Thanksgiving Appetizers Everyone Will Be Thankful For This Year

Thanksgiving appetizers sausage balls and a bowl of dipAhh, the holidays. The time of year when you either transform overnight into a pumpkin spice latte sippin’, fuzzy boot wearin’, Hallmark movie watchin’ junkie or a panic stricken, stressed out zombie. Regardless of which category you fit into, I’m here to help make your Thanksgiving dinner less stressful whether you’re hosting or having a socially distanced gathering amongst friends and/or family. Below are some quick and easy Thanksgiving appetizers I’ve been whipping up for years that never disappoint. “Thanksgiving appetizers?!” you ask? Yeah, I know – that’s not really a thing you hear about on the foodie blogs. But hear me out…

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a friendsgiving dinner party tradition called Gobblerfest that I started while in college. One of the secrets I found over the years that definitely applies to traditional family holiday dinners is to serve Thanksgiving appetizers to your guests the moment they arrive. Other than the obvious benefit in that it helps keep guests out of the kitchen and out of your hair while you’re in the midst of final Thanksgiving dinner prep with carving, mashing potatoes, warming rolls, etc., it also helps to de-stress your guests. Anyone ever dealt with a hangry child?  Yeah, the same thing frequently happens to stressed out adults around the holidays. They get so riled up earlier in the day with stress for every reason under the sun:: family tension, travel stress, stress over not knowing many people at the event, stress over making a dish to bring to the event, kid stress – you name it & people will stress out over it.  Which then leads to a tendency to not eat earlier in the day.  So they often arrive at your doorstep as a hungry ball of holiday nerves and stress.

I’m not sure about you, but no host has the time or energy for that kind of mess during the holidays {especially during #2020!} so do yourself a favor and either have some of these Thanksgiving appetizers on hand the moment your guests arrive or arrive prepared with some at your final Thanksgiving destination because all of them travel well {by car}. For Gobblerfest each year, I have an appetizer table set up in a completely different room from where the main dinner is taking place and that’s where my guests congregate and lightly snack until dinner is ready. It’s worked beautifully through the years and 9 times out of 10, serves as a great opportunity for guests to casually get to know one another before seated for the formal meal.

One disclaimer:: All of the appetizers below are not exactly “Thanksgiving themed.” You won’t find any pumpkin or cranberries in any of them, mainly because I don’t like either of those ingredients {go ahead, fight me!} but also because I try to create a bit of flavor profile separation between the Thanksgiving appetizers and the main event.

Cheddar & Cream Cheese Sausage Balls {Makes 24 balls}::

If you grew up anywhere in the south, you’ve been eating these for years. I am by no means a fancy or even a great cook but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and toot my own horn by saying that I have finally perfected the exact proportions of sausage, cheese and Bisquick for melt in your mouth sausage balls that crowds go crazy over. Secret ingredient that most people overlook? CREAM CHEESE, my friends!  They are addicting.


  • 2 pounds ground breakfast sausage {I use H-E-B’s “hot” version, but regular works too}
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix all of the above together in an electric mixer {or by hand if you’re OK with getting messy}. Roll the mixture into balls a little smaller than a golf ball and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. If you don’t have parchment paper, be sure to grease the baking sheet really good because they will stick otherwise.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for ~20-25 minutes {depending on your oven}, checking at around the 18 minute mark to be sure they aren’t browning too quickly. Verify they are done by cutting one open and visually inspecting to ensure there is no visible {pink} uncooked pork. Enjoy!

Note:  These Thanksgiving appetizers can be mixed up, rolled into balls and stored in the fridge overnight for baking the following day to help with meal prep if needed.

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip::

I took a recipe from one of America’s most famous butter and mayo loving cooking show hosts, Paula Deen, and made a few modifications to get it just how I wanted. This dip can honestly be served hot or cold, but I prefer it warm and served with tortilla chips vs. crackers. By the way, you’ll notice “frozen chopped spinach” and “canned artichoke hearts” listed as ingredients. Personally, that’s why I love the recipe because it’s super easy. But if frozen spinach and canned artichoke hearts offend you, by all means grab the fresh stuff at H-E-B and have at it.


  • 1 (10 oz.) package of frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 (13.75 oz.) cans of artichoke hearts
  • 1 clove of finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese {save half for the top!}
  • 1 tablespoon of Tony Chachere original creole seasoning

Thaw {in a pinch you can defrost in the microwave} and completely drain the frozen spinach to remove as much water as possible {seriously…get as much water out as possible. I usually put the spinach into a colander and then use paper towels to soak up/force out as much water as possible}. Drain the artichokes completely and then either finely chop or put them into a food processor for a few quick pulses. Then throw everything into a mixing bowl {saving half of the grated pepper jack for the top!} and mix together to ensure all ingredients have been evenly combined. Transfer to a lightly greased 1.5 quart oven safe dish and top with the other half of the pepper jack cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is completely melted and slightly golden in color.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, pita chips or veggies. 

Southwestern Cheese Appetizer::

I had this delicious appetizer for the first time at a dear friend’s bridal shower back in 2004 and even my un-domestic early 20s self knew to get my hands on this recipe and save it forever. It’s basically “marinated cheese” which sounds completely ridiculous at first {at least it did to me at the time} but just trust me…it’s delicious, gorgeous on a holiday table spread and it’s one of the Thanksgiving appetizers that always gets people talking!


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 of a 7.5 ounce jar of roasted sweet red peppers {drained and diced}
  • 3 green onions {minced}
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese, chilled
  • 8 ounce block pepper jack cheese, chilled
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese, chilled

Whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar & lime juice until blended; stir in the diced red peppers and then add the green onions, parsley, cilantro, sugar, salt, & pepper. Set marinade aside.

Cut block of cheddar cheese in half lengthwise. Cut halves crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Repeat procedure with pepper jack cheese and cream cheese. Arrange cheese slices alternatively in a shallow baking dish, standing slices on edge. Pour marinade over the cheeses. Cover and chill at least 8 hours then transfer cheese to a serving plate and spoon remaining marinade over the top. Serve with assorted crackers.

Rotel Cups {Makes roughly 36 cups}::

This is hands down the quickest and easiest of the Thanksgiving appetizers on this list, and it is one that even my 5 year old son loves. I found the recipe on Pinterest about 8 years ago while looking for unique Super Bowl party appetizers and boy oh boy am I glad I did! I made a couple of my own tweaks to taste and now I serve these every year. They are {no surprise} not exactly the healthiest, but definitely a tasty crowd pleaser.


  • 1/4 cup bacon pieces {in a pinch you can use the pre-packaged stuff so long as it’s real bacon}
  • 1 can original Rotel tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 packages phyllo pastry cups

Mix all ingredients {except the pastry cups} together until well combined and scoop evenly into the pastry cups {do not overfill}. Place on baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to turn golden.

So there you have it…four pretty simple Thanksgiving appetizers that will wow your guests. Hopefully your family and friends will enjoy them as much as mine have over the years! Gobble gobble!

Pin this post and be sure to follow Houston Moms Blog on Pinterest!

Houston Moms "Thanksgiving Appetizers Everyone Will Be Thankful for This Year" #houstonmomsblog #momsaroundhouston #houstonmoms

Previous article{You’re Invited} Houston Moms Blog’s Cookies with Santa!
Next articleYour Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes, Reimagined
Vicki has always had Texan blood pumping through her veins. Raised in Katy as the oldest of four girls and now a resident of Kingwood, she’s known for her undying and somewhat fanatical love of all things related to H-E-B, Amazon Prime, Taylor Swift, and Texas A&M, her alma mater {WHOOP!}. She has a passion for supporting other working moms in the workplace, as well as military veterans. Married to Paul since 2011 {also an Aggie and a veteran}, she has three kids:: step-daughter Madeline {2003} and sons Hamilton {2014}, and Harrison {2019}. By day, Vicki is a full-time working mom who works in HR and by night she’s a closet “60 Minutes” & “Real Housewives” fan. Always first out on the dance floor for “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, Vicki enjoys unwinding with friends over a glass of wine, a new craft brew and/or a H-E-B cheese ball.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here