Impressive Thanksgiving Mains That Go Beyond Turkey

Whether you’re tired of turkey or looking for an alternative main that better suits your individual celebration, these delicious recipes are sure to impress.

September 28, 2021
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Roast Pork Loin with Applesauce

Just because turkey is traditional, doesn’t mean it’s the only main dish worthy of a spot on your Thanksgiving table. You could be hosting a smaller gathering and sticking to a budget. Perhaps you follow a meatless diet and are planning to cook up a vegetarian or vegan feast. Or maybe you’re just bored of turkey. Whatever your reason, you’ll find that there are plenty of alternative main dishes that are every bit as special as the classic. We love all the recipes in this roundup for different reasons but this pork roast is one of our favorites. Pork and apple are always a winning combination — and this take (seasoned with fragrant spices like sage and thyme) is sure to impress everyone at the table.

Get the Recipe: Roast Pork Loin with Applesauce

Thanksgiving Chicken Over Roasted Vegetables

If you're hosting a smaller group on Thanksgiving and can't commit to a turkey, or just want to create a holiday vibe on short notice, this one-pan roasted chicken is just the thing. Homemade poultry seasoning, filled with classic flavors like sage, rosemary and thyme, makes your whole kitchen smell just like the holidays.

Get the Recipe: Thanksgiving Chicken Over Roasted Vegetables

Stuffing-Stuffed Whole Cauliflower

This roasted cauliflower is filled with classic stuffing and makes for a holiday-worthy, meatless main.

Get the Recipe: Stuffing-Stuffed Whole Cauliflower

Orange Marmalade Glazed Ham

A precooked ham makes a great choice for Thanksgiving dinner because all you need to do is reheat it. If you really want to make it special, add some extra flavor like Molly does here with her sweet-and-tangy marmalade glaze. It’s as easy as combining a few ingredients and brushing the mix over the ham while it finishes roasting.

Get the Recipe: Orange Marmalade Glazed Ham

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Sour Cherry Sauce

The flavors here, smoke, pork, and tart-sweet cherries, echo those of the fruity merlot grape. This dish is surprisingly simple to make, yet elevated enough to serve at your holiday dinner — with a glass of wine, of course!

Get the Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Sour Cherry Sauce

Mushroom Wellington with Creamy Carrot Sauce

We took inspiration from an important part of traditional beef Wellington, the duxelles (a paste of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs cooked in butter), and made a hearty filling for a satisfying, low-fat vegetarian version. Serve this impressive main course with the bright carrot sauce, which gets its creaminess from just a touch of cream cheese. (Don't be afraid to use full-fat cheeses — a little can go a long way!)

Get the Recipe: Mushroom Wellington with Creamy Carrot Sauce

Peppercorn Roasted Beef Tenderloin

A garlicky butter sauce adds an extra-special touch to Ree’s beef tenderloin. It’s simple enough for cooks of all skill levels to make — but elevated enough to stand in for turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Get the Recipe: Peppercorn Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Whole Stuffed Butternut Squash

This recipe offers an entire vegetarian Thanksgiving meal in one dish: creamy butternut squash, crisp green beans, cornbread with savory herbs, cranberries and pecans, plus buttered carrots. It makes a beautiful centerpiece of the feast.

Get the Recipe: Whole Stuffed Butternut Squash

Pork Roast

Michael’s perfect-for-fall roast cooks up in barely more than an hour (alongside a flavorful medley of root veggies) making it a great choice for a no-fuss Thanksgiving main.

Get the Recipe: Pork Roast

Stuffed Lasagna Pie

We've taken the classic lasagna flavors and wrapped them up in a showstopping, perfect-for-Thanksgiving main. The lasagna noodles create a crisp shell for the traditional fillings within: meat sauce, cheese and sausage.

Get the Recipe: Stuffed Lasagna Pie

Orange-Cranberry Glazed Cornish Hens

A quicker way to get a stunning holiday main on the table? Cornish hens. Their smaller size means they cook up quicker. Plus, they pair perfectly with all your favorite fall flavors, in this case orange and cranberry.

Get the Recipe: Orange-Cranberry Glazed Cornish Hens

Whole Duck with Green Peppercorn Glaze

Tired of turkey? Roast a rich, succulent duck instead. The cooking process is similar although Alex adds a special step; she dunks the duck into a honey-and-soy-sauce brine before roasting for extra flavor.

Get the Recipe: Whole Duck with Green Peppercorn Glaze

Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans

A robust rub adds major flavor to lean, quick-cooking pork tenderloin. The finely ground coffee lends a pleasant bitter note that is tempered by brown sugar and dried spices. This simple dish is on the table in no time — perfect when you don't want to spend all Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen.

Get the Recipe: Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

If you're hosting a smaller Thanksgiving celebration, a roasted chicken makes a good stand-in for turkey. You can have it on the table in just an hour too, if you spatchcock it and cook it flat in a cast-iron skillet.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

Whole Cauliflower Wellington

Herb-butter roasted cauliflower gets a golden puff pastry blanket — the perfect main dish for vegetarians (or anyone who loves cauliflower).

Get the Recipe: Whole Cauliflower Wellington

Baked Ham with Brown Sugar-Honey Glaze

If you're intimidated by baking a ham — don't be. This recipe from Trisha Yearwood couldn't be any easier, and with just a couple ingredients and some time, you'll have something that you'll truly be proud of.

Get the Recipe: Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Honey Glaze

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