Recipe Swap: Thanksgiving Appetizers

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I love Thanksgiving! I mean what other holiday has eating as its sole purpose? That’s my kind of holiday.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have family nearby, but, instead adopted neighbors from down the street to celebrate the big winter holidays with. We alternated; one year we had Thanksgiving and the Griffiths had Christmas. The following year it switched.

It seems that my mom pulled out all the stops for the big feast. The kitchen was a bustle of activity the night before and the morning of as she sanitized the kitchen, prepped the turkey, and prepared Pretzel Berry Dessert and Toffee Dream Pie. The odor of chlorine bleach was quickly dissipated by the wonderful smells of a feast on its way.

And that Thursday morning was a tough one for waiting. Dressed in outfits that matched my sisters, I would wander around, waiting and listening to my stomach growl. I tended to linger around the dining room table (that we only used once or twice a year) where mom had set out her best dishes. Sure, the table was beautiful, but what drew me, as always, was the relish tray that she had set out.

This was back in the days before baby carrots and ranch dressing had taken over the world. Back when “snack food” was a term not yet coined. The relish tray was, by far, the family tradition and the sole appetizer that I remember.

I loved that relish tray. It wasn’t the fanciest of appetizers. It wasn’t the tastiest. But, it was fun and it was reliable. Just like my mom.

Thanksgiving Relish Tray

one cut-glass, divided platter
radishes from Dad’s garden
carrot and celery sticks
sweet gherkins
dill pickle spears
green olives with pimiento
black olives, meant for eating off the tips of your fingers

What’s one of your favorite Thanksgiving Appetizers? Traditional or not, we want to hear about it!

Related posts:
(Never) Too Many Pumpkins
How ‘Bout Them Apples?
The Meat and Potatoes Edition
Harvest Time
Recipe Swap Revue (past swaps and a schedule for future recipe exchanges)

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  1. That really brought back a memory. My Mom used to soak frozen fruit in sangria and top it with whipped cream. We were each allowed to have a small cup of it. It was the ’70’s after all. I never really liked it though.

  2. My dad does not do appetizers. He is extremely picky. Since thanksgiving is always at their house we cook what he wants. But he is still a great dad!

    If I was doing one it would be the super duper garlic dip and veggies, cheeses, and breads set out to dip.

    From the crockpot365 blog:

    1 block of cream cheese
    1/3 c mayo
    garlic to taste (minced)

    Put in Little Dipper and stir once in awhile. We made this for Halloween and the kids ate every single bite.

  3. We usually have chips and dip for the finicky crowd, deviled eggs and a tray of carrots, celery, olives, cheeses etc and dip for those too…well not for the cheese that would be gross…I remember loading up my fingers with black olives as a kid, ok and maybe last year too! LOL!

  4. Ah,
    Thanks for the memories! I think our Mom’s must have been a lot alike:) I loved the relish tray too, except ours had chunks of cheese that I’d hawk along with my black olives.
    Now you’ve made me hungry LOL.

  5. We always had mini pigs in blankets; bruschetta with roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic; and fried mozzarella. Yum. Oh, and I was always allowed a half a glass of wine. I thought I was HOT STUFF let me tell you!

  6. Sorry, I don’t know why that silly smiley face always shows up for me when I use Mr. Linky. Most blog owners delete it. I like it, but understand if you do away with it. Also I probably should have said I’m directing you to a Cheese Ball recipe.
    Thanks for doing this post:)

  7. hi jessica!
    your relish try really brought back memories….we too, always had a similiar glass relish tray. we also had a couple kind of cheeses on it…green olives yes, no black olives though. i grew up in indiana and i don’t think i even knew there was such a thing as black olives until i was about 18!

  8. My mother in law always has a relish tray, which I love. She stuffs her celery with a mixture of cream cheese, a little mayo to help spread, and chopped pecans. It’s not Thanksgiving dinner without it!

  9. This year we’ll have a relish tray, thanks for posting about this! Our Thanksgiving tradition is olive tapenade with toasted slices of french bread. Tapenade takes 5 minutes in a food processor: 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, leaves from one bunch of flat-leaf parsley, 1 pressed garlic clove, 1 T lemon juice, 1 cup pine nuts, 2 T extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp dried thyme or basil 1/4 tsp pepper. Blend until just smooth enough to spread without becoming a paste. Will keep for a week in the frig.

    Another great spread is Barefood Contessa’s Sun-dried Tomato Dip: 1 block cream cheese, softened, 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayo, 12 drops Tabasco, salt and pepper. Great on crackers and veggies.

  10. My family still makes this same relish tray – it has fallen to me many times, but I do it the same way, otherwise there would be many unhappy people!