Thanksgiving

Our 50 Best Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes

Because you can never have too many options.

November 27, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

Thanksgiving is like the Super Bowl of food. No matter how many times you've heard that, it's true. Pulling off a championship Turkey Day spread requires a game plan, from stocking up on all the ingredients for your menu to remembering to thaw the turkey.

The winning play: cooking the turkey juuuust right—crispy skin, tender meat, and all.

But while you've probably already got your side dishes and desserts all lined up, is your appetizer spread in tip-top shape?

If not, here are our 50 best Thanksgiving appetizer recipes (because options are essential!). Filled with countless ideas for crostini, toothpick-ready bites, vegetarian-friendly dishes, and more, this team's got everything you need for a killer Thanksgiving kickoff.


Things on Toast

1. Ricotta Crostini with Kale Pesto

Creamy ricotta and a punchy kale pesto team up for a no-fuss crostini that brings a bit of green to the dinner table.

2. ABC Kitchen’s Butternut Squash on Toast

Butternut squash is a fall favorite—and this chef-approved, toast-friendly rendition makes a pitch-perfect addition to any seasonal spread.

3. Ricotta Crostini with Figs, Prosciutto, and Honey

You'll be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying-yet-simple combo than ricotta, jammy figs, salty prosciutto, and a drizzle of honey.

4. Ina Garten's Cauliflower Toasts

If, like (Queen) Ina Garten, you think cauliflower is an under-appreciated vegetable, then you'll appreciate this cheese-smothered toast for bringing out its flavor and texture.

5. Crostini with Roasted Grapes, Vanilla Yogurt, and Fresh Basil

Suitable at just about every meal, from breakfast to dinner, this five-ingredient crostini calls on basic ingredients (like grapes and yogurt) and techniques (roasting) to achieve maximum taste with very little effort.

6. Roasted Carrot Harissa and Crème Fraîche Crostini

Roasted carrots' natural sweetness balances out the zingy chiles and crème fraîche in this riff on harissa, which would also make a great topper for grilled meats and fish.

7. Mushroom Confit (Setas Confitadas)

Hot butter and a large pan (make sure it's not overcrowded!) are all you need to coax deep, earthy notes from these garlicky mushrooms.

8. Eggplant Miso Tahini Toast

If you don't happen to eat the entirety of miso-tahini eggplant mix straight from the bowl, it's excellent piled on a thick slice of your favorite bread or little crostini.

9. Ricotta Crostini with Butternut Squash and Crispy Sage

Butternut squash makes its second entrance (of many) in this maple syrup-spiked crostini—and to be honest, we're not mad about it at all.

10. Burrata and Olive Tapenade Crostini

If burrata's your jam (how could it not be?), then this umami-packed olive tapenade crostini—with a thick slice of burrata—is a must for your Thanksgiving appetizer spread.


Two Bites (Or One!)

11. Nori Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs—creamy, a little bit sharp, and utterly poppable—are a holiday spread must. Some roasted seaweed snack adds a briny, earthy element to the dish, taking it to the next level.

12. Everything Bagel–Spiced Cheese Puffs

What would happen if you shrank your favorite breakfast into a tiny-but-mighty snack you could eat about a dozen of? You'd get these everything bagel cheese puffs.

13. Chicken Nuggets with Warm Kimchi-Bacon Ranch Dip

There's nothing quite like a crispy chicken nugget—except for one with a warm, bacon-y kimchi ranch. You can customize the coating on these to make them spicy or sweet, your choice.

14. Shrimp Skewer with Fennel Slaw

Sweet, delicate seared shrimp skewers go perfectly with a bright shaved fennel salad. This appetizer proves simple and clean flavors are best.

15. Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

These juicy beef meatballs have gochujang, or Korean fermented chile paste, both inside the meatball mix and in a zippy glaze that goes on top. One community member said, "These were fantastic. Huge hit at the party I made them for." 139 other reviews sing similar praises.

16. Arancini

Bring a bit of Italian flair to your appetizer spread with these fried-till-golden rice balls stuffed with risotto, prosciutto, and cheese.

17. Asiago and Walnut Shortbread Cookies

"Barely sweet and bite-sized, these nutty and cheesy shortbread cookies have loads of flavor and a nice hit of umami," says pastry pro Alice Medrich.

18. Fried Goat Cheese with Honey and Black Pepper

These "disarmingly delicious" fried goat cheese balls, drizzled in honey, aren't as complicated to make as they might seem—all you have to do is prep the batter and fry 'em up.

19. Swedish Meatballs & Cream Sauce (Köttbullar Och Gräddsås)

These tender Swedish meatballs took home the top prize for our "The Recipe You're Asked to Bring to Every Gathering" contest, so naturally it's earned a spot on this list.

20. Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

The only thing you'll find left over on a plate of these bacon-wrapped chestnuts? Empty toothpicks.


Vegetarian-Friendly

21. Radishes with Vanilla Butter & Salt, 2 Ways

Vanilla and butter with radishes, you say? Yes—just trust us on this one.

22. Herbed Goat Cheese and Root Vegetable Galette

This herby goat cheese and root vegetable galette offers up a rainbow of fall flavors and colors in one perfectly rustic, flaky-crusted package.

23. Spinach, Feta, and Artichoke Dip

The author of this dip once wrote, "I had someone almost kill me for this recipe at New Years." While that might be a bit of an overstatement, this dip is something you'll definitely want in your arsenal this holiday season.

24. Moroccan Stuffed Tomatoes

While fall tomatoes might not be as juicy and flavorful as their summery counterparts, when you fill them with a green tangle of vegetables and herbs and roast them until soft, they're just as dreamy.

25. Farro, Golden Beet, and Feta Salad

Refreshing and bright, this golden beet and farro salad is just how you want to start a food-filled fest like Thanksgiving.

26. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pears & Pistachios

It can be easy for Brussels sprouts to get lost in the fray this time of year, but the addition of caramelized pears, pistachios, and a squeeze of bright lemon ensure they take center stage.

27. Wonder Fries

Exactly what's so wonderful about these "wonder" fries? If we had to venture a guess, we'd have to say the miso mayonnaise and smattering of sharp green onions.

28. Pumpkin Rugelach with Sage and Walnuts

Normally sweet rugelach takes a savory turn in this nutty pumpkin-sage recipe, which one reviewer called "the perfect layer of flavors."

29. Winter Panzanella with Orange, Roasted Beets, and Pomegranate Seeds

If you've got some leftover stale bread from making stuffing, put it to good use in this wintry panzanella with arugula, purple beets, and puckery oranges.

30. Burrata with Grilled Grapes and Basil

It doesn't get much better than a hunk of gooey burrata with plump, sweet grilled grapes nestled on the side—just don't forget the herby oil drizzle on top.


Take a Dip

31. Bright Red Beet Hummus

Roasted beets give this bright-colored hummus its deep purple-pink hue, while walnuts, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and garlic lend depth and a dash of acidity.

32. Crudités with Feta Pistachio Dip

There's more than one good way to serve this Eastern Mediterranean–inspired dip—Chef Sara Jenkins recommends it "plain on bread, smeared on a plate underneath warm beets, or with raw vegetables to dip."

33. Basic Hummus

As if this basic hummus recipe wasn't perfect enough, while most from-scratch recipes involve simmering the chickpeas for up to two hours, this one needs just 20 to 40 minutes.

34. Nori Sour Cream Dip

This endlessly dip-able sour cream dip is just like the one you know and love, but with a flourish of Korean flavors that make it creamier and more umami-rich than all the rest. It's one of the few dips we've met that actually makes us want to eat our vegetables.

35. Spicy, Smoky Vegan "Chorizo" Dip

If you're hosting vegetarians or vegans this holiday, make sure this smoky, meat-free puree is on your table alongside crudités, crackers, or pita chips.

36. Easiest, Cheesiest Skillet Dip

If you're looking for a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, look no further than this extra-easy, extra-cheesy skillet dip with Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and some spicy honey for a bit of nuance.

37. Roasted Red Pepper and Cauliflower Dip

As creamy as it is lively, we love this roasted red pepper dip next to a platter of colorful crudités just as much as we do spread beneath a crispy roast chicken—or turkey.

38. White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs

A celebration of fresh herbs in winter? This very-popular white bean dip makes it possible.

39. Crispy Garlic Dip

While we love every dip on this list, we're not ashamed to say this crispy garlic number (which requires very few ingredients) has stolen our heart.

40. Hard Squash Hummus

This crowd-friendly hummus has a secret superpower: It freezes well, so you can make it ahead of the big day.


Snacks on Snacks

41. Hot Honey-Sesame Snacky Mix

This spicy-sweet snack mix isn't just "craggy and alluring," it makes a big portion that's well-equipped to feed hungry Thanksgiving guests as they walk through the door.

42. Italian Snacking Bread

This focaccia-style snacking bread hits all the right notes: soft and buttery on the inside, crispy around the edges, and super-savory on top.

43. Wasabi Pea Snack Mix

This fiery wasabi pea snack mix is just what you want to wake up your taste buds before digging into a full Turkey Day feast.

44. Furikake Chex Mix Snack

The reaction to this party-ready mix is always the same: amazement at just how delicious it is; not going back for seconds isn't an option.

45. Garlic-Orange-Rosemary Marinated Olives

Leave out a bowl of this garlicky-herby-citrusy marinated olives and watch every other snack on the table get ignored.

46. Smoky Fried Chickpeas

Same goes for these smoked paprika-spiced fried chickpeas—they won't last long.

47. Snack Mix-Style Sesame Sticks

These salty-crunchy sesame sticks are what you'll want to reach for as you sip on a cocktail or glass of wine as the Thanksgiving festivities get started.

48. Vegetable-Stuffed Snack Cakes

These little round cakes might seem like they belong on the dessert table, but they're actually filled with spiced vegetables. Bonus: They taste just as good hot out of the oven as they do at room temperature, so why not make them in advance?

49. Angostura Bitters-Glazed Popcorn

Ready to eat in under 20 minutes (Last minute-friendly? Check.), this popcorn makes a great plus-one to the bar area since it's glazed with Angostura bitters.

50. Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips

If you're the type to make your own homemade crackers for holiday parties, meet your new favorite recipe: thin and crispy rosemary-thyme pita chips.

What's your go-to Thanksgiving appetizer? Tell us in the comments below!
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Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

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