Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
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. From perfectly cooked turkeys, to baskets of freshly baked rolls, and even some absolutely fantastic homemade cranberry sauce, if you're looking for the perfect dishes to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner, look no further. Simply whip up these savory dishes and your feast will take care of itself. Give all of your guests a hug and dig right in!
In this riff on spaghetti pie, zucchini "noodles" stand in for pasta.
Cherry Tomato Confit
Because the oil picks up the flavors of the garlic and thyme, a milder, less expensive oil works best.
Applewood 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 Potatoes
To 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 Grill
You won't regret putting in the time for this smoked turkey.
Candied Pancetta Stacks
Here's a fresh take on caprese that invites a meaty, umami burst from pancetta. Serve as an appetizer or dessert (think cheese-and-charcuterie board reinvented) at your next summer soiree for a crowd-pleasing treat.
Classic Corn Bread Dressing
This 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 Salad
This 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 Gastrique
The gastrique, a tangy-sweet glaze, is Thanksgiving worthy but also simple enough to pull off on a weekday.
From 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 Squares
From 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 Message
To 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 Hens
Because 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 Dressing
This 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 Salad
Top winter greens with roasted butternut squash for a clean, light salad.
Rosemary-Orange Roast Turkey
From 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 Greens
Clear a place of honor on the Thanksgiving table for this creamy and exceptionally comforting casserole.
Sweet Potato Casserole
From 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 Gravy
From 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 Dressing
Fresh fruit juice and chopped cilantro create a zesty dressing for roasted carrots.
Green Beans with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts
From 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 Casserole
Apples and sliced almonds make a glorious addition to classic sweet potato casserole.
Grandmother Carter's Cornbread Dressing
To 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 Pie
A 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 Vinaigrette
To 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 Gravy
The 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 Turkey
To 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 Rosemary
From 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."
Honey-Bourbon Peach Preserves
Bourbon imparts oaky richness to honeyed peaches. Don't be tempted to use a higher-proof whiskey; the flavor will be too "hot."