When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was always a marathon day of food. Sure, dinner was an elaborate affair, but we actually started eating hours before sitting down at the table, and the appetizers were as important as the turkey and mashed potatoes. We blamed the snacking on the fact that dinner always took longer than expected, but we probably could have finished cooking earlier if we weren't so busy stuffing ourselves with deviled eggs, cheese, dips, and more. I wouldn't have had it any other way, though—those extended Thanksgivings were some of the best days of my childhood. If you're on board to spending all of Turkey Day eating, check out 15 of our favorite Thanksgiving snacks and appetizers, like chicken liver pâté, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cheesy butternut squash dip.
Chicken Liver Pâté With Bourbon and Cranberry Gelée
If you're looking to pull out all the stops on Thanksgiving, you can't do much better than this creamy chicken liver pâté. To make the appetizer especially seasonal we add bourbon and apple cider to the pâté and top it with a tart cranberry gelée. Despite the dish looking and sounding fancy, there isn't much more to it than a sauté pan, a food processor, and a mesh strainer.
Silky-Smooth Vegetarian Pâté With Roasted Cauliflower and Pecans
Vegetarians don't need to be left out of the fun—this recipe uses roasted cauliflower and pecans to make a satisfying meat-free pâté. If you want to keep the dish vegan you can swap out the butter for oil and omit the cream, but the result won't be quite as rich.
Easy Pork Rillettes (Slow-Cooked Pork Spread)
Pork rillettes feel festive in a similar way to pâté, but are easier to make for a crowd—all you have to do is slow-roast pork shoulder until it starts to fall apart, then whip it up in a stand mixer. For something even more elegant, try making our salmon rillettes instead.
Whipped Salt Cod Spread (Brandade de Morue)
We're not done with the whipped meat spreads just yet—brandade is a cousin of rillettes that's made by whipping up salt cod with olive oil and half-and-half. You can add potatoes if you want to make it milder, but I'm partial to the more aggressive all-fish version. Either way, the brandade is best if you brown it under the broiler before serving.
Hoisin-Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
Our take on this retro party snack uses a mixture of beef and pork, which we bind with panko and egg and glaze with a sauce made of hoisin, ketchup, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil. The meatballs can be made with dark meat turkey instead of beef and pork if you want something extra Thanksgiving-appropriate.
Black Olive Tapenade With Garlic, Capers, and Anchovies
While I prefer an old-school tapenade made with equal parts olives, capers, and fish, when most people think of tapenade their mind goes straight to olives. Our recipe for a modern tapenade uses mostly black olives, with just enough capers and anchovies to give the dip a briny bite.
9 In-Your-Face Deviled Egg Variations
If you've been bringing the same deviled eggs to Thanksgiving dinner every year, it might be time to try something new. We have nine recipes to dress up the classic, ranging from a carbonara-inspired version made with pancetta, parmesan crisps, and black pepper to a spicy Buffalo twist.
Basic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Don't let the seeds go to waste next time you buy a pumpkin to make pie—roasting them makes for a tasty snack. You won't go wrong seasoning them with just salt and pepper, but there are lots of other options—how about ginger and orange zest, brown butter and sage, or even anchovy bread crumbs?
Smoky Candied Almonds
Making the best spiced nuts is about more than a dusting of spices—we typically (but not always) prefer to coat the nuts in an egg-white glaze to give them a crisp shell. For these barbecue-inspired almonds, we make the glaze with brown sugar and flavor it with smoked paprika, Old Bay, and cayenne.
I love stuffing so much that I don't want to have to wait for dinner to be served to start eating it. This recipe brings my favorite side dish into the appetizer course by mixing a flour and cornmeal batter with stuffing ingredients like onions, apple, and celery and frying until golden brown.
Stuffing-Flavored Potato Chips
Another one for stuffing lovers, this recipe flavors homemade potato chips with celery leaves, sage, rosemary, and marjoram. To give the chips a meaty flavor that brings them firmly into stuffing territory we use powdered chicken bouillon and MSG—I know MSG makes some people nervous, but it adds a savoriness that the chips really need.
Cheez-Its might seem like an odd Thanksgiving snack, but our homemade ones are delicious enough that guests will request them every year. Using cream instead of butter gives the crackers a deep, nutty flavor, and depending on what kind of cheese you use, you can go with a more classic Cheez-It experience or mix things up.
Baked Brie en Croûte With Apple and Pear Compote
Baked brie en croûte was a staple of my childhood Thanksgivings, but we would get ours from the freezer section. To make the dish at home, wrap a wheel of brie up in puff pastry with apple-pear compote and bake until the crust is crispy. Go with a triple cream here, which will melt the best.
Updated Cheese Ball Trio
Forget about the waxy, pre-shredded cheddar—this recipe treats cheese balls right. Each one starts with cream cheese, which is paired with another cheese, mix-ins, and a crust. My favorite of the three is also the simplest: It's made with just goat cheese, lemon zest, black pepper, and fresh herbs.
Warm Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip
Squash isn't the most common ingredient in dips, but maybe it should be. This festive appetizer pairs butternut squash with melty cheddar and rich cream cheese, plus onion, garlic, and plenty of sage. We also add in sour cream, which cuts through the sweetness of the roasted squash and caramelized onions.