30 Best Appetizers To Take To Friendsgiving And Thanksgiving

If you love food, you're likely a fan of Thanksgiving, the late fall turkeyfest that leaves bellies full and minds slightly woozy with tryptophan and wine. (Okay, so Healthline reports it would take a lot of turkey to start feeling drowsy, but we're not going to underestimate how much Tasting Table readers love to eat.) But not everyone loves hosting the holiday: Between defrosting and brining the turkey, then roasting it to juicy perfection to juggling what seems like a million side dishes and trying to serve everything piping-hot to perfectly crimping a pumpkin pie while also offering a sweet potato version having people over for Thanksgiving is not for the faint of heart. And let's not even get started on the massive undertaking that is the post-Thanksgiving cleanup.

If you've lucked out this year by being an invited guest to someone's Thanksgiving feast — and not having to do the thing yourself — then the least you can do is bring a lovely, delicious appetizer to your host's home on the holiday. (Please, ask first if you're not attending a potluck. No one likes to be upstaged at their own party.) Whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving with family or Friendsgiving with pals, here are 30 wonderful appetizers you can make at home to contribute to the feast.

Cranberry Brie Bites

It's hard not to love baked Brie: Featuring the oozy French cheese often wrapped in pastry and baked until runny on the inside and crisp and golden on the outside, the dish pairs wonderfully with sweet flavors such as honey and fruit, and is a party appetizer that's always a hit.

Our Cranberry Brie Bites up the wow factor: Baked in mini muffin tins and perfect for heaping on a party platter, they contain molten centers of dairy goodness and a tangy hit of cranberry sauce that perfectly cuts through the richness of the cheese.

Recipe: Cranberry Brie Bites

Easy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Is there any vegetable that screams "fall" more than Brussels sprouts? We certainly don't think so: These tiny cabbages turn sweet and nutty when roasted and come into season in early autumn, according to Food Network.

A popular choice in cold-weather dishes such as shaved Brussels sprouts salad and maple bacon Brussels sprouts, in this hearty side dish, the tiny crucifers are halved and par-roasted while a mustard-balsamic vinegar glaze is stirred together. The sprouts are then removed from the oven, tossed in the glaze, then sent back to roast some more, turning out tender with crispy edges and a hint of sweetness.

Recipe: Easy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Kefir Ranch Dressing

If you love ranch dressing — even the stuff that's stirred together using a packet (promise we won't tell) — we totally get it. A well-made ranch is not just an amazing complement to a fresh salad, but also makes a creamy, tangy dip for crudités, crackers, and more.

Typically made with buttermilk to bring bright acidity to the party and thin out the dish, our take on ranch dip calls for kefir, that tangy probiotic-rich fermented beverage, instead. Add to that sour cream and cream cheese, plus tons of fresh and dried herbs and some serrano chile for heat, it's the perfect dip for cocktail hour before the big bird.

Recipe: Kefir Ranch Dressing

Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans

Green beans are a common sight at Thanksgiving dinner, whether taking the form of the classic green bean casserole or simply steamed and tossed with butter and lemon. But since Thanksgiving is all about excess, why not bring some bacon to the party?

These indulgent little bundles feature flash-steamed green beans wrapped in gently cooked bacon that's then sprinkled with brown sugar and garlic powder. The bundles are then popped into the oven until the beans are nice and tender and the bacon perfectly crispy and shellacked with sweetness and spice.

Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans

Sweet Carrot Casserole

Thanksgiving meals typically feature some kind of casserole, be it a classic green bean casserole or one featuring sweet yams, but our Sweet Carrot Casserole is a great way to mix things up.

Featuring chunky carrots and sweet potatoes blanketed under a mix of butter, brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange juice, the casserole is dotted with pecans for an extra autumnal touch. After baking in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 25 minutes this carrot casserole emerges fragrant and warm, with an irresistibly sweet and crispy topping.

Recipe: Sweet Carrot Casserole

Baked Turkey Wings

Okay, so chances are you're going to be eating a whole roasted turkey at your holiday celebration, but if there's any day to not hold back on a turkey feast, it's Thanksgiving.

Whether you want to double down on the poultry, your host isn't offering turkey this year, or you are the host but are looking for something a little more manageable than the full bird, these simple spice-rubbed wings are just what you're looking for. Done in about an hour, our Baked Turkey Wings will go great with any Thanksgiving appetizers, including the candied yams, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce all included in this list.

Recipe: Baked Turkey Wings

Eggplant Caponata Crostini

Crostini are always welcome at a party. They're great poppable, one- or two-bite treats that are easily plattered up for a crowd and can be heaped with pretty much any kind of topping under the sun.

Here, crostini are mounded with caponata, a tangy Sicilian eggplant chutney flavored with briny capers, olives, and sweet raisins. Garnished with salty ricotta salata cheese and a sprinkle of fresh thyme, they're sure to be a hit at your Thanksgiving celebration.

Recipe: Eggplant Caponata Crostini

Fabulous Yellow Squash Casserole

Casseroles are always a hit at the Thanksgiving table, where they provide a nice contrast to rich, meaty dishes such as turkey with gravy. If summer squash is more your speed than green beans or sweet potatoes, this Fabulous Yellow Squash Casserole is just the ticket.

This recipe binds the squash with sour cream, eggs, and plenty of cheddar before being topped with buttery, garlicky panko breadcrumbs. After spending just half an hour in the oven the casserole comes out perfectly creamy with a crispy, browned topping for contrast.

Recipe: Fabulous Yellow Squash Casserole

Classic Pimento Cheese

Hailing from the American South, pimento cheese is an irresistible dip or spread loaded with cheddar cheese and chopped pimentos, which are sweet red peppers you can typically find jarred at most grocery stores. This version from recipe developer Kate Shungu sticks pretty closely to the classic but works in an ingredient to which few people can say no: bacon.

The bacon is cooked, crumbled, and mixed through the dip; Paired with a touch of smoked paprika, it adds a nice crunch and smokey flavor to the cheese spread. It makes a great Thanksgiving Day appetizer when served with a plate of crudités and crackers.

Recipe: Classic Pimento Cheese

Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

A comfort food classic traditionally prepared when a Mormon family is in mourning, according to Atlas Obscura, funeral potatoes certainly don't need to be saved for solemn occasions.

A wonderful addition to any Thanksgiving meal, the dish consists of chunked potatoes (or even frozen hash browns, if you need a shortcut) mixed with canned cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and melted butter, and flavored with onion and garlic powder. Once piled in a baking dish, the creamy mixture is topped with crushed cornflakes, drizzled with melted butter, and baked until hot, bubbly, and crunchy on top.

Recipe: Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

Traditional Spanakopita

It's pretty hard to turn down a warm spanakopita, a spinach-and-feta turnover made with crispy phyllo dough. The Mediterranean Dish shares that, in Greece, these pies are typically made in a large format in a baking dish and then cut into squares, but these spanakopita are formed into single servings and would be a great nosh while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to roast.

Filled with a lively mix of thawed frozen spinach, feta crumbles, cooked chopped onion, garlic, parsley, dill, scallions, and lemon zest, the phyllo triangles are brushed with butter, then baked in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven until fragrant, warm, and browned.

Recipe: Traditional Spanakopita

Instant Pot Hummus

Hummus seems to be a ubiquitous party side, taking its place among cheese platters and heaps of crudités as people warm up for the main event by crunching and munching. And as convenient as supermarket hummus can be, nothing compares to homemade versions using dried chickpeas — but those recipes can require a bit of foresight for soaking the garbanzos.

If you've gotten a last-minute invitation to a Thanksgiving gathering and want to bring a homemade appetizer, then this Instant Pot version could save the day, utilizing dried chickpeas but taking just an hour from start to finish thanks to the handy appliance's pressure cooking function.

Recipe: Instant Pot Hummus

Crispy Fluffy Hush Puppies

If you've never tried hush puppies, then Thanksgiving might just be the perfect occasion to prepare these delectable cornmeal fritters for yourself and your loved ones. A soul food classic that typically accompanies fried seafood and BBQ, hush puppies are pretty easy to make at home.

In this version, cornmeal is mixed with baking powder, salt, eggs, and a quick homemade soured milk, and flavored with chopped red onion and jalapeño peppers. The thick batter is rolled into balls and fried until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and can be served with a variety of dressings, from ranch to blue cheese.

Recipe: Crispy Fluffy Hush Puppies

Candied Yam Casserole

There's perhaps no dish — other than the turkey — as classic to Thanksgiving celebrations as candied yam (or sweet potato) casserole.

Pretty much a dessert masquerading as a side, our version of the rich casserole consists of fresh sweet potatoes mashed and combined with a full stick of melted butter, vanilla, and sugar, then smoothed into a dish and topped with a sweet crumble of a broken-up graham cracker pie crust, brown sugar, pecans — and whole other stick of melted butter. In case that wasn't enough sweetness for you, the dish, after baking for about 20 minutes, is topped with fluffy marshmallows and then returned to the oven until the 'mallows are puffed and golden brown.

Recipe: Candied Yam Casserole

The Best Parsley Potatoes

Potatoes are a natural companion for so many main courses and are always a welcome addition to the Thanksgiving table.

For this rich, buttery potato dish, fingerling potatoes are halved lengthwise, simmered until tender, and then tossed with garlic-infused melted butter and a ton of chopped parsley. Best of all, the whole recipe contains only five ingredients and takes just over 20 minutes, so it's a great choice if you need to bring a dish to dinner and are short on time.

Recipe: The Best Parsley Potatoes

Easy Baked Acorn Squash

Winter squash is almost always a feature of the Thanksgiving table, whether it shows up in the form of butternut squash soup, sage-scented spaghetti squash, or — of course – pumpkin pie. If you simply can't get enough squash at Thanksgiving, then you'll want to tuck our super-simple recipe for baked acorn squash in your back pocket.

All you have to do is slice acorn squash into wedges, remove the seeds, and toss the squash with olive oil; garlic, onion, and chili powders; and salt and pepper. After 25 minutes in a hot oven, you'll have tender, sweet squash that will perfectly accompany so many other holiday dishes.

Recipe: Easy Baked Acorn Squash

Caramelized Onion Dip

There are few people on earth capable of saying no to chips and dip — even if the latter is stirred together using powdered onion soup mix, mayonnaise, and sour cream. But onion dip made from scratch is a whole other level of indulgence. Our Caramelized Onion Dip recipe features a simple aioli whipped up with egg yolk, pickle juice, mustard, and peanut oil and a homemade "onion soup mix" made by slowly dehydrating onions, shallots, scallions, red onions, and garlic in the oven and then blitzing them in a food processor. The two are then united, along with crème fraîche, lemon juice and zest, porcini mushroom powder, and fresh chives, for a dish that seriously delivers the flavor.

This is undoubtedly the most luxe onion dip you'll ever try, and we feel confident guaranteeing that your fellow celebrants will be impressed. (Seriously, it just might outshine the turkey and the pie.)

Recipe: Caramelized Onion Dip

Autumn Country Bread Stuffing

What's Thanksgiving without stuffing? Incomplete, if you ask us. In order to ensure a well-rounded holiday meal, you'll want to tote our Autumn Country Bread Stuffing along to your celebration.

Packed with comforting autumnal ingredients such as cranberries and pecans, the simple thyme-scented stuffing is baked until warm and browned on top, and makes the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any other dish likely to be found on the Thanksgiving table.

Recipe: Autumn Country Bread Stuffing

Easy Deviled Eggs

You might think of deviled eggs as a retro party appetizer, but the dish has endured for a reason: It's delicious, and lots of people love it.

Simply halved hard-boiled eggs whose yolks are scooped out, mashed together with mayonnaise and other flavorings, and either spooned or piped back into the little depression left in the egg white half, deviled eggs are the perfect poppable snack to accompany a fall cocktail or chilled glass of wine. Best of all, this super-classic version only takes 25 minutes to prepare and can easily be doubled (or tripled) for a crowd.

Recipe: Easy Deviled Eggs

Simple Candied Yams

Candied yams often come from a can (dare you to say that three times fast), but of course, this simple and delicious Thanksgiving side is best made from scratch. And doing so is pretty simple: First, yams are peeled, sliced into disks, and then piled into a greased baking dish. Then, butter is heated in a small pot, to which fresh orange juice, molasses, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger are added. The sweet mixture is poured over the yams, which are then covered with tin foil and baked until tender and thoroughly imbued with the "candy."

Rich and sweet, the yams perfectly complement roast turkey and a variety of other Thanksgiving dishes.

Recipe: Simple Candied Yams

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

Based on the super-sound theory that there is no food that can't be improved by wrapping it in bacon, we present to you this simple but indulgent party appetizer of bacon-wrapped shrimp.

The recipe really couldn't be much easier, all you need to do is par-cook some halved bacon slices in the oven, then wrap each piece around a peeled raw shrimp. The shrimp then go onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet, where they're brushed with a maple syrup-cayenne pepper mixture. Once broiled briefly, the porky, sweet-spicy shrimp can be served with a dipping sauce, such as Thai chili, ranch, or a homemade aioli.

Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

Simple Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushroom caps are a classic finger food perfect for toting along to any party, and since our Simple Stuffed Mushrooms recipe is vegetarian, it's a good offering for any Thanksgiving guests who don't eat meat.

In it, cremini mushroom stems are removed, leaving just the caps, which are then de-gilled to make room for the tasty filling. Made from the diced stems, chopped artichoke hearts and fresh spinach, onion, and garlic, the veggie mix is sautéed together before being stirred with mayo, grated Parmesan, smoked paprika, and other seasonings. The filling is piled into the mushroom caps, which are baked in a hot oven until soft, garnished with chopped fresh parsley, and served.

Recipe: Simple Stuffed Mushrooms

Slow Cooker Spinach And Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichoke just might be one of the best dip variations out there, a creamy, cheesy concoction that's delectable warm or cold.

This straightforward version is made in a slow cooker, so it requires little hands-on attention and can even be served right in the cooking vessel if you want to keep the dip warm while folks are helping themselves throughout the night. Featuring cream cheese, Greek yogurt, mozzarella, and Parmesan, the dip is studded with chunks of chopped artichoke hearts and wilted baby spinach. Offer up some pita triangles, crostini, or crudités (or go wild and set out all three!) for guests to eat the popular dip — though we wouldn't blame them if they decide to use a spoon.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Spinach And Artichoke Dip

Sausage Balls With Cream Cheese

Who doesn't love a poppable cocktail party appetizer that you can snag on a toothpick? Meatballs are always a great choice in that category, and Tasting Table recipe developer Kate Shungu's take on Southern sausage balls is a winner.

Combining sausage, softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar, and chives, the simple mixture is whipped in a stand mixer before being rolled into bite-sized balls. Baked until golden brown on the outside and juicy on the inside, these cheesy sausage balls will have your guests clamoring for more.

Recipe: Sausage Balls With Cream Cheese

Creamy Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes

A Thanksgiving side dish classic, potatoes seem to go with everything — most definitely pairing well with roast turkey and its fixins — and mashed potatoes are one of the easiest and most versatile potato preparations out there, almost infinitely customizable to suit a wide range of palates.

If you're a fan of garlic, this recipe is for you: In it, a whole head of the allium is roasted until soft in texture and deeply caramelized. These fragrant cloves are then diced and folded into a creamy mash of skin-on red potatoes, and the dish is topped with an optional sprinkling of fresh parsley for some color and a pop of freshness before serving.

Recipe: Creamy Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball

A cheese ball might not be the most elegant party appetizer you've ever come across, but it certainly fits the bill in many other ways: Namely, in its deliciousness, ease of preparation, and ability to please a crowd.

Our straightforward Cheddar Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball features cream cheese, sharp cheddar, sour cream, fresh chives, hot sauce, a packet of ranch seasoning, and the pièce de résistance: Plenty of chopped crispy bacon, which is both worked into the cheese ball mixture as well as used a stunning, porky exterior.

Recipe: Cheddar Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball

Savory Cranberry Sauce

If you love the fruity, jewel-toned cranberry sauce that seems to be a mandatory feature of all Thanksgiving celebrations, but the side tends to be just a little too sweet for your palate, then you'll love this version from Tasting Table recipe developer Christina Musgrave.

Utilizing tart fresh cranberries which are simmered in chicken stock and unsweetened cranberry juice to keep the dish's sugar levels in check, the sauce is infused with cinnamon, fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary. Sweetened with only a conservative ¼ cup of brown sugar, it's nothing like the kind suspiciously can-shaped cranberry sauce your BFF swears they made from scratch.

Recipe: Savory Cranberry Sauce

Whipped Feta Dip

Who doesn't love dip? A welcome addition to any Friendsgiving table, there are as many dip recipes out there as there are palates, and this one is suited to fans of Mediterranean flavors.

Featuring a hefty block of tangy feta whipped with an equal amount of smooth cream cheese using a food processor, the creamy dip is flavored with bright lemon juice and herbaceous fresh parsley. Wonderful spread on pita, baguette, crunchy fresh veggies, or crackers, the dip comes together in just five minutes flat — perfect for those last-minute holiday invitations.

Recipe: Whipped Feta Dip

Classic Green Bean Casserole

A steadfast member of pretty much any Thanksgiving meal — with about 20 million families serving the dish at their gatherings each year, according to the Campbell's Soup Company — green bean casserole is a somewhat odd, yet totally irresistible, holiday side.

Created by a Campbell's employee back in 1955, our recipe utilizes one can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, which is folded with cooked green beans, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and crunchy French fried onions. After baking in a hot oven until bubbly and warm, the casserole is topped with more crispy fried onions for a perfect, comforting classic.

Recipe: Classic Green Bean Casserole

From-Scratch Cornbread Dressing

If you want to bring a little Southern flair to your Thanksgiving stuffing, then you could always go with dressing, which MyRecipes reports is what most folks south of the Mason-Dixon line call the dish. (Yes, stuffing is technically "stuffed" into the bird and dressing is cooked on the side, but it's really not safe to eat anything cooked inside a turkey, so even if you insist on using the word stuffing at your table, please use a casserole dish.)

Naturally, dressing often calls for another Southern favorite, cornbread, which our recipe helps you make from scratch. Once the cornbread is baked and cooled, it's crumbled and left to dry for 24 hours, which allows the bread to become stale and all the better able to suck up the delicious ingredients that come next, including sautéed celery and shallots, chicken broth, and dried herbs. After being poured into a dish and baked, the dressing emerges soft and steamy on the inside and nice and brown on top.

Recipe: From-Scratch Cornbread Dressing