Best Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving Meal, Stuffing, Sides, and Dessert Recipes

Thanksgiving Recipes
Brent Hofacker Shutterstock

We’ve added even more Thanksgiving recipe ideas! From the turkey to scrumptious sides to mouthwatering desserts, we share our best recipes, cooking advice, and even table tips to guide you all the way.

Few feasts are so steeped in tradition as Thanksgiving, from your favorite style of cranberry sauce to the perfect pumpkin pie. Let’s start with the big bird as it’s the one menu item that needs to be considered well in advance.

Preparing the Thanksgiving Turkey

If you’re planning on the traditional turkey, order your turkey in plenty of time. We suggest ordering 2 to 3 weeks in advance. Order one pound per person—or, more for leftovers!

It’s also important to have 1) a good roasting pan and a rack (which often comes with the pan) and 2) an instant-read thermometer to best determine when the turkey is done. With all your planning, it’s worth buying one—for safety, if not peak flavor. See how to use a meat thermometer.

If you buy a frozen turkey, it’s important to start defrosting days in advance—one day for every four pounds—and it must be defrosted in the refrigerator! If your turkey is not frozen, unwrap it a couple days before cooking and let it air dry in the refrigerator so the air dries its skin tight.

Credit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

We recommend roasting the Thanksgiving turkey. Review our advice on How to Roast a Turkey. Below is a simple recipe and some variations.

  1. Simple Roast Turkey With Gravy
  2. Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving Turkey (roasted)
  3. Cider-Sage Gravy
  4. Roast Turkey With Apple-Pecan Stuffing
  5. Bag-Roasted Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing
  6. For a historically-inspired Thanksgiving, try a roast goose or perhaps roast stuffed pheasants.

Dry brine your turkey three days in advance for extra moistness and flavor. See our recipe for Dry-Cured Turkey.

Be sure to have plenty of stock on hand. If you don’t have turkey stock, chicken stock is fine. Avoid the boxed stock for Thanksgiving. Here’s a simple recipe to make your own Homemade Turkey Stock.

Finally, check our tips on How to Carve a Turkey.

Credit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Thanksgiving Stuffing and Dressing Recipes

“Stuffing” is cooked inside the turkey whereas “dressing” is cooked outside the turkey. We prefer the traditional approach for that stuffing flavor, but we have a mix of recipes below.

If you do stuff the bird, take a couple safety precautions. You can make stuffing in advance, but not stuff the bird in advance of roasting to avoid bacterial issues. Stuffing, like the turkey, must be cooked to 165 degrees before removed; as the turkey will reach this point first, remove it from the stove to avoid overcooking, scoop out the stuffing, and return it to the oven in a baking dish until it also reaches 165 degrees.

You don’t need to truss your turkey unless you’re stuffing the bird. Keep in mind that trussing the turkey takes longer to cook.

  1. Memere’s Pork Stuffing for Turkey
  2. Sauerkraut Stuffing
  3. Stuffing of Artichokes, Currants, and Grapes
  4. Traditional English Dressing
  5. Chestnut, Apple and Pancetta Dressing
  6. Roast Goose Stuffing

Try adding a colorful Cranberry Chutney to roasted or grilled meats, or it’s great as an appetizer with goat cheese on toasts. (Photo credit: vm2002/shutterstock)

10 Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

The turkey may be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, but it’s the mix of delicious sides that make it memorable. The original Thanksgiving was more likely to have chestnuts, squash, corn, and beans on hand, not potatoes, so we have included some historically-inspired side dish recipes, as well as those from the modern day.

Think about selecting side dishes that add color and variety to your meal so it’s not a white and beige dish of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing! We love bright red cranberry, deep orange sweet potatoes, and the crunch of pecans.

Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

  1. Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potato Casserole (above)
  2. Basic Cranberry Sauce
  3. Easiest Brussels Sprouts
  4. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes 
  5. Curried Butternut Squash
  6. Chestnut Croquettes
  7. Plymouth Succotash
  8. Fall Harvest Squash Rolls
  9. Soy-Glazed Green Beans With Crispy Shallots
  10. Roasted Autumn Vegetables (below)

Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Thanksgiving Pie and Dessert Recipes

If you’re a beginner cook, perhaps you skip the pie and give that responsibility to the guest who asks what he or she can bring to the table.

However, if you want to try your own hand at pie, it’s really not as hard as it sounds—and it’s actually quite fun to make if you’re forgiving. Frankly, we’ll eat any style of homemade crust, perfectly latticed or delightfully lopsided. Learn How to Make Pie Crust!

Here are some pie recipes we recommend for Thanksgiving, plus our Indian Pudding recipe for something different. The pudding can be made in advance. The pie dough can be made ahead and frozen for up to one month or refrigerated up to three days, but most pies shouldn’t be baked more than 24 hours in advance. Once the pie is baked, it should rest on a counter or flat surface, not in the refrigerator.

  1. Mini Cranberry-Apple Pies
  2. Creamy Pumpkin Pie
  3. Pecan Pie
  4. Indian Pudding
  5. Apple Crumb Pie
  6. Sweet Potato Pie

See our 10 Most Popular Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes.


    Thanksgiving Table Tips

    • Before Thanksgiving week arrives, clean out your freezer and see our Kitchen Cleaning Checklist.
    • Whether you use table linens or place mats, be sure they are cleaned and ready. See How to Care for Table Linens.
    • No matter what your style, we advise cloth napkins for your guests; paper gets too messy with a meal this big. See our tips on Napkin Folding.
    • Refresh your memory on How to Set a Table or Set Up a Buffet. If you’re not sure how many plates or glasses to use, just use less. It’s really not that important for a family-style meal.

    We recommend that you make some of your Thanksgiving dishes can be made in advanced so you can relax with company on the feast day. See our Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes.

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    Best Thanksgiving Recipes

    What bean dish is shown on the plate with this article?

    Green Beans

    While we do not have the exact recipe that is pictured, we do have a similar one: Green Beans with Roasted Almonds. The pictured dish appears to have slices of red bell peppers and portobello mushrooms mixed in.