The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner Recipe Guide

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or attending as a guest, there comes the time each year that we have to decide what to make for Thanksgiving. It may be the turkey, side dish, dessert or everything in between, this guide is a great starting point for recipe inspiration for the ultimate turkey day feast.

A plate of thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving Menu

Here we are guys, in the crucial weeks approaching Thanksgiving. The dinner is fast approaching you are in the age-old-dilemma of “what to make?!” Well fear not, I’ve got you covered. Consider this post your go-to guide and starting point for choosing winning Thanksgiving recipes.

I’ll be breaking this post down by thanksgiving food type. In each section I’ll start by expanding on some of my favorite options in that category, with certain tips and tricks and then at the end, I’ll share a list of all the recipe on my site that I have in that section.


Thanksgiving Appetizers

Ahhhh, the classic debate! To have or not to have appetizers at Thanksgiving (that is the question!). Some people stand firmly on the side of not wanting hors d’oeuvres at the Thanksgiving Gather in fear that they might take away from the main event; the dinner. Others, like me say “the more the merrier!” and welcome a few apps to start their dinner off right.

Whichever side you fall on, rest assured that when you need ideas for Thanksgiving appetizers, I’ve got you covered!

Favorite overall Thanksgiving appetizer

Apple Bacon Brie BitesThese are one of my most popular fall and with good reason. They have all the components that people live for: creamy cheese, smoky bacon, tart apples and a sweet drizzle of honey. Not only that, but they’re seriously easy to assemble and taste great hot or cold. Expert tip: use pre-made phyllo cups for easy assembly.

These Apple Bacon Brie Bites are a quick and easy throw-together appetizer recipe. They're perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas and are a great option for a last minute hors d'oeuvre this holiday season or for any special occasion!

Favorite make-ahead appetizer

Grandma’s Shrimp Dip– This is a major family favorite for us! My Grandma Eve has made this for years and it’s one of those apps that we all fight for. Rest assured that it’s every man for himself: if you’re late, you may miss out on the famous Shrimp Dip. This is completely make ahead so you can throw it together the day before and bring it with a bag of chips. Give it a quick stir and then watch with pride while your family devours it!

shrimp dip

Favorite appetizer that travels well

Easiest Ever Artichoke Dip– Who doesn’t love a Hot Artichoke Dip? This option is excellent to make-and-take because It tends to stay warm, and also tastes good warm without it having to be piping hot. I like to serve it with tortilla chips but you can also go with sliced and toasted baguette. Expert tips: you can totally bake this and put it in the crockpot and keep it on warm.

A pan of Hot Artichoke Dip with chips around it.

Thanksgiving Main Dish

If you’re one of the lucky one’s who gets the job of hosting, don’t worry, I’ve got you. You have a variety of options to make a successful Thanksgiving Turkey, and don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to the whole bird!

Favorite whole turkey recipe

Orange Rosemary Roast Turkey– Not only is this a fantastic basic turkey recipe, it’s also the best go-to guide for how to cook a turkey. Trust me when I say it answers every possible question that may come up and even has troubleshooting options.

turkey brine recipe

Most tender turkey recipe

Citrus Brown Sugar Smoked Turkey Breast– Why make a whole bird when a turkey breast (or a few) will feed a crowd? This smoked turkey breast recipe is by far the most render and juice turkey recipe I’ve every tasted! If you have a smoker, this recipe is for you (and if not, you can easily roast it in your oven for a different, but still delicious flavor). Expert tip: the big takeaway is to cook it until it’s just under 165 degrees and then rest it for 10 minutes. Not only will the juices redistribute but the temperature will get up to 165 as it rests giving you a super juicy turkey that isn’t over cooked.

Tired of tough, dry turkey breast? Then you've got to try this Citrus Brown Sugar Smoked Turkey Breast. It's seriously easy to make and the most tender, juicy turkey breast you'll ever eat! From the brine to the rub you cannot go wrong!

Best turkey options for 1-2 people

Roast Turkey Thighs for Two– Now don’t let the name fool you, this recipe is written in a way that you can easily double, triple or quadruple the recipe for as many people as you need. It’s also an excellent option if you want a bit more dark meat to serve with your full bird (in my family we fight for the dark meat).

turkey thighs

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

We all have that family member who is all, “I’m just here for the sides.” I feel this deep in my soul, because Thanksgiving (out of all the eating holidays out there) tends to have the widest variety of different sides to sample and I’m all about variety!

Favorite vegetable side dish

Easy Garlic Green Beans– This recipe comes from my husband’s Nanou and it is the stuff of legends in our family. This crowd pleaser can convert even the pickiest of eaters to a green bean lover (just ask my daughter Alice!) and uses the most . simple of ingredients.

Garlic Green Beans is one of my favorite side dish recipes! It's easy to make and pretty healthy with Crispy Green Beans sauteed in a skillet. Fresh parley adds a great, herbaceous brightness with a little bit of butter and garlic. This is special enough food for Thanksgiving or any other holiday meal and also great in a pinch on a busy weeknight!

Favorite starch side dish

Italian Ciabatta Dressing– This is a recent addition to my site (as of 11/19) and as a person who doesn’t really love dressing it’s a total winner! Amazing flavor, moist on the inside with a perfectly crispy crust on top: everyone who tasted this when I was testing it begged for the recipe!

A spoon in a pan of dressing for Thanksgiving

Favorite Salad

Beet Salad– I’m really not a fan of beets, but I’d eat this salad every day. It really is that good. Light and super fresh tasting with lemon and dill plus a great zing from the feta cheese! Expert tip: sprinkle the feta on top just before serving so that it doesn’t turn purple!

Try this Beet Salad Recipe with Feta and Dill: it's an easy side dish recipe and is a great alternative to the usual dinner sides. Served cold with citrus and olive oil as a dressing it is a healthy and fresh option for any season!

Favorite make-ahead side dish

Harvest Rice Salad– I know this sounds strange, but trust me when I say that once you try this, you’ll want a rice salad at every family gathering. Full of the great flavors of fall- it’s refreshing but still satisfying and tastes best when made ahead.

A spoonful of Harvest Rice Salad with the bowl in the background.

Favorite side dish that travels well

Grandma’s Baked Artichoke Hearts– Each year, people go crazy over this recipe! It’s all the great flavor of a stuffed artichoke with out all the mess and hassle that goes into making and eating it. It’s rare to come across a holiday meal in our family that doesn’t feature this dish and it travels amazingly well!

roasted artichoke

Thanksgiving Desserts

If you don’t have desserts, is it even Thanksgiving?! Nothing caps off your thanksgiving feast like something sweet and I’ve got some tasty options to choose from!

Best twist on a traditional Thanksgiving dessert

Apple Cranberry Crisp with Gingersnap ToppingThis is one of the recipes I’m most proud of. The flavor combo is unmatched and its super easy to make. Bonus points because the leftovers make a great excuse to eat dessert for breakfast (I won’t tell if you don’t).

Best pie

Cherry Cheese PieNow I know that I could have gone with a more traditional option, but I want you to have the best of the best and this my friends is the best. This actually won an award at the senior center when my Grandma made it, so you know it means business! Expert tip: place the cherries on one-by-one. It only takes slightly longer but that extra step ensures a delicious cherry in every single bite!

Rosie's Award Winning Cherry Cheese Pie is a favorite family recipe- it is insanely easy and heavy cream, cream cheese, vanilla, confectioner's sugar and cherries make up the minimal ingredients. It looks gorgeous on any dessert tables, especially for the holidays and could not be more delicious! Get in the kitchen and make this now!

Best non-pie dessert

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Crunch Cake– Pumpkin cake and cheese cake and crunchy streusel topping? This is basically the cake of my dreams. And it’s a cake mix hack, so it’s totally easy to make. People will be begging for the recipe but I won’t tell i you don’t!

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Crunch Cake is the seriously easy fall dessert that you'll want to bring to every party! This cake mix hack includes a pumpkin sheet cake, cheesecake layer and a crumbly streusel topping with pecans. Every single person who tries it goes crazy over it and begs for the recipe.

Best show stopper

Rice Krispie Treat TurkeyI couldn’t possibly make this list without sharing this Rice Krispie Treat Turkey. The kids will love it and you’ll look like a total boss. What they won’t know is how easy it is to make!

An image of a Rice Krispie Treat Turkey with Reese's Pieces stuffed in it.

Best make ahead dessert

Orange Cranberry Tort– This is adapted from a famous New York Times recipe and comes out incredible every single time. It’s also seriously pretty which is never a bad thing. But most importantly (for this category) It actually tastes better if you make it ahead.

An overhead image of the Orange Cranberry Torte.

Pssst… are you Hosting Thanksgiving?

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Thanksgiving Recipes

In case that wasn’t enough inspiration, I’ll leave my full list of Thanksgiving-inspired recipes here for you to peruse. Be sure to bookmark or pin this and check back because it will get updated whenever I post a Thanksgiving-appropriate recipe!

You can find a full index of my recipes here.

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