Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Appetizers

Instead of a “Keep Out” sign on the kitchen this year, serve appetizers. They’ll satisfy guests and keep them busy until dinner.
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Brita Nelson
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for any family is a big job. It’s made even harder when guests (you know who you are) start sneaking into the kitchen to take bites of the food. My family tries to be very firm about non-cooks staying out of the kitchen. But that doesn’t stop certain scavengers from popping a few black olives off the veggie plate or nabbing “just a taste” of the green bean casserole. 

This year, those of us tasked with the job of kitchen protection are turning to appetizers to keep people from grazing prematurely on the meal. But with mashed potatoes in the slow cooker, turkey in the oven and gravy on the stove, counter space and heating options are heavily monopolized. Prepping the appetizers in advance is an absolute must, and I was determined to find the best make-ahead ones to lure everybody but the cooks out of the kitchen.

Butternut Squash Bruschetta
Bread is a pretty standard pre-made starter, but this year it’s moving up a notch. I’m topping it with roasted butternut squash for this tasty bruschetta. Super seasonal and delicious. I already know it’s going to be my favorite app to serve. It doesn’t even need to be refrigerated! Bake Crusty French Loaf to use as the base a few hours ahead of time, or let it piggyback on another dish’s oven time for maximum easiness. Cranberry Blue Cheese Appetizers
This is going to get guests drooling for dinner. Cranberry Blue Cheese Appetizers with a walnut garnish are the perfect bites for the pre-meal snacker. I love that these taste great no matter their temp and get people thinking about the flavors of the meal. 

Here’s to making the kitchen less cluttered and supporting the family members who volunteered to cook the big meal. Remember, you owe them some love. That meal you’re smelling is going to be delicious. Check out three more easy bites that I’m keeping on hand to defend those in charge of the meal. 

1. Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

2. Appetizer Meatballs

3. Garden Pizza Bites

What do you do to keep family and guests out of the kitchen during Thanksgiving meal prep?