The holiday season is officially here! For many people, the holidays start with Thanksgiving, a day that’s all about gratitude, family, friends, and food—lots and lots of food.
If you’re among the 96 percent of American families who plan to gather for a feast this year, you’ve likely already turned your thoughts towards your menu and the types of Thanksgiving dishes to serve.
Whether you want your table filled with Thanksgiving staples like turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie our you want to change things up a little with something new, we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up the top 15 Thanksgiving dishes that are sure to please everyone.
Traditional Thanksgiving dishes
Let’s start with the tried and true. These traditional main dishes (including the much-loved turkey) are definitely worth a try:
Turkey. You really can’t go wrong with turkey—88% of Americans will eat turkey as a main dish during Thanksgiving. (If it’s your first time hosting a Thanksgiving dinner or cooking a turkey, check out this highly-rated World’s Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey recipe.)
Chicken. Turkey may be the go-to, but it’s fun to change things up a little, too. Roast chicken with fall veggies and spices such as butternut squash, cranberry, and thyme are a tasty turkey alternative. (Bonus: you can roast a whole chicken in under an hour in a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot--much faster than the 3+ hours it takes to cook a turkey!)
Pork. Pork is tender and flavorful, especially when prepared in the slow cooker. All you need is a pork roast, cranberries, and some spices to make this delicious, traditional Thanksgiving main dish.
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Thanksgiving side dishes
Who else agrees that side dishes are the best part of Thanksgiving? These favorites can be made in traditional fashion, or you can spice them up by adding new ingredients or preparing them a different way.
Cranberry sauce. No, not the kind from a can. Treat yourself this year to real cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries, orange, and sugar. It’s surprisingly easy to make, and so good you won’t be able to tell if it’s a dessert or a side.
Yams. There’s no end to the number of variations that exist for sweet potatoes (or yams, as they’re often called). You can make traditional candied yams, spice them up with a splash of bourbon, or bake them and serve them with whipped honey and cinnamon butter.
Stuffing. What’s a Thanksgiving feast without a helping of stuffing? Depending on your dietary preferences, comfort level with cooking, and time, you can whip up a batch of stuffing quickly from a box or make it from scratch with a variety of veggies, spices, and sausage. Either way, it’s sure to be delicious.
Vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes
No meat? No problem! If you or any of your family members or guests are vegetarian, these Thanksgiving dishes are tasty alternatives to main and side dishes with meat.
Stuffed squash. This filling vegetarian main dish can easily be modified for vegan diets and includes a tasty blend of wild rice, mushrooms, veggies, and mixed herbs.
Green beans. Another Thanksgiving staple, green beans can be prepared in dozens of different ways—and they’re all vegetarian-friendly. Sauté them with mushrooms and garlic, bake them into a casserole, or serve them fresh with a light dressing.
Pumpkin ravioli. Pumpkin isn’t just for dessert! Whip up a tasty pumpkin ravioli (like this recipe that works for both vegetarians and vegans) for a hearty meatless dish.
Vegan Thanksgiving dishes
A few simple modifications or substitutions can turn almost any Thanksgiving recipe into a delicious vegan alternative.
Mashed potatoes. Is it really possible to make delicious, creamy mashed potatoes without butter and milk? Absolutely! Just add vegan butter, garlic, and some sea salt and black pepper to your mashed potatoes for a savory side dish perfect for vegans or anyone with a dairy allergy.
Green salad. A bag of mixed greens, sliced Anjou or Bartlett pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, and a balsamic vinaigrette is all it takes to make a refreshing and healthy vegan side dish everyone will love.
Charcuterie board. If your menu calls for a charcuterie board, make it vegan by filling it with olives, hummus, veggies, nuts, baguette, and dips.
Pumpkin-pecan pie. If you can’t decide whether to serve pumpkin or pecan pie this year, why not make both at once? This highly-rated recipe combines pumpkin and pecans for a dessert that’s both decadent and simple.
Apple pie with a twist. If your Thanksgiving menu includes the well-loved apple pie, consider adding a surprise to your recipe—cheese! Believe it or not, cheeses like sharp cheddar and gouda are delicious with apple pie. You can serve it on the side, on the top, or bake it right into the crust.
While we’re on the subject of cooking, it’s worth mentioning that although Thanksgiving is a wonderful time, it can also be a bit hazardous. In addition to cooking, travel and being away from home can leave your home vulnerable to things like house fires and break ins.
Whether you’re home or away, these safety tips will help ensure your Thanksgiving is both safe and worry-free:
Keep your home safe while traveling
Thanksgiving weekend is one of them most popular travel times of the year, and many people leave their homes unattended. This presents an attractive opportunity for burglars as well, so take steps to secure your home:
Always lock up. Forgetting to lock the front door is easy to do when you’re worried about catching a plane on time. A smart lock is a safe bet. Not only can you set your door to lock automatically, but you can also lock and unlock your doors remotely via an app on your phone.
Don’t make it obvious you’re gone. A dark house with mail piled up on the porch is a sure sign that no one’s home. Have the post office hold any packages or mail, and use smart lighting to keep your home well-lit. With smart lights, you can program specific rooms or room groups (like downstairs lights or bedrooms) to turn on or off at specific times to give the appearance of being home. Or, you can control your lights with your app.
Consider a home security system. Locking up and leaving lights on is important, but if you really want to keep your home safe while you travel, a professionally installed and monitored home security system is the way to go. Not only does the mere presence of a security system deter burglars, but you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home is watched over no matter where you go.
If you’re planning on staying home and cooking some of the fabulous Thanksgiving dishes we shared, make sure you stay safe in the kitchen. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, more home fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day.
Most of these fires are caused by unattended cooking, so take these steps to keep the kitchen area safe:
Test your smoke detectors to ensure they work properly and the batteries are fresh
Never leave your stove or oven unattended, especially around children
Move fire hazards, such as wrappers, kitchen towels, and wooden utensils away from the stove
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