This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

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!

traditional thanksgiving dinner on pink china plate with side dishes surrounding.

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.

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.
Thanksgiving Menu tablescape
20 Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipes sliced
Subscribe to Chef Lindsey Farr!
Get the latest chef-created recipes and more right to your inbox!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 traditional Thanksgiving foods?

The most anticipated traditional Thanksgiving foods include turkey, gravy, stuffing, corn, a variety of vegetable casseroles and pie.

What Thanksgiving dishes can you make the day before?

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!

What is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu?

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.

Roasted Turkey

Roasted Herb Turkey White Plate.

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 Perfect Roasting
5 from 2 ratings

Roasted Herb Turkey

This easy Roasted Herb Turkey has chopped herbs under the skin, so you get a nice crisp turkey skin and herb-flavored turkey meat! I will show you how to roast a flavorful, moist whole turkey including all the tips and tricks for a crispy turkey skin, flavorful, moist turkey meat and a perfectly cooked whole turkey!
Roast Perfect 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.

Maple Sweet Potato Casserole in dish and on white plate.

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 being served with spoon.
4.99 from 50 ratings

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans

This is the best sweet potato casserole with pecans you’ll ever taste, with a delicious, crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping that's the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Make Sweet Potato Casserole
Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe detailed side view.

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 with vintage spoon in blue bowl
5 from 1 ratings

Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

These Creamy Mashed Potatoes are easy enough for a weeknight and only contain three ingredients! A simple recipe from a professional chef for fast, delicious, creamy mashed potatoes.
Make Mashed Potatoes
Apple Sage Sausage Stuffing in a white baking dish with a spoon.

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 Southern cornbread recipe if you are more the Cornbread Stuffing type.

Apple Sage Sausage Stuffing being served with a spoon.
5 from 1 ratings

Apple Sausage Stuffing

This Apple Sage Sausage Stuffing is a sensational side dish! It has something for everyone! A little sweetness from the apples, a little spice from the spicy Italian chicken sausage, tons of savory flavors from aromatics and fresh herbs, and a little crunch from toasted pecans!
Make Apple Sausage Stuffing
green bean casserole in dish with serving spoon.

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.

My family loves this easy vegetable casserole, and I always serve a healthy vegetable side like these spiced roasted acorn squash slices or simple roasted rosemary cauliflower.

green bean casserole with wooden spoon.

The Ultimate Southern Green Bean Casserole

This Southern Green Bean Casserole recipe is a twist on classic green bean casserole with a stuffing crust! The perfect Thanksgiving side.
View Recipe
chutney in bowl on wooden surface.

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. 

cooked cranberry chutney in pot.
4.97 from 52 ratings

Cranberry Chutney

My Grandmother’s recipe for Cranberry Chutney is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. Easy and aromatic, a Holiday table wouldn’t be complete without it!
View Recipe
Gravy From Scratch White Gravy Dish an important part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

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!

Gravy From Scratch Delightful Overhead
5 from 48 ratings

Easy Gravy from Pan Drippings

A professional chef shows you how to make gravy from drippings! This easy gravy recipe makes a thick, rich, robust gravy that can be made with chicken or turkey pan drippings. You can also make it with butter for an equally delicious homemade gravy.
Make Easy Gravy
two Dinner Rolls Fluffy Interior.

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.

two Dinner Rolls Fluffy Interior.
4.75 from 4 ratings

Easy Dinner Rolls

These Easy Dinner Rolls are soft, tender and slightly buttery! With these step by step instructions, making perfect dinner rolls will be so easy you’ll want them every night!
Make Easy Dinner Rolls

Traditional Thanksgiving Desserts

An integral part of a classic Thanksgiving dinner is an impressive array of desserts. The most traditional options are pies, but many people serve apple crisp or even a pumpkin roll!

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!

Cherry Pie sliced in a vintage pie tin for classic thanksgiving dinner.

This cherry pie is sweet with a hint of almond extract. I’ve baked it in an almond flour pie crust but it is equally delicious in a traditional all butter pie crust or Crisco pie crust.

Cherry Pie Almond Crust slice lattice top.
5 from 42 ratings

Cherry Pie

A juicy, sliceable homemade cherry pie recipe from a professional pastry chef. Flavored with a touch of almond extract, butter, cherries and sugar, and is baked in flakey all butter pie crust.
Bake Cherry Pie
pumpkin pie slice with fork in it.

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.

Pumpkin Pie slice on silver pie server.
5 from 49 ratings

Easy Pumpkin Pie

An easy pumpkin pie with only 5 ingredients! Just whisk everything together, pour into the crust and bake! It's creamy with the perfect amount of spice.
Easy Pumpkin Pie Recipe
apple pie spice on flowery plate.

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!

Cinnamon Apple Pie Slice on Plate with floral details.
5 from 42 ratings

Easy Apple Pie

This Cinnamon Apple Pie has a brown sugar cinnamon apple filling baked to perfection inside a flakey all-butter pie crust!
Make Easy Apple Pie
slice of pecan pie on white plate.

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.

pecan pie sliced being served.
5 from 45 ratings

The Best Pecan Pie

The Best Pecan Pie Recipe has a silky, sliceable brown sugar filling that isn’t too sweet. An easy pecan filling baked inside a flaky all butter pie crust for the perfect pecan pie!
Bake The Best Pecan Pie
Blueberry Pie Slice 20 best Thanksgiving Pie Recipes.

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!

A slice of blueberry pie with a golden lattice top and scoop of vanilla ice cream.
5 from 7 ratings

Blueberry Pie

This amazing Blueberry Pie is a thick, sliceable pie. The blueberry filling is flavored with lemon juice, orange zest and a little vanilla extract. The delicious filling is baked inside of a flakey, buttery crust for the best blueberry pie you will ever taste!
Bake Blueberry Pie

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!

Thanksgiving Menu plated side dishes

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. 

Thanksgiving Morning

  • 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. 

Mid-Day:

  • 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. 
Thanksgiving Menu cranberry sauce

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed these traditional Thanksgiving recipes. You might also want to see all our Thanksgiving dinner recipes, the 20 Best Thanksgiving Pies or these Easy Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes!

Holiday Side Dishes
Holiday Side Dishes

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Oh. My. Gosh.
    I have little baking experience and even less cooking but this actually looks doable!!!!!!!! Iā€™m doing my first solo Thanksgiving next week and I cannot overstate the relief I feel right now. THANK YOU for doing this!!!!!!