Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes


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Ready to host the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner? From mainstay classics (with a few twists) to not-so-traditional dishes filled with autumnal flavors, this list is chock-full of Thanksgiving recipes your friends and family will thank you for. 

A plate of Thanksgiving side dishes and roasted turkey.

Design The Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu

We’ve all been there. Planning Thanksgiving dinner can be a bit overwhelming, whether it’s for a large crowd or even a simple party of two. But with a little organization, this extensive list of recipes, and some personal tips, I’m confident your dinner will be a hit! Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • First, jot down how many people you’ll be cooking for. This will give you a better idea of how many Thanksgiving recipes  you’ll need to make. Once you’ve solidified that list – get yourself organized weeks before with my Thanksgiving game plan!
  • Second, plan out the menu. This means starting off with exciting appetizers, leading into a smashing main (aka the best turkey recipe), pairing that with Thanksgiving side dishes, then ending the night with something a little sweet.
  • Third, gather all your kitchen and dining supplies. Once you’ve got the menu planned out, make sure you have everything you need to properly cook each dish. And don’t forget about serving them up in your favorite bowls, plates, or platters to make your dinner table shine! It’s a night that’s all about food after all. 
Several bacon deviled eggs on a marble counter.

The Best Thanksgiving Food Starts With…Tasty Appetizers

There’s nothing like these bite sized appetizers to put people in a good mood. Plus, they can all be prepped a day in advance, which gives you extra time to focus on the bigger dishes Thanksgiving day. Here’s a few holiday favorites. 

  • Classic Deviled Eggs: Out of all appetizers, you can never go wrong with a platter of these deviled eggs. They may be simple – but isn’t that the vibe we’re going for during the holidays? Classic flavors at its best!
  • Bacon Deviled Eggs: If you’re looking to spruce up your deviled eggs a bit, crumbled crispy bacon bits add a deliciously crunchy touch. 
  • Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip: No one will ever know that this dip is dairy-free. It’s shockingly creamy (thanks to a few secret ingredients). 
  • Shrimp Cocktail: Nothing more festive than a fresh platter of shrimp cocktail!
  • French Onion Dip: This party favorite has the best oniony, garlicky flavor, plus an ultra-creamy texture that will have everyone going back for seconds. 
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Glaze: I love how fancy these look, but they’re actually really easy to make and SO delicious! 
  • Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball: his punchy, smoked salmon cheese ball rolled in chopped pecans and herbs always hits the spot. It’s my mom’s classic recipe!
  • Stuffed Mushrooms: Little mushroom caps are stuffed with the best cheesy, herby, garlicky filling.
Shaved Brussels sprouts salad in a white bowl.

Comforting Soups And Salads To Round Out Your Menu

No matter how many side dishes you have, soups and salads always have a special place on your Thanksgiving menu. Soups can warm you up and elevate that “cozy” theme. While salads lend a refreshing bite in between all the heaviness. Plus, they’re a natural way to add vibrant color to the festive table.

  • Massaged Kale Salad: Whenever you need to add a quick side of fresh greens to the table, this kale salad always wins! It’s tossed with garlicky oil, lemon juice, and shaved parmesan for an incredibly simple yet tasty salad.
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad: An autumnal salad doesn’t get any better than this. Think Brussels sprouts, apples, and cranberries – all tossed in a zingy lemon vinaigrette.
  • Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken: This harvest-style kale salad is loaded with apples and chicken. Though you could always swap the chicken with  shredded turkey! 
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Soup: This fall favorite turns butternut squash into the most sensational soup filled with spices and savory goodness. 
  • Sweet Potato Soup: This is for all the sweet potato lovers around the table – it’s velvety, deliciously savory, and has a surprising spice kick. 
  • Cauliflower Soup: For a soup on the lighter side, roasted cauliflower is your best friend. Just add a few punches of garlic and spice for a sippable side that’s not too overpowering. 
  • Beet Soup: This vibrant root vegetable not only delivers the most beautiful red hue, but tastes utterly amazing when blended into a soup. 
  • Carrot Ginger Soup: A power duo that’s sweet, spiced, and perfectly warming. Oh, and the crispy shallots, cilantro, and pine nuts really take it over the top.
A white dish with green bean casserole in it.

It’s All About Thanksgiving Side Dishes

  • Honey Glazed Carrots: This side is a non-negotiable! Carrots are roasted in a sticky sweet and spiced glaze that everyone loves, and I mean everyone
  • Healthy Green Bean Casserole: A classic green bean casserole topped with a creamy mushroom sauce and loads of crispy shallots – who doesn’t love that?
  • Best Mashed Potatoes: You honestly can’t do Thanksgiving without a side of the creamiest, fluffiest mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect base for a drizzle of gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce.But if sweet potato is more your jam, I’ve got the best mashed sweet potatoes recipe. 
  • Mashed Butternut Squash: Speaking of mashed vegetables, you can even mash butternut squash into the most savory, creamy side dish.
  • Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole: Another delicious way to serve up sweet potatoes is none other than this hearty, spiced casserole topped with a sweet and nutty crumble.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes: You can never go wrong with roasted sweet potatoes. Just dice, toss with spices, and roast away until they’re perfectly caramelized on the edges! 
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes: If you’ve got a crowd that loves baked potatoes – give sweet potatoes a try for a slightly sweet twist!
  • Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes: Baby potatoes are sliced in half and roasted with an abundance  of minced garlic and herbs for a tasty, classic side.
  • Parmesan Herb Roasted Acorn Squash: The squash slices are perfectly tender, and coated with a crispy cheesy herb seasoning,
Balsamic bacon brussels sprouts on a serving platter.
Carved turkey on a serving dish on a table.

For The Centerpiece Of Thanksgiving Dinner, We Have…

A beautiful roasted turkey! You can go the traditional route with a perfectly golden bird, or switch it up and spatchcock your turkey for faster cooking. And if you’re looking for even more creative alternatives for a shining main – I’ve got a few options below. 

  • Easy Thanksgiving Turkey: If you’ve never roasted a turkey before, don’t fret.his is my foolproof recipe that will walk you through all my secret tips and tricks. You’ll be a Thanksgiving turkey master in no time!
  • Maple Orange Spatchcock Turkey: Learn how to spatchcock turkey for a faster cooking process if you’re on a time crunch. Plus, this maple orange flavor is to insanely delicious. 
  • Honey Baked Ham: Skip the expensive branded version – because a homemade honey baked ham is actually ridiculously easy to make.
Turkey meatballs in a pan with maple mustard sauce with a spoon.
  • Classic Meatloaf: If you need something on the fly that’s super comforting for Thanksgiving, this classic meatloaf never fails.
  • Turkey Meatballs: This recipe has been a hit for Friendsgiving! It’s all of your favorite Thanksgiving turkey flavors in bite-sized meatball form. 
  • Slow Cooker Pot Roast: Not in the mood for turkey? Meltingly tender beef deserves a place on your menu, especially as  it saves you tons of time (and energy) when made in a slow cooker. 

Don’t Forget These Essential Sauces On Your Thanksgiving Menu

Bring your entire Thanksgiving menu together with the classics – cranberry sauce and gravy! These homemade versions couldn’t be any easier.

  • Cranberry Sauce: Nail the best cranberry sauce that’s perfectly sweet and slightly chunky with this recipe. Plus, homemade versions allow you to control the sweetness levels without any extra additives. 
  • Turkey Gravy: If you’re roasting a turkey, make use of those pan juices and whip up this super easy turkey gravy. 
Three baked apples on a plate with melted ice cream on top.

End The Night With The Perfect Thanksgiving Dessert

Though you may be overly stuffed  and need a nap after that feast, there’s always room for dessert, isn’t there? Create a few show-stopping desserts or bite-sized treats. You can’t go wrong with any of these reader-favorite dessert options.

  • Paleo Pumpkin Pie: While this pumpkin pie may be gluten-free and dairy-free, I promise you that if you don’t mention that little fact, no one will be any the wiser. It’s just as good as the classic! 
  • Apple Crisp: Sweet cinnamon glazed apples are layered with a crumbly oat topping. Easy and delicious!
  • Baked Apples: Make the most of apple season with these baked apples topped with a sweet and nutty crumble. Oh, and don’t forget to add a scoop of ice cream on top – the combination is magical. 
  • Custard: The easiest vanilla custard that can be made ahead of time and topped with fresh seasonal fruit!
  • Vegan Caramel Cheesecake: If you’ve got cheesecake lovers, this vegan version drizzled with my salted caramel sauce is always a crowd favorite!
  • Brownie Trifle: This trifle is indeed a showstopper with its layers of rich chocolate brownies, blended chocolate chia mousse, and homemade coconut whipped cream.
Almond cake on a cake stand
  • Almond Cake: This simple cake is slowly becoming a tradition in my kitchen. Not only is it super easy to make but can be jazzed up with just about any topping you’d like!
  • Coconut Macaroons: Macaroons are a holiday classic with a crispy coating, chewy interior, and a rich chocolate touch. Bonus – they’re super easy to make! And if you’re wanting to add an autumnal touch, give these pumpkin spice coconut macaroons a try! 
  • The Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Cake: Trust me when I say this is the BEST chocolate cake you’ll have. Plus, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free, but no one will even notice given how moist and rich it is.
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake: Yep, you only need 5 ingredients to make this decadent cake that’s rich and indulgent. 

I hope this menu gives you some Thanksgiving food inspiration. Just remember to have fun in the kitchen, practice a little gratitude, and enjoy time with your loved ones on this special day. And if you make any of these recipes, I’d love to know what your favorites were in a comment below!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. Just found you on iTunes and love your easy directions. Please, I’m looking for your turkey stuffing recipe. Am not too tech savy.

  2. Good morning Lisa! 🌞
    This is a nice selection of foods, great set up of menu ideas, thanks!
    I already found some ‘new-to-me’ recipes for sharing with our friends.
    I like how you have your ‘let’s start with’ list and ending with my fav, ‘desserts’ list.
    As long as there’s desserts, I’m in…..LOL!!
    I can sort through and check off what I’m considering making for us.
    I can definitely say ANY recipe that I have made from your site has always turned out deeee-licious!!
    Have a lovely day Lisa!