Our 38 Best Thanksgiving Appetizers To Kick Off Your Feast With a Bang

Don't let turkey have all the fun—our best Thanksgiving appetizers will have you off to a strong start

Whoever created the appetizer decided they were going to pregame their meal with more food, and we can't argue with that. If you're looking for creative Thanksgiving dinner ideas, look no further than the first course? Whether you're looking for whimsical one-bite hors d'oeuvres or want to switch things up by opting for a Mexican-inspired Thanksgiving feast, our best Thanksgiving appetizers are the perfect way to keep your guests happy (and at bay) while you're preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving feast.

Grilled Oysters

Grilled Oysters
Oysters are the perfect aphrodisiacs to have on Valentine's day. Believed to increase fertility, these half shells evoke images of romance. Grill them for your lover and sprinkle some pecorino and bottarga before serving. Get the recipe for Grilled Oysters »Christina Holmes

Pickled Shrimp with Satsuma

Pickled Shrimp with Satsuma
Bittersweet satsumas, a citrus fruit native to Louisiana, brighten these pickled shrimp, which chef Justin Devillier of New Orleans' La Petite Grocery spikes with Korean chile flakes. Substitute tangerines or any orange-related citrus and crushed red chile flakes, if necessary. Get the recipe for Pickled Shrimp with Satsuma »Christina Holmes

Lemon Parmesan Dip

Lemon Parmesan Dip
Creamy and bright-tasting, lemon parmesan dip makes for an excellent accompaniment to a chip or crudité platter. Get the recipe for Lemon Parmesan Dip »Helen Rosner

Roasted Squash and Pork Dumplings

Roasted Squash and Pork Dumplings
This delicate seasonal dumpling is stuffed with squash, spiced pork, ginger, and scallion. Get the recipe for Roasted Squash and Pork Dumplings »Matt Taylor-Gross

French Piped Potatoes (Pommes Duchesse)

French Piped Potatoes (Pommes Duchesse)
Elegant potatoes are brushed with an egg wash before baking for color and crunch. Get the recipe for French Piped Potatoes (Pommes Duchesse) »Ingalls Photography

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus With West African Chile Paste

Black Eyed Pea Hummus, Senegalese Thanksgiving
A sweet, hot, and aromatic chile paste is the garnish for this spread of black-eyed peas blended with palm oil and topped with roasted red peppers. Get the recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Hummus With West African Chile Paste »Ryen Liebe

Cranberry Crostini

Cranberry crostini
Tart, colorful cranberries are not just for cooked and canned sauces. Paired with rich whipped ricotta spread and toasted baguette slices, the raw fruit has a punchy flavor and crunchy texture that's a light, bright complement to crostini. Prepare the dip up to one day ahead and store covered in the refrigerator. Stir or buzz in the food processor briefly before spreading onto toasts. Get the recipe for Cranberry Crostini »Matt Taylor-Gross

Scotch Eggs

Scotch Eggs
A hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and bread crumbs and then deep-fried may seem like a product of modern pub culture, but the Scotch egg was invented by London department store Fortnum & Mason in 1738. Get the recipe for Scotch Eggs »Maxime Iattoni

Nut and Cheese Gougères

Pecan gougeres
This recipe is adapted from cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. You can portion and freeze these gougères in advance, then bake them just before guests arrive (you may need to add a few minutes of baking time). This recipe makes soft gougères that are custardy in the center. If you prefer a firmer puff, use 4 eggs. Get the recipe for Nut and Cheese Gougères »Matt Taylor-Gross

Batter-Fried Scallions

Batter-Fried Scallions
Delicate onions turn crunchy and sweet when dipped in batter and fried. Get the recipe for Batter-Fried Scallions »Helen Rosner

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans
A combination of balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and brown sugar turns pecans into a toasty, addictive snack that's perfect for nibbling alongside apéritifs. Get the recipe for Candied Pecans »Penny De Los Santos

Tahini-Beet Dip

Tahini-Beet Dip
Tahini's nutty, luxurious properties don't stop at hummus. Keep the sesame paste flowing with this bright red purée of boiled beets, lemon, and garlic. Get the recipe for Tahini-Beet Dip »Helen Cathcart

Bluefish Paté

Bluefish Paté
This bluefish paté has all the makings of a traditional fish dip—cream cheese, lemon, herbs—with a few updates to give it some zing. Get the recipe for Bluefish Paté »Farideh Sadeghin

Carrot-Tahini Dip

Carrot-Tahini Dip
Tahini's nutty, luxurious properties don't stop at hummus. Keep the sesame paste flowing with this vibrant, creamy carrot purée. Get the recipe for Carrot-Tahini Dip »Helen Cathcart

Abruzzo-Style Grape Focaccia

Abruzzo-Style Grape Focaccia
When this fluffy, oil-slathered dough bakes, the red and green grapes dotting it burst, releasing their sweet juices into the bread. Get the recipe for Abruzzo-Style Grape Focaccia »Romulo Yanes

Three Cheese Gougères

Chablis Three Cheese Gougeres
Three distinct cheeses are incorporated into this classic savory pâte à choux snack. More cheese is sprinkled over the tops of the gougères to produce a golden crust. Get the recipe for Three Cheese Gougères »Ingalls Photography

Stuffed Cherry Peppers (Peperoni con Acciughe)

Stuffed Cherry Peppers (Peperoni con Acciughe)
Capers, tuna, and anchovies balance the heat in these small, stuffed cherry peppers. Get the recipe for Stuffed Cherry Peppers (Peperoni con Acciughe) »Todd Coleman

Cured Salmon with Thin Pancakes (Gravlax with Blinis)

Cured Salmon with Thin Pancakes (Gravlax with Blinis)
We persuaded the wife of a Norwegian fisherman to share her secret recipe for marinating a fresh side of salmon to silky-textured, subtly flavored perfection. Get the recipe for Cured Salmon with Thin Pancakes (Gravlax with Blinis) »Maxime Iattoni

Stuffing Crab Cakes

Stuffing crab cakes
Store-bought stuffing mix is the secret shortcut in these golden brown crab cakes, adding seasoning and substance. But lump crabmeat remains the star, mixed with just enough finely chopped apples, celery, and onion to give the cakes a little crunch and a fall feel. Get the recipe for Stuffing Crab Cakes »Matt Taylor-Gross

Herbed Crème Fraîche Dip

Herbed Crème Fraîche Dip
Herbes de Provence, the quintessential Provençal seasoning combo of thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano, enhances this lemony crème fraîche dip. Serve it with crudités as part of a picnic spread. Get the recipe for Herbed Crème Fraîche Dip »Matt Taylor-Gross

Fried Stuffed Castelvetrano Olives

Fried Stuffed Castelvetrano Olives
Making for a substantial snack, Rosa Pepe stuffs olives with a simple beef and pork filling; then dredges them in breadcrumbs before crisping them up in the deep-fryer. Get the recipe for Fried Stuffed Castelvetrano Olives »Romulo Yanes

Salmon Tartare

Salmon Tartare
A simple mix of soy sauce, mirin, and cilantro flavors meltingly tender salmon for an elegant appetizer that requires very little prep time. Get the recipe for Salmon Tartare »SAVEUR

Spicy Fried Peanuts

Spicy Fried Peanuts
This spicy snack is flavored with garlic, lemon juice, and two kinds of chiles. Get the recipe for Spicy Fried Peanuts »Maxime Iattoni

Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta (Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta)

Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta (Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta)
In this dish, zucchini are stuffed with the twin stars of Calabrian cheese making: pecorino and ricotta. Flecked with tomato and mint, they are equally good eaten hot or at room temperature. Get the recipe for Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta (Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta) »Landon Nordeman

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta
This recipe comes courtesy of Jenn Louis, chef-owner of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Oregon. We featured Louis' ricotta gnocchi in our April 2015 issue, and we can't stop making this super-creamy ricotta—to add to gnocchi and everything else—because it's so easy and so darn good. Get the recipe for Homemade Ricotta »Farideh Sadeghin

Spiced Pecans

Spiced Pecans
Bite-size and buttery, cumin and cayenne-spiced pecans glazed in dark brown sugar are the perfect smoky, spicy-sweet snack. Get the recipe for Spiced Pecans »Penny De Los Santos

Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws
Dainty and addictive, crunchy cheddar cheese sticks get added flavor from sweet paprika and cayenne pepper. Get the recipe for Cheese Straws »Todd Coleman

Goat Cheese and Apricot Truffles

Goat Cheese and Apricot Truffles
This layered no-cook appetizer from former test kitchen assistant Eliza Martin features a sweet core of dried apricot coated in tangy goat cheese and then rolled in a savory mixture of crushed pistachios and fresh herbs. The finger-friendly "truffles" can be made up to 2 days before serving and stored in the refrigerator, making them the perfect hors d'oeuvres for the busy host or hostess. Get the recipe for Goat Cheese and Apricot Truffles »Laura Sant

Onion Tart with Goat Cheese

Onion Tart with Goat Cheese
This gorgeous tart has it all—sweetness from the caramelized onions, earthiness from the goat cheese, and a subtle saltiness from the anchovies. Get the recipe for Onion Tart with Goat Cheese »Helen Rosner

Cheese Gougères

cheese gougeres
These gougères are custardy in the center, with a little nuttiness and crunch from optional walnuts. Get the recipe for Cheese Gougères »Christina Holmes

Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleons

Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleons
These elegant appetizers come from Wolfgang Puck's Los Angeles restaurant Spago. Laurie Ochoa wrote about the groundbreaking chef in "The King of LA," part of our special Los Angeles issue (March 2010). Get the recipe for Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleons »Penny De Los Santos

Peppers Stuffed with Feta (Piperies Gemistes me Feta)

Peppers Stuffed with Feta
This meze is made in Macedonia with sweet Florina peppers, though Fresno or Anaheim chiles (the former being hotter than the latter) can be substituted. Get the recipe for Peppers Stuffed with Feta (Piperies Gemistes me Feta) »Todd Coleman

Heart of Palm Fries with Chipotle Mayo

Heart of Palm Fries with Chipotle Mayo
These addictive fries, served at Yerba Buena restaurant on New York City's Lower East Side, can be made with fresh hearts of palm for a crispier texture. This recipe appeared in our March 2011 issue with Tyla Fowler's story about hearts of palm, A Good Heart. Get the recipe for Heart of Palm Fries with Chipotle Mayo »Todd Coleman

Cipollini Onion Hummus

Cipollini Onion Hummus
Gently browned cipollini onions add an unexpected hint of caramel sweetness to this hummus, deepening its earthy flavors. Get the recipe for Cipollini Onion Hummus »Leah Koenig

Hummus with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

Hummus with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
A tangle of fried mushrooms provides textural contrast and a savory boost to this silky hummus. Get the recipe for Hummus with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms »Todd Coleman

Fromage Fort

Fromage Fort
Meaning "strong cheese" in French, fromage fort is a classic way to use up all the leftover ends and mismatched scraps of cheese in your fridge. In Julia Turshen's version, which we adapted from her Small Victories cookbook, a little butter and a few splashes of wine round out the salty cheeses and help them become spreadable enough for topping toast or crackers. Get the recipe for Fromage Fort »Matt Taylor-Gross