Appetizers for Thanksgiving: pepper jelly, cheddar and pecan spread

If you’re like me, you plan all the major components of your Thanksgiving spread in detail – the salads, sides, turkey and desserts – but the appetizer for the Thanksgiving meal is usually an afterthought.


This year I have all of the ingredients for a quick and easy pepper jelly, cheddar and pecan spread on hand so I can have a little something for our guests to enjoy before the holiday meal.

You can use hot or mild pepper jelly in the recipe. Instead of serving the jelly on the side, though, it’s mixed right in with the other ingredients.

There’s just one caveat when it comes to the recipe: You must use freshly shredded cheddar cheese. Packaged shredded cheese is coated in a little wax to keep the shreds from sticking together. When combined with the pepper jelly, the packaged shredded cheese hardens and the flavors don’t combine.

This dish can be served right away, but the flavors will improve if it’s given a night to sit in the refrigerator.

Serve with round buttery crackers or corn chips.

I’m also including two other quick and easy Thanksgiving appetizers from past columns. The first recipe is for Cranberry-Brie Tarts and the second is my Cranberry-Blue Cheese ball that you whip up in your food processor.


1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 10.5-ounce jar red pepper jelly, hot or mild

1 cups chopped pecans

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Crackers or corn chips, for serving

Combine the garlic and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Stir in the pepper jelly and fold in the remaining ingredients. Spread in a serving dish, cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with round buttery crackers or large corn chips.

Makes 10 appetizer servings.


1 package Athens Foods Mini Fillo Dough Shells (15 shells)

1/3 cup cranberry sauce, divided

1 8-ounce wheel of Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 15 pieces

15 pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove phyllo shells and place on a baking sheet. Spoon 1/2-teaspoon of cranberry sauce into each shell, top with a piece of Brie and a pecan halve. Bake for 5 minutes, until cheese melts, and serve immediately.

Makes 15 hors d’oeuvres.



4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into cubes

1 8-ounce hunk reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1 6-ounce bag sweetened dried cranberries

Place cheddar cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until cheese is coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Scoop the cheese mixture out onto the plastic wrap, gather up the corners of the plastic wrap and form into a ball.

Refrigerate overnight. Let sit out at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings.


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