Wondering how to put together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu? Here are classic Thanksgiving recipes that you’ll come back to year after year.
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
If you’ve ever been in charge of making a full Thanksgiving dinner, you realize what an intimidating task it can be. There are so many different traditions that people hold to when it comes to their Thanksgiving dinner. Some family members like turkey, others want ham.
“Cranberry sauce?…Ew, mom”.
Here’s what you do.
Make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu.
Whether you have been hosting Thanksgiving for years or this is your first time, you just can’t go wrong with Grandma’s Thanksgiving recipes.
We’re making it easy for you. Just choose one or two Thanksgiving dinner ideas from each category and you’ll end up with a traditional Thanksgiving menu that your family will enjoy.
**Pro Tip: We’re helping you think through and organize a Thanksgiving dinner with this printable Thanksgiving checklist.**
I’ll be honest.
Our family generally doesn’t have appetizers at Thanksgiving, because really, we never stop eating.
So really, breakfast and snacks on the hour are our Thanksgiving appetizers, but here are a few easy ideas if you need to take an appetizer along to a Thanksgiving party!
I don’t know how many times I’ve planned a nice gathering and completely forgotten about drinks. When you are trying to make an impression, it’s not fun to have to say, “Umm….how about water?”.
Choose a cranberry-inspired drink so perfect for the holidays or choose a traditional punch.
- Cranberry Apple Cider Punch – A delicious hot drink kept warm in the slow cooker.
- Cranberry Pineapple Tea – Easy, ice cold drink!
- Cranberry Ginger Ale Punch – 5 minutes…so easy and delicious.
- Sherbet Punch Recipe – A classic! Use any flavor sherbet and Jello for any holiday.
Thanksgiving Jello Salads
What is Thanksgiving dinner without Jello salads? Ok, so maybe these aren’t traditional salads, but we can call them fruit salads and serve them similar to a dessert. They’re a classic and these are a few of our favorites.
- Raspberry Cranberry Jello Salad – Easy, tangy and sweet.
- Black Cherry Jello Salad – With cherry cola!
- Lime Jello Salad– Grinch-like Jello salad perfect for Christmas too!
- Layered Jello – This was my favorite Jello salad when I was younger.
Watch us make Cranberry Jello Salad
The main event. And this one is golden brown and juicy!
- How to Smoke a Turkey. Our rub recipe is delicious!
- The Best Smoked Turkey Recipe – Stuffed with citrus, butter and cola!
- Cooking Turkey in an Electric Roaster – Save oven space and serve a juicy turkey.
- Crockpot Turkey Breast – Just need a small turkey? Try this fork-tender turkey breast.
- Bacon Wrapped Turkey – We cooked ours in the slow cooker. Delicious!
- Turkey in a Bag – This method saves time and still gives you a golden brown skin!
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the easy side dishes.
Pile your plate high with mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and stuffing. This is a great way to add in recipes for an vegetarians in your life!
- Green Bean Casserole Recipe– From Scratch!
- The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing– One of our most popular recipes.
- Cornbread Dressing – A classic southern recipe.
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce – Ok…I’ll make it for those who want it.
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes – With secret ingredients to make them deliciously rich.
- Jiffy Corn Casserole – And several ingredients you can add to make this your own!
- Homemade Scalloped Corn – A classic my mom used to make.
- Old Fashioned Corn Pudding – Creamier and a little sweeter than the traditional corn casserole.
- Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe I’m a pecan streusel sweet potato casserole kind of girl. Use real sweet potatoes instead of cans for a great homemade flavor.
- Foolproof Turkey Gravy – Don’t forget the gravy! This is a great tutorial.
Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls
Here are several dinner roll recipes that both get excellent reviews and are perfect for the beginning baker.
- Egg Free Pumpkin Dinner Rolls – Soft, fluffy and so easy!
- Homemade Dinner Rolls These get crazy good reviews and are a great recipe to start with if you aren’t used to working with yeast.
- Brown ‘n Serve Rolls – Skip store bought and make your own!
My second favorite part of dinner, which I usually eat about 4 hours after dinner because I’ve stuffed myself so full of potatoes. I stuck with classic pumpkin desserts here, but cakes and candies are a great option, too!
- Pumpkin Crumb Pie If you love pumpkin dump cake, you must try this pie!
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Easy make-ahead dessert with a gingersnap crust
- Layered Pumpkin Cake Two layers covered with cream cheese frosting.
- Homemade Pie Crust My grandma’s recipe!
- Traditional Pumpkin Pie with adjustments for different pan sizes
- Best Sweet Potato Pie for something a little different!
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner consists of roast turkey, turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
Turkey is the most well known Thanksgiving food, but it isn’t always the most liked. Favorite Thanksgiving dishes vary by region, but pie tends to be the most loved across the United States.
Apple comes in first place for the most popular Thanksgiving pies and pumpkin is in second place. (source)
Why do eat turkey at Thanksgiving?
Turkey was most likely not what the pilgrims were eating back in the 1600s. However, as immigrants came to America, they were foods such as turkey, which was indigenous to North America and fed a lot of people. (source)
According to a survey in 2018, the early afternoon is the most common time to serve Thanksgiving dinner. (source) This allows for time for food to digest and to spend time with family and friends.