Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Publish Date October 16, 2023 3 Minute Read

There’s a reason our favorite Thanksgiving dinner dishes have a place at the table year after year. When a delicious dish is prepared with love, it quickly becomes a cherished tradition. Ready to plan your own Thanksgiving dinner menu? Whether you’re simplifying your usual seasonal spread or want fresh inspiration for your growing family, our collection of classic Thanksgiving dishes is a great place to start.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Before we get into classic sides and iconic desserts, let’s talk about the star of the show. The turkey is undoubtedly the centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving spread, and to make sure there’s enough for everyone, you’ll want to prepare about 1½ pounds of turkey per guest. If your holiday gathering will be more intimate, around 2-3 people, you can opt for turkey breasts rather than purchasing a whole bird.

Once you know how much turkey you’ll need, you can decide whether fresh or frozen will work best for your feast. Consider the amount of refrigerator or freezer space available, so that you can get an idea of your timeline for purchasing your turkey. If freezer space is limited, you may need to purchase a thawed or fresh turkey closer to the big day. If you’re purchasing a frozen bird in advance, consider whether you’ll have the fridge space to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. If not, you’ll want to calculate the time needed to thaw your bird in cold water, and factor that into your prep schedule.

Ready to get cooking? Try these tips for a mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkey:

Consider Cooking 2 Birds with 1 Stove

Smaller turkeys tend to be more tender than big birds. If you’re feeding a big crowd, consider cooking 2 smaller turkeys rather than 1 large bird. As a bonus, this can cut your thawing and cooking time significantly.

Brining is Best

Turkey is a lean meat, which means it’s especially prone to drying out in the oven. Whether you choose to brine your bird using wet or dry methods, don’t skip this step. Brining your turkey will help ensure that it turns out moist, tender and flavorful.

Tuck the Wings

Turkey wings are delicate and can burn easily. To avoid burning your wings, turn your turkey breast-side up, and tuck the wings underneath the weight of the turkey.

Turn Up the Heat

For a juicy, succulent bird, set your oven to 325°F. Tent your seasoned turkey with foil to keep moisture from escaping, and cook your turkey for about 20 minutes per pound of meat. For crispy skin, baste your bird, remove the tent and increase the temperature to 425°F for the last 45 minutes of cook time. Your turkey is done when it’s reached an internal temperature of 165°F. Let your turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Garnish Your Turkey

Whether you present your turkey whole or carved, adding garnishes will elevate your presentation. Use leafy greens like watercress and arugula, or add colorful fruits like apples, pomegranates or cranberries. Finish the look with sprigs of fresh, fragrant herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme.

Don’t Forget the Gravy

Remember, a typical Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without a boat of delicious gravy. No time for traditional gravy? Try this handy gravy hack. Want more turkey inspiration? Check out our top turkey tips.

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Even though the turkey is the star of the show, we all know the side dishes have their own very special place at the table. We recommend offering guests 2 plates this year, 1 for the bird and the other for sides. Here are some our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes:

Stuffing and Dressing

Whether you’re whipping up your family’s classic recipe or using a boxed mix, stuffing is a must-have for any Thanksgiving spread.

Green Bean Casserole

This iconic side has long been praised for its stellar supporting role. What’s not to love? Tender green beans, creamy mushroom sauce and crispy fried onions make this iconic dish everyone’s favorite casserole.

Mashed Potatoes

Make them lumpy, smooth, with skins or without. Mashed potatoes are a staple side, no matter how you love them.

Sweet Potatoes

These winter root vegetables are sweet, earthy and symbolic of the season. Whether you prepare them with gooey marshmallows or tossed in oil with savory seasonings, no Thanksgiving feast is complete without sweet potatoes.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce adds a festive pop of color to your spread and brightens a savory plate of turkey with a burst of tart and refreshing flavor. In a hurry? You can easily prepare this side ahead of time.


Thanksgiving is all about comfort food, and nothing says cozy like warm, freshly baked rolls. How else would you soak up all that gravy goodness?

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Thanksgiving Dessert

Remember to save room for something sweet. No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a tasty treat to end the night. If tradition’s what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin pie, but here are some other classics to try:

Apple, Pecan or a Split Pie

While apple and pecan may stir up memories of summer, they’re both warm and cozy pies fit for the fall and winter seasons, especially if you’re all “pumpkined” out. Is there an ongoing debate in your family about the best Thanksgiving pie? Try making a split pie and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Pumpkin Roll

If you love pumpkin but prefer a moist and creamy cake over a tender and flaky crust, try making a pumpkin roll. This slice-and-serve dessert has the fluffy texture of cake with a rich cream cheese filling. As a bonus, it’ll look gorgeous on your dessert display.

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is another dish typically enjoyed during warmer months, but its warm spices and sweet, earthy base make it a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving dessert spread

Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Thanksgiving Appetizers

Before the turkey is served, you might want to offer guests some tasty Thanksgiving appetizers to nibble on. Here are some classic dishes to hold guests over until the main course:

Cheese Balls

Want to have some fun crafting your pre-feast goodies? Cheese balls are classic appetizers that invite creativity. They’re creamy and easily customizable, and the presentation possibilities are endless.


Nothing’s better for mingling than a selection of fresh veggies or warm bread served with a variety of dips to try. Artichoke, spinach and hummus are just a few savory dips you can serve to get your feast started.

Bite-size Fall Favorites

Any of your fall favorites can be made bite-sized for a delicious Thanksgiving appetizer. Have some favorite sides that didn’t make the cut? Play with portion size and presentation to create appetizers out of your favorite side dishes.

Charcuterie Boards

While classic charcuterie boards call for cured meats like prosciutto, bacon and salami, the term has evolved to include all types of grazing boards, snacking boards, veggie trays and cheese samplers. Get creative and use your charcuterie board as an opportunity to get people talking and feasting. You can feature an array of veggies, nuts, seeds, cheeses, cured meats, dips and spreads in addition to your cheese ball and mini-fall favorites.

Thanksgiving Appetizer Ideas


Thanksgiving Cocktails

Liven the party with fall-inspired libations. Stick with drinks that complement the meal, like crisp ciders and warm, spiced cocktails. Cranberry and citrus flavors are also fun and festive options that offer a burst of refreshing flavor between savory bites. You can even save some of your cranberry sauce as a festive sangria starter. Whether served before, during or after the big feast, toast the holiday with a drink (or 2) that flaunt the season’s best flavors. Want to really impress your guests? Garnish your cocktails with fresh herbs for an elevated presentation that ties in all your fall flavors. Sage works well with citrus, while the festive flavors of rosemary and cranberry pair exceptionally well. Experimenting with spiced and sugary rims and frozen additions is another great way to elevate your beverages.

Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes

Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping List

Simplify your Thanksgiving shopping with these must-have ingredients and tools.


Find Even More to Be Thankful For

Visit our blog for even more fresh Thanksgiving inspiration, like our guide to all things stuffing, meal planning, recipes and more. Remember to check out our Thanksgiving shop for everything you need to host the holiday.