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Start Your Thanksgiving Off With These Flavorful Appetizers
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Start Your Thanksgiving Off With These Flavorful Appetizers

We all know that the star of the show on Thanksgiving is the turkey (although the cornbread sausage stuffing threatens to steal it every time!). But serving up a few easy appetizers with some of the flavors of the season is the perfect way to start the Thanksgiving - or Friendsgiving - gathering. While you won’t want to go overboard - there is a big meal coming - serving up some light bites and self-serve options are a great way to greet those joining in the festivities this year, while also giving the host a bit more time to set things out and time the feast perfectly.

Here are some delicious apps that will get everyone excited for what will be on the main table this year. And, don’t forget the cocktail napkins in the color of your choice to set the afternoon’s tone with an elegant touch.

Have leftovers? Some of these recipes can also be served up the next day, re-creating Thanksgiving in a unique way. Besides, one can only eat so many turkey sandwiches.

Cabana Table

Squash Toasts

Recipe courtesy of Woman’s Day


  • 1 2 1/2-lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4" pieces
  • 1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 16 slices baguette (about 1/2" thick)
  • 1/2 c. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Chopped parsley, for serving


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the squash with 1⁄4 cup oil, the sage, red pepper, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Arrange the squash in an even layer on the prepared sheet and roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until lightly golden brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes; transfer to a bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, lowering the heat if necessary, until golden brown and very tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to low, add the vinegar and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar has nearly evaporated and the onions are nearly falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add to the squash and mash with a fork to combine.
  5. Heat broiler. Brush the bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, arrange on a baking sheet and broil until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Spread the cheese on the toasts, then top with the squash-onion mixture. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.
Festive Edge

Turkey Cheese Ball

Recipe courtesy of delish


For cheese ball

  • 2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/3 c. freshly chopped chives
  • 3/4 c. freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme, stem removed, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For Decorating/Serving

  • 1 1/4 c. pecan halves, toasted, divided
  • Red and yellow bell peppers
  • Orange and white carrots, julienned
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers


  1. Combine cream cheese, butter, goat cheese and garlic powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add chives, parsley, and thyme leaves and pulse a few times until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Form mixture into a large ball.
  2. To make the turkey body, Pulse ¾ cups pecan halves in a food processor until finely chopped. Roll the cheese ball in pecan crumbs and chill for at least 1 hour to allow the cheese ball to set up.
  3. To decorate: Make the tail by sticking pretzels, pretzel sticks and multicolored julienned carrots into the tail end of the turkey. Slice carrots to make the turkey feet. Cut a red bell pepper into a large triangle to make the face of the turkey and place on cheese ball using a toothpick or pressing into the cheese ball. Slice a smaller triangle from a yellow bell pepper and attach to the red triangle to make the beak using another toothpick. Slice a thin carrot crosswise to get 2 rounds, for the turkey eyes and place onto red triangle with toothpicks. For the wings, stick pecan halves into the sides of the body, overlapping each other to make a wing shape.
  4. Serve cheese ball turkey on a platter along with crackers.


Bacon Wrapped Dates

Recipe Courtesy of Food & Wine


  • 24 Medjool dates
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted and halved lengthwise
  • 6 thin slices of bacon, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
  • Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
  • Honey and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving


  1. Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each date and remove the pits.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the blue cheese with the cream cheese, salt and pepper. Using a hand mixer, beat at medium speed until thoroughly blended and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Refrigerate the blue cheese filling until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°. Place a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Using a small spoon, stuff each date with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the blue cheese filling, then tuck in a piece of toasted walnut. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon, secure it with a toothpick and transfer to the rack.
  4. Bake the wrapped stuffed dates for about 15 minutes, turning them with tongs once or twice so the bacon crisps on all sides. Transfer the dates to a platter, garnish with thyme leaves and serve warm, with a drizzle of honey and olive oil.


Charred Brussel Sprouts Crostini

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network/Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups ricotta
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 24 crostini


  1. Preheat the broiler to high.
  2. Combine the sugar and Champagne vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture has thickened just slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook 1 minute more, then remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes to plump the cranberries.
  3. Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, combine the sliced Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper flakes. Toss well to coat. Broil for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through and rotating the baking sheet as needed for even browning. Add the sprouts to a medium bowl and toss with the cranberry mixture while hot. Set aside for 5 minutes to let the flavors marry.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the ricotta. Using a small offset spatula, spread the crostini with the ricotta mixture. Top each crostini with a spoonful of the Brussel sprout mixture and sprinkle with a few pine nuts.

Cranberry Baked Brie

Recipe Courtesy of Good Housekeeping


  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 2-inch strips orange peel, plus orange zest for serving
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for serving
  • 1 8-oz. wheel Brie or Camembert
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. deeply roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • Crackers and sliced baguette, for serving


  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine honey, cranberries, pepper, orange peel, and thyme and bring to a simmer; simmer, stirring occasionally and lightly smashing cranberries, until cranberries have softened and syrup slightly thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard orange peel and thyme, transfer to bowl, and let cool 10 minutes.
  3. Place Brie in a 6-inch cast-iron skillet. Spoon cranberry syrup on top and bake until cheese is soft, 7 to 9 minutes. Top with almonds, additional thyme, and orange zest if desired. Serve with crackers and sliced baguette.



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