19 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Appetizers for a Low-Stress Holiday

Cheesy Skillet Artichoke Dip
Photo: Andy Lyons

These Thanksgiving appetizers will get your feast started with minimal fuss. Get a head start—from a few hours to a few months—with help from these easy ideas. Our collection includes kid-friendly Thanksgiving appetizers, such as hot dips and cheese straws, and more sophisticated bites, such as marinated cheese, stuffed dates, and mini quiches.

01 of 19

Sugared Bacon-Wrapped Smokies

Bacon-Wrapped Smokies
Blaine Moats

We're fans of making great foods even better with bacon like we did with these smokies. A little brown sugar adds a touch of caramely goodness. Two more ingredients (plus nonstick spray) complete these Thanksgiving appetizers that can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance.

02 of 19

Asiago-Artichoke Dip

Asiago-Artichoke Dip
Karla Conrad

Warm and cheesy dips are a must on your roster of easy make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizers. Prosciutto, artichoke hearts, and roasted red bell peppers give this hot dip loads of flavor and color.

Make-Ahead Tip: After assembling the dip, refrigerate it up to 24 hours before baking.

03 of 19

Mini Quiches

Mini Quiches

If you're looking for Thanksgiving appetizers with tons of options, check out these customizable quiches. Freezer and refrigerator prep methods mean you have two ways to get a jump-start on these.

Buy It: Wilton Mini Muffin Pan ($13, Target)

04 of 19

Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs

Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs on plate against rich red background
Blaine Moats

Three cheers for deviled eggs! One, they're easy to make. Two, they're among the best make-ahead appetizers for Thanksgiving. Three, almost everybody loves them. How can you go wrong—especially when there's bacon in the mix?

05 of 19

Make-Ahead Dilled Onion Cheese Balls

Mini Cheese Balls
Andy Lyons

This creamy make-ahead cheese spread gets rolled in parsley (or bacon, or crushed crackers, or seeds—there are so many options) for an easy Thanksgiving appetizer you can make up to 24 hours ahead. Or freeze some so you are always ready for guests.

06 of 19

Bacon-and-Cheese-Stuffed Dates

Bacon and Cheese-Stuffed Dates
Jason Donnelly

There's something about the combo of smoky-salty bacon and sweet, chewy dates that always impresses. Plus, Medjool dates appear in abundance in the fall, making these the perfect appetizers for a Thanksgiving dinner party. Use any leftover dates in these all-time-great Date Bars.

07 of 19

Cheesy Skillet Artichoke Dip

Cheesy Skillet Artichoke Dip
Andy Lyons

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of recipes out there for hot artichoke dip. What makes this one worthy of your selection of Thanksgiving dinner appetizers? How about the party-perfect presentation, bread dippers baked right on top, and the appeal of baking and serving it a cast-iron skillet?

Buy It: Lodge 13.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet ($45, Target)

08 of 19

Salami Chips with Grainy Mustard

Salami Chips with Grainy Mustard
James Carriere

If you thought potato chips were addictive, try staying away from salami chips! Not only are these easy Thanksgiving appetizers ultratasty, but they're a make-ahead option too. Both the dips and the chips can be stored in the fridge up to three days.

09 of 19

Baked Gougeres

Gougéres
Blaine Moats

These airy and rich cheese puffs are as popular in France as little smokies are in the United States. Serve them as the French do—with a glass of sparkling wine—for a glamorous Thanksgiving appetizer.

Test Kitchen Tip: These cheese appetizers freeze beautifully, so keep a stash on hand throughout the holidays.

10 of 19

Cranberry-Sauced Meatballs

Cranberry-Sauced Meatballs
Marty Baldwin

These irresistible Thanksgiving appetizers star one of the holiday's best-loved ingredients—cranberries—with year-round fave, barbecue sauce. We also love the way they finish up in the slow-cooker, letting you avoid a pan jam on your stove top.

11 of 19

Crunchy Ranch Party Mix

Crunchy Ranch Party Mix
Karla Conrad

Slow cooker fans love using their favorite appliance for anything and everything—even appetizers for a Thanksgiving dinner party. Although we have lots of great recipes for snack mixes in our files, dry ranch dressing mix gives this one an extra flavor angle. You'll also appreciate the long head start: You can make it up to 3 months in advance.

12 of 19

Cran-Sage Rolls

Cran-Sage Rolls
Andy Lyons

These savory-sweet rolls have some of our favorite flavors of the season: tart dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, and fresh snipped sage. Make these darling, delicious holiday appetizers up to a day before your dinner.

13 of 19

Root Veggie Chips with Sea Salt

Root Veggie Chips with Sea Salt
Karla Conrad

Because you know you'll be eating cheesy potato casserole and your aunt's famous stuffing at dinner, it's a good idea to keep a few of your Thanksgiving appetizers on the light side. These DIY root chips are crispy and low cal, and they highlight some of the season's favorite veggies.

14 of 19

Herb- and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms

Herb- and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
Jason Donnelly

Sure, classic stuffed mushrooms are great, but for the holidays, we're leaning toward this version. It combines goat cheese, fresh herbs, pine nuts, and sherry for elegance. You can assemble them up to 24 hours in advance, scoring them spot on our list of the best make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizers.

15 of 19

Marinated Cheese

Marinated Cheese
James Carriere

These bite-size make-ahead holiday appetizers are tart and flavorful with creamy centers. Assemble them up to a week in advance, then pop them into the fridge until Thanksgiving.

16 of 19

Caramelized Onion and Swiss Dip

Caramelized Onion and Swiss Dip
Blaine Moats

Combine the ingredients for this Thanksgiving dip recipe a day in advance, and toss them into the slow cooker seven hours before showtime. The rich make-ahead recipe will cook while you work on the other dishes.

17 of 19

Phyllo Cheese Triangles (Spanikopita)

Spanakopita
Adam Albright Photography Inc.

Your search for easy make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizers is over. These flaky layered pastries last in the freezer for an entire two months. Better yet, they're easier than they look, thanks to purchased phyllo dough.

18 of 19

Saucy Apricot-Spiced Meatballs

Saucy Apricot-Spiced Meatballs
Jason Donnelly

Tangy-spicy apricot sauce is the secret to these delectable make-ahead meatballs. Prep the easy Thanksgiving appetizers up to a day ahead, then warm in a slow cooker ($50, Kohl's) for a low-maintenance party treat.

19 of 19

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn
Jason Donnelly

Sweet holiday appetizers? Why not? Our low-calorie caramel popcorn recipe is a cinch to make in bulk, and the portable appetizer can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.

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