30+ Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

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30+ 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!

A serving of green bean casserole topped with crispy onions

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!

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!

Selection of fruit and cheese for a cheese platter
No holiday or special event would be complete without a versatile cheese board. This cheese platter post combines several types of cheese, fruit, nuts, jams/preserves, and extras ready to impress this Thanksgiving.
How to Put Together a Cheese Board
Homemade crostini with different toppings
How to make crostini at home in under 20 minutes and just 2 simple steps. Top tips, tricks, and topping recommendations for this crisp, crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving appetizer!
How to Make Crostini
A big bowl with homemade roasted butternut squash soup
This creamy, cozy, and warming butternut squash soup recipe is perfect for the holidays and the whole family will enjoy it!
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Try also:

A spoonful of crockpot spinach artichoke dip
This crowd-pleasing, easy crockpot spinach artichoke dip is super rich, creamy, cheesy, and practically effortless to throw together. It's perfect for the holidays!
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
chicken lollipops on a white plate with sprinkle of parsley
Crispy, juicy, and perfectly baked (not fried), these easy lollipop drumsticks make for an easy and impressive appetizer for the big day!
Chicken Lollipops
A serving of broccoli apple salad
This easy broccoli apple salad uses just a handful of fresh ingredients with a tangy honey-mustard dressing for a crunchy, flavorful, and nutritional sweet and savory salad perfect for the Fall months and as a Thanksgiving salad.
Broccoli Apple Salad

Try also:

Bun wreath with camembert center topped with cranberries and rosemary
This delicious appetizer goes perfectly with your Thanksgiving dinner foods. It combines tear-and-share dinner rolls with baked camembert.
Baked Camembert

Side dishes

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.

Homemade stuffing in a casserole dish
Make the BEST homemade stuffing – it's moist & tender inside, crispy on top, and a hearty, satisfying crowd-pleasing holiday side!
Easy Homemade Stuffing
A bowl with fluffy mashed potatoes
My make-ahead mashed potatoes are creamy and so delicious that you'll never want to try another recipe again! When thinking of the most popular thanksgiving meals, this dish would definitely be featured!
How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Homeamde chicken gravy
This rich and flavorful, easy brown gravy can be made with beef, chicken, or turkey stock based on your Thanksgiving mains, with or without drippings – ready to enjoy in about 10 minutes for your thanksgiving table!
How to Make Brown Gravy

Pulling together a list of vegan and vegetarian thanksgiving recipes? Check out this vegan gravy recipe instead!

A spoonful of cranberry sauce
A delicious, simple homemade cranberry sauce recipe is a must-have for your Thanksgiving dinner table! Plus, 15 ways to use any leftover cranberry sauce!
Cranberry Sauce
A serving of green bean casserole topped with crispy onions
This Green Bean Casserole recipe is packed with delicious ingredients, can be easily made vegan and gluten-free, and is a great side dish for any meal, not just for Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite casserole recipes for a reason!
Green Bean Casserole
A baking dish with sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallow
My recipe upgrades this Thanksgiving staple to make a sweet potato casserole with pecans that's deliciously sweet and spicy – perfect for a holiday dinner table.
Sweet Potato Casserole
A large bowl with roasted Brussel sprouts
These oven-roasted smashed Brussels sprouts are perfect to serve as a tasty Thanksgiving side dish! Plus, this is a dairy-free, meat-free, keto, and vegan recipe, for all to enjoy!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Candied yams in a small bowl
No list of Thanksgiving side dishes would be complete without stovetop candied yams. 
How to Make Candied Yams

Try also:

Freshly baked homemade biscuit cut into two
How to make homemade biscuits that are tall, buttery, soft, flaky, and made completely from scratch with 6 ingredients and simple step-by-step instructions in under an hour!
Easy Homemade Biscuits
Jalapeño cornbread squares on top of each other
This easy jalapeño cheddar cornbread is wonderfully light, moist, and flavorful – perfect for serving as part of your Thanksgiving dinner.
How to Make Cornbread
Homemade dinner rolls in a baking sheet
These easy homemade dinner rolls are soft, buttery, fluffy, and perfect for impressing! Simple enough for beginner bakers following my step-by-step or make-ahead instructions!
Dinner Rolls


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.

Delicious rice,mushroom & cranberry vegan stuffed butternut squash christmas recipe. A wonderful vegan roast alternative for a meat-free christmas
This delicious stuffed butternut squash dish works perfectly as a meat-free Thanksgiving main (or side), filled with delicious rice, mushroom, and cranberry stuffing to keep you more than satisfied!
Stuffed Butternut Squash
Vegetarian mushroom Wellington and a cranberry drink
This delicious mushroom Wellington is a wonderful vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving main! Plus, it can be made in under an hour and be meal-prepped and heated up on the day!
Mushroom Wellington
Stuffed roast chicken on a serving platter
If you don't want to make a turkey this Thanksgiving, why not try this whole roasted chicken instead?! It's simple to prepare, comforting, and wonderfully tender and juicy in the middle with a well-seasoned, lightly crispy skin!
Oven Roasted Chicken
Whole chicken cooked in Air Fryer
This air fryer whole chicken is tender and juicy in the middle, has crispy, well-seasoned skin, is super simple to make, and cooks in about an hour (or 70-80 from frozen!) for perfect results every time!
Air Fryer Roasted Chicken
close up of a whole chicken cooked inside a crock pot
Yes, you can cook a whole chicken in a crock pot! My recipe keeps the chicken perfectly juicy and tender and makes a great fuss-free choice for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Crockpot Roasted Chicken
Glazed meatloaf cut into slices and topped with parsley
The best, easiest, classic meatloaf recipe with all the top tips and secrets. It’s tender and juicy in the middle and smothered with a tangy tomato sauce – perfect for roast dinners and special occasions!
Meatloaf with Sticky Glaze
Baked cauliflower head in a baking tray
This turmeric roasted cauliflower makes for a delicious and nutritious vegan side dish or main at your holiday table.
Roasted Cauliflower Head


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.

Vegan_Pumpkin_Pie with orange flowers, puffed quinoa
No list of Thanksgiving foods is complete without a pumpkin pie recipe. This is a no-bake, gluten-free, vegan pumpkin pie from scratch or with canned pumpkin puree – perfect for Thanksgiving dessert.
Pumpkin Pie
Adding sugar syrup over a serving of French toast casserole
A delicious, low-effort sweet treat to please a crowd – custardy inside, crisp along the edges, and sweet with hints of cinnamon, lemon zest, and vanilla. You can even save some for breakfast!
Easy French Toast Casserole
Apple crisp and ice cream on a plate
This easy apple crisp layers a sweet, tender, lightly spiced apple filling with thick, buttery, crisp cinnamon streusel topping, perfect for enjoying at the end of your Thanksgiving meal!
Apple Crisp
A close-up of fruit salad in a serving bowl
Toss mixed fresh fruit in a sweet honey lime dressing for the perfect side dish or dessert for the holidays!
Delicious Fruit Salad

Try also:


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.

Cranberry juice served in a glass with rosemary
How to make cranberry juice at home in under 30 minutes on the stovetop! This super refreshing, sweet, and tart homemade juice is perfect as a refreshing Thanksgiving drink idea.
Cranberry Juice
Two glasses with spiced apple cider and cinnamon sticks
Enjoy this warming spiced apple cider with a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger – perfect for your thanksgiving table! Plus, it's sugar-free and (optionally) alcohol-free.
Spiced Mulled Apple Cider
Homemade hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
How to make hot chocolate at home with a simple, ultimate 'base' hot cocoa recipe – perfect for customizing to your needs (sugar-free, vegan, keto, decadent, etc.). Plus, 50+ hot chocolate bar ideas and/or optional add-ins/flavor variations for a large thanksgiving party!
Hot Chocolate

Try also:

Even more ideas

Browse for more delicous ideas on my dedicated category page.

Top tips for 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

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!

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