Today kicks off our 30 days of Thanksgiving countdown, so to celebrate the lead-up to our favorite holiday, we are offering you a brand new recipe each day. Rather than recipes about how to cook a turkey or how to prepare candied yams though (because many of us do that every year anyway!) we are taking a look at rather more unusual recipes you might like to try. We have appetizers, side dishes, main dishes and desserts for all the family. Perhaps you feel like putting a new twist on this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, in which case make sure you don’t miss any recipes. Most are great for any other occasion too, not just Thanksgiving, so enjoy the inspiring, tasty ideas as we keep them coming from now until Thanksgiving!
There is something for everyone including the kids and vegetarian eaters, because Thanksgiving is a holiday everyone deserves to enjoy and take part in. This holiday is often about cooking up all the family favorites each year, but if you want an unusual side dish to go with your turkey, something extra-special for dessert, or a different appetizer from usual, take a look at our inspiring picks and perhaps something will catch your eye. We like to focus on easy-to-prepare dishes, aimed at everyone from the novice home cook to those with more experience in the kitchen. Many of our dishes are make-ahead too, so you can put them together in the morning and then finish them off just before the meal, for your convenience. Take a look at what we have for you and see which of our tasty Thanksgiving recipe ideas fires your imagination.
30 Days of Thanksgiving Countdown Recipes at a Glance
Maple Glazed Carrots with Walnuts – A glaze is typically found somewhere in the Thanksgiving meal, whether you have glazed your carrots, candied your yams or prepared some other kind of glazed treat. This recipe is a little different though, because we are using walnuts in addition to the maple and thyme, and the crunch the walnuts adds to the dish makes it really special. Carrots are naturally sweet, as is the maple glaze, but the walnuts add a savory element to the recipe, as does the thyme. Throw in some salt too, to get that balance just right. This is a beautiful dish to serve alongside your Thanksgiving turkey and it is so easy to prepare. You can use matchstick-cut carrot batons (or buy them that way to save time) or cut them into long diagonal slices if you prefer. Either way, this is a great dish to make.
Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake – Cheesecake makes a great dessert for any occasion while pumpkin is the quintessential fall vegetable. This recipe combines them both and the result is an incredible dessert everyone will really enjoy. There is a fair amount of work in making this recipe because you will be preparing the crust as well as the filling, but it is well worth it because the pumpkin cheesecake is sure to be one of the highlights of your Thanksgiving meal. The cheesecake needs to be chilled before serving so you can make it in the morning or even the evening before Thanksgiving and just keep it refrigerated. The pecans work well in this recipe to offer not only a magical crunch but also a great flavor. Consider this as your Thanksgiving dessert because nobody will be disappointed with this amazing dish.
Special Spaghetti Squash Salad with Lobster – Spaghetti squash is a nutritious, low-calorie alternative to regular spaghetti, and it can be used in many different recipes. Here we are teaming it with lobster and pineapple to make a colorful, flavorful appetizer for your Thanksgiving table. You do not need much lobster for this, since it is simply a component and these are appetizer-sized portions, but using it does make an exquisite and special appetizer. The garlic and oregano dressing offers a fresh taste and complements the salad really well. If you usually make the same appetizer each Thanksgiving, why not consider this to make a change, and then stick with your usual Turkey and side dishes afterwards, just to change things up a little? Spaghetti squash is easy to prepare and this is an unusual, tasty appetizer.
Authentic Hasselback Potatoes – These potatoes are not only gorgeous to look at, but also wonderful to eat because they are so crispy on the outside and wonderfully soft and tender in the middle. Making these potatoes is easy as long as you have a nice, sharp knife to cut the slices with. As well as the potatoes you will need butter, romano cheese and butter to prepare these Swedish potatoes. One of these on the plate can either replace your usual Thanksgiving mashed potatoes or candied yams, or you can serve them in addition. If you are offering more than one potato dish though, consider using small potatoes to make these rather than full-size ones, else your guests might be too full before you have chance to serve them your tasty Thanksgiving dessert! You are sure to love these crispy potatoes.
Mandarin Cranberry Tart – This fruity tart makes a wonderful dessert for Thanksgiving or whenever you want to incorporate some typical fall flavors into your meal. The mandarin and cranberry flavors pair beautifully, offer a sweet yet tart filling, while the pastry holds it all together. Even if you have your heart set on another Thanksgiving dessert this year, you might still wish to make this and serve a slice with coffee a couple of hours after your meal. Whether you prefer to serve this by itself or with ice cream or even whipped cream on the side is your choice, but rest assured any presentation you choose will be fine because there is just no going wrong with this fantastic dessert. Making tart is very simple, and hopefully you will find our mandarin cranberry tart recipe fun and simple.
Parmesan Mozzarella Fennel Gratin – This fruity tart makes a wonderful dessert for Thanksgiving or whenever you want to incorporate some typical fall flavors into your meal. The mandarin and cranberry flavors pair beautifully, offer a sweet yet tart filling, while the pastry holds it all together. Even if you have your heart set on another Thanksgiving dessert this year, you might still wish to make this and serve a slice with coffee a couple of hours after your meal. Whether you prefer to serve this by itself or with ice cream or even whipped cream on the side is your choice, but rest assured any presentation you choose will be fine because there is just no going wrong with this fantastic dessert. Making tart is very simple, and hopefully you will find our mandarin cranberry tart recipe fun and simple.
Tempura Asparagus with Spicy Dipping Sauce – Tired of your usual Thanksgiving side dishes or looking for some brand new inspiration for this year? Well, look no further because this dish is so delicious, even though making it is simplicity itself. You will need some fresh green asparagus spears as well as soda water (or sparkling water), flour, cornstarch and salt. Once you have coated the asparagus spears in batter you can go ahead and fry them until they are crispy and golden brown. This will only take a few minutes. Our dipping sauce is made with garlic, ginger, chili, and cilantro, to offer an exotic Asian flavor. Either serve this as an appetizer or consider it as part of the entrée, perhaps swapping the Asian dipping sauce for something creamy which will complement the rest of the meat. These are hot, crispy and nutritious.
Creamy Risotto with Pumpkin and Sage – Risotto might not be the first kind of dish to come to mind when considering what to make for your Thanksgiving meal, but give this recipe a chance because the flavor is wonderful. Also, it features pumpkin, a seasonal favorite. Enjoy this as a side dish with your turkey or serve it in larger portions for the vegetarians in your group, switching the chicken stock for vegetable stock or even mushroom stock. This is unusual yet would taste nice with turkey and perhaps some broccoli or a green bean casserole (another Thanksgiving staple!) Because you need to ladle in some stock, wait for it to absorb, add more, and repeat this a few times until it is ready, you might appreciate a second pair of hands in the kitchen so you can get on with other last-minute Thanksgiving dinner prep!
Festive Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner Idea – No, vegetarians, of course we have not forgotten about you. Thanksgiving is all about enjoying food to the max while remembering the real meaning of this holiday. This recipe is ideal for the non-carnivores among you because it boasts plenty of flavor and is simple to put together. Once you have cooked your potatoes either in the microwave or oven (use the oven if it is hot and you are cooking other dishes in there) you can cook the wild rice and then simply stir all the other ingredients into it. That is all the effort needed to prepare this fantastic entrée. Make extra because leftover sweet potatoes are always good the next day, either being diced and added to a salad or included in a fall soup recipe. The wild rice mixture is also nice cold as a salad, so make plenty of this.
Rhubarb Galette with Cranberries – Do you want to add a French touch to your Thanksgiving table? If so, consider this delicious galette recipe. If not, consider it anyway because there is no denying the flavor is excellent! We are using fresh rhubarb here along with cranberries, another seasonal favorite, and then you have orange, ginger and vanilla to add warm, sweet flavors to the mix. As for the pastry, you can buy a 9-inch pie crust or, if you prefer, get or make some dough and then you can make a traditional galette crust, which involves folding the sides to partly enclose the filling rather than a total cover. This is a beautiful looking dessert which you can serve after your turkey main dish or perhaps a few hours later with a cup of coffee. Keep the slices small though because this is a rich and hearty recipe!
Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin – Gratin dishes go well with any kind of meat or poultry, including turkey of course! Cauliflower cheese is all very well but perhaps you are looking for something slightly different to make a change. After all, if you often serve cauliflower cheese it is not a ‘special’ dish for Thanksgiving. Simply adding some broccoli to the mix along with garlic and two kinds of cheese makes this special. There is no denying that. We are using parmesan and cheddar here. Get some nice sharp cheddar, the sharper the better! Because this dish needs to bake and then broil, you can prepare it the night before or even on the morning of Thanksgiving, and then bake it later in the day when you are ready. If it has been chilled you might need to increase the baking time by ten minutes or so.
Zucchini Fritter Appetizer with Chanterelles – This delicious appetizer is simple to prepare and it is perfect for vegetarians and carnivores alike. The fritters are made with zucchini, egg and flour, while the crispy chanterelles are sautéed in butter with garlic. A splash of something acidic (either lemon juice or vinegar) gives the chanterelles that special ‘zing’ to make them perfect. Stack the fritters, perhaps with a little sour cream in between each one to help the stacks stay up and also to add extra flavor, and then spoon the hot chanterelles on top. These are so simple to prepare and the result is impressive. Perhaps you are wondering what other appetizers (apart from your usual choices) are good for Thanksgiving, and there is no way anyone will complain about these zucchini fritters because the flavor is phenomenal.
Brazilian White Tapioca Pudding – Cuscuz branco appears on very few Thanksgiving menus, but if you are in the mood to try something brand new, why not give it a try? This creamy coconut pudding is a popular treat in Brazil during the winter months. It is made with three kinds of milk along with coconut, sugar and tapioca. Once the ingredients are combined, it simply needs to rest for a few hours so it can cool down and set, rather like a gelatin dessert. The topping we are using is simply shredded coconut. Sprinkle that on top, then keep the dessert chilled until you are ready to serve it. This is how cuscuz branco is served in Brazil. If you are having a large crowd over to celebrate Thanksgiving with you, or making this for another occasion, you could make several desserts, this one included.
Gorgeous Sausage Stuffing with Cranberries – Are you looking for a really special stuffing recipe? This one is awesome, and the blend of bread, meat, fruit, herbs, and more, works beautifully. The recipe might sound very rich but the flavors in here are really harmonious and complement the delicate flavor of turkey perfectly. This would also be good with chicken. The recipe suggests using turkey liver to increase the meaty flavor of the stuffing, but this is up to you, and the stuffing is still really tasty even if you prefer not to incorporate the giblets into the mix. If you prefer to cook it outside the bird, add some extra broth to the mixture (or a splash of white wine) and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil if the top starts to get too brown. The aroma while this stuffing is cooking is amazing and the flavor is really great.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Nutmeg – This easy Italian side dish promises plenty of flavor appeal, and this will go beautifully with your Thanksgiving turkey and other side dishes. We are using sweet potato to add a sweet flavor to the gnocchi, and some garlic and nutmeg for aromatic flavor. Then we are also putting egg and flour in, to get the consistency just right. Serve these gnocchi hot with a creamy or buttery sauce if you like, and watch as they rapidly disappear. If you have another favorite potato-based Thanksgiving recipe, you might like to prepare that as well, then everyone can enjoy some of each dish. Gnocchi is quite filling so keep the portions small, so everyone can enjoy their turkey and other dishes on the table. When it comes to unusual Thanksgiving recipes, this tasty gnocchi is a great choice.
Balsamic Butternut Squash with Garlic – Who knew butternut squash could be marinated and griddled to make a delicious side dish which is perfect for Thanksgiving? This recipe is very simple to follow and the results are great. You will be able to taste the sweet and aromatic flavors from the marinade, and the butternut squash slices will be crispy on the outside with attractive griddle marks, but soft and tender on the inside. If you are not looking for Thanksgiving recipes but this dish still appeals, try it with grilled or fried chicken as an unusual accompaniment, or consider serving these butternut squash slices with baked goat’s cheese or camembert on a bed of mixed salad leaves. Add some cranberry or other fruit chutney too. You will find this griddled butternut squash side dish very simple to prepare.
Tomato Cornbread Muffins – These simple muffins are so much better than store-bought ones, and you can enjoy them for breakfast, a snack, a side dish, or even your pre-Thanksgiving meal appetizer, making them incredibly versatile. We are using cheddar cheese, sundried tomatoes and ham as the flavor, or you can make vegetarian ones if you prefer. These are nice split and generously slathered with salted butter, or you might prefer to serve a slice of cheddar cheese with your muffins. This recipe appeals as much to kids as to the grownups, so everyone can enjoy tucking into these at Thanksgiving. They are of course suitable for any other occasion too. These muffins take mere minutes to bake and they do not take long to prepare either. Why not double up and make two batches?
Green Bean Casserole with Almonds and Bacon – Consider this green bean casserole as one of your Thanksgiving staples this year, and you will be pleased you did. Not only is this dish simple to make but it is also nutritious. If you want even more nutrition, sauté your beans with the bacon rather than boiling them. The crispy, meaty bacon, tangy lemon juice, piquant red pepper flakes, and garlic work in harmony to infuse this dish with a magnificent taste, and this casserole is beautiful with turkey and also with other types of poultry, so why not rustle it up with your next chicken dish. If you are looking for Thanksgiving recipes though, this has to be one of the most classic and tasty dishes, and the Thanksgiving table simply would not be the same without a bowl of this adding extra color and flavor to your Thanksgiving spread.
Gluten-Free Apple Maple Millet – This is an unusual dish which is versatile enough to be served for dessert or you might want to have it for breakfast to give you plenty of energy for the active day of prep ahead. Either way, it is quick and easy to make and you will love the tart fruit flavors, along with the tasty spices. Serve this hot or warm and you will feel all that energy coursing through your veins. Millet is known as a grain but it is technically a seed, one which is suitable for diabetics and gluten-free eaters because it does not impact the blood sugar much or contain gluten. If you want to make this ahead, that is fine but keep it warm in a crockpot until serving and rub lemon or lime juice over the sliced apple so it does not turn brown. If you do not have Granny Smith apples choose a similarly tart variety.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Rum Sauce – If you are looking for mouthwatering ideas for a Thanksgiving dessert, consider this tasty pumpkin cheesecake recipe. So much better than store-bought cheesecakes (even the premium ones), this homemade cheesecake is sure to hit the spot. The crunchy Oreo crust, creamy pumpkin filling with warm spices and colorful toppings are sure to satisfy your appetite, and the rum caramel sauce adds a special touch and finishes this dessert off beautifully. This is a nice, festive option and you can make it a day in advance so you can focus on adding the finishing touches to your other Thanksgiving dishes. You can tweak this recipe if you wish, using cinnamon graham cracker crumbs rather than Oreos or using low-fat cream cheese to reduce the fat and calorie content.
Crispy Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes – Roasting potatoes is simple but there are various ways to do it. Here we are pairing Yukon Gold potatoes with red onion, along with garlic and chili powder. The potatoes are roasted in the oven until tender and golden brown, and you can expect a soft, tender inside with a delicious crispy outside. You can use only Yukon Gold potatoes if you want, or perhaps add some butternut squash to the mix, or some Brussels sprouts, as you wish, and tweak the seasonings too if you want. Maybe you prefer to leave out the chili powder or add some fresh chopped parsley. This recipe makes enough to serve the whole family. You can also serve candied yams or another seasonal favorite, since there is no such thing as too much potatoes, especially when they taste this good.
Creamy Low Carb Cauliflower Mash – Are you looking for the best low carb mashed potatoes alternative? This is a wonderful recipe. We are using cauliflower instead of potatoes, and adding garlic, parmesan and cream cheese to get the flavor and texture just right. Whether you use a food processor or potato masher is up to you, and you can make this as chunky or smooth as you wish by pureeing or mashing for longer. If this is ready ahead, just keep it warm in the oven until all your dishes are ready to serve. Serve turkey with a low-carb stuffing, this mashed cauliflower recipe, a green bean and bacon casserole, and maybe some carrots or another vegetable, and you will be able to enjoy a rich and satisfying Thanksgiving spread. Make this easy, delicious side dish and you will not miss the potatoes at all.
Thanksgiving Spaghetti and Meatballs with Pumpkin – Spaghetti and meatballs for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, why not, especially if Italian food makes your heart sing. We are adding fresh pumpkin for a colorful, festive touch, along with some aromatic chives. Thanksgiving is all about enjoying your favorite food, so if you prefer Italian food to the classic Thanksgiving meal or you simply want something different this year, consider this easy recipe, and you are sure to love the results. Some people want to focus on the kids and cook up a delicious treat they are sure to love, and if you do not want to go down the traditional Thanksgiving food route because they kids are not keen or for whatever other reason, this recipe might whet your appetite instead, and you already know the kids are going to enjoy the wonderful flavors.
Cinnamon Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash – it has its own character and the smaller size makes it a great candidate for filling. The stuffing we are using here is sweet, buttery and includes pecan halves (or you can swap the pecans for walnuts if you want). Depending on the size of your squashes, you can serve halves, quarters or even slices of this alongside your Thanksgiving meal, perhaps also planning on something more savory to contrast with it, such as green bean casserole or some kind of broccoli side dish with parmesan cheese. If you have any leftovers you can simply serve them with a fresh green salad the following day, adding some crispy bacon and crumbled cheese to contrast with the sweet flavor. if you are looking to make the holiday a bit different this is surely your go to recipe.
Mushroom Pate with Festive Cranberry Relish – Homemade treats are always good and Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to show off your culinary skills by coming up with something new and unique. Take this wonderful recipe, for example, in which are pairing juicy, garlic-spiked mushroom pate with a sweet and tangy cranberry relish. Add some melba toast triangles or baguette slices to the plate and perhaps a sprig of parsley, and you have all the makings of a classic appetizer. Although this is really easy to prepare, you will find the flavors completely satisfying. Offering a fresher flavor than store-bought pate and relish, but very simple to put together yourself, this is sure to be a big hit on your Thanksgiving table this year. Leave some butter at room temperature and serve that with this tasty appetizer.
Vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Peppers – Bell peppers are perhaps not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner accompaniment, but why not add a splash of color to your Thanksgiving dinner table and prepare these easy stuffed peppers. This recipe is for vegans and vegetarians, as well as anyone who wants to enjoy juicy sweet peppers filled with a zesty quinoa and vegetable mixture. You can tweak the recipe and add any herbs, spices or seasonings you wish, or even throw in some nuts and raisins, or other ingredients. Feel free to prepare these in advance, even in the morning, then just put them in the oven with your other Thanksgiving dishes so everything is ready at the same time. This is a simple recipe to follow. We are using yellow peppers for their wonderful sweetness but green or red ones also work for this.
Pecan Pumpkin Mini Tarts – Everyone loves tarts. They are sweet, tasty and these diminutive sized ones are just the right size to satisfy your belly an hour before dinnertime without spoiling your appetite for the meal. We are using pecans, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, and other delicious ingredients to make them, and you will find the kids love them as much as the grownups. This recipe makes 36 pumpkin tarts but you can be sure they will disappear surprisingly fast, even if you have a relatively small crowd for dinner. The kitchen will smell amazing while these are baking, and that wonderful smell will linger, but be patient and let them cool down, then you can add plenty of whipped cream and serve them up. Even if you do not usually bake, do try this recipe because it is so easy and the flavor is very fresh.
Heart-Shaped Cranberry Orange Muffins – Today is all about muffins, and not just any muffins, but these festive treats with cranberries, orange zest and hearty oat appeal. These are simply to prepare, largely a case of mixing the ingredients together and dividing it between muffin cups, and you can expect a cooking time of 18 to 20 minutes, so they will be ready before you know it, driving you crazy by making your kitchen smell oh so good! Prepare the orange glaze while they are still warm, and dip them into it to finish them off. Alternatively forget the glaze and just present them as they are. Either way is good, and we promise everyone will love these yummy home-baked muffins. Although you really should let them cool fully before serving, if you are like us, you will not be able to resist nibbling a still-warm one!
Easy Honey-Roasted Squash – You will already know what you are planning to make this Thanksgiving and hopefully already have your big, fat turkey ready to go! But have you settled on which side dishes you are going to prepare? If you already know you are making one or two potato dishes plus maybe a green bean casserole and then your chosen desserts and appetizers, you might still be finalizing your list of side dishes. Why not consider this easy honey-roasted squash recipe? You need very few ingredients, and apart from the squash you probably have most of what you need in the kitchen cupboards already. Toss the squash pieces with the honey, oil, vinegar, and a little salt and black pepper, and then simply roast it for 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the yummy squash is golden brown.
Green Apple, Walnut and Celery Stuffing – This recipe shows you how to make an unusual yet delicious stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey, using ingredients such as green apple, raisins, celery, olives, turkey giblet stock, parsley, and more. You can either use it to stuff your turkey or cook it separately. Some people prefer not to stuff the bird because it cooks more evenly (and perhaps more safely) without the stuffing inside. Plus when you cook it separately the top goes all nice and crispy! A good stuffing recipe is essential to your Thanksgiving spread, because it pairs wonderfully with the turkey and also with the rest of your Thanksgiving fare. This recipe does take a while to make, and you might want to get an extra pair of hands to help you in the kitchen, but it is well worth making because it is so good.
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