Thanksgiving Menu Planner
Wondering what to make this year for Thanksgiving Dinner? Take all the guess work out of planning your Thanksgiving Menu and check out some of our very favorite Thanksgiving Recipes!
I’ve got you covered with Turkey Recipes and Turkey Brines (plus everything you need to know about roasting or smoking a turkey), plenty of Thanksgiving Appetizers, Side Dishes, Drinks, and Desserts! You’ll be able to plan your entire Thanksgiving Menu with this post – there are over 90 Tried and True Thanksgiving Recipes handpicked by me!
Click HERE to save this Thanksgiving Menu Planner to Pinterest!
How Do You Plan a Thanksgiving Menu?
Planning and Cooking a Thanksgiving Feast is a lot of work. Sometimes coming up with the Thanksgiving Menu feels like the hardest part. That’s why I’ve gone through all of my recipe archives and chosen more than 90 recipes – broken down by course – to help you get brainstorming!
Here are some tips!
- Start with sorting out the recipes for your “must haves,” and your family’s traditional dishes.
- After you’ve decided on the dishes you know you will have (your favorite sweet potatoes, your family’s Apple Crisp recipe, etc.), start thinking about what’s missing.
- Browse through these recipes and note which ones are of most interest by each course. Filling in the gaps is a great opportunity to introduce a few new dishes.
- Then, pair the list down from there with what is most interesting.
- Make sure to have a good balances of proteins, starches, and vegetables for your main meal.
- Do you have good color variety as well? That makes for the prettiest spread!
- Figure out if you plan to make the whole meal or if you want to outsource any items to guest and eat pot luck style.
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What Can I Make Ahead for Thanksgiving Dinner?
There are lots of things that you can make ahead or at least partially prep, so if you’re stressing over your Thanksgiving Preparation Schedule and Thanksgiving Menu Planning there is no need to worry. I’ve also included some notes along with each recipe where applicable.
I’ve got you covered with Thanksgiving Preparation Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Day and recipes for the whole day from Breakfast, to Afternoon Snacks and Appetizers, through just about every course for the big meal.
By doing a little bit of planning and preparation each day leading up to Thanksgiving, you can have a smooth-sailing Thanksgiving, no last minute craziness and lots of fun family time.
Thanksgiving Drink Recipes
Here are my suggestions for drinks to serve with or before your Thanksgiving meal.
Fresh pressed apple cider, tart pomegranate juice, and Tempranillo pair with mulling spices and fresh fruit to create a fall-inspired cocktail, perfect for sipping during this autumn and winter season.
This Cranberry Rosemary Shrub Cocktail is the perfect Thanksgiving cocktail! A homemade cranberry shrub with hints of black pepper, rosemary, and cinnamon is combined with bourbon and seltzer for a festive and colorful drink!
Wassail is a favorite drink of mine this time of year. It makes the house smell delicious and it is sure to warm you up when it’s cold outside.
Fresh pressed apple cider and tart pomegranate juice pair with mulling spices and fresh fruit to create a fall-inspired cocktail, perfect for sipping during this autumn and winter season.
Spiced Pear and Pomegranate Crostini are the perfect solution for simple entertaining. Spiced Pear and Pomegranate Crostini look far more special than a plate of fruit and cheese, but they’re really a cinch to prepare and they don’t require any special serving utensils.
Pomegranate Salsa is the perfect salsa recipe to make if you are craving fresh salsa in the winter. I don’t think salsa just has to be the traditional tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime that you might think of when chips and salsa come to mind.
This Endive, Pear, and Walnut Appetizer is perfect for this time of year with the delicious seasonal flavors of pear and cranberry.
These Cucumber Feta Rolls are the perfect fresh and light holiday appetizer! Cucumbers are sliced thin and rolled up stuffed with olives, sundried tomatoes, and feta.
Stuffing makes a great appetizer when you are able to eat it with a toothpick! Give these amazing apps a try, you'll love the bite of the feta cheese.
Shrimp Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms is a super easy, scrumptious appetizer that's sure to impress your guests.
This simple White Bean Bruschetta is a quick make-ahead appetizer to help simplify holiday entertaining and potlucks.
Roasted Cranberry Salsa is a tasty, colorful holiday recipe for gifting and serving at parties. Roasted fresh cranberries pair perfectly with the traditional elements of salsa - jalapeño, cilantro, onion, and lime. Serve it with tortilla chips or crackers. You can also pour it on top of a block of cream cheese for a different kind of spread.
Rosemary White Bean Artichoke Spinach Dip is a remake of the classic recipe so many know and love. In this recipe creamy white cannellini beans and rosemary pair perfectly with artichokes, fresh spinach, and cheese.
If you plan on making Deviled Eggs, make sure you buy your eggs a week or so before Thanksgiving. Older eggs are easier to peel! Follow these simple instructions for hard boiled eggs that turn out perfectly every time.
Puff pastry shells are baked and filled with a mixture of kalamata olives, red bell pepper, fresh oregano, feta, and spinach with a lemony olive oil vinaigrette for a scrumptious puff pastry appetizer perfect for any Thanksgiving dinner party.
Serve this Marinated Feta Appetizer with crackers or crusty bread. In this recipe, feta cheese is marinated in olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, lemon, and sun dried tomatoes for a delicious and simple appetizer.
Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Bar Nuts make a great savory, salty, crunchy snack that is simple to make!
This tart may seem simple, and sure enough, the recipe itself comes together easily. Everything falls into place with very little effort, but the end result is nothing short of extraordinary. Sliced into pieces, this makes a great appetizer!
Cheese plates are a super easy way to put together a Thanksgiving appetizer. These Homemade Rosemary Cheese Crackers are the perfect accompaniment to your cheese plate. Check out my tips for How to Plan a Cheese Tasting Party and Hosting a Cheese Party if you'd like to learn more about cheeses as appetizers!
Rosemary Parmesan Cheese Straws are a great, easy snack to add to your holiday appetizer table.
With just a little olive oil, some crushed garlic, aromatic herbs and lemon peel you can prepare these Marinated Olives with Garlic, Thyme and Rosemary. They are the perfect, easy, make-ahead appetizer for entertaining. These olives also go great served alongside a cheese platter!
If you are new to roasting a turkey or simply want to brush up your skills, check out my Turkey Roasting Tips to get you started.
Roasting a turkey isn’t as difficult as it sounds once you get the method down.
Brining your turkey will help infuse it with flavor while also keeping the meat incredibly moist. Note that you’ll have to plan ahead as a turkey needs to soak in the brine for approximately 24 hours.
Come check out my very best turkey roasting tips for a turkey that is full of flavor. The turkey is the center piece of the Thanksgiving meal and is arguably the trickiest part of the meal. Learn all about turkey bringing, turkey roasting times, and turkey roasting temperatures.
Turkey Smoked on a Traeger is one of my favorite ways to cook turkey for Thanksgiving. Come check out my tried and true method along with my 8 pro tips for the best smoked turkey!
This apple cider sage turkey brine infuses roasted turkey with so much flavor and thanks to fresh apple cider and plenty of fresh sage. Brining a turkey helps keep the meat moist. It’s a must have for me when I’m hosting Thanksgiving.
This Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine combines lots of different fresh herbs with a subtle hint of citrus. Brining your turkey will tenderize the meat and infuse it with a TON of flavor for Turkey Day! This brine amount works for one 16 - 20 lb turkey.
Dry brining a turkey is really simple and produces juicy, seasoned turkey meat. With dry bringing you don't have to worry about making a batch of liquid that you soak the turkey in overnight, so it is super convenient. This recipe for Garlic Herb Peppercorn Dry Brine is full of flavor and will make your turkey shine on Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Alternatives to Turkey
Is Turkey not your thing? Or do you like to serve multiple meats for Thanksgiving? I have a few different suggestions for you!
Ham is a great addition to Turkey, especially if you're serving a crowd. It also goes great as a stand alone with a pretty presentation and pairs well with so many of the sides on this list.
Chicken is a great alternative if a turkey feels bit too overwhelming to prepare, but you want a roast bird. It is also perfect for smaller gatherings when you don't want to be stuck with so many leftovers.
Check out the recipes below!
Learn how to make a slow cooker ham with this delicious recipe for Slow Cooker Ham with Honey Marmalade Mustard Glaze. The ham slow cooks during your busy day and comes out with great flavor thanks to the tasty glaze.
This Citrus and Rosemary Roast Chicken was so moist and flavorful. This simple roasted chicken is seasoned with citrus and rosemary, but feel free to swap out herbs, add some in, or leave out the citrus.
You can also brine a chicken using any of the turkey brine recipes listed in the turkey section, you just won't need to brine it as long so be sure to check out the timing recommendations listed along with the brines.
Easy Smoked Chicken is a great summer meal. The chicken turns out incredibly flavorful, tender and juicy. Perfect for BBQs or any time you want to cook a whole chicken but want to do something a little different than traditional roasting.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes
Stuffing is easily the highlight for many at Thanksgiving. I have to favorites to share with you, one traditional and another made from quinoa.
How to Safely Stuff a Turkey
If you really love stuffing inside your turkey, there are two ways to safely stuff a turkey:
My recommended turkey stuffing method is to prepare and cook the stuffing separately while the turkey roasts. Then, place the stuffing into the turkey once it is done roasting.
An alternative is to stuff the turkey as is traditionally done by placing the stuffing in the cavity of the raw turkey. DO NOT pack it tightly so the air can circulate. You will need to take the temperature of the stuffing as well as the turkey meat. The stuffing also needs to reach 165 degrees F to be safe to eat. Probe Thermometers are great for checking temps! The problem with this method is that the meat can often reach higher temperatures and then turn out dry.
I took a traditional family stuffing recipe and tweaked it by using bacon instead of Italian sausage, added in extra fresh herbs, diced pears, dried cranberries, and leeks for tons of extra flavor!
If you are looking for a way to decrease carbs and increase nutrition for your Thanksgiving Menu, this recipe is a great option. Butternut Squash and Kale Quinoa Stuffing is a delicious gluten-free and vegetarian stuffing recipe loaded with tons of veggies and flavors.
Quinoa is rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index, which means it will help balance out any post-meal blood-sugar spike after you’ve indulged in everything else on your Thanksgiving menu.
Don't forget all the toppings for your turkey, mashed potatoes, and rolls! You'll love my tips for making turkey with out lumps, our family favorite cranberry relish, a smooth cranberry sauce enhanced with red wine and pomegranate juice, and a few other fun condiments!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Gravy can either make or break the holiday spread depending on your preparation success. Learn how to make delicious herbed turkey gravy with no lumps!
This Cranberry Orange Walnut Relish is so easy to make and will definitely become a staple at your Thanksgiving table.
Fresh, tart cranberries are cooked and blended with agave, brown sugar, red wine, and pomegranate juice create a deliciously simple and smooth Red Wine Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce for your Thanksgiving feast.
Whipped Cranberry Butter is a great way to use leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving, but it is also great on Thanksgiving to spread on warm rolls.
This Water Bath Canned Vanilla Spiced Pear Butter is easy to make. Pear Butter makes a great spread for warm rolls on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes
Are the side dishes the star of your Thanksgiving table? Here are some of our well-loved ideas to get you started.
If you need to cut down on preparation time, but would still like a nice side dish, roasted vegetables are always simple. Toss potatoes, asparagus or brussels sprouts with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees F until tender and browned.
Butternut Squash Sage Bacon Mac n Cheese features penne covered in a creamy, rich sauce of pureed butternut squash, parmesan and sharp white cheddar with bacon and fresh sage.
This salad is so full of color and beautiful on the table. The sweet and salty bites of squash went so well with the juicy pomegranate arils and the bold Roquefort cheese along with the greens and roasted butternut squash.
Roasted butternut squash and garlic are pureed with onion, carrot, broth, and half and half for a silky smooth, creamy, savory Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Top it with bacon and sage for perfection.
This Apple Cider Roasted Squash is a great, easy acorn squash side dish to prepare all winter long - but it is especially great for Thanksgiving
This Apple Pecan Stuffed Squash is a great healthy side dish to accompany your Thanksgiving meal.
Spaghetti Squash is a great easy vegetable side that you can cook on Thanksgiving. Perfect if you're looking for something that is relatively hands off and will free up oven space (2 of the methods don't require the oven at all). Plus, it can also be prepped ahead! Unsure how to cook spaghetti squash? This post breaks down how to bake spaghetti squash, microwave spaghetti squash, and how to cook spaghetti squash in a slow cooker.
Master a basic cheese sauce and utilize that recipe over and over again, but each time you can experiment with different cheeses. Adjusting and tweaking the flavors to fit your mood at the time. This version uses gruyere cheese and adds rosemary and cubes of butternut squash - perfect for Thanksgiving!
Celebrate fall with this recipe for Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Walnuts. This cozy pumpkin soup is delicious and savory. Plus, you’ll love the added soup toppings of toasted walnuts and blue cheese!
This recipe for Honey Roasted Carrots with Balsamic is a super simple way to make oven roasted carrots with lots of flavor! Keeping the carrots whole gives this side dish of whole roasted carrots a great presentation on the table! Learn all you need to know about how to roast carrots.
In this Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Squash, Goat Cheese, and Pepitas kale is lightly massaged with olive oil, salt and pepper, before being tossed with roasted delicata squash, roasted red onions, herbed goat cheese, a pepitas.
Garlic Bacon Sautéed Green Beans with Roasted Mushrooms make a great Thanksgiving side dish, loaded with flavor, and a lot more fresh tasting than the traditional green bean casserole.
This Sweet Braised Kale is unexpectedly good and I don’t doubt it will steal your heart too. Enjoy!
Instead of cream and butter-laden green beans, I opted to blanch my green beans and then saute them in just enough butter and garlic. These sauteed green beans will be your new Thanksgiving favorite.
Oven Roasted Asparagus is drizzled with a tasty lemon walnut dressing for simple, delicious and heart-healthy vegetable side dish.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic are a fantastic side dish that is full of delicious flavor - caramelized, roasted brussels sprouts, savory bacon, and tangy balsamic vinegar.
Take your traditional side dish of roasted broccoli to the next level with this recipe of Lemon Roasted Broccolini with Pancetta and Breadcrumbs. Roasted Broccoli is sprinkled with a delicious and crunchy lemon, thyme, and pancetta breadcrumb mixture.
Sliced Sweet Potatoes are baked in a spiced orange maple glaze and sprinkled with juicy, bright pomegranate arils. It is a gorgeous, colorful Thanksgiving side dish that is a little bit more on the healthier side without sacrificing flavor.
Cubed sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper are roasted and then tossed generously with fresh garlic and sage. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic and Sage make a great side for your evening meal.
These Maple Chipotle Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts are the kind of vegetable side dish that has everyone asking for seconds. To make these roasted veggies stand out, I coated them in a blend of butter, maple syrup and ground chipotle pepper. After roasting, both the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and sweet spicy all over. So tasty!
Roasted cauliflower is an incredibly easy side dish perfect for the fall and winter season.
Boiled potatoes transformed into something extremely flavorful with roasting and a parmesan-parsley gremolata.
Mashed potatoes are mixed with creamy mascarpone cheese and plenty of fresh chives for a rich and fresh taste.
Cream Cheese Chive Duchess Potatoes are delicious, individually portioned mounds of mashed potatoes that have been baked. Inside they're creamy and fluffy while the outside is beautifully golden and crisp.
Blue Cheese Rosemary Mashed Potatoes are your favorite Russet Potato Mashed Potatoes after a surprising makeover. With the addition of gorgonzola cheese, and fresh rosemary you go from yum to YUM!
Classic buttery russet potato mashed potatoes are elevated thanks to the addition of plenty of browned butter and fresh grated parmesan in this Browned Butter Parmesan Mashed Potatoes.
These Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Potatoes are the perfect potato side dish for any fall or winter meal! They're crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft and tender inside. Come learn how to make the perfect crispy roasted potatoes with lots of flavor. You'll never believe how easy these crispy rosemary potatoes are to make!
Next time you're craving comfort food, try these Broccoli Cheese Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes. They're loaded up with plenty of broccoli, cheese, and - everyone's favorite - bacon!
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are anything but traditional. They’re are ramped up with the flavors of roasted garlic, cauliflower puree, and the smoothness of cream cheese.
These Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon, Leek, Mushroom Twice Baked Potatoes are a riff on the traditional twice baked potato.
They’re loaded with pureed roasted cauliflower, sautéed leeks and crimini mushrooms, bacon crumbles, and sharp cheddar cheese.
Bread and Rolls
I prefer homemade bread and rolls over store bought almost any day. There are only a few store bought options that I like enough to serve at my table.
If you’re looking for homemade bread or roll ideas for your Thanksgiving menu, here are a few of our favorite recipes.
While these tender rolls will make an excellent addition to any Thanksgiving menu, they’re also a great way to use up leftover baked sweet potatoes for a post-Thanksgiving treat. Try making a turkey sandwich with them!
These Buttery Dinner Rolls were the first roll recipe that I ever made. They're tender, buttery, and completely classic so they go with everything!
This simple corn bread recipe is great because it is so versatile! I think it would go great with a Thanksgiving meal, especially slathered with plenty of cranberry sauce!
These Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins offer a fun fall take on the traditional Cornbread Muffin. They're infused with real pumpkin and plenty of fall spices, so they'll go perfectly with your Thanksgiving meal.
I hope you’ll try this delicious free-form rustic bread. Flavored with plenty of fresh rosemary and garlic, it is a great bread to serve with Thanksgiving!
This baguette had hardly any prep time and start to finish and takes a fraction of the time when compared to traditional baguette recipes. Additionally, the recipe provides enough starter dough to make 4 total loaves (but you don't need to bake them all at once). All you have to do is take a one pound hunk of dough out, prep it to bake, let it rest for 20ish minutes and pop it in the oven.
I think it is safe to say that the Thanksgiving desserts are my favorite part of the big holiday feast. We have tried several recipes over the years.
This recipe for Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Pecan Topping is our family’s tried and true pumpkin pie recipe that makes it onto the menu year after year. This is my dad's favorite pie every year!
Pumpkin Creme Caramel is super simple to make. Your blender, and possibly your kids, will do most of the work for you. Aside from making the caramel sugar and putting the final recipe together before baking it, this recipe is simple enough the kids can make it.
I love making individual desserts like these pumpkin pecan cheesecake pots. Portion control and pretty presentation all in one! These are perfect for smaller gatherings or if you need a make ahead option.
I love making cheesecakes because even though they bake a while and have to cool all the way through, they are really easy to put together. This recipe has a chocolate cookie crust and the pumpkin cheesecake is drizzled with homemade chocolate ganache for an extra decadent Thanksgiving dessert!
This Easy Pumpkin Pudding is the perfect way Thanksgiving dessert for kids! It is easy to prepare, super creamy and full of all your favorite fall spices. What isn’t to love about this recipe?
These Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookie Bars with Cinnamon Buttercream were such a fun cookie bar to make and eat. The whole family loved them and are already asking when we can make them again. So much easier than rolling out sugar cookie cut out dough! Another great Thanksgiving dessert for the kids' table!
This homemade pumpkin custard is incredibly easy to prepare and makes for a wonderful, simple dessert. Perfect for smaller family gatherings!
I took my favorite pumpkin pie filling, then added cranberries to the pecan topping. The result is this super festive cranberry pecan pumpkin tart.
A simple mixture of green apples and fresh cranberries are folded inside a free-form flat pie crust. This is a super simple, rustic dessert.
This Deep Dish Apple Cranberry Pie with Oatmeal Pecan Crumb Topping is a great fall pie recipe and makes an excellent addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table! This Deep Dish Apple Cranberry Pie is the kind of pie you convince yourself is perfectly okay to eat for breakfast once Thanksgiving is over.
Cinnamon Pear Crostata would make a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving table. A crostata is essentially a free-form, rustic fruit pie. I think they’re easier than traditional pies because it’s okay if they don’t look perfect.
Mini Sweet Potato Tarts with a Gingersnap Pecan Crust are divine if you are looking for individual serving desserts to make, plus it only makes 3 tarts so it is perfect if you need desserts for a smaller gathering.
Cranberry Pomegranate Walnut Bars are the perfect wintery recipe to add to your Thanksgiving baking list. A crumb crust is layered with sweet and tart cranberries and topped with a crunchy and crumbly walnut topping. I happen to love them as leftovers for breakfast!
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How is your Thanksgiving Planning going? What is your favorite menu item?
Click HERE to save this Thanksgiving Menu Planner to Pinterest!