With everything from a veggie tray appetizer that's shaped like a turkey, to elegant cranberry brie bites, make-ahead crescent roll veggie pizza, and a show-stopping Thanksgiving charcuterie board, this list of Thanksgiving appetizer ideas has something for everyone!
Thanksgiving dinner is undoubtedly one of the single biggest meals of the year. Which makes sense because so much preparation goes into it! With an epic turkey main course and a variety of side dishes, it's always a meal to look forward to.
Some families plan for a dinner as early as noon on Thanksgiving. Other people like it mid-afternoon. We always have Thanksgiving dinner around 6pm. Dinner, and then dessert a couple hours later, followed by a movie we watch once a year or every other year like The Wizard of Oz or Home Alone.
But the real question is, do you serve appetizers on Thanksgiving?
Because we eat this holiday meal at a regular dinner time, we usually have mid-morning Thanksgiving brunch, and then a few appetizers or snacks to nibble on around 2 or 3pm. Not too much, because of course you don't want to spoil your appetite for the big dinner!
The main meal is usually set in stone (with a couple side dish variations), but the appetizers are another story. In my house, they're fair game to change up yearly, and I love finding delicious new festive appetizers for Thanksgiving!
Because it's a holiday, you can go all out, right?! There are a ton of seasonal flavors to work with that all pair well with all the classics served at Thanksgiving dinner: pumpkin, sweet potato, cranberry, apple, and the list goes on!
These Thanksgiving appetizer ideas include a good variety of options. There are easy recipes, and some that take a little bit more work. Some are lighter vegetable-based snacks, and some are more decadent. A few are served hot, and others are served cold.
There's also a few gluten free, vegan, low carb, and keto appetizer recipes, so you're sure to find something for everyone no matter what your snacking preference is.
And most of these appetizer recipes would also be perfect for Christmas Eve, Christmas, or New Year's Eve!
Thanksgiving Appetizer Ideas
I searched around for the best Thanksgiving appetizers so you don't have to! Bookmark this post so you can easily find it again later.
Super Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers
If you just want to keep things as simple as possible (because Thanksgiving dinner can be daunting enough!), here are a few Thanksgiving appetizer ideas that are so easy you don't even need a recipe:
- Cream cheese-stuffed celery - You only need 2 ingredients for this iconic snack.
- Veggies and dip - Baby carrots, broccoli florets, sliced bell pepper, you name it, any crunchy vegetables that you enjoy eating raw will work well here! Serve up a variety of raw veggies with a few dips, such as ranch, French onion, etc.
- Cheese and crackers - Slice your favorite cheese (or buy it pre-sliced) and arrange it on a tray with crackers.
Which Thanksgiving Appetizers Pair Best with Thanksgiving Dinner?
I compiled this appetizer list with Thanksgiving dinner and its traditional side dishes and flavors in mind. So any appetizer you pick to make is a good choice and will pair well with the flavors of a classic Thanksgiving dinner!
However, if you want a few appetizer ideas that utilize some of the same ingredients as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, here are a few options:
- Cranberry brie bites with puff pastry - Make a double batch of cranberry sauce and let it serve double duty for this classy little appetizer.
- Turkey sliders - These have gooey Swiss cheese, sweet and tangy cranberry sauce, and turkey. And you can even add a thin layer of stuffing if you want!
- Crispy fried goat cheese - Creamy, tangy goat cheese balls are coated with fried onions before air-frying to crispy golden perfection.
Which Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes Can I Make Ahead?
You can make a lot of these appetizers ahead of time. They're perfect for Thanksgiving (or Christmas) because you can spend more time on the holiday doing other things with your family instead of cooking. Or you can spend more time cooking the main meal instead of appetizers!
Here are a few of the best make-ahead appetizers:
- Turkey-shaped veggie tray appetizer - This just involves cutting a few vegetables (or buying prepped veggies) and arranging them on a try to look like a turkey! It's festive and easy, and perfect for making a couple days ahead and keeping stashed in your fridge for the big day.
- Crescent roll veggie pizza - A classic make-ahead appetizer, this cold pizza is even better the next day.
- Sweet potato hummus - This classic vegan favorite gets a festive fall spin with sweet potato. And it's perfect for making ahead!