13 easy Thanksgiving appetizers to serve before the main event

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
Deviled Eggs

With the holidays approaching, it's time to dust off your appetizer repertoire.

We've collected a dozen relatively simple hors d'oeuvres and starters you can pull together quickly the day of or, in some cases, the day before the main event.

The key to hosting a good holiday gathering is to keep everyone fed, and thus relatively sober and in good spirits, while waiting for dinner.

This is especially the case if you do Thanksgiving as we do, settling down to eat our meal at night rather than during the afternoon. Candlelight flickering against the dark evening enhances the experience, in our opinion.

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Not everyone is accustomed to eating so late, however. This unconventional dinner time, compared with my husbands' overzealous pouring of the wine he's always so proud to contribute, has caused some visiting relatives to begin to fade before the turkey is on the table. Thankfully, no fights have broken out — at least that I can recall. 

The remedy: Laying out ground rules for smaller pours, for starters. We also provide a hefty spread of filling appetizers to get everyone safely to dinner without falling asleep on the couch. 

Classic deviled eggs: The quintessential Southern appetizer. Get the recipe

Onion Souffle Dip: This warm dish is as comforting as a warm blanket. Get the recipe

Shrimp dip: A sprinkling of Old Bay is essential to this old-school recipe. Get the recipe

Linton Hopkins’ pimento cheese: You can't beat pimento cheese and crackers on the appetizer table. Get the recipe

Baked Brie with Bacon and Apples

Baked brie with bacon and apples: Smoky bacon, sweet apples and creamy cheese come together for a deceptively simple dish. Get the recipe

Benedictine Tea Sandwiches: These petite sandwiches are delicate but still filling. Get the recipe

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip: This five-ingredient dish comes together in 15 minutes, though it spends additional time in the oven. Dial back the hot sauce if you'd like. Get the recipe

Instant Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Instant Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip: This classic will disappear quickly. Get the recipe

Instant Pot Mexican Street Corn Dip: Creamy, cheesy, spicy corn. What else do you want on a chilly day? Get the recipe

Classic Southern cheese straws: Serve these alone with cocktails or on a simple cheese plate. Get the recipe

Bob Armstrong Chili con Queso

Bob Armstrong Chili Con Queso: This hearty and spicy dish goes well with some tortilla chips and napkins. Lots and lots of napkins. Get the recipe

Sonoma Jack Cheese fritters: The most complicated recipe on the list is perhaps the most delicious. It's hard to argue with fried cheese. Get the recipe

Lemony White Bean Dip: Like hummus, only lighter, this dip can be turned into a sandwich spread, or served with vegetables and pita for a no-cook appetizer platter. Get the recipe


Mackensy Lunsford covers food policy, restaurants, agriculture and other food-related topics for the USA TODAY Network's South Region. She's the editor of Southern Kitchen and correspondent for The American South. Sign up for my newsletter here.

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