Classic Dishes That Deserve a Spot on Your Thanksgiving Menu

From roasted turkey to pumpkin pie (and all the traditional sides that come in between), these tried-and-true recipes make a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving meal.

October 28, 2021
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Thanksgiving is a day to gather around the table and share a meal with the loved ones you’re most thankful for. While there are plenty of creative ways to cook your Thanksgiving favorites, you can’t go wrong with classics that everyone knows and loves. Stuffing, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie: there are so many delicious dishes that deserve a place on the table each year — including the turkey, of course! This butter-basted bird is stuffed with onion, celery, carrots and apple for a lightly-seasoned main that’s tender and juicy. It’s the perfect centerpiece for your timeless Thanksgiving table and pairs wonderfully with stuffing, green bean casserole and other amazing sides.

Get the Recipe: Classic Butter-Herb Roast Turkey

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Once you try fresh cranberry sauce, you’ll never return to the canned stuff. The sauce needs to refrigerate for at least four hours and up to one week, so it’s a great make-ahead dish.

Get the Recipe: Classic Cranberry Sauce

The Best Sweet Potato Casserole

We opted for a nutty crumb topping over marshmallows to create a pleasantly crunchy contrast to the creamy and soft mashed sweet potatoes. The filling gets a pumpkin pie-like treatment, with brown sugar and vanilla for a deep caramel flavor and butter and eggs for richness. This recipe is bound to become a holiday staple.

Get the Recipe: The Best Sweet Potato Casserole

Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans

B. said these Brussels sprouts would win over any sprout hater! They have great sweetness and crunch from the brown sugar and pecans.

Get the Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans

Cast-Iron Oyster and Cornbread Stuffing

This recipe is the perfect way to incorporate these typically uncooked gems into the traditional Thanksgiving spread and pay homage to the early Black oyster farmers of America. The briny and buttery flavor combined with the sweet cornbread is sure to be the talk of the table!

Get the Recipe: Cast-Iron Oyster and Cornbread Stuffing

Turkey Gravy

Carrots, celery, corn cobs and onions add deep flavor to Michael’s turkey gravy. If you don’t have enough turkey drippings to add, butter makes a great substitute.

Get the Recipe: Turkey Gravy

Parker House Rolls

"These all-American buttery rolls will be totally at home in your bread basket during the holidays," says Bobby.

Get the Recipe: Parker House Rolls

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream and Cinnamon

The glowing reviews don’t lie — Molly’s pumpkin pie is one of the best you’ll ever have. Her secret? She caramelizes the sugar along with pumpkin puree to deepen the flavor and ensure a silky-smooth filling.

Get the Recipe: Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream and Cinnamon

Roasted Turkey Breast with Dried Fruits Pan Sauce

A whole turkey is a lot of work, especially when cooking for a smaller crowd. That’s why turkey breasts, which are smaller and a bit less complicated, are ideal for serving to a group of six or less. Geoffrey’s tender turkey breast roasts for about 45 minutes and doesn’t require basting, which leaves time to prepare your favorite sides or clean the kitchen a bit. When it’s done cooking, you’ll whip up a delicious dried fruits sauce right in the pan.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Turkey Breast with Dried Fruits Pan Sauce

Classic Sausage Stuffing

This super-classic recipe calls for cubed white bread, sausage and fresh herbs like sage and thyme. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to roast turkey or ham and comes together easily, making it the perfect option for your Thanksgiving feast.

Get the Recipe: Classic Sausage Stuffing

Classic Mashed Potatoes

With just potatoes, butter, milk and salt, these are mashed potatoes at their most classic — and most comforting. Pour on gravy for extra flavor or eat them as-is for a simple and satisfying Thanksgiving side dish.

Get the Recipe: Classic Mashed Potatoes

Southern Mac and Cheese

Kardea Brown’s grandma has been making this macaroni and cheese for more than 50 years — and before that, her great-grandmother made it. It’s a staple at family gatherings, especially during the holidays. Kardea put her own twist on the recipe by adding cream cheese and sour cream. "It creates a creamier texture and slightly tangy flavor," she says.

Get the Recipe: Southern Mac and Cheese

Classic Green Bean Casserole

You'll find everything you know and love about green bean casserole in this bubbling dish, but the panko-breaded, fried red onions definitely put it a step above the rest.

Get the Recipe: Classic Green Bean Casserole

Crab Apple and Cranberry Relish

If you bring cranberry relish to the Thanksgiving table this year, you’ll be eating a food that long predates the holiday. Members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) have been harvesting sasumuneash (sour berries) on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, for thousands of years, using them to flavor and preserve meat, dye textiles and prevent illnesses. Today the berries are still central to Aquinnah Wampanoag culture: Tribe members celebrate Cranberry Day in the fall with traditional foods like chowder, quahogs, venison and, of course, cranberries. Stay true to the berry’s native roots this year and try a relish recipe from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Get the Recipe: Crab Apple and Cranberry Relish

Roasted Butternut Squash

Don't bother with the pre-cut squash from the grocery store. You can easily cut and roast butternut squash yourself for a fraction of the cost — and it's much fresher, too. We'll show you the best way achieve perfectly seasoned, tender and golden nuggets of this naturally sweet veggie. All you need are a hot oven, olive oil, salt and pepper. Use visual cues for doneness, since the cooking time depends on the size of your dice.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash

Mile-High Apple Pie

For a sky-high pie that’s not too sweet or tart, use a combination of Granny Smith and Macintosh apples. To keep the crust flaky and fresh, spread a layer of marzipan over the bottom before baking. This will help to prevent the crust from getting too soggy — and add a wonderful hint of nutty flavor!

Get the Recipe: Mile-High Apple Pie

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

Sweet Bourbon Corn Pudding

Those who like their sides a bit sweeter will adore B’s corn pudding. If you prefer to skip the bourbon, simply use water to dissolve the cornstarch, which holds the dish together.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Bourbon Corn Pudding

Grandma's Candied Yams

Inspired by her grandmother’s beloved recipe, Kardea’s yams are sweetened with brown sugar, pineapple juice and strawberry preserves. Be sure to reserve the sauce from the baking dish to pour over the yams before serving!

Get the Recipe: Grandma's Candied Yams

Cornbread

Made with just a handful of simple ingredients, this classic cornbread is sure to become your new go-to recipe.

Get the Recipe: Cornbread

Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole

Sunny’s 5-star dish is filled with rice, mushrooms, frozen broccoli and Cheddar. It’s hearty and filling, so a little bit goes a long way when served with turkey, stuffing and other wonderful side dishes.

Get the Recipe: Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole

Classic Pecan Pie

This pecan pie delivers on the classic flavors and textures of your favorite holiday pie — sweet, brown sugar, a touch of vanilla, and a generous addition of toasted, crunchy pecans. There's also a hint of bourbon to add a smokey, caramel note. But don't worry, everyone can enjoy this pie because the alcohol cooks off as it bakes. And not to mention, the all-butter crust adds ideal flakiness and a crisp vessel for the decadent filling. Serve as-is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an impressive and nostalgic holiday dessert.

Get the Recipe: Classic Pecan Pie

Oven-Roasted Parsnip and Sunchoke

Sunchokes are tubers, like potatoes, and resemble ginger root. They come from a type of sunflower native to North America. Many people try to peel sunchokes, but it is easier to wash them well before tossing them in oil. Parsnips and onions add a nice complexity to this side dish.

Get the Recipe: Oven-Roasted Parsnip and Sunchoke

Creamed Corn

The name of this dish is slightly misleading in that it traditionally doesn't actually contain any cream, as is the case with this recipe. But it does still have a smooth, velvety texture as its moniker implies.

Get the Recipe: Creamed Corn

Rum Sweet Potato Pie

"This is a rendition of my grandmother's world-famous pie — although she didn't have booze in hers!" says Eddie.

Get the Recipe: Rum Sweet Potato Pie

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