Thanksgiving appetizers to satisfy your guests

Nov 15, 2011 at 10:23 a.m. ET

Wondering how to avoid the age-old Thanksgiving day question, “When will it be ready?” With Thanksgiving appetizers! These tasty morsels are a surefire way to keep your guests occupied and satisfied before the big dinner!

Low fat spinach dip

Delicious appetizers are just the thing to start a gathering off right. Not too heavy or filling to keep your guests from the main attraction, but just enough to curb hunger and keep people happy! Give these wonderful dishes a try this Thanksgiving. You'll be glad you did!

Creamy, lower-fat spinach dip

Make room for the holidays! There is plenty to indulge in during this time of year. Why not save on calories and fat wherever possible? This tried-and-true dip is loved by everyone!


  • 1 small shallot, peeled
  • 1 (5 ounce) can of water chestnuts, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat, plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  1. Using a food processor, pulse the shallot and water chestnuts until they're coarsely chopped. Add the cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Pulse until combined.
  2. Add the spinach and chives, and pulse again until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Serve with fresh veggies, pita chips or crackers.

Baked brie with cranberry sauce, pancetta and spiced pecans

This standard dish is made holiday-worthy with a few extra twists. This is easy to make and sure to please. Serve with crunchy bread.

Serves 4-6 people


  • 1 wheel brie cheese
  • 1/4 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons crushed spiced pecans


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the chopped pancetta into a small skillet over medium-high heat and cook for about five minutes until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and then crumble once cool enough to handle.
  3. Take the brie out of its packaging and place on a baking sheet. Top the brie with the cranberry sauce, cooked pancetta and the spiced pecans. Put the brie in the oven and cook for eight minutes. Serve immediately.

Smoked trout, apple and endive salad

This light salad is certainly a bit out of the ordinary, but all-out delicious. Crisp and crunchy, it's the perfect start to your holiday dinner.

Serves 4 people


  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Belgian endives, leaves separated
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, halved, cored and very thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 pound boneless smoked trout
  • 1 cup small watercress sprigs


  1. Place the endives, apple, walnuts, trout and watercress into a shallow salad bowl and toss gently to combine.
  2. Put the shallot, vinegars and mustard into a blender and process the mixture until smooth. With the blender's motor running, slowly pour the oils into the blender and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then drizzle the dressing over the salad; serve immediately.

Candied walnuts

These are perfect to have sitting around the room in pretty dishes for your guests. If you're a guest at Thanksgiving, these make a lovely hostess gift and can easily be packaged in a glass jar with a colorful ribbon.

Makes 2 cups


  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (grade B)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch or two of sea salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the walnuts, maple syrup, oil, cinnamon and salt into a baking dish, stir to combine and then place in the oven for 12 minutes, stirring after six minutes to ensure even cooking.
  3. Allow the nuts to cool prior to serving or storing.

Dill shrimp dip

The herbs in this dip are the perfect complement to the shrimp. This dip is easy to put together for guests, tastes wonderful and won't ruin their appetite for dinner.

Serves 8 people


  • 1 (4-1/2 ounce) can shrimp, drained and chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed, dried


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix well. Cover tightly and chill thoroughly.
  2. Serve with fresh vegetable sticks and crackers.

As Thanksgiving dinner approaches, you can bet your guests will be chomping at the bit. Help stave off their hunger and keep them occupied and satisfied before dinner with these fabulous holiday appetizers.

More Thanksgiving entertaining ideas

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A Thanksgiving wine list and festive cocktails
5 Festive DIY place card settings for Thanksgiving dinner
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Healthy Thanksgiving dessert recipes