favorite combinations. The spread is perfect if you're looking for an appetizer that's good at room temperature.
You can prepare the outrageously yummy topping of creamy blue cheese and sweet red onion jam well before Thanksgiving Day. Then all you have to do is slice and toast the fresh baguette before serving.
The interesting thing about liver paté is that even people who hate liver (like me) can’t get enough of it. Butter, onion, and port wine combine with liver to create a satisfyingly complex delicacy. You can prepare it a day or more in advance and serve it with crudités, fresh cocktail rye, or your favorite crackers.
This colorful dish is so festive to look at, and the taste is full of interesting contrasts —fresh goat cheese, coated with crunchy pecan, honey, and dried fruits, herbed with rosemary and fresh parsley, and spiced with Sriracha. Make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until a half-hour before serving.
Kid-friendly Thanksgiving appetizers
Thanksgiving creates the warm holiday memories children carry through life, and the dishes below have such enormous kid-appeal, they might just become a tradition that your kids will pass down to their own.
Kids’ eyes go wide with pleasure when they see this adorable crudité platter shaped like a turkey — and it will wow the grownups, too. It’s made with a French boule that cradles a cream-cheese-based spinach dip. Kids can help make the turkey face and dramatic fan of “feathers” created by raw carrots, peppers, celery, breadsticks, and pretzel rods. And feel free to swap the dip for one of these — Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Caramelized Onion Dip made with sour cream and yogurt, or an herbed ricotta dip with fresh chives and mint.
Here’s another adorable turkey the kids can help you prepare. The recipe calls for Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese slices, but you can use whatever cheeses you love best — like Swiss cheese’s more pungent cousin, Gruyere, or buttery fontina.
For most kids — even kids who now have their own kids — anything Harry Potter conveys a little lightning bolt of excitement. These Ron Weasley–inspired nuts are sweet and dragon-breath spicy, but you can turn down the heat to suit your family’s palate.
Where I grew up, the only people who ate fondue were in the movies, so it seemed an impossibly glamorous dish — and so much fun. This is an easy Thanksgiving appetizer, and you don’t even need a fondue pot and Sterno. Any stove-to-table cookware will do. Your kids will love dipping veggies, fruit slices, or chunks of whole-grain bread into this warm, gooey delight.
Healthy Thanksgiving appetizers
If you're looking for light Thanksgiving appetizers (especially if you plan on pumpkin pie for dessert!), these veggie-centric recipes are worth keeping in mind.
Inspired by hummus, this sweet and savory carrot dip by Bravo Top Chef Stephanie Izard features 2 pounds of carrots roasted and pureed with the rich flavors of tahini and the Moroccan spice ras el hanout.
You've heard of kale chips, but have you ever tried seasoning and oven-baking collard greens? All you do is coat them with a little olive oil, season with salt, and bake until crisp.
With a bread crumb and parmesan crust outside and tender zucchini inside, this recipe is one of Yummly’s most popular. It’s not only a delight, but a cinch to prepare with our step-by-step video instructions. For a dipping sauce, try Homemade Ranch Dressing or Homemade Marinara Sauce — or both.
Vegetarian Thanksgiving appetizers
Vegetarians have a little more leeway than vegans. No meat, fish, or poultry, but they can make wonderful use of dairy products and eggs.
Got 10 minutes prep time? That's all you need to create this gorgeous seasonal goat cheese log that, similar to a cheese ball, is coated in pistachios, pecans, and fresh herbs. While it's a great last-minute appetizer, it's also a perfect make-ahead appetizer because it keeps up to five days in the fridge.
The aesthetic arrangement of shapes and colors — red tomato, fresh green basil, and fresh white bocconcini balls or cubed mozzarella — is a feast for the eyes and a refreshing treat for the palate.
From the oohs when you set the plate down to the aahs when guests take their first bite, these crispy spirals bring a wow factor to your Thanksgiving festivities. They’re not as labor-intensive as they look, thanks to pre-made puff pastry sheets. And the mushroom-cheese filling delivers pure pleasure.
With just a few ingredients, these sophisticated brie bites — velvety smooth cheese, sweet fig jam, toasted baguette, and almonds — couldn’t be simpler to prepare. For a version with more bite, try them with gorgonzola as a tangy contrast to the jam.
Vegan Thanksgiving appetizers
Can you make satisfying, sinfully good appetizers without meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, or honey? Absolutely. And the proof is in the tasting with these to-die-for Thanksgiving recipes.
It’s not easy to find a dish that will please both vegans and the rest of the guest list, but portobello mushrooms and pecans are so satisfyingly meaty, that everyone will be making a beeline for these.
You won’t find a more elegant appetizer than this sweet and savory combination of Medjool dates, caramelized onions, and cremini mushrooms, with a terrific cashew cheese made from scratch.
Hummus is quick and easy to prepare in a food processor, and this recipe brings together the trademark pumpkin note of Thanksgiving with chickpeas and some seasonal spices. Serve it with pita chips and veggies for a vegan app platter.
Garlicky barbecue “wings” are the perfect pop-em-in-your-mouth food before the big Thanksgiving dinner. They’re made with just cauliflower, garlic powder, a little salt and pepper, coconut oil, and barbecue sauce — either the bottled kind or vegan-friendly Homemade Barbecue Sauce. Serve them up with Vegan Ranch Dressing.
Bring a Mediterranean touch to the table with this vegan version of a Greek classic. The grape leaves are filled with long grain rice, perfectly seasoned with garlic, scallions, onion, fresh dill, and lemon juice. They're so good, you’ll know why they’ve been popular for centuries.
Gluten-free Thanksgiving appetizers
Wheat, rye, and triticale are all taboo on a gluten-free diet — so toast, crackers, and breaded appetizers are usually out. But we’ve found some great recipes that either bypass grains completely or use gluten-free substitutes like almond flour.
Diners on a gluten-free diet don’t have to pass up dips or eat a bare slice of cheese with only a toothpick for company. These crackers made with almond flour are seasoned with sea salt and fragrant rosemary.
Refreshing spring rolls are a light Thanksgiving appetizer that are not only delicious but leave plenty of room for dinner. They’re filled with minced pork and vegetables, seasoned with aromatic garlic and ginger, and wrapped in gluten-free rice paper.
The brilliant substitute for crackers in this Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvre is sliced salami — a spicy, chewy, satisfying way to transport artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella cheese directly from plate to palate.
For this beautiful gluten-free crowd-pleaser, just top pear sections with bleu cheese and thin-sliced, dry-cured prosciutto, then finish with a drizzle of honey and some fresh basil. Be sure to use pears that are crisp when ripe, like Bosc and Asian varieties.
Low-carb Thanksgiving appetizers
Low in carbs but high in flavor, these tempting appetizers mean that even dieters can enjoy pre-meal nibbles this Thanksgiving.
Kale and addictive — two words you don’t often see paired. But these chips offer all the delicate crunch of potato chips with virtually no carbs. To ensure they bake up crispy, don’t overdo the lemon juice and olive oil.
These crunchy low-carb onion rings seem to whisper "Oh, go ahead, grab another." And though that may seem dangerous for someone trying to lose weight, it’s not. They’re actually low-carb and paleo, with a crispy coating made of, yes, almond flour.
There’s just one gram of carb in each serving of this retro classic, and they’re so simple to make. Just combine hard-boiled egg yolks with mayonnaise and honey mustard, fill the egg white hollow, and garnish with tomato, fresh basil, and the killer touch — a sprinkle of candied bacon.
Hard to believe they’re low-carb, but three of these sumptuous appetizers have just 4 net carbs. The secret — a wrapping made of mozzarella, cream cheese, egg, and almond flour, filled with melted brie and homemade Low-Carb Cranberry Sauce. You might want to make an extra batch of the sauce for the main course, too.
Paleo Thanksgiving appetizers
The Paleo diet is all about eating like cavemen in the days before agriculture developed, when the only way to get food was hunting and gathering. This means no grains, no sugar, no dairy, and definitely no processed food.
These plump fried shrimp are breaded with egg and shredded coconut, then deep-fried in coconut oil to a golden brown. Try them with sweet and spicy Mango Dipping Sauce, made from ingredients a (tropical) cavewoman could have gathered.
Sometimes the simplest recipes make the best Thanksgiving appetizers. In this two-ingredient dish, bacon lends its smoky richness to the unique layered texture of Brussels sprouts. Serve them hot, straight from the oven.
Suitable for a variety of diets, including paleo, these cocktail meatballs get their distinct Aegean flavor from oregano, fresh mint, and Greek olives. Serve them with Paleo Tzatziki Sauce.
Keto Thanksgiving appetizers
Keto is the ultimate in low-carb diets, but it’s also high in fat, so minimal carbs yield maximum flavor with these specially designed recipes.
Made with almond flour, three types of cheese, and butter, these rolls are fragrant with garlic and have just 4 grams of carbs. The aroma will draw people to the first batch, and the taste will have them coming back for more.
A crisp shell, made from scratch with low-carb almond and coconut flour, provides a perfect contrast to the cream cheese and crabmeat filling. And the dipping sauce is a wonderful combination of spicy hot and sweet — sugar-free, of course.
The amazing thing about keto is that you can eat all kinds of foods that are taboo for most dieters — like the sausage, cheese, and butter that make this dish so totally satisfying. No wonder it’s drawn a slew of raves from Yummly reviewers.
This is true guacamole — just fresh avocados, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and fresh cilantro, seasoned with a little lime juice, salt, and pepper — as it’s traditionally made in Mexico using a pestle and a stone molcajete. Scoop it up with keto Tortilla Chips.
Complete your Thanksgiving feast
Even with a spread of the best Thanksgiving appetizers, you're going to want recipes for mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cornbread, green beans, and more to fill out your Thanksgiving menu and enjoy on turkey day.