A delicious selection of Thanksgiving menu ideas inspired by what’s delicious and in-season in the late fall, plus tips and tricks for easier Thanksgiving meal prep.
Thanksgiving week is upon us and many home cooks are waking up this morning, making a plan, and beginning their prep. As soon as I get this post up, I’ll do the same.
Creating a Menu
Keep your menu simple. If there are dishes that you or others simply must have, make those. But if you feel some obligation to have an orange vegetable or green bean casserole just to hold on to an idea of tradition, skip it.
Thanksgiving is a feast and you should make what you want. If that’s a big old turkey, great. But if it’s some other special food, make that. Below, I have a few ideas for turkey, but also a host of feast-worthy proteins and vegetarian dishes.
Stagger your Thanksgiving prep so you’re not cooking everything at the last minute. Broth, pumpkin puree, pastry dough, and gravy can all be made ahead. The day before, casseroles and stuffing can either be assembled or prepped in parts. Cut up all the onions, carrots, and celery that you’ll need and divide them into containers, so you can grab what you need as you cook.
My schedule is something like this:
- Up to five days ahead: Make at least 4 quarts of turkey or chicken stock; make vegetable stock; make pumpkin puree; thaw turkey if needed
- Four days ahead: Dry rub turkey; make pastry dough and other dessert element like ice cream; make cranberry sauces or relish
- Three days ahead: Make cornbread for stuffing; make gravy (make the base and stir in drippings day-of)
- Two days ahead: Put the dry rub on non-turkey proteins; prep and chop all vegetables; assemble casseroles
- Day-of: Freak out and wish I’d done even more prep; try not sweat the small stuff; try to remember to get everything I made to the table.
Fitting It All Together
The day-of is always chaotic. I start by baking my pies, and then proceed down a detailed list. I always hope to have a little downtime, and someday, if I can actually keep myself to a simple menu, maybe I will? Until then, me and my fellow Thanksgiving maximalists will be cooking all day – a little stressed but loving every moment.
Our Best Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
- Maple-Bourbon Glazed Turkey
- Roast Turkey Breast
- Rosemary-Orange Turkey
- Yogurt-Marinated Turkey with Cumin, Coriander, and Garlic
- Turkey Gravy
- Grilled Lamb Chops and Acorn Squash with Fennel Tzatziki
- Roasted Rack of Lamb with Orange Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables
- Roasted Sheet Pan Half Chicken
- Classic Roast Goose
- Vegan Wild Rice and Cornbread Stuffing
- Celery Root and Meyer Lemon Stuffing
- Mac and Cheese with Greens
- Butternut Squash Gratin
- Paprika Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto and Pimentón Aioli
- Maple-Roasted Kabocha Squash Wedges with Ricotta and Chili Oil
- Cauliflower Puree with Crispy Shallots and Mushrooms (Vegan)
- Radicchio Salad Cup with Apple=Fennel Slaw
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
- Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash