9 Traditional Recipes that are served for Thanksgiving Dinner

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu generally consists of roasted turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  The most popular item on a Thanksgiving menu is Turkey.  There are many ways to cook a turkey, but this bird is the main dish in a Traditional Thanksgiving. You can however add or substitute Turkey for Ham or Prime Rib. As you continue to read this article, I’m going to list what items you need to complete the menu.

#1 Turkey

Picking out a Turkey

When deciding on the size of the Turkey thing of 1 ¼ lb per person.  Below is a chart of the number of people and the size turkey you should buy.

Number of People The Size Turkey you need for Thanksgiving
4 People 5 lbs
6 People 8 lbs
8 People 10 lbs
10 People 13 lbs
12 People 15 lbs

Roasting a Turkey

The Cooking time is based on the size of your bird. An 8 pound Turkey will need 2 hrs and 45 minutes versus a 12-14 lbs for 3 to 4 hours in the oven. Also depending on if your bird is stuffed or not it might need additional 15 minutes to cook. If you bought a frozen Turkey make sure it is thawed out fully and refrigerated the day before you roast it. Make sure you have a thermometer, it makes it easier to know when your bird is done. Your Turkey would need a minimum internal temp of 165 degrees before it’s safe to eat.

So make sure your oven is set at 325 degrees or higher for it to perfectly cook till it’s golden brown.  I would normally take out a large turkey for anything 15lbs or more 3 days prior to defrosting. The first two days are thawing out and on the last day, it’s marinated in the fridge for 24 hours. My marinade consists of melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Size of a Turkey Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey
8 lbs 2 hrs 45 mins 3 hrs
10 lbs 2 hrs 55 mins 3 hrs 15 mins
12 lbs 3 hrs 3 hrs 30 mins
16 lbs 4 hrs 4 hrs
20 lbs 4 hrs 30 mins 4 hrs 45 mins

Things you need: 

  1. A Roasting Pan and Rack
  2. Aluminum Foil – For the foil tent while it roasts
  3. Lots of Butter “Melted” (for the crispy brown skin)
  4. Salt and Pepper (or your seasoning of choice)
  5. Onion, Lemon, Garlic, Thyme (Place Wedges of these in the cavity of Turkey)
  6. Chicken Broth (Continuously bathe the skin with butter and Chicken Broth)

#2 Turkey Gravy

Turkey gravy is the best thing to drizzle over your turkey cut slices. You can either do it with or without drippings. Homemade gravy in my opinion is the better route because it’s super tasty. If you prefer to buy the gravy in a jar, that’s also ok. The gravy tends to just consist of the fat from the turkey, with butter, seasonings, and a little starch.

Things you will need:

  • Pan drippings from your just cooked Turkey
  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Fresh Thyme chopped
  • Fresh Parsley leaves chopped
  • Salt & Pepper 

Start with straining the Turkey pan drippings, you can use a metal strainer, that has draining slots. Try your best to get at least 2 cups. Put that aside in a bowl. Next, melt ¼ cup of butter in a saucepan. As that is heating up whisk in flour, thyme until it’s slightly brown. Now pour in your drippings, bring to a boil. Low heat when it starts to thicken. Sprinkle on some parsley, salt, and pepper for taste. 

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

#3 Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole newly became my favorite dish as the last two Thanksgiving’s I’ve hosted. This casserole is definitely part of a Traditional Thanksgiving. Luckily the recipe for this can be found on the back of a French’s Fried Onions. It’s so quick and easy, but you can add or mix it up how you wish. 

Things you need:

  • 3-5 lb bag of green beans if not fresh try frozen bag of green beans. 
  • Two cans of Campbells Cream of Mushroom 
  • Butter, Salt, and Pepper
  • 1 lb bag of French’s Fried Onions

Start by cooking the green beans, you can boil them or I prefer to saute them with butter, onion, and garlic. Next, boil the two cans of cream of mushroom soup until it’s smoother and less thick. Pour the cream of mushroom over the green beans in a baking dish.  Add salt and pepper on top for taste. Bake in the oven at 350 until it bubbles, then takes it out and top with the fried onions. Place it back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes until the onions are a darker shade of brown. Tada, you are done!

If you want to make your own Mushroom cream try adding these ingredients. Saute in pan garlic, onion, and chopped mushroom with butter. Move the mixture around until a little the butter starts to brown. Next, add whipping cream to the mixture. Now you have your own Mushroom cream sauce. 

#4 Thanksgiving Stuffing or Dressing

Sure you can buy boxed stuffing and believe me I’ve done it. And in a pinch, it helps save money. You can make stuffing yourself with day-old bread, celery, chicken broth, and turkey brine session. One of my favorite stuffing dressings is the Cornbread dressing. My Grandmother made this every year. I’m going to tell you how to make this simple recipe. Once you’ve tried, you will want to make it every year.  

Cornbread Dressing 

Things you will need:

  • 1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 2 tablespoons of Butter
  • ½ cup of chopped celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 Eggs (Beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons of dried sage
  • Salt and Pepper optional for taste

#5 Candied Yams

Candied Yams are another staple for a Traditional Thanksgiving dinner. They are more on the sweeter side and create a flavor balance on the plate. This is another easy dish to put together. 

Things you need:

  • Dark brown sugar
  • 3 lbs of Sweet Potatoes
  • Orange juice
  • Butter (lots of it)
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Nutmeg (pinch)
  • Salt (pinch)

Cooking candied yams is simple, begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Choose a baking dish and pretreat by buttering the bottom. Next, we start creating the sweet sauce with a medium-sized pan. On medium heat, combine cinnamon, orange juice, brown sugar, a pinch of nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil then lower the heat as it thickens.  After that peel the skin from the sweet potatoes and slice them into ½ in-sized rounds. Layer the sweet potato slices in the pan, then pour over the syrup that you made in the saucepan.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes bathing it with the sauce on the bottom. 

#5 Cranberry Sauce

You can try the canned jellied sauce or whip up one that is homemade. I’ve always loved cranberry sauce, my son is not a fan of it. It’s a little sweet and a little tangy, the combo to me is amazing. 

Things you will need:

  • 12 oz package of fresh Cranberries
  • ½ cup of Orange Juice
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • Sugar ¾ of a cup

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, orange juice, and water. Next add cranberries, and the cinnamon stick. Continue to simmer and cook for 10 minutes until most of the cranberries have popped. Lastly, take it away from the heat and let it cool for 30 minutes. Place it in a cover dish to serve chilled for dinner. Garnish with orange peels before serving.

#6 Mashed Potatoes

Making the best-mashed potatoes first starts by picking the right potatoes. In this case, we are doing homemade mashed potatoes so I would go for Yukon golds or Russet Potatoes. It’s a quick and simple recipe, read more below.

Things you will need:

  • 2 pounds of Potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of warmed milk
  • ⅓ cup of salted butter or unsalted (your preference)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic chopped
  • ¼ cup of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley or green onions to garnish.

Start by peeling and cut the potatoes in even wedges.  Place them in a large pot of salt and water and cover with a lid. Bring the pot to a boil and turn the heat down as the potatoes soften. Then they are ready you should be able to stick a fork in it and pull it out easily. Next in another small pan, melt the butter and garlic together. Set aside to add in later. Now it’s time to smash these potatoes into a big mush. As you mash the potatoes slowly add in the garlic butter mixture.  To help smooth it out, pour in the hot milk and sour cream. Once that is smooth add salt and pepper for taste. Garnish with parsley.

#7 Thanksgiving Drinks

With all of the eating, your guests are bound to get thirsty. Continue with adding some special drinks or wine to complete the menu.

The Types of Wines that go best with Thanksgiving Turkey

  • Pinot Noir
  • White Chardonnay
  • Red Zinfandel

These Wines are all classics and are best to serve with Thanksgiving Dinner

No-Alcoholic Drinks to Serve at Dinner

  • Ginger Ale (Around this time there are more Ginger combinations like cranberry and raspberry)
  • Sparkling Apple Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Apple Cider
  • Apple and Cranberry Punch

# 8 Thanksgiving Desserts

Super Easy Sweet Potatoe Pie

Sweet Potatoe pie has to be on my Thanksgiving menu. It’s another simple recipe to try out. A nice dessert to top it off at the end. If still warm top it with vanilla ice cream yum, or whipped cream. 

Things you will need:

  • 9 unbaked Pie Crust
  • 1 lb of Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2 Eggs (beaten)
  • ½ cup of Milk
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • ½ cup of melted Butter 

Begin by boiling the sweet potatoes in water for almost an hour or until soft. Drain out all the hot water and run cold water over them so you can peel the skin off. In a large mixing bowl smash the sweet potatoes.  Add the butter, sugar, milk eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, mix well. Pour the mixture into the 9″ baking pan. Bake it at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. You will know it’s ready by inserting a butter knife in the center. If it comes out clean it’s done.

#9 Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls

I’m going to get honest in this part because I’ve always grab store-bought rolls. I absolutely can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without bread. Bread to soak up all the juices. The downside to baking bread is that it takes a while. And when you are at the oven all day buying rolls is one less thing to bake. Our grocery stores have a bakery section, so I still have freshly baked rolls without the effort. 

If you want to know what to grab refrigerated or packaged Dinner rolls here is my list below.

  • Pillsbury Grands Biscuits – Love them!
  • Rhodes Warm n Serve Sourdough
  • Kings Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls – Another Fave!

Ok Family and Friends, that completes what you should serve at a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. I hope all of your holidays are just as fun and safe. Don’t overthink it and focus on enjoying each other’s company.

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