Amy Clark

7 Easy Make-Ahead Appetizers for Thanksgiving Day Lingering

Many times the Thanksgiving Day lunch gets turned into hosting a lunch, dinner, and after-dinner company.  That is why it can be fun to have a few appetizers to keep on hand for pre-Thanksgiving dinner munching and post-Thanksgiving dinner munching. Just like the delicious make-ahead dishes for Thanksgiving that I featured last week, it is nice to have a few extras in your fridge to keep on hand when people aren’t ready to dig into round two of the Thanksgiving food or to pair with an evening of board game playing and visiting.

Today I am showcasing a few of my favorite appetizers and how you can prep them ahead of time for just this sort of occasion! These are a few of my own tried and trues that have been brought to many a family feast and have been enjoyed by all!

This fast little appetizer is perfect to keep on hand in your fridge for a fun savory snack that is sure to satisfy!  These are created using a store-bought stuffing mix and a few ingredients that  you might already have on hand in your kitchen. Even if you are not a spinach lover, the stuffing mix takes away from the spinach flavor making this more of a meatier dish than you might expect!  These are the perfect popper to serve while enjoying a few board games around the old kitchen table!

Spinach Balls

2- 10 oz packages frozen spinach
1 package chicken-flavored stuffing mix
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup butter, melted
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook spinach according to instructions, drain in a sieve, use back of a wooden spoon to press the spinach against the sieve to get as much moisture as possible out In a bowl combine the spinach, stuffing mix,cheese, eggs, butter, salt& pepper Mix thoroughly& roll into small balls 3/4 to 1″ size. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze.

Thanksgiving Day: To serve place frozen balls on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned If you are doing them fresh or thawed only bake for 7-10 minutes. Serve hot.

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This spread is unbelievably addictive and so festive on your holiday table. Just try and eat one cracker and don’t be surprised if you are scraping the bottom of the bowl by the end of the day. This was a hit with everyone in our family and a nice change from the traditional cheese ball.

Cranberry Spread

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 c. orange juice

Mix all of the ingredients together and mold into a ball or leave loose as a spread. Wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil, and store in a freezer bag. Make sure to label your bag so that you can find it again.

Thanksgiving Day: Let the spread thaw in the refrigerator 1-2 days before Thanksgiving. Place dip in a bowl (or on a platter if it has been molded into a ball) and serve with gingersnaps or crackers.

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You can never go wrong with a good spinach dip and this one is my absolute favorite because of the unexpected flavor that the salsa adds to the dish. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you like! I opt for a mild salsa and serve it with pita chips, tortilla chips, or fresh veggies for a little lighter fare!

Spunky Spinach Dip

2 cups salsa (approximately one standard size jar)
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, softened and cubed
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)

Mix ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Place in an oven-safe bowl and tuck in the fridge for Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day: Cook at 350 for 20-25 minutes (double your cooking time for a double batch) in an oven-safe bowl (covered). Serve with your favorite dipper! I served this with fresh celery sticks and fresh carrots to balance out the heaviness of your Thanksgiving dinner.

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These cheese ball is so embarrassingly easy, but is always a showstopper when I bring it to holiday get togethers. Put the ingredients for this recipe on your grocery list and relish the joy in ease of the preparation and the compliments that come from it!

Bacon & Ranch Cheese Ball

2 (8 ounce) packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 package of Ranch dressing mix
1 cup cheddar cheese
5-7 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled (or buy prepackaged crumbled bacon)

Mix all of the ingredients together with a mixer until they are incorporated. Mold into a ball  and wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil, and store in a freezer bag. Make sure to label your bag so that you can find it again.

Thanksgiving Day: Let the cheese ball thaw in the refrigerator 1-2 days before Thanksgiving. Roll in a plate of shredded cheese. Serve with assorted crackers.

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This dip was nicknamed “Crack Dip” after the bowl was scraped clean when I brought it for Thanksgiving one year. I love to bring a sweet dessert dip that can be an unexpected surprise among the pies and holiday cookies. If you can’t find mini chocolate chips at your store, I have employed my hand held chopper to chop up regular size chocolate chips for this recipe before with great results!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
More chocolate chips (optional) or chopped nuts, to roll the ball in

Make Ahead: In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Mix all of the ingredients together and mold into a ball or leave loose as a spread. Wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil, and store in a freezer bag. Make sure to label your bag so that you can find it again.

Thanksgiving Day: Let the spread thaw in the refrigerator 1-2 days before Thanksgiving. Place dip in a bowl (or on a platter if it has been molded into a ball) and serve with gingersnaps or crackers. Optional- just before serving, roll in additional chocolate chips or nuts of your choice. Serve with graham crackers.

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Hit the thrift stores for vintage tins and fill them up with holiday goodies for a unique display of yummy treats! This Chex Mix was cooked up in the slow cooker. If your slow cooker runs hot, I would just keep it on LOW instead of the HIGH that the recipe calls for. Mine about burnt up without keeping a careful eye on it. Putting it in the slow cooker while cooking up the rest of the food is a great way to make the house smell yummy and free up your stove in the process! This recipe can easily be doubled in your slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Chex Mix

1 cup Cheerios toasted oat cereal
1 1/2 cups Rice Chex
1 cup Wheat Chex
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup pretzel stick
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt

Combine first 5 ingredients in your slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Cook on HIGH, uncovered, for 2 hours (I would recommend cooking on low if your slow cooker runs really hot like mine!) Stir mixture well every 30 minutes. Turn slow cooker to LOW and cook for 2-4 hours. Store in air tight container. Makes 5 cups.

Thanksgiving Day: Open container. Eat.

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Homemade Italian Meatballs

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg beaten

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, garlic powder and beaten egg. Shape into small meatballs and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. Allow them to completely cool and then place meatballs in a labeled freezer bag.

Thanksgiving Day: Allow meatballs to thaw overnight. In the morning, throw meatballs in your slow cooker and dump a jar of spaghetti sauce on top. Cook on low for two to four hours, or until the meatballs are warmed through.

Bonus: Make a double batch and add to my homemade spaghetti sauce and you won’t have to worry about dinner one night as a reward for all of your hard work this holiday season!

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What is your favorite appetizer or snack to prepare for Thanksgiving Day? Do you have any techniques for getting the feast on the table easier? Please feel free to share those recipes & links!

Published November 15, 2010 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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