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We’ve created a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu with recipes by a professional chef to simplify your Thanksgiving meal. Hit all the right notes with 12 classic Thanksgiving dishes perfect for a small gathering or a crowd!
The classic Thanksgiving dinner typically includes turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, a sweet potato dish, a cooked vegetable dish, rolls and a selection of pies. Whether you are new to making Thanksgiving dinner or you are veteran host, this selection of dishes will bring rave reviews.
We’ve given you the most traditional dishes plus a few ideas on how to add a modern twist if you are in the mood. As a pastry chef, I never serve fewer than 5 desserts no matter the number of attendees, so I’ve given you the most classic Thanksgiving dessert choices below or you can peruse the 20 Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipes or 25 Thanksgiving Dessert Cupcakes for more inspiration.
Table of Contents
- Why You Will Love this Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu & Recipes
- Roasted Turkey
- Video Tutorial on How to Carve a Whole Turkey
- Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Traditional Thanksgiving Desserts
- Traditional Thanksgiving Meal Prep Plan
- Before You Go
Why You Will Love this Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner
- Trusted recipes from a professional chef. These are traditional recipes either from my own kitchen or passed down through generations in my family. They are the ones readers and I come back to time and time again.
- Professional tips to make your Thanksgiving successful. I give you all my tips learned as a professional savory cook in each recipe, so that you can prepare the best meal with minimal effort.
- It is feasible to make all in one day, if you want. I made and filmed all these recipes in under 6 hours, which means you can too! Planning and preparing in advance is essential and easy with my guide!
- I tell you how to do it! I give you what no other list does, which is a plan for how to make a whole Thanksgiving dinner with as little effort as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most anticipated traditional Thanksgiving foods include turkey, gravy, stuffing, corn, a variety of vegetable casseroles and pie.
You can make most Thanksgiving dishes the day before except the turkey and gravy. I like to prepare casseroles for baking, bake pies, and mix the ingredients for stuffing the day before, but I leave the final casserole, stuffing, turkey and roll baking to the day of Thanksgiving. This simplifies the day and makes for the freshest meal!
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu includes all the basic ingredients that would have been on the settlers’ first table like corn, squash, apples, turkey and bread. A modern classic Thanksgiving includes mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, stuffing, at least one vegetable side dish and pies!
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu & Recipes
My Thanksgiving Dinner menu and step-by-step preparation plan! Everything you need to know about having a stress-free and delicious Thanksgiving dinner from the turkey to the pies.
A traditional Thanksgiving always includes turkey. There is much debate about which style of turkey preparation is best, but I swear by the classic whole roasted turkey. This gives you all the juices and drippings you need for gravy; the opportunity to actually stuff the dressing inside the turkey for optimal flavor; and the opportunity to show off how you expertly carve a turkey.
Roasted Herb Turkey
Video Tutorial on How to Carve a Whole Turkey
Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes
I love to serve a variety of side dishes for Thanksgiving. This ensures there is something for everyone, and really the best part is trying a little bit of everything. If you want more options, peruse the 30 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes or all our Thanksgiving dinner recipes.
In any Thanksgiving feast there must be a sweet potato side dish. This sweet potato casserole with pecans is the most traditional optional, but you could try a healthier sweet potato casserole or make Hasselback sweet potato casserole instead! You also cannot go wrong with maple mashed sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans
Creamy mashed potatoes are a must for any feast, but especially on Thanksgiving. All they need is a pat of extra butter and some freshly chopped chives to shine, but you could also go all-in with loaded mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes, which are my husband’s favorite.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe
This Apple Sausage Stuffing has a little something for everyone! There is a little sweetness from the apples, a little heat from the spicy Italian sausage, and all the herbs for flavor! You could even substitute half the bread with my savory cornbread recipe if you are more the Cornbread Stuffing type.
Apple Sausage Stuffing
Every traditional Thanksgiving meal needs a cozy vegetable side dish. This classic green bean casserole from Blackberry Babe is a classic for a reason. It is easy, delicious and heart-warming. You could also try this instant pot green bean casserole for an even easier option.
The Ultimate Southern Green Bean Casserole
This cranberry chutney is emphatically not optional for any Thanksgiving Dinner Menu. It is the cornerstone that ties together the whole meal and transforms a good leftover sandwich into an especially GREAT leftover sandwich. I have strayed over the years and tried out different variations like this cranberry sauce, but Nana’s homemade cranberry chutney is mandatory. Furthermore, ask my mom about the year that she forgot it.
If you are already roasting a whole bird, then why not make a flavorful gravy from the pan drippings? This easy recipe can be made with any pan drippings and I give you all the cheat codes for making it delicious no matter what happens. Pour it over just the mashed potatoes or the whole plate!
Easy Gravy from Pan Drippings
Dinner rolls are not optional at a traditional Thanksgiving feast. These easy dinner rolls are soft, fluffy and buttery. The perfect way to scoop up the last of the gravy and chutney. If you are up for an adventure, try my pumpkin herb dinner rolls or rosemary sourdough rolls, or peruse all our dinner roll recipes instead.
Easy Dinner Rolls
Traditional Thanksgiving Desserts
I like to have one pie per person, but I’m a pastry chef and that’s my prerogative. Normally the rule of thumb is one pie for every three people to allow for variety and trying “just a little bit of everything.” Pick and choose from these traditional pies below or preheat your oven and bake them all!
Pumpkin pie is a classic choice for Thanksgiving. My easy pumpkin pie is well-spiced, smooth and creamy. It’s been known to convert even the biggest pumpkin skeptic! There are just the right amount of spices and it is thick, rich and silky smooth.
Easy Pumpkin Pie
There is nothing quite like an all-American apple pie! This easy apple pie has a simple brown sugar cinnamon filling balanced with a bit of lemon juice. Bake it inside my foolproof vodka pie crust for the perfect homemade pie. You could also pay homage to apples with a mile high apple pie or apple butter for the dinner rolls!
Easy Apple Pie
There is nothing better than a slice of pecan pie alongside a slice of pumpkin pie. This is the best pecan pie! It has a rich, thick brown sugar filling and crunchy pecans on top! It is sliceable and bakes faster than other recipes.
The Best Pecan Pie
This blueberry pie is thick and juicy. It is flavored with lemon juice orange zest and just a hint of vanilla extract. Bake it in an all-butter vodka pie crust for a flakey, buttery crust to compliment all those blueberries!
Traditional Thanksgiving Meal Prep Plan
Now you’ve got the lay of the land, let’s talk details. I give you a complete plan for preparing most of the dinner ahead of time, so you have time to catch some of the game and talk to family and friends!
Up to One Month Ahead:
- Make your cranberry chutney. This can be made in under 45 minutes, but I like to let it simmer for 2 hours to marry the flavors. Make it several months in advance and store it sealed in a clean jar in the refrigerator.
- Make your pie dough up to one month in advance and freeze it. I suggest my foolproof vodka pie crust or my All-Butter Pie Crust.
Up to a week before:
- Cook and mash the potatoes. Maybe make a double batch and season and serve half for dinner that night? Just a thought.
- Par bake your pie shells and store them wrapped in the freezer if it’s going to be more than 2 days before you bake your pies.
The Day Before:
- Prepare the stuffing up until the point when you bake it. Store it covered in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the green bean casserole (if you want). This can also be made the day of.
- Mash and season the sweet potatoes for the casserole. I like to make these on Thanksgiving but I feel your stress from here, so make them ahead and store them in the refrigerator or use canned.
- Bake those pies! You could leave them to tomorrow but why add the stress onto an already packed day and oven. Leave time to enjoy the game and gather accolades.
- Make those dinner rolls before the people start arriving. Breath in the yeast and enjoy this moment of quiet with just you and the rolls.
- Work backwards from the time you want to eat and give yourself an extra buffer of 2 hours for turkeys that refuse to cook (probably because they have 5 side dishes in there with them…). Pop that turkey in. When it is about 2/3 done (so in about 2 hours for a 12 pound bird), I start to cook my side dishes.
- Re-heat the mashed potatoes on the stovetop over a low heat. Adding a little warm milk as needed to loosen them up.
Right Before Serving:
- Warm the rolls in the oven and brush with a little melted butter. Sprinkle with fleur de sel for extra credit.
- Step back and admire all your handy work.