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My Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu has foolproof recipes, plus tips and tricks to help you stay sane when hosting the holiday.
Thanksgiving is probably my family’s favorite holiday and we’ve hosted plenty of groups, big and small, over the years. I’ve tried out new recipes, tweaked old ones, and kept some just as they always were, perfect the way Grandma made them.
I’ve got it down to a science at this point and today I’m going to share my Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu with you, along with some tips that keep me on track when hosting the holiday.
The Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu
Welcome Cocktails and Starters
This sparkling autumn sangria is filled with crisp apples, juicy orange slices, and warm fall spices.
This festive cocktail is the perfect way to put your guests at ease and the bubbles make it a party.
This cocktail is sophisticated, smooth, fall-esque, and silky. I’ve blended apple brandy with ginger liqueur, added some charred lemon (yep, charred), a splash of bitters, and a frothy egg white.
It’s got warmth, it’s got bite, but with a mellow, almost creamy mouth-feel thanks to the addition of the egg white.
These candied pecans are sweet and crunchy with just a hint of spice.
They make a tasty topping for salads, are ideal for gifting, and are just straight up addictive for snacking! (Makes a great hostess or parting gift too!)
The perfect starter to your holiday meal…a little sweet, a little tart and a whole lot of festive.
This cranberry chutney can be served on a cheeseboard, or you can assemble the crostini just before guests arrive.
Roasted butternut squash and apple soup is a creamy, autumn spiced soup that is the perfect Thanksgiving starter.
Pureed and silky, it can be made in advance and will fill your house with fall aromas.
The Main Event
Crispy skin, a tender, juicy bird, and rich and smooth cider pan gravy…hello Thanksgiving! Making the TASTIEST Thanksgiving turkey has never been easier thanks to a dry brine.
And you won’t want to miss the tips for the SMOOTHEST pan gravy ever!
ALL the Sides!
Crispy edged, buttery stuffing flecked with leeks and pancetta is the ultimate Thanksgiving side.
Fresh herbs, sweet onion, softened leeks elevate this simple side to star status.
Is there anything more satisfying than a scoop of mashed potatoes?
Smooth and creamy, these mashed potatoes make the perfect nest for turkey gravy, a pat of butter, or a sprinkle of chives.
You need this easy recipe for mashed potato nirvana!
Silky smooth sweet potato soufflé baked with a nutty crumb topping is a sweetly satisfying side.
This dish can easily be doubled to feed a crowd and made in advance which makes it perfect for entertaining.
*TIP: Make extra crumble to top an apple pie!
This is not your grandma’s green bean casserole!
Inspired by the casserole of my youth, but reimagined with fresh green beans, roasted wild mushrooms, creamy béchamel sauce, and a crispy shallot topping. This will become your favorite Thanksgiving side!
Tart and sweet with a hint of citrus, this orange cranberry sauce is Thanksgiving ready!
Whole cranberries are simmered with orange, sugar, and orange liqueur for a simple, but zingy, holiday side.
*TIP: Leftovers are delicious on a turkey sandwich!
This crunchy, tangy, brussels sprouts and pomegranate salad is what your Thanksgiving spread needs.
It adds texture, color, and no oven space required! You’re going to love this easy, healthy side!
Save Room for DESSERT!
Entertaining a crowd? A caramel apple slab pie is the perfect fall dessert. Sliced apples are doused in homemade caramel sauce and baked in a buttery, flaky crust.
Extra points for fun fall decorations!
What do you get when you cross pumpkin with cheesecake and gingersnaps? The best day ever!
Creamy, with warm and toasty fall flavors and and a spicy gingersnap crust, these pumpkin cheesecake bars are the perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert.
Save yourself a trip to the pumpkin patch! These adorable pumpkin cake pops look like they were just plucked from the vine.
Crumbled cake mixed with frosting, dipped, and served on a stick make the cutest and festive fall treats.
*TIP: Get your chocolate fix here disguised as pumpkins!
Yes, You WILL be Hungry Tomorrow!
Let’s Talk Leftovers
Transform your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers into a brand new meal. Sautéed onions and jalapeño, seasoned turkey, and cranberry chutney all folded into a perfectly charred taco.
You’ll make sure there’s always plenty left over!
This hearty turkey stew with vegetables simmered in a creamy sauce is a delicious way to use up that leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
So good, you’ll make extra turkey just to have leftovers!
And be sure to bookmark this recipe, so good for cold days using a rotisserie chicken!
The king of all sandwiches is served! Thanksgiving on Roll combines roasted turkey with all of your favorite sides layered onto a roll.
Go ahead and make it your own!
Hope you saved room.
Entertaining Tips for Thanksgiving
Put together a solid plan and the rest is GRAVY!
Plan ahead with lists and a timeline.
Weeks in advance of Thanksgiving Day I make my shopping lists and divide them by when I plan to buy groceries (dry goods well in advance, produce and perishables days ahead), decor/flowers, and alcohol/beverages. Be sure to order your turkey with the butcher days (or even better, weeks) in advance.
Write a timeline (YES, A TIMELINE) for the days leading up to the holiday and especially for Thanksgiving day. Include when you’re putting dishes into the oven and the oven temperature for each dish.
Label, Label, Label.
Do yourself a favor and pull out your serveware the weekend before Thanksgiving, grab a pad of post-it notes and get to labeling. I put the name of each dish on a post-it note, then stick it in the plate or bowl I’ll be using to serve.
It’s simple but super helpful when you’re trying to get everything to the table while it’s still hot. It also makes it easy for guests to lend a hand.
Set the table days in advance, so you have one less thing to worry about when you have a turkey to baste. Iron your linens, gather the chairs, polish the silver, and wash the glasses the week before!
Craft your menu with items that can be prepped or even fully prepared hours or even days before Thanksgiving. Pie crusts and herb butter can be made and frozen, and dishes like cranberry sauce and stuffing can be made ahead (and will taste better for it).
Tide them over (but DON’T ruin the meal)!
Guests often skip breakfast or eat very little in the am to hold out for the big meal. That means hungry people on your doorstep while you’re in the throes of cooking.
Do yourself a favor and have some nibbles set out before guests arrive. Just remember to keep it light so appetites aren’t ruined. Room temperature snacks are ideal as they can sit out for an extended period of time.
Think nuts, flavored popcorn, cheese/crackers. Consider making one big grazing board that is gorgabundant. (Yes, I’m officially coining that term. Gorgeous to look at, abundant, and plentiful.) Make one large board for one big group and call it a day.
Serve soup in small cups with handles while your guests are still milling around before the meal. It’s less to fill up on than a big bowl of soup and you can get all of the food set out without having to worry about it getting cold during a first course.
CHEERS! You’ve Got This!
So let’s keep it in perspective.
Sure, we all want that Instagram-able Thanksgiving table, but it’s good to remind ourselves that it’s the people that you’re sharing it with that truly make it memorable (okay, and some damn good mashed potatoes).
So fingers crossed that the oven doesn’t fail, we remember not to sweat the small stuff, and that we’re always our own worst critic…
And have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!