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18 Best Thanksgiving Recipes


Four Thanksgiving dishes: turkey on a platter, a baking tin with rolls, a bowl of cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

Our best Thanksgiving recipes include everything from turkey to mashed potatoes, gravy to pumpkin pie. These are our most reliable and foolproof recipes, with something to sate everyone at the table, whether simple or sophisticated, traditional or with a slightly unconventional flair.

Four Thanksgiving dishes: turkey on a platter, a baking tin with rolls, a bowl of cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve said it for years, and I’ll say it again: It’s the highest of high holy days for cooks and bakers.

If you’re at all like The One and me, we look forward to Thanksgiving dinner for months. We start planning at the beginning of November, shop mid-month, and begin cooking five days before.

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Yup, that’s right. We pull our pots and pans the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Dishes like turkey gravy, pie crusts, pumpkin cake layers, cream cheese frosting, cranberry sauce, and so much more can be made ahead of time.

I even make our mashed potatoes and some components of our green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and mushroom sausage stuffing by Wednesday morning.

And that gives you plenty of time on Turkey Day to tuck into a relaxing breakfast and veg out on the couch to watch Macy’s parade. (That’s our 30-year tradition!) All that’s left is the turkey. And if you spatchcock the bird, like we did last year, you can roast that sucker in no time.

Whether you’re a host or a guest this year, I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.

The word A whole roast turkey on an oval serving platter with cranberries, fresh herbs, and orange slices tucked around it.A whole roast turkey on an oval serving platter with cranberries, fresh herbs, and orange slices tucked around it.

Simple roast turkey is an easy way to cook the perfect bird for Thanksgiving. And by that we mean the best, most juiciest roast turkey imaginable. A failproof technique, even for beginner cooks.

Recipe A woman whisking a roasting pan of classic turkey gravyA woman whisking a roasting pan of classic turkey gravy

Everyone needs a classic, foolproof, go-to classic turkey gravy recipe. This is it. And all it takes is pan juices or drippings from your turkey, stock, butter, flour, and 20 minutes of your time.

Recipe A big pot of pumpkin mashed potatoes with a pat of butter on top, wooden spoon on the side.A big pot of pumpkin mashed potatoes with a pat of butter on top, wooden spoon on the side.

These mashed potatoes with pumpkin are comforting (and colorful!) thanks to the addition of pumpkin puree to creamy spuds. And you thought mashed potatoes couldn’t get any better.

Recipe A baking sheet lined with parchment and covered with easy roasted carrots and onions with burnt edges.A baking sheet lined with parchment and covered with easy roasted carrots and onions with burnt edges.

These easy roasted carrots boast four ingredients–carrots, butter, salt, and pepper–and one simple and perfect technique for roasting them to magnificence, bringing out their earthy sweetness.

Recipe

Yummy! The carrots get caramelized nicely and they are tender and sweet. I like them with a drizzle of honey and an extra sprinkle of salt!–Vicky F.

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Rating: 5 out of 5. A partially sliced pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast on a serving platter with a serving fork on the side.A partially sliced pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast on a serving platter with a serving fork on the side.

Whether you’re hosting a small Thanksgiving gathering, or don’t have the space, time, or inclination to wrestle with a whole bird, this pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast makes for an easy holiday main course.

Recipe A white bowl filled with whole berry cranberry sauce with a silver spoon resting in it.A white bowl filled with whole berry cranberry sauce with a silver spoon resting in it.

This whole berry cranberry sauce, made with fresh cranberries and cranberry juice, is slightly tart and pairs beautifully with many turkey, chicken, or pork dishes. Easy to make ahead of time, too.

Recipe A wedge of bourbon sweet potato pie topped with a crumbly brown sugar streusel on a metal plate.A wedge of bourbon sweet potato pie topped with a crumbly brown sugar streusel on a metal plate.

This bourbon sweet potato pie, filled with sweet potatoes, butter, cream, eggs, spice, and bourbon, is topped with a brown sugar streusel. Suddenly, Thanksgiving is even better.

Recipe A white oval platter topped with roast winter squash and shallots.A white oval platter topped with roast winter squash and shallots.

This roasted winter squash and shallots is proof that good food doesn’t need to be complicated. Here, acorn squash and shallots are roasted until tender and finished with parsley, red pepper flakes, and a little balsamic vinegar.

Recipe A potato masher pressing down in a pot of olive oil mashed potatoes.A potato masher pressing down in a pot of olive oil mashed potatoes.

Healthier than butter, olive oil still makes for a creamy, silky mashed potato. Add some roasted garlic for a true Italian version.

Recipe

This was so good! I am so glad to finally have mashed potatoes without dairy!–Ridings

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Rating: 5 out of 5. Green beans with browned butter and almonds in an oval white bowl with a serving spoon.Green beans with browned butter and almonds in an oval white bowl with a serving spoon.

Lemon zest, shallots, and red pepper flakes—as well as fragrant toasted almonds—give classic green beans amandine a bold update with plenty of texture. The browned butter amplifies the nuttiness of the almonds, adds a touch of richness, and ties everything together.

Recipe Layers of pasta with mushrooms, spinach, and bechamel sauce between each layer.Layers of pasta with mushrooms, spinach, and bechamel sauce between each layer.

Three-cheese vegetarian lasagna is easy and exceptional and even sorta elegant anytime of year BUT we especially welcome it at the Thanksgiving table when we need something vegetarian and lovely. Here’s exactly how to make it plus what kind of cheeses work best.

Recipe

I made this for Friendsgiving this past November (I’m vegetarian so this lasagna was the centerpiece). Followed the recipe exactly, and it was soo smooth and flavorful! It is a fun recipe to make if you truly want to make everything “from scratch” and have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing in the same way they might if you were bringing out your roast turkey masterpiece…–Vera

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Rating: 5 out of 5. A white rectangular dish filled with herbed bread and celery stuffing with a fork and spoon next to it on a napkin.A white rectangular dish filled with herbed bread and celery stuffing with a fork and spoon next to it on a napkin.

This herbed bread and celery stuffing, made with celery, onion, thyme, basil, and parsley, is a sort of basic blank canvas of a stuffing that will satisfy you as-is or make a terrific foundation for your other embellishments. Lovely with chicken as well as turkey.

Recipe Sheet pan lined with parchment and sliced maple roasted parsnips.Sheet pan lined with parchment and sliced maple roasted parsnips.

These maple-roasted parsnips are a simple yet unexpectedly delicious side dish. Few ingredients and easy prep make it a winner for both weeknights and special occasions.

Recipe Casserole dish with cooked sliced potatoes covered with cheese and sprinkled with thyme.Casserole dish with cooked sliced potatoes covered with cheese and sprinkled with thyme.

Potatoes Dauphinoise are potatoes, cream, cheese, and a French lineage. They’re like scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin but are even more fancy but without being fussy. We really don’t think comfort food gets any more comfort-y than this.

Recipe

This was excellent! Better than any scalloped potato recipe we’ve ever tried. Used Gruyere.–Dennis

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Rating: 5 out of 5. A rectangular pan of icebox rolls with a pastry brush resting on the side and a small dish of butterA rectangular pan of icebox rolls with a pastry brush resting on the side and a small dish of butter

Leftover mashed potatoes were my grandmother Queen’s secret ingredient for these tender icebox rolls. The potassium and starch molecules in the potatoes allow the yeast to rise quickly and also condition the dough, which makes for a soft, delicate crumb.

Recipe A chocolate pecan pie in a ceramic pie plate with one slice missing on a linen napkin.A chocolate pecan pie in a ceramic pie plate with one slice missing on a linen napkin.

This Southern chocolate pecan pie is a great classic. My American friend, the chef Art Smith, taught me how to make this recipe, and my friends are all in love with it.

Recipe Caramelized honey pumpkin pie in slices on dessert plates, each garnished with dollops of whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.Caramelized honey pumpkin pie in slices on dessert plates, each garnished with dollops of whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

Caramelized honey pumpkin pie will make pumpkin pie lovers out of even the most pumpkin resistant. Gently spiced and with the addition of brown butter and caramelized honey, it hits all the right spots. An all-butter crust is a perfect complement to the sweet, creamy filling.

Recipe

We made this for Thanksgiving and it was delicious. The flavor is deeper and richer than a typical pumpkin pie and will now be on our holiday rotation.–Kai

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Rating: 5 out of 5. Cranberry upside-down cake with a large piece missing, on a white plate with a serving knife beside it.Cranberry upside-down cake with a large piece missing, on a white plate with a serving knife beside it.

The Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) gives the cake a pleasant kick that plays beautifully with cranberry. Making this tender, buttery cake provides a perfect excuse to share a slice over the backyard fence, maybe with someone who’s short on their own cranberry source.

Recipe

FAQs

How many different dishes do I need to serve at Thanksgiving dinner?

If you’ve got a big main, such as smoked turkey, then plan on 4 to 5 side dishes (ideally a mix of starch and vegetables), and 2 desserts.

How much wine should I purchase for Thanksgiving dinner?

As a general rule, plan for 1/2 a bottle of wine per drinking adult.

I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. Any tips?

We’ve got so many great tips that we’ve written a whole guide to hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner. The most important things to remember are to get organized early, make sure you have all the tools you need for the big day, don’t be afraid to ask for help (especially with clean-up!), and most importantly, relax and enjoy it.

We hope you’ve found the perfect combination of dishes to create a delicious Thanksgiving menu. Need more inspiration? We can help you find the right recipes for appetizers to tide everyone over to the main event, dishes for your vegan guests, or even more Thanksgiving desserts to choose from. It is the most important meal of the year, after all.

© 2020 Leite’s Culinaria. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.

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