Thanksgiving is a time to feast with friends and family, celebrate the American holiday, and give thanks for all we have. By far, the best and most important part of the day is the big meal where you can eat until your heart and stomach is more than content.
Of course, the turkey is the centerpiece, but there are so many side dishes that complement the meal fantastically. While there is nothing like the classic mashed potatoes, stuffing and mac and cheese, these dishes promise to make your turkey day spread even more impressive.
Green Bean Casserole
The green bean casserole is one of the best side dishes at the Thanksgiving table. Green beans aren’t in season in November so you can use frozen in your recipe. Instead of using a canned cream of mushroom soup, try sauteing your fresh mushrooms with thinly sliced onion in butter.
Once the mixture is caramelized it is ready to be mixed with the beans. If you want to add cheese, use one cup of Gruyere, Parmesan, or Monterey jack and top it all off with fried onions.
While candied yams aren’t your everyday side dish as they are very sweet, the sweetness of the yams complements the savory turkey and gravy perfectly. Over medium heat, combine sugar, orange juice, butter, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, salt and a splash of bourbon for an alcoholic kick.
Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add a cinnamon stick for extra flavor and pour the mixture over the sliced yams. Make sure the potatoes are basted throughout cooking.
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
There’s really nothing better than super creamy, buttery mashed potatoes that melt in your mouth. When it comes to the actual potatoes, both yukon gold and russet potatoes have a smooth texture.
Usually they are better peeled but it is up to you if you enjoy the skins. Don’t go light on the butter, it’s Thanksgiving after all. Either use one whole stick, or add in a few more tablespoons and as for the cream, always go full fat. Make sure to season well with salt and pepper.
It’s all gravy baby when it comes to Thanksgiving and you want to make sure it is perfectly smooth with no lumps and plenty of flavor. Firstly, creative a classic roux so the mixture thickens well.
Set aside the drippings of turkey fat when roasting your bird for the gravy and if you don’t have enough substitute with broth. Mix it altogether on a low heat, stirring quickly until the gravy is smooth. Add salt, pepper and seasoning to taste.
There are not many times a year that we eat stuffing, but Thanksgiving is sure one of them. Stuffing is a bread and herbs mixture that goes inside the bird and collects all the juices and fat from the turkey.
Combine the breadcrumbs with butter, onion and celery in a baking dish and cook until it is soft. Then add in beaten eggs and chicken broth before stuffing it inside the bird. It can also be made separately in a baking tray.
Don’t be that person who cracks open a can of cranberry sauce, homemade is always best. Either fresh or frozen cranberries can be used and it is as simple as combining cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan for around 10 minutes until the cranberries burst.
When you remove it from the heat, you can either let it sit, or add in some orange and lemon zest for a citrus kick. Let it cool for a few hours before serving with the turkey.
One of the best Thanksgiving desserts is of course pumpkin pie. While you probably have your tried and tested recipe for the pie, here are some things to remember. Making the pie dough ahead of Thanksgiving will give you less stress in cooking your other dishes. On the day, just roll it out and place in the baking pan.
Make sure the butter is very cold for a flaky crust and if you have it, apple cider vinegar makes the dough more crusty. Partially bake the crust so that when you add the pumpkin filling it doesn’t go soggy. While a lot of recipes call for regular sugar, brown sugar is actually the most effective.
Ranch Roast Turkey
If you want to impress your family and friends with the turkey this year, don’t serve the usual bland one and go for this recipe. Prepare the turkey as you usually would but mix 2 sticks of butter and two packets of ranch seasoning together.
Separate the turkey skin and generously spread the mixture both under it and on top of it so the turkey is covered. This way, the turkey meat will taste of the butter and ranch, as will the crispy skin.
Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallows
This one is truly a favorite for both kids and adults. While it is considered a vegetable dish, the amount of sugar and candy in it makes that quite questionable. Nonetheless, here how to avoid the common mistakes made. Using dark brown sugar instead of light will give it a caramelized flavor and make sure to include salt in the mixture.
Instead of boiling your sweet potatoes, roast them, it will make the dish less soggy. Finally, add a mixture of pecans and marshmallows for the topping, the textures go well together.
What is more American than a good old fashioned Apple Pie? As we have said, homemade is always best, but if you’re short on time, you can always use the store bought one. The best apples to use are an assortment of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Gala, with different sweetness in each, it brings out the apple flavor.
Simply mix the apple slices with lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt, place into the pie crust and add a layer of dough on top. Cover with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar before baking in the oven.
Seasonal Roasted Vegetables
Bland lettuce based salads always seem to go to waste on Thanksgiving, so don’t waste your time preparing them. Instead, roasting some seasonal vegetables will be a hit with your guests and they only take a few minutes of your time to prepare.
Just chop up vegetables including beets, brussel sprouts and carrots, mix them together with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and thyme. Just bake it for 20-25 minutes, sprinkle with pecans and cranberries and it’s ready to serve.
Turkey Chocolate Cake
If your kids aren’t into pies, you can impress everyone and make a chocolate cake in the shape of a turkey. You can use two boxes of white cake mix for the sponge and then spend more time decorating. To make the feathers, melt white chocolate and then take brush and make a stripe on to parchment paper for it to solidify before placing on the cake.
For the colored feathers use food coloring to dye the chocolate before repeating the brush process with the parchment paper. For the eyes, open up two oreos and that’s it.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Before getting into the main course, roasted butternut squash soup is a delicious way to ease in to the meal. Just roast the butternut squash and add to a chicken broth mix. Then, add in onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper, additionally with any more seasoning you feel like.
It’s best to use an immersion blender which goes right in the pot but you can also transfer it to a smoothie blender if necessary. You can add some parmesan when serving.
Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes
While the classic mashed potatoes are great, sometimes you want to go the extra mile with side dishes. First, melt four tablespoons of unsalted butter in a pan on low until it is toasted.
Make your mashed potatoes as usual, and once you have mashed until creamy, stir in half of the browned butter and transfer into a serving dish. Add the rest of the burned butter on the top of the dish with garnish and then it is ready to serve.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasting brussel sprouts are one of the easiest dishes to make on your list for Thanksgiving, however, you don’t want to get it wrong. Simply brush the brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and leave in the oven for half an hour.
Make sure the sprouts have room to spread out and cook until crispy and allow a lot of time to let them caramelize. When serving, add sprinkle some pink himalayan salt for some extra flavor.
One of the must have pies at your Thanksgiving table is a pecan pie. Just like the pumpkin pie, premake your crust so you don’t have to worry about it on the day. In a saucepan, melt butter and whisk in brown sugar before removing it from the heat and adding in beaten eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and salt.
Throw the pecans into the crust before pouring the sugar mixture over the top, covering all of the pecans. Bake with foil covering it for 30 minutes before removing and baking for an additional 35.
Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin
Getting your kids to eat their veggies is always hard, but when you add a cheese mixture to it, they will devour it. Place broccoli and cauliflower in a baking dish and in the meantime, melt butter over medium heat and add in flour and milk until it thickens.
Remove from heat and add in nutmeg and whichever cheeses you desire. Season with salt and pepper before pouring over the broccoli and cauliflower. Add extra cheese on the top before baking with aluminium foil for 15 minutes before removing and baking for an additional 20 to 25.
Mac and Cheese
Let’s face it, the mac and cheese is one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving meal. However, it is very easy to get wrong and you can often end up with dried sauce and a crispy top, you need to get the ratios right. Make your roux and when it is nice and thick, add in plenty of cheese including cheddar and gruyere until it is fully melted in.
Add in mustard, paprika, nutmeg, peppercorn, salt and pepper. Add the sauce to your al dente macaroni and place in a glass baking dish before adding breadcrumbs, more cheese and herbs to the topping. Cook for 30 minutes and serve.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
While Thanksgiving is a time to feast and indulge with no diet restraints, you can always add in healthy alternatives to balance out the meal without compromising on taste. This Cauliflower mashed potato will be a delicious addition to your spread.
Boil Yukon gold potatoes and cauliflower until soft and then transfer the cauliflower to a food processor and blend till smooth. Mash the potatoes separately before mixing together and adding roasted garlic in olive oil. Add some potato water to loosen the mixture and enjoy!
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
We’ve had candied yams and sweet potato casserole as traditional Thanksgiving sides, but you can also stuff your sweet potatoes with whatever toppings your guests desire. Roast the sweet potatoes for around 50 minutes and then choose your stuffings.
From cheese and onion to guacamole, salsa and black beans to tzatziki or apples and stilton, the possibilities are endless and you can even let your guests create their own. This is also a great way for kids to eat sweet potatoes.
So easy yet so delicious. Creamed spinach only takes about 15 minutes to whip up, giving you plenty of time to focus on the more complicated side dishes. Saute a pound of spinach and then squeeze out the excess water when complete.
For the cream sauce, sauté shallots and garlic and add in coconut cream or heavy cream to the spinach. Add cornstarch to thicken the mixture and finish it off with some Dijon mustard and lemon for an extra kick.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
The possibilities with cauliflowers are endless, so why wouldn’t you roast it and put it in a hearty soup? It’s a great starter before getting into the mountains of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s incredibly easy to make, simply roast a whole head of cauliflower include the greens.
You can also roast some garlic and shallots for extra taste. When tender, blend the vegetable with Dijon mustard, lemon juice and thyme. The creamy texture of the soup comes from the cauliflower and will become thick and delicious when brought together.
Lemon-Maple Roasted Carrots
You won’t have to beg your kids to eat their vegetables with these delicious carrots. Just peel some carrots and toss on a baking sheet with oil, coriander seeds, salt and pepper before roasting in the oven.
Make sure the carrots have plenty of space on the baking tray and transfer half of the batch to another tray if needed. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes before letting them cool down slightly and tossing them with maple syrup and lemon juice. It’s optional to finish them off with some cilantro on the top.
Tangy Cranberry Meatballs
Who doesn’t love meatballs? Instead of making them a full dish on Thanksgiving, you can give guests just a taste of them with this delicious appetizer. Either make your own traditional meatballs with mince meat, or buy some store bought ones to save time.
Combine cranberry sauce, vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and water in a large saucepan and cook on medium-low. Add in the meatballs and cook through for 12-15 minutes and you’re done. Present them on a plate with some cocktail sticks to serve.
Cheese and Onion Dip
You can’t resist a melty, gooey cheese dip any day of the week, so why give it a miss on Turkey day? Whether you want to serve this cheese and onion dip as an appetizer or with the main meal, it is always a hit. Melt butter, onions with salt and pepper in a skillet over medium-low heat.
Increase heat and add in sugar to caramelise. In another bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, zest, and hot sauce until smooth. Fold in the Gruyère, scallions, and onions before transferring to a baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bubbling and then serve with bread stick and crackers.
While guests are arriving and enjoying drinks to start, serving these delicious stuffed mushrooms will give them a fantastic taste of what else is to come. Separate the mushrooms from the stems and then heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat before adding in onion, green pepper, and black pepper.
Add the mushrooms and cook for three more minutes before cooling for 5 minutes. Combine lemon juice, parsley, bread crumbs and cheese before placing the mushrooms on a baking tray and placing the mixture in each of the mushrooms. Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve.
Figs with Walnuts and Gorgonzola
These ingredients are not just fall favorites, they also complement each other perfectly. It’s so simple and easy to make and a great snack before the big feast. Just half figs and place them on a baking sheet. Push down the center and place 2 to 3 drops vinegar inside.
Fill the rest of the fig with fresh gorgonzola and add a walnut to top it off. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts for about five minutes. Take them out to cool slightly and drizzle some honey and balsamic vinegar over the top. A flavor explosion.
Pigs In a Blanket
No matter how old you are, you can’t help but love pigs in a blanket. They are a true staple on both Thanksgiving and Christmas and you’ll be sure to disappoint guests if you’re not serving them. To cut out time, buy store made puff pastry and cut it into a 12- by 14-inch rectangle, cut the rectangle in half and then into 3 more pieces.
Dry the hot dogs with a paper towel and pierce with a fork. Whisk together eggs and salt for the egg wash before rolling each hot dog in puff pastry and sealing with the egg wash. Place the pigs in blankets on parchment paper and add more egg wash. Bake for around 20 minutes and serve with ketchup and mustard on the side.
Traditional Roast Turkey
Turkey can be very bland but celebrity chef Ina Garten’s recipe for a perfect roast turkey is the one that you need. The key to this turkey is plenty of butter, fresh lemon and thyme for a moist and tangy taste when roasting.
Make sure the turkey is stuffed with a bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and garlic. Cover the outside of the turkey with one stick of butter and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Roast the turkey for two and a half hours and then it is ready to serve.
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