40 Best Thanksgiving Food Ideas

Plan your Thanksgiving dinner with these Thanksgiving food ideas. We’ve got turkey recipes, side dishes, desserts, and drinks!

Thanksgiving Food Ideas

Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday filled with family and friends (hopefully, no drama), and, best of all — food. Who knew there were so many ways to make a sweet potato or to cook a turkey? 

Sometimes with all of these options, it becomes more difficult to decide on the dishes you really want to prepare — a concept known as paralysis analysis. 

So don’t stress yourself out by having too many things to make and not finishing until midnight or even worrying about not having enough food. Instead, try these Thanksgiving food ideas to give you a boost in your holiday planning. 

Table of Contents

Thanksgiving Food Ideas

1 — Air Fryer Turkey

taking a whole turkey out of the air fryer
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

If you’re looking for a fast, easy, and healthy way of cooking turkey, look no further! Roasting a turkey typically takes 6 hours. So this air fry method is about to change your life.

It takes about 20 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook (for every pound the bird is). Then, let it rest for about 30 minutes before serving. Just make sure your fair fryer is extra large to fit the bird! 

2 — Roast Turkey

How to roast a turkey
Photo by Delish

If you want to stick with the traditional method, then this roasted turkey recipe is a great walkthrough of everything you need to know about roasting a turkey. From thawing to weight to seasoning, everything is all in one place for you to perfect your turkey.

3 — Turkey Pot Pie

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
Photo by Pioneer Women

Not sure what to do with those leftovers? Fear not because this turkey pot pie is coming to the rescue! You can use chicken or turkey and even your leftover stuffing and carrots! It’s a delicious way to make sure those leftovers aren’t wasted. 

Thanksgiving Appetizers

1 — 5 Minute Bruschetta 

recipe for the best five-minute bruschetta
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Whip up these easy bruschetta bites in no time! They’re topped with crumbled cheese and fresh avocado, and then drizzled with white truffle oil and bruschetta sauce for a fancy appetizer that looks like it took a lot of time and effort to make. You can also set up a bruschetta bar for your guests to assemble their own.

2 — Crockpot Meatballs

photo of the fall tablescape with the easy meatballs recipe by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Elevate your Thanksgiving feast with the ultimate hassle-free appetizer, crockpot meatballs! Let the slow cooker do the work, as you slowly simmer apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and brown sugar with frozen meatballs.

3 — Mac and Cheese Balls

 Mac and Cheese Balls
Photo by Pioneer Woman

These mac and cheese balls are a great appetizer for any fall party. They’re easy to make and will be a big hit with kids and adults alike. 

4 — Salmon Mousse

Delight your Thanksgiving guests with a sophisticated and creamy appetizer, salmon mousse. Blending the richness of cream cheese, the smokiness of cured salmon, and the zesty brightness of lemon, this elegant mousse is a luxurious and refreshing precursor to your holiday feast.

5 — Turkey Vegetable Platter

Turkey Veggie Platter for Thanksgiving food ideas
Photo by Sugar & Charm

Impress your Thanksgiving guests with a visually stunning vegetable platter. This creative and nutritious centerpiece not only adds a festive touch to your table but also invites everyone to enjoy a flavorful assortment of fresh, colorful veggies, making it the perfect appetizer that combines whimsy with healthy indulgence.

Thanksgiving Sides and Appetizers

1 — Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup

Transform your Thanksgiving menu with the simplicity and richness of Instant Pot butternut squash soup. In just minutes, this velvety, aromatic soup, infused with the warm flavors of roasted butternut squash and autumn spices, becomes a comforting and wholesome addition to your holiday table.

2 — Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole
Photo by Delish

There’s nothing as classic to pair with your turkey, then the staple green bean casserole. Creamy baked green beans are topped with fried onions to make every bite more delicious than the last. 

You can use fresh green beans or stick with traditional and opt for canned green beans. For a healthier option, skip the flour and milk for a simple green bean salad.

3 — Herbed Mashed Potatoes

Creamy mashed potatoes are another quintessential traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu dish. Every bite is filled with creamy potatoes and buttery seasoning so that you’ll want more and more. The recipe is simple to make, which is a huge plus when preparing several dishes at one time! 

4 — Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole from Food Network
Photo by Food Network

There are so many forms roasted sweet potatoes take on during the Thanksgiving holiday, but this sweet potato casserole from the Food Network is one of the classics. It’s sweet but not dessert sweet. Plus, it’s great to make ahead.

Simply mix mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, milk, and eggs and put into the baking pan and refrigerate until it’s ready to bake. This is also a great leftover dish to have. Just heat it up and put a dollop of ice cream on top.

5 — Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Photo by Food Network

There is something about balsamic vinegar that takes brussels sprouts from a disliked vegetable (for many) to a loved one. Although this does involve baking the brussels sprouts, it’s still easy to make ahead of time since they can be served cold. 

So that’s one less planning step around the oven in the afternoon (thanks to the turkey and sweet potato casserole). 

6 — Corn Casserole

Photo by Delish

Although not as popular as sweet potato casserole, corn casserole is highly underrated. It’s creamy, baked, and deliciously sweet. A perfect dish to switch things up a bit on the table this Thanksgiving. You can use either canned corn or frozen corn.

7 — Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole

If you have kids (or picky adults) at the table and are always looking for ways to make broccoli delicious, this will be your new favorite recipe — Thanksgiving recipes or not.

It’s easy to make and bake and is a healthier version than traditional broccoli rice casserole thanks to a lack of cheese and the use of wild rice. 

8 — Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a staple of Thanksgiving for several reasons. Its sweet and tangy flavor profile complements the richness of other Thanksgiving dishes, providing a refreshing contrast to the savory turkey main course and side dishes.

9 — Cornbread with Maple Butter Topping

Homemade Cornbread with Maple Butter Topping
Photo by Julie Blanner

Elevate your Thanksgiving breadbasket with the irresistible combination of homemade cornbread drizzled with a luscious maple butter for a sweet and savory Thanksgiving meal.

10 — Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing
Photo by Call Me Betty

Thanksgiving dinner sides always include stuffing. So simplify your Thanksgiving prep with this make-ahead stuffing recipe, allowing you to effortlessly plan and savor the holiday moments.

11 — Butternut Squash Pasta

Typically mac’n’cheese is always on the Thanksgiving food list, but try something elevated like butternut squash pasta. The recipe is refined yet still packs the creamy hominess that you get with pasta. Plus, this healthy dish can be whipped up in just 35 minutes. 

Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

1 — Low Carb Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake

keto pumpkin treat - top view of a slice of cheese cake with whipping cream
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

If pumpkin pie isn’t your thing, try this low carb and sugar free pumpkin cheesecake instead. Since it doesn’t have to be served hot and needs time to refrigerate and set anyway, you can make it the day before so that’s one less thing to do on Thanksgiving!

2 — Apple Cobbler

photo of the apple cobbler dessert with a scoop of ice cream by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Apple cobbler is the quintessential fall dessert of all the fall apple and spiced flavors. It goes well with vanilla ice cream, which you can make ahead of time in three easy steps. Get ready to serve up and eat up! 

3 — No Bake Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

3 Simple DIY Ideas for Your Next Football Watch Party by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

A Thanksgiving menu isn’t complete without a Thanksgiving pie. But if you want to change things up, then this gingersnap pumpkin pie is twist on the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. It features crunchy gingersnap crust and a creamy pumpkin filling. The best part is that this is no-bake recipe that is one less item taking up your oven real estate.

4 — Pumpkin Pie Cream Puffs

Pumpkin Pie Cream Puffs by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar and Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Cream puffs are never a bad idea, and combining them with pumpkin pie flavors is definitely not a bad idea. This pumpkin pie cream puff recipe gives step-by-step instructions to make the cream puffs and how to decorate them so that you can customize them for any occasion — not just Thanksgiving. They’re as fun to make as they are to eat. 

5 — Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh So Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth, a top lifestyle blog in Houston, Texas
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Step up your fall cookies a notch with a touch of pumpkin in them. These chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are made with butter (and no shortening and oils). 

6 — Pecan Cheesecake in a Jar

Pecan Cheesecake Recipe
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

No slicing or serving is required when it comes to this pecan cheesecake. Guests will fall in love with this mini dessert featuring a fluffy cream cheesecake filling and topped with a decedent pecan caramel. 

7 — Acorn Cookies

Acorn Cookies for Thanksgiving food ideas
Photo by Taste of Home

Indulge in the simplicity of acorn cookies, a delightful Thanksgiving treat crafted with just 3 ingredients. These easy-to-make cookies feature chocolate kisses nestled atop mini Nutter Butter cookies, creating a charming acorn-inspired dessert that effortlessly combines the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter for a sweet and festive Thanksgiving delight.

8 — Snickerdoodle & Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich

photo of the best fall dessert, Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches of by top Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches by Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

There’s not much better than cookies and ice cream in the same place, especially when it’s all homemade. The snickerdoodle cookies taste perfect with the homemade pumpkin ice cream for a truly delicious sandwich combination. 

9 — Pumpkin Blondies

Pumpkin blondies recipe - sugar & cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

These pumpkin spice-infused blondies topped with chocolate chips will be your new fall go-to recipe when the company comes around. Customize and jazz it up by adding walnuts, white chocolate chips, or butterscotch.

10 — Pumpkin Pie Pop Tart 

pumpkin pie poptart - sugar and cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

If your family has an all-day Thanksgiving, start the day off (or the day after) with these pumpkin pie pop-tarts. Being that they’re homemade, you don’t get harsh chemicals (unlike the store-bought ones). And you can choose which spices to add depending on how sweet or spicy you want that pumpkin pie filling to taste. Bon appetit! 

11 — Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls 

Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls Recipe for thanksgiving food ideas
Photo by Southern Living

Complete your perfect Thanksgiving dinner with these with these fudgy pecan bourbon balls. These no-bake bite-sized delights call for only 4 ingredients and will surely be a hit with bourbon lovers.

12 — Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

Photo by Allergylicious

Looking for allergy friendly Thanksgiving dinner ideas? This vegan pumpkin pie is gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free.

Plus, we also love this food styling idea of using leftover dough to create star cutouts to garnish the top. For another delicious vegan option, try our vegan brownies recipe.

13 — Pumpkin Crumb Cake

pumpkin crumb cake
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

This pumpkin crumb cake is a fall take on a classic German/Polish dessert. You probably have all of the ingredients already, and it can be whipped up (and eaten) in no time! 

14 — Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Turkeys

chocolate covered strawberry turkeys
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

If you have kids in the house, this is a great way to keep them busy on Thanksgiving Day. These chocolate covered strawberry turkeys are a fun craft for everyone and are incredibly delicious!

Thanksgiving Drinks

1 — Pumpkin Punch

photo of a thanksgiving punch recipe
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

For any fall party, this will quickly become your new go-to punch. It’s packed with fall flavors and easy to throw together in a bowl. Plus, it’s easy to customize so make it sweeter, spicier, or stronger, depending on your taste. 

2 — Simple Hot Spiced Wine

hot spiced wine recipe - sugar & cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Mulled wine is a great way to keep warm during the cold holidays. If you’re over hot chocolate already or are lactose intolerant, this simple hot spiced wine is a great substitute. Plus, it can easily be made into a punch in large quantities. 

3 — Apple Brandy Cocktail

apple brandy allspice fizz cocktail recipe - sugar and cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Thanks to its tart and full-of-spice flavor, this apple brandy cocktail is perfect for the adults at the table this Thanksgiving. It can be made ahead of time (for the most part) and can be decorated with leftover cinnamon sticks or cloves that you have on hand. 

4 — Apple Cider Cocktail

photo of the easy spiced apple cider drink by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

If there are kids and adults running around the house this Thanksgiving, this apple cider cocktail recipe is perfect for everyone. It can just as easily be made into a mocktail as it can be a cocktail and is just as delicious either way. 

5 — Cranberry Sidecar

Cranberry Sidecar Cocktail by Sugar & Cloth, an award winning DIY, recipes, and lifestyle blog.
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Looking for a recipe off the beaten path this holiday? This cranberry sidecar cocktail is a great option. Its orange liquor and sugar rim adds sparkle, while the cranberry compliments the lemon in the drink.

6 — Pumpkin Spice White Russian

Pumpkin spice white russian
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Sip on the flavors of fall with a festive pumpkin spice white Russian, the perfect libation to elevate your Thanksgiving celebration. This indulgent blend of vodka, coffee liqueur, and a swirl of pumpkin spice-infused cream creates a velvety, autumn-inspired drink for a holiday gathering.

7 — Sparkling Blackberry Mocktail Punch

DIY Floral Punch Bowl Wreath + Sparkling Blackberry Mocktail Recipe by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

This quick and easy sparkling mocktail literally has you just pouring and mixing your ingredients together. The recipe even includes a guide on how you can replicate the DIY floral punch bowl garland seen in the photo.

Thanksgiving Table Decoration Ideas

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  1. Question from a non American. Do you cook the stuffing and then put it in the turkey and eat it together? Or do you put it in and then separate it and eat the stuffing on its own?

    1. That’s actually a great question! In America, there are different ways. Some families cook the stuffing separately and serve the stuffing separately. Some cook the stuffing at the same time when it’s inside the turkey. If you go this route, just make sure that the meat is precooked and also keep in mind that it may slow down the cook process for the turkey. Once everything is done cooking, people eat it together. Some people take the stuffing out. However, typically, they eat the stuffing and turkey together if it was cooked together.
      It’s really just a matter of preference. My family will do two types of stuffing. The non meat stuffing cooks inside the turkey. And then, we have a separate stuffing with meat that is cooked separately. Hope this helps!