When it comes to Thanksgiving food, you need to know when to pull out all the stops and when to give in.
Stars of the meal – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie – are worth arguing about. They’re best made from scratch, which means they’ll take up most of your time and brain space ahead of the holiday meal.
Starters are another story. Their main purpose (at least in our house) is to stop people until dinner and – most importantly – to keep them out of the kitchen until dinner is ready. They should be beautiful, tasty and easy.
With that in mind, we offer a buffet of simple appetizer recipes that call for five or fewer ingredients:
Pinwheels are fun, easy baked apps made from prepackaged crescent rolls and any filling you like.
Yield: 1 pack of crescent rolls yields 20 pinwheels
1 package half moon buns
3 tablespoons of pesto
3 tablespoons tapenade
Parmesan cheese to taste
Unfold the half moons and place the two rectangles on an oiled baking sheet or clean counter. Coat the surface with a little cooking spray so the dough doesn’t stick while you work with it.
Then use your fingers to work out the perforations in the dough. Do this on both sides so that the pinwheels do not fall apart during baking.
Then spread the spread over the entire surface of the dough and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top. We went with pesto and olive tapenade, but some other filling ideas include spicy harissa, queso or marinara, and shredded mozzarella.
Roll the rectangles up the short side to make short cylinders. Knock in the sides so the rolls don’t come to a point on either end. Cut them into 10 equal slices and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper (or grease the baking tray). Sprinkle some more Parmesan on top and place in a 400 F oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Do you want to make it sweet? Try adding fillings such as fruit jam or a mixture of butter, sugar and cinnamon. Instead of Parmesan, add a pinch of sugar before tossing them in the oven.
Yield: 8-10 mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms may look fancy, but they’re so easy to make.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Next, mix ½ cup of your favorite cream cheese with ½ cup of breadcrumbs and ¼ cup of pesto. We recommend using flavored cream cheese, such as Miyoko’s Chive Double Cream Cashew Cheese, to add depth.
Mix everything well and stuff the mushrooms with the mixture. Bake at 400 F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Stuffed raw vegetables
Yield: Varies, (1 greenhouse cucumber makes 8-10 cucumber cups; 1 bell pepper makes 1 bell pepper cup)
Garlic spread dip
Serving a platter of vegetables and dipping sauce is tried and true, but they can get messy. Plus, you have to worry about the partygoers doubling dipping. Bah. This stuffed raw food is a quick and easy way to ease the pain of sharing common dipping sauces.
Peel and cut a cucumber into 1½ cm rounds. Use a spoon or melon corer to hollow out a small hole, being careful not to pierce all the way through to the other end. Use a small spoon to fill the cucumbers with hummus.
For the peppers, remove the caps and seeds. Because they are a bit bigger, we filled these heirloom peppers with half hummus and half garlic spread. Finish with a dollop of olive tapenade and a little parsley leaf for garnish.
Caprese: Tomato, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with balsamic glaze
Greek: Olive, feta, grilled artichoke hearts and tomato
Sweet and savory: basil, mint, strawberry and feta, drizzled with balsamic glaze
Of all the apps on this list, this one has got to be the easiest.
Finger food on beautiful sticks is indispensable at a cocktail party. For whatever reason, everything looks prettier impaled through an elegant bamboo pick. Make sure you get the nice skewers ahead of time; they’re not a standard kitchen staple, so you may need to visit a food specialty store or order them online ahead of time.
To assemble, simply skewer the ingredients on a skewer. That is it. What you choose is entirely up to you, but we’ve given you a few options above.
And there you have it: at least eight ways to impress your next holiday party with very little effort in the kitchen. Be creative! Go for your favorite sauces or veggies, sweet instead of savory… There are no limits.
Check out these recipes to up your kitchen game:
This article originally appeared on Grateful: Easy Thanksgiving Recipes: These Appetizers Need 5 or Fewer Ingredients