HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Thanksgiving appetizers?

First: Do you serve them?

We will be hosting my boyfriends family, and he thinks we are expected to serve something ahead of time.

Secondly: What do you serve?
I dont want to kill the appetites for the turkey!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like to set out plates of appetizers that are bite sized and easy to handle; things that don't drip on grandpa's tie or drop crumbs on grandma's skirt. So I usually cut small lengths of celery and stuff them with a variety of cheeses (I sometimes just use the prepared cheese balls and use those as a base ingredient to provide variety on the plate) along with small thin slices of a variety of cheeses surrounded by a ring of crackers and maybe some chilled thinly sliced veggie strips (par boiled and stored in ice water) for dipping in an avacado bacon dip, horse radish crab dip, or similar package. Some broiled crab cakes are a nice touch. I set out a variety of wines to go along with those few items and let it go at that. I agree that I don't want to get everyone filled up on appetizers before dinner. That's also why I don't set a start time for any hour sooner than I know I can have dinner entirely prepare and the turkey resting. That way I can enjoy the guests up to the time I have to carve without worrying about last minute details and the guests don't have more than about thirty minutes to gobble up the appetizers before dinner.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      We like spiced nuts, olives, pickles and veggies to keep it light. We rarely put out heavy dips and cheeses because the meal is so rich. Sorry, todao...I meant to reply to Mellicita!

      1. re: todao

        I always go to a friend's house and she has us come over hours before the turkey is done. The last 2 years I brought a roasted vegetable/antipasto platter. I roasted carrots, brussel sprouts, zucchini, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, and added salami, mortadella, provolone, marinated bocconcini, giardinara, marinated artichoke hearts, and I forget what else. I sliced up a baguette and so folks could add their choice of topping. It took hours to cook and tray up.

        Another guest always brings chopped liver--OK, she's 80+ years old and Jewish--and at this point, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it. There's always more than we need, and we're stuffed by the time the buffet is set for dinner.

      2. I usually stick to lighter apps, such as white bean dip (cannellini beans, roasted garlic, olive oil, lemon and herbs) with veggie sticks and a mix of crackers, olives, and perhaps a goat cheese spread (goat cheese, cream cheese, olive oil a little garlic, rosemary, black pepper) with whole wheat crostini.

        1. This question is popping up a lot. Hey, it's the season. I don't know where I saw it (maybe right here on Chow), but I remember thinking the little soup cups was a great idea. Not a huge mug, but a demitasse or shot of rich consomme, with little, thin cheese straws on the side for crunch. A lovely little warm slurp and nibble. Presented to your guests on a tray, especially if they all arrive all at once. I thought it sounded light and unexpected.

          1. A bowl of in shell nuts. They seem autumnal and Thanksgivingish, but take a long time to crack, so you can't eat too many and ruin your appetite.

            My mom always gets the cranberry goat cheese from Trader Joes for holiday parties. It's pretty and yummy. You could also do a baked brie with cranberries or apricot jam and nuts in it.

            1. There are plenty of light things you can put out, people usually starve themselves that day before they arrive. We usually do shrimp cocktail, pickled herring, chips with some fancy dip or cheese, that kind of thing, when everyone arrives two hours before dinner, then sort of take it away after an hour or so. Especially if alcohol is being served, you have to put something out.

              1. My family puts out traditional middle eastern appetizers. It's expected, they taste good, and they're all small 'pickups.' You can eat one or 10 depending on how big your appetite is.

                1. Yes on the appetizers. We are big on pigs in a blanket (Hebrew National cocktail franks in Pillsbury crescent dough). You could just do crudite and a dip or I really like this Olive and Artichoke Tapenade with pita chips...


                  1. It's nice to have something since the turkey always takes longer than I expect. Or maybe it's the gravy that takes longer.

                    Anyway, two of my sentimental Midwestern favorites.

                    1) A "relish tray" with pickles, olives, crudites. To be like my grandma's, the olives should be canned etc.

                    2) A brick of Phildelphia cream cheese with Pickapeppa sauce poured over it, served with Ritz crackers for dipping/spreading. My Iowa friends introduced this to me--it was their traditional holiday appetizer and I've since adopted it as my own.

                    1. We put out a smoked salmon spread with capers and some cocktail black bread. Last year someone suggested brie topped with homemade cranberry chutney. That was a big hit. We also served champagne with a little cranberry juice...very festive and fun.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DaisyM

                        Champagne with cranberry juice.. that sounds delicious! I think I'm going to try that next time I have company. What kind of cranberry juice did you use?

                      2. Not necessarly a Thanksgiving app, and not necessarily a new idea (chicken lollipops), just came across this and thought I'd share;


                        You have many options: skip the specific sauce, pan fry instead of smoke, leave out the bacon...wait, keep the bacon!

                        1. I understand about not wanting to kill everyone's appetite. Especially after cooking!

                          Usually for large parties, I go a more Med/Italian route; I serve a garlicky white bean dip (I think someone else suggested this) and hummus, melon and prosciutto, hard salami - and put out pita, crostini and crudites. I will also put out nuts (I like almonds and cashews).

                          The lightest appetizer, however, is shrimp cocktail. And nearly everyone loves it. Or, you could do a cucumber/smoked salmon bite.

                          Good luck, have fun :-)

                          1. I keep it light, last year, I did clams casino among other things, and it was too much. I will do shrimp cocktail, gougeres, olives and keep it at that.

                            1. We have lots of "food issues" in our family - kosher, vegetarian, hearty eaters, etc. So apps are a must and need to be diversified to meet everyone's constraints. Cold shrimp with horseradish cocktail sauce is a must, one year I left it off and was severely scolded! I also usually make gravalax from a 2 lb. piece of salmon. Serve it with dilled sour cream, capers and pumpernickel bread on Thursday and with tomatoes, onion and cream cheese the following Sunday for brunch, if there are leftovers. Also make cheese crisps, basically short crust pastry spiced with some black pepper, jalapeno and sharp Cheddar cheese and sliced into rounds and baked. I make several logs of these prior to Thanksgiving and store them in the freezer, they are great during the holiday season when unexpected guests drop in or kids with friends are looking for munchies. they bake up from frozen state in 15-20 min.Then I also confess to doing miniature quiches straight from Costco, which everyone loves and are just plain easy on a day when my hands are full.

                              Every year I do a communal drink of some kinds. We always have apps in the living room where there is a fireplace. Some years I have made a huge pitcher of cosmopolitans, or hot cranberry orange toddy in little cups or Cape Codders (vodka, OJ, and cranberry). It usually is some form of cranberry. This year I think it will be a communal size version of a cranberry royale I saw Tyler Florence make on FoodNetwork.

                              1. I just want to THANK you all!!
                                These are amazing ideas that I would have never thought about doing! I am definitely going to use a number of the things suggested here!
                                Thank you so much!

                                1. If you choose to do some appetizers you should keep it simple. We usually do some crudite, a couple of cheeses, maybe some smoked salmon. I'm sure you want the meal to be the star of the show.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                    I fully expect people to be here eating all day. We have a traditional sausage-noodle bake that we serve. I am also making this bacon/cheddar/cream cheese dip that my husband loves. Nephew wants the bread bowl stuffed with spinach dip. That will do it for app's. My Mother in Law is allergic to something in shellfish so I usually don't have it out when she is there (she loves & misses it and there is no reason to torture the woman), otherwise I would do individual shrimp salad in martini glasses with chunks of cucumber, avocado, etc