Chefs say skip the appetizer this Thanksgiving

Many of us in the US are prepping well into the evening for the big food holiday – the second biggest in this country, second only to Christmas – and we have tons of last-minute details that will keep us busy right up to meal time. Likely one of those details is putting together the appetizers served up before everyone sits down for what is often a huge feast. Even though we think that these appetizers are necessary to keep people satiated while they are waiting for the main event, many chefs disagree. They explain why serving appetizers before eating Thanksgiving dinner is not a good idea.

crudites with green goddess dip

The main arguments against the practice is that people start to get filled up and don’t have room for the meal itself, and that the appetizers serve as a distraction for both the person(s) doing the cooking and the guests themselves. So if appetizers are a no-go, what do they recommend instead? Chef Michael Shoen says that you turn your attention to cocktails. He suggests “taking your canned cranberry sauce, orange peels and bitters muddled over ice with your favorite brown stuff to take the edge off.”  Others choose to serve the meal in courses, taking breaks in between, to help spread out the dinner and obviate the need for appetizers. 

Not making appetizers might simplify meal prep, but some people definitely want to serve something to guests so they don’t bother them in the kitchen (I won’t say whether or not I fall into this camp). If so, chefs suggest keeping the apps simple and light so they don’t fill people up in advance of the meal – something like vegetable crudités with a dipping sauce. Whether or not you choose to serve an appetizer, we wish a Happy Thanksgiving to our US members.

Photo of Crudités with green goddess dip from Ms. Marmite Lover by Kerstin Rodgers

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  • anightowl  on  November 21, 2018

    Serving cocktails but no appetizers to a bunch of people who have likely eaten lightly all day, waiting for the big event, is probably inviting disaster. Thanksgiving meals with disparate family members can be contentious enough without adding alcohol (especially sweet cocktails that go down all too fast and easy) to empty stomachs. Plus, I am firmly in the "stay out of my kitchen while I'm cooking" camp so I need to keep them occupied around the appetizer area. 🙂

  • hillsboroks  on  November 21, 2018

    For many years I have gone with very simple appetizers to go along with drinks while I finish cooking. I usually serve a few spiced nuts, some olives and a tray of homemade pickled veggies. I find this helps take the edge off hunger a bit but doesn't fill folks up too much before dinner.

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