Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

On Thanksgiving, many people like to serve a traditional Thanksgiving menu. Certain staples like turkey, cranberry sauce, and gravy should always make their way into a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The whole point of Thanksgiving is to honor a hallowed, historical event and serving traditional dishes is a wonderful way to do that.

While a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is classic and fairly straightforward, you can still be creative and pair new dishes with the annual favorites. During Thanksgiving menu planning, make room for some new ideas. The food and flavors should not be completely new, but feel free to put a new spin on some timeless favorites.

Here is a Thanksgiving menu planner to get you started:

  • Drinks: Wine, beer, and apple cider are all classic drinks to serve at your celebration. For an extra kick, add some whiskey to the apple cider (or caramel for the kids), brew some cinnamon spice tea, or serve hot chocolate. You can also have different drinks for different portions of the meal. For example, have wine, beer, and soda available as guests arrive and you make your way through dinner. Then bring out the “fun” drinks to pair with dessert.
  • Appetizers: Before the meal actually begins, be sure to lay out appetizers and cocktail snacks for guests while they wait for the food to be ready. There are no true traditional appetizers, so go for dishes with seasonal ingredients that are easy to eat. Try some simple and delicious Thanksgiving appetizer ideas.
  • Amuse bouche: For a fun spin on a traditional Thanksgiving menu, add a new course! In some restaurants, chefs will give what’s called an “amuse bouche” before any other food is served. This is a very small dish—usually one or two bites—that introduces the meal and opens up the palate. If you are having a sit down dinner, add an amuse bouche of your own! Try adding a shot of a soup with seasonal ingredients, such as roasted yam puree or butternut squash and apple soup. Get creative!
  • Mains: Turkey is obviously the centerpiece of this meal. This year, make a turducken! This interesting dish is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. You can make this yourself, complete with stuffing and layers of cornbread. Alternatively, you can order it from some grocery stores, butchers, and specialty stores. Inquire ahead of time to order it.
  • Side Dishes: Side dishes are some of the best parts of classic Thanksgiving fare. This year, spice up the traditional side dishes with interesting ingredients. For example, add some orange zest to your cranberry sauce, make leek mashed potatoes, or used corn bread crumbs for your stuffing. This way, you keep all of the same dishes with new twists on them that guests are sure to love!
  • Dessert: For a new dessert, try incorporating traditional ingredients into new forms. For example, you can serve a pumpkin spice cheesecake, warm baked apples with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, or cranberry pound cake.

This Thanksgiving, enjoy your traditions, but be sure to use new recipes too! This way, you’ll find new dishes that you and your family love. Who knows, maybe you will start new traditions that you will repeat in years to come.

Envelope Icon Love this article?

Sign up and we'll send more inspiration straight to you.

Sign up now