35+ Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas


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A classic Thanksgiving family dinner is at your fingertips with these mouthwatering Thanksgiving dinner ideas! Choose from any of these simple recipes below for your complete holiday feast!

A collage of Thanksgiving dinner foods, including turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes
Top to bottom: Roasted Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Sausage Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole
Thanksgiving recipes featured in this post
  1. Thanksgiving Appetizers
  2. Thanksgiving Soups
  3. Thanksgiving Green Salads
  4. Thanksgiving Fruit Salads
  5. Thanksgiving Dinner Main Course
  6. Thanksgiving Dinner Side Dishes
  7. Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls
  8. Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauces
  9. Thanksgiving Pies
  10. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Thanksgiving holiday gives us a reason to gather together, give thanks for bounteous blessings, and celebrate our gratitude with glorious food. Our time honored, classic Thanksgiving recipes come from treasured recipe boxes of mothers and grandmothers. Rich ingredients are mixed and baked to create a spectacular meal.

Some of our fondest memories include helping our mother in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, basting and baking, chopping and whisking, creating a meal filled with familiar flavors and fond memories. 

Now, as we make our own Thanksgiving dinners for our families, we include classic favorites that never change: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy… oh the gravy! But as our families evolve and our diets change, it’s fun to try twists on old classics, or completely new recipes that become tradition.

Choosing the right recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner menu can seem like a daunting task, but never fear! These tried and true recipes have been part of our Thanksgiving meal for many years, and are always a hit with family and friends alike. Whether you are cooking the whole dinner on your own this year, or contributing a few dishes to a large gathering, we have lots of mouth-watering and simple recipes to choose from.

Thanksgiving Appetizers

It’s safe to say your guests will arrive for the Thanksgiving feast with hearty appetites. Having a few simple, savory appetizers on hand will allow you to put the finishing touches on the main meal while your guests get acquainted with each other.

We love to set out a few platters of crisp veggies, tender shrimp cocktail, a rich spinach dip, or a savory cheddar cheese ball and crackers on the kitchen island. Guests can munch and visit while you bustle around the kitchen, which creates a casual, cozy atmosphere guaranteed to put everyone at ease before you sit down to eat.

Savoring small bites of food will actually whet the appetite for the glorious feast that’s to come. Simplicity is key for this course. And all of these appetizers can be made ahead of time so all you need to do is assemble a few plates and you’re done! Here are a few of our very favorites.

Read More: 25+ Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers: Classic & Creative Dishes To Make

Thanksgiving Soups

Soups are a warm and comforting way to start off your Thanksgiving family dinner. Serve our Soup in a Pumpkin or our creamy Butternut Squash Soup, or go for a more traditional Tomato Basil or French Onion soup. Whether it’s served at the beginning of your meal or served with leftovers, a cozy bowl of soup will bring the family together like nothing else can.

Thanksgiving Green Salads

Serving a few light salads at Thanksgiving balances out the heavy, savory turkey and fixings. We love anything that adds beautiful color to the table, and salads are a terrific place to play with some of those vibrant hues.

Mandarin oranges, bright pomegranates, crisp green spinach, and golden apples are some of our favorite ingredients to play with. These fresh, green salads are the perfect addition to your holiday plate. Try some of these easy to assemble salads along with a drizzle of a light balsamic vinegar dressing.

Thanksgiving Fruit Salads

In addition to green salads, fruit salads offer a light and fresh balance to turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It’s always nice to have plenty of options to choose from on the table. We’ve found fruit salads are always popular with the kids, and something they will opt for when some of the other dishes aren’t as familiar to them. Check out these fruit salad recipes to complement your meal.

Thanksgiving Dinner Main Course

At last! The star of your classic Thanksgiving meal, the turkey, and we are talking the whole bird! No need to be intimidated by the idea of cooking a turkey (fun fact: it’s actually the easiest part of the whole meal!). Follow our recipe below for the most juicy, succulent roasted turkey you’ve ever tasted. And what’s turkey without the gravy? This fool-proof gravy recipe will become a favorite that you can use beyond Thanksgiving.

Not a turkey fan, or maybe you like serving two main course meats at your Thanksgiving dinner? Try a delicious spiral ham or roast beef both are warmed in the crockpot so you can keep the oven free for the turkey.

Read More: How To Cook A Turkey: Basic Guide For A Perfect Thanksgiving (Easy)

Thanksgiving Dinner Side Dishes

From buttery golden rolls to sweet potatoes, side dishes are as vital to your Thanksgiving menu as the bird itself. Sides add layers of texture and color to each plate, balancing heavy savory dishes with lighter, vibrant flavors. This year, consider adding a couple of new recipes to your traditional sides. Look to root vegetables like roasted parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes to add color and crunch to your recipes. Save on oven space by using the air fryer, crock pot and Instant Pot to prepare some of your favorite vegetable recipes.

And don’t forget the stuffing! Delicious stuffing seasoned with sage, rosemary, and thyme is the a must at Thanksgiving dinner. Our cranberry sausage stuffing and cornbread stuffing are loaded with sweet and savory flavors. If you are a bacon lover, our Thanksgiving stuffing with bacon gives rich bacon seasoning inside and outside of the turkey. Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving side recipes:

Potato Side Dishes

Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipes

Hot Vegetable Side Dishes

Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls

Ah – the Thanksgiving dinner roll! It plays an important roll on so many levels! You can eat it as is with an herbed butter or cranberry spread. You can dip it in leftover gravy. Or you can make a little Thanksgiving sandwich by filling it with a slice of turkey breast, stuffing, cream cheese, and cranberry sauce. This is great for leftovers as well.

So many choices, but one essential one – make sure you have a homemade roll to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner. It won’t be complete without it. And definitely make up some of our herbed butter made with fresh herbs. You can make this ahead of time and keep it in the fridge or freezer.

Read More: 25+ Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauces

Cranberry sauce complements Thanksgiving turkey in a way even gravy can’t. The sweet and tangy cranberry is so vibrant and flavorful, and pairs beautifully with a variety of different flavors. Steer clear of the canned stuff, and start with real cranberries. With these super easy homemade recipes, you can wow your guests with fresh ingredients that taste better than any canned cranberry sauce. We especially love orange and raspberry cranberry sauces so try one or more of our favorite sauces this season and find a new traditional dish for next year!

Thanksgiving Pies

You may feel stuffed after a savory Thanksgiving dinner. But the meal just wouldn’t be complete without a slice (or two) of our very favorite pies, and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream and the whipped cream. Today isn’t the day to worry about calories; a diet can always start tomorrow! Enjoy every single bite of sweetness and bask in being together with family and friends.

Dessert is actually the part of the meal that is the most nostalgic to us. We love breaking out pie recipes that we only make once a year. As we cut in flour and shortening for a light, flaky crust, or whip up meringue for our favorite lemon pie, we love to reminisce on the days of watching our mother making homemade pie crusts (and giving us a taste of leftover crust with cinnamon and sugar baked on top).

The options for Thanksgiving desserts are endless! You may favor the traditional pumpkin pie or fruity pies like apple, cherry or raspberry. Perhaps you enjoy a slice of traditional pumpkin, or opt for silky chocolate or coconut cream. Try one or two that are new to you, and perhaps a new tradition will be born. We really can’t pick a favorite, so we generally make most or all of them. The great news is, these pies make terrific breakfasts the next morning, so enjoy baking with your family and eat some pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If this is your very first time hosting Thanksgiving in your home, this menu will give you all the tools you need to create a lovely, classic holiday meal. Are you a seasoned veteran who is now passing the torch on to other cooks in the family? Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your years of labor. No matter how much of the meal you’ll be preparing, the key is to enjoy the process. If you’re a whiz at making pie crusts, offer to bring a couple of your favorites. Have bounteous beans from your summer garden? Create our savory green bean casserole with bacon and crispy onion straws.

Remember, there are many make-ahead recipes, so you can enjoy yourself on the big day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your guests, since they generally want to feel helpful when they come over for a big meal. No matter how big or small your Thanksgiving table, gathering around good food is a beautiful way to connect and share with family and friends and express your love for them. From our family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy all the cooking, baking, and time with loved ones.

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been making turkey every year I just learned not to rinse the turkey so I am going to do it the way I just learned