Thanksgiving! Feeeed me.

15th November 2012

This post is sponsored by Safeway stores-Safeway, Dominicks, Tom Thumb, Vons, Randalls. Tastier for the holidays!

I need recipe advice, Internet.

I love the idea of having a set of traditional recipes I make every year for Thanksgiving — the quintessential stuffing, the heart-attack mashed potatoes, the restful pie. I want a cute apron and a calm demeanor borne of certitude (and the glass of red wine I’m drinking while I cook). Unfortunately, I don’t have many recipes passed down the family tree.

But you there. In the apron, with the red-wine mustache. What do you make every year? Anything that’s…

• Super quick and still delicious? I am willing to add bacon to anything to make this happen.
• So perfect you don’t care how long it takes because in the end your guests want to dump the leftovers on the floor and roll around in them?
• Easy to make ahead so all your prep doesn’t land on the same day? I prefer to enjoy the party rather than play caterer.

I have collected a few irreproachable recipes for my arsenal. Let’s have an old-fashioned recipe swap. Was that ever a thing? Let’s say yes.

Here are mine:

Winter Vegetable Soup
You can make it up to a week ahead, and freeze it. The sweetness of the squash and apple are offset by the cayenne. The mild kick in the aftertaste is a nice surprise.

Bourbon Brined Turkey
OK, so the most intense part of the meal I have down. I cannot recommend this recipe enough. Simple, and a result that will have guests calling for years after to ask for the recipe every time they’re in the presence of a raw bird.

Cranberry Relish
So good, and ludicrously fast — the caveat being that you’ll need a food processor. Very fresh, but definitely not a cranberry sauce. Great accent for the rest of a holiday meal.

All right, your turn. Here’s what I still need:

• Stuffing
• Mashed potatoes
• Yam or sweet potatoes
• Gravy
• Something green – Brussels sprouts or green beans maybe
• An alternative main dish for vegetarians preferably vegans. (I’m not being twee here. This comes up almost every year.)
• Pies. For the love of all that is holy. Pies.

Open your recipe box unto me, that all of us may partake in your Thanksgiving bounty.

She said. Wholesomely.

106 thoughts on “Thanksgiving! Feeeed me.

  1. Jen

    First, pie – I believe in knowing your strengths. And pastry is not one of mine. But when you’ve already served a delicious meal, people will often appreciate a little chance to shine on their own by bringing a pie or other dessert. Failing that, a pie from a fantastic local bakery is always a win.

    Mashed potatoes: The key is the right potatoes, hot milk, and more butter & salt than you think you’re comfortable eating. Make sure you’re using a starchy/floury (rather than waxy) potato (russet is a common one), peel, chop, boil. Drain them and let them sit in the colander for a bit so most of the water evaporates off of them. Mash them while still hot with a lot of butter & salt (start small if you want, but keep adding butter & salt until the flavour’s right), then make them creamy by gradually adding hot (but not boiling) milk and continuing to mash until you have silky, perfect potatoes. I find using a mixer to whip them makes them gluey, and this way you also feel a bit like you’re getting Michelle Obama arms while making dinner.

    Good luck!

  2. Fun mama

    Google Patti LaBelle’s Mac n cheese recipe. She made it on Oprah years ago, i used her recipe and I’m now required to make it for all family gatherings. It’s so good, you’ll be convinced you can sing like her too, especially after a few glasses of wine.

  3. Mike

    I made the Mushroom and Farro Pie from Gourmet a few years ago and now I make it every year. It uses puff pastry and is gorgeous. It is a lot easier than it looks and guests are always impressed. It goes great as a side and makes a substantial main dish for a vegetarian. The straight recipe is a little bland on its own but on a plate full of other strong flavors, it is fine. If you google the foodie blogs, you’ll find a bunch of nice tweaks.

  4. Christine

    I could not agree with Jen more on the pies AND the mashed potatoes! As far as the other things are concerned, I’m a total delegator when it comes to Turkey Day. We live overseas and have been hosting far too many people for me to even dream of cooking for so I ask people to bring something they are good at making! We’ve had some pretty amazing meals the last few years :-) (I’ll be checking back here to see some of the recipes people share though!)

  5. Lori

    It is not a holiday unless I have this sweet potato spoon bread: Put the ingredients in the food processor in shifts because it gets really full. I roast the sweet potatoes earlier in the week and assemble on Thursday. Also put in a 9×11 pan so it cooks in the time noted on the recipe.

    I also really love this dried cherry and italian sausage stuffing:

    And finally my favorite pie crust recipe is from the Joy of Cooking. 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening makes it easier to roll out and delicious.

  6. LauraM

    Pie. I used to HATE pie. Never my first choice. Then I made Deb’s (Smitten Kitchen) Pie 102 method crust.

    It is, without a doubt, the most amazing pie crust known to mankind. It should be written on the moon for other civilizations.

    The method absolutely counts, and it is not hard:

    Then fill it with this:
    Melt 1/2 c unsalted butter in a saucepan. Stir in 3 T flour to make a paste (like a roux). Add 1/4 c water, 1 c brown sugar, bring to a boil and let simmer and thicken. Pour over sliced apples in the crust. Add top crust. Bake 15 minutes in 425 degree oven, then reduce to 350 and bake 35 – 45 minutes. A-mazing.

    If you add a touch of fancy salt (tasting the caramel for appropriate amount) then you have a salted caramel apple pie.
    Substitute apple cider for the water and you have super apple-y apple pie.
    Add ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon or whatever your heart desires.

    I love this recipe, because you cannot mess this up and you can only make it your own.

  7. Amy

    I have the holy grail of Thanksgiving recipes: mashed potatoes that can be prepared ahead of time. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law, and it’s called Mash Production (har!). Minor caveat: it may be possible to have a heart attack just from reading the ingredient list. This is definitely a once-a-year recipe, but it’s completely worth it. So good. Here goes:

    Peel and cook 3 pounds of potatoes (about 12 medium). Mash them in a large mixer bowl. When all lumps are gone, add one 8 oz package of cream cheese in small pieces, then 1/4 cup of butter. Beat will with electric mixer. Mix in 1/2 cup of sour cream (I KNOW!) and 1/2 cup of milk. Add 2 eggs (lightly beaten), 1 tsp salt, and a dash of ground pepper. Beat until light and fluffy. Pour into greased casserole or oblong Pyrex dish and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until well heated through.

  8. Karen

    Sorry, going to comment again. This chocolate cream pie…. It’s not as hard as you think and it is SO worth it. We’ve always been strictly fruit pie people, but an oreo crust…. Well. That pie is requested every year now!

    And, this all-homemade green bean casserole? I don’t even care for mushrooms but this… is divine!

    Lastly, I make the Pioneer Woman’s mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

  9. amybee

    Sweet Potato Pudding

    4 large raw sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
    2 c milk
    1 1/2 cup sugar
    3 t cinnamon
    3 eggs
    1/2-1 stick butter, melted
    1 T flour
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 T vanilla
    1/2+ cup raisins
    1/2+ cup pecan chips, optional

    Put milk into bowl and grate potatoes into it. This prevents the potatoes from turning dark. Add rest of ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn mixture into 1 1/2 quart buttered casserole and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

  10. Theresa

    OK, first, your cranberry sauce needs more bourbon: You can definitely make this ahead of time.

    I kind of really don’t like traditional pie crust, so this Apple Cranberry Caramel Tart is my idea of the perfect Thanksgiving pie:

    For the brussels sprouts, just cut in half, toss in olive oil and salt, and roast at 400F until tender and browned (about 20 minutes). Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese straight out of the oven, if you must.

    For the vegetarians, I hear butternut squash lasagna is a crowd pleaser.

  11. Nancy R

    The Pioneer Woman has an excellent make-ahead mashed potato recipe- the groan-inducing, fight over the leftovers if there ARE any. Recipe.

  12. notcharming

    Anna over at Door Sixteen just posted an amazing (vegan) mapled brussel sprouts recipe!

    Also, this isn’t an actual recipe but I thought you might like the song, its called How to make gravy by Paul Kelly, a fantastic Australian singer/songwriter.

  13. Superfantastic

    This butternut squash risotto is a) so delicious your guests will want to roll around in it and b) not only possible to make ahead, but better when made ahead. If there are any leftovers, they are excellent eaten cold straight out of the fridge. Probably there won’t be leftovers though, even though it makes about a gallon.
    Jamie Oliver’s French dressed green beans are also really good and pretty easy.

  14. Cynthia

    Best. Brussel. Sprouts. Ever.

    Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Garlic

    1 Stick Unsalted Butter
    2 Pound Brussel Sprouts
    3 Cloves Garlic, minced
    1 Teaspoon Salt
    1 Teaspoon Pepper

    Wash and trim brussel sprouts. Place slicing blade in your food processor and process all brussel sprouts to create thing disks. Heat large sauté pan over medium high heat, add butter and let cook until foam subsides and butter turns golden brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds, then add brussel sprouts, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until brussel sprouts are tender and turn golden brown on the edges.

  15. Rachel

    Roasted brussel sprouts and bacon:

    Cook a pound of bacon and set aside
    Saute a thinly sliced whole onion in olive oil(I use red onions, but use whatever)
    add some garlic and salt and pepper
    add the brussel sprouts and saute about 5- 10 minutes
    Chop the bacon up
    add everything to a roasting pan and roast til brussels are lightly browning

    Also: Bourbon sweet potatoes
    Best recipe is from The New Basics cookbook
    (under yummy candied yams)
    8 yams
    4 tblsp butter
    3/4 cup maple syrup
    1/3 cup bourbon
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    Peel & quarter yams then boil in water 20 minutes, drain well
    melt butter in skillet, add maple syrup & bourbon and reduce over low heat 15 minutes or so
    add the yams and stir, then add chicken stock and simmer 10-15 minutes.

  16. erniebufflo

    Most sweet potato recipes (at least here in the South where I live) are bathed in sugar, swaddled in marshmallows, and sickeningly sweet. They might as well be dessert, but frankly, that just makes them pumpkin pie imposters, and I’d rather have pumpkin pie. I’d rather have something savory and elegant, which is why Smitten Kitchen’s swiss chard and sweet potato gratin is perfect. Yummy garlic-y bechamel sauce and gruyere cheese make it fancy, and you can sub in butternut or other winter squash, use kale or some other greens instead of chard, even use swiss cheese if you’re being cheap, and it’s still delicious. Definitely in the more work but worth it category:

  17. Elizabeth

    Ok just a question: for the bourbon brine turkey, essentially I follow those (limited) directions and cook as I normally would? Is this right?

  18. Jen

    Mac and cheese is a great main dish substitute for vegetarians. Martha Stewart’s recipe, slightly adapted on Smitten Kitchen is a keeper and my go-to when I host the non-meat eating crowd.

  19. Lisa

    These buttermilk dijon mashed potatoes:
    I always make extra because I can’t get enough of them in one sitting.

    Also to add to the roasted root vegetable suggestion: Roast matchsticks or cubes of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots, plus parsnips and other roots as you like(peel and chop each veg, toss with some olive oil and salt, and roast each type in a separate pan, because they cook at different speeds– once I mixed them and ended up with crunchy carrots and sad mushy sweet potatoes). When they are all cooked, mix them together, and top each serving with a drizzle of nice fruity olive oil, a pinch of crunchy salt, and a happy sprinkling of the best fresh goat cheese you can find.
    Perfection on the day you make it. Not nearly as good reheated the next day, but still so delicious that I crave the leftovers.

  20. Jen C

    So I make pecan pie every year. But my husband hates pecan pie. So I took a traditional recipe and changed it. First, I chop up tons of pecans-more than it calls for-and roast them in the oven long enough to make em smell lovely and pecan-y. Then I blind-bake the crust so it doesn’t get soggy. Then I fill the crust about 2/3 with the chopped pecans. Then I add the gooey filling. But the gooey filling has also been altered. I’ve added bittersweet chocolate and enough bourbon that I can smell it. Once the pie shell is filled I top it with pecan haves in a circle so it is purty. This pie is absolutely chock-filled with pecans. It is gooey without having the “snot-like” texture my husband despizes. It tastes divine and boozy. The pecans are out of this world good. If you’re feelng extra naughty, top the whole thing with some sprinkles of sea salt and bourbon whipped cream. Your family will kiss you full on the mouth.

  21. Elizabeth

    Vegan main here! just skip the butter in the cous cous and you’re all set. I’ve made this a bunch of times, the vegans love it and it has so much flavor, the meat eaters don’t notice the lack of animal products. You can make it a day or two ahead. My only suggestion is to cut all the vegetables into a large, rough dice. The recipe has you leave some things much larger or whole, and I always preferred more of a mix in each bite.

  22. sarah

    i LOVE martha stewart’s roasted parsnip bread pudding. It works as an alternative to stuffing (serving it alongside stuffing actually seems kind of redundant…similar makeup and flavors), a veggie-like side dish (roasted parsnips!), or potentially as an alternative main dish for vegetarians (but not vegans, sorry):

    we also almost always do a brussels sprout or green bean dish with bacon (ALWAYS with the bacon). the details vary, but here are two of our favorites:
    – green beans sauteed with caramelized onions or shallots with a healthy dose of finely chopped bacon thrown in (cook the bacon ahead, set aside, and use the grease when cooking down the onions/shallots. then put the bacon back in at the end).
    – brussels sprouts cooked similarly (sauteed with caramelized onions or shallots cooked in bacon grease with chopped bacon added at the end), but chopped up beforehand so that they fall apart and it’s more of a ‘leafy’ dish. kids seem to like them better like this…maybe because that sweet onion-y and bacon flavor penetrates every part of the sprout :)

  23. c

    This is the dish I’ve been adding to Thanksgiving since I grew up enough to host one myself:

    Also, my grandmother’s stuffing recipe, which is delicious enough *without* being put inside the bird. And a turkey should never be stuffed, lest it dry out. For the things which are guesses, start with half as much as this calls for and work up. Buy fresh eggs so you’re not scared of salmonella. This recipe is absurdly simple, but that’s the beauty of it. The sum is greater than its parts.


    2 sticks of butter
    3 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
    1 head celery, trimmed and finely chopped (this is my addition)
    parsley, chopped
    1/4 cup sage leaves ? this is a guess. I do it by eye/taste
    1/2 cup thyme ? this is a guess. I do it by eye/taste
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper
    12 cups toasted bread cubes OR bread left out over night and then scrunched up
    1/2 cup white wine
    2 eggs, well beaten
    1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Cook onions until soft. Add celery, parsley, sage and thyme. (I go light on the spices until I taste it mixed.) Add salt and pepper, and cook until the celery starts to soften. Remove from heat and put into a large bowl.

    3. Add bread to celery-onion mixture and mush it up to combine! Add eggs and wine, and mush again. Slowly add the broth until the stuffing starts to feel moist and holds a shape when gently squeezed. Too moist is better than too dry–you can always cook it longer. Adjust broth according to preference. Take a taste and add thyme or sage according to preference.

    4. Bake in a dish until golden and crusty on top, about 35 minutes.

  24. Lynn

    I made this up years ago, and it is always a hit. I saw a much more complicated version somewhere this year. Simple is best.

    Thai Sweet Potatoes

    Heat a can of coconut milk (low-fat if you must) in a pan, add a tablespoon or so of red curry paste.

    Bake, microwave, steam, whatever, as many sweet potatoes as you need.

    Mash/whip the sweet potatoes with the curried coconut milk, there will be leftover coconut milk, it makes an excellent soup.

    So tasty. So easy.

  25. Em

    the key to mashed potatoes (besides the correct potato!) – a ricer.

    passing cooked potatoes through this contraption ensures silky smooth texture. and as an added bonus, it can a workout for your forearms.

  26. Maren

    I don’t have an exact recipe for this, since my mother just made it up herself thirty years ago, but our family sweet potatoes are done in a casserole dish chopped into inch-thick peeled rounds after being boiled, and then you melt a cube of butter with a little over a cup of oats and about half a cup of brown sugar, mix in half a cup of whole cranberries, and pour the whole thing over the potatoes and bake until the strudel is nice and crispy. So good and not gross-sweet like the marshmallow version.

  27. c

    Oh! Also, for vegans:
    Eggplant parm is a huge hit and always on our turkey day table ever since I was a vegetarian for a year in college. Since the tomato sauce and eggplant are the stars, I am sure that a vegan cheese substitution would actually do just fine here. Of course, it’s also lovely to do with regular cheese.

    My mother’s eggplant parm.
    2 good sized eggplants
    3 eggs OR 1.5 cups soy milk and 1.5 cup flour
    3 cups Italian breadcrumbs (Pay attention to ingredients to make sure these are vegan, or make your own from bread you know to be vegan)
    Vegetable oil
    A batch of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I think this is too personal to suggest you do it my way. If you’re lazy and looking for guidance, Prego works fine, though no idea if it’s vegan)
    12 oz mozzarella (vegan, if needed)
    6 oz parm (vegan, if needed)

    1. Peel and slice the eggplant into 3/8 inch thick rounds.
    2. Bread the eggplant. If using eggs, beat the eggs and thin with a bit of water. Dip each slice in eggs, then in breadcrumbs. If using soy milk and flour, deep each slice in flour, then soy milk, then breadcrumbs. When you have enough to cover the bottom of a heavy (cast iron is best) frying pan without crowding, start the first batch frying. You’ll finish breading the rest while the first batch fries. The trick to avoiding getting everything in your kitchen covered with breading is to use one hand on the egg dip and one on the breadcrumb dip, or one hand on the flour and breadcrumb dips, and one on the milk dip.

    3. Preheat the oven to 350 degress, and then start to fry the slices. Heat about 1/2 inch of veggie oil in your heavy pan over medium heat until a bit of breading dropped in bubbles happily. Add one layer of eggplant slices and fry on each side until golden brown. Don’t crowd. When they’re done, drain on paper towels.

    4. Eggplant parm, assemble! Put a *thin* layer of sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices, then a layer of the two cheeses mixed together. No need to go crazy on the cheese, but you can if you want to and don’t care about your cholesterol. Keep doing layers like this till you’ve run out of eggplant, and then top with cheese.

    5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake until the cheese is melty and bubbly and starting to brown.

    6. For extra deliciousness: let sit overnight before serving. The flavors are more awesome when they melt together. Rewarm in the oven.

  28. Helen

    This bread!

    I know it wasn’t on your list of “needs”, but I wanted to suggest in anyway. My mother has been making it for most holiday meals (and many other non-holiday meals) for as long as I can remember, and it really is one of the best things ever. You can make it ahead of time and rewarm it in the oven, it freezes well, and you can make it with or without a loaf pan. It is AMAZING. :D

  29. Kate

    One of my favorite and oh-so-appropriate pie recipes is Dorie Greenspan’s Thanksgiving Twofer Pie from her book “Baking: From My Home to yours.” It’s a fab combo of pumpkin and pecan pies- in one crust! Done and done (and delicious!)
    A great side dish/ appetizer that is vegan, but everyone will love is stuffed mushrooms. This recipe is great and even better with some toasted chopped pecans thrown in and a few hearty cranks of fresh black pepper on top.
    I like the idea of both me and my turkey wallowing in burbon before the holiday craziness begins!

  30. Allie

    I adore this butternut squash galette:

    It’s a lovely, rustic vegetarian main that also works well as appetizers if you slice it thinly.

    To make it vegan, I sub Daiya “cheese” for the cheese and Earth Balance margarine for the butter. After taking this to a vegan potluck (where it nestled among 15 salads) I had five women call me to get the recipe!

    Deb doubles the recipe in her cookbook, and I’d recommend doing that for a holiday meal. Otherwise the portions are skimpy. It’s a bit of work, but can be made a day ahead and reheated for the meal. (Though it also tastes great cold!)

  31. Megan

    There have already been a number of pie suggestions, but I will add one more.

    This will be my fourth year hosting Thanksgiving and my fourth year making this pie. Some lessons learned:

    1. Make sure you are cooking the caramel on the burner on your stove that has the best light. It is also easier if the saucepan you use is a lighter color. The color change can be tricky to spot otherwise. If it burns, pour it over some ice cream, take a break, and then try again.
    2. Do not combine the apple mixture and caramel before rolling out the pie crust. Prepare your bottom crust in the pie pan, add the apple mixture, and then drizzle the caramel over the top. Otherwise the caramel cools and becomes gloopy and some pieces of pie are nothing but caramel and others do not have any caramel and your little sister is very upset.
    3. I use the Dorie Greenspan pie crust recipe, but there are many that work. I make a lattice crust for this pie because then you can see the gorgeous colors of the cranberries and caramel. It is a beautiful pie.
    4. I think the texture is better when the apples are more thinly sliced.
    5. I serve this with barely sweetened whipped cream.

    Bourbon in every course is never a bad idea.

  32. MontanaJen

    We cook like fiends, and have great recipes, but I’m going to share this super-duper simple one with you for sweet potatoes. Not everyone likes the lovely sweet potato. I think that’s silly, but it is what it is. This version, however, gets each and every grump with a portion on their plate, and most go back for seconds. In addition, the rounds are wonderful the next day in a breakfast hash.

    Sweet Potato Rounds with Holiday topping

    1)Scrub potatoes, peel if that’s your thing (I don’t – I’m crunchy that way)
    2)Slice potatoes into disks approx 1.5″ thick. You’re slicing the potato width-wise.
    3) Put parchment paper down on a baking sheet, because Martha Stewart does it that way, and far be it from me….
    4) Pour a good amt of EVOO over paper – like about 3 Tbs.
    5) Place rounds all over the sheet, coating them in oil as you do it (so dip a round in the oil, and then turn it over and plop it down). Spacing is unimportant. Use more sheets for more spuds, depending on how many folks you’re having over. I do 1 big spud/3 ppl. Add more oil if it’s getting skimpy. This is CLEARLY not an exact recipe.
    6) Sprinkle generously with salt and fresh ground pepper.
    7) Bake in 350 oven for 20 minutes. Take them out, flip them over with tongs (as to not poke holes), and pop them back in for another 20.

    8) MEANWHILE (back at the ranch…Tonto, not knowing Silver was a horse, polished him…hahaha! ahem…sorry)make your topping…
    9) Dice 4 stalks of washed celery, chop 3/4 c walnuts. Mix together with a package of goat cheese and 1-2 Tbs of red wine vinegar (to taste). Add 1/4 c craisins. Mix all together.
    10) Pull the rounds, display next to bowl of topping, or (as I do), top 1/2 and leave half.

    Voila! Happy Thanksgiving! Sweet Potatoes are good for you!

  33. Terri in SF

    Green beans are the only ‘must have’ on my Thanksgiving (along with turkey and killer stuffing my brother does!) It’s easy and delicious and mostly nutritious. So, get fresh green beans and take those pesky ends off (I get a bag o’ beans at Trader Joe’s), get a large skillet. Put the beans in the skillet with a bit of water and some olive oil. Put the lid on the skillet and turn on the heat. The water steams the beans till they’re done and then the oil roasts them. They should be a bit wrinkled/roasted before you pour in some balsamic vinegar (don’t stand over the skillet during this part), while that’s cooking up, get your roasted almonds (did I say you needed roasted almonds? Well, you do.) and a splash of lemon juice ready. When the stuff in the skillet is all done to your liking, throw on the almonds and the splash of lemon. Serve. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can put bacon in it, too. Simple. Delicious.

  34. Dulcie

    Here’s what I made for (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner:

    1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved, then rinsed in water & drained
    6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons
    1/4 white onion or 1 shallot
    1.5 teaspoons minced garlic
    1 cup vegetable stock or bouillon (I used Better Than Bouillon)
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    salt and pepper

    1. In a large frying pan with a lid, brown bacon lardons, remove to a dish.
    2. Into delicious bacon fat, put onions/shallots and garlic. Fry until tender, around 3 minutes.
    3. Add Brussels sprouts and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring only once.
    4. Add vegetable stock, stir and cover with a lid. Let cook for 10 minutes on medium-low.
    5. Unveil with a flourish of steam! Stir, observe: are the sprouts tender? Yes? Okay, let brown for 2 minutes.
    6. When most of the liquid is evaporated, add balsamic vinegar, stir and let sizzle briefly.
    7. Turn off heat. Season with salt and pepper. DEVOUR.

    If you like spicy, just add your favourite hot sauce. The Brussels sprouts love a little sriracha.


  35. elaine

    i always make my SIL’s broccoli and spincah side: a several large heads of broccoli, a fairly large bag of fresh spinach, brick o’ cream cheese, stick o’ butter, 1/2 bag of dry prepared stuffing. cut up and then steam broccoli, dump in casserole. steam spinach, put in casserole with broccoli. cut up cream cheese and butter and add to dish with warm/hot veggies and use two forks or knives to mix it all up and get that butter and cream cheese all melty and delicious. melt some more butter in a small pan and use it to moisten the stuffing mix a bit, then sprinkle that on top. put the dish in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes, until the stuffing mix is browned a wee bit. share with hungry masses.

  36. leela

    i feel a little weird linking to my own posts, but the things we look forward to most include a boozy chocolate pecan pie, broccoli casserole with sharp cheddar and fresh broccoli, and honey/brown butter/bourbon-glazed carrots with crispy sage. they’re all easy, too!
    aaand, i just realized that two out of three feature bourbon. so i’m not sure what that says about me.

  37. Jenn Bo

    Cranberry Relish sounds good, but my family ops for Cranberry Salsa. I found this recipe buried in blog years ago. I highly recommend if you like things a little spicy!

    Cranberry Salsa
    3 cups (approx. 12 oz) fresh cranberries
    1/4 cup minced green onions
    1 (or 2) jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and minced
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
    2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
    Juice of one fresh lime

    Rinse, drain, and pick over cranberries, (discard if soft or bruised). Using food processor; pulse until finely chopped but not mushy.

    Place cranberries in a bowl; mix together with onions, jalapeno peppers, sugar, cilantro leaves, ginger, and lime juice. Cover and place refrigerate ~4 hours to mascerate.

  38. Jenn Bo

    Two things re: Cranberry Salsa:
    – can be made the day ahead
    – if anyone knows the original source, I’d love to give them credit

  39. Rachael Swain

    Hi. I host Thanksgiving for 25+ each year so I am all about making things run smoother..however I also have OCD when it comes to making sure everything tastes GREAT!! So I found recipe for crock pot mashed potatoes which is amazing and by them being in the crock pot there is a little less hustle and bustle when its time to get food on the table. I also make this green bean recipe that is to die for. I got so sick of green bean casserole that I was determined to find something..ANYTHING different. So I tried these and will never make them another way again. I’ll post the recipes below…enjoy! :)

    Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
    5 pounds potatoes (I use white), cut into chunks
    1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
    3 cubes chicken bouillon
    1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
    1/2 cup butter
    salt and pepper to taste
    1. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the potatoes, garlic, and bouillon until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving water. In a bowl, mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.
    2. Transfer the potato mixture to a slow cooker, cover, and cook on Low for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Country Style Green Beans

    1 bag frozen cut green beans
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    1/4 cup chopped bacon (you can also use precooked if your in a hurry)
    1/4 cup butter or margarine

    1/4 cup water
    1 tbsp minced garlic (or to your taste)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until beans are tender.

  40. Leigh

    I have discovered a product that will make your brussels sprouts sing–Bacon Jam. My local grocery store makes their own, but I suspect you can find it online. My recipe calls for coating the brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt & pepper, onion, and garlic, then roasting them for 35 minutes or so at 375 degrees. After you pull them out of the oven, toss them in a couple of tablespoons (or more! Who’s counting?!) of Bacon Jam. So very good, and I normally don’t like brussels sprouts.

    I tried to write out the recipe for my Nana’s dressing (that’s Southern for stuffing) but directions like “add chicken broth until it looks wet enough” aren’t very specific. I will tell you that her secret is to saute the onion and celery in bacon grease. Bacon–it makes Thanksgiving special!

  41. Ari

    Green beans with bacon and shallots are a holiday staple at my house.


    green beans, stem ends trimmed or snapped off, 1 pound
    bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, 3-4 slices
    Shallots, minced, 3-4 medium size


    Boil yourself a couple of quarts of water, and add beans and a teaspoon or so of salt. Boil for five minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.

    Let the beans sit for a few hours, on the counter or in the fridge. Don’t worry about them; they don’t need anything from you. They just want you to enjoy yourself.

    Oh, is it almost dinner time? Shit. Ok, fry that bacon up crisp in a large skillet, fish it out with a slotted spoon and drain. YOU CAN DO THIS PART AHEAD OF TIME TOO OMG. Try not to accidentally eat it all while you’re finishing up here.

    Pour out most of the bacon grease, reserving a couple of tablespoons in the pan (save the grease if you’re doing the bacon ahead of time, then just warm it up in a big skillet for this step). Throw in the shallots and cook until they’re soft and taking on a little color.

    It smells amazing, right?

    Throw in your green beans and toss until the beans are heated through. This will take 2-5 minutes, depending on whether they were in the fridge. Grind some black pepper on, because yum.

    Have some wine while you toss. Hell yes.

    Serve hot!

    The boil ahead method is the way to go with green beans. You can add parsley to this recipe, if you swing that way, or skip the bacon and shallots entirely and reheat your green beans in two tablespoons of butter and finish with half a lemon’s worth of juice and some toasted sliced almonds. YES.

  42. beast friend

    Mushroom and Nut Wellington is the very best vegetarian/vegan holiday main course I’ve found:

    (To make it vegan, omit the egg, add a bit more veggie stock to the filling, and brush the pastry with plain soy milk before baking.)

    It’s substantial, delicious, and beautiful on the table. The flavors go well with other traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and in my experience, omnivores as well as vegetarians and vegans love it. You can put it together ahead of time, refrigerate or freeze until T-day, and bake on Thanksgiving Day.

  43. Elizabeth

    Can I share three recipes with you? Because I have three that fit your criteria with great aplomb:

    For the vegetarians and vegans–Roasted portobello mushroom caps with apple pecan stuffing and caramelized onion & mushroom gravy (it only sounds like it will take you nine years to make it–in reality, you can totally knock this out in a leisurely hour or so):

    Stuffing–Roasted cauliflower and black bread gratin (not really stuffing per se, but still good and crisp and soft and bready):

    Pies–Sky-high apple pie (it contains six pounds of apples–SIX POUNDS):

    My god, I love sharing recipes.

  44. elsiroomom

    Skip the pie. Do pumpkin bread pudding. Another shout to Smitten Kitchen here. Use her recipe, double the custard, top with bourbon whipped cream and offer toasted pecans (because not everyone likes nuts) as a garnish.

    A little nibble before dinner: hazelnut shortbreads with dried cherries (just use any old shortbread recipe, replace 1/4 of the flour with hazelnut flour, add 1/4 cup to half cup finely diced dried sour cherries, top each cracker with one roasted hazelnut. Also, cheese straws.

    Roasted Sweet potatoes (and these meet the vegan requirement). Cut into 1/2 inch dice, bake at 400 until they are fully soft, and very dark on the edges – they might look almost burnt, but they will not be. Takes about 40 minutes.

    Make green bean casserole, but with homemade bechamel and sauted mixed wild mushrooms – takes it to a whole other place.

  45. Amanda

    Okay. The mashed potatoes. You have GOT to use Pioneer Woman’s recipe…with or without the roasted garlic (I love it with it but I love garlic)…there’s a secret to her recipe. Well there are a few:
    1. Actual honest to god roasted fresh garlic in the oven is AMAZING.
    2. after draining potatoes, put them back in the pot and mash them with a POTATO MASHER ONLY while the heat is on low. Potato masher because it doesn’t harm the potatoes like a beater does, and over heat because the additional water trapped in the potatoes is what can make them mealy and/or watery. Do this until there is very little to no more visible steam emanating from the potatoes.
    3. UNGODLY amounts of butter. The more the better. Salt in between and taste each time you salt because the salt is trickier–there is a “perfect” point which is followed very quickly by a “too salty!” point.
    4. I actually don’t use cream cheese which PW recommends…mostly because I never have it in my fridge when I want mashed potatoes. But she’s never been wrong before. I can vouch that they are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had even without the cream cheese, so there is that.

    I use Yukon Gold cause they taste better.

    These are the best potatoes in the world. Promise. Cross my heart. You won’t be disappointed.

  46. Nora

    I used to make this really complicated wild mushroom stuffing. I’m a vegetarian, so stuffing’s the main draw as far as I’m concerned, but still: taking all day to cook? Not cool.

    Then one year I had a major planning fail, and at the last minute made the stuffing recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (variation #7, with the mushrooms). And it was amazing. Like, my cousin emailed the next year from Germany for the recipe because her husband was still talking about it amazing. And now I feel like I’m in a yogurt commercial, but whatever.

  47. kristen

    Oh, and the gravy. I make my gravy the weekend before Thanksgiving. You need a big-ass roasting pan and a big-ass stock pot. Roast 3 or 4 each of salted/peppered turkey legs and wings at 500 degrees, flipping once, until really deep brown all around. Remove wings and legs and set aside. Roughly chop 3 each of carrots, onions, and celery, and place them in the grease left on the roasting pan by the wings and legs. Throw them in the oven until they’re browned as well. Once that is done, deglaze the roasting pan on your stovetop, making sure to get all the browned bits of fat and meat and whatnot. Dump everything (the deglazing liquid, the wings and legs, and the veggies) into your stock pot along with a few bay leaves, several full sprigs of parsley, some thyme, and some black pepper. Boil about 4 hours, then strain and store for use (you can refrigerate or freeze). You’ll have a couple gallons of gravy (or you know, soup starter).

  48. Meg B

    My mom has the BEST sausage stuffing ever and you can make it the night before and let it sit in the fridge and really let the flavors all just soak in there. I do Thanksgiving with my husband’s family but we always make it over to my sister’s house in time for me to claim some leftovers.
    Here’s the gist of it. We triple it since we have a big family.

    1 loaf of white bread
    1 package (tube?) pork sausage
    Green pepper

    Toast the entire loaf of bread then rip it into chunks. Not too small, you don’t want them to dissappear.

    While you are doing this lovely task start softening your onions, carrots, green pepper and celery. We do lots of pre-softening in the microwave.

    Cook the sausage in a frying pan. Take sausage out of the pan and finish veggies in porkie fatty goodness.

    Mix everything together, put in casserole dish and stick in the fridge overnight. The bread will get mushy but not dissolve! Bonus!

    Bake until cooked through.

    Enjoy…but save me some leftovers!

  49. Allie

    At #36 – I should have added, sub Sour Supreme (or similar) for the sour cream to make the recipe totally vegan. :)

  50. Kristina

    I’m a vegetarian 363 days per year, and what I like most for thanksgiving is an impressively large squash stuffed with… Something seasonal and squash-related. Wild rice pilaf? Curried roasted root veg and squash? Roasted cherry tomatoes, squash and halloumi with za’atar? You get the idea.

    Prepare the stuffing, hollow the gourd, rub its insides with oil and spices, fill with (hot!) stuffing, roast for 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven temperature.

  51. Lindsay

    This is officially my favorite set of comments EVER. So many good ideas! And also huge thanks to Leigh, for the suggestion of adding BACON JAM to brussels sprouts. I’ve seen bacon jam in the store before but could somehow never think of anything to do with it. “ADD TO VEGETABLES” is definitely the right answer!!

  52. Sarah

    Okay the link in the second comment, for the Ruth’s Chris Yams is so very close to mine so I suppose I will just second it. It basically tastes like Pecan Pie and French Vanilla ice cream, yet it is yams!! It’s the best thing ever and everyone I’ve shared the recipe with loves me. I think the most crucial part is the full tablespoon of vanilla in the yams. And I use madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste (found at Williams Sonoma) instead of extract so you can see the bean flecks. Please give it a try. You will not be sorry.

  53. Mags

    Sob. I’ll never be able to fit all these into my Thanksgiving menu week…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

    Nthing all the suggestions for anything Deb whips up over at Smitten Kitchen. Cooks Illustrated’s cornbread dressing is the closest I’ve found to my Southern grandmother’s (which is, to me, the Platonic ideal of dressing) — but with clearer instructions:

    I actually just blogged today about two of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes — both super-easy, make-ahead, knockout dishes. Also, one is a cocktail. Hooray!

  54. Laura

    Girl, you need to make this pie right here:

    It is pie for people who think they do not want any pie. For people who think they do not like pecan pie. For all the people at your house who are about to hug you and moan with food-happiness and then talk about your awesome skillz all year long after eating this pie.

    Don’t be fooled into a different version. This is the one. I use Maker’s Mark in it. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  55. Genesis

    My go-to side dish for the holidays. SOOOO yummy! The only down side is that there are usually none left over:

    Sourmash Whiskey Sweet Potatoes

    Serves 8

    5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

    1 cup light brown sugar, packed

    3/4 cup unsalted butter

    1/3 cup orange juice

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/2 cup sourmash whiskey


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Steam sweet potatoes until just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove cover and cool. Simmer sugar, butter, juice and salt, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Simmer until mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add whiskey.

    Layer sweet potatoes attractively, overlapping slightly, in buttered 9-by- 13-inch baking dish. Drizzle syrup evenly over sweet potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and baste sweet potatoes with syrup. Replace cover and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Remove cover and baste again. Cook uncovered until sweet potatoes are completely soft and golden, 15 to 30 more minutes.

  56. AnthroK8

    Bake/Steam/Boil/Microwave 5lb sweet potatoes.
    Add 1/2 stick butter.
    1/2 cup cream or 1/2&1/2
    2tsb real maple syrup (or brown sugar if you don’t have maple)


    Add more of any of those things you want/need.

    Stir in 1tsb Sriracha chili sauce.


    Adjust more.

    Place in baking dish/es

    Stud with clumps of soft goat cheese.

    Brush the rest with melted butter.

    Bake at [whatever temp you have other things on in the oven] until goat cheese is browning.

    You can make ahead of time, freeze, and reheat on 350-ish, too.

  57. Amy

    Forget all the other brussels sprout recipes up there, this is the only one you’ll ever need. Nobody can ever believe I made b.sprouts for dinner, and then they try these and THEN they can’t believe how confoundingly GOOD they are. It’s a bit bizarro, to be sure, with cream and pecans and basil and lemon, but Holy Hannah, you owe it to yourself to try it. Then you’ll know. Then you’ll KNOW.

  58. Dave M

    Get yourself some russet potatoes, sharp cheese, fresh sage, milk/cream, and butter. While potatoes are boiling, melt butter in saucepan and steep chopped sage. Drain and mash potatoes; add butter and milk/cream. Add potato mixture to a large, deep baking dish; fold in shredded cheese, and more fresh sage if desired. Top with more cheese. Bake at 350 until top just begins to brown. Garnish with a few whole sage leaves.

    You will need to set aside a little for the next day, as there will be NO leftovers.

    The drink of the day is the cranberry sparkler: cranberry vodka, seltzer, lime juice, garnish with fresh cranberries.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  59. Charlotte

    1. pie: Deb from Smitten Kitchen’s maple cream pie. Crack in a pan.

    2. stuffing: Crazy huge recipe for stuffing made with cornbread, italian sausage (yes) maple syrup and rosemary. bizarre and amazing flavor combo. Everyone LOVES this. Bonus: it’s a bread stuffing that you can serve to the gluten-intolerant (just make your cornbread w/o wheat flour).
    (the recipe makes TEN LITERS of stuffing, good for probably 25 people to stuff their faces, so I usually cut it to 1/4 at least)

  60. Alexandra

    Love this post!

    Here are the best and most delicious brussel sprouts (fish sauce is great, but totally optional if you are dubious)

    Also, for anything else (potatoes, rolls, pies), the absolutely best set of recipes for all and more is in the America’s Test Kitchen FAmily Cookbook. Awesome techniques that have taken my cooking to a much more reliable level (simple tested tips like mashing butter first into cooked potatoes before adding milk or any other ingredients). The ultimate foolproof recipes that everyone raves about. This and their healthy cookbook is a present I always give to new couples.

  61. Michelle

    I can’t have a holiday without roasting some Brussels sprouts. Diane Worthington’s recipe from Seriously Simple Holidays is my favorite; at the very end you scatter them with pomegranate seeds, whose jewel-like hue makes the dish feel absolutely festive.

  62. Kate L.

    Ok, this guy is a lot of work, but it is worth every. single. second.

    Spiced pumpkin pear tart. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds. My ex-boyfriend’s mother gave me this recipe, and even though I’m no longer with him, I still make it every year. It has chunks of crystallized ginger in the crust. Yeah.

    Crust ingredients
    1-3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
    2 egg yolks, beaten to blend
    1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    5 tablespoons (about) cold water

    Pumpkin Filling ingredients
    2 large eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
    1/4 cup whipping cream
    3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    1 lemon, halved
    2 pears, peeled, halved, cored
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup apricot jam
    2 tablespoons brandy

    For crust: Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with fingers or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in egg yolks, ginger and vanilla. Stir in enough water to bind dough. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disk in plastic. Refrigerate 15 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead, which I always do. Let dough soften slightly before continuing.) Lightly butter 10-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom and 2-inch high sides. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to 14-inch round. Roll dough up on rolling pin and transfer to prepared tart pan. Trim and finish edges. Refrigerate pastry 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F. Line pastry with foil or parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until edges are set, about 20 minutes. Remove beans and foil and continue baking until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool crust completely.

    For filling: Beat eggs and 1 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Whisk in pumpkin, cream, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and salt. Melt butter in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir butter until light brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk into pumpkin mixture. Pour filling into prepared crust. Slice pears lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Squeeze lemon over pears to prevent discoloration (um, I usually skip this step). Place pear slices on top of filling in spoke-shape design. Sprinkle pears with 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon. Bake tart until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Combine jam and brandy in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until jam is melted and smooth. Brush pears gently with glaze. Cool completely. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead – I make this the day before Thanksgiving and have to slap myself on the wrist so that I don’t eat it all before the big day.)

    Bon Appetit December 1990, Page 84, “New Desserts From Seasons Past,” by Lori McKean.

  63. Beth

    I recommend this nut loaf dish to anyone who is looking for a vegetarian dish to make for a group!

    I am not a fan of mushrooms, so I’ve been making it without them and it’s delicious. I can’t speak to how it is with them in, but I’m assuming that if you like mushrooms, it would still be good. This freezes really well, so you can make it as far ahead of time as you need.

  64. Tricia

    Thank you for the bourbon brine inspiration!

    For mashed potatoes, I recommend following the recipe with sour cream and cream cheese; that’s very similar to mine.

    To the gravy recipe posted above, I would recommend adding some wine and a little brandy to the stock.

    For sweet potatoes, if you like a little heat instead of sweet, peel and chunk up a few large sweet potatoes. Steam for about 25 minutes until soft. Mash with 1 minced chipotle in adobo, a large hunk of butter, and salt. Very easy and can be made in advance and reheated.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  65. Kate H

    Here’s a stuffing recipe that I tried a couple of years ago and has become my yearly contribution to the Thanksgiving meal. It’s a great recipe and you can do a lot of the chop-chop a day or two before. There is a little bit of planning needed to dry out the challah (which you can also do in the oven for 30 min on 350F if you forget), but is totally worth it.

    Also, the bourbon brined turkey looks awesome!

  66. Kelsi

    A delicious alternative to the canned cream of mushroom soup green bean casserole:

    Haricot Verts on a bed of caramelized onions with bacon (pork fat rules!!)

    Fry up 4 or 5 slices of bacon, remove to a plate lined with paper towels

    Pour off all but 2T of bacon fat
    Thinly slice the onion and saute in the reserved bacon fat over very low heat for about an hour, stir occasionally (this can be done in advance and refrigerated)

    Steam the green beans just until tender, toss with caramelized onions

    Arrange green beans and onions on a platter, add crumbled bacon on top


    I do it without the bacon for vegetarians…the caramelized onions are soo good that you almost don’t miss the bacon….almost.

  67. Meredith

    I have two words for you…Ina Garten. Seriously, that woman has good tasting food down! Her mashed potatoes are the best I’ve ever made(so long as you don’t care about healthy, which for Thanksgiving, why would you?), and she roasts her brussel sprouts. Seriously, have you ever had them roasted? Even if you think you don’t like brussel sprouts, you need to try them roasted. It will change your mind.

    Here’s the link love:

  68. Courtney

    A little late, but:

    Pie – I made this yesterday and it was amazing. The only difference was I substituted bourbon for the SoCo.

    Side dish – I am really loving this butternut squash/leek/apple gratin. You could make it vegan by using olive oil instead of butter and skipping the cheese (sad), but I make it non-vegan style by pouring 1/2-1 cup of cream over top and doing gruyere instead of parmesan.

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