These Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers Are Just What You Need to Start a Fabulous Feast

Photo: Armando Rafael

Keep your hungry crowd happy with deliciously simple appetizers while you finish the holiday meal. Our tried-and-trusted selection includes spiced nuts, crispy chickpeas, ham-and-spinach dip, a fresh take on the relish tray, and cheater's deviled eggs.

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Marcus Nilsson

Before you bring out the bird, start the feast with one or more of these easy Thanksgiving appetizers that are sure to delight everyone at the table and leave you with plenty of time for the rest of the holiday meal prep. You might think there's no need for appetizers when you're preparing a big turkey dinner with all the classic sides (plus pies for dessert!), but having some easy bites that guests can nibble on when they arrive means that no one notices if it takes a few extra minutes to get the meal on the table.

Make-ahead appetizers like a spicy-sweet snack mix, brown butter toasted nuts, and crispy spiced chickpeas that are easy to eat and pair perfectly with cocktails are always good options. If you're looking for something that requires even less work on your part, doctor up the best store-bought ingredients by blending hummus with fresh herbs, using already cooked frozen spinach in dips, and rolling out store-bought puff pastry for addictive puff pastry cheese twists.

Don't skip warm dips just because they take a little time in the oven. The host secret to serving them is to make the dips ahead, then pop them in the oven right before guests arrive. This means classic crowd-pleasers like our artichoke dip and the baked brie or camembert that's shown here have a place on the appetizer table.

Another key point to keep in mind when planning a selection of easy appetizers is to choose recipes that keep the ingredient list to a minimum without sacrificing the wow factor. We included several four ingredients or less recipes that are totally irresistible. Try a luscious blue cheese and walnut spread, crispy prosciutto cups, and a pistachio covered cheese log.

Whichever recipe (or recipes!) you choose, these fast and simple bites are guaranteed ways to get the Thanksgiving dinner off to a delicious start.

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A Modern Relish Tray

pickled carrots and chilis with mushrooms and relish
Eleni N. Gage

Say hello to the relish tray—again. We took the classic party spread of pickled dishes, popular in the Betty Draper era and reimagined it as a lighter, brighter Thanksgiving appetizer, pairing fresh, unexpected flavors with rich cheese and buttery crackers. Make the Sweet-and-Tangy Relish, Quick-Pickled Carrots with Chiles and Cumin, and Pan-Roasted Marinated Mushrooms a day (or more) ahead, and spend cocktail hour mingling instead.

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Ham and Spinach Dip

Armando Rafael

Here's a Thanksgiving crowd-pleaser made with frozen spinach, ham, and nutty Spanish Manchego cheese. When mixed together they become a quick homemade bechamel that gets a bubbly cheese topping for extra richness. Serve this warm dip with freshly made crostini, crackers, and crunchy vegetables like halved mini bell peppers for dipping.

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Puff-Pastry Cheese Twists

David Malosh

This shortcut version of cheese straws begins with store-bought frozen puff pastry, which is brushed with egg and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and a touch of cayenne pepper, then formed into decorative twists. Also try the twists with different flavor combinations—sesame and poppy, tomato and rosemary, or pecorino cheese and black pepper—these tasty variations are all in the recipe.

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Warm Olives with Cracked Coriander

warm olives with cracked coriander
Justin Walker

Transform store-bought olives into an impressive Thanksgiving appetizer by simmering them in olive oil infused with coriander and bay leaves.

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Artichoke Dip with Fontina


Warm and bubbly right out of the oven, this dip will be a hit as a Thanksgiving appetizer. Canned artichoke hearts are even more flavorful when cooked with white wine, then combined with fontina and Neufchâtel cheese and served with toasted pita wedges.

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Brown-Butter Nut Mix with Rosemary and Thyme


Mixed nuts are tossed with brown butter, brown sugar, cayenne, rosemary, and thyme, then roasted until golden and crisp. These buttery nuts pair so well with Thanksgiving cocktails.

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Crispy Prosciutto Cups with Pear


Just three ingredients, that's all you need for this impressive and easy Thanksgiving appetizer. Slices of prosciutto are baked in mini muffin tins to form crisp, edible cups that are then filled with spoonfuls of juicy diced Bartlett pears.

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Beet Cheddar and Apple Tarts

beet cheddar apple tarts
Bryan Gardner

Store-bought puff pastry, cheddar cheese, and thin slices of beets and apples are layered to make an elegant looking but simple-to-make Thanksgiving appetizer. This recipe takes less than half an hour from start to finish and can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Herbed Hummus


Pump up the flavor and appearance of store-bought hummus by blending in fresh herbs. This is a great way to use up leftover herbs from other Thanksgiving recipes.

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Gingered Nuts


Here's an easy Thanksgiving snack recipe that makes the most of supermarket ingredients. Dress up mixed nuts by combining them with candied ginger, cayenne pepper, and sesame seeds, then bake them with a sugar syrup to make a spicy-sweet brittle.

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Herb-Cheese Palmiers


Store-bought puff pastry is spread with cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and fresh herbs to make these crisp, flaky appetizers.

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Smoked Salmon Dip with Bagel Chips


A little smoked salmon goes a long way in this easy, sophisticated Thanksgiving appetizer. It's blended with cream cheese, capers, horseradish, red onion, and a touch of lemon juice to make a chunky dip.

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Carrot Yogurt Dip

Fresh shredded carrots get a punch of flavor from Indian pickled lime, cilantro, and cumin. This carrot salad is spooned on top of a tangy-garlicky yogurt, then garnished with crunchy pistachios. It's a perfect make-ahead recipe that brings bright color to the Thanksgiving table.

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Sweet Onion Dip


Sautéed Vidalia onions star in this lightened up dip along with reduced-fat versions of cream cheese and sour cream. Serve this popular party appetizer with an assortment of colorful vegetable chips.

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Spicy-Sweet Maple Snack Mix

spicy sweet maple snack mix
John Dolan

More addictive than a the typical nut mix with pretzels, cheese crackers, and cereal, this snackable, spicy-sweet snack mix is an easy make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer. Divide the snack mix into smaller bowls for serving and place them around the room.

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Cheaters Deviled Eggs

devil-ish egg bites
Raymond Hom

Deviled eggs have a place at every gathering, especially with this updated spin that simplifies their preparation. Top crackers with a mustard-mayo mixture and slice of hard boiled egg, finish with paprika and dill for all the deviled egg flavor with an added crunch from the cracker.

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Cranberry-Avocado Salsa


Sweet, tart, and spicy flavors are harmonious in this seasonal salsa recipe of fresh cranberries, avocado, honey, cilantro, and jalapeño. It only takes 20 minutes to get on the table, leaving you more time for preparing the rest of Thanksgiving dinner.

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Pistachio-Covered Cheese Log


This cheese log is made with a blend of cream cheese, grated white cheddar, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. A coating of toasted pistachio nuts lends crunch and color to this easy, make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer.

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Crispy Chickpea Snack

roasted chickpeas
Bryan Gardner

Prepare this elegant appetizer in advance of the holiday. Roasting canned chickpeas lends them a nutty flavor and crispy consistency. Add a little zing with spice mixes, such as za'atar or garam masala on the chickpeas.

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Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread


Made with cream cheese, crumbled blue cheese (we suggest Stilton, but another variety would work), and chopped walnuts, this easy spread can be prepped ahead, covered, and refrigerated up to a week before Thanksgiving. It is delicious served with crackers, or apple and pear wedges (rub the sliced fruit with lemon to prevent discoloration).

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