45+ Thanksgiving dinner ideas to pull together a stress-free Thanksgiving menu. Including meaty, vegan, and vegetarian recipes for Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving appetizers, side dishes, mains, desserts, and drinks, from the classics to the non-traditional!
Whether it’s your first time hosting or you’re a seasoned “professional,” pulling off a successful (and, more importantly, low-stress) Thanksgiving dinner requires a little bit of luck and plenty of planning. With this list of 45+ Thanksgiving dinner ideas, there’s no need to spend hours on the web to pull together your perfect Thanksgiving feast!
Maybe you want to go all out with a traditional dinner and Thanksgiving side dishes, like decadent mashed potatoes and creamy green bean casserole. Or possibly you’re looking for easy Friendsgiving food ideas or solely focusing on vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes. Or, perhaps, you have sorted 95% of your Thanksgiving menu and are just browsing for that perfect Thanksgiving dessert recipe or drink idea.
No matter your intentions, this curated list of delicious top thanksgiving dishes is sure to whet your appetite. And hopefully, it will remove some of the stress of the holiday. Moreover, I’ve included a list of my top tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving at the bottom of the post!
To Create The Perfect Thanksgiving Menu You’ll Need
Appetizer and Salads
With a day of eating and merriment, let’s start with the perfect Thanksgiving appetizers. From creamy soups to easy finger food, the perfect cheeseboard, or even a healthy Thanksgiving salad recipe. So here are some easy thanksgiving recipes to get the meal started right!
Looking for more simple Thanksgiving/Fall salad recipes? You may also enjoy this simple Raw Cabbage Cucumber Salad, Celery Salad (Waldorf Apple Salad), Arugula Pomegranate Salad, or Blackberry Spinach Salad.
Looking for more simple Thanksgiving soup recipes? You might also enjoy this Healthy Roasted Cauliflower Soup or Ginger Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk (GF| Vegan)
Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, at least, I might prefer well-prepared Thanksgiving side dishes to the “main”. I’d consider a plate full of my favorite thanksgiving food to be primarily made of sides.
Brown Gravy (Chicken, Beef, or Turkey Gravy)
Pulling together a list of vegan and vegetarian thanksgiving recipes? Check out this vegan gravy recipe instead!
While not as traditional of a choice for Thanksgiving foods, you might also enjoy easy creamed corn. Looking for a healthier way to enjoy spinach? Then check out this recipe for Garlic Sautéed Spinach.
When it comes to Thanksgiving main ideas, I quite like a non-traditional thanksgiving dinner “main,” so you won’t find roasted turkey below. You will, however, find an even simpler chicken substitute and several vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving recipes worthy of being center-place on your holiday table.
At this point in the day, you’ve all probably undone your trouser buttons. Maybe you are sure you can’t eat another bite. But with the right Thanksgiving desserts, the guests will come flocking. Above all, I love to end the day with low-fuss, easy Thanksgiving dessert recipes like the ones below.
For a healthier version, check out this recipe for frozen yogurt bark instead.
Candied Pecans (or Walnuts)
With the Thanksgiving food recipes out of the way, your guests still need hydrating. Below are some of my favorite Thanksgiving drink ideas (to enjoy alongside your favorite bottle of white wine/red wine). Even better, while they’re all non-alcoholic, most can be given an adult twist with a splash (or five) of your favorite booze.
Top Tips For Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner
- Plan, plan, and then plan some more! It’s not enough to just plan your perfect Thanksgiving dinner menu perfectly curated for your guests’ enjoyment (and dietary requirements!).
For a stress-free day, get down to the details, and print or write out all the recipes. And plan out a times “schedule” of exactly when everything needs to be done that you can tick/cross out as you go along. I like to make a plan working backward from when I plan to serve.
- Make notes: Make a note of adaptions you made to recipes (with ingredients and cooking times), dishes people particularly enjoyed (or didn’t), etc. Store the recipes somewhere safe, and you’ll reduce stress for next year.
- Plan the logistics: With the above planned, there’s still more to consider as you need to make sure your Thanksgiving dishes are doable. Go through your cupboards to ensure you have enough baking and serving dishes/pans for your Thanksgiving menu (if not, thrifting is great!). Ensure your fridge and freezer have enough space for your groceries. Also, consider the appliances – how many dishes need the oven vs. an air fryer vs. the stovetop, etc.
- Meal prep is your friend: One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of holiday frazzle is prepping. So, prep ahead anything that you can (cutting veggies, preparing sauces or dessert several days in advance, making any dishes in full that will keep/reheat well).
- Get some helpers: If you’re a type A personality (like me), giving up some control might not be your idea of a stress-free holiday. However, having some helping hands in the kitchen to delegate to when making your Thanksgiving dinner can save time and stress (most of the time, anyway).
- Outsource some prep: If you’re looking for Friendsgiving food ideas, chances are you might be in a bit of a Thanksgiving “potluck” situation. Well, there’s no reason why you can’t do that for the big day, either. Write out your proposed Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas and have your guests choose a dish to bring. It’s a minimal effort on their part but makes a massive difference to the stress of your day as the host.
- Set the table: Do this the night before! And that’s one task you don’t even have to think about. So you can focus on preparing the thanksgiving dinner recipes.
- Set out some nibbles: Even with careful planning and the best intentions, sometimes things can go wrong. So to keep your family/guests at bay set out a cheeseboard or other light nibbles to tide them over in case of delays.
More Recipe Roundups
- 60 Healthy 30-Minute Dinner Ideas
- 30 Hot Lunch Ideas
- 50+ Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas on the Go
- The Essential Guide to Meal Prep + Meal Prep Ideas
- 50+ Healthy Vegetarian Breakfast Ideas
If you try any of these Thanksgiving dinner ideas, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!