I have been preparing the Thanksgiving meal for the past few years–long enough to have a handle on the holiday, but not nearly long enough to have established a full slate of “classic” recipes, honed to perfection through time and experience. There are just so many options available, sometimes it’s hard to know where even to begin.
Well, since I am a full on crazy food person, I’ve spent pockets of the past year carefully researching, bookmarking, and squirreling away recipes. After some meticulous curating, I’ve landed on the following extended menu.
I think you will agree that there are recipes galore here, enough for quite a few years of cooking. (And not just Thanksgiving cooking, consider this a solid wealth of Fall dinners, too.) My collection is not random: I selected recipes I thought were interesting, promising, and that came from trusted sources. I hope they lead you to Thanksgiving nirvana.
And for even more ideas, here are a few reliable resources: I find the Bon Appetit App, the Food52 Holiday App, the Saveur Thanksgiving, and NYT’s Essential Guide to be great, general tools. If you live in New York and you still haven’t decided where to buy your turkey, take a look at GrowNYC’s Guide.
Before the Meal: Drinks, Hors d’Oeuvres
Main: Turkey, Vegetarian, Gravy
Just because you don’t love cooking, or because you were really busy this year, or because you simply want to take a break, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving meal. Bon Appétit has you covered with a full, mail-order dinner for the “lazy gourmet,” including appetizers, turkey, sides, concoctions, desserts, and drinks. They have also put together a list of the best places to buy your Thanksgiving pie, although if you live in the New York area, I would enthusiastically add Four & Twenty Blackbirds to that list. Eater NY also compiled their own NYC Pie Guide. For a cranberry sauce upgrade, here are Five Great Store-Bought Cranberry Sauces.
As for turkey, when I was living in France and had nothing but a toaster oven to work with, I found a successful facsimile in rotisserie chickens. You could also buy a smoked turkey. In the world of alternative meats, I would not shake my head at this smoked goose, a cooked ham, or smoked duck breasts.
I like to throw together a pitcher of punch in the morning, and then forget about it in the back of the refrigerator until my guests arrive. A make-ahead libation satiates thirst while people are munching on hors d’oeuvres. It also keep people out of my way–the last thing I want when trying to push through the final bit of cooking is a crowd traipsing through the kitchen, asking me where they might find a wine glass, a bottle opener? So set out a punch, and finish that turkey in your own sweet time, guilt free.
Apple Rye Punch, Hot Spiced Drunken Apple Cider, Delicately Fragrant Mulled Cider, Pomelder Prosecco Punch, Holiday Sparkler, Bumble Brown Punch, Honey-Pomegranate Mulled Wine, Concord Grape and Lemon Soda, Rosemary Gin Cocktail, Pear-Vanilla Bourbon Warmer, Butterbeer, Apple of Your Rye, Chilled Cider Punch, Regent’s Punch, Spiced Pear Collins, Pumpkin Old Fashioned, Cranberry Margarita, The New England Express
The point of hors d’oeuvres is to whet your guests’ appetites, without filling them up before the meal even starts. They also ensure a built in grace period for you–mistimed that turkey? Not a problem. No one will complain if you give them something to nosh in the meantime. Hors d’oeuvres should not pull you away from preparing the star dishes, so choose items you can make mostly ahead, and add the final touches as guests arrive. Keep them small, and don’t go overboard.
Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Sage Crostini, a crostini of sautéed chard, sultanas, and ricotta, Creamy, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, crudités with buttermilk herb dressing, buttermilk ranch, or ethereally smooth hummus, Kale Tarts with Fennel and Olives, Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese, your favorite spiced nuts–I like these, Sweet Potato Tahini Crostini, Walnut Gorgonzola Crostini with Crumble Fried Sage, store-bought white bean dip with crackers, 10 Minute Parmesan and Mustard Pinwheels, Chicken Liver Spread (née Pâté), Sage-Candied Walnuts, Ricotta Crostini with Chestnut Honey, Pimento cheese with pita chips or pretzels, Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Crostini, Creamed Kale Toasts, Sausage-and-Apple Stuffing Bites, Chicken Liver Mousse with Red-Wine-Glazed Prunes, Sardine Butter, John Besh’s Green Olive Tapenade, Apple and Goat’s Cheese Tartlets with Thyme Honey
I am quite convinced that this Spatchcock + Braise-Roased Herb Butter Turkey (here’s how to carve it) is the best turkey ever, of all time, but I suppose it would be bossy of me not to provide you with some other viable options. Included here are alternate preparations, in case you would rather not roast a whole turkey, or are a little bored with the classic. For a good overview on everything turkey related, check here.
Tom Colicchio’s Herb-Butter Turkey, Spatchcocked Roast Turkey, Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy, Bacon Bird with Turkey Neck Gravy, Russ Parsons’ Dry-Brined Turkey (a.k.a. The Judy Bird), Butter and Herb Roast Turkey, Crisp Apple-Scented Roast Turkey with Cider-Calvados Gravy, Jamaican Jerk Roast Turkey, Herb Roasted Turkey, How to Deep Fry a Turkey, Embrace tradition in less time: Roast Turkey with Root Vegetables and Gravy, Just the breast: Turkey Breast Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing or Pimentón-Roasted Whole Turkey Breast with Chorizo or Turkey Porchetta or Butter-Roasted Turkey Breasts, Just the legs: Braised Turkey Legs or Red Wine-Braised Turkey Legs, Dry-brine: Fennel, Chile, and Maple Dry-Brined Turkey or Citrus and Peppercorn Dry Brine
If you eschew meat (and in some cases, dairy), here are some stellar options for replacing the turkey at the center of the table. The following are all prime examples of what I like to make for dinner in the Fall, so feel free to use them outside of the Thanksgiving box.
Roasted Butternut Penne with Pistachio Pesto, Stuffed Portabellos with Herb Sauce, Butternut Orecchiette with Arugula, Stuffed Squash, Leek and Greens Tart with Cornmeal Crust, Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and and Potato Mash, Alon Shaya’s Whole Roasted Cauliflower and Whipped Goat Cheese, Curried Cauliflower Soup, Autumn Vegetable Patties, Spiced Black Lentils with Yogurt and Mint, Thanksgiving Root Vegetable Pie, Roasted Acorn Squash and Apples with Quinoa, Kale, & Tahini Maple Dressing, Mushroom and Barley Pie
Pear, Brandy, and Walnut Cranberry Sauce, Gingered Cranberry Fig Chutney, Canal House’s Cranberry-Port Gelée, Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice, Cranberry-Fig Chutney, Cabernet Cranberry-Kumquat Sauce, Homemade Cranberry Sauce, in a Can
Julia Child’s Hash Browns, Potato Purée, Roasted Domino Potatoes, Duck Fat-Potato Galette with Caraway and Sweet Onions, Creamy Chive Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese, Sweet Potatoes Anna with Prunes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Crème Fraîche and Herbs, Sweet Potato “Fries” with Za’atar and Labneh, Celery Root and Potato Gratin, Brown Butter-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Arugula and Bacon, Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger, Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes, Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin), Spanish Roasted Potato Salad
Dinner Rolls and Bread:
Sour Cream Dinner Rolls, Parker House Rolls, Honey & Herb Biscuits, Cheddar Cheese Biscuits, Popovers, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Cornbread with Caramelized Apples + Onions, Avocado Cornbread, Dilly Rolls, Easy Savory Cornbread, Salt-and-Pepper Biscuits, Pumpkin Spoon Bread, Gluten-Free Holiday Dinner Rolls, Sweet Potato Biscuit Pillows with Honey and Coconut Oil, Sweet Potato (and Marshmallow) Biscuits
Ciabatta Stuffing with Chorizo, Sweet Potatoes, and Mushrooms, Challah, Mushroom, and Celery Stuffing, Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Fennel, Rustic Herb Stuffing, Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Apples, and Golden Raisins, Spinach, Fennel, and Sausage Stuffing with Toasted Brioche, Smoky Chorizo Stuffing, Vegan Corn Bread Stuffing with Bacon and Greens, Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Bread Stuffing with Apples, Gluten Free Andouille Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
Slow-Roasted Green Beans with Sage or Green Beans with Parsley-Lemon Pesto or Green Beans with Benne and Sorghum or Penelope Casa’s Garlic Green Beans (Judias Verdes con Ajo), Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms, Roasted Acorn Squash + Harvest Salad or Crispy Delicata Rings with Currant, Fennel & Apple Relish or Soy-Braised Kabocha Squash or Dashi Braised Kabocha Squash, Warm Brussels Sprouts, Cider Vinegar, and Maple Salad or Momofuku’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette or “Pot-Stuck” Brussels Sprouts or Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Chanterelles, Autumn Celeriac (Celery Root) Puree or Michel Guérard’s Celeriac Purée, Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage, Tuscan Onion Confit, Carrots Cooked Forever, à la Roy Finamore, Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower or Cauliflower with Brown Butter Crumbs, Carrot Coconut Soup, Turnips with Bacon and Pickled Mustard Seeds, Spinach Gratin or Creamed Spinach or The Best Baked Spinach or Trent Pierce’s Miso-Creamed Kale or Vegan and Gluten Free Coconut Creamed Spinach
Gratins, Salads, and Grains:
Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin, Northern Spy’s Kale Salad, Not-So-Virtuous Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad, Spiced Wheat Berry Pilaf, Creamed Onion Gratin, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Golden Sultanas, Fennel Gratin, Fennel, Sunchoke, and Apple Salad, Root Vegetable Gratin, Roasted Fennel Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing, Escarole Salad with Apples, Blue Cheese and Pecans, Collard Green Gratin, Wild Rice, Farro, and Tangerine Salad, Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion, Lemon and Pecorino, Farro with Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale and Pomegranate Seeds, Green Bean Salad with Fried Onions, Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Since pie is such a classic part of Thanksgiving, let’s start there. For those of you still searching for the perfect pie crust, look no further. And why not get creative with your pie: try pumpkin with graham cracker crust, or lace the dough with vanilla and citrus. And if you want to be all fancy about your pie crusts, look here or here. Saveur has also prepared a great resource–Holiday Pie 101.
Pumpkin Pie, Perfect Apple Pie, Apple Cider Cream Pie, Caramel Pecan Hand Pies, Salted Caramel Pie, Nelson Pear Pie, Heidi’s Maple Buttermilk Pie, Meta Given’s Pumpkin Pie, Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise, Milk Chocolate Nutmeg Tart with Hazelnut Crust, Rosemary-Cheddar Apple Pie, Spiced Pear Chocolate-Caramel Tart, Vanilla Caramel-Apple Cider Ice Cream Pie, Apple Pie with Spiced Apple-Caramel Sauce, Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie, Butterscotch Pie with Curry Crust, Pear Pie with Red Wine and Rosemary, Mini Vegan Pumpkin Pies, Salty Honey Pie, Pear Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble, If you are feeding a crowd: Apple Slab Pie or Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars or Pecan Pie Bars or Pumpkin Pie Bars
Cake: The best part? It doubles as breakfast the next morning, when you are too tired to do more than switch on the coffee pot.
Cranberry Cake, Walnut Cake, A Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee, Gâteau Breton aux Pommes, Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze, Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears, Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake, Ginger Apple Torte, An Old-Fashioned Apple Spice Cake, Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing, Brown Sugar Apple Upside Down Cake with Apple Cider Caramel and Spiced Walnuts, Pumpkin Cheesecake With Gingersnap and Hazelnut Crust, Pumpkin Chiffon Mousse with Gingersnap Crust, Pear & Caramel Pudding Cake, Gingerbread Beer Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze, Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Custards: A totally make-ahead dessert that looks like it came out of a restaurant kitchen? Yes, please.
Burnt Caramel Custards, Butterscotch Pots de Crème, Bourbon-Butterscotch Pudding, Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings, Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars, Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta, Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée, Nutmeg Custard Tarts, Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings
Ice Cream: What can I say? I love the stuff. Top your pies.
An array of digestifs:
A little something sweet:
Enjoy these with coffee, tea, or the digestives. Or, box them up and send your guests home with favors.
Salted Pepita Caramels, Pumpkin Rugelach with Sage and Walnuts, Orange Blossom Candied Cranberries, Fudgy Bourbon Balls, Cardamom,Orange and Chocolate Ribbon Cookies, Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Strawberry-Kissed Walnut Sablés, Pumpkin Seed Brittle with Vanilla Bean and Cayenne Pepper, Gluten-Free Rugelach with Cranberry Port Jam, Chocolate, and Walnuts
Breakfast the next morning:
These recipes are particularly useful if you have family or friends staying over, and you need something to feed them the next morning.
Pumpkin Spice Latte, Apple Cider Doughnuts, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Butternut Sage Scones, What I Do For Love Bran Muffins, Orange Scented Olive Oil Sticky Buns, Sautéed Kale, Roasted Sweet Potato and Poached Egg Holiday Toast, Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffs, Vanilla Fig Scones, Oven-Soft Apples and Pears, Olive Oil Granola With Dried Apricots and Pistachios (I think it’s sweet enough without the brown sugar), Fig and Hazelnut Muffins, Creme Fraiche, Cornmeal, and Pumpkin Coffee Cake + Pepita Streusel, Maple Oat Breakfast Bread, Roasted Pear & Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Scones, Applesauce Carrot Bread with Pecan Streusel