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Thanksgiving Recipes and Menus for the Perfect Feast

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So you’ve stepped up and decided to host Thanksgiving Dinner this year. Everyone is coming to your place, and they’re all going to expect amazing food and lots of it. Now you need to come up with delicious appetizers, cocktails, casseroles, pies, and that all-important turkey (or alternative main dish). It’s a lot of pressure! Don’t worry. Whether you’re cooking for two or for a crowd, we have all the recipes and ideas you could possibly want for an amazing and delicious Thanksgiving Feast!

Turkey

The star of the show, in most households, is the turkey. Because it’s the most important menu item, it can be intimidating to first time hosts. Here are some recipes to help you make the perfect turkey for your Thanksgiving spread.

Let’s start out with a beginner’s option. The World’s Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey is perfect for first timers, or anyone who just wants to go back to basics.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to add a twist to your roasted turkey. Here are just a few:

If you’re looking for options beyond roasting, we’ve got you covered there too. You could try smoking your bird, like this Slow Smoked Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey or Apple-Brined and Smoked Turkey. Others choose to deep fry the turkey. If that sounds right, here’s a great Basic Deep-Fried Turkey Recipe or for something with a bit of a kick, try this Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey.

But maybe you have a smaller crowd, or your guests prefer white meat. If so, this Simple Herb and Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast or Slow Cooker Turkey Breast might just fit the bill.

 

Traditional Side Dishes

There are a multitude of options when it comes to sides. Here are a few of our favorites.

Whether you’re cooking it into the actual turkey, or just making it on it’s own, make sure you serve up something delicious. Many will appreciate the time-honored taste of Classic Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing. Those who like Southern cooking will appreciate Grandmother Carter’s Cornbread Dressing. Or for something with a coastal flair, perk up your table with an Oyster Dressing.

And of course, you’re going to need some gravy, and it better not come out of a jar. This Foolproof Turkey Gravy comes out perfectly every time. If you don’t have turkey drippings, here’s a version that works just fine without them.

For some, the turkey is secondary to the sweet potatoes. These sweet and tasty super foods are a Thanksgiving staple. Try out this Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping, Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole, or Soul Food Style Candied Yams to delight your guests.

Of course, a classic green bean casserole is also a must. Betty Crocker’s Green Bean Casserole is one of a handful of tried and tested versions.

Mom will surely be proud of you for eating your greens when she sees you serve up this Thanksgiving Asparagus Casserole. But don’t let the star ingredient scare you. It’s every bit as rich and indulgent as you’d expect for holiday fare.

These Minimalist Brussels Sprouts are a bit heavy on the prep, so enlist the kids to help you separate sprout leaves. It will be well worth the effort.

Of course, it just wouldn’t be Turkey Day without the cranberries. Ditch the jelly in a can and try this Cranberry Sauce Recipe from scratch. It’s a sure crowd pleaser.

In keeping with the sweet theme, glazed carrots are a delicious way to eat your veggies. Try this recipe for Honey Glazed Baby Carrots, ready in just 15 minutes!

In some regions, corn casserole is a must for Thanksgiving. For a simple and classic version, try Granny’s Corn Casserole.

What would a traditional Thanksgiving feast be without potatoes? We hope we never have to find out. These Most Amazing Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes are deceptively simple. If you’re looking for a bit more flavor, check out this Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole.

For many, mac n cheese is a must have side. While you could go with the classic version, we suggest giving this Soul Food Style Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese a shot.

If rice is your must-have, you’ve simply got to try this Thanksgiving Wild Rice. The nutty flavor of wild rice is a perfect accompaniment to harvest flavors of apple, cranberry, and chopped pecans.

Finally, no table would be complete without a bread basket. Serve up some of Angie’s Perfect Dinner Rolls or these easy but customizable 2-Ingredient Yogurt Drop Biscuits, or make a few types and give your guests choices.

And don’t forget the drinks! Classic wine pairings are always a perfect option, but if you’d rather mix up special cocktails for the holiday, try a bourbon pecan pie cocktail, cranberry mules, or apple cider mimosas. Don’t forget the kids (and designated drivers)! For those who prefer alcohol-free festive drinks, pumpkin white hot chocolate, sparkling cran-raspberry holiday punch, or apple pomegranate spritzers.

 

Healthier Sides

Of course, a traditional holiday feast can really put a strain on your waistband. For a healthier holiday, consider substituting in some of these delicious and nutritious options.

Sweet potatoes are a superfood, full of vitamins and nutrients, but often holiday recipes add less-healthy ingredients like marshmallows. If you’re looking for a better version, recipes for sweet potatoes like this Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole or Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Apple Bake are a great choice. You’ll still get all of the natural sweetness of these tasty tubers, without ruining your diet.

For a healthier alternative to green bean casserole, check out The Neely’s Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic or a Green Bean-and-Red Bell Pepper Toss. They’re delicious ways to eat your veggies!

One of the most trendy healthy ingredients, kale has become the star of many salads. If your holiday feast could use a leafy green side, this Thanksgiving Kale featuring cranberries and almonds might just do the trick.

Potatoes can be a healthy starch, but like their orange cousins, we often ruin their health benefits with added toppings. These Roasted Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes are the perfect option for a nutritious Thanksgiving side.

This Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad practically screams harvest, and the flavors of fall blend delightfully into a nutritious dish with craveable appeal.

For a veggie with a crispy topping, try out Sunny Anderson’s Quick and Easy Baked Zucchini. Don’t let the panko breadcrumbs fool you, this one packs a nutritious punch!

What could be healthier than roasted green veggies? How about Tuscan Roasted Broccoli. The delightful Tuscan make it the kind of dish you’ll wish you’d made more of.

With a blend of sweet and tangy, this Pomegranate, Pear, Pecan, & Brie Salad is a perfect start for your feast. It’s sure to delight your guests, and includes plenty of natural, nutritious, and flavor-packed ingredients.

Need more options? Cooking Light has a list of over 100 Thanksgiving side dishes to choose from. Pick out a few to add to a traditional menu, or make your spread entirely from these healthier options.

 

Alternative Menus

Of course, a traditional turkey feast is not for everyone. If your family prefers to blend in tastes from your homeland, or you have guests with special dietary needs, you might be scratching your head about what to cook. Pick an alternative menu, or just steal a few recipes to add to your traditional options, and you’ll have an inclusive meal everyone will be thankful for.

It seems like Keto or low carb diets are definitely on the rise these days. With most Thanksgiving sides being really heavy on the carbs, they can pose quite a challenge for hosts. Fortunately, A Keto Thanksgiving Feast! is perfect for those trying to stay low carb through the holidays. And with dishes like Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Ham and Cranberry Jalapeño “Cornbread” Muffins, it’s sure to delight your other guests too.

If you’re cooking for vegans or vegetarians, it can be a challenge to find alternatives to all the meat and dairy associated with a typical Thanksgiving. But the harvest season is just packed full of tasty fruits and veggies for your table. Check out this FullyRaw Vegan Thanksgiving Menu for a healthy and cruelty-free feast.

If you’re cooking for friends and relatives who follow the Paleo diet, check out this Primal Thanksgiving Menu. It features delightful dishes like Heritage Turkey and Mashed Parsnips, Breadless Cauliflower and Mushroom Stuffing, Grilled Okra with Spicy Sumac Seasoning Salt, and plenty of other options to pick and choose.

For friends from India, typical Thanksgiving dishes may be lacking in all of those beloved flavors from home. An Indian Thanksgiving Feast puts the spice back in the season with the delicious tastes of Murgh Musallam, Green Beans Poriyal, and a Simple Indian Pulav.

Folks from Italy have their own food culture, and they tend to take cooking seriously. While Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Italy (at least not the way we do it), plenty of immigrants over the years have put their own spin on the holiday. For a delicious dinner from appetizers through desserts, check out this Italian Thanksgiving feast.

A little closer to home, Mexico boasts amazing food flavors and vibrant culture. To spice up your holiday, check out this Mexican-Style Thanksgiving Fiesta with options like Pumpkin Empanadas, Spicy Acorn Squash and Apple Soup, and Persimmon Mojitos.

Of course, there are plenty of special cooking traditions across the United States too. Thanksgiving in New Orleans is full of familiar tastes like turkey and butternut squash, paired with NOLA favorites like shrimp, oysters, pralines, and pepper jelly.

If you’re hosting families with little ones, some of the typical dishes may be too advanced for young eaters. Fortunately, Parents Magazine comes to the rescue with their Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Menu. Dishes like Sweet-Potato Crunch, Turkey Amandine Casserole, and Spaghetti Squash will be appreciated by your adult guests too!

Up north, New England’s hearty cuisine shines in this New England Thanksgiving for 8. Maple-glazed turkey, Baked Clam Dip Loaf, apple cider–infused cranberry relish, and a Boston Brown Bread Stuffing are featured dishes.

If you have outdoorsmen in the family, they’re sure to appreciate the Outdoor Channel’s Thanksgiving Day Menu. Featuring Texas Chicken-Fried Venison, Dutch Oven Roast Wild Turkey, Iron Skillet Mashed Potato Cakes, and Dutch Oven Cherry Cobbler can all be made in the great outdoors!

A little closer to home, you can also make a Thanksgiving Meal on the Grill. You’ll find delectable dishes like Orange-Glazed Grilled Acorn Squash, Country Bread and Sage Dressing, Grilled Polenta with Morel Vinaigrette, and even Mulled Cider.

If you’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner with no oven this year, we have a solution: An Entire Thanksgiving Dinner made in Crock Pots. Unless you have several, you’ll need to call your friends and relatives to borrow their slow cookers. These dishes are also a great way to manage the logistics of a typical feast, by taking some of the strain off your oven.

Finally, if you’d rather spend time with your guests rather than in the kitchen, The Ultimate Make-Ahead Thanksgiving might just be for you. It allows you to do all the prep before hand and serve up a perfectly homemade feast on the big day, with make-ahead recipes featuring all of those traditional dishes your guests know and love.

 

Celebrity Chef Recipes

If you’re a fan or a follower of cooking shows and big-name chefs, you likely have a favorite or two. Did you know that many celebrity chefs have given us their own take on a traditional Thanksgiving feast? Learn how to create a meal guests will love from the pros. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites for you:

 

  • Julia Child is known for her mastery of the most intricate French cooking, but she was just as accomplished in American home cooking. Thanksgiving, the Julia Child Way is a traditional feast with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie.

 

  • Paula Deen’s Southern Thanksgiving menu is exactly as decadent and delicious as you’d expect. From a molded cranberry salad to Douglas’ Dark Rum Pecan Pie, it’s a spread any southerner would be happy to tuck into.

 

  • Ree Drummond (better known to some as The Pioneer Woman) created a very traditional menu with cornbread stuffing and butternut squash puree.

 

  • Bobby Flay’s Thanksgiving Menu includes gourmet favorites like Grilled Hassleback Sweet Potatoes with Molasses-Nutmeg Butter and Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Potato Gratin with Fresh Sage.

 

  • Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) put together a Barefoot Thanksgiving featuring  Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce and Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts.

 

  • Emeril Lagasse’s Thanksgiving Recipe Guide gives you plenty of choices, with 9 Thanksgiving breads, 16 entrees, 13 soups and salads, and 16 sides!

 

  • Nigella Lawson’s Thanksgiving on the Road gives you options like Spiced and Superjuicy Turkey or Roast Stuffed Pumpkin with Gingery Tomato Sauce.

 

  • If you’re tired of turkey and would rather feature other meats in your meal, this Louisiana Thanksgiving Menu with Miss Kay and Cory Bahr might be perfect. It features quail, rabbit, and of course, duck.

 

  • Jamie Oliver’s Southern Thanksgiving Feast is based on traditions he learned while dining with a family of Texans in San Francisco, so he’s included a lovely cornbread recipe and some tasty deviled eggs.

 

 

  • While he hasn’t put together a full menu of recipes for us to link to, these Thanksgiving Recipes from Gordon Ramsay include a roast turkey with lemon, parsley, and garlic, and a turkey gravy with cider and walnuts.

 

  • Rachael Ray’s First-Timers’ Thanksgiving is designed for those who want to impress their guests, but may not be ready for more advanced recipes.

 

  • Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu includes picture-perfect dishes like Apple-Butternut Squash Soup and Brussels Sprouts with lemon and walnuts.

 

Desserts

No feast is complete without dessert, and Thanksgiving is known for its pies and other treats. Here are a few options for your final course.

A favorite in most parts of the country, pumpkin pie is certainly a Thanksgiving staple. Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie is a classic, but if you’re looking to change things up this year, you might also like no-bake Turtle Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Pie Parfaits, or a Pumpkin Crumble Cake.

Second only to pumpkin, pecan pie is a delicious and simple Thanksgiving treat. Epicurious has an Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie. For something a little different, how about a Bacon and Bourbon Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pecan Cookie Pie, or Pecan Cheesecake Pie?

Of course, there are plenty of other pies to choose from. Try out a Classic Thanksgiving Apple Pie, Apple Cider Cream Pie, Sweet-Potato Meringue Pie, Pear-Rosemary Pie with Cheddar Crust, or Mocha-Espresso Cream Pie.

Let’s face it, just like turkey, pie isn’t for everyone. Cranberry Orange Cookies and a finger-food friendly addition to your dessert options. If you’re looking for something adorable for your dessert spread, check out these Candy Turkeys or Pilgrim Hats from The Spruce. And if you’d like to include a tasty jello salad recipe, we recommend this Gelatin Pretzel Salad Dressed Up for Thanksgiving.

 

Leftovers

After the day, you’re likely to have leftovers. Some even cook extra food just to ensure it! Here are some options for tasty ways to enjoy extra turkey, cranberries, and more.

You might be tempted to scrape the plates into the dog’s dish, but remember that not all human foods are good for our furry friends. Here’s a handy guide to Feeding Pets Thanksgiving Leftovers, so you can keep Fido and Fluffy happy and healthy.

 

Further Reading

If you’re still looking for more recipes for your perfect feast, be sure to check out the Thanksgiving suggestions from Betty Crocker, All Recipes, Taste of Home, and the Mayo Clinic. And when shopping for your ingredients, don’t forget to make use of printable grocery coupons, courtesy of coupons.com.

 

 

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