Thanksgiving is a time where we celebrate the company of family and friends and reflect on what we're thankful for this year, which means it's also the perfect time to share the best food the season has to offer. So give everyone a hug and dig right in!
Applewood-Smoked TurkeyApplewood chips lend a slightly sweet and fruity flavor to the meat. You can also try smoking the turkey with cherry or alder wood chips for more delicate smoked flavor.
Mom's Smashed Mashed PotatoesTo keep potatoes warm until the meal is ready, place them, loosely covered, in a heatproof dish or bowl, and set them (without submerging them) in a larger pot of hot water over very low heat. They'll stay warm without scorching on the bottom.
Cherry-Smoked Turkey on the GrillYou won't regret putting in the time for this smoked turkey.
Classic Corn Bread DressingThis is the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish in the South. It is made from crumbled corn bread, with no added French or sourdough bread to cut it, so the texture is unique. Loads of aromatics give this dressing its flavor; don't be tempted to use less.
Roasted Red and Golden Beet SaladThis composed two-toned beet salad is a showstopping way to highlight the vegetable's natural beauty. We recommend dressing the red beets separately from the golden beets to preserve each one's rich jewel coloring (red beets aren't shy about spreading their natural beauty around).
Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Maple GastriqueThe gastrique, a tangy-sweet glaze, is Thanksgiving worthy but also simple enough to pull off on a weekday.
Cloverleaf RollsFrom the Kitchen of Cheryl Slocum, Senior Food Editor. "The smell of freshly risen dough always takes me back to my mom's rolls."
Southern Corn Bread Dressing SquaresFrom the Kitchen of Hunter Lewis, Cooking Light Editor. "Everyone stakes out their favorite piece: the crispy edges or the creamy centers of my wife's great-grandmother's coveted dressing."
Maple Pumpkin Pie with a MessageTo use up the leftover pumpkin, try adding some to a breakfast smoothie, or stir into pancake batter. Or combine with a splash of half-and-half, season with sage, and toss with pasta.
Sage and Garlic-Rubbed Cornish HensBecause the hens are split and roasted spread out flat (called spatchcocking), the Thanksgiving main course is ready in less than an hour.
Sausage and Chestnut DressingThis dressing uses chestnuts for texture and an earthy flavor. If you aren't up for roasting and opening your own, find whole roasted chestnuts, in a pouch or jar, in the baking aisle.
Roasted Squash SaladTop winter greens with roasted butternut squash for a clean, light salad.
Rosemary-Orange Roast TurkeyFrom the Kitchen of Khalil Hymore, Cooking Light Contributor. Khalil likes to give his bird a pretty finishing sheen by brushing on savory-sweet marmalade glaze.
Savory Turnip Gratin with GreensClear a place of honor on the Thanksgiving table for this creamy and exceptionally comforting casserole.
Sweet Potato CasseroleFrom the Kitchen of Hazel Eddins, Production Editor. Hazel and her daughter prefer a marshmallow-free sweet potato casserole that Hazel has made since she was a teenager. Our modern twist on the classic sweet potato casserole is a fragrant vanilla bean streusel.
Brown Sugar-Cured Turkey with Apple-Bourbon GravyFrom the Kitchen of Hunter Lewis, Cooking Light Editor. "On the front end, I infuse flavor by rubbing a cut-up turkey and curing it overnight. A deconstructed bird doesn't need as long to roast as a whole bird. That gets me valuable oven time for casseroles and ensures the white and dark meat, which all cook at different rates, is roasted to perfection."
Roasted Carrots with Citrus DressingFresh fruit juice and chopped cilantro create a zesty dressing for roasted carrots.
Green Beans with Dried Cranberries and HazelnutsFrom the Kitchen of Ivy Manning, longtime contributor. "This side dish is positively Pacific Northwest, my stomping grounds. Oregon produces both cranberries and hazelnuts, which I source from local vendors."
Sweet Potato and Apple CasseroleApples and sliced almonds make a glorious addition to classic sweet potato casserole.
Grandmother Carter's Cornbread DressingTo make ahead: Freeze the unbaked dressing mixture in 2 (1-gal.) zip-top plastic freezer bags, making sure to press out all the excess air. Thaw in refrigerator five days before Thanksgiving, and continue recipe with Step 4.
Double-Crust Apple PieA double crust seals in the apples' natural juices as the pie bakes for full-on apple flavor. Tossing the apples with apple juice keeps them from browning as you peel and slice them, and it adds a boost of apple flavor.
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider VinaigretteTo make ahead: Store roasted vegetables in a zip-top plastic freezer bag or an airtight container in the fridge. Before serving, return to room temperature and check seasoning.
Make-Ahead Turkey GravyThe key to flavorful gravy is a good turkey stock. In November, it's easy to find turkey wings, which make an especially rich stock. Try this classic gravy; it can be made ahead, cooled, and frozen up to two months. Thaw; then reheat over medium-low, stirring with a whisk.
Dry-Brined-and-Marinated Smoked TurkeyTo make ahead: Dry-brine the turkey two days before Thanksgiving, and smoke it the next day. Cut the turkey into pieces (legs, breast, wings, etc.), and place in a zip-top plastic bag. Store in refrigerator. About an hour before dinner, place turkey pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet, and cover with aluminum foil. Warm in 300° oven until heated.
Roasted Cranberries and Grapes with RosemaryFrom the Kitchen of Katie Barreira, Test Kitchen Director. "Since the ladies in my family are fabulous cooks, the offerings haven't changed much over the years--and everyone is quite happy about that. When I came home from culinary school with ideas about how to shake up the menu, my assault on tradition was not met with enthusiasm. So I started small, with the cranberry sauce."