Last Updated November 25th, 2023 at 09:10 am by Lisa
Look over 50 Thanksgiving dinner recipes with make ahead tips for everything from roast turkey and side dishes to appetizers and desserts!
Many of these delicious easy recipes can be made in advance. There are Thanksgiving appetizers, traditional main course holiday dinner ideas, classic side dishes, non-traditional options other than turkey, and Southern comfort foods.
Also, print off your free Thanksgiving planner to create your menu and plans. It's loaded with ideas and helpful tips to host the best Thanksgiving gathering holiday feast with all the best dishes.
You will find all the classic Thanksgiving recipes like turkey, stuffing or dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, gravy, salads, bread, and so much more. One of the best parts of the holidays besides the turkey, are leftovers, and relaxing. Happy Thanksgiving...
Table of Contents
- Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Ideas
- Easy Thanksgiving Menu
- 50+ Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes
- Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Ideas
- For A Southern Thanksgiving Dinner
- Thanksgiving Dinner Planning Tips
- Make Ahead: Thanksgiving Dinner Plan
- More Party Food Thanksgiving Recipes
- More Holiday Party Food
PRO TIP: Balance your menu with delicious Thanksgiving recipes that are both savory and sweet, light and rich. And consider your guests' food allergies and preferences!
Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Ideas
Without a doubt, the star of the show is your Thanksgiving turkey recipe! Here are some of the best ways to cook turkey.
For many years, I wrestled a whole turkey into a wet brine solution a day ahead of Thanksgiving. It was too much work! And the clean up was always a pain to keep things food safe with raw turkey juices everywhere.
Today, I go with easier methods to prepare Thanksgiving turkeys, and always prepare sides ahead of time.
Easy Thanksgiving Menu
Whether it's a plan for a few people or a large group, this classic Thanksgiving menu has all the best of Thanksgiving, most recipes can be made ahead or have fast preparation times.
That way you will have enough time to chat with family and guests, to relax and enjoy yourself.
Roast Turkey, Gravy Recipe, And Stuffing!
Juicy Herb Butter Turkey Breast Recipe • Easy Recipe • 15 Minute Prep • Great For Leftovers. Way easier than cooking and carving a whole turkey. And so moist and flavorful, and the pan dripping makes the best gravy! 🎥 Be sure to watch the Boneless Sliced Turkey video!
Turkey Gravy • Delicious Flavor • Step-by-Step Guide • 7 Easy Steps • NO LUMPY Gravy! Really good Turkey pan drippings make the most incredible homemade gravy. 🎥 Be sure to watch the Turkey Gravy video!
Make Ahead • Easy • Favorite Stuffing Recipes! 🎥 Be sure to watch to Dressing Stuffing Recipe video! A great time saver during the holidays, mix this Sausage Stuffing ahead. Freeze, defrost, fill a baking dish, and bake! The top bakes golden brown with crispy bread crumbs and cubes of French bread on this hearty stuffing. The first day of this dressing is fabulous, but oh that second day is unreal!!
Although it's the same ingredients, stuffing is cooked inside a turkey. It soaks up turkey juices and is difficult to cook to a food safe temperature and not dry out the turkey meat. A dressing is baked in a casserole dish and gets a golden crunchy top!
Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Sides
Make Ahead + 5 Ways To Reheat Them! • Step-by-Step Guide • Smooth & Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are creamy smooth, buttery, fluffy, and melt in your mouth. There are five reheating methods to serve them warm. 🎥 Be sure to watch to Mashed Potato Recipe video!
For a tropical twist on Cranberry Sauce, this recipe has fresh pineapple and oranges adding a balanced sweetness and much less sugar than traditional recipes.
Very Easy • No Cooking • Make Ahead • Light & Refreshing! Cranberry Relish has a light fresh taste, sweet and tart, and pairs especially well with turkey. This recipe has less sugar than a traditional cranberry sauce. 🎥 Be sure to watch to Cranberry Relish Recipe video!
Super Easy • Hack For Homemade Yeast Rolls • Make Ahead • Light & Fluffy! Easy Soft (Storebought) Dinner Rolls using store-bought frozen dough! Rise them in the fridge overnight then bake fresh the next day. Top with different grated cheeses, seasonings, and fresh herbs.
50+ Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes
PRO TIP: Did you know, you can cook your turkey the day before Thanksgiving? To reheat sliced turkey, simply pour some chicken stock over it, cover with foil in a roasting pan, and rewarm it in the oven. And of course, it is really nice to not have to carve a big turkey bird with guests waiting, trust me!
Depending on how much turkey you want, here are some great options.
1. Roast Turkey Dry Brine • Easy Recipe • Flavorful Dry Brine Rub • Prep Ahead Friendly A roast turkey rubbed with seasonings and fresh spices for maximum flavor and crispy skin. 🎥 Be sure to watch the Roasted Turkey Recipe video!
2. Turkey Gravy • Delicious Flavor • Step-by-Step Guide • 7 Easy Steps • NO LUMPY Gravy! Really good Turkey pan drippings make the most incredible homemade gravy. 🎥 Be sure to watch the Turkey Gravy video!
3. Boneless Herb Butter Turkey Breast Recipe • Easy Recipe • Juicy With Herb Butter • Prep Ahead Friendly • Great For Sliced Turkey Leftovers. Roast a boneless turkey breast! Way easier than cooking and carving a whole turkey. And so moist and flavorful, and the pan dripping make the best gravy! 🎥 Be sure to watch the Boneless Sliced Turkey video!
4. A Spatchcock Turkey • Works With Any Regular Turkey • Step-by-Step Guide • Turkey Perfection! Also called a butterflied bird, roasts about 30 minutes faster than most recipes, has golden crispy skin, and juicy meat, and carves like a dream! 🎥 Be sure to watch to Spatchcock Recipe video!
Roast Turkey (Dry Brine Recipe)
A Turkey Dry Brine adds bold flavor to your whole bird, and is so easy to put together for your Thanksgiving menu with a good spice blend right from your kitchen! Skip the store-bought mixes, also try this on a boneless turkey breast for leftovers. With simple ingredients, you can mix a big batch of this spice rub to make a beautiful roast turkey anytime during the holiday season.
Make a perfect turkey gravy in just 10 minutes with this step-by-step guide and four simple ingredients. The rich pan drippings from your Thanksgiving turkey add an incredible depth of flavor and is a simple process. Learn my Chef's secret for velvety smooth results and no lumpy gravy!
Turkey Breast Recipe
Turkey breast recipe using boneless turkey breast plus a gravy recipe from pan drippings. Easier to roast and carve for Thanksgiving turkey.
A Spatchcock Turkey is also called a butterflied bird, roasts about 30 minutes faster than most recipes, has golden crispy skin, and juicy meat, and carves like a dream! Serve roast turkey for your Christmas, holiday, or Thanksgiving dinner feast with lots of sides and desserts for a holiday to remember. This Spatchcock method works with any regular turkey, follow this step-by-step guide to turkey perfection.
Make Ahead Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Sides
Every year, these are the traditional Thanksgiving menu items I look forward to and have made many so many times for the big day and Friendsgiving.
Mashed Potatoes & Thanksgiving Stuffing
1. Make Ahead + 5 Ways To Reheat Them! • Step-by-Step Guide • Smooth & Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are buttery, fluffy, and melt in your mouth. There are five reheating methods to serve them warm. 🎥 Watch the Mashed Potato Recipe video!
2. Make Ahead • Easy • Favorite Stuffing Recipes A great time saver during the holidays, mix this Sausage Stuffing ahead. Freeze, defrost, fill a baking dish, and bake! The top bakes golden brown with crispy bread crumbs and cubes of French bread on this hearty stuffing. 🎥 Watch the Dressing Stuffing Recipe video!
Cranberry Sauce & Relish
3. Make Ahead • Easy • Lower Sugar For a tropical twist on Cranberry Sauce, this recipe has fresh pineapple and oranges adding a balanced sweetness and much less sugar than traditional recipes. 🎥 Watch the Cranberry Sauce video!
4. So Easy • No Cook Recipe • Make Ahead • Light & Refreshing! Cranberry Relish, and delight your friends and family. It has a light fresh taste, a little bit of a crunch, and less sugar than a traditional cranberry sauce. 🎥 Watch the Cranberry Relish Recipe video!
Sweet Potato Recipes
5. Easy Recipe • Delicious Thanksgiving Side • Make Ahead • Light & Fluffy! Sweet Potato Casserole, this signature side is the original recipe from the famous Ruth's Chris Steak House. The combination of the pecan crumble and fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture takes this classic holiday side way over the top. 🎥 Watch the Sweet Potato Casserole video!
6. Easy • Classic Side • Make Ahead The best Sweet Potato Casserole with crunchy pecans, coconut, and toasted marshmallows. It comes together in just about 30 minutes, making it an ideal last-minute side dish. Everything melts together, this is one of those guilty pleasure dishes people love.
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are creamy smooth, buttery, fluffy, and melt in your mouth. There are five reheating methods here plus tips on how to keep them warm for dinner, or holiday meals like Thanksgiving. We all want that creamy classic buttery warm goodness. And this recipe will help you master this popular side dish!
Sausage Stuffing Dressing
Bake a big dish of Sausage Stuffing, this classic holiday side dish is loaded so much flavor. Choose to make it with a spicier or a mild sweet Italian sausage. It also has boxed cornbread stuffing, crunchy celery, soft French bread, sweet dried cherries, and tart dried cranberries all mixed into one heavenly dressing recipe. Deep rich flavor comes from the scrumptious crumbled sausage, it might just become your new stuffing recipe this holiday season. The texture is incredible, there is something different in each bite of this easy side dish. Soft, crunchy, crispy, and chewy all in one happy stuffing.
Pineapple-Orange Cranberry Sauce
Pineapple-Orange Cranberry Sauce has 4 ingredients, and has a wonderfully balanced sweetness with oranges and pineapple, plus 10 ways to use leftover sauce during the holidays! This easy holiday recipe always gets glowing comments at the Christmas holiday table and as one of the most classic Thanksgiving side dishes! And the fresh orange and pineapple fruit add a wonderful island vibe to this gorgeous cranberry sauce recipe.
The holiday season is filled with big meals and rich heavy food. Let your palate take a welcomed break with a few bites of relish using fresh cranberries! Pair with your Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Make a cranberry orange relish, and delight your friends and family. It has a light fresh taste, a little bit of a crunch, and less sugar than a traditional cranberry sauce. It will be the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas feast.
Sweet Potato Casserole (Ruth's Chris Recipe)
For all you avid fans of the Sweet Potato Casserole at the famous Ruth's Chris Steak House, this is their original recipe and signature side dish. The combination of the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture topped with a pecan crumble takes this classic holiday side way over the top with a modern twist. It is so scrumptious, the whole family will want seconds and a copy of this delicious copycat recipe.
Thanksgiving Main Dishes (Non Traditional)
Beef Roast • Serves 10 People • 45 Minutes Cook Time • Make an elegant Beef Roast (aka Roast Beef) from tenderloin or New York steak. Wonderful to serve for dinner parties, special occasions, or the holidays with a rich red wine sauce.
Double Smoked Ham With Orange Honey Glaze Works With Any Regular Turkey • Step-by-Step Guide • Just Like Honey Baked Hams! Make a twice smoked spiral cut ham just like a smokehouse pit boss. This holiday meal classic has an amazing smoky flavor with an apple cider orange honey glaze!
Kahlua Pineapple Ham • Easy • Make Great Ham Leftovers • Grilled & Saves Oven Space! Brushed with a heavenly glaze on both the ham and wedges of pineapple. As it bakes, you get gorgeous fruity, candy, caramelized edges.
Lobster Ravioli with Lemon Butter Sauce • No Boiling Pot of Water! • Baked Ravioli • uses a baked ravioli technique you can make in just over an hour or prep ahead for dinner parties, holidays, and romantic nights.
Serve this Beef Roast Recipe with a wine marinade as an elegant dinner or for the holidays. Slice leftovers for roast beef sandwiches.
Double Smoked Ham With Orange Honey Glaze
Twice smoked spiral cut ham made just like a famous smokehouse. This double smoked ham has an amazing orange honey glaze with apple cider!
Cherry Balsamic Pork Loin
Easy 10-minute prep, festive Cherry Balsamic Pork Loin serves a large crowd and is perfect for family dinner, entertaining, special occasions, or the holidays! One of the best ways to entertain for a large dinner party is to serve an elegant beautiful pork loin roast with a few simple ingredients.
Lobster Ravioli with a Lemon Butter Sauce uses a baked ravioli technique you can prep ahead for dinner parties, holidays, and romantic nights. This recipe can be made ahead with wonton wrappers and baked instead of boiling the ravioli. It is a perfect recipe for the holidays or special dinners like Valentine's Day.
Easy Thanksgiving Sides: Vegetables And Holiday Salads
Dinner Rolls aka Bread Rolls, are beautiful and easy to make. Brush store-bought frozen rolls with melted butter, and add toppings you love. Grab a bag of frozen dough, and try different grated cheeses, seasonings, and fresh herbs. This hack for homemade yeast rolls gives you perfect golden brown tops with soft fluffy interiors.
Cheddar Cheese Jalapeño Cornbread
Bake these Cheddar Cheese Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins made with just 3 ingredients and are super soft and cheesy. Serve hot with a big slather of honey butter for a dinner like bowls of chili, pork chops, fried chicken or BBQ ribs.
Green Chile Cheese Pull Apart Bread
Pull Apart Bread is famously also known as "Crack Bread" for a reason, people can't stop eating it! A simple loaf of bakery bread is magically transformed into cheesy goodness with creamy garlic and green chile flavors. It can be a hot appetizer or a dinner side dish. Melty gooey cheese recipe mixture is tucked into the nooks and crannies, then baked to golden deliciousness. You will love the cheese pulls as you grab a piece of this decadent garlicky bread.
Make perfectly Roasted Vegetables with these cooking tips and techniques for root vegetables, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more. Plus get vegetable roasting times and ideas to use all your favorite seasonal veggies.
How To Make Herb Butter
Herb Butter is fantastic melted on roasted vegetables, hot pasta, sizzling grilled steaks, warm baguettes, spread on tea sandwiches, or dinner rolls. Flavored butter is an easy condiment to create in your kitchen and will keep for weeks. And when dinner is ready, have it ready to slather on hot food and bread.
Grilled Corn On The Cob
Grilled corn on the cob gains incredibly rich flavor and smoky sweetness! Grab some fresh corn at the Farmer's market or store. It cooks in just 10 minutes and can be put together ahead of dinner or a cookout party. There are 14 creative flavor ideas to try, use seasoning blends or homemade compound butter. And you can grill with or without the corn husks. An easy summer side to make ahead or assemble at the last minute. And after all, everyone loves hot buttered corn.
Cheesy Potato Casserole
Cheesy Potato Casserole is wildly popular and also known as Funeral Potatoes. This famous American side dish is loved by people across the country for family gatherings, church potlucks, and holiday dinners. This recipe gives you my top scratch secrets to make it amazing, plus make-ahead shortcuts. One thing is for sure. You will fall in love with these cheesy potatoes. They are rich, creamy, light, and fluffy with a golden crispy scrumptious topping.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes
Crispy Smashed Potatoes served with melted herb butter are one of the most heavenly potato recipes. These are pure comfort food and a beautiful side dish for family dinners, romantic date nights, holidays, or dinner parties. Soft fluffy centers are surrounded by a golden-brown crust on each and every one. And those crunchy edges are simply addictive.
Is there anything better than oven Roasted Potatoes with golden crisp sides and pillowy soft, fork-tender centers? Their flavor goes so well with main dishes from sizzling steaks to roast chicken, and are a classic side dish around the world. Hands down, this is the easiest way to make the best roasted potatoes every single time for dinner, any night of the week!
A Broccoli Salad with vibrant colors of crisp green apples, crunchy broccoli, and sweet grapes. Topped with a creamy orange tangy dressing and salty pistachios mixed into this summer salad. A classic broccoli salad typically has lots of mayonnaise. This no-mayo broccoli salad that swaps in Greek yogurt for the mayo cutting fat and calories.
Christmas Tree Salad
Holiday Christmas Tree Salad with a Cranberry Vinaigrette will be the talk of your Christmas party. Shape this salad and decorate it like a Christmas tree with garland, ornaments, and snow!
Christmas Holiday Salad
Present a gorgeous, festive, red and green Christmas Holiday Salad with an easy pomegranate vinaigrette dressing topped with sparkling pomegranate seeds, D'Anjou pears for the little trees, spicy candied pecans, ruby red dried cranberries, and juicy raspberries. Now, this salad says Happy Holidays...
Roasted Cabbage Steaks
Oven roasted cabbage steaks have crispy edges and golden brown centers. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts for a savory finish. This an easy recipe that uses up a whole head of cabbage in a fresh, delicious, new way. And tons of topping options are in the recipe card below. This great side dish pairs well with family dinners like corned beef, chicken, steak, and fish. A delicious way to turn a humble green vegetable into something sublime.
Fall Crostini Bar
Learn how to set up a crostini bar with topper ideas to entertain for Fall, Friendsgiving, or Thanksgiving. Elegant no-fuss Fall party food to serve at your gathering. Take a crostini toast, spread either the whipped goat cheese or feta, and add toppings you love.
Thanksgiving Appetizer Deviled Eggs
Thanksgiving Deviled Eggs are an easy appetizer party food idea. Gorgeous Fall color, garnished with sage and thyme to celebrate the season.
Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board
Create a gorgeous easy Thanksgiving charcuterie board filled with your favorite sliced meats, an assortment of cheeses, crackers, fruit, nuts, and a few and sugary treats. A Fall cheeseboard is so easy to put together for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving or Fall gatherings. Make for an after-school snack board for kids, or to host a happy hour for friends with simple appetizers and drinks.
Fall Snack Mix
This Fall Snack Mix will disappear at your Fall, Halloween Party, or at your Thanksgiving feast. Just 4 ingredients are amazing together. Kids and adults love these treats.
Everything Bagel Pumpkin Cheese Ball
Serve a pumpkin-shaped Everything Bagel Cheese Ball Fall appetizer for your next party, it's always a hit! Easy to make-ahead in 15 minutes, chill, and take to a party. This cheeseball makes a wonderful Thanksgiving appetizer and has simple ingredients like cream cheese and seasonings!
Christmas Deviled Eggs
Serve Christmas Deviled Eggs as festive appetizers with bubbly Champagne or drinks at your holiday party. Whip these together in a matter of minutes for a perfect holiday appetizer or a first course. Sprinkle a few sparkling ruby red pomegranate seeds that look like holly berries, with sprigs of rosemary, and celebrate the holiday season with creamy deviled eggs.
36 Thanksgiving Appetizers
These are 37 of the best Thanksgiving Day appetizers for savory snacks, easy appetizers, and a bounty of party ideas for your celebration. Whether you bake up some warm canapes, make easy no cook appetizers like a dip, or create a beautiful holiday charcuterie board, there are dozens of delicious recipes here to put out before your Thanksgiving feast.
Candied Pecans with pumpkin pie spice flavors are crunchy and sweet with cinnamon-sugar, and a kick of heat. Use as a holiday or Fall appetizer on a grazing table, or charcuterie cheeseboard, or pack up as a homemade holiday food gift. These easy candy pecans are egg-free, gluten-free, and great for snacks. Wrap in pretty decorated mason jars, and add gift tags. Someone will be delighted.
Dutch Apple Pie
Dutch Apple Pies are also known as Apple Crumble Pies baked with a homemade filling, a foolproof flaky crust, and a crumble topping. This type of apple streusel pie is also called a French Apple Pie recipe. The apple filling and crumbly streusel topping are out of this world.
Apple Pie Recipe Filling
An easy Apple Pie Filling using crisp fresh apples and warm spices that can be made ahead and is freezer-friendly. And to prevent soggy bottom crusts, you need a really good filling to bake up the best apple desserts. Get all the secrets to a thicker pie filling with the best apple flavor in every bite.
A rich delicious Pumpkin Bread scratch recipe with warm Fall spices, fresh orange juice, and loaded with milk chocolate chips. This quick bread recipe comes together in minutes, with just a spatula and a bowl! Bake this as a classic pumpkin bread recipe or add nuts like pecans or walnuts and bake.
Bake a delicious Apple Crisp with a sweet crust, caramelized apple filling, and a streusel crumb topping. Serve this easy dessert anytime for dinner or the holidays. The hot crumble topping gets a little crispy topping in the oven, with a melting scoop of ice cream, and caramel sauce drizzled all over, what a delicious dessert.
Caramel Apple Dip
Make a Caramel Apple Dip with crisp green apples, salted caramel sauce, and crushed Health bars. A beloved recipe for potlucks, holiday parties, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and all through the Autumn apple season.
Fall Cocktails And Holiday Drink Recipes
Autumn Aperol Spritz
A taste of Fall in every sip, these Aperol Spritz cocktails have cider, Aperol, and fresh citrus juice topped with prosecco or Champagne bubbles. These refreshing drinks are great for brunch, happy hours, Friendsgiving, and Thanksgiving.
Fireball Thanksgiving Punch with orange, apple cider, and Fireball whisky. Serve Fall "big batch cocktails" for Friendsgiving & Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Whip up a Pumpkin Spice Latte made with real fresh ingredients, and cozy Fall spices. Top your PSL with decadent toppings like whip cream and Fall sprinkles. You can swap in the plant-based milk you love, and add some good strong hot coffee or a shot of espresso.
Chic Champagne Cocktails glitter with real gold and bubbles of fine Champagne or prosecco for New Year's Eve or holiday celebrations like a Christmas party! Everyone wants bubbly drink recipes that sparkle for the festive season. Ring in the new year and toast to all the luck in the world with an elegant cocktail in hand.
Candy Corn Martinis
A Candy Corn Martini is the perfect Halloween drink for parties, with simple ingredients that are easy to find. Have lots of fun chilling out with these, oh and homemade candy corn vodka is super easy to make. Fascinate your friends with these bright orange festive cocktails. And Happy Halloween season.
Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Ideas
These leftover recipes are both great ways to use up all your Thanksgiving mains and side dishes. And both can be frozen and baked off for dinner in the oven or your air fryer...
Leftover Turkey Recipe: Shepherd's Pie
After the holidays, try this leftover turkey recipe for shepherd's pie. Use turkey leftovers, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and more from Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas.
Years and years ago, I had so many leftovers. I asked my Dad, "What am I going to do with all this food?" And he wisely said, "Well why don't you make a turkey shepherd's pie?"
At first, it sounded weird, but then I thought hey that is a good idea. So I made one. Dad, this recipe is all yours, I give you full credit.
As a matter of fact, it is a yearly tradition and a great freezer meal. Bake it up all golden and bubbly on a cold evening. This is fast comfort food to love...
For A Southern Thanksgiving Dinner
For some true Southern hospitality, try new Thanksgiving recipe ideas that are traditionally made and served in the Southern part of the United States, as part of your Thanksgiving spread this year!
The best way to plan a Thanksgiving meal with classic Southern sides for our favorite holiday is to add one or two new delicious soul food recipes.
By no means is this a complete list of Southern food. So many family recipes and original dishes are a part of Southern Thanksgiving tables. A good Southern meal will have great food and a wide variety of flavors from sweet to savory. But they all have that good down-home feel that you always remember when you ate that dish! I can still remember the first time my Mom made Oyster casserole at Thanksgiving!! As a kid, I'm not sure I was a fan. LOL
According to Southern Living, Southern Thanksgiving staple dishes include: Fried Turkey, Spoonbread, Dressing, Yeast Rolls, Corn Pudding, Grandma's Gravy, Oyster Casserole (Oyster Dressing), Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Casserole, Deviled Eggs, Cranberry Sauce, and Green Bean Casserole.
More Southern-Style Holiday Meal ideas include;
Desserts: Pumpkin Pie Bars, Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie Bars, and Banana Pudding (Trifle), and Red Velvet Cake.
Sides: Fruit Salad, Ambrosia Salad, Mac & Cheese, Butter Beans, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Cast-iron Skillet Cornbread, Au Gratin Potatoes, Roasted Southern Candied Yams, Flaky Biscuits, and Sweet Tea of course!
And a Soul Food Thanksgiving menu will possibly include dishes like baked Mac & Cheese (the perfect side dish), Collard Greens, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Peach Cobbler.
Thanksgiving Dinner Planning Tips
A good plan is so worth the time! After all, besides fabulous food, you want to enjoy your guests at the table and be relaxed on the big day!
1. Invite Family And Guests
First, make a guest list of friends and family: For years I have been teased about making too much food! A couple of thoughts. One, people do eat more on the holidays, and second you can send people home with leftovers and freeze some for later. I like to keep a stack of takeaway containers for people to enjoy some leftovers the next day at home.
2. Menu Creation
Second, create your menu of dishes: Take into consideration who is bringing what dishes, food allergies, and traditional dishes with the family favorites you wouldn't dream of not having on the Thanksgiving table!
For years, I have some store-bought items like frozen dinner rolls topped with fresh herbs or bakery desserts with some extra whipped cream on top! It really helps take off the pressure of having everything homemade from scratch.
I also avoid choosing dishes or fussy appetizers that require too many individual servings if I have a big crowd.
3. Thanksgiving Make Ahead Dishes
Next, list what dishes can be made 1-3 days ahead and depending on your oven space, the cooking time for each recipe. Dinner rolls are best baked fresh, but mashed potatoes can be easily made a couple of days ahead and reheated!
Write down a menu plan to cook for the week ~ use my free handy planner linked below!
PRO TURKEY TIP: You can cook your turkey on Thanksgiving day or the day before! To reheat sliced turkey, simply pour some chicken stock over it, cover with foil in a roasting pan, and rewarm it in the oven. And of course, it is really nice to not have to carve a big turkey bird with guests waiting, trust me!
4. Cooking Schedule
Create a Cooking Schedule: Every year I do this! I am chatty and like to have fun, so it keeps me on task, (so I don't burn anything!), and that way I don't forget my timing and get distracted during the party. List the temperatures and cooking times next to each dish on a list for that morning and then what to heat just before serving.
One thing I do every year is think about what will fit in my oven, and I write down my timing. Example: If I am cooking a turkey, I note the the time and when I can fit more dishes in while carving the bird.
Set an alarm to remind you to start the dishes, it really helps when you have a house full of people!
5. Serving Thanksgiving Dinner
Be sure to plan out where to serve food and how to reheat and keep it warm.
Serving buffet style is so easy and everyone loves to go for seconds and look over all the dishes. I highly recommend these electronic warming trays! They are great for parties during the holidays.
Download A Free Thanksgiving Dinner Planner!
Get a little help on how to plan your Thanksgiving menu. Be sure to browse my entire Thanksgiving Recipe Index to build your recipe plan! A little planning goes a long way, put down all your ideas and things that inspire you in this planner. After all, you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time having fun!
There are spots for everything from deciding on your Thanksgiving menus to a guest list, shopping items, ideas for Thanksgiving decorations, how to put a festive twist on the menu, and more. Happy Thanksgiving!
Download your FREE copy of this 20-page planner and get those party plans started today…
Make Ahead: Thanksgiving Dinner Plan
3 Days Before Thanksgiving
- Start defrosting your frozen turkey on Monday if cooking on Thursday 3 days ahead. Defrost the frozen turkey on a sheet pan in the refrigerator to catch drips!
- Finish up shopping, pull out dishes, serving platters, and cutlery. Do all your grocery shopping, organize, and check you have all your ingredients.
- Set up the table linens and chairs, place plates, napkins, glassware, flatware, and name cards, and a place for centerpieces.
Make a Cranberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing ahead of time for your salad.
Two Days Before Thanksgiving
- Make pie dough, Homemade Stock, prep dips, appetizers, and desserts. Set the table with plates, glasses, and cutlery.
- I make Thanksgiving Centerpieces and keep them in the fridge the night before.
For example, my Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes can be made up to 2 days ahead, and reheated and kept warm in 5 different ways!
Bake a Pumpkin Bread then wrap well in plastic wrap, refrigerate, then serve at room temperature.
Cheesy Potato Casserole is great to make ahead and reheats well in a dish in the oven and is even better baked fresh from the oven on the big day!
One Day Before Thanksgiving
- Some things like fresh salads, can have all the ingredients prepared in airtight containers. Make the salad dressing ahead, then assemble just before eating!
- Prepare all the dishes ahead that you can and wrap them well covered in plastic in the fridge; Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potato Casserole etc.
Bake Corn Bread Muffins a couple of days ahead, and reheat them wrapped in foil in the oven.
Storebought Baked Dinner Rolls - Assemble the rolls in your baking dish, the night before, cover them with plastic wrap, and raise the dough overnight in the fridge. Top with melted butter and different toppings, and bake fresh the day of just before serving.
Thanksgiving Day Cooking
Thursday morning, you can relax because most dishes are prepped and ready!
- Get the turkey started in the oven, and follow your cooking time plan!
- Make the Turkey Gravy. You can also make gravy ahead with boxed rotisserie chicken drippings!
- Bake or Reheat your side dishes.
- Assemble Cold Salads - Prepare most of the salad ingredients (not the lettuce) separately the day before, including the dressing.
- Bake the dinner rolls fresh the day of just before serving and serve with soft butter or my Herb Butter!
More Party Food Thanksgiving Recipes
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These are the best Thanksgiving Appetizers for savory snacks, easy appetizers, and a bounty of party ideas for your celebration. Of course, nothing is easier than a Fall Crostini Bar! It's for appetizers with an easy setup and assembly. There are recipes for a whipped goat cheese crostini topping and tons of ideas for toppings! 🥖🍷🧀
More Holiday Party Food
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