Thanksgiving Menu

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Thanksgiving is the mother lode of good eating. You’ll find a little bit of everything for your feast, and if you need a few suggestions, check out our Thanksgiving Menu featured below.

Header image for Chelsea's Messy Apron Thanksgiving Menu

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Image of a plate full of a Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving menu strategy makes all the difference.

Have you checked out our Thanksgiving Planning Guide? It offers a plan and a strategy to help make this mega-meal less stressful and more enjoyable. We firmly believe that you can host a large event like this and still come out smiling…and we’re here to help make that happen!

Thanksgiving is all about being grateful, but at the same time, that big feast is definitely on everyone’s minds! Our Thanksgiving Menu is a collection of our favorite holiday-appropriate recipes, and we hope you’ll give some of these a try.  Recipes marked GF are, or can be modified to be, gluten free. As with all gluten concerns, it pays to be an educated consumer so that you recognize the essential elements. has a great guide!

PS: As we said in the Thanksgiving Planning Guide, it’s a smart move to test any new recipe before sharing it with your guests–and that applies to recipes you gather here, as well. You’ll want to know how the food turns out, and make any fine-tuning adjustments before the big dinner.

Here are our favorite Thanksgiving menu recipes!

A bowl full of pomegranate salad.


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Appetizers start the party right. 

Especially if you have guests arriving intermittently, appetizers are a great way to help people wait for the main event. Depending on personal preferences, you may want to provide a variety that includes something hot, something cold, something hearty, and something light. Guests love bringing appetizers and snacks, so if they ask what they can bring, here’s your opening! Appetizers are a popular potluck item because there’s no worry about them conflicting with the main course Thanksgiving menu. And if you’re prioritizing your cooking, appetizers are an easy category to assign to your grocery store. There are many wonderful options in the freezer case and in the deli that’ll save you time and fuss. There’s no shame in letting your grocery store help you put on this big meal!

Appetizer recipes:

Salads start off a large meal.

Some families include salads in the main course and others have a separate soup and/or salad course.  If you’re serving salads along with the rest of the meal, a separate salad plate helps prevent plate overflow. Salads are chameleons: they can take the shape of a hearty almost-meal (especially if you include pasta, veggies, or meat), a light nearly-dessert, or a terrific side dish.

Salad recipes:

Soups are another semi-first course, semi-entree dish.

Soups can help whet the appetite or they can provide substantial nutrition to the Thanksgiving menu. Just like salads, soup can take on the shape of an entree or a side dish, depending on what ingredients go into the blend.

Soup recipes:

Overhead image of the turkey with gravy on a plate

The main course is the starring event of a Thanksgiving menu.

It’s a smart idea to offer (at least) two entrees for the main course; that way, if someone isn’t fond of turkey, there’s always ham or spaghetti. And because this is the part of the meal that contains most of the nutrition, you might want to think about whether any of your guests are vegetarian, gluten free, or have other sensitivities. We’ve marked the recipes that can be made gluten free with GF.

Main courses are usually served with side dishes: veggies, breads, and sometimes soups and salads. How you set up the menu is your call, of course. And if you ask most people, you can never have too many choices!

Main Course recipes:

Veggie recipes:

Side dish recipes:

Bread recipes:

Pilgrim Hats made from cookies and candy for your Thanksgiving menu

Who saved room for dessert?

These sweet treats are what the kids are waiting for, and truth be told, most of us are kids at heart when it comes to desserts. Feel free to include as many as you like; guests love bringing desserts, as well. If you know you’ll have special dietary needs, you may want to make a gluten-free dessert, or something that’s sugar free. (Note: fresh fruit is the perfect choice in those cases!) You can also suggest to your gluten-free guests that they bring a GF dessert to share. Many Thanksgiving feasts include coffee along with dessert; again, this is your call.

Dessert recipes:

Cookie recipes

Make good use of your Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers!

In fact, most people plan ahead for leftovers, either for themselves or to send home with their guests. Stock up with plenty of storage containers (if sending home with your guests, make sure they’re disposable), and make good use of all that Thanksgiving goodness. Most recipes in your files that use cooked chicken pieces can easily swap out for turkey.

Use leftovers in these recipes: 

Fresh from the oven turkey pot pie with a serving taken out of it.

Thanksgiving Menu Cheat Sheet

Use this helpful chart for how much food to make per person coming:

Image of the Holiday Dinner Cheat Sheet, showing the portion sizes and other details of the Thanksgiving menu




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